This is a reblog of my site http://geekysweetie.com – Other stuff may appear here such as reblogs from other wordpress.com sites. I blog and reblog about anime, video games, kdrama, toys, technology, and kawaii fashion and decor.
Titles Include (but not limited to) 5 Centimeters per Second, Your Lie in April, Hiiro no Kakera, Emma, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Nisekoi, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Playful Kiss, Boys over Flowers, and many other great romance titles.
The original is one of my all time favorite games. I love all the songs, the heart warming, touching story, the cute characters, adorable graphics, simple grid based turn-based Strategy JRPG gameplay, and use of the puppets in battle.
I greatly prefer the version by Atlus on the PS1, much more than the version by NIS on the DS, because Atlus dubbed all of the songs in English, while NIS only left them in Japanese. If I remember correctly, the version by Atlus let you choose to play them in the original Japanese as well. If it’s a musical, it’s more fun in English, so we can sing along, am I right? 🙂 I still can remember the words/melody to a lot of the songs even though it has been years since my first or subsequent play throughs. NIS also changed the gameplay from a grid based system to a straight forward turn-based traditional JRPG style of combat.
For the purpose of this review, since I prefer the original, and the two games are significantly different in terms of gameplay, this review only covers the PS1 game by Atlus. Now onto the review…
Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Alternate Titles (Also Known As): Marl Kingdom, Little Princess Marl, or Marl Okoku no Ningyo Hime in Japan. Also referred to as The Adventure of Puppet Princess.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – Dated as this game may be, its bright colorful graphics are still quite pretty. The combat is nothing spectacular and it is linear and simple. The big “geek” points go to the fact that the game is literally a musical. The characters break out into song and dance and the soundtrack very much tells us the story. There are well over a dozen or more vocal tracks and all of the characters are fully voiced. Interestingly enough, wikipedia tells me that it was almost entirely a one girl show, what a talented voice actress! She gave voice/song to all except for 3 or 4 of the characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – the graphic style is so cute and colorful, the characters are very full of emotion and there is a ton of humor, as well as romance, and a message about the meaning of family, and morals, and just… everything. Also strong female leads, which was pretty rare “back in the day”. This game is a must play for all girls.
Overview: 10/10 – There is simply nothing else in the world like this game. It’s an anime musical JRPG. It has adorable graphics, touching, amusing, and likable characters, and is brimming with “feels and emotions”. From a technical standpoint, there’s really nothing ground breaking here. It is very typical of gameplay in most other Strategy JRPGs of its time. But the music and characters set this game apart and make it an extremely unique experience.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not the reason you play this game. This game is very easy and simple. The main character takes a back seat, supporting her army of puppets who move around a grid and use various items, attacks, and abilities to thwart their foes. It’s a linear game that takes you from point A to point B, pretty monotonously and mindlessly. This game is carried by the music, voice acting, memorable characters, and touching story. There are different costumes you can find and different puppets you can add to your team, but other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward experience if you’ve ever played any other Strategy JRPGs before.
Story: 10/10 – Cornet is a kindhearted girl who has a magical gift in that she is able to communicate with dolls and puppets. One such doll is Cornet’s faithful sidekick, Kururu. Kururu has guided the young Cornet all her life. Cornet is often lonely as her mother passed away at an early age. However, despite her loneliness, Cornet remains cheerful, kind, and helpful to all of the villagers in part thanks to her puppet friends. She is regarded as a simple and sweet girl, and many of the villagers take pity on her for not having a mother.
Although she is just a common girl, Cornet has fallen in love with the Prince. Unrealistic as her love may be, Cornet has always believed in “dreaming big” and her innocent outlook on life leads her to hope that anything is possible.
Cornet isn’t the only one with eyes for the prince however. A beautiful witch appears in the kingdom one day with her sights set on the prince. When the prince refuses her advances, the witch casts a spell on him turning him to stone.
Thus begins Cornet’s series of quests to reverse the witch’s curse. The witch has many henchmen and lackeys who try to interfere in Cornet’s plans.
As she travels, Cornet will make new friends and enemies, both human and puppet alike. Also she will learn more about herself, her mother, and her unique gifts and talents.
Characters: 10/10 Cornet is the star of our show, a simple, pure hearted girl who can talk to puppets. She lost her mother when she was very young and has mostly been raised by a strange talking puppet named Kururu.
Prince Ferdinand is the prince who early in our story is turned to stone. Cornet and Marjolly are both in love with the Prince.
Marjolly is a wicked but beautiful witch who vengefully curses the prince when he refuses her romantically. Marjolly is also not very skilled at magic, and somewhat of a “bumbling idiot”. Her spells often have very unintended consequences and/or back fire. She is often less “evil” feeling and more of a “comedic relief” despite being the main villain in the game.
Kururu is a “living doll” who has always watched out for and guided Cornet. The two are extremely close. And there is a secret that Cornet does not know about her puppet friend.
Etoile is a wealthy and beautiful, but ill tempered and spoiled girl who is close to Cornet’s age. Although she is “better than” Cornet in almost every way, she still feels jealous and inferior and threatened by Cornet. The two have an interesting love/hate relationship, frenemies if you will.
There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.
Graphics: 7/10 – Although dated severely, the graphics remain bright and colorful and still attractive, even 17 years after its initial US release. Also in a time when retro gaming is very popular, and pixel art is “in” – what was once old, is now hot again. An interesting thing to note, although there are many, many cutscenes, these are done with the same sprites and pixel graphics as the rest of the game, unlike other anime games of that time such as Persona and Lunar which use a more hand-drawn or anime style for their cutscenes. This in one way helps keep things cohesive and flowing well from one moment to the next, however, it does result in less detailed cutscenes. The sprites are still adorable and animated and capable of conveying a lot of emotion despite the simple sprites. I would love to see a new release with anime cutscenes (like Lunar and Persona) and/or celshading used throughout the game and cutscenes (such as with Catherine).
Music: 10/10 – Easily 10/10 – one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time because of the huge number of vocal tracks and how they tie in so closely to the story – in fact, they ARE the story. Many of them are insanely, like seriously insanely catchy!!! I love the songs in this game!!
Voice Acting – 10/10 – They sing and act, and as I mentioned, one girl gives voice to about 6 of the main characters – very talented! If you hate dubs (which trust me, I usually do too!) you can also play with the Japanese audio. 🙂 But then you can’t sing along, or as easily get the song stuck in your head the next day lol.
Replay Value: 3/10 – It’s linear, and simple, and the only reason you will want to replay is to re-read the heartwarming story, and hear that awesome soundtrack again. I’ve replayed this at least 3 or 4 times now and love it every single time – but objectively, yeah there’s really nothing here story or gameplay wise for increased replay value.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Other Titles: A Silent Voice, The Shape of a Voice
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life, Drama
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Based on: A Silent Voice manga by Yoshitoki Ōima
Length: 2 hours 9 minutes
Theatrical Japanese release: September 2016
Theatrical world-wide release: June 2017
DVD Blu Ray Japanese Release: May 17, 2017.
(no date announced at time of this blog post for an English DVD / Blu Ray Release).
Geeky: 4/5 Gorgeously animated and very true to the original story within the manga. It does lack action and move at a sometimes slow pace and deals with heavy and unpleasant themes at times.
Sweetie: 5/5 The transformation of the characters and values of friendship, love, redemption, and need for connection, are all highlighted in a tale that shows the coming of age of a group of adolescents.
Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 9/10 Koe no Katachi is a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes which shape and change the nature of relationships between a group of friends, enemies, and lovers. The story centers heavily around 2 youths, Ishida Shoya and Nashimiya Shoko, and their classmates. When the film starts, they are in elementary school, and by time the film ends they are seniors in high school.
Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting.
When it is discovered that Shoko has been bullied by her classmates, the other students and staff all blame Shoya which results in then his being bullied. The bullying continues throughout highschool as well, leaving Shoya with zero friends, and afraid to get close to anyone. Shoya even considers committing suicide to escape the bullying.
He runs into Shoko in his senior year of high school and immediately begins a plan to befriend her, having felt guilty for bullying her when they were younger. Shoya has been studying sign language and is now able to easily communicate with Shoko. He asks if they could be friends, the same thing she asked of him when they were little.
Shoko has grown stronger and has many friends already, but she blames herself for breaking up Shoya’s group of friends and for Shoya’s years of being a victim of bullying. The two forge an unlikely friendship, both hating and blaming themselves for their past interactions.
Shoya has grown and matured, and not just out of his feelings of guilt towards Shoko. Early in the film he befriends a male classmate who is also being bullied. This leads to Shoya’s first friend since elementary school.
Even Shoko’s sister who is very over protective of her, comes to accept Shoya when she realizes how much he has changed, and encourages him to date Shoko.
Shoko wants to help repair the friendships of Shoya’s childhood friends so she begins gathering the other students, some of which still resent Shoko and Shoya. There’s even a bit of a love triangle when Shoya runs into an old classmate, Ueno, working at a cat cafe.
However, everyone is still haunted by their pasts. Shoko and Shoya both struggle with thoughts of suicide and guilt throughout the entire film. Eventually though, the two begin to develop feelings of love for one another as a result of their newly formed friendship, but even that love may not be enough to save them. (You should watch it for yourself if you want to know! 🙂 )
It is a touching and moving story. School bullying is a huge problem in both Japan, as well as North America, and it does often lead to an increase in child and teen suicide. Therefore, these themes and characters feel real, raw, relateable, and brimming with emotions.
The manga goes a little bit further than the anime by showing what happens after high school to most of the friends in this story. However, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the manga given the time constraints of the format (taking several volumes of manga and condensing down into a 2 hour film).
Characters: 7/10: It can be difficult to watch a show as “heavy” as this at times. Almost of the characters are bullies and/or the victim of bullying. The main character and his friends are not “nice”. Even after they mature, many of the characters remain self-interested and shallow.
However, seeing Shoya’s transformation, and character development throughout the film from a bully to being bullied, and then to finding love and friendship is really the highlight of the film. Well that, and just how cute and unique of a character Shoko is.
It does a good job of showing both the home life, school life, and recreational life of the group of friends. Even the minor characters, such as Shoko’s sister and grandmother are well fleshed out.
Art: 10/10 – the anime is gorgeous to look at, especially some of the lovely backgrounds such as the koi pond, fireworks festival, or starlit skies. The character designs are cute and distinctive, from Shoko’s utter adorableness, to Shoya’s unkempt “I don’t care” attitude (messy hair, tag always sticking out of his collar, etc). Even the supporting cast has unique well defined designs, from their height, weight, hair, or fashion, all making them more memorable.
But perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have actually animated some sign language scenes between the characters. Unfortunately I don’t sign, so I can’t comment how accurate the animations were, but it was still an interesting touch none the less.
Music: 4/10: I felt the music was very hit or miss for me. The opening theme song is an old (70s or 80s I think) American rock n roll song, which isn’t to my taste and didn’t seem to fit the theme or characters. The other music was not very memorable.
Voice Acting: 9/10: I dunno if Shoko’s voice actress is actually deaf or suffering from hearing loss, but the actress definitely has a speech impediment – whether that is real, or fake, I can’t tell. Other films and TV series, such as Switched at Birth have used deaf actors and actresses before. If she is not deaf, then that’s even a higher testament to her acting ability since she is able to keep the speech impediment consistently throughout the film.
This does make her hard to understand at times. The version I watched was likely fan subbed and not the official translation. The writers tried to characterize Shoko’s speech impediment even in the subtitles, and at times, I found myself feeling as frustrated and confused as the other characters trying to understand what she was saying lol. She still sounds cute, and her speech impediment plays an important part in the story.
The other characters are equally as well cast and really bring the characters from the manga to life on the big screen.
I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.
I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.
For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.
Read on for the full review below.
Title: The Red Turtle
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017
Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.
Overall: 42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.
There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.
It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.
Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.
It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.
Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.
Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.
Music: 10/10 – Think of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.
Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.
The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.
Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)
Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)
Production: Bejing Enlight Media
Geeky: 5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.
Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!
Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.
I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.
Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:
In the end, the prince marries another girl. The Little Mermaid’s sisters come to her with a poisoned dagger. If she chooses to kill the prince and his new bride, she can return back home with her family. However, the Little Mermaid only wishes for the prince’s happiness and cannot bring herself to harm him because she is so in love with him. As the sun rises, per her agreement with the Sea Witch, the Little Mermaid turns into sea foam and dies.
I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.
So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.
Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.
In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.
However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.
Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.
Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.
Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.
1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.
2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.
3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?
This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia
4.) If you watch past the credits you see a scene with Qiu (possibly eluding to a sequel of some sort), and at the end of the credits you are told that the film is based on a Chinese legend about a brother (Qiu) who evoked an 8,000 year long autumn, and his sister, Chun, who evoked an 8,000 year long spring. Then we are led to believe that the Qiu and Chun in this film are the reincarnations of the ones in Chinese Legend. Chun even tells Qiu that she can’t love him because she thinks of him as her brother.
When we look at their respective magical ability, Chun with her flowering and plant growing, and Qiu with his fruit growing/harvesting, this also reinforces the idea that they are brother and sister. Also while researching this, I discovered that Chun is the Chinese word for Spring, and Qiu, the Chinese word for Autumn.
You can also do your own research into reading more about the Legend of Qiu and Chun. One such source that I found describes that they had an incestuous affair for many years, despite Chun later marrying for political reasons, and being separated by distance geographically. Despite the distance, their feelings for one another never diminished.
The problem that I have with this theory is just simply that Chun doesn’t love Qiu in this film which seems to be a direct contradiction to the ancient legend. If it was based on this Chinese legend, it seems that she would have also had feelings for him as well as, or maybe even more than, her feelings for Kun. Qiu very clearly has those feelings for Chun as he tells her that his only regret is having not held her in his arms on their final night together. However, Chun seems to only regard Qiu as a good friend, and nothing more.
Despite the inconsistency that this creates, I have to say, Qiu is my favorite character, and that one line of dialog, and the scene of their final night together, and Qiu’s sacrifice for Chun, really is my favorite part of this movie.
Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.
Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.
Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.
Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.
The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.
I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.
Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.
Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.
Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.
I recently discovered Scum’s Wish from an article describing the relationship between Mugi and Hanabi as abusive. While the anime begins with Mugi and Hanabi both in love with other people and only using each other to satisfy their physical desires, is there really anything inherently wrong with this? People have casual relationships all the time. Not all relationships are built around love.
Not only that, but, I think that love is a feeling that can grow over time. Hanabi and Mugi may not be in love just yet; but that doesn’t mean they won’t fall in love by the end of the anime or manga. There has been much foreshadowing already hinting at this possibility.
Could Hanabi and Mugi ever fall in love or have a happy ending?
Here are some clues that hint that they may be falling for eachother:
In Episode 1: Hanabi tells Mugi not to fall in love with her. Mugi tells her don’t worry, you’re not my type. And she tells him “Me Either” (you’re not my type either). This just seems to be setting a stage for them to fall in love by the end.
In Episode 2: Mugi tells Hanabi “Not all happy things have a happy ending, but you still wouldn’t want to erase them from your memory, and that how should I say, makes you even more unhappy.” — Perhaps Mugi and Hanabi will not have their happy ending, but they will look back not with hatred for eachother, but fondness instead.
In Episode 3, Hanabi starts crying and says that she wants to try to love Mugi
In Episode 2, she gets very aggressive and possessive of Mugi when Moca tries to get close to him.
In Episode 2, Mugi encourages Hanabi to go make friends and gently strokes her hair. Hanabi thinks this is strange and comments that it’s almost like he’s her boyfriend.
In Episode 3, when being naughty together, she thinks Mugi and the act of pleasing Mugi is cute. Mugi also reluctantly here gives in to Hanabi. He feels guilty for thinking (dreaming in this case) of the other girls. He tries to avoid Hanabi’s advances at first. In the end he laments that he is just “destined to be used as a plaything for adolescents”. He doesn’t sound very happy about this. He is hurting too and wants a more affectionate and loving relationship – Granted at this point he still wants it with Akane. He even says he can’t believe he’s satisfied by Hanabi and wishes Akane would “punish” him for it.
In all of the episodes, Hanabi is concerned not only with her own pleasure, but also worried if she’s good enough for Mugi and concerned with pleasing him as well.
The lyrics to the opening song seem to be more about Hanabi X Mugi than Hanabi X Oniichan.
“If Fate existed, I’d like to say, “You’re the one I’m destined to be with”, But I feel those words will destroy what we have right now… so I can’t say them. Even when you’re near you seem so distant. This feeling goes in and out like the tide. I’ll give up. I’ll never give up. An endless game of flower fortune telling. If I’ve lost the key to my treasure box, I’ll embrace my brightest emotions, Hiding their faintly colored remains behind my sighs. When our eyes meet, don’t look away! See through this lie hidden within them. I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now. I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.”
If we analyze those lyrics…
“I feel those words will destroy what we have right now so I can’t say them.” This could refer to either Mugi or Oniichan. With Oniichan and Hanabi they’ve been such good friends for so long that she’s afraid of ruining their friendship. With Mugi and Hanabi, she’s afraid of losing their relationship, even if it is purely physical.
“Even when you’re near you seem so distant” – Once again this line could apply to either Mugi or Oniichan. But I think it applies more to Mugi. Oniichan still comes over to have dinner and hang out as a friend with Hanabi, and they’re close, perhaps even inappropriately so, having to remind each other that he is now her teacher and she’s his student, so they don’t really seem distant at all. Mugi on the other hand keeps his emotions and thoughts hidden away from Hanabi, and they are close physically, but he always imagines Hanabi to be Mei or Akane. He doesn’t embrace Hanabi as Hanabi. He therefore in my opinion is always distant, even when they’re intimately close.
But the most telling is the line at the end: “When our eyes meet, don’t look away!” (Don’t think about Akane or Mei) See through this lie. (Her lie that she doesn’t love Mugi). “I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now” (Don’t tell me you love me, because I don’t know who I love / I love both of them, hence being a “playgirl” or “confused.) (Also “playgirl” would apply directly to how naughty she is with Mugi. With Oniichan she doesn’t have that type of physical relationship). And “I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.” This could apply to both Mugi or Oniichan, but when you watch the anime, who or what always makes Hanabi cry… It’s Mugi most of the time. Her relationship with Mugi is painful to her… in the beginning, it’s painful to her because she feels like she’s “cheating” on Oniichan… but as time goes on, and at the end of the most recent episode, she’s crying and says she wants to try to love Mugi.
For Hanabi, the chances of ever having a relationship with Oniichan are small because he is her teacher now, and it would create a scandal. For Mugi, although Akane does fool around secretly with her students, this would not be much better already than his relationship with Hanabi or his past with Mei. Akane isn’t ready to be serious about anyone, and yes, she does inappropriate things with the other students, but this is not love either.
At what point (if any) should you give up on someone that you love, knowing that it just can never work out? What if you began seeking comfort from someone else to help fill that loneliness? In the 2nd Episode of Scum’s Wish it’s hinted at what exactly will happen. Hanabi goes out with some girls from her class. One of the girls is dating 2 boys at once. Now she can’t choose because she loves both of them. Hanabi tells her if she doesn’t choose, she will end up alone. This very likely will be in parallel to what will happen to Hanabi. If she can’t give up her crush on Oniichan, but continues to keep dating Mugi, at some point, she will be in love with both of them. She will become stuck and unable to choose either of them, so she will be left alone.
So what do you think? Can Mugi and Hanabi ever fall in love? Will Hanabi or Mugi let go of their crush and find happiness with one another? Is their relationship really that wrong? I don’t feel that they will regret their relationship either way even if they don’t end up together in the end. I think that they will build enough fond memories together that the overall experience of the relationship will have more happy memories than sad ones despite how it may end.
The other article that I read points out that they could find comfort in other things/people. Which may be true, but I still don’t think that comforting each other through their hard time is really that bad. The original article that I read made it sound as if Hanabi and Mugi turn their backs on their friends and family and only turn to each other. This is not true. Mugi has Moca, Hanabi has Oniichan, her mom, and Ecchan. You also see both of them with other classmates, and it’s even stated in the description of the anime that they are both “Popular” and “well liked” at school. So I don’t think that if the relationship were to end that either of them would fall into a hopeless depression.
This past week I finally marathoned the anime that everyone’s been talking about. Yuri!!! On Ice won a ton of awards recently in Crunchyroll’s 2016 Anime awards. And not only that, but it’s been gaining unprecedented attention even from people who would not identify as Otaku or Anime fans, including actual real professional Olympic and Competitive Ice Skaters. The series is herald for its beautiful intricate artwork that perfectly captures the movements and expressions of professional ice skaters, as well as a fantastic musical score, and touching love story which stands apart from the rest since it features 2 LGBT males. It handles the relationship in a sweet and innocent and tasteful way, and shows a lot of depth and heart combined with suspense and drama as you watch and learn more about the characters inner most thoughts both on and off the ice.
Title: Yuri!!! On Ice
Release Date: October 2016
Genre: Slice of Life, Sports, Comedy, Romance
Length: Season 1 is 12 episodes. Season 2 has been announced but no date set yet
Geeky: 5/5 – The level of difficulty in animating this show is mind blowing. The characters’ movements on the ice feel so lifelike. The soundtrack is also amazing with very memorable opening and ending themes.
Sweetie: 4/5 – There is a lot of comedy, as well as a very heartwarming love story between the main character and his coach. There’s also a cute doggie ❤ However, at times, especially later in the series the story can move a lttle too slowly.
Overall: 42/45 93% A “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Story: 8/10 Yuri has just returned home to Japan after several years of training abroad as a professional Ice Skater. He finished last place in last year’s “Grand Prix” (although he fails to realize that even placing among these 6 finalists is a feat worthy of being proud of.). He returns to Japan unable to face his fans, friends, or family, until a mysterious guest arrives!! It’s Yuri’s life-long idol, Viktor, a famous Russian Figure Skater whom Yuri has always looked up to. Viktor announces that he has taken time off from his professional skating career in order to become Yuri’s coach. During this time he will live side by side with Yuri and things begin to heat up both on and off the ice. I deducted a few points as there are some pacing issues at times and the large amount of “skater jargon” can distract (although it does add realism which is a big plus!)
Characters: 10/10 There are a number of rival figure skaters from around the world. When they hear news of Viktor’s semi-retirement in order to coach Yuri, they have mixed reactions of anger, jealousy, intrigue, disappointment, or amusement.
Viktor’s former coach takes a new skater on to train in Viktor’s absense, who just also happens to named Yuri. This “other” Yuri had been friends with Viktor and Viktor had promised to choregraph his senior skating debut performance. Viktor is rather forgetful however about promises… leaving Yuri to travel to Japan to confront Japanese Yuri and the forgetful Viktor which sets off a heated rivalry which will last all season.
The story follows both Yuris and several other side characters, along with their coaches, as they travel and perform and perfect their skating, leading up to a face off in yet another Grand Prix.
Not only does it focus on the excitement of watching who will advance to the tournament finale, but also on their life, friends, family, and personal relationships both on and off the ice.
Animation: 5/5 – The animation in this series is insane. It seems as if you’re watching real people, real professional figure skaters.
Music: 5/5 – Each skater’s performances are highlighted with unique music scores, just like a real figure skater. Most of these tracks are super catchy, and watching them skate to each track is almost like some weird “Fantasia on Ice” anime. Not only that, but the opening theme and ending theme are both catchy AF and super memorable, both because of the songs and also the animations. The ending theme uses an instagram or snapchat style photo feed and totally brought back feels of Prompto’s Photography skill in FFXV making it very timely and relevant. Both Yuri on Ice and also FFXV also focus on strong male-centric relationships/friendships. The opening theme of Yuri on Ice is in English which is a rare and nice touch, and the animation is done in a sketch-book style of the anime opening.
Voice Acting: 5/5 The Voice Acting is also nearly flawless. Yuri’s sweet innocent voice, Christopher and Viktor’s more sultry/mature voices, Yurio’s rough and aggressive voice, or JJ’s high energy and confident voice, they each highlight the characters’ emotions and energy levels.
“Shall We Date” is a very popular series of free mobile and browser based Otome Games (Games for Girls) by NTT Solmare. Wizardess Heart is one such game in this series. I recommend this game for anyone who loves Harry Potter (or cute anime games in general). Check out my review of “Shall We Date: Wizardess Heart +” below!
Title: Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart+
Developer: NtT Solmare
Genre: Otome Visual Novel with Dressup Game elements
Geeky: 3/5 There are numerous limited time events and the graphics are quite pretty – however, as is the case with visual novel games, there is not much meat to the gameplay and overall challenge or difficulty levels are low. However, it does earn some “geek” cred for the fact that it is sure to appeal to all Harry Potter fans.
Sweetie: 5/5 This game has everything a girl could ask for, beautiful graphics, tons of romanceable (cute) guys, dressup elements, a great love story, interesting characters, high replay value, freedom of choice, multiple endings, and lots of events
Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Concept: 9/10 Wizardess Heart is a visual novel. A visual novel is a type of game, often without any combat or action, which allows you to see different parts of an overarching story by making different decisions at certain points which leads you to various different endings. As is common in many free or low budget visual novels, you begin this adventure by choosing which route you want to be on by selecting one from more than a dozen different men. I dislike this approach to visual novel telling. I prefer to not know which route I’m on and let my choices determine that, such as in more high budget premium visual novels such as Clannad or Stein’s Gate for example. I did deduct 1 point from concept for that, but that’s just my personal taste. Getting the route and ending that you want is really the only challenge in playing a visual novel, so removing that, by forcing you to select the route before you even play the game, significantly lowers the “gameplay” value by eliminating any sense of challenge from the game. It’s not just low budget games taking this approach lately either, many Idea Factory titles such as Norn9 Var Commons and Amnesia also take this approach.
Wizardess Heart does spice up the gameplay a bit by having 2 endings per each route, a “normal ending” and a “good ending”, and you must make correct choices to max your love score while playing to reach the good ending.
The game also offers dressup features letting you dress yourself, your guy, and decorate your room. The items in dressup also grant you stat bonuses such as your charm or magic score which will help you progress through the game. Many of the items are limited edition, making you want to login to play to collect the items before they expire. This gives you bragging rights and lets you show off your awesome items to everyone. The dressup features definitely keep you more engaged in the game than if they just had a straight up visual novel without these event items.
Sometimes there are also limited time stories that you can read, and they sometimes even let you vote for who should be the main characters in these stories. Once again, this encourages players to login and continue playing the game.
The sheer number of datable characters, charming cute graphics, and unique “Harry Potter-esque” story all make this mobile game stand-out in a sea of “sameness”.
Story: 9/10 Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart is an Otome Game that puts you in the role of a young female magician. Your magic gives you the ability to speak to animals; however, when it comes to controlling magic for use on non-living objects, you are significantly less skilled. It’s every magician’s dream to get an invite to study magic at the prestigious Gedonelune Royal Magic Academy; but, you never thought you were good enough to get accepted there. One day though your letter of acceptance arrives and you are transported to a strange magical world with talking stuffed animals, unicorns, magic classes, and most of all, really cute guys lol.
Each guy’s route has a different story, and each story has 2 endings. This makes nearly 30 endings just from the main routes. As mentioned under concept, occasionally, special event stories will be added, which if you complete before the end of the event let you see completely new mini-stories about each of the characters.
The average story length is long too, which is both a blessing, and a curse. Long enough that you will either need to spend several days/weeks playing each route, or break down and buy “story tickets” that let you advance the story. It adds to replay and keeps the game more interesting, but does interrupt the “flow” of the story when you want to play for long periods of time.
The translation and editing seem very high quality (I’ve only been playing for about a week so I have only seen one route admittedly). But compared to “Shall We Date? Guard Me Sherlock” which I also began playing recently, I see far fewer typos or “awkward” sounding translation phrases in Wizardess Heart+. I saw quite a few instances of these typos or translation “errors” in Guard Me Sherlock, enough to be jarring and take away from the actual story — However, I have not seen any, to my recollection, while playing Wizardess Heart+.
Characters 10/10: The Characters are all highly likeable and diverse. New Characters get added all the time. There’re tsundere types who rarely show their emotions, “Shota” style boys who act like little kids, Romantic “prince” like types, Aggressive/reckless types, secretive/mysterious types, “bestfriend” types, and anywhere in between.
Not only are there a wide variety of characters, but they do experience significant character growth and development throughout the game. The characters all have weaknesses, secrets, flaws, etc. Not just mary janes. This endears them to the audience, and makes them seem more real. It also adds some mystery and depth to an otherwise fluffy sweet story. Some of these guys have a few skeletons in their closet. Is your love for them strong enough to accept their flaws or will it tear you apart? In this way, it tells a more mature and deeper love story, one that may be closer to Josei as opposed to Shoujo, even despite the “Magic Girl” premise.
Gameplay: 7/10 Gameplay is pretty straight forward, you begin with a short prologue about your character and her magic. Once you are accepted to the academy you will be asked to select a buddy. This determines which route you will be on for this playthrough. You are allowed to view a preview of each character and read some basic information about them to help you decide.
Once you’ve chosen your buddy, you can begin reading his story. You will be awarded several story tickets in the beginning. Every few minutes you’ll end up coming to either a break in the story, or a decision you must make, both of which will consume a story ticket. When you run out of story tickets you can either purchase more for real money, or wait until they refill. I think they refill at a rate of 1 ticket every 2 hours – and you can hold a max of 5 tickets, so ideally, if possible, you want to be logging in and playing at least once every 10 hours so you don’t miss a story ticket from your inventory being full.
As with most mobile games, you can get login bonuses for playing consecutive days. After you login you can go on a “free date” once per day. Dates let you get special items such as dressup items, story tickets, in-game currency, and more. You can also challenge other players to see who has a higher charm score, winning here will not only grant items but also raise your charm, magic, and other in-game stats. Also winning 5 times in a row grants a special bonus.
Don’t forget to check the announcements for special events also! These events are the best way to get nice items without spending real money, such as new limited edition dressup items, or more story tickets to keep playing longer, or in-game currency.
You can also send free gifts to your friends who play, or invite friends who don’t play to come check out the game.
Dressup and decorating plays a huge role in gameplay. Not only is it cute and adds customization to your character, it also grants stat boosts and as mentioned above these stats let you challenge other people playing the game, affect your dates, and even affect the story. You do not have to be wearing an item to get the stat boost, it works just by collecting them and having them in your inventory. This allows you to dress freely as you would like without worrying about the stats.
While gameplay in visual novels is never a strong point, this game loses points in my opinion for the “choose your route at the beginning” format that it takes. However, it makes up and earns points when it comes to special events, dressup, replay value, number of endings, number of choices, and number of characters/routes within the game. It loses a significant amount of points for the “story ticket” system which forces you to wait before seeing more of the game.
It’s also a nice touch that the game will sync and allow you to continue playing on mobile, pc, facebook, facebook gameroom, etc.
Artwork: 9/10: The artwork is very cute and high quality, like that from a real anime. The user interface is simple, but it gets the job done, is user friendly enough, and is not distracting from the game. I deducted 1 point because I would have liked to have seen character portraits to indicate who’s speaking as it can be confusing when multiple sprites are on the screen. Otherwise, both the backgrounds and characters are detailed and beautiful. In the dressup game section the graphics change to chibi super-deformed sprites which are less detailed but instead give off a charming and cute expression which fits the overall cute theme of the game.
Music: 6/10: The music is good and fits well with the theme, this game does lack vocal tracks such as voice acting or theme song though. There also doesn’t appear to be much variety in music or sound effects.
Replay Value: 10/10 The sheer number of characters, each having 2 endings, as well as special events, etc make this game one that is fun to replay.
Tsukihime was my very first visual novel, and still one of my favorites. While looking up images to use in this post, I also came across news that there’s a remake in the works. This is old news I guess as it was first announced clear back in 2012. However, a post from Siliconera indicates that yes, it’s still in development as of July 2015, so that’s a good sign. You can see more updates about this remake over on Siliconera here.
I’m not going to cover those details here, because this review is actually for the original Tsukihime visual novel from 2001. Also, I’ve never watched the anime, I’ve been told by many people that the Tsukihime anime sucked. Please don’t ignore this visual novel, even if you really hated the anime. This is a must play for any visual novel fan.
PS: You can grab the fan translation here. I couldn’t find a link for you guys to buy the game as it is now out of print, but Yahoo Japan Auctions or Ebay may be a good place to look. This game has never officially been released in English; but maybe now with the remake, we’ll finally see a commercial release.
P.P.S: This game is set in the same universe as Fate/Extra which is available in English. Instead of being a visual novel though, it’s an RPG that plays EXTREMELY similar to the Persona series. It’s a great game, and it’s getting older, and may become harder to find. If you like persona, or like Tsukihime, then you need to get this game. You can get Fate/Extra on Amazon for $44.95 here.
Also, Please Note: This is a Hentai Game, which means that it has adult scenes. — However, those scenes are very few in nature. This game is very long with an excellent story, and the hentai is near the end of each route. For example, I estimate it’ll take you at least 60 hours to complete all the routes in this game. The amount of hentai scenes in the game accounts for less than 2 hours from that total. You can always skip past those scenes if it makes you uncomfortable. Also one of the routes is with the main character’s sister, so if that makes you uncomfortable, you may either not want to play that route, or skip this game entirely. This is an adult game, and should not be played by children. Not only does it have a few sex scenes, but it has a TON of gore. It’s a very violent game.
Title: Tsukihime – Blue, Blue Glass Moon, Under the Crimson Sky
Release Date: 2001 (Japan only)
Genre: Visual Novel
Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Tsukihime is a visual novel with a dark, sad, and super natural story. It’s a very violent game. It’s also a hentai game. The writing in Tsukihime is exceptional. The characters are really unique and detailed. The writing is almost TOO detailed at times. I was really cringing in some of the scenes with Ciel near the end. It still makes my finger nails hurt just thinking about it haha. Overall it’s a great game. It has kinda amateurish artwork. It’s actually a Doujin game – which I guess is the equivalent to what we western folk call “Indie Games” – that is, Type-Moon began as a group of fans working on a game together, and not a big corporation. Given that – I think the artwork is acceptable since they didn’t necessarily have the budget or skill and experience as more established studios.
Gameplay: 3/10 Like most visual novels, there’s nothing to do except read, and click, and read, and click ad nauseam. The choices presented to you are also pretty dang spread out and few in number. The choices do matter and determine which route you get on. If you’re stuck, also there’s a tips section that’s set up in a really unique and humorous way. There’s also of course the option to skip previously read text. But it’s pretty basic visual novel style gameplay here. You don’t really play this game for gameplay, you play it for story, but I’m scoring story separately below. so Gameplay wise, it’s about a 3.
Story: 10/10 The reason I love this visual novel so much is because of the story. It’s a long tale with some surprising twists especially regarding Shiki (the player character) and the two maid twins. It’s been a few years since I played, but I think one of the maid’s routes only unlocks after completing all other good and true endings – and her route really will close the loop nicely on all the questions from the previous routes, bringing the game a good sense of closure.
I don’t want to spoil the story, but the bare bones is as follows (may spoil the first hour or so of the game for you): You play as Shiki; he has been hospitalized and sick for a long time. Shiki has a memory of a girl who disappeared from his life who was very kind to him and encouraged him greatly. The other girls throughout the game will remind him of his mystery girl in his memories. Somewhere along the way while hospitalized, he discovered he could see the “life line” in all things – living or even inanimate objects. Because he was bored and stuck in a hospital bed, he discovered one day that just by idly tracing his finger over this “life line” he could erase whatever that object was from existence. Not just “killing” whatever it was, but making it so it never “was” to begin with. Finally now he’s going home from the hospital. He gets notice that his father died and that he is being requested to move back to his childhood home. He has not been home in many years. Shiki becomes reacquainted with his sister and the maids of the mansion where he used to play as a child. He also begins going back to school. On his way to school one day he passes by a beautiful woman. He doesn’t know why, but he feels compelled to follow her. He waits until she enters her apartment, and he can’t resist the urge to murder her. Shiki is not a violent person; he’s never hurt anyone before, but he feels disgusted by this woman. He cannot control himself and completely destroys her, chopping her to bits with a knife and brutally attacking her. Much to Shiki’s surprise, as he’s leaving school the next day, the woman is there again in the same place where they met the day before. It turns out that she is a vampire, and that’s why Shiki could not kill her. It’s also explained why he felt so compelled to kill her (and about his strange power to see life lines) later on in the story – but I won’t spoil that for you just now. Needless to say, the vampire is pissed, and she also has a mission she’s on, so she forces Shiki to basically become her slave and help her by using his power of being able to see life lines to obliterate anyone or anything from existence.
Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters has a different super natural secret. Also all characters have a “good” ending and a “true” ending which is much sadder. The character interaction is really high. The characters are unique, and as the mystery plays out you do see them evolve and change. You also are drawn to the characters and begin to feel their pain and saddness. Most of their pasts are very sad.
Graphics: 3/10 Sorry to say, but these graphics are bad. They’re ugly, the proportions are weird, and they just look very amateurish. The picture I’ve attached is from the 2001 visual novel. You can see how her head almost seems to be detached from her neck and at a funny angle – and this one of the more “pretty” pictures that I could find. (Not counting the anime or fanart or etc) Luckily, in the new remake the artwork is much higher quality, while still having the same character designs and appearance, just being redrawn and recolored in a more modern style. These graphics are no where nearly as bad as the original Higurashi – but still bad lol. By that, if Higurashi is like a 1 on a 10 scale, Tsukihime is maybe a 3. A slight improvement, but still not even “average” looking.
Music: 7/10 I like the music and sound effects used in Tsukihime. It fits the mood perfectly and gives it a nice dark and mysterious feeling. However, ultimately, none of the tracks really stand out in a memorable way.
Replay Value: 10/10 The game is long in and of itself. Each route will probably take 6-10 hours to complete. When you factor in the multiple endings for each character, that extends that time to 12-20 hours per character with 4 dateable characters – you’re looking around 60-80 hours of gameplay time. And it’s well worth it. The story and each of the routes are really interesting. The stories do start a bit slow, but you learn more and more about Shiki, his powers, his past, and just why he was sent away from his childhood home in the first place. Really great story, worth playing all routes to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. The new remake is adding more characters and routes, so I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope they don’t change the story too much as it’s so good already as it is!
Ever17 is probably my all time favorite visual novel. It was one of the first that I had played, and the story is so good. It’s not your typical “dating” or “romance” novel. It’s a very thrilling and suspenseful tale about a group of young people trapped in an underwater theme park. They are running out of oxygen, and worse yet, the computer systems are failing which is causing the pressure inside the ship to build, causing leaks. They’re also running out of fresh food and water. Strange things also begin happening aboard the ship. Some characters resign themselves to their doomed fates, while others will do whatever it takes to survive.
I’ve referenced this game in many of my other reviews, most notably, my review of Stein’s Gate (which you can check out here.) The reason for that is because after Kid, the developers of Ever17 and the rest of the series which includes Never7 and Remember 11 (both have been fan-translated) and 12Riven and Code_18, which to my knowledge have not been translated closed down, many of the staff members joined 5PB (developers of Stein’s Gate).
There are numerous similarities between the two games – both games deal with time travel, both games have the same interface (more or less, Stein’s Gate has the cellphone thing, but other than that, the menu design and especially the Tips section is really similar). But the biggest impression both games leave is a strong scifi mystery regarding time travel which uses true life events, people, theories, and science to create a great sense of immersion. Schrodinger’s Cat, John Titor, Black Holes, etc. I doubt I’m the only person who googled some of these things while playing and became interested in them because of these games.
The same author of Ever17 (and etc.) also wrote the script for 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors, and Zero Escape, Virtue’s Last Reward (and the sequels).
So if you like any of those “newer” games – please play Ever17 – in my opinion it’s STILL the best out of all of those – in terms especially of story, mystery, and suspense.
If You’re wondering what order to play these games in. This is the proper order: Never7 –> Ever17 –> Remember11 –> 12Riven –> Code18 // Stein’s Gate –> Stein’s Gate 2 (still in development) // 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors –> Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward –> Zero Time Dilemma (still in development).
Stein’s Gate and 999 are not directly related to Ever17, but they do have spoilers that might deter your enjoyment of Ever17 – especially 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which are very similar to Ever17. They’re great games, but Ever17 is still better :).
Title: Ever17 The Out of Infinity
Publisher: Hirameki International (who are now sadly out of business)
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date: 2005
Platform: PC (There are numerous other versions, including a 3D version on the Xbox360 – however, none of these ports or remakes have ever made it to North America, despite the surprising success of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which you think would cause them to consider bringing this title over. It could perhaps have to do with licensing issues now that Kid and Hirameki are both dissolved. )
Where to Buy: MY GOD!! It’s going for almost $1,000 on Amazon LOL. Or for about $400-600 from other resellers. Now I’m really tempted to sell my copy. But I worry I will want to play it again some day. — Anyways, needless to say, with both KID and Hirameki being out of business, this game is EXTREMELY rare and highly sought after (because it’s awesome). You can keep an eye on this amazon page and see if there are any new listings. http://www.amazon.com/EVER-17 Ebay might also be a good option, it looks like a few recent auctions have gone for around $100-200 (Example from last month: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ever-17)
Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Like most visual novels, you progress through the game by reading an interactive story, choosing how to respond at different points which in turn determine what parts of the story you see or which endings you receive. After completing each character ending, a new option will open up when you next start a new game at the title screen which will let you see the true ending – which is a huge mind fuck in this case – in a good way, but it’s very well worth the effort in doing all the endings and being rewarded by finally being told wtf is going on here – and it’s definitely NOT what you think it is. Really surprising / twist ending – I enjoyed it very much. It ties up every single question you have and is just so satisfying. Unlike the next game in the series, Remember11, which up until the true ending, I was liking it even more than Ever17, and then it just kinda ends with an open ending and you feel ripped off lol. Ever17’s routes are all really well fleshed out and tinged with sadness and mystery. But they resolve all of that mystery with the true ending. It’s awesome.
Gameplay: 6/10 The nature of visual novel games makes gameplay always a bit dull. The gameplay here is spiced up a little bit as you will switch between two different characters (which is a concept they also use in Remember11). And like any good visual novel (but sadly not all visual novels) there is a skip function to bypass previously read text to make multiple playthroughs much easier. There’s no minigames or anything of that nature to break up the “monotonous” gameplay of clicking and reading large blocks of text. However, compared to most novels, Ever17 has a ton of choices, and those choices carry a lot of meaning. As mentioned above, the true ending is also really satisfying, making all of that reading well worth it in the end.
Story: 9/10 I deducted one point because of the notoriously bad translation. It’s not really THAT bad where it detracts from the story or my enjoyment of the game – but it really needed another set of eyes to proofread this thing before it went commercial. There’s fan translations that are higher quality than this (I dunno, there might even be a fan patch for this game, I never looked, because like I said, the translation didn’t bother me that much.)
More importantly, this game’s story is amazing. I’ve mentioned a few times, but it uses real world theories and scientific principles which really helps build immersion and buy-in from the audience. The main theme is time travel – although that’s not readily apparent at first. And I won’t comment on how that comes into play, because that’d be a huge spoiler. All I can say is, if you like time travel games like Stein’s Gate – check this game out.
But at the heart of the story, is humanity struggling against their fate, people’s will to survive, and people’s determination to save their friends, family, and loved ones.
It also has an interesting juxtaposition of a childlike setting (a huge themepark), and the impending doom and oppressive feeling and urgency throughout the game.
Of course, the true ending is really satisfying, you’re left without any burning questions or confusion. It ties everything up into a neat little package with a bow on top for you to unwrap.
Characters: 10/10 The characters begin their “vacation” with such innocence and enthusiasm until they realize their sad fates. The characters slowly begin to change (which is a key sign of character development). Some who were anti-social before and independent, become weak and fearful, others who were innocent and bright become reclusive, almost all of the characters become neurotic, and a few become desperate enough to do anything to survive. It’s interesting to watch their struggle, their cooperation, how they begin to organize and band together to ration their food, lift eachother’s spirits, and search for a way to contact the outside to send help.
There’s also numerous mysteries within the main mystery, ghosts, artificial intelligence, children searching for their parents, amnesia, and more.
Graphics: 8/10 For the time, the graphics are quite beautiful. Keep in mind, this game is now 14 years old (the original Japanese version debuted in 2002). For that, the character style, the backgrounds, and even the 3d animation (in the opening video) are all very well done. Of course, by today’s standards, with technology like Live 2D and fully fluid moving character sprites (such as those in Ensemble Stars or NekoPara), the artwork, especially of the sprites, is stiff and dated. It’s still quite lovely though. — Interestingly enough, the Xbox360 remake features 3D character art – however, fans have often criticized the new art and prefer the original art of the PC version.
Music: 8/10 I loved the soundtrack in this game – it really helped add to the mystery and suspense, and even desperation that the characters were experiencing.
Voice Acting: 10/10 The voice acting is also another highlight of the game. I hear that they re-recorded all of the voice acting for the 360 version – rather this was to improve it, or due to licensing fees I’m not sure. – But in my opinion, the voice acting within the original PC version was excellent.
Replay Value: 10/10 The true ending is worth all of the work – and each of the routes are really well done. Many times a visual novel will have some routes that are not fleshed out well. But that’s not the case here. I tremendously enjoyed each route, making it almost impossible to pick a favorite. Also even though I’ve beaten it to completion and completed the true ending – I’d still play this game again – because it’s so good. Seriously, just go play this game if you’ve never experienced it.
Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”