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VN & Anime OST Appreciation, The Third Strike

It’s me shcboomer, here again with another edition of VN & Anime OST Appreciation. I’m a bit tired from subbing Little Busters! ~Refrain~ Episode 11 this week, so I’ll try to keep things short. If you’re wondering, I did cry due to this episode, much manly tears were had.

I’m actually in the process of reading the VN right now (Komari route). Will I watch LB Refrain anime after reading the VN? Proooobably not.

Well, I wouldn’t blame you… Glad to hear you’re reading the VN, it’s definitely worth it.

To commemorate this episode of Little Busters! ~Refrain~, let’s start off with Haruka Kanata, otherwise known as Faraway, from the latest episode of Refrain. The song is sung by Rita as with the majority of the vocal tracks from Little Busters! Manack arranged this track, and it was written and composed by none other than Jun Maeda.

Hmm, so we aren’t weeaboo enough to use Maeda Jun? Meh, whatever. This track… It’s kind of slow and pretty, but I’d need lyrics to really appreciate it. Then again, the lyrics could be a spoiler.

Lyrics are fine, if you watched our episode 11, you would have lyrics. The episode might be a big spoiler though…

While we’re on the topic of sad and touching OSTs, let’s take a look at Secret Base ~君がくれたもの~ (10 Years After Ver.) from AnoHana. It is sung by three VAs from the AnoHana anime in this version of the song: Meiko Honma (CV. Ai Kayano), Naruko Anjou (CV. Haruka Tomatsu), Chiriko Tsurumi (CV. Saori Hayami.) Lyrics and composition goes to Norihiko Machida and arrangement can be attributed by Toku.

Damn it, Boomer keeps sneaking anime music into my VN-land. How dare he! Also, the beatmap I have for this on osu is really annoying to get right timing-wise. Oh, and I can totally read that Japanese, it’s “kimi ga kuretamono”. I don’t actually know what kuretamono means though, so I guess that was pretty pointless. Damn.

Hmm, the breakdown at around 0:37 was quite interesting. I actually like this tune quite a bit – it’s both happy and a bit melancholic, isn’t it? Bit obvious pitch correction at some places though; guess it might be used for effect…  Not sure if I approve of the bridge at 3:10 that much, especially its start. The solo at around 5:00 is really disappointing. It’s a guitar man, USE IT. MAKE IT CRY. MAKE IT SING. LIVE. DID I MENTION I LIKE GUITARS.

I’m certain you’d understand if you watched the anime. It’s so fitting to AnoHana, even if the song is much older. The VAs for AnoHana did a cover of this song and it was used for the anime which is why it’s the 10 Years After Version.

Lastly, we have Eternal Feather from ef – a fairy tale of the two. This song is written by nbkz, composed and arranged by Tenmon, and Hitomi Harada provides the vocals.

Minori considers their high-quality graphics to be one of their trademark features – they even do their VNs in 1080p! Or was it 1920×1200, can’t remember… anyway, they have good graphicness. Kind of a pity that this video is 1. artifacted quite a bit and 2. Flash sucks hard so I had to download it and use potplayer, but I guess that comes with the Youtube territory. As for the musical content, decent, but pretty animu-style-OP-meh-y. Not bad, but not better than anything else good I guess?

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That’s all from me for now. I pass on the torch to Zakamutt.

Hah, you expect ME to WORK?

…Ok will do.

You better…

At first, I thought “Man, I really should try to pick tracks from VNs I haven’t mentioned yet.” Then this tune popped into my head. I’m not really all that sorry because Ever17.

A lot of the Ever17 tracks I like have this daft-punkish Homework era thing where the very first seconds grab you. Daft Punk managed this with just a single sample at times; Ever17 might not be quite that extreme. Still, it’s a great quality for background music – to hit you, straight away, with the desired atmosphere. Hologramm really does that – it speaks of mystery, but also of revelation – of truths tantalizingly hidden away, yet within your grasp… If you reach out to grasp them.

I think I need to read Ever17 at some point now… The track is quite mysterious alright.

Aah, Saya no Uta. Now officially released by JAST; years before, made available through a fan translation by the same guy. I dislike the official release because it’s named “Song of Saya” and not “Saya’s Song”. Now if that isn’t word-nerdotry, I’m not sure what is… Anyway, to the actual track. Feel the beauty and purity of those high notes? Yes, Saya is beautiful (although I feel the video’s picture kind of butchers her actual looks.) But the melody is sad, otherworldly, just a little bit… disturbing. Again, perfect use of music to build atmosphere.

SnU is partly a horror VN, and honestly, what would horror be without unsettling music? The rest of Saya no Uta’s soundtrack is great as well. If you want to really experience it, though… Just read the VN. You will probably not get disappointed, unless you are batman, who is wrong about everything (ZING SHOTS FIRED.) Oh, it’s medium strength guro, so I guess there is that problem. Honestly though, I’ve been called Zakapuss for good reason before; it’s not really that creepy. Not only that, but Saya’s pretty… deep, I’d say. A romance-above-all story? An exploration into what it means to be human? A lovecraftian fantasy? You’ll find all of that right here.

(Bonus:  Extra Credits, a long-running series of videos about game design, mentioned Saya no Uta in this episode.)

Saya no Uta, an interesting choice indeed. I do like this track from the OST, so no worries.

I think this was the first time I heard such an all-out freakout what-the-fuck-oh-shit track in a fairly modern style in a VN. Granted, F/SN was hardly the last VN I’ve read, and Tsukihime’s Phantom Dance has its charms, but anywaysies.

F/SN, another VN on my to read list… That thing is huge.

Things I tried hard to find but didn’t, messing the deadline up: 世界が色づき始めるとき by foka, the Higurashi excited club-activity theme. Oh well.

Mortal VN Engine Annoyances: Part One

I think I’ve whined about this quite a few times: VN engines suck. Hard. In this series, I will be providing some demands. They are NOT optional. If your VN engine does not implement ALL of these, it sucks, and you should be ashamed of yourself if a single VN is made with it. Please apologize to every VN reader in the world, then carefully consider ritual suicide as a way to regain what little honor you have left.

Yes, this means that I wish death upon pretty much every VN engine programmer alive. I make no excuses.

Without further ado, here is my first area of annoyance!

Saving

Main Complaint: Limited save slots

Each and every visual novel on the PC, or on any console younger than the PS2 generation, should have no limit to the amount of saves you can create.
I have seen reviewers say that a VN has “plenty of save slots” and think this is good enough. But really – why the hell do we even need to limit ourselves to an arbitrary amount of save-state pages, holding an equally arbitraty amount of saves? The only reason you should ever limit save slots is if there is a physical limit – and let’s be honest here, most recent visual novels are in the multi-gigabyte range.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was playing Mass Effect 2. As you might know, ME2 was released on the xbox 360 simultaneously as it was released for the PC. PR claims there were separate teams working on both, but frankly, ME2 shows signs of severe consolitis at times. That is probably why it has a hilariously retarded limit on saves. I ran out, and I raged.

There is a mod that can help with this – and I installed it – but why couldn’t developers just have flipped off the variable that limited the number of saves? This should take around three minutes or less for any programmer more proficient than an ape, and most of that time would be used to find the appropriate piece of code to change.

Of course, quite a few of the worst-offender VNs were not console-first or even console-simultaneous releases. And at that point… Well, I may or may not be assembling intel for a kill list right now, and planning a trip to Japan.

Worst offenders:

Tsukihime – Tsukihime has many choices, many bad ends, and 20 save slots that have no memo slot or picture, only a timestamp. I cannot overstate just how hilariously terrible this was. Well, I suppose you can’t expect much more from an NScripter game. Jesus, thank god NScripter seems to be dead by now.

Ever17 – Ever17 is slightly better than Tsukihime at 50-something save slots. Slightly. If you save at every choice… Yeah, you’re going to run out. And lord knows, Ever17 has a few.

999: Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors – 999 has only one save slot.

ONLY ONE SAVE SLOT.

ONLY. ONE.

Alright, there are, technically, some minor metafictional reasons for this. But honestly… at this point, just suspend our goddamn disbelief already.

Analogue: A Hate Story – I swear, Christine Love deliberately set out to piss me off here. Not only are the saves limited (in Ren’py, an engine that can support unlimited saves with tinkering…) but they are limited to like, four pages of four saves! This is insane!  There wasn’t a space problem in the UI or anything, she could easily have added more folders. Analogue has a multitude of choices and paths, and I’d have liked to explore my options better – especially picking if you are male or female and seeing the differences in AI behavior is interesting. But no. Christine Love shat all over me in that regard.

Meh, I pirated it anyway.

Almost there:

Aoishiro – Aoishiro had a pretty good save system, I thought. Those nine different categories let you do plenty of organizing, and the vertical columns in each could potentially scroll downwards infinitely.

A screenshot of Aoishiro's save screen

It looks so promising, doesn’t it?

And then you see that there is a Save Limit of 99.

WHYMVJIFRMWJU09RJYF84UICDKEWPCKDI9C8R9W0JCU8EWJCUIDEMCDIJOENCEDWnchudenhcudonjicdiocnx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH YES:

Katawa Shoujo – Katawa Shoujo is the only VN I’ve read so far that has unlimited saves. There are many more technological things to praise: the movies play smoothly on my faptop, the scrollback is pretty innovative, there’s the unique Scene Select (note: that’s not H-scene select)…

A picture showing Katawa Shoujo's save screen.

Yet another reason Katawa Shoujo rocks!

Unfortunately, even Katawa Shoujo isn’t quite perfect. For one, it doesn’t have a categorizing system like Aoishiro above, or the ability to set memos. Hmm, let’s just formalize the rest of my REQUIREMENTS:

Other things your engine MUST have:

*Each save element should have a picture of the scene it occurs in; a screenshot is probably the best choice.

*Each save element should have a memo field where you can freely enter text.

*Each save element should have a timestamp.

*Each save element should have a small, changeable icon with around 5 pictures to choose from.

*The save screen should have some kind of organizing system; probably a folder-based one would be the best. Look at Aoishiro up there for a decentish implementation, though a scrollable F/SN style multi-column and row one would probably be the best.

Fate/Stay Night does not have unlimited saves, but it does practically everything above perfectly…  So, it’s too bad that F/SN has hilariously many choices and 50 bad ends in total, so you will use up all save slots if you are remotely like me. I was really hoping I could shorten my kill list a bit, but no.

Extra credits:

These are not required to escape my wrath, but I would appreciate them:

*Memo space  autopopulated with relevant info.

*Indicator of whether the save is at a choice point or not.

*Feature to autosave at every choice.

Oh, and while we’re at it, stop saving in goddamn my documents or appdata. Do that shit in the game folder in /SAVES or something. It’s worked for ages, and doesn’t have problems when users play with different privileges and can’t save to the right folders and stuff.

—-

This isn’t the end of my list of Mortal Annoyances (of course not…) For more advice on not being killed by me, check out next week’s article when it comes out.

VN OST commentary and appreciation, second edition (Possibly Anime OSTs Too ~ Based shcboomer)

Hi and welcome to the second installment of our sunday OST thingy. I have no idea where boomer went, maybe off into RL land or something – maybe he was just still tired from subbing LB refrain :s. I hope he’ll come back here to edit this post with some more tracks and comments. I myself am going to be trying to sleep and/or read Little Busters as soon as I post this…

Well, without further ado:


While I can concede that Katawa Shoujo has inconsistent CGs, meh prose, sometimes meh pacing, and isn’t really the best VN out there (though still good, and worthy of an 8 in my opinion,) anyone ripping on NicolAmarfi’s hauntingly beautiful tracks may find themselves being ripped to pieces.

By me.

At its best the Katawa Shoujo soundtrack is just as good as tracks from some of the best VN OSTs I’ve heard; G-Senjou comes to mind here. Actually, I prefer Katawa Shoujo’s OST compared to G-Senjou’s when it comes to listening to their tracks outside of their respective VNs.

To be honest, I wanted to just tell you listen to the whole effing Katawa Shoujo soundtrack here (and then admit that there are some weak tracks…)

Well, I guess I can. Yup, all the music in KS, for free.


I can’t help but feel that this track’s name is written with quite a bit of sarcasm in mind. Maybe it’s just me having imprinted on the scenes where I remember it being played in Rewrite, but… I feel like it describes someone who is living out a hollow life, “satisfied” but longing for something more, depression waiting just under the surface. Someone desperately trying to convince themself everything is alright.

But maybe I’m projecting, here.


Aah, this vn… It deserves so much more attention. The lyrics to its songs are all full of foreshadowing and meaning in their own way, beside the songs being pretty beautiful musically. The rhythm minigame did make batman rage, though. Incidentally, I reckon Fuwanovel has by far the best torrent for SR, due to the rather complicated procedure needed to install it from scratch (I’ve done it. I know.) Oh, and an actual nonshit bat file! Yay!

Full disclosure: I may or may not have been heavily involved in the making of that torrent.

Sorry about the low quality video. The actual VN is 640×480, and I couldn’t be bothered to letterbox or upscale it. I mean, this is recorded with OBS while raging at the lack of other sufficiently lyriced videos.

My favorite track from SR is actually Melody, but the lyrics are a bit too spoilery for my taste – it’s Fal’s ED, more or less. Damn, Fal was such an interesting character too.

———————————————————–

Guess I’ll have to take it from here, this is shcboomer reporting in. Sorry I’m late to the party, but real life struggles (mostly exams) have gotten the best of me lately. On top of having to sub for Refrain Subs, I also had a few other PR things to handle this week. It’s been pretty hectic, but I’m here now.

Let’s start off with a VN OST that I’ve been listening to quite a bit while studying. It’s yet another OST from G-Senjou no Maou which happens to also be on my playlist. It’s sung by Rekka Katakiri and written by kanoko. The music is composed and arranged by Junpei Fujita.

Next we have an OST from the Little Busters! ~Refrain~ anime, although this song is fairly old. It was released by Key back in back in 2003 on the album Spica/Hanabi/Moon. Hanabi is used in the anime as an ED for Rin2. The  music and lyrics are composed by Jun Maeda and arranged by Yuu Hagiwara. Lia is the vocalist for all three songs found on the album which includes Hanabi.

The last pick for me this week is 届かない恋 ’13 or Todokanai Koi ’13 from the anime adaptation of White Album 2. It is an updated version of 届かない恋 or Todokanai Koi from the White Album 2 ~Introductory Chapter~ OST. The song is composed by Shinya Ishikawa, arranged by Shuntaro Kobayashi, and the lyrics are written by Naoko Sutani. Rena Uehara is the vocalist for this song.

Little Busters! Early VN Impressions

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I don’t read very many Key visual novels. Of the translated ones, I’ve read Clannad, and Planetarian.  I absolutely loved both of them and can’t speak highly enough of them. I’ve been wanting to read another Key visual novel for a while now, and as luck would have it, I got time off work to do so. I chose to read Little Busters! and  I ended up deciding to livestream my reading of it for 24 straight hours. Why? Long story short, it was a challenge issued by a member of the Fuwanovel forums. So my impressions are solely based off 24 hours of straight reading, and do not necessarily represent my final opinion of this VN.  Read the rest of this entry

If you like VNs, you might enjoy these games

Personally, my main reason for reading visual novels are the engaging stories they tell. There are people who go more for the pretty-girl dating aspects; I still love this as well (and I just thought of Isuzu’s dere in Hoshimemo and hnnged,) but not to the point of excluding less character-oriented games with no sexual activity present.

What I’m going to list here are not necessarily visual novels; some kind of gameplay is present in most of them. However, they are text-heavy story-oriented games, and all good: if you’re anything like me, you should give them a go.

Read the rest of this entry

Visual Novel music – a mildly enthusiastic commentary.

Just the other night, I was running by a short article idea by our great and glorious leader solidbatman about my first post on this blog. If you don’t know me, I’ve basically been a shadow editor for the blog by helping the others edit their articles when asked. Anyway, enough about me, let’s move on to the core of this article. For my first post here, I thought I’d keep it light and post some of the latest tracks that I enjoy from VNs with a short blurb about where they are taken from. I’ll be posting a few, and Zakamutt will post a couple as well.

Pfft, I was the one who suggested how to make the vn songs thing into an actual article concept. Oh, and this color will be mine – Zakamutt

Meh, I just wanted to do an article about VN OSTs/songs that I enjoy. Your idea for an article was good if you want to make yourself feel better.


First off, we have Sunbright, a vocal arrangement of BGM from Key’s visual novel Rewrite by Shinji Orito. Lyrics are provided by Ryukishi07 and vocals from Kitazawa Ayaka. The lyrics are quite silly but they do mean quite a bit in the context of Lucia’s route in Rewrite.

Oh god 360p… oh god the lyrics are so cute… oh god now I’m reminded of all the strong moments in Lucia’s route… *sniff*… Maybe I was too harsh on it, Kotarou’s retard moment nonwithstanding… Could Chihaya=Lucia be my new opinion on those two of Rewrite’s character routes?

BUT WHY 360p???

Probably because the uploader only made a 360p version? Who knows? I couldn’t find another one with lyrics on Youtube.


After that we have Close Your Eyes with vocals from Ayane from G-Senjou no Maou. The song is written and composed by Chiyomaru Shikura and arranged by Toshimichi Isoe. This is both an insert song and an ED song for the various routes.

Alright, 480p is a bit better. I suppose. Maybe. But 720p master race, man (at the wondrous quality of ~180 kbps AAC, but I digress…).

What, I’m supposed to comment on the song? Ok… I honestly don’t really want to even write anything here and just turn the video off because goddamn it this song makes me cry so much due to memories I associate with it jesus christ. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the song that plays during the very best scene G-Senjou no Maou has to offer. I won’t say any more.

G-Senjou no Maou was a thrill to play through. Emotional highs and lows abound. The routes were all fairly interesting and of course we have Haru’s route.


Lastly from me, we have Mayoi no Mori from Grisaia no Kajitsu. Vocals are from Hiromi Sato and lyrics are from Yoshikazu Kuwashima.  The song is composed and arranged by Junpei Fujita. I must say that Makina’s route was my favorite from Grisaia no Kajitsu.

No way, it’s obviously Sachi>Michiru>Yumiko=Amane>Makina. Your opinion is now invalid because I have blue text. That said, Makina’s bad end was pretty good. I recommend not spoiling yourself on the final (and only) choice in Makina’s route.

I could care less about your tastes in characters from Grisaia. I don’t have to waste my time arguing about your opinions.

That’s all from me, now I’ll pass on the rest of the article to Zakamutt. ❤

FUHAHAHAHAHA! I SHALL USE THIS OPPORTUNITY WELL.

You better!

Oh man… 480p, we meet again. I tried to look up how to make a 720p just-a-damn-image-and-music video that had .wav sound, but no dice on getting a single program that would just take a .wav file (because honestly, nothing that takes a flac file is going to reject a wav file), add an image and go. Why do I want .wav? Because Youtube converts all music files to AAC / ogg anyway, and I might as well have a lossless file going into their evil machines of quality reduction. But no. In case you’re wondering: yes, youtube can and will re-encode aac audio.

…Oh, I should talk about this track. First of all, if you don’t like intrumental tracks, you’re probably not on my wavelength when it comes to music – at least electronic music. This track perfectly captures the bright winter days that mark Kanon’s common route. And man, that string violin-or-something-ish synth. I could masturbate to it. Excuse me for a moment…

I like this track quite a bit too, maybe I should have posted up some Kanon tracks as well. Oh well, there is always next time.

…Aaaah that was nice. Anyway, onto the next video:

FINALLY 720p. YES YES YES YES YES.

This track goes soooo well with Ever17’s creepier sequences – it captures that sense of mystery, hidden danger, suspense, and occasional mindscrew that makes Ever17 so good.

I actually haven’t read Ever17, my backlog is way too huge. Rest assured, I will read it someday. I’m sure of it.

…And that finishes my contributions to this post. I suppose Boomer will add comments all over my parts now and mess this up, but that’s life, I guess…

Says the other contributor who adds all these random comments to my post.

Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1: Learning to Manage Chaos Review

Dischan_Media_-_Dysfunctional_Systems_Ep1

If you had the opportunity to prevent illness and end chaos, would you do it? Even if the methods for doing so went against your morals? Welcome to Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1: Learning to Manage Chaos. Written and developed by Dischan, it is the first in what is to become a series of visual novels. Dischan has already built a solid reputation with the release of their free VN, Juniper’s Knot (which I urge everyone to read), so I went into Dysfunctional Systems with high hopes for a fun read. I was not disappointed.

In Dysfunctional Systems, you assume the role of Winter Harrison, a 14-year-old girl who lives on a Utopian Earth. She one day, learns of other worlds, and is chosen to become a mediator, a person who travels to these other worlds to resolve chaotic situations. Before she can become a full fledged mediator, she must first undergo training. Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1 follows her second mission, to the world of Sule, in the small nation of Brighton. Her mentor for this mission is Cyrus, a notorious mediator known for his philosophy of “the ends justify the means.” Together, Winter and Cyrus must learn about Sule, Brighton, and the reason behind the chaos on the planet.

Winter and Cyrus

From the get-go, the reader gets a good gauge on Winter’s personality. She still has trouble believing that other worlds exist, and is also surprised by their variety. Sule mirrors her Earth in certain ways, yet the existence of poverty is in stark contrast with the utopian society in which she was raised. This makes her uncomfortable and unsure in certain situations. Her relationship with Cyrus is something of a test for Winter as well. As I said earlier, Cyrus will take the easiest route to ending the chaos of his mission, regardless of the morality of the method. Winter on the other hand has a very strong set of morals (even arguing with Cyrus over drinking beer). The two stand in opposite of each other, frustrating Winter, who is supposed to be learning from Cyrus.

The dynamic between Winter and Cyrus is very well done, as is the dynamic between Winter and the world of Sule. Sadly, not many other characters are in this particular chapter of the VN for them to interact with. Winter’s roommate at the school gets some screen time towards the end, but her appearance and actions act more as an introduction to her character more than anything. This leads into one of the flaws for Dysfunctional Systems.

It’s short. Very very short. In total, it’s maybe 2 hours long (longer if you go for all the Steam Achievements), but completing all the endings only takes about 2 hours’ time. Then again, for $5, I felt it was worth it. It will, however, leave you wanting for more in a good way. Hopefully Episode 2 is longer and filled with more detail about this universe and the reason chaos affects Earth.

If you’ve ever read a Dischan novel, you know that the art in their novels is great. Doomfest heads up the art, and it is very pleasing to the eye. All of the character designs and backgrounds have their own unique feel, avoiding a mistake found in many English-developed visual novels. Rather than trying to imitate Japan, Doomfest uses his own style to benefit the feel and atmosphere of the novel. The music, from CombatPlayer also works to perfection with well composed mood-setting pieces.

The story of Dysfunctional Systems is decently written. Winter and Cyrus travel to a small nation on the world of Sule called Brighton. Brighton has recently gained its independence from the large, powerful nation of Gabrea. While still a colony of Gabrea, Brighton was the subject of many wars between Gabrea and the nation of Fehrdia. Gabrea still maintains a strong grip over Brighton and its people causing the people of Brighton to think of themselves as little worker ants. When Winter and Cyrus visit, the President of Brighton is working hard to establish more freedoms for his country, and is growing increasingly frustrated with Gabrea.

Economics

I loved the setting of this story for the same reason I loved novels and games like Analogue: A Hate Story and Bioshock Infinite. It’s historical fiction meshed with sci-fi elements. You learn of the history of Sule through various futuristic technologies. I felt like a student all over again, learning the culture and ways of a newly discovered nation, just like what Winter has to go through. That said, there isn’t much mystery, or detective work, in Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1, as the developments of the novel are kind of thrown into your lap. But then again, that is not the focus of the novel. How Winter and Cyrus react differently to situations seems to be the novel’s main subject. Again, this is something I look forward to seeing more of in Episode 2, especially since your choices this episode change the way Winter will see Cyrus in Episode 2.

Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1 is a very good visual novel. The character interactions are very well written, the story engaging & well paced, and the audio/visual aspect is top notch. If you don’t want to pay $5 for such a short visual novel, then wait for the full set of episodes to be released (no word on when that will be). Dysfunctional systems Episode 1 is a great read, and I highly recommend it.

Overall: 8/10

True Remembrance review

Well hello there. The return of Zakamutt is here! …You were waiting anxiously, right?

True Remembrance is a 2003 (re-released with OP and ED movies and improved graphics in 2006) freeware visual novel by Shiba Satomi. You can get it here, or, if you prefer Fuwanovel, here. I personally recommend the Insani download.

Sometime in the future AD, the psychiatric community has come to a realization: there’s an affliction called the Dolor, and it’s only curable by erasing the painful memories that cause it. Thankfully this world’s setting is magical realism, so there are people who can help with that: Mnemocides. The Dolor is, more or less, a kind of depression/PTSD mix as far as I can tell. The effect on society, suicides apparently being fairly common is so large that a specific government organization has been set up to train people with Mnemocide potential. Unfortunately said people appear to suffer from Power Incontinence, so the government has also decided to keep them in a town which only houses Mnemocides and their patients, known as Guests. Said town, for the benefit of its patients, has none of the usual technology of the age — radios, TVs, even telephones are scarce or even banned. Rather convenient for the writer, as he doesn’t have to go into sci-fi territory much.

The story starts with our protagonist Blackiris taking a walk through town, and a bit of an infodump about the setting. The text describing Blackiris’ walk was a little hard to read: the prose felt just a bit too purple, and reading it took a bit too much mental effort for my tastes. This ends quickly however, and the novel keeps a good balance after that.

It’s winter, and you can feel it.

After said walk ends, Blacky meets La, a cute girl (who, in proud manga-style tradition, looks quite a bit younger than her stated age of 17). La is set to be Blackiris’ Guest, which basically makes him a somewhat odd mix of a butler, and also responsible for eventually erasing her bad memories. This makes Blackiris a Guide: the title of a fully trained Mnemocide. As he quickly notes, La has a very serious case of the Dolor: this means he’ll have to live with her for quite a while until he can get La to open up about her bad memories, allowing him to work his Dolor-curing magic.

After this, the story focuses on La and Blackiris living together, often mixed up by adding one or two supporting characters with their own problems. The viewpoint character changes between La and Blackiris for different chapters. It feels a bit disjointed and episodic here; with that said, I still found myself captivated, and the slow trickle of foreshadowing and tidbits about the setting kept me interested, apart from the highly interesting characters themselves. There’s surprising variety and depth in this, though, and eventually some pretty random (and somewhat actiony) stuff you wouldn’t expect happens.

Eventually, the novel heads into its climax: at first, this might feel like a sudden mind screw — I was certainly WTFing quite a bit. This is the meat of the story, and probably the best part. After tying a lot of foreshadowing, chekhov’s guns, and other story details together, the novel ends — with a fairly profound message, in my opinion. I cried a little, and, well, it’s just beautiful in general.

The prose is pretty good: you can feel that the translator and/or editor did a quality job (I am more or less a Seung Park fanboy by now, given his work on translating other novels like May Sky and LEAVEs). I wish more translations, and perhaps visual novels in general, were like this; I feel I only really see this kind of writing style in doujin translations. Well, part of Grisaia no Kajitsu qualifies as well, I guess. Major props to the guys that worked on that.

The music fits well; it reminds me of the Kanon soundtrack in a good way — it gives off that winter vibe. However, I feel there could have been a few more tracks and/or track variations thrown in — one piece in particular was repeated a bit too much.

A picture demonstrating the sprite art in True Remembrance

From left to right: Rook, La, Blackiris.

The sprite art in True Remembrance is beautiful. It’s not exactly conventional beauty, though — in many ways, you can tell it’s a doujin: facial expressions are a bit quirky in general, for one. Personally, I find this more of a plus than anything else, as it helps break the mold, compared to what you see in commercial games today. There’s something about the artstyle — the sprites kind of feel like they were done in watercolor. A kind of washed-out, transparent, cold feel. It really fits the game’s winter atmosphere. The backgrounds are filtered photographs; I think they work quite well.

I do have one small gripe: the font used is kind of hard to read. It’s small, for one; I’m not sure if there’s anything else wrong with it, though. Can’t put my finger on it.

All in all, True Remembrance has my strongest recommendations in a long while. Pretty much everything about it is good, and it’s not a super-long read either (I think it took me around five hours total, but I multitasked on twitter and irc and all while reading, so take this with a decently-sized pinch of salt. Other people claim they finished in three hours.).

9/10. I hope Sekai Project (kind of a spiritual successor to Insani) eventually brings over more doujin VNs after they finish with Narcissu; all the ones Insani translated have been interesting.

Live Streams!

I’ve decided to dive into the scary world of live streaming. When  streaming, I’ll be playing a large variety of games. From retro- jrpgs, to FPS to visual novels, I plan on playing everything I can. There won’t be any set schedule as to when I stream, but be sure to follow me on Twitter @solidbatman1 to receive updates as to when and what I’m streaming. You can also follow my twitch channel to receive an email every time I go live with a stream.

Check out my channel here, and I hope to see you there!

Update

Hi. As you can tell, nothing has been posted in a week. Why? Because I’ve spent every free moment reading VNs and playing games. Got some more Corpse Party fun coming up, along with Steins;Gate, Saya no Uta (hopefully with Zakamutt), and The Last of Us.

In short, we’re not dead! We’re just playing the hell out of some games and reading a ton of visual novels. Hopefully I’ll have something up in the next couple of days. Stay tuned!