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What are you reading? Untranslated edition

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Currently playing Sara Sara Sasara https://vndb.org/v1361

Usual fare from Atelier Kaguya Berkshire Yorkshire. Not too challenging story, lovely characters, consistently spread out H scenes that are plentiful. No bad endings.  All good clean(?) fun. So far I've finished 2 of the 3 heroines, saving the best for last, though maybe romancing the goddess may have been the best route. There's also the secret box which has extra H scenes for each heroine, though only one for each this time unlike Prima Stella. There's also a Prisara fandisk which has H scene crossovers from both Prima Stella and Sara which I'm looking forward to.

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Finished playing Tiny Dungeon Black and White.

It felt like reading a good fantasy/harem light novel. Those kind of novels always had an overpowered MC and a cast that goes deredere on the MC with laughable reasons but Tiny Dungeon did better than that and gave credible reasons for the girls to like Hime. Even if Hime really existed, I would want to have been his friend. Feels good seeing people who never give up get rewarded. It then exceeded my expectations near the end. I didn't expect the tragedies that follow since well, it's pretty light-hearted, I expected it to be light. Also my first chuunige in the untranslated novels, it's quite easy to understand.

 

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Playing 果てしなく青い、この空の下で (vndb). I got interested when I saw it on a 2ch top 100 VN's list (youtube).

It starts out with the MC living in a small countryside village in the recent past (1990's perhaps). The MC and mere 5 other students of the village school find out that this year will be their last. Hints of modernization are present, urged on by a tycoon scoundrel Doujima who seeks to take over the village. But as the MC spends time and gets to know some of his female schoolmates a bit better, he can't help but think they have a connection to the supernatural occurrences he starts experiencing.

Art direction is more realistic, sort of like Kara no Shoujo. All the heroines have black hair(!). There's lots of little sfx, and periods without music. The CG feels a bit underwhelming because of the art style having few details. But it doesn't feel like the developers cut any corners. The sprite variations are expressive and the background CG blends well. Voice acting is fitting for the characters, is quite good.

If I have to say, the story is not really moe. There is some moe appeal in there, but the heriones are quite... hard to approach. They have their own way of thinking, and often defy or baffle the protagonist. That and the VN can be a bit heavy. Not a relaxing or happy VN, instead a bit contemplative and unsettling.

I would say it is similar but in many ways better than Kizuato (vndb), and compared to Higurashi it is much more subdued (no comedy, less edgyness). Would recommend if you want some interesting older work with decent plot.

PS: speaking of no comedy, it reminds me of Sakura no Mori Dreamers which I played a while back. Full length action/horror with no comedy to lighten the mood. It was so stifling I dropped it.

Edited by Chronopolis

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On 2/6/2019 at 12:57 PM, Chronopolis said:

PS: speaking of no comedy, it reminds me of Sakura no Mori Dreamers which I played a while back. Full length action/horror with no comedy to lighten the mood. It was so stifling I dropped it.

Which one did you drop? I did not have enough courage to play old-fashioned Aozora myself, so I greatly appreciate any positive/negative feedback on the game like the fact of drop and reason for it.

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On 2/9/2019 at 10:09 AM, kivandopulus said:

Which one did you drop? I did not have enough courage to play old-fashioned Aozora myself, so I greatly appreciate any positive/negative feedback on the game like the fact of drop and reason for it.

The VN I dropped was Sakura no Mori Dreamers (just played the common route). For Aozora I played 3/5 routes and am planning to finish it. The game has some pretty depressing events. On some routes, you get hints of what happens to the other heroines, and its usually not happy.

You should really play it if you are curious. Fumino is best girl.

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I just finished Hanahira! as my first attempt at reading VN in Japanese (not counting few paragraphs from Sanoba).

Well, it's very short sweet SoL, but I had fun reading it. The language is simple, but it is full of contractions, that sometimes were difficult for beginner like me to get, and of course they also often cannot be found in dictionaries ;) But I managed somehow.

7/10

Now I think I'll try ToHeart PSE.

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So, I finally finished Shin Koihime † Musou - Kakumei ~Son Go no Ketsumyaku~ after literally months of reading. :)

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To be frank, this VN really brought me to my limits of my Japanese reading capabilities. It wasn't just freaking long, it also had a huge number of names, places, dynasties and some awkward old language style. With about 80 characters who didn't have just first and last name but also a 'true name', I had to deal with over 200 names over the course of the game. Add to that frequent discussions about political situations and developments during the Three Kingdoms period of China, and you get a real challenge for a foreign reader with some linguistic half knowledge in Japanese and a machine translator. In short, it was pretty exhausting at times.

If I should sum up the VN in a few works, then I'd say it's overall a good Koihime VN but a weak remake because it barely addresses the weaknesses of the original Shin Koihime.

The story can be roughly split up in three arcs, the Yenren arc when the mother of Sheren, Renfa and Shaoren is still the leader of the Go faction, then the Sheren arc when she succeeds Yenren, and finally the Renfa arc when she's the leader.

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The Yenren arc deals mostly with the early conflict of the Go faction with Huang Zu. This arc predates the events in the original Shin Koihime. It was overall well written, with Kazuto getting accepted into the Go faction as a celestial messenger. Yenren had a good mother-daughter conflict with Sheren running and there weren't too many characters yet, keeping everything more personal. At that time several key members either were absent or didn't even join yet. Renfa then joins after a while with Shaoren. Ironically the first meeting of Kazuto and Renfa didn't go that well with Renfa being all suspicious about him. They then come together when they try to convince Shishun to join the Go faction. This was a particularly well written part because Kazuto really gets active here and does something together with Renfa without the whole Go clan being present. The end of the Yenren are was rather dramatic and comparable to the Sheren incident in Shin Kohime.

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The Sheren arc deals mainly with the Go faction getting independent from the child ruler Miu (aka Yuan Shu). They also temporarily join forces with Gi, Shoku under the leadership of Yuan Shao (aka Yuan Shao) against the Tou empire. The relationship between Miu and Sheren was also pretty interesting since they didn't get along at all. Miu was also by far the best loli character because she was a somewhat believable character since child rulers weren't uncommon in that time. She also managed to be totally cute and adorable, while still being royally arrogant and sometimes even shockingly ruthless, not shying away from underhanded murder. A nice thing was also that they tried to get Kazuto a bit more personally involved in combat actions. Though a problem of the arc was that it got more and more crowded after a while, with too much time spent following different factions and events and characters joining the Go faction that contributed little to nothing in any sense *cough* Pao and Ashe *cough*. But overall the Sheren arc was still decent, since Sheren had a good chemistry with Kazuto and was a most excellent lead character, being a driving force for the whole Go faction.

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The transition to the Renfa arc was unfortunately much weaker than in Shin Kohime and as dramatic as a Mallorca vacation. I question the decision to take over this plot development anyway, since we already got that dramatic impact with Yenren without loosing the most important character. This story arc had several problems. On the one hand, Renfa couldn't replace Sheren at all, and while this was partly an understandable and believable consequence of Renfa being young, naive and a much more ladylike character than her natural born leadertype sister, the story simply lost a lot of steam because of it. Kazuto also reverted to a much more passive role and was hardly noticable anymore. In addition the VN started to get lost in moe blobbing because they wanted to showcase too many characters and events. Many conflicts also seemed to be just been made for another battle, which isn't such a great idea if the battle system itself is just a tagged on mini game. The whole conflict against the Shoku faction in particular was an absolute snore fest. Fortunately, it got better again against the Gi faction. Still, Renfa never really had the impact she should have as one of the most essential characters of the Go faction.

In general, they missed the opportunity to make Kazuto a character with some impact - again - despite some improvements at the beginning. The story would have been almost the same without him. Having a too big character cast is also a problem which is almost unique to the Koihime series. They missed the chance to get rid of some unnecessary characters or at least degrade them to minor support characters. There was also too much moe blobbing and too many side events with barely any impact on the main story like the events in the royal court around Kūtan (aka emperor Ling). But overall, despite its flaws the main story arcs were still decent.

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Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the heroine side stories. The VN didn't just recycle lots of music and character sprites from previous games, they also recycled parts of the heroine side stories. Considering, that those were the weakest parts of Shin Koihime, this was already a very questionable decision. But another problem was the pacing. The whole side story concept still originates from the first Koihime Musou, where it worked because characters were added over the whole time of the VN. So you didn't get too many side stories at once and they were also rather well paced with the main story.
The same can't be said at all for Kakumei though. You already start with lots of characters, forcing you to almost stall the main story, to dig through too many side stories at once. But since the Go faction is complete after a while, nothing new comes anymore. So in the first half I got far too many side stories and in the second half I was pretty much finished with the ones I was interested in. The plot development of the side stories was also often not in line with the main story. Another problem was their not exactly overwhelming quality that reminded me frequently of bad fan fiction.
The VN has about 130 CG's - which is huge - but only about 25 for the main story. Sounds great for the side stories though, since they got over a hundred. Well, too bad they had the glorious idea to EVENLY distribute them between all heroine routes. And we are talking here about 16 (!!!) heroines. That results in about ~6 CG's for each heroine - the industry standard for main heroines is about 2 - 3 times as much. That makes BaseSon probably the only eroge company that doesn't seem to understand the concept of main and side heroines. They even went so far to bundle Renfa and Shishun in one route, because they were too lazy to write one for each of them. So Renfa, the most popular Go character wasn't worth her own route while Pao, one of the most worthless and unnecessary characters in VN history got her own route and even more CG's. I think it's mute to say that something went seriously wrong here. Due to the low CG count, several routes also appeared oddly stretched like Meirin's for example. And Kazuto only being an advisor and not the faction leader like in the first Kohime, made the whole mega harem concept questionable here anyway. <_<

Audio part was pretty good though, thanks to Go's theme music always having been good. Not sure if all tracks were recycled though. The best ones were still the old ones though.

Visual part was so so. It's nice to have Kohime Musou in higher resolution and most background and event CGs were good. But the best character designs still date back to the first Koihime, while most of the newer additions are questionable. Huang Zu was a walking freak show, Raika was a well written character but she was certainly not pretty and Pao was just meh. H-scenes were also below average. Considering this was one of the main strengths of the original Koihime, this isn't good. Especially for a VN with a huge cast of oversexualized heroines, that make it almost impossible to take it serious as a story VN.

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Overall, I enjoyed the VN mainly for its main story, while the heroine routes were mostly disappointing. I still appreciate the VN for its scope - its one of the rare VN's with an epic story and a really interesting historic setting. But it definitely suffers from a strong quantity over quality problem. I also think the creators should think about where they want to go with the series. If they want to go fan service - this isn't good enough. If they want to go serious, they should stop the moe blobbing, tone down the oversexualized heroines and get a more proactive protagonist. A good inspiration for that is ChuSingura.

Favorite characters: Sheren > Renfa > Yenren > Merin > Sai > Miu > Suirei > Minmei > Raika > Rian > Shishun > Ashe >>> Non > Pao

Overall rating: 7.5/10

If this would have been my first Kohime title, I might have even given an 8+ rating. But for a somewhat weak remake I don't think such a high rating is warranted.

Hmm, besides that I've been digging through some Atelier Kaguya and Anim titles to balance out my all ages VN's lol. Nothing really worth mentioning though. But I really hope to get Haruru Minamo ni! finished soon which I stalled last year for a while.

Edited by ChaosRaven

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