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Rain Spectre

VN Article

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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PbGVD6ycb1syrZHjPcMLN7inCLnfDELbeF4PV3_6hMo/edit?usp=sharing

So, this is something I've been writing up for a while, based on the words of myself and plenty of others. The article is more or less directed to the AniManga community, with the intent of getting more people into the community. I'm creating this thread to get feedback and some direction for when I professionally put it up.

Now, to get the inevitable questions out of the way: 

First off, I openly admit I am not the most qualified person for this duty. I acknowledge that I haven't actually read many of the works on the list, but I feel I'd be missing too much otherwise, and this wasn't supposed to be about my personal opinion (though all the works I listed are ones I at the very least plan to read at some point in the future). Treat it as the communities child, methinks. 

I had three main rules when constructing the article; No nukige, no moege, no gameplay eroge (specifically RPGs). Nukige is obvious, no way was I promoting outright porn to people (and no, Nukitashi is not a nukige. That is missing the entire joke). Moege is incredibly hard I find to pitch in an appealing way, and I have absolutely zero interest in the genre myself. Gameplay eroge meanwhile has the matter of "Why should you read this over a higher budget JRPG", not to mention it would probably see me trying to justify Rance as a character and I'm, uh, not doing that, for obvious reasons. 

The other big rule I had was to ban works that I feel would inevitably get an "Extreme" in the Severity of Content, in other words the plot-focused works of ClockUp and BLACK CYC. My basic logic is "Would you see this in a Seinen manga?", and stuff like Euphoria crosses a line for me. 

The untranslated works being recommended is for people who actually can read Japanese, and to build up additional interest in seeing a localization for those who can't. Simple as that. 

Please don't argue about me not "accurately representing" the medium and needing to be more praising to the historic titles. This isn't a history anecdote. 

Summer Pockets is representing Key because I simply felt it fit the list better. Vague answer, I know. 

As for Hello Lady, I simply put it on because I wanted to give Hino Wataru some rep, and it is both a contender with RuiTomo for his best, and it's getting an official localization.  

Lastly, if you try to argue that I "forgot" your favorite VN, don't make a huge fuss about it. More likely than not, I simply either ran out of room, forgot about it, or didn't even know it existed and that so many liked it.

Cheers~

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Technically, yes, Kaguya did do an old list. But hers is incredibly outdated (not just for VNs in general, but translated ones especially) and undetailed. All they have are ripped synopses from VNDB, and very maybe a short paragraph. Mine has proper content information, images, and descriptions that are at least a full page in length.  

Edited by Rain Spectre

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You shouldn't start with so many untranslated works if the point of your article is to pick the inrerest of average Western otaku. Knowing Japanese, especially to the level of reading most VNs comfortably, is a rare skill and you'll mostly end up taunting people with things they can't have - also some of the titles that have localizations planned, like Baldr Sky, will appear who-knows-when. I suggest prioratizing translated work (ex. Little Busters over Summer Pockets) and moving all the untranslated ones to a seperate section, at the end of the list. I would also add Steins;Gate, as it's something people recognize and there's a good chance of conveying "you'll get more of what you already love" kind of message. The article is also a bit bulky, but I guess people that are not willing to read this much won't be likely to pick up VNs anyways. :P

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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Most Sci;Adv fans consider Chaos;Child better than Steins;Gate (even a friend of mine who prefers SG admits that CC is objectively better). Also, I wanted to focus on works that people in the community knew well, but people outside likely wouldn't. That's why I ultimately choose to exclude Fate, BTW.

Edited by Rain Spectre

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This article and its author have recently caused an uproar in many discord communities, because the topic of this list seems to come up at any given moment. So, I'll try to provide some context regarding this list and be as civil as possible. My objective is not to be a bully but to give this article a fair analysis.

First of all, I must commend the quality of the writing. Whatever one might say about the content, it is without a shadow of doubt well-written.

The main issue is how the author's objectives are in conflict with each other. This is supposed to be an introductory article for beginners, members of the animanga community. However, the article is extremely lengthy, each entry worthy of being an article of its own. People have a short attention span and by the time most people are done with reading 2 or 3 entries, chances are they're already tired of reading it. If your objective is to convince, then keep it short. Or rather, cut the entry number. Perhaps a top 10 or even a top 5 would suffice.

Regarding the entries themselves and the main objective...they don't really match. Half of these titles are UNTRANSLATED, which is already going to turn away a big chunk of the community. Second, pretty much all of these titles are Long or Very Long. Trust me, hardly anyone would be willing to lay down 50 or more hours for a hobby they're not invested in yet. How about a few shorter titles, such as Narcissu or Planetarian (off the top of my mind). They are short, sweet, have no filler and leave a deep lasting impression. They also don't have Sexual Content.

You also excluded titles which are popularly known in the anime community, such as Clannad, Steins;Gate, Fate/Stay Night and Higurashi. People are more likely to find interest in reading the source material of something they already watched and liked.

And then, the exclusion of moege and gameplay eroge. Like it or not, moege are some of the best-selling games of the medium (second to doujin H-RPGs, I'd say). If the objective was to attract newcomers from a new community, there is absolutely no reason to exclude one of the most popular ""genre"" of visual novels. Gameplay eroge are the closest to videogames and might be just what newbies need to make the transition to full-fledged text-only visual novels.

I'm not going to comment on the entries themselves. After a certain point, they seem to be choosen sort of arbitrarily, merely there to fill the empty space. Honestly, anyone could've picked these titles, but that's not what's important.

If I had to comment on one of them, it would be YU-NO. YU-NO was one my favorite eroge for a period of time. It's also one of the highest rated titles of erogamescape. When you have half-truths and misinformation, others are going to believe it if it's this well-written. This is something that concerns me, as one could think of modern bloggers as the historians of old.

But to be honest, what bothers me the most is how this entry in particular is quite offensive to the medium as a whole. Not only does it ignore the hundreds of games that already existed in other platforms, such as PC-88, but it dismisses them as "cheap pornography". Just because you read two or three random nukige that JAST or whoever it was gave a bad translation 15 years ago, it doesn't make it true. Sadly, there are many great stories yet to be translated which most likely will remain so, due to engine issues and older art which isn't appealing to the modern gamer who plays everything in 4k 120FPS.

To be fair, this title is heavily overrated. The interactivity is incredibly infuriating - not only is it a verb-based game but you literally have to pixel hunt and randomly guess where you should go next. Not only that, but you can't save at will. Because of this, the player is forced to default to a walkthrough. Due to this and many other games with terrible choice systems forcing people to look for walkthroughs, we use walkthroughs even for games with good, carefully crafted systems. As for the content of the game itself, multiple route mystery wasn't anything new at the time. None of the routes really stand strong on their own, except perhaps the stepmother route, the concept of this route having been done better on other games at the time. The sci-fi aspect of the game only exists so that

 

the protagonist can have sexual intercourse with his blood-related daughter, twice. Not only that, but his second daughter is literally three years old. Yes, Kanno invented a special elf race that aged really fast just so the protagonist could have sex with his three year old daughter in an eighteen year old woman's body.

- how cool is that? To finish this rant regarding YU-NO, let me tell you something interesting: one of the most important arcs, the whole emotional hook of the epilogue wasn't even written by Kanno himself. The current translation has different versions of the game mixed together, so you have the protagonist rejecting sex with a character in one line, and then deciding to go forward with it in the very next instant.

If I had to say anything else, it would be how you portray YU-NO as an important step forward for the eroge industry and explain its historical value, but you chose the cover from the remake.

 

The main issues, as pointed out by many others, is that this article is overly ambitious. You have only started reading VNs approximately a year ago and you have only read about 20 titles or less, yet decided to create a recommendation list of a higher number. You recommend titles that you haven't read and can't read (japanese). While there is some original content (SubaHibi and Danganronpa reviews), the description of the remaining entries is a mixture of opinions held by different people. If I wanted to read Conjueror's Sakura no Uta review or kastel's rants, I could do it, they already exist in other places. You could very well have started with a smaller project, publishing reviews of titles you have read with your one and only opinion.

I know I might have been quite harsh, but I'm honestly tired of this topic being brought up every couple hours, no matter where I hang out. That and I'm not sure if you're really interested in the advice of others or if this is just to show off, but so be it. I gave my two cents, and I hope to not have to comment on this further.

 

Good luck.

Edited by Ramaladni

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You've got a lot of chuuni, and a lot of mysteries.  No Key, no Leaf? AliceSoft has a bunch of good non-Rance stuff, but their good games mostly have gameplay or are more like nukige.

Oh, hey, you included Island?  Hello Lady instead of RuiTomo?

 

Eh, basically, it looks like a list of your preferences - lots of focus on a few specific genres - rather than a broader list of good stuff giving a sampling of all VNs.  I mean, it is your list, so there's nothing wrong with it reflecting your tastes... but in that case, you should call it "25 VNs I like".

 

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12 hours ago, Ramaladni said:

First of all, I must commend the quality of the writing. Whatever one might say about the content, it is without a shadow of doubt well-written.

The vocab might be undoubtedly higher-level, but I'm going to cast that shadow of doubt upon its status as well-written.

In a way, it somewhat reminds me of my high school English essays: the writing may appear to be sophisticated and intellectual, but it is not necessarily superior for that. The analysis of a VN's merits, qualities, and themes is merely skin-deep, covering a broad and comprehensive overview of the VN as a whole rather than delving deeply into a single element of it, and as a result, the article ends up feeling rather superficial. Certainly, the phrasing is professional, academic, and advanced, and I cannot deny a markedly erudite tone to the work, but there appears to be a certain sort of distance created between the author and the audience that lessens the impact of the recommendations. Were one to read it, they would likely feel unable to appreciate the sentiment placed within the text.

But, that's an awfully drawn-out and pretentious way to put it. If your eyes glazed over when you read that, you're probably getting the point. In simpler words, after each recommendation, I get the feeling of having read a whole bunch of nothing, because it doesn't connect with me.

Now, it's not that there should be a deeper analysis, since these are just quick reviews designed to interest the reader in the VN, and they shouldn't have any spoilers. Really, the issue is that the tone and style don't really fit this level of analysis. It would fit better if you were writing about some d e e p s h i t explored in the game, maybe a reflection on the core theme, but that'd be something for people to read after a VN, not before. These are recommendations, intended to make people want to read something, so you gotta appeal to people, and to do that, you can't have the distance between author and audience that "essay language" creates. Essay language sounds sanitized and boring, and while it's not false, it's not genuine either, because it feels like it's losing the heart of the author in order to take on some affectation of intellectualism. None of these elements are good for reaching the audience.

So, what's to be done? The solution is to be casual, simple, and straightforward. A line like "It is not a happy experience." (from the Muv-Luv portion) sounds stilted and unnatural. A simple "It hurts." flows much better, conveys feeling much better, and interests me much better. A line like "It is when one reaches Alternative, the real meat of the narrative, that Muv Luv becomes an explosion of emotion" seems weird in the same way. I'd say something like "When you get to Alternative, the real meat of the narrative, Muv-Luv starts to hit your heart hard" would work much better. Changing all of those "they"s and "one"s to "you"s would probably help too, since speaking directly to an audience will connect better than speaking to some nebulous avatar representing the audience.

In summary, I wouldn't say this article is well-written. It's higher-level in vocabulary and arrangement, but that doesn't make it well-written, because a significant part of the quality of writing is how well it does what it's supposed to do, how well it reaches the audience with its intent. This article fails to interest the audience as well as it needs to, because it fails to connect with them as well as it needs to.

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1 hour ago, Toranth said:

You've got a lot of chuuni, and a lot of mysteries.  No Key, no Leaf? AliceSoft has a bunch of good non-Rance stuff, but their good games mostly have gameplay or are more like nukige.

Oh, hey, you included Island?  Hello Lady instead of RuiTomo?

 

Eh, basically, it looks like a list of your preferences - lots of focus on a few specific genres - rather than a broader list of good stuff giving a sampling of all VNs.  I mean, it is your list, so there's nothing wrong with it reflecting your tastes... but in that case, you should call it "25 VNs I like".

 

Well, I tried to have a relatively diverse mixture of genres. It's just I tend to lean towards dramatics (Nukitashi is actually here largely because I wanted another comedy)

"No Key or Leaf". Did you not notice WA2 and SumPoc? 

Hello Lady is often cited as a rival to RuiTomo as Hino Wataru's best work, and it has an upcoming localization, so I feel it has an edge. 

I didn't try to give a sampling? More just "There are the acclaimed works in the medium, so if they interest you read them/support them when the localizations come out". 

1 hour ago, McDerpingheimer III said:

REDACTED

Interesting analysis. All I'll say while I think what you say over is that I wrote in my natural writing style. 

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On 11/18/2018 at 10:39 PM, Ramaladni said:

RAMA'S WALL OF TEXT

Ooo boy, it took me a day to mull over a lot of what you said, but I think I can finally give some responses:

1: Ah yes, the length matter. Well, let me put it like this, would be "better" if it was a deliberately short and rushed article that misrepresented the works in question? And, if the list were shorter, I'd be catching even more flak for excluding certain works. 

2. The currently unreleased/untranslated material is to entice people to support the works when they do get localisations. As for length and beginners...I do assume most who're reading to have at least read DDLC, so I assume they have at least some idea of how the medium works. 

3. I didn't recommend them for that exact reason, Fate is simply too well known, while most Sci;Adv fans consider C;C to be better than S;G and Clannad's sheer length and extremely dated presentation I feel wouldn't fit (When They Cry I will admit I forgot about). Also, I find it odd that you critique me for including very long works on the list...then suggest works longer than the majority on the list. 

4. As I said, I have zero interest in moege, and I struggle to really find a pitch that actually comes off as appealing. And gameplay eroge I simply feel doesn't feel like VNs as I see them. 

5. You seem to contradict yourself. You critique me for not recognizing earlier efforts on the PC-98...then admit there's very little chance I could know of them or read them. Was I perhaps too harsh in dismissing the majority of the medium pre-1996? Maybe, but I have relatively little evidence that I'm incorrect, or that YU-NO wasn't a major turning point in the medium. 

6: Your personal feelings on YU-NO, all of which are subjective and from what I can gather quite unpopular. Also, I struggle to see how some of those apply to the remake, which I'm pretty obviously recommending for hopefully obvious reasons. 

7. Yes, I admit I'm not the most qualified, but, if no one is willing to stand up and do it themselves, I feel I might as well do it. 

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1 hour ago, Rain Spectre said:

BTW people, don't try to bring up some ultra-obscure work which is apparently better than the things on the list. I honestly don't care. 

You don't seem to care what anyone has to say TBH. :amane:

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18 hours ago, ciel_yuri said:

Danganronpa V3 huh? V3 is decent, but unless the ending is amazing, I don't think it's nearly as good as the first two. Something about it just seems missing.

I have bad news for you... I'd also argue that DR1 would be the best choice for a "must read" list. All three installments are more or less equally good, but both sequels spoil the twists for the previous games.

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1 hour ago, Rain Spectre said:

BTW people, don't try to bring up some ultra-obscure work which is apparently better than the things on the list. I honestly don't care. 

Don't dismiss feedback and criticism Rain. You specifically posted that article to hear what other people have to say about it, so saying you don't care about that is the ultimate "Screw you!" to your readers.

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28 minutes ago, alpacaman said:

I have bad news for you... I'd also argue that DR1 would be the best choice for a "must read" list. All three installments are more or less equally good, but both sequels spoil the twists for the previous games.

Yeah, for a list like this I'd agree the first one is a way better choice. That way if someone likes it they can play the others instead of being spoiled and wondering what's going on.

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