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Clephas' VN of the month

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These are the solid candidates for September's releases... to be honest, I'm a bit startled to see that three of them are fantasy-themed.  Proportionately-speaking, I would have expected there to be fewer than that.  I'm ignoring Giga's release, because their non-Baldr VNs almost universally suck... especially when there is no sci-fi or fantasy to them. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok, at least twenty of yall bugged me on irc or in pms over the past few weeks to add Ar Nosurge to my list for this month.  However, as I said to all of them, I was unsure of whether it could be classified as a VN at all... and now, after playing it for a few hours, I have my answer.


No, it isn't a VN.  Why?  No narration of thoughts or actions in plot sequences.  Generally speaking, if I was going to pinpoint something that absolutely has to be part of the VN storytelling experience... it is that.  Without that, even if you have tachie and a lower-screen textbox you still don't have a VN. 


I really did seriously consider adding it to the list, if it turned out to be a VN.  Unfortunately, it doesn't count. 


Edit:  To clarify, while diving the game does use VN elements (as can be seen even from the galleries of pics available on the net), but it lacks the narration necessary to make it count. 

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Minamijuujisei Renka


Basic Outline:  This VN is a story-focused charage centered around a young man named Ryousuke who goes to a southern island kingdom, accompanying his twin little sisters.  While those little sisters work at a research lab (being geniuses who have already completed university), he gets to go to school at a Japanese school for the relatively wealthy.  This VN is made by Studio Ryokucha, the company responsible for Koiiro Soramoyou, a similar story-focused charage of equivalent atmosphere and quality.


I should say that Ryousuke, the protagonist, is a combination of the two traits most common in a moege protag: 'donkan' and 'nice guy'.  He's the type that will save people by reflex, without even thinking of the danger to himself.  Due to the fact that, until recently, he'd been getting by by working multiple part-time jobs while going to school and (for the past two years) supporting his little sisters, he is a lot more adult than the normal VN protagonist, especially when it comes to handling people.


Miyako:  Miyako's route is a pretty straightforward first-cousin-little-sister-tsundere route.  She loves her niisan but isn't willing to admit it (for complicated reasons that are overcome with surprising speed in her route).  Unlike the other routes, the drama involved tends to be mostly focused around her misconceptions of duty to her family and Ryousuke's own family issues.  I honestly enjoyed the route, though the subject matter turned out to be slightly more mundane in the end than some of the others. 


Mitsuki:  I finished this route first.  Mitsuki is a 'slovenly but beautiful kyonyuu genius'.  She has a bad habit of losing track of reality when she starts thinking about a problem, so she frequently collapses from dehydration and hunger when she comes back to herself.  She is perhaps the most open and honest of the heroines about her feelings from the beginning, and thus the conversion from friend to lover goes surprisingly smoothly. 


Elise:  This heroine is right up Steve's alley.  She's a cute loli-otaku-katana-wielding knight who loves Kanori as a sister and friend and has a very straightforward view of the world, usually seen through a lens of duty and/or friendship.  She is something of a mascot character, as people love to feed her and watch her happy face while she puts down enough food for a football team.  Her overly serious way of taking things tends to trip her up somewhat.  Her path has some nice drama toward the end (some action, some politics) and I had to rofl at her relationship with the protag, for reasons that will probably attract Steve.


Sakuya:  A loli hacker who loves a good mystery.  Predictably, her story is primarily focused on her quest to find the secret of the Kingdom's underground and her relationship with the protagonist.  This leads to some nicely dramatic antics that are fairly enjoyable. 


Kanori:  The Kingdom's half-Japanese princess and the main heroine of the VN.  She is beloved by the non-aristocratic people of the Kingdom for her policies, which have eliminated the slums and given work to the people without putting the small country into debt.  Her personality is more than a little sharp-edged beneath the gentle exterior, she has a fondness for BL, and she is more than a little cynical.  I had to rofl at the ichaicha in her path and the way she keeps tripping herself up.  Her path is the 'true path', but it is also a little unsatisfying because, while the center of the drama in the other paths is revealed, the ending isn't really all that detailed.  It is way too obvious they were aiming for a fandisc here.


Overall:  A first rate story-focused charage with excellent characters, decent story, and good humor.  If you liked Koiiro Soramoyou, you'll like this game as well, most likely (the overall writing style and storytelling are almost identical in tone).  While this isn't a candidate for VN of the Year, it is definitely one for September's VN of the Month.  A big downside is that it is obvious the company is aiming to put extra story into a future fandisc, and thus some of the endings are truncated and some of the mysteries, while revealed to an extent, are sort of tossed aside at the end.

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Yakimochi Stream


To be honest, there really isn't that much to say about this VN.  It took me approximately eleven hours to go through the main route and all four paths, while preparing to work with the rest of my mind at the same time, and it is basically a borderline moege/nukige, meaning it is both.  It has too much H to be considered a normal moege, but the heroines are a little (slightly) too strong to be considered a full nukige. 


That said, the heroines are basically all joined together by their love for the protag from the beginning, and three of the heroines are basically insane with jealousy for any woman who approaches him (yes, it is that bad).  Making it worse is that the protagonist is super-donkan, meaning he doesn't even recognize that the girls might have something more than friendly feelings for him in some distant universe until the actual paths.  Not only that, he is below average in every way, which means he has no redeeming value in my eyes, lol.


So is this a potential candidate for VN of the Month?  No.

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Rosenbleu is reliably good and funny, so I'm still looking forward to Sekai wo Sukuu dake no Kantan na Shigoto... whenever the actual package arrives at my house or someone uploads it.  I'm currently playing Nanairo Reincarnation, which looks like it might be good, just going by what I've played so far.

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Nanairo Reincarnation


Kamige kita!!!  lol


I've been waiting all this  year for a kamige to appear, and thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.  Every once in a while I come across a game that gets every last aspect of what it included right.  These games are rare... usually just one or two in a given year.  Last year had two, for example... and so far, this year has one. 


The Game:  Most of this VN is the common route, with a few scene changes on the way based on which of the two (inhuman or human) sides of things you chose to go by.  Kotori (the main heroine) and Iyo (the zashiki warashi) are on the inhuman side of things, whereas the human side is Azusa (the policewoman) and Yumi (the protagonist's ex).  There are a lot of common text and scenes to all the routes, which is why I say the common route is about ninety percent of the VN... this is because the basic flow of events in the main story doesn't change.  What changes is who the protagonist ends up with and how they deal with certain issues (such as the protagonist's three oni servants), as well as the ending.  By 'ending', I really mean about an hour and a half of story followed by a relatively short prologue that is nonetheless quite satisfying.  The story itself is initially focused on the antics of the protagonist, his oni, Iyo, and Kotori as the protagonist accustoms himself to his duty of seeing the restless dead off. 


However, about one third of the way through, things take on a much more serious tone, for reasons I won't give now, and the central mystery of the story comes into play.  To be honest, I want to avoid any hints here, because this is a game that definitely goes over best if you play it from the beginning.


This VN is a combination of a lot of genres... it verges on an utsuge at times, a nakige at others, and at yet others it feels like a comedy or an occult mystery. 


The Heroines:  First, let me state that you should not play the inhuman side first.  To be frank, there is this one scene that is just downright cool near the end of the inhuman side of the common route that just makes certain events pale in human side of things.  Play Yumi>Azusa>Iyo>Kotori (do Kotori's two endings in the order suggested by the walkthrough) to get the best experience.  Yumi is a sweet, devoted young woman who parted from the protagonist sort of by default as they grew apart during college.  Unlike the other heroines, she can't 'see' ghosts or oni, which causes problems.  Azusa is a policewoman assigned by Unit 13 of the local police to be the liaison with the protagonist, who takes on requests to 'deal with' ghosts from them.  She is light-hearted, serious about her job, somewhat easily frightened (the first scene with her is total rofl), and gets drunk easily.  She is really hot-blooded about her work as a policewoman, which causes problems because she thinks she was dumped on Unit 13 as some kind of punishment.  Iyo is the zashiki warashi that has protected and guided the protagonist's family for eight generations, teaching each new one how to manage the oni... while at the same time doing her level best to bankrupt them with her spending habits.  She is foul-mouthed, mischievous, and gluttonous... and also surprisingly wise, though she has trouble being serious for more than a few moments at a time.  Kotori is a young woman the protagonist meets who is looking for her dog.  She becomes attached to him as a result of the incident's conclusion and begins hanging around his house, working as his 'assistant'.  She can see ghosts and the oni, and she gets along with the protagonist's oni famously.  She's somewhat shy with strangers but otherwise cheerful and easygoing. 


The Oni:  The four oni seen in the story are Kikyou, Aoi, Fuyou, and Iris.  Kikyou has the appearance of a beautiful and mature woman and she was inherited from his grandfather for the purpose of teaching the protagonist about oni.  She is soft in manner, though she 'changes' when she gets angry.  Aoi is the first of the oni born at the protagonist's command.  She has the form of a cat-girl and she acts just like it.  Her personality is very similar to Iyo's, though her personal devotion to her master is different from Iyo's role as protector and mentor.  She wants what she wants at any given moment, and she won't hesitate to go after it.  Her special ability is psychometry, the ability to read objects and people for memories.  Fuyou is the second oni born at the protagonist's order.  She is very similar to Kikyou in appearance and manner, and her special ability is that she can be seen by normal people (something none of the other oni can do), though in exchange she doesn't possess a more mystical ability.  Iris is the third of the oni made at the protagonist's orders.  She is, to be frank, a cute goth-loli who prefers to talk using her puppet or through her telepathic abilities (she can read minds, communicate mentally, and link other people's minds like a wi-fi hotspot, lol).  She is the quietest of the three, though she is just as devoted to the protagonist as his other servant oni.  She is a little shy and a bit of a crybaby... though it is understandable considering what her first duty upon creation ends up being.


Overall:  This VN is a first-rate story-focused, suited for people who want a good cry, a good mystery, and a few laughs along the way.  If you can't stand some mild guro and some really tragic scenes... you should still play this, because it is an excellent VN, lol.

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Kamige banzai! From your review the vn seems interesting, downloading~~


If you got mostly no knowledge on oni's and ghosts, should you read some up before playing the vn?

Or is it pretty much explained inside the vn?


Edit: Ok Clephas, I'll just stick with the context I get in the story then. Otherwise I'll use too much time walking around in a mist with no goal xD

Edited by Bolverk
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Mmm... oni are a very vague existence in Japanese occult mythology.  Some are gods, some are demon-like, others were once human, etc.  In this case, the oni are a bit different, so unless you find youkai interesting in general...  as for ghosts... generally speaking, the Japanese rule of thumb is that 'if you look at it, it will see you';  'Names still have relevance, even after death.'; and 'ghosts come into existence because of the lingering regrets of the dead.' 


Japanese mysticism is very... harsh on the people who supposedly possess the abilities.  Looking directly at a ghost can let it possess you, for instance...

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Mmm... a seemingly normal guy who is surprisingly strong of heart when it is necessary.  tbh, I don't think I could have done what he does pretty much from the beginning of the story (sorry for being vague, but I'm speaking to one of the central parts of the plot).  He's surprisingly adaptable (especially considering how weird the thing with the oni is).  He definitely isn't a non-entity, despite those somewhat common character traits.


Edit:  I know, he sounds like the average VN protag... and for the most part that's true.  The fact that the writers managed to actually add depth to such a character was one of the aspects that made me like this one.

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Kanojo ga Ore ni Kureta Mono. Ore ga Kanojo ni Ageru Mono. ~KISS My Darling:Mecha-kon case3~


This is the latest in the harem charage/nukige series started by Mecha-Kon in 2011.  tbh, I've been meaning to give the series a try for years, simply because the concept is just so rofl, yet I heard decent things about the plot in these VNs. 


Let's just say I wasn't disappointed.  Yes, this is a nukige... but it also manages to be a charage with surprisingly good individual routes (though they are all harem routes...just with a different set of events, heroine focus, and ending).  While there is nothing spectacularly awesome about this VN (other than some of the rofl turns of events in Tsubasa's path and the protagonist's special ability), it nonetheless manages to make its way slightly above the average I've encountered amongst charage in general, story-wise. 


Do you like harems but are tired of harem VNs where the protagonist just randomly gets with a few girls?  Do you like harems but wish there was actually a reason that makes sense (in an anthropological sense) for their existence?  Do you love harems, but find that harem routes suck in most VNs that have them?  If the answer to all those questions above is yes, this is a good choice for you. 


Edit:  For all that I like harem VNs with good story, I don't have any desire for a harem irl, if you were wondering.  I simply have a taste for abnormality as the norm and strangeness in general.  Also, if you ask 'Why did you play this if you don't like nukige?' then I'll answer:  'Every once in a while you come across an exception, for that reason I occasionally test the waters.  Most of the ones I try I drop inside an hour, if only because they have plots that would have done better in a bad porno flick...'

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, since there is, as of yet, no torrented release of Sekai wo Sukuu, I'm going to go ahead and name the VN of the Month for September, even though I haven't played all that I was interested in (it is highly unlikely that anything from Rosebleu will be a kamige, so...)


VN of the Month, September 2014: Nanairo Reincarnation


Current Candidates for VN of the Year: Nanairo Reincarnation; Hello, Lady; Bradyon Veda; Satsukoi; AstralAir no Shiroki Towa; Semiramis no Tenbin; and Houkago no Futekikakusha.


Let's hope that I'll be able to add at least one or two VNs from the next few months to that list of candidates.  Currently standing at the top are Semiramis; Hello, Lady; Nanairo Reincarnation, and AstralAir.  In some ways, this is a much harder choice so far than 2013 because there are so few VNs that I could seriously consider (Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa got knocked off by Nanairo's entry, lol).  Houkago isn't really a serious contender anymore because of certain... imperfections that I mentioned in its review relating to the development of the setting, Bradyon Veda is quite frankly unreadable for people unwilling to use jparser (and is thus not suited, despite having a great story), and Satsukoi is - quite frankly - just not quite there, though it is still in consideration. 

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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.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First, about Kurokami... I dropped it for the rather obvious reason that it turned out to be a nukige (blech), not to mention that it was ichaicha from the very start...


Now, to the reason I decided to drop Unmei Senjou no Phi, despite the fact that it was by one of my old favorite companies...


I finished two of the main storylines in this game.  There are a total of four storylines with five heroines.  In each of the storylines, the protagonist has a different place in life, personality, and general outlook.  There are a ridiculous number of endings to this game (around nineteen or so), which are all split-offs from one of the four main paths.  To be blunt, I was immensely disappointed with the rather half-hearted way the story turned out to be written.  While many of the characters are interesting at first glance, the lack of depth to them and their dynamics is the worst in any VN by this company I've played.  Not only that, but the drama for each main heroine of each path lacks emotional and dramatic impact... despite the fact that the events themselves should have had at least some impact.  To be blunt, they basically packed one charage's worth of writing into what amounts to four different stories, each of which is written rather half-heartedly.  


The paths aren't long... though there are tons of easter eggs.  Unfortunately, those easter eggs and the pathetic extra endings just make the lack of writing depth stand out all the more.  I finished two of the paths and got halfway through the other two before I realized they had no intention of improving this problem.  *Clephas sighs*  Anyway, I hereby proclaim this kusoge of the month, not worth playing by anyone.

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Ok I regret for not heeding your warning earlier. Phi's writing is so ridiculously bad that I'm not even sure what I am reading now. I'll add a few points to it, the protag is just stupid (on this case, you have to make him look stupid with your choices, and not in a good way) and there isn't barely development with the "heroines" before you are hit with H scenes one after another. Not to mention the pacing is absolutely horrible, probably the very first VN that made me ragequit because of the writing. I will give a 1/10, for providing me with cutesy heroines at first glance. They shall be remembered. Congratulations suckers.

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Hakoniwa Logic


This game is, to put it out there, a slight mindfuck combined with a mystery plot.  You attack the mystery from two different perspectives, the school perspective (Koko is the main heroine) and the outside perspective (Kirika is the main heroine).  There are a total of four side-heroines, whose paths require you to abandon the pursuit of the central mystery in order to pursue... but at the same time, they give you keys that allow you to open the 'doors' to more of the main heroines' paths. 


Is this game good...?  To be honest, it is a Cabbit mystery/horror... those who have played Midori no Umi will know what I mean by this.  I did like Koko, whose personality is fairly hilarious, but Kirika annoyed me a bit, because we already had enough no-common-sense heroines in this game.  Being able to see other characters' hidden sides on the side-paths and bad endings was also interesting... but I have one huge complaint about this game.


That complaint is rather simple... the story is way too fragmented by the need to go back and forth between the paths.  While the mystery was sufficiently creepy and shocking to be interesting, the problem is that you have to switch paths, go back along the flow chart, and pursue the side-heroines just so you can solve the mystery of this game... and it really doesn't feel worth it in the end. 


For these and other reasons, I am unlikely to give this game VN of the Month, though people who like mysteries will probably get at least some enjoyment out of this. 

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I might play Hakoniwa. I like Cabbit and their cool menus/chapter selections. The mystery/lots of splits excites me and somewhat ends up being my cup of tea, now, it's only a matter of the characters and the charage portion of the game. If the branches are relatively grounded and consistent like in Midori no Umi, I'd be happy for a mystery that stretches the entire novel instead of dropping off halfway like in Midori no Umi.

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Mayoeru Futari to Sekai no Subete


Well, this game, despite its cover and theme, isn't quite a chuuni game, though it has a lot of chuuni elements.  It is split into three phases, the slice of life/searching for the nanafushigi phase (common route part one), common route part 2, and a third part with the individual heroine ending paths.  The common route requires about eight hours of play - from me- and so is rather short as VNs go.  The heroine routes require between two to three hours each, with a total of five regular heroine paths and one true route (Vier the elf girl). 


I won't spoil this... but I will say that the protagonist is actually one of the better ones that Lass has produced so far.  At the very least, he is better than 11eyes protagonist, anyway.  He is overall a strong-willed and admirable guy with a modicum of intelligence, though he isn't a genius.  His devotion to Vier, who is the true heroine, is probably the thing that stands out most, as he takes on a fatherlike role to her throughout the game, save for the true route. 


The action in this game is decent... but no better than that.  Literary expression is above moege level but nowhere near a game like Evolimit or Dies Irae.  I did like the heroines, though I think I could have done without Otoha (the osananajimi) and I thought that Nana's role as a heroine felt a little forced (you'll see what I mean if you play the game).  Saeki and Nana form the two halves of the 'fighting heroine' pair, taking on the 'cool girl who is suppressing her emotions for the mission'  and 'tsundere who lost her way in her search for power' roles (yes, those are common roles in chuuni, especially the former).  Suzuran and Nayuta are the know-it-all characters of the game, Suzuran being a genius at gathering information and putting together pieces of a puzzle and Nayuta being your classic 'eccentric genius' (again, both major archetypes in VNs in general).  Otoha and Vier round out the cast as the 'loving osananajimi' and 'the adorable true heroine with an innocent heart' (you getting it now?). 


That paragraph basically demonstrates why I'm feeling a little exasperated, despite the fact that the true path was fairly moving.  I really, really did not expect for all of the heroines to fall so perfectly within common chuuni archetypes, despite this being such a light game in comparison to the average chuuni-ish game.  It was almost like looking at some kind of nightmare world where chuuni became as bad about archetypes as moege, which left me feeling more than a little dissatisfied.  Yes, I expect that any VN is going to use archetypes at least some of the time... but every one of the characters was completely fit within an archetype, including the side-characters and the antagonist. 


However, what really left me feeling dissatisfied is the ending after-stories... or rather the lack of anything in that direction.  The epilogue is short (as in, like ten lines) and the first five endings all leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, because of certain events that are common to all the five regular heroine paths.  They are so obviously setting this game up for a fandisc that it isn't even funny... not that I dislike a good story-fandisc (the ones for Ruitomo and 11eyes are both of extremely high quality... 11eyes' actually being better than the original game, lol). 


Also, I thought the sequence of events immediately before the heroine paths went by rather too quickly and was a bit too... tame.  This is the primary reason why I couldn't give this game a better rating or really call it chuuni.  There is a distinct lack of melodrama to the way things develop, and I couldn't help but feel that the atmosphere was a bit too light, despite the heaviness of the actual events.  A lot of this is that they used the really, really old ploy (so old, sick, and frail that somebody should have shot it dead long ago) that a bunch of regular students stand up and fight against terrible odds and somehow make it out of things without staining their hands or anyone of them getting killed... I just had to roll my eyes at this moege-like progression. 


Why am I attacking this game like this, despite the fact that it is actually a quite playable VN?  Because I find it hard to believe that Lass would have put so much money into such a lame-duck story... because they did invest heavily.  There are a rather large number of good CGs, quality music, and a nice set of expensive VAs in this game... the three most expensive elements of a VN. 


Overall... chuuni fans shouldn't play this, to be blunt.  You'll be left with mixed feelings that will only make you feel more irritated as time passes.  Moege fans who want to dip the tips of their toes into a chuuni-ish story would probably like this.  If this had been written seven years ago, I probably would have said it was a 'symbol of the times', but seeing something like this written post-Dies Irae just leaves me feeling exasperated (Dies Irae set the bar for the proper use of literary and VN tropes and archetypes in chuuni, proving that one could make an exciting story while using numerous elements common to a lot of other chuuni games).



VN of the Month October 2014: None (this is the worst month I've had in a while...)

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