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Storyteller and All Things Japanese


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#1 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 07:32 PM

I figured I might as well give myself some place to write about all the novels/light novels/visual novels/manga I buy/read, so here it is.

I don't exactly have a way with words, though, so don't expect too much in that department.

 

First up, I decided to buy my first-ever physical copy of a visual novel last night.

Being the spender that I am, however, I naturally ended up buying way more than one.

 

Spoiler

 

Games from left to right:

If My Heart Had Wings + Flight Diary
Evolimit
ChuSinGra 46+1
Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai + Prelude
Konata Yori Kanata Made
Eien no Aselia
Dies Irae

Edited by storyteller, 24 September 2015 - 07:33 PM.

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#2 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 26 September 2015 - 01:22 AM

Initial Thoughts on Dies Irae

 

The protagonist is just your average guy.

He's a long-time orphan, is rather unsociable, and feels a natural aversion to bladed objects, but otherwise, pretty normal.

He lived a happy, boring life along with his two childhood friends. A life he felt he could live over and over again without regret.

After a certain event caused him to cut ties with one of the friends and end up hospitalized, he returned to daily life only to find certain uneasy events... including hearing voices from a guillotine on display at a museum, dreaming of being beheaded by the guillotine every night, and the appearance of a serial killer who beheads its victims with unnatural ease.

Enter supernaturally-powered Neo-Nazi (?) soldiers who claims him to be a replacement candidate of one of their most feared members.

With their involvement, the protagonist is forced to acknowledge his part in the recent events, accept his own supernatural powers, and be thrown into a battle for his survival as the Neo-Nazis seek to make a prize of his head.

 

So, I've started playing Dies Irae, but thus far I haven't quite gotten the supposed epicness of this visual novel others so acclaim it for.

Of course, I'm only 5 chapters in, and this is suppose to be one of the looooooooongest visual novels in existence, so the true epicness may come later.

Initial impression from the first 5 chapters is that the game feels like a cross between Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night.

Being all from the Chuunige genre, I suppose that's a given, but there's the minor common theme of the desire to kill from Tsukihime, as well as the average-guy-not-so-average battle royal from Fate/Stay Night.

It's probably one of the novels with the highest levels of writing I've read thus far, though.

Its usage of language is such that I would even say that it was vainglorious, but I suppose that's one of its appeals.


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#3 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 26 September 2015 - 01:22 AM

Murasakiiro no Qualia (Qualia the Purple)
Qualia_the_Purple.jpg
 
Qualia the Purple is a SF light novel divided into two parts.
 
In the first part, we're introduced to Hatou Manabu, the main character, and Marie, her friend. Marie claims that she sees all living things - humans included - as robots. We watch as Gaku (Hatou Manabu's nickname) learns and explores the extent of Marie's "eccentricities" as they become involved in a serial murder case.
 
In the second part, we see Hatou Manabu slowly and spectacularly breaking down as she seeks, in order, truth of Marie's death, vengeance, and finally a way to defy Marie's fate. The extent she's willing to go to achieve this will put Okabe Rintarou and Madoka to shame.
 
One of my favorite quotes from part 2:
"That's why, I will forgive you in this world, love you in another, and hate you in yet another.
I will help you, reject you, support you, break you, betray you, and use you to my end."
 
This LN has been adapted into a 3-volume manga series, as well.


Edited by storyteller, 27 September 2015 - 10:26 PM.

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#4 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 10:23 PM

Seiten no Hekigan
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Seiten no Hekigan is a slice of life (?) manga which involves Natsuki, a discouraged former-athlete of a main character who, while playing hooky on the school roof, is onset by a blob from outer-space that assails her to copy genetic data and turn into a human girl. She starts claiming to be her long-lost sister, and with her psychic (?) abilities convinces her way into the main character's life.

The title Seiten no Hekigan is a play on the words of the Chinese/Japanese idiom Seiten no Hekireki, which literally means thunder on a clear day, and indicates a truly unexpected event. Hekigan here means blue eyes, a distinct feature of the blob-from-outer-space-turned-girl. The series follows the duo's comedic daily life as the two start accepting each other as family, and also involves minor drama with regards to Natsuki's career-ending (?) injury.

The bit regarding Natsuki's trauma is reminiscent of the short-story anthology Planaria by Yamamoto Fumio. It tells the tale of several adults who, due to certain events, were faced with a low period of their lives, and how those around them interact with them, expecting them to make "complete recovery" by returning to how they were before the tragic events, begging the question "what constitutes complete recovery?". While Seiten no Hekigan plays it straight with Natsuki in that while she's has fully recovered physically, she remains psychologically traumatized over becoming injured again. It was still interesting, however, to make the connection where those around Natsuki spoiled her as though she could break at any moment, despite her having recovered to the point where their concern only serves to stress her.
 
Unfortunately, despite being a decent story with decent comedy, development, and art, the series was cut short at 11 chapters, with only 1 volume released.
Chapter 7 ~ end are available for reading online.


Edited by storyteller, 02 October 2015 - 12:30 AM.

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#5 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 09:16 PM

Rakka Ryuusui

 

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  Rakka Ryuusui is a novel by Yamamoto Fumio, whom I mentioned in yesterday's post. This novel follows a certain woman's tumultuous life over 60 years, presented in snapshots of her life told from various perspectives, each 10 years apart. We first see her from the perspective of her 12 year-old half-American childhood friend when she is 7, and from there, we see her from her own perspective at ages 17, 37, and 57, from her mother's perspective at 27, her (much younger) stepbrother's perspective at 47, and finally her daughter's perspective at 67.

 

  Temari, the main character, is often at the mercy of the will of those around her. Between ages 7 and 17, that was her whore of a mother, whom she swore to be different from. At age 37, she was whisked away from a comfortable life she had finally built herself, and was left again at 47. Over the years, she ended up marrying several different men, and finally ended up with a lonely life, resented by most whom she came to be involved with, much like the mother she so loathed. It is rather cringe-worthy that, in the end, her mother, the most aggravating character in the novel (especially since you actually get to look inside her brain in one of the snapshots. My god that woman was annoying to read), seem to have lived the most enjoyable life out of all the characters. Yet, at the end of it all, Temari really seems to have accepted her life in its full capacity. I'm not sure how to clearly say this; sorry I'm terrible with words. But despite all that had happened to her, at age 57, she seemed to have honestly been satisfied with her life.

 

  The title of the novel Rakka Ryuusui 落花流水 is a Chinese/Japanese idiom, originating from a poem written by the famous Chinese poet Li Bai. It was first used to indicate the season, which was early Spring. It has since been used in various places to mean various things. One of the older interpretations come from the phrase 落花有意,流水无情, which describes a blossom falling into the river, but the river flows on without care. It is used to represent unrequited love (or any type of feeling that's one-sided). Another, somewhat similar meaning is to be defeated completely. This meaning comes a famous Chinese work, but I'm more familiar with the line with regards to 4-man party from the Romance of Three Kingdoms, who call themselves 落花流水, so named after the first character of each member's name. They were, as you might guess, easily defeated by the opposition despite their grandiose entrance. And finally - and this gets weird - the phrase can mean requited love. Yes, that's right; the exact opposite from the older interpretation. This interpretation is actually the one seen most often in Japan, whereas rarely used in China.

  The question then, is, which of the above did Yamamoto Fumio mean when she titled this work Rakka Ryuusui? It could be that she meant unrequited love, seeing how Temari was swept from her desired path in life. Perhaps she meant complete defeat, as Temari often must have felt throughout her life. Or perhaps she actually meant requited love, where she was, in the end, satisfied by where the flow of time had taken her. How about you? Does Rakka Ryuusui describe some part of your life?


Edited by storyteller, 28 September 2015 - 10:25 PM.

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#6 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 08:47 AM

A man has just made a big mistake.

To escape from those around him, he decides to take time off outside of Japan.

He ends up in Australia, where he studies under a researcher who deals with the natives and their culture.

Sounds familiar?

 

If you were thinking Love Hina, kudos to you, because that was exactly what I was thinking when I read this.

Surprisingly, what I described above is not the events of Love Hina, but the events of a volume from a series known as Oishii Coffee no Irekata.

 

51FVbups-6L.jpg

 

 Oishiii Coffee no Irekata, which can be translated to How to Brew Tasty Coffee, is a romance novel series by Murayama Yuka. It follows the love story of Katsutoshi and Karen, as they deal with their hardships of being together while being legally cousins, 8 years apart in age, and hiding the fact that they are dating to all around them.

 

 Katsutoshi and Karen's relationship starts back when Katsutoshi is still in High School. His father has to move out for work, but Katsutoshi has no intention of moving to switch schools, so he is told to stay with his cousins, Karen and Joe (Technically romanized as Jou, but as Katsutoshi mentions that both their names could work in English, I'll romanize it as Joe here). He meets them for the first time in many years... and finds that the Karen who had been like an energetic boy in her youth had grown up to become a real beauty. Soon enough, he discovers the secret of her upbringing of being an adopted child, and helps her get over her doubts as well as her feelings for her past love (who she discovers is her blood-related brother). It doesn't take long for them to fall in love.

 The funny thing about this series for me, though, is that Karen, the undoubtedly true heroine is the series, isn't nearly as much to my liking as her competitor in love, Hoshino, who is a classmate of Katsutoshi's from college. This stems, probably, from the fact that Karen's side is largely hidden from the reader. Things happen at times that really makes you wonder what in the world she was thinking, often times doing things that make even the reader doubt her loyalties. Oh, no, she doesn't actually cheat on Katsutoshi; at least she doesn't look like she actually cheated on him, but she sure as hell makes it believable.

 Now, on the flip side of things, Katsutoshi has ended up in a lot of the same situations, often times thanks to Hoshino (though at no fault of her own; she isn't told the true nature of Katsutoshi and Karen's relationship until much later), but being protagonist, we get to see everything that happens to him, we even get to see inside his thoughts, so of course we the readers know he has no cause for scrutiny. We, however, have no such luxury with Karen.

 You might say, then, why is Hoshino preferable? This is because Hoshino is so evocative regarding her feelings, and I don't mean with just words or action; she's so forward with her feelings that even her reactions betray her. After learning of Katsutoshi and Karen's relationship, she starts trying to find ways to turn her feelings away from him - sleeping with another man and telling Katsutoshi about it, doing and saying things to make him angry etc, all in an effort to make him hate her, so that she can give up. She, of course, ends up tripping over her own words over and over again as she starts apologizing without meaning to, asking him not to hate her, then realizing that she's going against her objective and overturning the statements yet again. She even develops anorexia over her love and his rejection. We spend so many pages following the inception of her love, her rejection, her down-ward spiral, and her recovery that you can't help but feel closer to her character.

 

 Ever since Katsutoshi and Karen had gotten more... er, intimate in their relationship, however, the story has more or less moved away from these matters. The most recent challenge thrown Katsutosh's way is of his own making. Following the introduction at the beginning of the post, he makes a mistake and runs away to Australia, just as Keitaro had done in Love Hina. Here, however, Katsutoshi's mistake is neither light nor a jump to conclusion the way Keitaro's was. No, he as the death of a family member in his hands.

 

 The author, Murayama Yuka, has been on a year-long hiatus since the publishing of the fourth volume of this arc, and have since left this arc unfinished. As of right now, it doesn't really look like she plans of continuing the series any time soon, either, to her fans' chagrin. It leave this reader wondering if Katsutoshi will ever be given the chance to finally put this painful arc behind him and find repentance.


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#7 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 21 October 2015 - 08:42 PM

    Tomorrow marks the release of the visual novel Sakura no Uta - Sakura no Mori no Ue wo Mau (Poem/Song of Cherry Blossoms - Dancing Above the Cherry Forest). This is a fairly special event, seeing as the game is finally being released after a long delay since its originally planned release in 2008. Those who are unfamiliar with the background will probably see, on the surface, just another Moege, but most everyone familiar with Sca-ji, the scenario writer, will know that a typical Moege this most definitely will not be. This is similar to my own first (unrealized) encounter with Sca-ji in Ikinari Anata ni Koishiteru (Suddenly in Love with You), another VN written by Sca-ji. Honestly, I finished this game as just another Moege, and saw nothing special in it. I am told that the game actually has a lot of references and subtleties, which I have obviously completely missed.

    My most recent and significant run-in with Sca-ji was the infamous Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~ (Wonderful Days ~Disconnected Existence~). This game, I went in with a significant bit more fore-knowledge than I did Ikinari Anata ni Koishiteru. For example, I knew that a lot of the major points behind the story was going to go right over my head, for you see, Subahibi is pure philosophy in visual novel form. The basic premise behind Subahibi is built on the Tractus Logico-Philosophicus, the life-work of the German-Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. It also references a great many other literature, such as Emily Dickenson's poems, the French play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, and the Japanese novel Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (Night of the Galaxy Express) by Miyazawa Kenji, just to name a few.

   To begin with, Subahibi is a remake, in a sense, of Sca-ji's earlier work Tsui no Sora (Sky of the End). At the time, it reflected Sca-ji's own approach to the world, which was "to doubt everything". He has since, by his own admission, had something of an enlightenment where he has completely overturned his views from back when he wrote Tsui no Sora, which is what lead to the writing of Subahibi. Whereas Tsui no Sora depicted a godforsaken view of the world, Subahibi actually encompasses its entirety as an event that is the results of taking the wrong actions. Should the players (and therefore the characters) choose correctly, they turn away from the events of Tsui no Sora, each character reaching his or her subarashiki hibi - their own wonderful days.

    As I said, a lot of what went into Subahibi went over my head as I read it. In fact, for most people, the game really starts after they finish the game, and start finding articles talking about everything that went into its making (I personally have read several papers of analysis of the Tractus, not to mention of Subahibi itself. I also plan to read Cyrano de Bergerac once I'm back in the states). Still, most everyone will probably take something away from this work, even if they had no interest in philosophy going in.

    Case in point, one of Wittgenstein's major points in the Tractus was that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent". In Subahibi at least, the thing "Whereof one cannot speak" refers to death. People often talk of death the same way they talk about other things one might experience in life - except that one must realize there is a problem in the initial assumption because we cannot experience death the way we can experience those other things. Thus we speak of it as if we can experience it and fear it, despite death being something "thereof one must remain silent". This point is discussed in a roundabout way in a dream spoken of by one of the major characters, Mizukami Yuki. She talks about how she'd dream of giving birth to a baby, then hearing the baby cry, she feels an urge to strangle it, for the baby is crying out of grief, grief for being born. But soon, the cry of grief ends, and turns to something more normal, a normal cry of a baby, and she sighs a sigh of relief. It discusses how, just as we fear death by speaking of it, should there be a state before 'life', then it could not possibly know 'life' and therefore fear it just as we fear death. This imagery, despite its almost sinister nature, I found oddly comforting.

    There is a lot more to Subahibi than what little I discuss here, but I'm solely unqualified to talk about them. I strongly encourage you to pick it up yourself when you have a chance (an English translation patch is due to be out pretty soon. Be warned, however, that homosexual expressions, bullying, rape, gang rape, drugs, mass hysteria, suicide, and necrophilia are some themes treated in this game). I spoke to this extent of Subahibi mostly as an introduction to Sakura no Uta. Just as Wittgenstein believed he had written the be-all and the end-all to philosophy in the Tractus, Sca-ji was mostly satisfied at the end of writing Subahibi. And just as Wittgenstein realized that there was still more to say, and eventually wrote and posthumously published Philosophical Investigations, he realized that Subahibi was not the end of it. Sakura no Uta is the spiritual successor to Subahibi, and where as Subahibi dealt with reaching one's "wonderful days", Sakura no Uta will deal with "what comes after reaching one's wonderful days". I'll probably be playing Sakura no Uta for the entirety of this weekend. Let's see what Sca-ji has to offer us this time.


Edited by storyteller, 21 October 2015 - 08:45 PM.

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#8 storyteller Oldies When a story comes to an end... 3365 posts 339.00 XCB

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 05:04 AM

And so, it's that day.

Spoiler

 

And, of course, me being me, I couldn't be satisfied to just go and grab this one game >_>

Spoiler

 

Seriously, **** my wallet.


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#9 TheLaughingMan-JDS Ancient One Chivalrous Shark 15255 posts 227.00 XCB

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 07:19 AM


Seriously, **** my wallet.

 

Pff, who needs to eat, am I right?


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