Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part III – Deconstruction of Visual Novels


In part one, I gave some brief introductions of visual novels and in the previous post, I explained about the history of visual novels, so hopefully, most of you would have understood visual novels fundamentally by now.

In this part, we will have a more in-depth look at these so called “visual novels”. When visual novels are sold to US, they are what they are basically called, “visual novels.” They are of cause, more to them then meets the eyes. There are a lot of different types – galge, eroge, nukige, etc.. Let’s have a look at each of these “visual novel-like” terms shall we? Or at least, some of the well known ones.


Eroge or “erotic games” are basically anything that features erotic content. Since a majority of visual novels contain erotic content, be it mild or heavy, as such, a lot of titles can be counted as eroge.

Galge or bishoujo game is also a type of genre which can encompass to a plentiful amount of titles. It features one where it follows the protagonist and his relationships to various girl(s). A lot of titles can be categorized as galge can be safely related to dating sim or eroge as well, the difference being, a galge most of the time feature sexual scenes too, but it does not has to be as explicit as eroge, furthermore, sexual scenes can be completely nil too.

Dating simulations are an interesting genre. In this case, aside from the story, gameplay with romance interaction is usually focused to a moderate degree. For example, one would actually have control over several tasks – such as buying a gift for a girl, dating her, winning her affections, etc.. and once enough points are racked up, you will be awarded with respective sex scene. Of cause this is just one example as I’m sure there will be more varying examples of gameplays.

As visual novels progressed, more and more terms begun emerging. Some of these unorthodox terms include nukige, yaruge, nakige and so on. Nukige and yaruge are subcategories of eroge. Likewise, they feature erotic content, however, the amount of erotic content is extremely massive, even more so than standard eroge.

Nakige is a “crying” game, most notably Clannad, Kanon and most of Key visual novels. When one plays nakige, be sure to get yourself ready for some extreme tearjerking drama.. if the game was able to convey the scene to such an emotional level that is.

There are also otome games, which are basically a reversed version of ordinary visual novels, targeted to female audiences; with ones like Starry Sky and Hakuoki the few examples. Basically instead of being a male protagonist and “conquering” girls, you will be playing as a female protagonist and will be going after boys.

There are a lot of other terms I’m sure, which perhaps, even I am not familiar with.


As you can see from the previous post, visual novels had evolved over the years, and back then, they aren’t even called visual novels! So how do we distinguish them properly? Are eroge and galge visual novels themselves? Or are they different? From every player and every developer of visual novels, each of them possess their own different views, and I assume that’s why there are so many different types of visual novels, each with respective terms.

It’s extremely hard to categorize something which had evolved so much over the years. I’m not the most experienced visual novel players out there, but I would like to think all the different terms can be coined together in one – “visual novel”. There ARE a few inconsistencies however, as I can’t really see “3D erotic games” like the Illusion titles (Sexy Beach, Biko, RapeLay) as true, genuine visual novels. However, despite such minor contradictions, in my opinion, I think the term “visual novel” safely encompasses all types, be it eroge, galge and so on – it’s safe to assume that “visual novels” are the generalized term that we think it is, at least, within the medium itself.


That brings forth another question, what about something seemingly outside of the medium, like “games”? Something to be looking forward to in the next part…

Distinguishing Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part I – Introduction to Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part II – Origin of Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part III – Deconstruction of Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part IV – Differentiating Visual Novels from Games
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Bonus Part – Interviews

This entry was posted by Kai.

11 thoughts on “Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part III – Deconstruction of Visual Novels

    • Indeed, and there’s more. Something I fail to mention, ADV and NVL – also terminology often used in visual novels, though NVL seems like sound novels to me.

      • Late, but NVL mean whole screen textbox, like Fate/Stay Night, while ADV have bottom screen textbox like most visual novel do.

  1. Moege is another term I’ve seen used more and more lately. I think it’s basically any VN with an emphasis on lighthearted romance as I understand it.(It’s a new term for me) Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, Da Capo, etc etc. The VN we are both reading now would probably count as a moege. It’s not a term on VNDB, but it is one that seems to be gaining popularity.

    • If I’m not wrong, I think that term is actually a bit more simple, it basically describes a visual novel featuring moe characters (I could be wrong though?). A pretty loose definition and likewise, can really encompass a variety amount of visual novels. Judging from that, your own definition and examples aren’t that far off. Hoshizora right? Which route you’re at now? It’s pretty enjoyable for me so far xD

      • I’m not that far in yet, I’ve been busy with blogging anime and work and just haven’t had much time for it. To show you how far back I am the characters are still trying to recruit a 6th member for their club. It’s fun though, I should be able to dedicate a good chunk of time to it this week.

        As for Moege you might be right and it could be that simple, but I’ve heard Mangagamer’s staff use it to mean something that seems a bit more specific while talking about their titles at cons. Google doesn’t tell me anything and I haven’t asked so I’m not really sure.

        • I see, I tend to concentrate on one thing at a time – managed to finish it^^ Personally, I think Komomo’s route is awesome, then again, I might be biased towards “those” kinds of character.. xD The bonus route at the end is unbelievably short though, think it served more like a fanservice route than an actual route.

          Google doesn’t tell me anything too, perhaps it’s originally a fanmade term that ended becoming official somewhere down the line, or perhaps not. Hmm, guess that means even distributors like them have their own ideals, lol.

  2. I’m familiar with most of those terms, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of “yaruge” before. It’s interesting how VNs cover such a broad range of stories. Other things like anime and manga have a broad range of genres too of course, but VNs have that along with the different classifications in and of themselves. A hentai is pretty easy to classify when it comes to anime, but something with similar content in a VN might be a lot more than just that.

    • It’s a more uncommon variation of nukige, I’m not sure what’s the difference between nukige or yaruge but I assume both of them are similar (with their emphasis on sex). Perhaps that’s why classifying visual novels can get slightly confusing at times ^^” One thing to note of is that while most of these terms here were originally created by the Japanese themselves, while some other terms were created by international fans.

  3. Pingback: Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part IV – Differentiating Visual Novels from Games | deluscar

  4. Pingback: Visual Novel | Haochizuki (葉落ち月)

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