Review: No, Thank You!!!

No, Thank You!!!

VNDB

NTY

 

Spoilers will be posted in white text in between brackets, like so: [spoiler]. Just select the text to see the spoiler.

 

No, Thank You is the story of a young man named Haru. Haru jumped in to protect a man that was about to get hit by a car, and as a result he is now amnesic. He is taken in by the man he protected, and starts working at his bar and the behind-the-scenes detective agency. This is the story of Haru and the memories he makes during the hot summer.

No, Thank You is a game that encompasses many different genres. Drama, comedy, action, mystery… NTY managed to surprise me in more ways than one. And I’m not talking about the abruptness of some of the H-scenes, although they made my bus rides very interesting, to say the least.

I was slightly hyped before I started NTY. I tried not to be, but it was hard. The Japanese-speaking fans were talking this game up a lot. Going in, I was expecting a very good visual novel with a compelling story; something better than just another average BL game like the disappointing DRAMAtical Murder.  And thankfully, what I got wasn’t average and certainly not bad. It just wasn’t all it was hyped up to be for me. I can’t fault NTY for my own mistake.

Enough about that though, let’s talk about the actual game. A game that has many good assets, the best of which may be its awesome protagonist!

1

Haru is absolutely hilarious. He just may have become my favorite protagonist, an achievement that… really wasn’t very hard to get. Most protagonists are mind-numbingly bland, after all. But Haru is cool. Haru is good-looking. Haru is funny. Haru is nice. Haru is capable. And most importantly, Haru is extremely quotable:

‘The powerful bond between fellow virgins is nothing to laugh at!’

‘Also, Hiroshi’s such a nice guy. He’s so cute. Even though he’d probably lose to bandage dude in a contest of height, penis size, general attractiveness, or number of women he’s slept with, I think Hiroshi’s more grown up and I like him better!’

‘I spoke to Pops’ crotch as I patted it gently. It’s okay, don’t be afraid.’ 

“B-Boobs! Boobies!! Boobs! Boobs! Boo! Booobs!!”

And my personal favorite:

“The man who washes his asshole out with the company bidet, Ryu Kurosawa!”

Haru is by far the greatest thing about NTY. He’s fantastic. Haru is so descriptive about literally everything in a very childish way. He can’t remember anyone’s name, so he calls them by any feature that catches his eye. Old man. Bandage dude. Or he just makes up an incomprehensible nickname like Bunbun. It’s all adorable. I can’t praise him enough. He comments on literally everything that he notices and he thinks everything is fun and interesting. It really is quite a change from a normal protagonist. If Haru wasn’t as great as he is, NTY wouldn’t be nearly as good.

2

I’m not a big fan of the ‘shiny’ character art, but I got used to it eventually. Even grew to like it! That’s just me not being used to anything but typical anime style, though. In general, the art is great. The character designs are generally sleek and realistic-looking. Something that’s a shame is that there aren’t enough CGs for pivotal moments. Not nearly enough. When there are CGs though, they’re beautiful. I do really like that important bad endings get a nice CG every now and again though. Some of the best CGs from the game are actually from bad endings.

The music is nice. It fits the game and atmosphere well, but it’s nothing too special. It won’t be something I will remember for a long time, and I have no desire to buy the soundtrack.

NTY has many nifty features! Like being able to save your favorite voice acting lines. There’s body hair settings. Of course, there’s the No Thank You-button which is a nice change from how you normally make choices in visual novels (though there are still normal choices in the game). After a route, parts of the staff comments section are unlocked. Each voice actor for a main character gives their thoughts about their character. A really nice extra which I wish more games would have! The director, writer, and artist comments were also fun to read. The, uh, map one of them drew just may be one of my favorite piece of art from the game.

[My favorite feature is how after you finish a route, new lines are inserted into the script! This is really, really cool and gives a lot of extra insight into Haru’s character. I seriously didn’t expect him to be an unreliable narrator, and adding the lines is a really great way to make use of that aspect of him.]

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The routes are extremely varying in quality. I believe Hiroshi’s route is by far the best one of the four; in themes, execution, character development, everything. [Of course, this makes a lot of sense. It’s the first route most people would play, and it’s when Haru’s true personality, occupation, and intentions are (partly) revealed. Naturally, this is sure to leave an impact on anyone. Because that reveal was so very well done, my expectations for the following routes became even higher.]

But Maki’s and Kouichi’s routes honestly felt disappointingly average to me. They just didn’t measure up to the exciting first route. There was a lot of action in these two routes and it actually became a tiny bit boring to read through at several points.

Thankfully Ryu’s route was pretty good again. I really liked the themes and development of the involved characters, and surprisingly I actually liked Ryu by the end.

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In the end, I didn’t feel satisfied about the story. I got lots of bits and pieces of a story, but nothing to tie everything back together. It really could have used something extra. Not even a true route, but perhaps just an extra epilogue common to all the routes. This isn’t something I had expected them to do though; this isn’t the kind of story that ends with every loose end tied up. [Ryu’s route probably has the most stereotypically ‘good’ ending in the game. Though of course Haru still left, but at least Ryu has let go of his past and has someone new to live and care for now. It was actually heartwarming and likely the best end anyone could hope for in that situation.]

Something I like is that there are hardly any unnecessary characters. None even, maybe. No pointless bar patrons or useless clients that contribute nothing to the story. Basically all the main and recurring characters are realistic and well-developed. This means some of the main characters are actually unlikable, which is a good change from the usual goody-two-shoes, forever-kind protagonist and heroines.

Schermafdruk 2015-03-03 10.25.03

A nice touch was that after finishing all four routes, [the title screen changed. Haru disappeared.] Very touching. [Summer has ended, and everyone needs to go back to their regular lives; sadly, this includes Haru.]

I don’t think I would go out of my way to recommend No, Thank You to most people. There are simply too many far better visual novels out there. In the end, the story simply didn’t measure up to that of the average story-based visual novel. It is far from bad, but no one should get excited just because they hear NTY is the best of the best of the BL genre. But if they are curious about trying out the BL genre, this is very likely the best one out there, and I’d encourage them to buy and play it. It is good and I’d say it’s worth playing; if only because Haru is such a wonderfully unique character.

Rating: 7/10

[I also wrote down my stream of thoughts and notes as I was playing this. Contains heavy unmarked spoilers for the entire game. Here’s the pastebin.]

I apparently finished the game in 12 hours and 20 minutes. My predicted score was 8/10.

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Review: Symphonic Rain

Symphonic Rain

VNDB
Acg25

Spoilers will be posted in white text in between brackets, like so: [spoiler]. Just select the text to see the spoiler.

Symphonic Rain is a wonderful game. It’s simple and intricate at the same time. Soothing and exciting, predictable yet mysterious. It’s definitely not as superficial as I expected it to be. The atmosphere is so calming. With every passing moment I felt more at home in the unique little town of Piova, also known as the City of Rain.

Since this is a visual novel with a big focus on music, I fully expected the music to be good. And while it didn’t exactly disappoint, I feel like it would have been better had there been more tracks. Every main character had their own song that played almost every time they appeared. Though there were a few variations of those songs, ultimately I would have liked to see a more diverse soundtrack. The music that *was* there though, was really very good.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack a lot since I finished it. My favorite songs are definitely Lycéenne and fay. fay because it’s the essence of the story, and Lycéenne just somehow really resonates with me personally.

Schermafdruk 2015-02-28 01.13.07

Gameplay! I normally dislike gameplay in visual novels with few exceptions, so I wasn’t looking forward to the music sequences. To my surprise, they were actually quite fun. It was even kind of addicting to try to get a higher score than last time. Here’s a playthrough of Lycéenne as a sample.

I’m really bad at these rhythm games, so I always played on easy. And even then I found parts of some of the songs to be pretty hard to play. I mean, I even unknowingly got on a bad end because one of my performances wasn’t good enough. Doesn’t that say it all?

A con: I feel that Symphonic Rain isn’t very good at making supposedly emotional moments actually be emotional. They’re over before you know it and should definitely be longer. The story isn’t giving me enough time to properly process and care about whatever just happened.

It’s entirely possible that I’m influenced on this matter by eden*. I read that not too long ago and it excelled at creating (a tad too) long-lasting emotionally impacting moments.

Schermafdruk 2015-02-15 20.22.23

The characters and their stories are great, though varying in quality. I’m still not sure how I feel about all of them.

Chris isn’t exactly the most active protagonist you will ever meet. He’s really bland, gets pushed around easily, and I don’t particularly liked or disliked him. [He got better during the tail end of the routes though, even though I hated him abandoning Ari so easily every time.]

Fal’s route was great. [Did not see that coming. So manipulative. Jesus. I thought she was just a normal ojou-sama at first, but as the game kept progressing I realized my mistake. When Al fine rolled around it showed me just how bad she really was; I hadn’t realized that she even offered him a spot under her umbrella to manipulate him.] Really good.

Lise is just the sweetest little girl ever. [Her route was heart-wrenching. The ending was so sad and depressing. I can’t believe that was a good ending. Poor Lise. She deserved so much better.] Out of the first 3 routes, hers is my favorite.

I initially did not like Torta at all. [Though Al fine managed to rectify that a tiny little bit. I kind of understand where she’s coming from, but come on. It’s insane. From the start it was clear that she was always trying to subtly (sometimes obviously) manipulate Chris so that things will go her way.]

Phorni is adorable! Oh god. So cute. [That was a really good route that tied everything up really well. Really heartwarming. Al fine was really good, but I felt that it dragged on a little bit.] So Phorni’s route is my favorite in the game. [Though the whole Phorni being Ari part kind of confused me. I would have liked to know how it is even possible for them to merge like that, and for Ari to… be Phorni. But I suppose that’s not really important after all. An elaborate explanation of how the magic in this world works wouldn’t really suit the game.]

Schermafdruk 2015-02-03 11.33.30

Symphonic Rain is great at [foreshadowing. Though I’m not even sure I can even really call it that, since literally the entire game would be foreshadowing in that case. The twist was great. I knew about the rain being an illusion going in, but I managed to gradually put that in the back of my mind as I continued playing. Thankfully though, that wasn’t even the biggest twist. Torta’s was truly unexpected and really well executed. Ari being Phorni was great too, though that came as less of a shock to me.]

At its core, Symphonic Rain is a very well-crafted love story. It’s more than meets the eye, but eventually it all comes back to sweet, pure love.

Overall, it was a good read. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s in the mood for some different-than-usual love stories in a musical environment.

Rating: 7.5/10

[I also wrote down my stream of thoughts and notes as I was playing this. Contains heavy unmarked spoilers for the entire game. Here’s the pastebin.]

I finished the game in 20 hours and 45 minutes. My predicted score was 8/10.

Side-note: The standard windowed resolution of Symphonic Rain is absolutely terrible at 640×480. Full screen didn’t work for me for some reason, as everything got all stretched. There was no option in my driver settings to fix it. I used the Windows key and the + key to simply zoom in. So if you’re wondering why the screenshots looks so awesome, this is why.

Review: Eden*

Eden* They Were Only Two, On The Planet

VNDB

cover

 

Spoilers will be posted in white text in between brackets, like so: [spoiler]

 

Eden seems to be the kind of work that requires the reader to be in a very particular kind of mindset. One that allows them to enjoy the story to the fullest extent. I’m not sure how to describe that mindset, but they should definitely try to be patient. In my opinion Eden* is a tad slow-paced, and that may take some getting used to. This is absolutely not a bad thing though. Slow-paced works are… a nice change of pace, if executed well. Eden* definitely is.

To me, Eden* is more about experiencing the very unusual daily life and the mental journey of the two main characters than actual plot. To enjoy it, you probably shouldn’t expect something extremely elaborate. I think you need a mindset that lets you treasure the (normally slightly tedious) slice-of-life parts. [Because you don’t know when Sion’s already dim flame will finally burn out.] I wanted to spend as much time with the characters as I could, and I do not have that feeling very often.

Schermafdruk 2015-02-01 00.05.25

Overall, Eden had a fantastic atmosphere. I think the music fits the game really well. It doesn’t demand attention and always fits the situation. It’s very well-integrated into the game. It’s just very fluid. It’s not just one track set on repeat during one scene. Well, I suppose it usually is, but depending on where you are in a particular, slightly more important scene, the music automatically changes in a very smooth manner. It really adds a certain something to the general experience.

The graphics are amazing. Best I’ve ever seen. Everything feels so cinematic. Seriously, I cannot tell what is a CG and what is simply a sprite and background. I can’t believe this game is 5 1/2 years old, because it is just gorgeous. Minori games just seem to be on an entirely different level. If every relatively new minori game looks like this, I want to play them all. Too bad their newer games seem to be borderline nukige though.

The voice acting is incredible. I love the soft and gentle speaking style of some of the characters. It always feels very realistic and emotional. Not rushed, not fake or overly enthusiastic. The two that stand out are Lavie’s and Sion’s voice actresses. Though Lavie’s was great, she doesn’t hold a candle to Sion’s. Sion’s voice actress is very talented. I felt like she captured the character perfectly. It just fit perfectly.

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Sion looks so adorable and I absolutely love her outfit. This girl has some style. [The sundress she wears when they’ve fled the facility looks great on her too. She seems like a completely different person.] More importantly though, her actual character is great. She’s so wise and calm, and assertive without being forceful. I love her. She emits a very soothing aura.

 

[The house they live in for the second half of the game is so cute. I would want to live there.
It seemed simple (apart from the solar panels) but was very charming in its own right. It would be wonderful to live in that beautiful remote area, far away from the rest of the world.
Just you, the person you love, and a laptop filled with visual novels. Perfect.]

 

The ending was simply perfect. [I knew she would die at some point in the story, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise. Still, it was a very sad scene. Yet it also felt hopeful and happy somehow. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. The relationship between Sion and Ryou was beautiful from beginning to end, and it was wonderful to see it grow.]

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I can only think of one negative aspect, but it’s important enough that it impacts my feelings about the game a lot. It just wasn’t long enough. It took me around 5 1/2 hours to read it. I felt like Sion and Ryou’s relationship needed more time to properly develop. I would have loved to see [a few more weeks worth of slice-of-life.]

 

Rating 7.5/10

Review: Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles Vol.1

Stop reading here if you have not finished the Muv-Luv trilogy yet. This review contains spoilers for the outcome of Muv-Luv Unlimited. If for some strange reason you haven’t even started the trilogy yet, go play it right now. And get out of here, so you don’t get spoiled.

 

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles Vol.1

VNDB

Image credit

Description

New chronicles of Muv-Luv universe featuring director cut verisons of previously released Chicken Divers and Rain Dancers, along with a brand new Muv-Luv Unlimited The Day After, which details what happened following the end of Muv-Luv Unlimited. There’s also desktop accessories, movies and radio clips.

Description credit

 

Muv-Luv Unlimited The Day After – Episode 00

This story makes up the bulk of the VN, even though it’s still fairlly short. I’d say it’s about four hours long. The Day After is the continuation of Muv-Luv Unlimited. It’s about life after the activation of Alternative V. This is the only story I will be discussing in this review, since the other two are just too short, but complete. The Day After however, is incomplete. Episode 00 serves as an introduction, and the story continues in Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles Vol.2

 

Graphics

The graphics are amazing, as expected of Age. Great character designs. And unlike the original Muv-Luv series, the characters look a bit more realistic, since they don’t have insane hairstyles. I love this semi-realistic look for the characters. Pink hair can be fun, but it just doesn’t fit in this world.

 

Screenshot 2014-06-25 15.46.27

The (partial) animations are very well done and are still the best I’ve ever seen in a visual novel. Especially in the fights. The combat animations add a lot to the overall experience and they make the action scenes a lot more immersive.

I also like the lip syncing, the blinking, and I even like some character movements that look silly and overdone at times. All in all, the animation adds a touch of realism to the characters. There are a lot of CGs for a game of this length, so that’s also great. Just beautiful, as always.

 

Music

Muv-Luv Alternative had a huge and very diverse soundtrack, so I guess Age felt there was no need to compose new songs. I actually feel the same way. I don’t believe I heard a single new song, but that’s okay. It was good to hear the old soundtrack again, and it definitely still holds up.

 

Characters

~95% of character descriptions taken from various pages on here.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 15.48.30

Wilbert D. Collins

Wilbert D. Collins, nicknamed “Will”, is the main character of The Day After Episode 00. A veteran US pilot and a survivor of the events of The Day, the American-born-and-bred Will possesses a logical and pragmatic mindset both in and out of combat. He is a bit slower to the uptake when it comes to matters involving members of the opposite sex, and his straight-laced attitude leaves him open to easy ribbing by his CO, Daryl A. McManus, and by shrewder personalities, like Melvina Vidya Advani.

All in all, a “sensible protagonist”-tier person, who is, unfortunately, trapped in a universe where the characters are only split into “alive” or “dead” tier.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 15.50.48

Daryl A. McManus

Pictured on the left, Daryl A. McManus, affectionately known as “Big Mama” by those close to her, is a character featured in The Day After Episode 00. She is a member of the US Marines Corps TSF squadron, VMF-318 Black Knives.

As the squadron leader, Daryl possesses a laid back attitude that she applies to most situations, much to the chagrin of her straight-laced subordinate, Wilbert D. Collins, whom she also teases mercilessly with dialouge laced with innuendo. However, her skills as a commanding officer are solid, and she is well-trusted by those who serve under her.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 16.56.47

Lilia Kjellberg

The blonde-haired woman in the picture before this one is Lilia Kjellberg. She is a TSF pilot of the US Marine Corps, and a main character for one of the Episodes set in the world of Muv-Luv Unlimited The Day After. Initially a very open and forward person, Lilia places great emphasis on the importance of comradeship, and later, survival; the strength of her personality is superseded only by her contempt for the BETA that few can match.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 15.49.50

Melvina Vidya Advani

Melvina Vidya Advani is an Australian of Arab Indian descent, and an engineer officer in the Royal Australian Navy. A shrewd person with a mildly negative streak, and armed with surprisingly sharp wit despite her small stature, Melvina is nevertheless a very open person and holds great self-confidence in herself. She especially enjoys making Wilbert D. Collins squirm with verbal traps, and can easily wring extra candy rations out of him. Her tendency to pop out of nowhere never ceases to surprise those around her.

She tends pull no punches when it comes to serious matters, and is especially blunt about issues involving nationality. She carries no bias against the American forces, however, and has no issues with crew interaction with them.

 

Story

Mere days after Alternative V was activated, the humans left on earth deploy a massive number of G-Bombs to eradicate the BETA. Unfortunately, the powerful bombs also caused huge tsunamis, which in turn caused huge parts of the seas to transform into land and the reverse. Of course, the world map looks completely different after these events. Everybody is also having trouble communicating over long distances, because it seems that the satellites aren’t working.

Screenshot 2014-05-24 16.44.11

In one corner of the sea, the USN Carrier John F. Kennedy is trying to re-establish communication with the rest of the world. They regularly send out TSF squadrons that fly out as far as possible with the small amount of fuel that is left. So far, no luck.

Will is a member of one such squadron, The Black Knives. The only other member is Daryl, his superior. When they are out on a mission together, they sometimes try to pick up radio signals, but rarely find anything.  After yet another catastrophe, they’re sent out again. However, this time the device picks up the signal of a certain girl.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 15.48.58

Thanks to her suit, Lilia was able to survive for multiple days without any nutrition. Will and Daryl save her and decide to take her back to the carrier. She becomes the third member of the Black Knives squadron.

It doesn’t take Lilia long to notice the literally hopeless atmosphere on the carrier. She wants to take matters into her own hands, but it seems that a lot of other people have simply given up. But does she even have time to invigorate everyone’s spirits?

Screenshot 2014-05-24 17.29.35

This is the introduction to the story of The Day After, where humanity has both old and new challenges to overcome.

Overall, I liked the story. But I feel like I can’t really say that much about it, since it’s just an introduction. The story isn’t done yet. It’s a short but fun game, recommended to anyone who wants to see more of the Muv-Luv universe after finishing Muv-Luv Alternative. As a standalone, it’s just okay. But why would anyone even read this if you haven’t read Muv-Luv? That would be a very bad choice.

Unfortunately, the translation is lacking. I definitely noticed all the typos and the weird sentence building at first, but I just kinda stopped noticing after the first few hours, like I usually do. A plus of not being a native English speaker is not noticing bad prose or strange sentences as much as a native speaker. At least, it’s a plus for me. I can see how it might be a con for other people. The translation is not exactly perfect, but honestly, as a non-native English speaker I only noticed a few small discrepancies. So I’d say it’s just fine to read this translation if you want more Muv-Luv.

Summarized: Read this if you finished and liked the Muv-Luv trilogy. It’s a fun addition to the main story. However, be warned that Episode 00 is just an introduction to an as of yet untranslated longer story. So it will likely leave you wanting more, but without a way to fulfil that desire. Solution: learn Japanese.

Rating: 6.5

Review: YU-NO

Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO

VNDB

YU-NO

Spoilers will be posted in white text in between brackets, like so: [spoiler]. Just select the text to see the spoiler.

Description

Takuya Arima is a young student whose father, a historian who has conducted various researches, disappeared recently. During a summer vacation Takuya receives a peculiar package from his missing father, along with a letter containing information about the existence of various parallel worlds. At first Takuya doesn’t take it seriously, but soon he realizes that he possesses a device that allows him to travel to alternate dimensions. Is his father alive, after all? If so, where is he?

[From TLWiki]

Summary and image were taken from the VNDB page.

Characters

Character images and descriptions were taken from here

Protagonist

Arima Takuya

Arima Takuya

A young student at Sakaimachi Academy struggling with coming to terms with the mysterious loss of his father. He used to be a top student and active in the kendo club at school, but his interest in academics and sports has faded. Takuya is the main character of the game, and his face is never clearly shown.

Main characters with a route

Ichijou Mitsuki

Ichijou Mitsuki

The assistant to the school director Ryuuzouji Kouzou and former history teacher at Sakaimachi Academy. Mitsuki and Takuya have a history with each other and remain good friends. Her workload has increased heavily in the weeks leading up to the game, which seems to have impacted her in some way.

Takeda Eriko

Takeda Eriko

The school nurse who was appointed to Takuya’s school 2 months prior to the events in the game. She has spent time overseas in Europe, which has resulted in her adopting several traits which are uncommon to the people around her, such as her sense of fashion, direct speech and smoking cigarettes during work hours. Eriko is also assigned as Takuya’s homeroom teacher.

Arima Ayumi

Arima Ayumi

Takuya’s step mother. She works for the company that is doing the excavation work at Sword Cape, Geo Technics. After becoming a widow, she becomes buried in work to forget about her loss, though there is a strong sense of underlying sadness in her personality. She is also a good cook. Without her glasses however, she is virtually blind. Ayumi is constantly under pressure from the press due to a recent string of accidents at the work site.

Shimazu Mio

Shimazu Mio

The mayor’s prestigious daughter and student at Takuya’s school. Rather than having any sort of interest in Takuya, Mio is far more concerned in continuing some of Arima Kozou’s research, and spends her time studying Sword Cape. She also seems to view Takuya as something of a pervert due to some event in the past.

Hatano Kanna

Hatano Kanna

A quiet girl who has just transfered to school, and remains quiet most of the time. There is a strong sense of mystery surrounding her aura however… She too seems interested in Sword Cape.

Asakura Kaori

Asakura Kaori

A local TV news presenter and investigative journalist, who uses her beauty and charm to get her scoops. Lately she has been reporting strange citings and seems overly interested in their nature.

Other main characters

Masakatsu Yuuki

Masakatsu Yuuki

A younger student who was a member of the kendo club which Takuya was the president of. Yuuki feels in debt after being saved from bullies by Takuya, though Takuya himself is not completely won over by his personality.

Ryuuzouji Kouzou

Ryuuzouji Kouzou

The headmaster of Sakaimachi Academy and accomplished historical researcher. He is an old friend of Arima Koudai, and is eager to get his hands on the research which has been left behind. He resides in an old samurai shrine near the school, where recent sightings have been reported.

Ryuuzouji Ume

Ryuuzouji Ume

Ryuuzouji Kouzou’s mother who lives in the shrine with him. She is explained to be suffering from dementia due to her old age, and therefore mutters illogically as she walks outside the shrine. Ume is also recognized by her unique witch-like laugh.

Toyotomi Hideo

Toyotomi Hideo

The foreman at Geo-Technics. Hideo is hotheaded and shows little regard for the people around him, including Arima. He also views Takuya as a little child and writes him off as an aimless brat.

Review

I finished YU-NO last saturday, so it took me almost two weeks to finish the whole thing. I clocked at about 38 hours total.

The recommended route order is Mitsuki/Eriko -> Ayumi -> Mio -> Kanna/Kaori, which I followed. That way, the plot builds up nicely. Some routes are way more eventful than others though, but I suppose that happens with most eroge.

Two of the screenshots were taken by me, the other two are from here and here.

Mitsuki/Eriko

I already wrote something in this post about the game in general and the first route I played, which was Mitsuki/Eriko, so I’ll keep that part short. I think it was a great route, and it set everything up perfectly. Enough mystery and intrigue in the whole route, and especially the end, to draw you in further and keep you playing.

I didn’t really like Mitsuki as a character. She was pretty bland and boring. Eriko was much more fun right from the start.

Ayumi

I think this is the weakest route. The whole route revolves around Ayumi and her work as chief at Geo Technics. The company is under fire because there’ve been multiple accidents at the work site. Toyotomi also has a prominent role here, unfortunately. What a dick.

At least you gain some details from this route about plot-related stuff, but not that much. I really don’t feel like all that much happened except for some unnecessary drama.

Mio

Screenshot 2014-05-15 12.39.42

This route was great! Probably my favorite out of the conventional routes.

Mio is very facinated with Sword Cape and the mystery she believes it contains. She’s up there a lot, investigating the weird twin rocks and writing in her notebook. She’s a big supporter and believer in the theories that Takuya’s father proposed in his book, like the 400-year cycle.

In her route, you help Mio investigate the mysteries that surround Sword Cape. The conclusion of the route and the events leading up to it are awesome and very exciting.

Kanna/Kaori

Screenshot 2014-05-14 22.04.45

This route was also good and eventful, though not as much as Mio’s. You investigate some rumors about Kanna and delve into her past. And together with Kaori you investigate Geo Technics. The endings of these routes are both pretty great and are a very good lead-in to the epilogue.

Epilogue

[About 30 hours into the game I thought I was almost done. I finished all the routes and got started on the epilogue. The epilogue is a little but longer than I had predicted, and full of surprises and twists. This is my real favorite route in YU-NO. I could in no way have predicted that the story would go in this direction.

I didn’t think the ending was all that spectacular, though. I would’ve liked some more scenes and explanations for various things. But that’s pretty much my only complaint about the epilogue.]

Overal, YU-NO is a great game that I would definitely recommend to any relatively experienced visual novel player, and also to people who like interactive adventure games like Gyakuten Saiban/Phoenix Wright. YU-NO is a good game with an admittedly awful save system, but they made good and creative use of that.

It’s great to read a good, older game once in a while, and YU-NO was a great experience.

Rating: 8/10

Mini-review: Katahane

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Katahane is a colorful story with a great atmosphere that takes place in a different world than the one we know. There are three kingdoms in this world: Red, White and Blue. Many years ago, living dolls were invented. The doll makers became more talented with time, and the dolls gradually became more sophisticated and realistic. Nowadays, they can look just as real as humans.

Wakaba is a playwright who is writing a controversial historic play about a difficult time in the Kingdoms. In recorded history, princess Christina Dorn was betrayed and murdered by her supposedly loyal supporter, Ein. But Wakaba believes things did not actually go this way. She wishes to display the real history of the Kingdoms on the stage.

When her friend Cero and his ‘little sister’ doll Coco need to travel to a different town for Coco’s maintenance, Wakaba and her brother Light decide to come with them to try to find actors for her play.

In the town, they meet a one-winged doll named Belle. She joins them in their travels, and they decide to keep traveling to various places that played a big part in shaping history. Along the way, they meet a lot more colorful characters.

After the first part of the story -Shirohane- about the group of traveling friends is finished, the story shifts to that of princess Christina -Kurohane-, where the reader will discover if Wakaba’s theory is correct.

It’s impossible to not feel warm and fuzzy when playing this. Katahane has the best and sweetest atmosphere of any eroge I’ve played. I loved this from the moment I double-clicked the .exe for the first time.

Katahane has multiple protagonists, including some girls, which is a nice change from the standard male protagonist. My favorite part of the story was Kurohane. I really liked the characters there, especially Ein and his mysterious air.

I liked the politics, the theater, the drama, the sweet love and friendship between the characters, and the adorable Coco. I’d definitely recommend this to just about anyone interested in Japanese media. I also think it’s a great visual novel for people who’ve never read one before. Just read it!

Rating: 8.5/10

Mini-review: Grisaia no Kajitsu

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Kazami Yuuji is a young man who is taking a break from his physically and mentally demanding job. He wishes to live a ‘normal’ life for a while. Can a guy who never had a normal life even do that?

Nevertheless, he contacts a woman whose life he once saved while on his mysterious job. She is the principal of Mihama Academy, a private school that exists to give students a chance at a ‘normal’ school life. Students who, for various reasons, were not compatible with their former enviroment.

At the moment, there are only five students enrolled in the school. Five girls. Yuuji will be the first and only guy there. Things will definitely start changing for the girls with him around.

I jumped on this as soon as the patch was out. A few months before the full release I had read the demo, and I loved it! Grisaia is hilarious. Especially… No, pretty much all the girls are funny. But I loved Sachi’s jokes and her misunderstandings. Michuri’s stupid antics are also hilarious, as are the things that come out of Makina’s dirty, filthy mouth. Amane and Yumiko were less funny overall, but they definitely had their moments.

It’s also a fairly recent game, so it looks beautiful. The common route is all about the characters (that means very little plot) and it’s very long. That might be a con for some, but it’s definitely a pro for me. The more time I get to spend with these great characters, the better. The individual routes range from decent to amazing. Overall, I really, really liked it. I played the routes in the following order: Michiru > Sachi > Yumiko > Makina > Amane. Definitely end with Amane, as it has the most impact and apparently is a good lead-in to Grisaia no Meikyuu, the sequel.

My favourite heroine was Sachi. My favourite route was Amane’s.

Rating: 8.5/10

Mini-review: Kara no Shoujo

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Kara no Shoujo is a murder mystery set in 1956, Tokyo. Tokisaka Reiji, the private detective protagonist, finds himself involved in the investigation of several seemingly completely seperate cases.

His police detective friend asks him for help with the series of gruesome murders that has left the city residents fearful. Several students from the school his younger sister goes to are missing, and the vice principal asks him for help. Lastly, a mysterious girl named Touko hires him and asks him to help her find her true self.

But as he continues investigating the cases, he is reminded of the heartrending murder of six years ago, in which his own fiancée was a victim. Is it a coincidence, or do they seem similar for a reason?

A fantastically morbid and tragic murder mystery. Kara no Shoujo has beautiful music which I still listen to frequently. Loved everything about it. If you don’t like playing with a walkthrough, I can imagine this would be very hard to 100%. That would suck, since you should really read every route/ending. Even the bad ones. I loved this game so much, I pre-ordered the limited package edition.

My favourite heroine was Kuchiki Touko. I just love her voice, her voice actress is so talented.

Rating: 9/10

Mini-review: Steins;Gate

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Steins;Gate takes place in Tokyo’s electronica heaven, Akihabara. A small group of friends rent a small apartment and use it as their lab where they invent all sorts of weird things. Nothing useful, though. Until they tinker with their microwave and make it so that it can send messages to the past. Gradually more people, good and bad, begin to be drawn to them, including a foreign organisation that also researches time travel.

I Read this after Muv-Luv Alternative. I thought it’d be a nice change of pace. Ha ha ha. Well, it’s definitely not as dramatic as MLA, but it certainly has its own surprises. I initially got interested in it because I read about the slightly inaccurate concept of a time travelling microwave. I mean, how weird does that sound? Anyone would be interested.

But the real thing that drew me to Steins;Gate was the absolutely gorgeous art. The art style used is very unique. The character designs are beautiful, and the eyes especially look very unique. It’s still the most beautiful art I’ve seen in any game.

My favorite heroine was Mayushii, but I really liked Kusuri, Suzuha and Feiris as well. The whole group was great. My favourite  route was Kurisu’s.

Rating: 9.2/10

Mini-review: Fate/stay night

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In Fate/stay night, a guy who has the potentional to do great things with magic, but can’t really do anything worthwhile with it accidentally summons a heroic spirit -the personification of a legend, myth, historic figure or an ideal. He, Shirou, is now the Master of Saber, the greatest Servant of all. They are now one of seven duo’s participating in the fifth Holy Grail War. Seven different Masters and seven different classes of Servants are all fighting each other in this battle royale. The last one standing may ask the Holy Grail for a miracle.

Fate/stay night was everything I could have wanted for my first real chuuni experience. After this, I wanted nothing more than finding other games with ‘combat capable friends’. I loved the magic, the fights, the tweests (I’m a big sucker for twists. I always fall for them).

And this game is long! It has a timer in the extra’s that keeps track of the time when the game is active. I just checked it, and it’s at nearly 77 hours. Damn. I enjoyed nearly every minute, so it was definitely worth it. The dinner scenes could get a little-long winded, though. But hey, at least now I know exactly how to cook a full-course traditional Japanese meal.

Overall, it was a great experience.

My favourite heroine was Saber. My favourite route was Heaven’s Feel.

Rating: 9.4/10