While I'm naming the candidates for the October releases, I figured I would revisit the purpose of this thread.
This thread was made, ultimately, as a place for me to give people a general idea of what to expect going into the games released in a particular month. As such, I consciously over-utilize VN and otaku terminology, and in most cases, the actual comments don't constitute a true review. Also, I inevitably focus on the narrative aspects of the game, unless the music, VAs, or visuals are either extremely high or low quality. This is because VNs are ultimately a vehicle for narrative, the system of adding a visual aspect (tachie, CGs) and an auditory aspect (music, voice-acting) is ultimately meant to enhance the narrative, rather than define it (yes, this is my opinion, and I'm deliberately ignoring nukige, since they aren't the subject of this thread in general).
As such, I tend to focus on how enjoyable that narrative is to me or who it would be enjoyable to, even if it is not to my tastes. This is my primary reason for playing so many charage/moege despite the fact that they are far outside my normal range of tastes. The fact that I play so many of them is mostly my idea of VN community service, though I do enjoy the excavation of the occasional true masterpiece buried amongst the mediocrity.
So what am I trying to say?
Essentially, I'm trying to say that the general reason I avoid spoilers inasmuch as it is possible without failing to inform the reader, is because the mini-reviews here are meant to inform other Japanese-reading VN-addicts choices. To be blunt, the sheer volume of VN releases out there makes picking and choosing a pain in the rear. I remember how annoying it was filtering through dozens of kusoge to find a single likely gem when I first started... and frankly, I don't want to inflict the same suffering on others. I avoid the spoilers as much as possible because my focus is ultimately narrative, rather than the overall focus seen in traditional reviews... this is also why I tend to call them comments or mini-reviews, rather than acknowledging them as true reviews.
List of October Candidates
Because Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming out in mid-November, I don't know how much I'll have to work, university is getting busy, and because I'm just not all that interested in it, Koiharu Adolescence will probably get put into my random vn thread whenever I choose to play it. I seriously doubt I'll have time to play many extras in November or December, so my apologies in advance.
Preface Many people struggle with learning a second language. If it just so happens that you're trying to learn Japanese, you can probably already tell by now that it's not an easy task. I can relate to the tormenting frustration of desperately wanting to read a certain VN, but being unable to merely due to a lack of Japanese proficiency. Having to look up every word in the dictionary is not only time consuming - it's also actually not that productive because chances are, you won't remember half of what you read. You shouldn't dive into a visual novel that's way above your difficulty level. You need to prepare body and soul with some hearty foreplay. Yes, foreplay. But alas, you don't have the slightest idea as to how you should go about doing that. You have my condolences. That's why I am writing this guide - not to teach you how to read Japanese per se, but to make it easier for you to read your very first untranslated 'moege'. After reading a few on your own, you will start to get the feel of Japanese writing, humour, expressions, and maybe even pick up some kanji. I am merely dropping you off at the doorstep - you still have a long road ahead of you. Good luck.
1) Understanding How Moege Work
Moege is derived from the two words, "moe" and "game" (self-explanatory). You're usually going to be paying attention to the characters more than anything else in the game. Sure, they look nice, but what I really mean is their personality. Indeed, personality. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that personality is more important than looks! That only happens in 3D (but let's not get to that right now)... Anyway, there are a select few 'generic' and frankly 'stereotypical' heroine-types that you will find in pretty much every moege. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll describe a few of their unique traits. This will not only help you connect to the heroines better, but it will also help you guess or 'predict' what they are saying (even if you can't read the Japanese) which will be further explained in the next section. I am only going to list five, though I'm sure there are many more out there waiting to assault their onii-chans.The stereotypical heroine archetypes I am going to expand on are:
The Osananajimi (Childhood Friend)
Now, I realize that there may be a tsundere senpai onee-chan klutz osananajimi somewhere out there, but let's leave that for now. Due to popular demand, I will unveil a brand new section for everyone's favourite (including mine) - the imouto.
2) Reading Between The Lines
Now that you have most of the basic heroine-types nailed down, it's time to learn how to read between the lines (or, "I don't know these words, but judging from their facial expressions, tone, the situation at hand, and their stereotype, I can probably guess what's going on!" for short). The point is that you shouldn't get stuck on a few words you don't know. Sometimes it's best to read through context instead. Like I said before, foreplay. You can grind (hue) all those difficult kanji symbols (that you may or may not ever see again) later. That's all just memorization, and a whole lot of studying. But right now we're tackling a more technical aspect of the Japanese language. Now's the time to sit down and enjoy a moege.
3) Kanji/Vocab You Should Probably Know
These are kanji or basic vocab words that you will see in almost every moege. I will add to this list as necessary, so feel free to leave a comment if you think I missed anything key. I will cut it off somewhere so people don't get overwhelmed though, so pick the ones you think show up in 99% of exclusively moege. For now, I will briefly go through them all:
4) Where To Start
Honestly, there isn't really a list of VNs I can give you. Besides, that wouldn't be fun. You should read things you think you'll really enjoy. But if moege are not for you, then suck it up. You have to learn to walk before you can learn to run. I guess all I have to say for now is that Cube, ALcot, and Favorite (albeit games by Favorite are harder reads) are all companies that make great moege that are, at the same time, relatively easy to read. If you find yourself bored to death starting out, feel free to pick another game. If you think it's still too hard for you (this is kinda late but make sure you've mastered basic hiragana and katakana), push on through. Don't stumble every time you come across a word you don't know, or you don't know what's going on. Just playing through will help you, even if just a little.