Full Metal Daemon Muramasa: Visual Novel Review

So Muramasa is kind of a gamble to write about, it already doesn’t help that I’m more in the Demonbane/Kikokugai camp than Hanachirasu. I wrote around 100 lines of notes and apparently I had a lot of little nitpicks that’s mainly just pointing on that I was putting too much thought into X parts. But I’ll get to that later. Also just as a reference, I think I took around 55 hours to finish it, I left it on a lot so the ingame timer is off. I’ll start with the generic stuff first, then the minor spoilers that don’t affect the plot and eventually to the spoiler section.

Muramasa is about a lot of things, but mostly focuses on this law of balance. You’re forced to look at it every time you start the vn. I’m going to skip most of it until the spoiler sections because it explains it well through the first couple of chapters and keeps on putting a greater focus on it the further you go. All you need to know is there’s one silver mecha(they’re called tsurugi in the plot(and musha is the whole package), which is a pretty funny nod that I’ll talk about later) that can make everybody go insane. Your goal is to kill it but you fail and the silver musha breaks your best weapon into pieces. Now you’re collecting these pieces like a 90s anime while destroying any influence this silver musha is causing until your next chance in destroying it.

If you were looking for a title in the heavy mecha genre, then you might be disappointed at first. Because it’s more like how Musicus’s main themes aren’t about being in a band. Honestly you could remove the mechas and put in shaman king spirits and it’ll work like 60% the same. It’s more of a plot device to make the main character viable and to make situations possible.

The thing is that even though it doesn’t hit my preferences, this is still written really well and it handles it way better than how I thought Steins:Gate 0 did. Where yeah, it was well written but the tone of it felt stagnant compared to Muramasa. Because there’s a difference between being consistent and stagnant. The personality and the mannerisms of the main character never shift drastically, nor does his humor. But the genre of the setting around him does, it’s like he’s garlic sauce that’s placed in different meals, instead of being the actual meal. And if you don’t make it feel arcadey, which is kind of easy to do, then you get a way to remove the genre and tone fatigue I sometimes get in something this long. Honestly, it’s been awhile since I finished a 60 hour visual novel under two weeks. Each chapter changes the subgenre, maybe the prologue and the 5th chapter are somewhat similar and that’s actually a good call. Even the routes themselves are in different genres. The Hero route is more of a shounen, action packed and gives out hype. The Revenge route is more of a smorgasbord of subgenres that juxtaposes the more inherent seinen vibe it gives you. In my notes I said it was a lot closer to a demonbane’s route if it was more down to earth. The true route also has a huge mix and honestly makes hero route as the odd one out.

The art is great too, there’s not much to talk about. The revenge route had the best cg, whilst the true route had the better 3d models. But if I had anything to nitpick about, it’s that I remember a lot of cg with pretty boring backdrops.

The soundtrack is amazing, and it’s pretty funny that it’s still the weakest part of the novel. I still think Cyber Slayer has some better tracks but this one beats it out with just consistency. Though the tracks themselves can be considered spoilers, so I’ll mention it in the spoilers section. There’s one or two that play too often, but it’s basically the normal theme song anyway.
I think Defilement and Blade Arts 4 are probably my favorite on the normal ones, Hikaru’s song is also pretty good. Generally the mixing isn’t anything you’d notice and that’s great but there’s a section by the end where the sound effects just drown out the track, it was pretty jarring compared to the spotless record otherwise.

I’ll be starting the minor spoilers after this, just putting in the score in now for people that want to drop before that. It’s about the first couple of chapters and character interactions. Overall I’ll be vague enough so it’s somewhat safe to read. Anyways, I gave this an 8+1. Some of the combat dragged on for a little too long and there was a couple of nitpicks I’ll mention in the spoilers. If you don’t care about those, then it’s a 9. If I take away my preferences and base off and just what’s written, then I’d give it a 9.

On the other hand, while the hscenes aren’t crazy, I can see that there’d be a lot of people that won’t like them, but that’s kind of the point. They’re fucked up for the sake of being fucked up, but they’re also not out of place. My worst complaint is that they’re obvious. Usually I’d say you can remove them and just have it implied, but that’s generally not the case in this one. There’s a few of them that are kind of important, and a few others that enforce a specific theme. But it doesn’t really matter, everybody has their own tolerance and there’s going to be a few that won’t be able to stomach it.

Minor Spoilers:

So in a lot of these longer visual novels, genre fatigue happens a lot for me. And it probably happens to you too. Like the plot behind a martial arts movie is more than just padding time, eventually or even from the start you’d start to care less and less about it. And it’s the same thing with these, but Muramasa skirts away from it without destroying its own tone. So each chapter has it’s own subgenre:
The prologue and chapter 5 are more akin to an old school samurai movie.
Chapter 1 is the most light hearted and closest to a standard high school vn whilst shitting on the concept, there’s seriously parts where I could rip out and say it was from a Gintama episode and you wouldn’t doubt it. It introduces the main character, Ichijo, the war-ridden setting and the underlying tones. It also introduces you to one of the main villains in the plot, and probably the most well liked. If you put it in the batman universe, he’d be the Joker, in the sense that they spend most of their screen time accosting the main character’s way of life.
Chapter 2 is more of a low fantasy setting, it introduces the tsuguri smiths and Kaene. It also shows Ichijo’s complete ineptitude for navigation and it ends up being really important even though it’s treated as a joke for awhile. It also explains the affection system. I’ve seen a lot of people messing it up, it’s pretty funny.
Chapter 3 is more like cannonball, and if you never read that than it’s just a chapter about racing. It’s a refreshing change of pace even though it’s obviously short lived. It shows how black and white the protag can be whilst also showing that Ichijo is even more so than him to the point it’s rather extreme. I think this is the chapter where it introduces you to the generals of the regime, they’re all quite fun but I’ll talk about them in the major spoiler sections. It also brings up one of my first nitpicks that I’ll put in the major spoilers.
Chapter 4 is the shounen chapter, it has a beach section for 10 minutes and it’s basically fighting for the whole time. And whilst it sounds annoying to go through, I had a lot of fun and it was probably better than some of the future fights.
Chapter 5 is the flashback on the protag’s daily life and how Muramasa and Ginseigo came to be. I feel like it has the longest standoff in the whole title

Hero route is based on Ichijo, it’s a pretty extremist view but almost every important mindset in this title is extreme to some degree. It’s to the point where you can’t be a musha if you’re normal.
The ending was cool while also being kind of dumb at parts but that’s what you expect from something in this genre. In my perspective, Ichijo kind of got shafted compared to the rest of the routes, but her stuff is actually pretty important in the grand scheme of things when you hit the true route. The focused general in this one is Doushin, he’s the anti monk.

The Revenge route actually has a lot more going on, it’s based on Kaene. While Hero’s route is pretty much a kinetic story, this one has choices up the ass. To the point that there’s sections that’s just a choose your own adventure. It’s got a lot more humor to juxtapose off of to show how scary Kaene is. It shows what Sayo and the commissioner is about for the most part. The focused general is Shishiku, it’s probably my favorite but it’s also the one with the most screen time by the end.

The true route is closer to revenge’s plot but it focuses on Ginseigo and so it focuses on Muramasa as well. And while the general in focus is Chachamaru, it also puts more detail into all of the other 3. I think a lot of the nitpicks I had come in this route, but I find it’s a lot more experimental and tries different things to lighten and other times heighten the mood. It also forces a minigame on you that took me like 40 minutes too finish. I’m just thankful there was no timer in this one compared to an infamous one on the DS.

So all of the smaller stuff is out of the way, I can actually start talking about the stuff I wanted to. Some are nitpicks, some are just complaining how some characters are pretty shitty people

Major Spoilers:

The affection meter kind of works the opposite of how it normally goes because the rule imprinted on Muramasa forces him to kill one good person if he kills one bad. Later on it shows that it’s based on levels. So if it’s a really villainous person, then he has to kill someone on that caliber as well which removes the option of just killing off nobodies. Overall he picks whoever he finds the most “good” in his perspective but it doesn’t really make sense half the time. At first I thought maybe there was a range issue, where if the person is miles away then another target gets chosen but that gets thrown away in the true route. And that gets shown a few times, one where he goes back to kill one of the girls instead of the racer that was right by him. And then again when he put the prince as the target if he gets to kill the Sogunate. But throughout this time, the commissioner never gets chosen even though the protag and him have a good relationship and it’s revealed that he’s the stepdad in Revenge’s route. He should be dead, it’s weird that sometimes he’s forced to pick one but other times he has choices. It even mentions it in the true route where he could’ve picked any of the 3 children, but he chose Yuuhi. But at the end depending on your choice you’re forced to kill Muramasa, when Ichijo and Kaene were around unbeknownst to him. Funny thing he pretty much dies in that ending anyway offscreen.
And even in the initial bad ending, where you’re forced with the ultimatum of either killing off the mc or muramasa because they ran out of “good” people, which even that doesn’t make sense if you consider how Ichijo handles it in her route. It shouldn’t really be possible, he still considered her a tool at that point, all blame goes to him and she’s not seen as good or bad, any rando would’ve been the choice. And whilst in the beginning it was alluded that he had to at least know the person to be sacrificed, but in the true ending he just does it mathematically. Sure he’s got colleagues but he should still doing one here and there. Even then, you can go back and just use hero’s route version where she can pick anyone so at most, it was self imposed.

Another thing based on the affection meter, there should have been a couple of decisions that should have actually lowered the meter, I can think of 2 from Kaene’s side.

So there’s a lot you have to keep in mind, there’s things that might sound farfetched but it’s completely normal to the people in the story. But a 1 day old child(technically it was an under an hour) remembering what the mom was saying is not only retarded in a normal every day scenario. Even the people around her can’t believe that she knows about that, it’s not a suspension of disbelief when they react to it negatively. And something that’s a different topic but still about the family, the family leader was all about keeping the clan alive and following traditions, he was really stubborn on not helping out the sole heir on her sickness. It was months before he did anything, and that’s after the protag intervened and passed his test. This is a pretty shitty clan elder. I get that asking some foreigners for help is shameful to the family name or something, but you were about to end that family name. And technically he did. And I actually guessed the reveal during this chapter, even though it was pretty off there. But thinking about it, if the role was solely for breeding purposes, it’s really weird that he even got accepted into the family for that long to actually be able to adopt someone. Which brings up another point that he shouldn’t even be around for that long, and he maybe he wasn’t and it was in Hikaru’s head. But I think the scene is meant to actually exist, where the commissioner had to stay just to put as the dad in a legal sense even if it wasn’t the case, and that’s what she saw. But she also knows who her real dad is so it’s dumb either way.

Masamune was another weird one. Technically Masamune was never used because everybody revered it and didn’t want to use it. But Sorimachi says it was more of a personality mismatch issue, and that it kind of goes with Ichijo’s mindset. If it’s just both, it can make sense. But Masamune complains that no one ever used him. It is pretty funny that he was in such close proximity to the mecha god.
There’s a cg flashback near the beginning of Hero route. I never got that, I had to replay to see if it was possible. I had to get at least 3 affection points with Ichijo, I got Kaene’s instead. The only way I can see it actually being possible is to get 3 points on Ichijo and then go full on focusing on choices that pertains to neither of them.

The whole Yagyuu fight in the hero route is kind of weird. It was shown earlier in chapter 4 that the weaker red tsuguri can match a blood one if they have godly technique. But this guy is doing it without a mech at all. It’s not really explained but since he knows Sayo, he either has a specialty mecha as well, or he’s completely honed to have every hit be a ma’ken like how the protag can in a specific mindset. This one isn’t a nitpick, it was just kind of weird at first.

In the hero route, they kind of break the system. Since he now understands that everybody is comprised of good and evil. They use Doushen as the example. Killing someone you see as evil also equates to killing someone that was seen as good. He knows it himself that he’s doing both at the same time. While it’s a way to break the system, I feel the semantics isn’t enough and Muramasa still demands two people, but then couldn’t he just kill two people? This is further proven by how Hikaru circumvents it because she holds no malice towards them. She didn’t kill anyone she considered evil or good, so there was no need to heed their law. But taking that aside, the protag failed to kill Ichijo, it was basically a draw but that means the agreement wasn’t fulfilled but he’s somehow doing fine. Sure he’s dying, but since he can put on the armor still, it’s not like the contract was cancelled. Uzuki is still a cool song, I like it more now considering the lyrics.

I barely got any nitpicks for the Nemesis route. Mainly that there’s too many choices compared to the rest but mainly that the choose your own adventure section hints that maybe you could be more efficient and lead to a different outcome but from I can tell that’s not possible. A lot of characters are introduced or fleshed out and they’re more important in the true route but there’s a specific one that amounted to a huge nothing burger.

In the true route, Ginseigo is actually a manifested dream. But at one point he panics and carries Hikaru out of the room into the forest and then Ginseigo comes out after awhile. Hikaru’s body should still be there but they don’t really talk about it.
Muramasa and basically all blood musha can regenerate from most things as long as they have the energy for it. Nothing wrong there, but he lost his nodachi when it got converted to those Ginseigo eggs. And you can say well the power was taken so Muramasa can’t make a new one, they have to collect the eggs and recreate it, which totally makes sense. Now why does the sword he uses for most of the plot( I forgot the type, I don’t think it was a tachi, probably some katana variation) stay broken after one of the Ginseigo fights. You can say that if they break then it’s over, and that would be a valid argument. But then why does Kotetsu come back after it blew up in the last fight. I think the normal sword did come back for the epilogue fight with Ichijo but I’m not really sure and there was nothing about it finally being done. There has to be something I’m missing because if it regenerated then it meant that it’s part of Muramasa. But if it’s part of Muramasa then I don’t see how it could’ve been turned into eggs in the first place.

I felt like the Muramasa slice of life section lasted a little too long. It’s also kind of weird to go to an epilogue and then go back and have an extra hour or two for the remaining stuff. The last fight before it ends is kind of whatever too. It’s open ended, you don’t know if Ichijo dies in there or if she joins up but I doubt it. Because she can’t win against an amped up Muramasa, maybe if she was coupled with Kaene and made it an actual scene, maybe I’d be hyped for it. And since we’re talking about it, unless Kaegaki is just inept on using Chachamaru’s shinogi, pretty sure they’d beat out Raichou easily instead of their 1 out of 100. There’s reason why Hikaru couldn’t affect her when her shit is more potent. At one point I thought Chachamaru would actually burn into Kageaki’s body instead of just the nodachi. And I’m not really sure which one is better suited for the plot, maybe if it powered both?

So in chapter 1, Yuuhi is actually foreshadowing the hero route and how Ichijo’s mindset is just as fucked up as it is pure. Without Ichijo showing up, Yuuhi probably wouldn’t try uppercutting an armored musha. The outcome would be overall the same, he’d just die earlier. It’s nothing overtly important but I thought it was pretty neat.

I really liked the generals, more so Raichoi and Shishiku. Doushin and Chachamaru also got their own mirroring happening but it’s not a lot. Doushin is basically king debauchery but he still has a warrior’s spirit. As long as it excites him then he’s good to go. So while he’s more of a tactician in face value, he’s better placed as a frontline unlike Chachamaru where she’s business savvy and a goof but is surprisingly the best in stringing people along and getting shit.
On the other hand, Raichou and Shishiku mirror each other better. Raichou keeps trying to sneak around in the back and do shady deals but always fucks up. Shishiku is more of the war general but fights in a manner that doesn’t represent his normal self. And it’s because for some stupid reason they’re generally doing each other’s role. Raichou is actually the best warrior they got, he creams basically everybody except Ginseigo and Muramasa(depending on the circumstances). On the other hand, Shishiku is an assassin, he lives for that shit was only made to be put in the spotlight due to his own political reasons.

The hscenes are kind of whatever outside of the first one and the ones that pertain to the mc. And this links to Ichijo’s dad, technically it links most of these characters but mainly these two. You see, almost all of them are shitty people that are tethered down by some kind of self-imposed rule. Kageaki first follows Subaru’s way of life, and then Muramasa’s principles. Just how Ayane follows his own ways in his extremist views since without them he probably would have everything he was against. It’s the same case with the protag, he was one if not the first in his family that could split tsurugi steel with a normal blade. Even throughout his family life, after seeing that everything would take too long, his natural conclusion was just to kill the whole bandit squad. And technically, he could’ve done it depending on his mental state. And then it’s either chapter 3 or 4 where he’s kind of freaking himself out because he’s mentally slipping and thinking it’d be fine to kill off a few innocents for the greater good. And I’m going to skip a bit of it because then I’ll be talking about almost every character in the game, when the overall gist of it is they all got their own mindsets that they anchored themselves into and won’t budge. I’d have to look at the lyrics again but I’m pretty sure that’s what Uzuki is about, it’s why it plays during the Ichijo and Kageaki fight.

And talking about the track selection, sometimes it felt like it chose weirdly. They played Uzuki during the sections before the mecha god, but Muramasa would make more sense. Then they played Muramasa during the first true ending, but I feel like staying and finishing Falling Leaves would be a better case, or better yet go with Calling. Uzuki doesn’t really place well with Chachamaru’s ending either but it’s not like there was a huge amount of time invested in her ending anyway.
But in general they’re all pretty much psychos. To the point that the generals of the regime are kind of not that bad by comparison, which is a pretty recurring theme outside of the Nemesis route. The only difference is that Sorimachi’s tether is really weak compared to the others, it doesn’t really limit in any way, it’s just he’s pissed off that Kageaki keeps trying to be something that he’s not. And at that point it makes sense why Hikaru is as unhinged as she is for the most part. It feels like it’s the only reason why Hikari was introduced near the end, to have somebody to embody what Kageaki wanted to live by and pass down his tep mom’s way of life but couldn’t due to his nature. That if he was born in a different time period that wasn’t engulfed in war, that he too would be someone like Hikari. And whilst Hikari is going down that path, he continues to create his own Army without Borders. Where one is the noblest pursuit while the other is the necessary evil/deterrent.

If anyone is interested, here’s my notes. You’re going to have to highlight it.

The rifleman are pretty edgy, it’s pretty funny
VN based on way of life? Silver mecha based on debauchery.
Muramasa based on vengeance to the point on no one is off limits?

Chapter 1:
Beginning of chapter 1 is pretty funny, reminds me of Gintama
Teacher is unhinged, might start a chain reaction. Might have killed girl due to her flirting with the enemy?
R: Nope, it was dumber than that. Already knew about hcg, so no surprise.

Boy made too many flags, he’s going to die. Talk no jutsu too strong, I can understand the uppercut but not the initial hook.
R: Boy died, possible rules that MC has to go by? Maybe considering him a good guy is the trigger?
F:While boy was the most enamored with MC, weren’t all 3 around the same affection, I guess it’s because he was alone and also causes most shock value

Genseigo is mc’s wife?
F: Sister

Chapter 2:
Possible hcg on sisters due to Nagasaka’s retaliation?
R: Surprised there was none
The chase scene was pretty cool
Whoever has highest affection dies. Do the opposite of normal? Had to be the two sisters because of the kill count was 2, I think it’s unavoidable
Ayane theme/lifestyle based on even further narrow mindset of good/evil? Kanae is based on conning?

Chapter 3:
Reminds me of cannonball vn a little bit.
Both characters are a little too into MC from the start
Chachamaru is possible third route? Assumed it would be the spider due to fighting game, or possibly the sister
Girl is being pimped out for parts due to low sponsorship?
R: Almost, almost the samething
Demonstrates how black/white mc is, yet Ayane is meant to be more so?
Kanae died, I think it’s possible to manage meter to have both live. Gameover if both die?
F \w chapter 5: Yeah gameover, doesn’t make much sense. Would assume that mc does not see himself or muramasa as good so they’d be disqualified so an immediate auto suicide would make more sense. Technically, commissioner would get “good” civilians to keep Muramasa going

Chapter 4:
Sorimachi is still the most interesting character
Back and forth between scientist and racist dude is pretty funny

Choose daughter to create false affection to save ayane?
F \w chapter 5: Yeah, otherwise she dies and gameover happens.

Killed mom due to inaction or actually forced to kill due to muramasa
F: Due to muramasa

Chapter 5:

MC is adopted, but the sister is still into him even though the plot says her affection is solely for her father? Would make sense if he was the real son to have blood connection to the father, weird.
Genseigo makes everybody go mad, so she can get the dad right away in that case?
Chachamaru is sister’s friend?
AE: That was a different person, thought it was the same VA

Bandit kid is a little shit. Possible betrayal leading to hcg?
R: yeah. It feels like it’s every other chapter but it’s around the same thing, reminds me of schatten
While a staple in these types of samurai fights, it goes on for awhile

Technically, the main issue stems from the previous family leader. Would have shortened the illness by months.

Masamura is immune to the eggs, but the nodachi got converted into eggs. When destroying eggs and gaining parts of the nodachi back, muramasa is powering up, so the nodachi is not just a tool but a part of muramasa, how did it become eggs?

The affection meter is based on how good the protag sees them as in his perspective. But there’s times where he’s against Kaene but the meter never drops. Also doesn’t make sense that this news reporter somehow got a higher affection rating than the two girls

Recollecting a scene when you’re 1 day is old is normally retarded, but even in this plot the mom’s surprised on the daughter saying that.

Hero route:
Got a cg in memory flashback, but I never saw it
F: Made a new save, I think it needs at least 3 affection points in chapter 3 for it to happen. Should it not show up then? Or maybe it’d pass to a different kind of badend where affection is too low so she kills you?
Thought Ayane killed the shogun but it wasn’t her. Maybe Chachamaru?

Technically Masamune was never used because everybody revered it and didn’t want to use it. But Sorimachi says it was more of a personality issue
Is it not possible to railgun an arm off?

Little brother was the little shit in chapter 5, so the boy is probably going to get cucked in this section by the monk.
R: Close enough
The Sorimachi vs protag made sense since he was still in a suit even though it’s the inferior version. But even if Yagyu spy guy is a master, it feels too out of the suspension of belief. Maybe shogunate guy isn’t dead and used the stealth tech from britain(since Yagyu mentioned there’s is not as good as ghq, probably true route)

Earlier on it was said by Ayane’s dad that even the one punishing evil are considered evil due to ultimatems. Leads to mom’s way the only path that doesn’t lead to needing to curse yourself. Wouldn’t Masamune have to destroy itself once something sees it as evil, due to perspective?

Technically, does protag even have to kill ayane now that he understands perspectives and choose another villain and say “he has good in him”? I’d say it’s due to affection rating, but there was that news reporter
fuck a duck
Protag still kicking after failing to kill. Took too much damage so contract was broken?

Uzuki is the one song I knew from the vn, I had it on my phone for awhile years back
Taking awhile for Muramasa to say anything, probably just Ayane taking the mantle now
R: Was Ayane but didn’t take the mantle, it’s honestly done better this way

Kaene route:
Based on revenge
Going to be more like demonbane? Meaning based more on mythicism.

Hero route was mostly straightforward. This route already starting out with too many choices
Comissioner is supposedly the stepdad? Pointing to affection meter, should he not be dead already? Or is there a timer and it’ll pick the highest one that’s still in range even though there can be someone meters away.
Ayane and protag was based on respecting yet opposed to eachother’s way of life. They consider eachother right but can’t accept it on an instinctual level. This one based on protag wanting Kanae to kill him but his hatred/revenge denying his own need for justice on himself?
Due to fighting game showing muramasa character, maybe it can revert back to humanoid and then reapply merging to further the advancement in tsuguri/mecha?

Each chapter has their own genre written in the same style, pretty interesting since it might’ve caused genre fatigue already.
Lost to second fight, thought south towards Kanae would be a safer bet, but it was west to the descending sun.
Kind of fucked up but still funny that Konatsu got the limbless part of the mecha

That grandma power is on a pretty short timer.
Second time they showed the mom in a porn scene, they mentioned that the mc’s hatred for himself is deeper than what he’s doing now with Muramasa. Possible that the sister is actually the daughter? Would make sense since the old leader mentioned that the men are picked up for breeding purposes. There should have been a kid before the adoption even happened. That could explain the helm splitter that he also did in the common route, it just took awhile compared to Hikaru. And also why she’s attached to him. Maybe even banged Hikaru?

This really was the demonbane type plot, but not based on mythicism, just had more time to explore characters

Conqueror route:
Spider is cuter than the other two
ok so the emperor died by ginseigo, I didn’t consider the others covering up that she was there but it makes sense
chamaru is another tsurugi?

the dream sequence is hilarious

He carried Hikaru with him, just because she started sleeping doesn’t mean the original body should disappear. I’m assuming they’re going to combine the dream and the girl from Kanae’s route

Pretty funny on how Raichou is better in the battle field when he wants to be the brains, whilst the Shishiku guy tries to be in the front when he’s better as an assassin
Hikaru might die and ayane gets her muramasa afterwards?

So his secondary sword broke during the black hole. I thought they would just regenerate and the nodachi couldn’t because it was converted
Kotetsu broke but now it’s back, why not the other blade?
It’s been awhile but I think Sorimachi is finally coming back

Enigma: Short visual novel review

So I actually wanted to shit on trinoline, but I wanted to space it out with something I barely complained about, and that’s Enigma. It’s going to be a pretty short one since there’s not much to say, it’s just a good read.
And it’s pretty funny when me and a couple of guys just couldn’t figure out if Envirio was a dude or not.

Anyways, when I was playing this, it felt like I was playing something from liarsoft and has the yuki kajiura feel from 2000 to 2004.

It’s a short novel of like 10 hours where the protag, Chester gets stranded on an island and decides to live his final days in piece while the others are oblivious to the end out or suffer through their ineptitude to help.

The amount and the quality of the cg is kind of surprising for a 15 dollar game, and it’s usually on sale since it’s old now.
The amount of tracks are minimal but most of them if not all fit the mood. I was looking into it since of the pieces sound familiar but apparently some of them are royalty free.

The routes use the lock system, you have to start with Lauro and hit the right endings, then Ignis get unlocked, then Envirio after that. Each character has multiple endings, and a good number of them are pretty interesting and gives you pieces of the overall plot. Though some of them should’ve been removed since not all of them are needed and that’s honestly my only nitpick.
Sure some of the background characters are kind of tropey but even they play pivotal parts in their own way on each route.

The plot isn’t anything amazing, but I’d say it’s above average. Staying true to its title, it’s open ended enough to keep you thinking on parts that aren’t important enough to leave a sour taste of not knowing the key aspects. But it also didn’t leave a huge emotional impact on me
The overall theme and ideas aren’t overtly subtle during and after Ignis. It can still surprise you sometimes but overall you can see where it’s leading. But it has great pacing and the lack of padding is refreshing. And that’s the beauty of it, there’s so many games and novels that belittle your time. I don’t need 40 hours of padding for some extra scene or story like the shit cold steel 2 did. At least crossbell was just extra bosses. I don’t a need a 100 hour thing like Assassin’s creed if it could’ve been streamlined.

Like it has a storybook theme in it and I enjoyed it a lot more than when I was reading Majokoi in a shorter amount of time, so I’m a little salty that I saw a lot more talk on that one.
I gave it a 7 but with personal bias I would put it as an 8 with just how charming it can be sometimes.

Spoiler section:

I like the concept of the story book(that Chester’s dad read to him) being used for both the past and the future. I also like the young man telling you the story could be almost anyone. It could be taken at face value as him being Chester, leading the reader to the epilogue. It could be Elliot or Envirio leading Chester’s soul to a 2nd life and that’s why Collette has a reaction and leaves without saying anything to the new protag. Hell, maybe it’s not that and it’s just showing that Collette is still a major threat. It could even be my first guess from the first route, where the young man is Genius helping out his friend one last time.

Yukiko Melt: Visual Novel Review

I kind of feel bad not putting one that I liked with almost no nitpicking, but I’m doing Yukiko Melt instead. This one is going to same as the post one, since I already wrote most of it.
So it’s a moege, but it has a winter theme so I read it as a seasonal change, though when this comes out, it’s probably going to be spring or summer.
Anyway, it’s a moege, so I rate it differently from other stuff, and some people dislike doing that but I’m not going to lower the rating of a strategy game due to the lack of combo functionality.
If all you care about is the score, then I gave it a 6 overall. And I’ll go over why later, but if you wanted something a little better than try Chrono Clock, if you wanted another moege that you might like or dislike more, then try Dal Segno. Personally I think Dal Segno has both higher highs and lower lows. I wouldn’t call either of them a pure moege but it’s close enough.

Tangent aside, it’s a moege based on winter and winter activities. It’s not going to be an amazing story, it’s there to be cute and just to have a fun little 10 to 20 hour ride.
The mc came to town recently and he hates the cold, but the town is all about winter, so sucks to be him. He has hand warmers all around and a huge scarf, and he speeds to school so he can camp by the heater. Crap happens and he gets bombarded by the winter club to join and prove that there’s something about winter that even he can learn to love, so he eventually yet reluctantly agrees to be a temporary member.
Throughout the routes, he learns to like winter in different ways, and the girls develop and grow out of their worries/problems like how it usually goes.

It’s frontwing, so you know what to expect in terms of character art. It’s not bad, it’s pretty good but you’re not going to remember it, and that’s basically the same for the soundtrack, it’s just there to fit the mood. They did put some effort in the op video, it’s not hoshizora quality, but it’s pretty good. On the other hand, the ending video is really lazy, and it’s kind of funny with the playorder I took.

The common route is pretty good, albeit usually cliche. I had the most fun in there compared to the routes. Yet I was pleasantly surprised on the route quality for the first half, with Taruhi and Shizuri. And then it was downhill, I kind of feel bad because there’s not much in Kanon’s route. And while Yuki fairs better, it’s not by much. There’s something there but it’s barely utilized.
The porn pacing isn’t the worst, but it’s also not great, I’d appreciate at least a good 30 minutes to an hour before the next scene. And it’s honestly ok most of the time in Taruhi’s route.
There’s even a extremely small ending for one of the side characters. Why they couldn’t do one more for the other side character is beyond me since it has comedic potential. It’s kind of the same issue with Umeko in Majikoi, where they could’ve given a section of a fandisk to her instead of that cookie bot or Sayaka.

I came in thinking Kanon would be my favorite character. Supporting characters aside, it’s probably and surprisingly Shizuri.

So for the spoiler section, it’s mainly on Yuki and Kanon.

You see, Shizuri’s parents do have a scene or two in her route, but it wasn’t really necessary. It was funny and not confusing why it was in there, but you can remove it and you wouldn’t really notice much, it could’ve been a one liner of what she told them. Kanon on the other hand, was pretty much setup for the family, and they have 0 scenes. There’s really not much going on with her outside of “hey she can be girly too”, even though that could’ve been one of the themes inside those scenes as well.
Yuki’s route had something, with how she only likes winter, and one of the reasons is because her family is stupidly busy and that’s the season where they spend time with each other. But it’s also more of an afterthought, it was maybe 10% of her route. So it’s at least kind of better, but not by much and it was kind of annoying.

All in all, it was a fun ride but I’d also say to just quit after the common route or maybe just do one route. The art is good, the music is whatever and you might as well just pick up suki suki or something. Even though I apparently also gave it a 6, lol. Though I guess it’s also more expensive.

Sakura No Mori Dreamers: Short vn review

So I was writing this while I was reading Musicus and this just got pushed to the side. I gave this a 6, and it’s kind of sad apparently I gave almost everything from moonstone a 6 and this was my favorite. I hope they’ll make a branch that will focus more on these types of novels, I’m not sure how they’d sell to the average consumer but it has potential since moe is a pretty saturated market. A sequel is already out, maybe the stuff I didn’t really like was already solved, I wouldn’t know. Because I’d give it a mid 7 to 8 if it did.

So like I said, it’s made by Moonstone, and they’re famous for their moege and imopara series. But their moege is kind of boring half the time(I still don’t know why Evangile was praised so much when it came out) dnd for whatever reason they decided on trying to make a light thriller mixed with some fantasy in there, and it came out kind of fun for awhile. Basically there’s spirits that are called bodach that very few people can see. They’re generally not many around but they treat tragedies like it’s carnival. They can enter people and they’re getting some final destination if it happens.

If there’s serial killers on the loose, obviously more spirits show up. And in the plot, the serial killers are generally somewhat unhinged people that get possessed by red/evil spirits, and this time it’s Joker. Your party goes into the dreams of the possessed users and try to kill off the red bodach that’s consuming the host’s soul.

It dips in quality fast after chapter 1, where it leaned to being more campy. Honestly it was already leaning towards that in the first chapter. It would’ve been more effective if they took away a few cg since it started becoming kind of funny. A good example on the quality dip on some other novel would be Tokyo’s Babel prologue compared to the majority of content it has afterwards. But even so, it’s still entertaining until the common story ends, it should’ve just ended there.

I guess moonstone just wanted to insert at least a little bit of what they’re actually known for in the title, except not as competent. It’s like if James Cameron added Terminators in the last 20 minutes of Avatar, it’s just not needed; it was fine, it ended on a good note. Because even in the true route, it’s not like you learned much of anything else outside of maybe 2 minutes worth of backstory that could have been added in the common route. The easiest way to explain how unnecessary the second part is to the plot, is that it took me one week to finish the first half of the plot, and then another month for the 4 routes that had 1~2 chapters each.

So you could just end it at the common route, it’s probably the best experience you can get if you’ve read enough of these.

Mifuyu’s plot was pretty interesting when it actually gets going, and it made sense since it does a callback to a missing link from the common story. Except it takes awhile to get there with a couple of hscenes and they’re just boring. The sad thing is it’s probably my favorite favorite route of the bunch in terms of plot. It really felt like I was back in the first few chapters. Sadly it was my first route so I was expecting maybe they were like this. They were not.
Like Hatsune, it’s a pure moege route. And it’s actually cute and does go more into detail with the mother and the aunt. But there’s nothing exciting happening but it’s actually fine as something to build the overall setting. The problem is her power is the most interesting of the bunch and they don’t do anything with it.
Mahoro also had a good enough premise, more akin Mifuyu’s route, but it fell flat. You can call it calming, and I think it was the only one with a different ED compared to the rest, it was pretty cool. But nothing much happens, it’s a good route in a moege but I expected more for this genre.
And they were trying something with Kureha, I feel it’s even slower than Mifuyu’s route, it brings back the main antagonist but there’s not a lot that’s new. Even so it’s nice to try putting the protag back in the same scenario and trauma but have a different outcome this time around. But was it really worth it when the common route’s ending had a better sense of finality?

Honestly the thing that I kept waiting for is why these Bodach can even enter the main character when he’s already a host. It was told that they could fight and whoever wins gets the host. It made sense that Hatsune’s powers couldn’t affect the one already in him since their souls basically fused but it doesn’t explain why he didn’t have immunity when it’s able to help in a couple of scenes, outside of just plot contrivance.

All in all, it was a fun ride, I’d like to see them try more of these. Sure I got problems with it, and I felt that the routes would’ve been better as a fandisk, or just better written to the point it felt important enough to continue the plot instead of keeping it open ended.

No longer on time VNs I’ve read in 2020

It’s pretty late now, I have to update my favorite vn list too.

Most liked:

Baldr Sky(1&2)

What if you really liked godhand’s combat, and what if instead of a dumb fun story, there’s decently written over the top plot. That’s baldr sky.
And boy does it have some issues, but I ignore them because it’s a blast overall, and I’m starting to assume that’s just Giga in general.
In short, if you like mecha combat, combos and want to remember 90s anime, give this a try.
There’s some difficulty spikes that can be annoying.
How they indexed scenes was really annoying(ie. if a new scene in a different route has 90% same lines, the whole scene is still considered unread so you can’t skip the plot). This happens multiple times, but mostly in sky 1. And there’s at least one route where you just hate the girl.
In 2, there’s a mode called reminiscence, which you’re forced to read, and around 70% of that is content from the first one. I’ve heard huge complaints so it kind of curbed my experience, and it honestly wasn’t that bad. But I can see it being a huge pain if you’re not aware.
Some of the characters you’re most likely not going to like, but put it all together and it was a fun ride. If you played Duel Saviors and liked the last 1/5 of it, then you’d like this one too.
Also, some were put off from the 50 dollar price tag when it was released. But it’s two games alongside having extra combat after you finish the plot that can go for quite awhile. It’s kind of cheap when you think about it. Though I guess it might’ve sold better if it was released as two parts of 25 each, who knows.

Totono/You and me and her

I find it a love letter to Liebestraum #3, it’s the title ost after all. It’s well written yet doesn’t feel artsy and smug about it. It’s a love story, but are you the center of it all?
Overall quite fun. I didn’t like the MC, but you’re not really supposed to. I also didn’t like Aoi’s sections much but they still improve Miyuki’s sections(Miyuki’s sections are good on their own as well). Out of all the ones I’ve read this year, I feel this has the most thought put into their tracks.
I actually wrote something about it here


It’s a mix of murder mystery and chuuni, I wrote about this one too
A lot of the delusions could have been removed, it took me out of it more often than chaos;head. And there’s an awful transition between 2/3 of the way through the plot. But it’s also something I didn’t have to power through, even though chapter 1 was getting close to it. Overall, I think it’s a pretty well written outside most of the subroutes and a few things that could be a deal breaker for some.


This is separate from the normal disliked. This is mainly something I was excited for and overall I had mixed feelings for


I wrote about this one too
An angel loses her strings on her guitar that she needs to do her job. The main character begrudgingly helps her out while they find how to fix it.
This is from overdrive, and overdrive is my jam. They made Kira Kira and Dengeki Stryker, alongside some other good titles but I felt were lower than these two. Outside of edelweiss(because I never read it), this one is probably the one I liked the least, and it’s still kind of good. There’s just parts that didn’t make sense to me, alongside a route or two that would do better with a rework alongside some chapters that I felt were better off just removed.
On the other hand, I really like how they handled the ending. The tracks are still topnotch, and the lyrics do more justice than some of the routes themselves. Too bad they only show up in the credits


This one has a couple of pet peeves but the main issue was just that I saw people praising it here and there and I just couldn’t see it. A huge frontloading of porn that then gets reused in later chapters aside, it does handle character endings well but it doesn’t really amount to anything breathtaking. And the true ending is kind of laughable to the point it felt like this one jrpg that if said kind of spoils the mood of this one alongside probably not wanting to read it anymore.


I’m not putting in some of the titles because they ended up being either nukige titles or evns that I thought were going to be bad but I was curious. Sometimes they end up being pretty good but not the one this year.

Clannad Side Stories

It’s the most fandisk I’ve seen in awhile where it’s a bunch of side stories of specific characters. And it’s not all that bad, there’s a mix of really good ones and some I question what they were thinking. It’s here solely for the last story where holy shit these two get an award for bad parenting decisions.


They tried an idea of going back and forth from the present and their memories years ago but they ultimately failed. It’s just hard to do when you’re also trying to make a branching path. I felt a lot of it was really dumb and the best route was the first one. There’s a strong moment near the end but also fucks it up pretty soon after that. I wrote about this one here

Weird ones out

These are ones that could have hit the most liked but they didn’t impress me enough

Angel Beats First Beat

Adapted from the anime, pretty rare for that to happen. I think it’s better than the anime, but at least the anime ends even if I think is completely rushed in the last two episodes.
This one will most likely never get finished. They also use the route from the anime in here. They had too much ambition and tried to plan out too much. This could have been a two parter but I think it was going to be 6 of them? The amount of choices this vn has is just on the first episode is already daunting. Some of the jokes don’t really land well compared to the anime, but it also has like five times the amount of jokes and most of them are fine. There’s even small side routes for Noda and Hisako, alongside some better world building that Key usually adds in to hint what’s actually going on. But the options, holy shit. Even the guide I was using felt like I was reading an instruction manual to build a laptop.
I was actually writing about it and it never panned out, maybe I’ll try it again one day.

Making Lovers

Just a dude who has a weird standard for love, removes some of the shackles and gets together with one of the girls.
Generally I don’t give much credit to pure moege, because it’s junk food to me. But while it has its moments, the two smee titles I read(it’s 3 now in 2021), they’re more like dumb comedy than anything else. Fureraba kind of lost the comedy aspect once you hit a route, but since ML doesn’t really have a common route, the comedy never really ended. So it wasn’t a vn about cute looking characters that do cute things but just random people do stupid shit to each other with a couple of sweet moments in each route.

Everything else

I have praise for some and indifferent to others, it’s just those that didn’t give a huge response either way

Kami no Rhapsody

A different eushully game. It respects your time a lot more than Kamidori did, but there’s a lot less to do and also a lot more braindead. A lot of the side objectives can and probably should be ignored after awhile. You do get stat bonuses once you complete a whole section but it’s not overly necessary, maybe only for the ng+ boss. The plot isn’t as great as Kamidori, but it still has a vast variety of the characters and they’re interesting more often than not.
I think the largest nitpick I had with it outside of gameplay was that I thought the weapons also being instruments would have a larger point throughout the story and combat instead of just here and there.

Onii-chan Asobo

Some evn, nothing really remarkable in there. It was kind of supposed to be a joke I was doing where I’d read what looks like really dumb vns and it kind of stopped after one. But it wasn’t that it was so terrible that I quit the joke, it just stopped being funny to me.

Senren Banka

Another Yuzusoft title, it’s not my favorite but I liked it more than Sanoba Witch. The common route actually goes somewhere and the side routes are still pretty good. Surprisingly Lena was my favorite route, it had the most plot going on. My favorite design was Mako but it kind of got thrown into the trash when I hit the route.

Real Life Plus

It’s one of those start from childhood to adulthood. It’s not well done, but the weeb route was pretty funny at least.

Location Love 1

It’s a kinetic moege. It’s not bad but it kind of feels like a nukige to me. Frontwing is becoming a really hit or miss company for me. I feel like they have some pretty cool titles they can bring over but maybe only these sell well enough.

Koi ga Saku Koro Sakura Doki

Another moege. It’s kind of middling, I think the art is the best thing about it. It’s pretty cute but a lot of plots are kind of whatever to the point where I found a lot of the side characters to be more interesting. An and Tina were the better of the bunch since it hits back to the main character.

Catgirl & Doggirl Cafe

A nukige title. I try to put in one a year, I didn’t see the developer. I really don’t like Norn, lol. The MC is just a guy that got isekai’d and asked to be a chef.

Majikoi A3

I honestly don’t like Tsubame’s character. I guess a lot of people didn’t(?) because there’s she has two routes where she’s really submissive for some reason.
Stacy and Lee were funny though. I’m kind of looking forward for A4 because of Homura, she and the rest of the 10 warriors were pretty cool in S but not brought up much.

Mamiya: Short vn review (updated 6/05/2021)

So this is a short one because it’s one of those you just kind of have to read it to see if you like it or not. The closest thing that I’d compare it to would be something like chapter 4 in Umineko. Where overall it’s interesting but there’s sections where you wish it would have been shortened but it has a good payoff in the end.

I don’t know much about the writer of this one outside of that they made a boys love vn, and that this one wasn’t one of those. It still felt like one to me, but I guess just having undertones is a good enough pass for people outside of that genre to give it a try. It’s not my first go at one, and honestly it’s now three for three on having interesting plots(though one of them wasn’t really my cup of tea). Though it is the first one I tried expecting something like that.

The soundtrack is all over the place. Which normally sounds like a negative connotation but it wasn’t messily put together, it just had a diverse selection. Sometimes it was a bit too artsy fartsy/on the nose for me, but those are rare occurrences. I appreciate the occasional classical track, and when to switch it up to hype up other scenes. It also understands when to not put a track at all to make specific scenes stronger. I’m honestly surprised they’re not in the extras, or even a soundtrack dlc.
I don’t have much to talk about for the sprite and art work, it’s just not my field. Yeah the boys look pretty, but I don’t know if other titles have are hitting a whole other plateau, but I don’t think there’s anything to complain about. I can say that they do convey the mood correctly, and I always appreciate a continuously changing title screen.

So the plot is split in two parts, Fall Down and Down Fall. Each have a set of routes for the same characters. And that alone can be kind of annoying or repetitive and it did get to me at points but I just went through it because I wanted to see what was next. The routes are kind of meant to be done in order for the first section, so Ryou,Toujou,Mori and then Keito. Mainly because Ryou is the best starting point and he leads to Toujou or Keito well, and Tojou leads to Mori. Though I like the idea of changing Mori and Toujou’s play orders. You lose some novelty to gain something else. Though the only one I really liked was Ryou’s route. Keito technically has some of the more interesting concepts but he’s also kind of annoying, he’s also best to leave last in my opinion.

You get formally introduced to the central character in the end of Fall Down, but everything worthwhile is in Down Fall. The problem with the 2nd set of routes is that a lot of them are pretty toxic and I’ll talk about that later. The 2nd set of routes can be taken in any order. And when given the chance to choose for the third set, pick the second and then the 4th after the first completion. You can do the others if you want but they’re not that interesting by comparison.

This is one of those vns that surprise you more the less you read. It’s still fun to go through and it’s subtle enough to not be blatant but also isn’t pulling anything from their ass, for the most part. And I’m sure there’s at least something that can surprise you. All in all, I gave it a 7+1 if you don’t mind some of the routes like I did. It was a fun read and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Hopefully it cools off from the vocal tracks trying to make you feel something when the scene was written well enough to support itself. The Mamiya sections were my favorite, alongside the protag’s struggle against him. The librarian is pretty cute too.

So for the spoiler section nitpicks.

The initial set routes have an annoying 3 or 4 liner in the end from the spectator. It’s the same in each one, it felt like something I’d read from a Neil Breen movie. That and and the scene that ends Fall Down to DownFall could have been its own small intermission in between the chapters.
It’s done a lot better in the second set of routes. Even though it’s still the same lines, it’s trying to hammer a few points but the most prevalent is just about asking what happens after the happy ending and closing their respecting story.
The toxic relationships in the 2nd set of routes just made me feel like I was reading a young adult’s novel sold primarily to horny women. It was generally just making the protag as an outlet of some sort of abuse to save the other. It’s more of a personal nitpick, I’m just not part of this demographic.
Mori has the least going on, even though it’s a good subject. I felt like maybe he needed a few more pages just to push it over the edge. While Ryou has a lot of shit going on, I feel like he’s the posterboy for this one, even his Mamiya is the most interesting of the bunch.
Both Touma and Nigaki should have more scenes added to them and a better thought out connection between the two groups. I felt it hit hard because I chose Arisuguwa first, and that was a cool reveal and made more sense than the previous two.

This is a future edit. I was thinking about Mamiya again, and I remember not putting in a point because I wasn’t sure but it turns out it was the way I was thinking about it. So a nitpick I didn’t add here before was that it didn’t really feel necessary to have to read all of the routes from 2nd set. Again I’m not in the demographic, other people might’ve liked all the routes, but I mainly enjoyed the spectator sections. If only 2 of any of the 4 routes were required, I might’ve just given it the 8. But this could also be something to akin to all this matters in the end when the plot is actually finished.

Musicus: Visual Novel Review and rambling

So I finished Musicus in April, it’s the final vn from overdrive, and you can feel that. I’ll be mentioning Kira Kira around in a few areas since it’s where it all began. You don’t necessarily need to read Kira Kira first, but there’s a few subtle references while also having a particular important character that originates from there. I’ll bring up Dear Drops as well, but much less so since it doesn’t affect Musicus but you can use it for some points. (There’s also Bokuten/CaS but honestly they’re not important and it’s a different genre).
I gave this an 8, or a 7+1. The overall route quality and themes are much more consistent than Kira Kira yet still manages to be obtuse at points and provides a lot of background info that is somehow less relevant than Kira Kira’s tour. There’s going to be minor spoilers everywhere, I’ll put the heavier stuff with a notation by the end.

Before even going to the plot summary, it’s just easier to say each title has their character in a different starting position. Kira Kira has wishy washy guy that has no knowledge on music, ends up forming/joining a punk band for a school event with the rest of the literature club he was ghosting. They introduce a more pure version of what punk really means, end up doing a summer road trip and playing in venues. But it’s not meant to be a new lifestyle, it’s just to experience something new and then go back into the grind.
Dear Drops has a pro who’s denying that path only to get sucked back in with a different genre and eventually gets closure of what’s ailing him.
Musicus on the other hand has a serious kid that’s more logical and robotic than anything else and continuing the family profession, only for some unfortunate events that gets him kicked out of school and eventually gets him invited to a live performance for a writing piece and that impacts him harder than anything he felt before. Thus causing an inner turmoil between staying on his narrow road or changing his whole career path to becoming a musician.

The overall tone is the heaviest of the three and is more focused on how shitty everything can be, sometimes to the point it’s being hammered in far too long. The art is subjective, it’s not as clean as Dear Drops and not as charming as Kira Kira(if you’ve been reading long enough that that type of art style doesn’t bother you).
The vn is nvl based, and it’s awkward depending on when you started reading these. It’s kind of rare honestly, but there’s been quite a few popular ones that anyone from the late 90s to early 2000s at least read 1 or 2 of them. It’s a dealbreaker to some but I never really cared, and some novels likes this one does benefit from this style.
The music is in the same bag. I gave Dear Drops more or less a cold reception, so it’s the least “good” of the three for me. And whilst Musicus has some bangers I still put it under Kira Kira’s top tracks. But in terms of the bgm I can remember, Musicus has a track called destruction that tops them all to the point I wished it had 3 versions of it and I’ll talk about that later. There’s also Untitled but that’s spoilers everywhere you look so I’ll talk about that later too. And in terms of transitions during band performances, I think it’s the worst of the three but that’s most likely budget constraints. It had one that was pretty decent, one that’s better but also only had one transition, and an emotionally manipulative one near the end, and it’s my favorite of the three and I’ll talk about that later too.

I think the fan favorite track is Gura Gura, and it’s hard to disagree. It has the emotional tie to a few routes that basically puts it as the title’s theme song. But I think people sit on other tracks due to it like “A song to start with” due it’s tie in and that it reflects another path. I feel like it’s the other theme specifically for Kei. There’s others that have a similar force like Pandora and Magic Hour, but they all reflect to a dumb choice near the end of the fourth route. This is just nostalgic bias, but I liked Everlasting the best, but it’s not played in the plot. But if it was something played in the radio, I’d put in Yagihara’s track, it’s the Endou Misaaki track, it’s almost cheating.

The most well written ending is the 3rd one as it connects points from the common and Ozaki routes(and the others too in a different sense that can be applied in reverse) to the point the route should’ve been called something else that I’ll mention later. It’s better to mention that route 3 and 4 come from the last choice and it’s meant as the final split so each can be considered the final route, I’ll talk about it later. The worst route was Meguru, solely because it was the middle of the road route. I would go as far as saying you can remove it and it doesn’t change much. It has something but not enough to do anything with it. The route itself was fine, the track is great and can be pointed in different directions but I could just just use the 4th route for the same thing.

The worst character in terms of personality and screen time is by far Kaneda. While he doesn’t have the worst moments, he has so much screen time that it’s to the point where every one funny moment he’s given, there was another 6 where he was being a tool. He finally becomes a decent person in the 3rd route, which is short lived since he’s back to being a shitty person in Mika’s route. Even with all that, he’s pretty important just as a literary device. I don’t really have a favorite character this time around, there’s some character and personalities I liked but they don’t really affect the plot so it becomes a huge tie. So I guess it defaults to Hanai.

The pacing is pretty bad at times but nothing to the point where I have to power through it, though it’s worse if you’re not into heavy monologues because it keeps on going. It’s kind of the nature of nvl, it’s pretty shit if it was all spaced out. A lot of the nitpicky parts generally get pointed to either lack of budget so they don’t have a sprite for what they’re explaining, or that the narrative is mainly portrayed as Kei talking about it all. You can tell since when other characters are talking, it all sounds less stilted. And eventually you get used to it and don’t even notice it.

Everything after this is going to be spoilers, it’s too much of a pain to dance around it.

Ok so I can actually talk about it now. For the first thing, Ozaki’s route is the “normal” route where Kei keeps on his initial plan of becoming a doctor. But don’t skip it because it’s almost integral to the 3rd ending, and honestly helps every time he’s considering if he should just quit. Ozaki’s route is just a longer version of Kira Kira’s school section without the punk hijinks but also including a huge amount of characters in there. Some of them ended up being my favorites but they’re really not relevant outside of a few sections near the end. The added drama in there isn’t anything new but it was still well done and believable considering Kei’s attitude towards music. Again, it’s just Kira Kira’s first section done differently and longer. There’s a specific character I want to talk about, alongside another character that’s only mentioned, but I’ll leave it till the 3rd and 4th ending. There’s also a little snarky line where Kei says he’ll try being a musician in his next life, leading to the 2nd route.

But before actually getting into Meguru’s route, I should say that while Musicus is technically about Kei and Mika, there’s a huge emphasis on Hanai. I’ll talk more about it later. It’s a just a note to say that Ozaki’s route is where Kei is the most detached from Hanai’s mindset.
Now Meguru’s route is kind of weird, because while she was Hanai’s band member, most of the route doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the themes to me. At most she represents the middle ground where she needs music but isn’t in the whole what is the “ideal of what is good music”. As long as she can play, then it’s good enough for her. But it’s to the point where I would change the plot after her route for my own tastes, and I’ll also talk about that later. Now there is a pretty cool section near the end of the route in Kei’s dreams. It’s not pivotal to the plot, but I also can’t do it right so you’re just going to have to read it. It was pretty interesting and I was surprised it wasn’t addressed again later.

In the third route, or Sumi’s route, Kei tells Mika to pursue an opportunity she was given to become famous.
And now I get to talk about a lot of the crap I kept saying I’d talk about later.

So for the emphasis on Hanai, they point it out quite a few times in the plot itself, where Kei is just the new Hanai. Every route could have been Hanai if he chose a different mindset for each route. And that’s why I don’t really like calling the 3rd route the Sumi route, when it’s more of a “Hanai’s ideas and mentality” route. Where Kei’s mindset morphs to something dangerously close to how Hanai feels while also realizing how much Kei affected him even though he was just trying to help. This also brings back a part in Ozaki’s route where she loved her dad even though he devolved into a useless cog of society and inserted all his energy and soul into his paintings. And whilst Kei was shitting on him in his thoughts for doing that to her family, he becomes the same thing; that Hanai was the same thing. That what Sumi is doing to Kei, is what Kei did to Hanai, and what Ozaki and her mom did to her dad. It’s just to the point where you have to create a line from profession, personal hobbies and life. It’s to the point where actually having Sumi is kind of redundant, technically just placing Ozaki back into his life would do better and cause a better comparison on how fucked up Kei became.
So let’s change gears for a bit; Fuuga is introduced really late, since she replaces Kazaki, the other drummer. Technically she was also replaced in Meguru’s route with someone from Rei’s band. Fuuga is funny, and has a great part but I’d like it more with a different character that had more time. So let’s say we swap Kei’s position in Ozaki’s route from drummer to bassist and put Ogawa as the drummer(though it would kind of affect the 1st route a little since actually having to learn drums is harder than going from guitar to bass). Contrivances aside, I want to replace Fuuga with Ogawa. It’ll make sense if you read Ozaki’s route and the first part of Sumi’s. Fuuga’s breakdown makes sense, but it’d also make sense with Ogawa and I would’ve felt it harder with how bad she was originally and how she depends on music to branch out. So it’d make sense why she was driven to that breaking point in Sumi’s route. This could also put Ozaki back in the picture to replace Sumi. Just so Kei could be there just to fuck her up just as much as her dad did, only for her to support and love him all the more for it and continue his selfish lifestyle.
So anyways, Sumi’s route is probably what everybody will like, it has Setoguchi written all over it. I wish he wrote more frequently. And it’s where the Destruction and Untitled tracks are from. It’s to the point where Kei has surpassed Hanai on how fucked up he can go, that he uses the last of energy to write down his own musical epitome. But instead of a final plead for help, it’s the misery of Kei with mishmash of “A song to start with”, Gura Gura(wobble/loose), siren’s screeching, and the wailing of his kid. There might be more in it, that’s just the ones I hear. It could honestly be all of them.
Another point is Kaneda being the absolute foil for Kei. Everything is swapped. While Kei was responsible hard working one with a band that can be potentially big, Kaneda was being the loser that’s pulling everybody else back. So throughout the plot it was a constant tug and pull of trying to make one relax more and the other to at least practice and get a job. At the end they failed to meet in the middle and did a whole reversal where Kei is an even bigger shit than Kaneda was. Kaneda has his own band that’s doing well and he even asks Kei to join even though he knows it’d kind of mess it up somewhat financially. He got a job and is taking care of his family. Kei is just mooching off of everybody he knows so he can continue his music and find out the essence of what good music is and create it.

Anyways, Sumi route is done. Mika’s route is kind of boring in comparison outside of a few points. It’s just them finally getting famous. Mika loses her ability to sing due to trauma and lives a more normal life, and Kei accepts it as their finale and they’d just spend their time together. There’s a well done emotionally manipulative scene near the end where Yagihara is finally playing again. Kei and Hanai have a heart to heart talk, leading to the other Hanai ending where he doesn’t drown in his sorrows. Where if he just had his own flower then maybe things would’ve been ok. Where it doesn’t matter that music can be explained scientifically and it’s all bullshit, because they still need it and how those worries don’t really change anything.
And that leads to Mika saying the same thing before Kei can even say what happened. Then for a last stand, tries to incorporate Yagihara’s way of thinking. Of how there’s multiple mindsets to singing, to one, to everybody or maybe just for yourself. So she sings with Kei in mind to prove that she can also make him and other people cry just as both Hanai and Yagihara did. And then they fuck it up.
So now Mika can sing, doesn’t have to think about Kei anymore, it was just needed as the initial trigger. They’re technically broken up because she feels like she’s cheating on all the fans. The concept of Dr Flower, where it was a joke on the Hanais being the flower and Kei’s chosen profession. Then evolving to maybe Hanai and then Kei looking over Mika and providing everything to see how much she can grow, to finally devolving the symbolism of how the Doctor has no knowledge outside of flowers, so do they have nothing except how to make and perform music. It’s a constant theme of continuously improving the composition, creating new songs to not stagnate all so Mika can grow and perform in larger and larger areas. But no, it’s all about how everybody in the band are doctors of music because they can’t do anything else.

All in all, I had fun. Kira Kira had better highs, but Musicus is a lot more consistent. Try it out, maybe hold off on dropping it until a few hours after Hanai shows up.

Chaos;Child: Visual Novel Review

Actually making a video of this, I just don’t feel motivated to do it, and I got annoyed that this was done for over a month just sitting here and delaying my annual “what I liked” post. I’ll embed it here when I get around to it
This is on Chaos Child, a loose sequel to Chaos Head, something I find gets more hated than it deserves. Maybe some of it is based on the meh anime? You can skip it overall, you’d miss some references that can make this one more enjoyable, but if you tried and disliked it that much, it’s not a deal breaker for this one.

I put it as 7.5 with a -1 if you dislike the genre, and up to 8 if what I’ll nag about isn’t a big deal for you. I honestly don’t like using numbers, but it’s always an easy way out, I think I wrote about it before. But the main point I’d like to convey is that a 7 is a really good score.
Anyways, back on topic. Chaos;Child can be summed up pretty easily. There’s a series of deaths happening that are happening that is similar to the previous title’s Generation of Madness. The lack of evidence or leads have the cops stumped, and our local know-it-all Takuru wants to figure it out with his pack of friends to show that he’s a “right-sider” while also having a scoop that gets views for his club.
It’s quite a fun read, I had an easier time reading it than I did chaos;head whilst sharing a similar mood, it’s part of the point. The character design is average, it’s quite good but there’s also nothing rememberable for the most part. But to be fair, I also find it better than Chaos;Head, and Sasaki did both. You might’ve watched some anime that had him back in the day, but myself;yourself is probably the most recognizable one. The art itself was a highlight for me though, especially the background. It’s pretty funny when someone says Steins;gate, I remember the character art, but for Chaos;child, it’s all about the backgrounds. I’m going to put some examples, all going to be spoilers. So you can look away now, then come back.
The soundtrack is also quite good, if you’re into the more atmospheric approach it takes. And some of the vocal tracks jump in the appropriate times.

But there’s still issues with it; the return of the delusions aspect from chaos;head, a somewhat detective sections where you choose options to continue the plot, the quality of the sub routes and the pace breakers.
I’d find the delusions to be a downgrade overall, not only are there too many in the first chapter, there’s just too many that are based on his libido. And it’s not even that they’re all bad, there’s two later on that I found pretty funny because he was going over the top, to the point where I felt where I was reading some Okabe side skit. I took a look at a guide, there’s 12 delusions in chapter 1, the runner up is 6, and that’s the joke one where he keeps trying to solve the problem and it backfiring. Otherwise they’re 4 delusions and below per chapter. It feels more like stamping out a requirement than trying to make it work. And it could always be the case that chaos;head’s delusions were equally as bad and I just remember the good 6 of the ones I remember.

The detective sections was a good idea, it keeps the readers engaged and is a good recap. But for the most part, the answer was either given to you a line before the options were displayed, or it was really obvious. I got the perfect answer achievement without knowing that existed. I’m not sure if that get 10 or 20 wrong answers is even possible unless you’re purposefully going for it or you want to fail and see what dialogue comes out of it? And this one is a tangent out of this, but some can also be annoyed at the whodunnit in the aspect that you’re not really supposed to figure it out, or it could be that I didn’t notice it. They just foreshadow it a few hours beforehand until it gets brought up in the plot, and that’s done consistently. You can kind of tell who it is just via feeling and gut instinct, but maybe some of twists will get you.

spoilers after

And now that I broke my own pacing I can talk about the plot’s pacing, and this is where all the spoilers start coming in because it pertains to the routes. You see, the prologue in both of these novels start with shit hitting the fan, it’s the classic hook. In this one an earthquake happened a hellscape emerges and presents how everything is fixed and where the characters are placed at. Then flashforward and you see someone die in some horrible way; you know more or less know how it happened, but you don’t know who. You’re intrigued, then another case happened, pretty quick succession but still cool. And then you’re introduced to the main character, and the first delusion happens, and it’s smoochy central on the childhood friend, why? Then it’s a decent amount of school life and I get it, it’s all exposition, but I want to go back. And honestly it’s harder than in chaos;head, because Takuru does have more initial connections than Takumi, you have to introduce them and they’re all shown fluidly. You see what they’re about and how they interact with the MC, and then it’s smooth sailing for awhile. And my major gripe is that chapter 1 could’ve been split in half, which would then drop that huge delusion counter.

But anyways, back to the routes. You don’t start with a route per se, the common route itself is a full route. You can see it as the bad ending, and it is in most perspectives. The other routes have to be read for the true end, and how to get some of them are kind of awkward. Most of them are just about picking good delusions for the route you want, while also bad delusions for the others. But sometimes you need one or two good delusions for them? But the gist of it is they’re awkwardly placed, especially when there was an opportune time to place all of them and remove the choices to begin with, and this would remove you having you to go through the plot and mapping mode 4 times. Worse yet two of them are pretty bad. Hana’s route, while funny due to some chaos;head cameo banter is a waste of time outside of Hana herself. Uki’s was laughable as I’m not sure if the mini mystery was meant to stump anybody(maybe it’s harder in japanese), but the anagram was so basic that I just thought how did no one notice? Hinae’s was pretty ok, but also still weird when it’s mostly SoL right after the climax from the main plot.
And honestly it’d be pretty easy to fix it because there’s a specific spot you can put all these in, and it’s when Takuru’s tortured in the void of 0 senses. Like Serika is keeping him together, trying to give something to do and make him happy, so it’d be easy just to give him these delusions with useful tidbits she got from reading their minds beforehand. Then comes the climax and technically the bad ending. Then Nono’s story(which was quite good and leads pretty well into the final ending), then the somber ending. This goes well with the reveal and gives a high contrast between the common story climax and the real ending.

And the ending is the thing I find most conflicting. Because it’s well done, it fits things into place, it explains why these kids can do what they do, and why Takuru was different. It destroys what Takuru originally wanted to be and fits in all the times the novel places him in the position of distain and pity. It’s the juxtaposition of it all, because in the end what’s best for everyone and what leads to the best outcome is him being a normal person, not a right sider or a hero, just a normal guy that is useful but also needs help from others time to time. He finally became content right after he lost what he always wanted, to be special and have attention from his normal peers. But outside of that, it’s also boring and a somber way to go even if that’s the point. Because there is one final altercation, but it’s so boring and it could’ve been done better. Like, maybe Takuru was off from time to time in the ending, and saying it was nothing and just continues on. Only for Takuru to explain what’s going on to Mio when shit was going down when she was creating the cure. For the main bad to show up just then, and make the deal when everything is going down, and then never seeing him again for the remainder was badly done and honestly boring. Instead of him occasionally trying to screw with Takuru only to see that’s not really fazing him much and he’s keeping his convictions to the end. Would it still be a somber ending, yeah because nothing really changed, but at least it’d have some hidden fight between the two, one of attrition and who gives up first, to see if he can keep up with his character development or will he break soon enough.

Yotsunoha: Visual Novel Review/ramble

So I finished Yotsunoha recently. If you just want to know what I gave it as a rating(there’s going to be spoilers), I gave it a 5 that’s closer to a 6, or like a D+, it has its moments but overall there’s a lot better to choose from. I also took out part of what I wrote because it was more angry ranting so I made it a little more concise(it’s still a little long)

I came in without knowing much, and it’s kind of a mess. It’s similar to those types of movies where they start near the end and then 9/10 of it are showing how it led to where they are now. So the protag’s school was shutdown, you and your friends went to different schools and it’s been a couple of years and you’re having a small reunion for a time capsule, and while you’re looking for clues, it keeps doing flashbacks of stuff that happened in their school life. And that’s not a problem from the getgo, but it is harder to do well, and they didn’t do it well.

So there’s four “routes”, but each route has an A and B divergence. And you only unlock B after A, and B can be considered a more ideal path for the two characters. Coupled with that, you’re forced into a route order. And there’s “some” plot reasons for it, but honestly it could’ve been done in any order outside of one. Each have very 90s harem level of tropes and it does get annoying pretty fast, and the protag is equally if not more so at fault. But the routes are the glaring issue, for me; Because the divergence isn’t based on your actions in the present, but what the protag did in the past during school. But if they really wanted this branching, you might as well just started the plot during school and have the reunion as an afterstory. It’s like if you add a best friend and you spend a lot of time building him up, but then in the 2nd route he has a personality shift. And it just makes it a weird cognitive dissonance thing; Where 1 out of the 8 routes, they’ll act like completely different of what you’re used to.
Outside of that, the main issue with the vn is that the quality is hugely inconsistent. There’s good moments in here, and sometimes it continues for awhile, but other times it just goes back to me wanting to drop it. Like near the end of the vn, there was a pretty good scene(sure it’s technically cliche, but these things exist for a reason and as long as you do it well it’s a great moment), but then there’s a few more hours leading to the end and it’s all anticlimactic.

All in all, they tried a different way of telling a story but it just didn’t work out well this time. The characters are tropey as hell, but some of them are still honestly charming. Sadly my favorite was the first route. There’s randomly good story beats during the flashbacks but ultimately don’t really do much with them.

Visual Novel Review: You and Me and Her: A love story

I was actually planning on talking about Angel Beats for this month but I randomly finished this as well. It’s just going to be referred as Totono for the rest of it because the title is too long.
I’ll talk about spoilers later on and I’ll mark it when it happens.

So the art quality varies from person to person. Some like it really clean and streamlined and it’s perfectly cool and you can see they just tried to put in a quality product. But having some odd art style makes it memorable, like the scenery in Symphonic Rain, or Stein;gate. In this case, most of the cg looks like it was made with some chalk pastel and it might’ve been a pointer of what’s happening but I’ll talk about it in the spoiler part.
The ost is mainly piano pieces and they work to convey what’s happening. The title screen uses Liebestraum #3, Love Dream which is a normal 3 parter that follow pure, passion and the third one is kind of a spoiler. It’s basically spoiling you from the start.
Anyways, outside of the piano themes and the mood setters, the vocal tracks are quite lovely. Well, all but one but honestly the setting was weird so I guess it fits?

The plot is self explanatory just from the title. Your guy is kind of a loser that’s too scared to risk doing anything, there’s an understandably overly strict childhood friend and a mentally off girl that you befriend in time and it eventually develops into a love triangle. And the enjoyment comes from the gradual development and deterioration each character goes through.
And there’s the classic male friend for a palette cleanse, and he’s my favorite character of the bunch.
I’m on the Miyuki side, and I’ll talk about it later.

I’ll put the ranks here and then I’ll have spoilers after the image. And honestly it’s just better not being spoiled, even though you generally expect it from nitroplus.
Common C- until halfway through the first route, then it’s B ~ B+
Aoi: D(with B moments)
Miyuki: A

It’s mainly based on how I look at it. Aoi improves Miyuki’s sections. Miyuki doesn’t improve Aoi’s sections, it makes Miyuki better in Aoi’s sections. Just Miyuki

Spoiler section

So I already said it’d be spoilers before, so don’t blame me if you continue. And I forgot about it for around 2 weeks, lol, and then rewrote a good bit of it still looks off

So the title is referencing the protag and the two girls, but it’s also a pointer to a few other interpretations that get thrown out later.
Like the concept is on protag and user as “me”, and the two girls. But I saw it as Miyuki being the “me”, while the protag and the user being interplaced as “you” giving it a much more vindictive tone on “her”. But all of it gets thrown out in the end where it’s just “you and her” so the “me” was actually the User and Aoi. A part of me would rather have it as “you and her”, and then just “me and her”(or even just me) so the user and the protag finally split in their respective endings. And in terms of endings, Aoi’s felt like one of those outdated woah bro type scenes(maybe I’d like it if I was younger?), but while it’s meant to be sweet, it just can’t unless it’s one of those vns where there’s just one route, otherwise you’re ignoring her for multiple routes and/or getting cucked just for the one route you can be with her(Or she’s all of them at the same time, which wouldn’t make much sense). On the other hand, Miyuki’s ending was really sweet, because now that the user and protag has cut ties, she’s finally hearing the protag’s desires and decisions and knowing everything is going to be ok(more sweet if you believe she kept her memories, ok if she’s wiped). The funny thing is both routes happen at the same time, so you can just be happy(you just won’t know until you did both, and the funnier thing is that makes the final choice not impactful, but it’s the user’s actions that caused it).
The “twist” of it being that some characters understand that their world is a vn is given from the common route, but disregarded due to Aoi being a Chuuni but is confirmed the 2nd time you hit Miyuki’s end.
So now that part is out of the way, that’s why I like the art aesthetic. I saw it as it giving a hint that the scenery wasn’t meant to look plausibly similar to our work, but rather a world in a vn where the characters themselves find that it is the world. And that brings up the theme where the characters, while just data, can try to blur the line and maybe be seen beings with emotions and desires. It’d honestly be funny if the roof cg was the only one that was just a plain photograph they took from atop their building, but it’d also be jarring in the beginning and the characters would end up questioning it.
And honestly, I thought God was just Miyuki fucking around in the 2nd route for the longest time and that headcanon was pretty funny, because even with that I still liked Miyuki more.

So onto the Liebestraum thing, it’s a three parter where it’s based on pure love, changing the theme to passionate love and ending up to love till you die. I’m most likely wrong about it in someway, it’s been over a decade since I was in school. And the story more or less goes on the same beats with each route, and I quite like the subtle nod of what’s to come instead of a carousal stroll in broad daylight that’s something like ddlc did. And I quite liked ddlc as well, just in a different way. You see, ddlc is the better vn in terms of user interaction and technical tricks, but its story is kind of shit. It’s meant to be genre swap/shift, but it tells you before you even start(and honestly I think more people would drop without it because the first act drags a bit). The cues of what’s to come is stapled to your face to the point it becomes a shounen where you know the key plot points but you watch to see what the characters do to achieve them. While Totono is just you watching this character just mentally breaking down and turning into a madman(and it was actually worth doing a 2nd run to do the negative branch because it just kept on lowering her mental state), knowing it’s just a game but to them it’s reality and there’s just this thing wrecking their lives.