Orange Manga Review + Crunchyroll Begins Airing Orange Anime Based on the Manga by Ichigo Takano

I’m not as big of a reader as I used to be when I was younger, however, the last few seasons of anime have not held much to capture my interests, and being single again I find myself with too much spare time. So this past year I’ve been reading a lot of manga! One of my favorites, which is available to read for free on Crunchyroll, is “Orange” — and a few days ago Crunchyroll announced they will be simul-casting the new anime based on the manga as well! I thought that makes it a good time to share my love of this series. I’m so excited about the anime adaptation! This review is for the manga version 🙂

There may be some slight spoiler for the first volume – I have tried to avoid them and keep this as brief and condensed as possible but if you’re worried, I’d recommend reading or watching the series first before going any further.

Title: Orange
Author: Ichigo Takano
Genre: Shoujo / Slice of Life / Mystery / Time Travel / Scifi / Romance
Volumes: 5
Release Date: 2012
Where to Read (for Free): www.crunchyroll.com/comics/manga/orange/volumes
Where to Purchase (For Your Collection): //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=anisug-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1626923027&asins=1626923027&linkId=586c86f6383b06e86aa9e7c8f777788b&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=anisug-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1626922713&asins=1626922713&linkId=dd4b403e33a9647fdfddec721ae59493&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

Geeky: geekygeekygeekygeeky 4/5 – due to the mystery of the time travel and suspense of life and death circumstances this series could easily be enjoyed by geeks regardless of their genders. However, the shoujo elements are strong, and there’s not much “action” aside from the time travel bits. So if you don’t enjoy slice of life, you likely won’t like this either.

Sweetie: sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie 5/5 – A very sweet love story here with a lot of heart and emotion and great character growth continuously throughout the series.

Overall: 41/50 82% B- “Very Good Manga for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The manga revolves around a young girl named Naho who one day receives a mysterious letter claiming to have been sent by her “future self”. It forewarns Naho that a new student is going to be transferring to their school and that this student will plan to commit suicide by the end of the school year and tries to give her advice on how to help save her “friend”. Naho works closely with her classmates, at first unable to tell them about the letter but gradually opening up to them as they enjoy their normal highschool life and Naho finds herself falling in love with the new student who she’s set out to save.

Story: 6/10 – I love the story (which I’ve outlined above without spoiling too much for you). However, the story ends with a rather “open” ending, and doesn’t resolve some of the questions I have. I can’t tell you more, obviously without spoiling it, but it was just not a very satisfactory ending to me. I also often wondered what became of the future Naho in the original “timeline” – because she was in love with and married to someone else and even had a child by him (this is all revealed pretty early (first chapter before she sends the letter to her “past self”) so it’s only a minor spoiler so don’t freak too much. — But if she saves Kakeru — would that then lead to Naho and Kakeru getting together, and how would that impact her child/relationship with the other person? — I wondered about that throughout the entire manga… I felt badly for this other person who really loves Naho. That slightly diminished my liking of Naho and Kakeru a little bit.

Characters: 8/10 Naho is the stereotypical heroine we always see in shoujo novels. She’s naive, afraid of her feelings, afraid of messing things up with her love interest, and pretty dense and oblivious to what seems obvious (about the relationship) to everyone else. She has a good group of friends who act as comic support, as well as love rivals, and this is all really common mundane stuff here. The most interesting character, by far, is Kakeru… he is one hot mess…. he blames himself for something that happens to his family at home (I won’t spoil it for you). He refuses to talk to anyone about his guilt/shame/feelings/fears and they eat away at him, which in the original time line leads to his committing suicide. Naho’s determination slowly begins to change Kakeru and get him to finally trust and open up to her and their other friends, however, it also frightens Kakeru, and we see him regress over and over and withdraw back into his depressing little shell. You don’t realize up until the very end if he will go through with suicide again or choose to live a happy life. I liked the suspense and drama. I liked even the dull mundane bits, and the comedy and humor along the way, and yes, even though I felt bad for some of the love rivals, I really did hope for Naho and Kakeru to get together. You can really feel their love and emotions for one another. You can also feel how awkward they are, and how they continue to inadvertently hurt eachother and struggle and fumble through their relationship.

Artwork: 8/10 – The art style is cute, and yet, distinctive. This is a relatively newer mangaka without many hits out there yet – I’m pretty sure this is their first novel to get picked up for an anime adaptation. I loved how each character looked very unique and different. Every single one is a different height and different body build. Naho is kinda short, and a little “pudgy” even with rounder cheeks, etc. This gives her a sweet soft innocent look that makes her a very likeable character for kawaii-ness alone. The boys of course are all absolute hotties :). My favorite thing is the multitude of different facial expressions – this artist has a very expressive style to their drawings.

Overall: 41/50 82% B- “Very Good Manga for Girls”

Animenewsnetwork.com provides the following information about the upcoming anime adaptation. I think most interesting to note, it’s being written by the same writer as Stein’s Gate, which is very fitting for a time travel anime. I do not see mention anywhere of the original mangaka’s hand touching the anime adaptation. Can we expect to see some changes in the story? I’m excited to find out.

The anime’s cast includes:

Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins;Gate, Terraformars) is directing the anime atTMS Entertainment and Telecom Animation Film, and Yuuko Kakihara(Chihayafuru 2) is writing the scripts. Nobuteru Yuki (The Vision of Escaflowne, Kids on the Slope) is designing the characters. Yukio Nagasaki (GATE, Dragon Ball Z Kai) is serving as the sound director, and Hiroaki Tsutsumi (Kuromukuro, Monster Musume) is composing the music.

(Source: animenewsnetwork.com)

Check out the trailer for the new anime set to air on Monday on Crunchyroll!

I also just found out (while searching for the trailer for the anime version) that there’s a live action film as well – check out the trailer for that below:

Are you excited for the anime or live action adaptations? Did you read the manga already? Do you like it? Let us know in comments below!

Orange Manga Review + Crunchyroll Begins Airing Orange Anime Based on the Manga by Ichigo Takano was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake

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

Platform: PC

Release Date: 2001 (Japan only)

Developer: Type-Moon

Genre: Visual Novel

Geeky: 2/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

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!

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Erased – Anime Review

Erased is pretty much THE anime of 2016. I’m sure you have probably at least heard of it, if not watched it yourself even. I really enjoyed this anime despite it being so predictable that I knew who the killer was by the 2nd or 3rd episode. — Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (or haven’t figured it out themselves).

Erased has awesome music and a neat time-travel theme. Are you sad that Erased is over? I highly recommend that you check out Re:Zero – a currently running anime with a very similar time travel concept.

Title: Erased (aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – The Town Without Only Me)

Genre: Seinen, Murder, Mystery, Scifi

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Length: 12 Episodes

Release Date: 2016

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 5/5

Sweetie: 3/5

Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 9/10 (Possible spoilers from first episode) The story begins with our main character, Satoru, delivering a pizza, suddenly as he’s driving down the street, he realizes he’s been there before. He explains that he has special powers which rewind time a few minutes before an accident occurs and that even though it’s against his better judgement he somehow always gets involved in other people’s problems to save them. This time he saves a little kid about to step into traffic. After he gets off work he goes home to find his mom is in town visiting him. He goes with his mom to the store, and he feels that something is not right. He tells his mom to look around for anything suspicious. She sees a man trying to abduct a child, but the man’s eyes meet her gaze and he gives up on his plan. Later, the man decides to kill the main character’s mom. The main character is blamed and framed for the murder of his mother – as he flees from the cops, he triggers another time jump – this time all the way back to when he was 8 years old – more than 20 years into the past.

There is something that happened when he was 8 years old that will set the course in motion for his mother’s death. Now he must figure out what exactly that is. The problem is, he’s just a kid, and while he has his memories of being an adult, he’s not as strong, and not able to do things he used to do (stay out late, go places unsupervised, etc). His friends help him “play detective” though only one of them actually believes that it’s more than just make believe. It turns out that when he was 8 years old, several of his class mates were abducted and murdered. The man thought of committing these murders was sentenced to life in prison. Could it be they have the wrong man? Can Satoru solve the mystery and save his classmates – and his mom?

The only reason I give this a 9 instead of 10 is because they made it so obvious who the killer was and did so too soon! I had it figured out by the 2nd or 3rd episode (Then again, this is a short series). It kinda killed the mystery which is sorta the whole point of this series. It’s still an awesome anime though and the story is really good! Good mix of comedy, suspense, horror, scifi, and even romance. There’s some changes from the manga – because the manga was still running when the anime aired.

The manga develops Kayo and Airi a lot more (Kayo never does move away and becomes part of their group instead of just disappearing. And with Airi we learn more about her dream (to be a photographer which makes the ending of the anime make more sense lol.) However, I think overall, the anime really captured the heart of the story and although the endings are drastically different, they really still follow the same formula with Satoru being framed for another attempted murder.

Characters: 9/10 I really loved the characters in this anime. They are so unique – from our main character, a struggling manga artist, to his mom with her sharp instincts, to his friends who range from chubby comedy support, to handsome young intelligent and level headed, to various love interests throughout the characters’ pasts and future. There are some really touching moments. More than anything, Satoru wants to protect the people he loves. This really shows through the character dialog and interaction. Once again, some of the characters are not as well developed in the anime adaptation as opposed to the manga. The anime is a bit rushed which causes certain chapters of the manga to be omitted completely, including an entire chapter devoted to Airi. Even still, I think the characters and their interaction is one of the highlights of this series.

Artwork: 5/5 Since it is a recent release, the artwork is clean, the animation is fluid, and the character designs are very attractive. – I also read the manga after watching this – and dang, that’s one ugly manga lol. (still well worth the read). I do like how they took certain things from the manga, like how the characters’ lips are very full, etc. It gives them a unique appearance. But I’m glad that it polishes these designs and changes them to look much cleaner and fresher. It has the spirit of the manga, but a very different style overall.

Music: 5/5 – If I could rate this on a higher scale, I would, but to keep in form with my other reviews we’ll stick to this formula. The music is one of the best anime soundtracks of 2016 so far. I really loved the opening song – which apparently is an old Jrock song from the 90s which used to be really popular. Kinda fits with the time travel theme to use a “throwback” opening song – and it’s just so catchy! The music throughout the rest of the series was also just really good.

Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Erased – Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Higurashi Chapter 2 Watanagashi Preorder Now Live. Game Launches Friday the 13th.

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Manga Gamer sent me another email today to let me know that Higurashi Chapter 2 Watanagashi is now accepting Preorders and that the game will be available on Friday, November 13th, 2015 (although their website says the 14th). It costs $7.95, but if you preorder, you can save about 50 cents off that price (not much of a preorder incentive).

Like the original, the new release will also feature exclusive special artwork for the characters that’s only available in this version of the game. You can also play the game in either Japanese or English.

Higurashi is a murder mystery presented through 14 different chapters. It’s also a Kinetic Novel, which means that unlike most visual novels, there is not a branching plot nor multiple endings, and there’s in fact, absolutely no interaction by the player. It’s just a story. A very good story though. So if you like murder mysteries, you might like it!

Since this is chapter 2, you should play chapter 1 first to better enjoy this game. Check out my review of Higurashi Chapter 1 Onikakushi — right here to see if it may be something that you’d like. You can also see the lovely new sprites MangaGamer has developed for this release (and comparisons to the Japanese ones).

You can learn more, and preorder Chapter 2 Watanagashi on Manga Gamer’s Site (and soon also on Steam) at http://www.mangagamer.com/detail.php?goods_type=1&product_code=154

Happy Halloween!

Higurashi Chapter 2 Watanagashi Preorder Now Live. Game Launches Friday the 13th. was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Higurashi: When they Cry Chapter 1 Onikakushi Visual Novel Review and Chapter 2 Higurashi Watanagashi Preorder Announcement

MangaGamer just sent out an email that says Higurashi Chapter 2: Watanagashi will be available for preorder “this” month. Since there are only 8 days left in this month, it must be sometime soon. With this exciting news, I thought I should review the first chapter of Higurashi for those who have not played it yet.

Gameplay: 1/10: Higurashi is a kinetic novel. This means that unlike other types of visual novels, there are absolutely no choices which you, the player, makes through the game. Click and read, Click and read, Click and read… One story, one end, one “path” — That’s it. It’s little more, than a story with some pictures and a soundtrack.

 

Does that mean it’s bad? Not necessarily. People like to read. What people don’t like, is when they buy a GAME and discover only later that it has no “Gameplay”. So I want to preface my review by making it clear what it is, and what it is not. If you’re still cool with a game in which you absolutely, do not, interact, at all, ever, then read on to learn what Higurashi has to offer.

Concept: 10/10 Higurashi is a murder mystery. It spans multiple “episodes” (14 of them to be exact). I’ve read that each episode is about 10 hours long; but I must read slow because I think it took me about 23 hours to complete the first “chapter”. Your mileage may vary. Even with a conservative estimate of 10 hours, to read the entire thing, all 14 chapters, it’d take a minimum of 140 hours. That’s a LOT of bang for your buck.

Unlike most games in this genre – there is no “season pass” – so there’s no good way to save money if you’re wanting all 14 episodes (although I did pick up Chapter 1 in an awesome bundle from indiegala – I’m hooked now though and will not be waiting for a discount or bundle before ordering Chapter 2. I have GOT to see how it all ends – I refuse to watch the anime until I’ve completed all 14 chapters of the game to avoid any spoilers.) Also, Manga Gamer, being a very small company, is doing it’s best to translate the games as quickly as possible, and are releasing them one by one upon completion. Chapter 1 was released in May of this year…. I hope they are able to release chapters more quickly than this… It’s been almost 6 months now since Chapter 1’s release. And Chapter 2 STILL doesn’t have a definite release date, just that they are taking “preorders”. If they continue with 2 chapter releases per year, it will take 7 years to get all of them released. Perhaps this project was too large for Manga Gamer, or perhaps they should have just purchased the translation rights from one of the many fan translations that were already done for this game.

Tokyo Otaku Mode Inc.

Graphics: 8/10 However, Manga Gamer is also doing a lot of good with this game. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever seen an English release get HUGE improvements and upgrades over the Japanese version!!! We can make Japanese non-english speaking gamers totally jealous with our beautiful new sprites. When I first saw this feature, I had assumed that Manga Gamer was giving us the option of using the original (horrible) sprites from the PC Japanese version (which they are keeping as an option in Manga Gamer’s release too) OR I THOUGHT that they were giving us the option to select the much improved Playstation sprites from the Japanese version — BUT that is NOT the case!! Manga Gamer Went ALL OUT and developed BRAND NEW artwork for the English release. Sadly, they left the original Japanese PC version background art… The playstation Japanese version has REALLY nice background art — BUT their character sprites are no where near as nice as the ones Manga Gamer contracted for this release. Having these HIGHLY improved sprites makes me feel really special. For ONCE we get something in a port that is a HUGE big deal, and huge upgrade over what Japan has. That makes me feel like Manga Gamer really appreciates their customers and wants to do their best with this project.

See the sprites here below. Look at the level of detail in shading and better proportions. This makes the sprites much cuter than either of the Japanese versions. P.S. Click To Enlarge :).

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Left: Original PC Sprite Second from Left: New Manga Gamer Exclusive English Artwork Sprite Right and Second from Right: Playstation Japanese Sprites (and backgrounds)

Higurashi When They Cry, Higurashi, Higurashi Chapter 1, Higurashi Ch 1, Higurashi Episode 1, Higurashi Part 1, Higurashi Review, Higurashi Steam, Higurashi Release Date, Higurashi Preorder, Higurashi Onikakushi, Higurashi When They Cry Chapter 1 Onikakushi, Higurashi Chapter 1 Onikakushi, Higurashi Ch 1 Onikakushi, Higurashi Onikakushi Steam, Higurashi Onikakushi Review, Review, Preorder, Higurashi Watanagashi Preorder, Higurashi Watanagashi Release Date, Higurashi Watanagashi Chapter 2, Manga Gamer

Left to Right: Original Pc Sprite, Japanese Playstation Sprite, Manga Gamer Exclusive English Artwork Sprite

Translation Quality: 10/10 In fact, also from a writing standpoint, the translation was very good. I can’t recall really almost ANY typos (though I’m sure there must have been a few) Compared to my most recently completed play through a similar style game (Amnesia Memories which is FULL of typos and inconsistencies) the translation of Manga Gamer’s version of Higurashi is REALLY high — I appreciate that, because it helps to immerse in the story

Music: 10/10 Sound wise, the music and especially the sound effects and atmospheric sounds REALLY stand out and add to the mystery and horror aspects of this game. Actually, I read before that Higurashi is what they call a Sound Novel instead of a Visual Novel, Higurashi relies on the soundtrack more than it’s artwork (especially when you look at the really amateur artwork from the original PC version).However, both the original PC version and the Manga Gamer release do not have any voice acting at all. The Playstation version had full voice acting and if you’re feeling brave, there are tutorials online to patch your game to have voice acting – Would have been nice if Manga Gamer either could have bought the rights to that version’s soundtrack and incorporated it, or cast an English dub cast for the game — I don’t particularly like English dubs, but It would have been another concession on Manga Gamer’s part towards pleasing their fans.

Story: 8/10 I don’t want to ruin anything for people who have not yet played Chapter One Onikakushi – but this game is very very very slowwww starting out — BUT… it rewards you if you put up with all of that by starting to REALLY pick up more horror/suspense/mystery themes towards the last 4-5 hours of the game. PRIOR to that, it’s very very light-hearted, slice of life, fluffy, happy…. When shit starts to go down though, that dark contrast against the MAJORITY of the first chapter being so innocent and pure, really stands out, and it is that contrast that becomes the real “heart and soul” of the first chapter.

Higurashi also leaves you to draw your own conclusions about wtf is going on – and I don’t know if it ever really explains things fully or if it leaves it up to you a la similar murder mysteries such as gone girl which end with an open ending. Since I’ve only played the first chapter I can’t be sure. Is it the occult? Is the town cursed? Do they hate outsiders? Is it all a coincidence? Is everyone just crazy? lol.

Characters: 8/10 The characters are all highly likeable which makes it even more alarming that one (or more) of them could be capable of murder – especially on such a high brutality scale, in such a way, that they enjoy murder, enjoy watching their victims suffer – pretty creepy when these are just CHILDREN. But well, creepy children are a staple of horror films too; such as exorcist, ringu, grudge, children of the corn, etc. Children are kinda creepy with their small frame and large eyes and sometimes strange movements or gestures etc which I guess is why there are so many horror movies and books which focus on the whole creepy kid thing. But children are also pure, innocent, adorable, etc. And Higurashi does a perfect job of showing that, despite being murderers, the children are otherwise, perfectly normal little kids, who like to play tag, hide and seek, and go to school.

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For awhile, it looks like there will be some romance options (well not that you the player have any choice anyways), but then the game decides to take a VERY different approach. If you don’t dig visual novels because they’re all sappy happy slice of life romance anime etc — Well you might just like Higurashi… BUT keep in mind what I said, the MAJORITY of the first chapter IS VERY MUCH like most any other novel, light, happy, innocent, slice of life, boring, slow, REAL slow in fact. — But it REALLY takes a dramatic turn that makes it unlike pretty much any other english visual novel on the market today. — And I hear the following chapters are even more bizarre and darker and that the first was merely a prologue/introduction. So fasten your seatbelts – you’re in for quite a ride.

The emotional impact of Higurashi was high, not only a sense of sadness, but perhaps more over, a feeling of isolation and desperation, a feeling of fear. It really gets creepy. It presents more questions than it solves and makes you the player think and reflect back on the story.

Overall: 55/70 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Note: if you don’t count the lack of gameplay against the game, it then becomes 54/60 or a 90% :) So if you don’t mind the Kinetic Novel genre, this is probably one of the best, if not the, best, kinetic novels to play. – I personally don’t like Kinetic Novels, but I am hooked on Higurashi!

Higurashi: When they Cry Chapter 1 Onikakushi Visual Novel Review and Chapter 2 Higurashi Watanagashi Preorder Announcement was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Amnesia Memories Review

Title: Amnesia Memories

Genre: Otome Game / Visual Novel / Dating Sim

Release Date: August 2015

Publisher: Idea Factory

Platform: PS Vita / PS TV and PC and IOS / Android

Get it for PS Vita on Amazon Here: http://www.amazon.com/Amnesia-Memories-Vita-Digital-Code/dp/B0149HRMX2

Get it for PC on Steam Here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/359390/

Get it on IOS Here: WARNING THE IMAGES THEY HAVE CHOSEN FOR THIS PAGE HAVE MASSIVE SPOILERS:

Free Trial Version here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amnesia-memories/id1019449265?mt=8

Paid Version here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amnesia-memories-premium-edition/id1020543963?mt=8

Get it on Android Here: WARNING THE IMAGES THEY HAVE CHOSEN FOR THIS PAGE HAVE MASSIVE SPOILERS:

Free Trial Version here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gloczus.amnesiasmp&hl=en

Paid Version here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gloczus.amnesiasmp_premium2&hl=en

Walkthru (No Spoilers): https://welcometowonderland.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/amnesia-memories-toma-walkthrough/

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 72/90 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Amnesia Memories is an Otome Game which is a visual novel in which you play a female protagonist with male love interests. The game is presented on the premise of parallel universes and allows the users to choose which world they’d like to play in. This determines which guy they will be targeting. Each guy has at least 3 different endings: Good, Normal, or Bad. You’ll know you get the good ending for a particular guy if you see the credits roll afterwards. (You can also check your progress by looking at the album and viewing the endings you’ve unlocked.) Like most games in this genre, if you play through all of the routes, an additional final route will unlock which helps tie all the other routes together and bring closure to the game.

Gameplay: 7/10 Like most visual novels, there is no combat or action to speak of, just lots of reading and at certain points making decisions which drive the story down one of many different endings. There are minigames; however, instead of inserting them into the actual gameplay, (like say the way Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side does), the games are just tacked into the options/menu screen like an after thought, and they are not terribly interesting either. The number of choices you make in this game is quite high compared to other visual novels, however; I’ve noticed that as far as the storyline goes, the majority of these decisions are only giving you the ILLUSION of choice, and not actually changing anything — except — they often DO change your stats which ultimately does change the story.

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These stats include your affection, trust, and suspicion (and in some routes, doubt also becomes a stat, but in other routes, that stat is not used, which is odd, because it should have been used for example, in heart world in my opinion; there were plenty of reasons to doubt the guy there as well.) I’m not totally sure how these stats are used to determine the ending; but the main premise is that you are supposed to hide your amnesia (although in heart world it’s discovered immediately within like the first ten minutes of that route and I haven’t seen any way to change that). In addition to hiding your amnesia you’re supposed to get closer to the guy to try and learn more about yourself and cure your amnesia.

To do this, you need to build both affection and trust with your partner. The stats do not have to be maxed out completely though to get the good ending and actually it can be quite hard to get the good ending in some worlds. I had a heck of a time in heart world. I replayed it 7 or 8 times, and realized it came down to just one answer that had revealed a key cutscene that I had missed. Once I finally got the good ending and saw the credits roll, I realized that I had not reached the “good” ending for clover world which I had thought I had, because unlike in heart world, I had gotten all of my memories back, and the ending I felt was really good and I had even gotten a trophy – so as I said, unless you see the credits each time, you need to go back because you did not get the good ending :).

Luckily, when you go back, you can quickly skip read text and previously used choices will be highlighted in a different color to help you keep track of your decisions. Save often too! Pay attention to how each response you make changes your parameters. I have about 10 save files and I cycle through them every 3-4 in-game days, this way I don’t have to start all over each time I reach a normal or bad ending.

Edit: I’m having a really hard time with this game. Clover was easy as cake but both Heart and Diamond have taken me at least 5-6 playthrus. I finally pulled up a spoiler free walkthru for diamond (which has links to the other routes as well) and am trying to beat diamond still as of this writing. I’ve included a link which will take you to the author’s website above so you can use the walkthru as well. I had my affection completely maxed with Toma and my doubt was low (under half), but I still kept getting normal or bad end. I guess if you answer one single question incorrectly you can lock yourself out of ever being able to get the good ending no matter how high your parameters are. Which once again calls into question why these parameters are even necessary and what they are accomplishing exactly? In Diamond the choice that locks me out of good end happens on August 6th – the game goes on until the end of the month. Meaning a lot of wasted time if you just want the good ending. And it’s not a readily apparent choice, since you have to lie here to be put on the good end route. I would think lying would increase your doubt and lower your trust. These parameters confuse me so much!

Story: 7/10 The story of course is the main point of these types of games. The story is good, but predictable. I knew right away in heart world who pushed me, and so I never suspected the other characters that the game spent so much time trying to cast doubt upon.

I have only completed Heart world and Clover world at time of this writing, and I begun to play Diamond world lastnight as well. Heart and Diamond have a LOT more suspense/mystery. Compared to these routes, Clover was pure Romance/fluff. Ukyo only appears for a moment in Clover, and they don’t seem to develop him much there, but even that tiny glimpse was enough to make me VERY curious about him.

I see he is very prominent so far in Diamond. — I’m assuming Ukyo is probably the true/final route in the game, although it’s just my speculation and not a spoiler or anything. Just I have this feeling that he’s really important. I have my own theory about him, but I’ll keep that to myself and let you form your own opinions while you play.

I have not played Spade route yet at all (though Ikki is probably the most handsome guy in the game.) so I can’t comment on Ikki’s route yet, but so far all 3 routes that I have played, have had good stories.

In Heart World, you’re trying to help your boyfriend solve a crime that caused you to fall from a cliff, a crime which you have no memory of. The police suspect your boyfriend and you have to help clear his name. When you learn the truth, it is quite painful (though not surprising at all; I had it figured out pretty early on).

In Clover World, you discover that you had a fight with your boyfriend the day before you lost your memories, and now he wants to meet to talk about the fight and the future of your relationship. Wanting to use the opportunity to learn more about yourself, you agree to meet and try to hide the fact that you don’t remember him. You seem to be successful in the beginning at keeping his suspicions at bay and you continue to meet with him as it seems to be helping you to remember more. As you grow closer to him you begin to wonder why you were fighting in the first place, and also wonder if learning the truth will cause your feelings for each other to change.

In Diamond Route, you have to hide your illness to avoid going back to a hospital. Your childhood friend, Toma, has been helping to take care of you while your parents are overseas. He claims he’s not your boyfriend, but that you did date eachother. He said he didn’t want to tell you because it would confuse you. Which you seem to take to mean that you were dating recently, before the amnesia. In your notebook you also have many “dates” listed where you met with another man, a coworker at a cafe where you worked. While trying to figure out where both of these men fit into your life, someone approaches you with a warning about your boyfriend and a threat on your life; strange things begin happening which put you in danger and add to the problems you’re already facing.

The pacing of all of the routes feels pretty good. You’re given one month in game time to solve the mysteries and regain your memories. This amounts to about 4-6 hours per route for your first playthrough, and substantially less for replays due to the skip feature and ability to keep multiple save files. With 5 routes to complete, it amounts to 20-30 hours total of play time, assuming you beat all the routes and achieve good endings for each on your first run. This is just long enough to capture your interest and leave you with questions and desire to play through the many different routes to learn more about each of the characters.

The story is well written, but like many games with heavy text; it suffers from some translation/localization errors. Sometimes entire words are missing that leaves a sentence not making sense (though you can figure it out by the context of other sentences). For example in Kent’s route in his ending one line says something like “Your feelings I fully now.” (it’s missing the word understand; “Your feelings I fully understand now”.) There’s other cases where a word should be singular or plural, or a or an are used incorrectly, but those are minor compared to some sentence mangling as demonstrated above. Also I think, but could be wrong, that the names of places sometimes change (within the same route). I say I “think” because, the example I can think of is getting a text from Kent saying he’s in XYZ Laboratory; and when I arrive at the campus my character says “So this is ABC University” It could be possible that the laboratory has a name itself which sits within the university, but to me it felt like the game couldn’t decide what it wanted to call the place – though it could have been intentional. Little inconsistencies like this, don’t detract from the story, but definitely pull you out of immersion.

The main thing that pulls me along in this story is this burning question / feeling that someone is lying to me. Why is it so cold in “August”? Why do I not have a cellphone? Why did someone take my computer battery AND charger? It’s like they don’t want me to know what the date REALLY is (or they want to prevent me from contacting anyone). Is Toma checking my mail to keep me from seeing anything with the current date, or is he really just being a gentleman for me? Maybe he was the one that put scary things in my mailbox to discourage me from wanting to check it myself. And although there’s a calendar in my room and everything is the way I left it, each route, someone has had a key to my apartment and been in there while I’ve been away. What are they trying to hide?

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This to me is a much more interesting question than the amnesia itself. I don’t know if my questions will be answered or if I’m correct but it’s just something that feels REALLY off to me. And other games I’ve played have done this before (Remember 11 comes to mind) which puts me on high alert for this sort of plot twist.

This feeling that something is not right, really makes me want to complete all the routes. I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye. I’m not sure I’m correct yet, but something just feels so off to me. It’s an interesting plot device, and although I have seen it before, it’s not “overly” used. It adds an extra layer of mystery to the story. And then there’s Ukyo, who says he’s a friend but also an enemy, he seems so sad, but also scary. He seems to know everyone but no one knows him, and he seems to have something against me, but also seems to be in love with me, and he appears to be suffering from multiple personalities as well. This makes it more of a thriller / mystery than just pure fluffy romance. It sets it’s story apart from other games with a sense of fear, paranoia, and anxiety. The mystery and the way in which Orion is presented almost as a main character (more on that under characters) make this an otome game that even male gamers could enjoy.

Characters: 7/10 Characters’ jobs, studies, backgrounds, and relationship with our heroine change in each route; but their personalities more or less stay consistent. Characters shift in and out of focus and become major or minor characters depending on what world you’re in. Below is a brief overview of the different characters:

Shin: Shin is often misunderstood, his appearance and attitude can come across as quite scary, but he’s actually very hard working and responsible. He was born into a poor family and his father had a questionable background which made Shin have to work harder to prove himself or make friends. His current goal is to study for the college entrance exams in order to obtain a scholarship. He really enjoys studying. He speaks very bluntly, it’s not that he’s cold, or a Tsundere, but just rather, he believes that by being harder on the heroine, it will encourage her to strive to do better for herself as well.

Toma: Toma is like a big brother to both you and Shin. He is always doting on you and spoiling you. He views it as his job to protect you and shelter you. Unlike Shin, he is not very honest about his own feelings, and tends to handle the heroine very delicately.

Shin and Toma: In Heart and Diamond, you, Shin, and Toma are childhood friends who have been together since birth and there’s a love triangle dynamic. In Clover, and I assume Spade, they are merely your coworkers at the cafe. But even in these routes, Toma still has that “big brother” attitude towards you (and his other coworkers). In Clover and Spade, Shin and Toma are both actual brothers (related by blood or marriage).

Kent: Kent is a graduate student (in all of the routes I’ve played so far), and he loves Mathematics. He is very shy and not good at dealing with people which makes him come across as cold and calculating. He tries to reason his way through everything, including his relationships and feelings. Although he comes across as cold, it’s simply a misunderstanding because he thinks so differently and rationally all the time, and the heroine is more pure and impulsive, this leads to friction between the two characters. Although he is also strict (like Shin), he will also give praise and compliments more freely than Shin. Like Toma, he also has a hard time expressing his true feelings and emotions. He gets shy, embarrassed, and flustered quite easily which the Heroine sometimes interprets as Kent trying to push her away. He’s best friends (in all routes so far) with Ikki, another mathematics student at his university.

Ikki: I know the least about him since I haven’t played Spade world yet; from what I have seen of him in other routes, he’s a playboy with a lot of charm, goodlooks, confidence, and charisma. He knows the perfect things to say, and often helps Kent by giving him dating advice. Kent and Ikki both love math puzzles, riddles, and games. They’re both very competitive with eachother. Ikki enjoys making Kent jealous. Ikki seems to think he has special powers over women which comes from his beautiful eyes. He claims he can hypnotize anyone who looks into his eyes. For this reason he often wears sun glasses when he is around others.

Waka: As far as I am aware, Waka is not a dateable character, though there are two ??? boxes on the main menu still – I’ve read there’s only 5 routes, and I’m betting the 5th belongs to Ukyo. — ANY wanys, Waka is your manager at work. From what I’ve seen, he’s completely different in Heart and Clover. In clover he’s the strong silent type and very strict with his employees. He rarely smiles, and rarely even talks. In heart he talks a lot, teases and jokes with his employees, and seems very kind and caring. I’m not sure why his personality changes when they keep the other characters pretty much consistent in all routes. It is interesting :).

Mine: I really don’t like how they spelled her name; they should have changed it for localization to Mina or Minnie. Just my opinion It’s pronounced Mee-nay, Minnie would have been closer than Mine (which I want to read/pronounce just like the english word). Anyways, that aside, Mine is one of your coworkers at the cafe, and one of your best friends, but her or Sawa alternate as perspective love rivals in some routes. She’s very feminine and sweet (although she can act cold if she thinks you are competition for her in any way).

Sawa: Sawa is another one of your coworkers and one of your best friends; she’s very athletic and outgoing, somewhat of a tomboy type character (basically a direct opposite of Mine). As mentioned above, Sawa also appears as a love rival in some routes.

Ukyo: This mysterious character appears in each route with multiple personalities, and he seems to know everyone, but they do not know him. In most of the routes he seems to both loathe and love the heroine. He seems like a dangerous guy, but he also seems rather sad and pittiful too.

Rika: So far, I’ve only seen Rika in one route, she’s a very elegant older woman (probably around Kent’s age, maybe a little older); She’s a bit of a snob, and in the route I saw her in, she seemed very interested in Ikki so she may very well be a love rival for you there in Spade World.

Orion: This little guy is the reason for your amnesia (not a spoiler, it’s introduced before you even play the game for the first time). He’s a demon from another dimension who was “traveling to earth for important business” when his mind “collided” with yours, causing you to lose your memories. He’s now trapped inside of you, and if you don’t recover your memories, he will overtake your conscious and take over your body. In order to separate, you need to recollect your memories to push him back out of your conscious.

I like most of the characters, but I do not like the way Orion is presented in the game. He speaks for the heroine; thus the heroine is the only character in the game who is not voiced. If we are not yet fully merged, shouldn’t the heroine still think/feel for herself without being told what is happening in 3rd person all the time? It makes me unable to connect with the heroine which is bad because I want to care about her as much as I care about the other characters, but I really don’t because she is downplayed so much and presented “through” Orion.

Typically most visual novels leave the lead character somewhat of a blank slate; to help create immersion; but the fact is, they do have a character portrait for her, and several CGs featuring her, but the only time you see the heroine’s portrait (other than the CGs) is when you enter her name on the title screen.

I don’t mind seeing Orion SOME but I would have liked to have seen my player character some too; I know we are supposedly “linked” to where we feel the same feelings, fear, happiness, embarrassment, etc; but I would have liked the heroine to speak for herself and to show her emotions through her own character portrait instead of always “hiding” behind Orion.

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Because Orion also has a VERY distinctive personality, it makes it hard to immerse myself into the role of the heroine. He’s VERY immature, although he is kinda kawaii (cute) sometimes. He has an almost “overbearing” personality that I feel is so different sometimes from my own. Which brings me back to the point that typically most visual novels leave the lead characters more generalized; but because this game focuses SO much on Orion instead of the heroine, it makes it very hard to “plug yourself” into the heroine’s role. It made me feel less like I was playing as the heroine, and more as if I was playing AS Orion since you see him constantly throughout the game.

Graphics: 6/10 Why are the backgrounds not colored? Maybe there’s a reason for this plot wise (like I’m in a coma, or dreaming, or something). But so far I see no reason why the backgrounds are “black” and white (more like green and white). It is kinda “lazy” to me to leave them this way. It does draw more attention to the characters, and the character art is gorgeous. There’s a good number of what I call “CG scenes” in which you see special extended artwork (that’s usually more detailed than the regular game artwork). Still when you look at games like Nekopara or the upcoming Norn 9 Var Commons (which is also by Idea Factory); you wonder why there’s not more animation in this game. The character portraits have various emotions and expressions, which range from serious to humorous (Orion often has very many “anime” style expressions like the wide streams of tears, or two little beady eyes).

The interface is clean and simple, and the text is easy to read even from across the room while playing on my ps tv. But the whole “stat” thing confuses me, because as I said it does NOT need to be maxed out to obtain the good endings. And your suspicion can be maxed out and not get a bad ending. And there’s only one good ending per route (as far as I know); so why are there seemingly multiple “good” stats (Trust and Affection). One would think there would be a “Trust ending” “Affection Ending” “Normal ending” and “Bad Ending” but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more likely that trust = normal; and affection = good ending, when if you think about it, a “good” relationship needs equal measure of both trust and affection.

I would have liked to have seen something graphically that made more sense to me here. Maybe show your heroine with various expressions, such as a blank stare for normal, a happy or blushing face for good ending, and a fearful, sad, or angry face for the bad ending. It would have been more clear than these sliders which dont seem very accurate. In heart world, my Affection was ALMOST maxed, but not quite, and my Suspicion (a bad stat) was completely maxed). My trust was high too but not as high as either of those, and somehow I still got the good ending despite not having either of the two “good” stats maxed, and the one bad stat’s bar being at maximum level. That’s just confusing to me.

Music: 10/10 Both the opening and ending themes are quite catchy and memorable and the music throughout the game does not feel repetitive or annoying.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The game is fully voiced and they keep the Japanese voice track which is a plus and what most of the people playing these types of games would prefer, so kudos to Idea Factory for that. The voice acting itself is very well done.

Replay Value: 10/10 The fact that you need to beat all 4 routes to unlock the Joker’s route makes you want to replay the game to learn the truth. Not only that, but the ability to skip read text helps with subsequent playthroughs in the same world trying to get the good endings.

Overall: 72/90 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Amnesia Memories Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie