Kai’s History with Visual Novels

[ANE] Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai - Ep09 [BDRip 720p x264 Vorbis].mkv_snapshot_08.52_[2013.06.22_191.01

We all had our roots in our fixation with the Japanese subculture. We were introduced to anime watching through classic old shows like Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon. We were introduced to manga through classic titles like Ranma 1/2, Doraemon, Yu Yu Hakusho and the likes. My history with visual novels go as far back to when our household just had a PS1 a long time ago. That day, after getting the console, marked the day I started gaming for real (before that, I only played a few obscure PC games). Even so, it was not even until later that I come across these visual novels in PS1. Even then, I never knew they were called visual novels at the time, and just called them “Japanese cartoon games”. The design structure – the sprites, the dialogues on the bottom, the background, it seemed somehow familiar, but I just couldn’t quite describe them properly other than calling them “Japanese cartoon games”. There was also the fact that these games were completely in Japanese, and I could barely even recognize a few kanji (“recognize” in a way that I knew them as Chinese words, thus, it’s meaning, but still did not know how to properly read them as Japanese) so I obviously couldn’t even attempt to decipher these complicated moonrunes before, thinking they were some kind of secret codes.

I didn’t stumble upon them in a long while since than, not even after we bought a PS2, not even the day we got a proper internet connection at our home. However, the latter did help immensely in my discovery of visual novels. After a lot of my friends had quit playing a MMO we were active in, I decided to stop as well, and started watching anime. Later, I discovered anime charts, and since than, had been following new anime each season, while trying to keep up with some older titles. It was also around this time when I also started joining anime forums.

Ironically, the anime community on one of the forums I joined, was brimming with visual novel players, even when I initially joined for anime discussions. In fact, I would even say more than half of the active members at the time were visual novel players, which was actually unique, since other anime forums barely even know about them. One of my good friend and forummate on the site, introduced me to them, and recommended me a few good titles. If I’m not mistaken, I think this was around 2009, it was the time when I finally know the proper term to called these “Japanese cartoon games”. It was then that I noticed there were quite a lot of visual novels already fully translated at the time, providing more accessibility for people who couldn’t read Japanese. Perhaps during the period of time from my PS1 days to 2009, a lot of translations were being done unbeknownst to me. I was really excited to try out a medium which I couldn’t had a chance to play before. I never left hope as I struggled and kept brainstorming how to install my very first visual novel – patches, updates, cracks, mounts, language locale; there were a lot of things to sort out.

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After successfully installing it, I played my very first visual novel, Fate/Stay Night, and was left almost speechless by the time I finished it. I was amazed by the fight scenes, which I originally thought is going to be inferior to anime with motion capabilities; I’m astonished with it’s level of character psychological study, showing me a level of perspective, immersion and characterization which any other media just to pale in comparison; I’m fascinated by the grand-scale storytelling, intrigued by the premise, the system behind it, the attention to detail and the list just goes on. Visual novels showed me a new dimension to the Japanese subculture that I had never noticed before.

I was instantly hooked by then. After Fate/Stay Night, I played other mainstream titles which were also fully translated. I was in awe of the beauty of ef, especially with it’s beautiful visuals and music. I feel the uniqueness of Ever 17’s sci-fi story, and if I’m not wrong, it was indeed one of the first visual novel that uses such storytelling design, a design which would work best only in visual novel format. I was disgusted at Saya no Uta with it’s extremely detailed grittiness, both visually and mentally. Each visual novel I played seems to evoke different kinds of views and emotions. Of course, throughout all these major mainstream titles, I also play visual novels with lighter tones in between, as a “break” of sort, for example, Osananajimi wa Daitouryou, Hinatabokko, and the likes.

haru

On 2010, and even on Christmas too, comes one of the greatest gift ever, a finished translation patch of G-Senjou no Maou – it was one of those visual novels I really wanted to play after seeing it in vndb and hearing people who played the untranslated version praising it. G-Senjou no Maou was indeed as great as I had expected, I was always a fan of psychological series where characters try to outwit their opponents – G-Senjou no Maou is exactly such kind of visual novel, yet, something more. There are constant exciting, mentally gripping scenes, but there’s also the feels, the emotions the characters felt from their struggles, and there’s the very endearing, conclusive ending. Just like the protagonist with his dual personality, the visual novel is just so good at showing us different shades of emotions at any given time.

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I never forget to “wind down” however, and pick lighter visual novels to play whenever possible, and I especially needed one after such a quality, extravagant experience from playing G-Senjou no Maou. I think it was around this time that I discover the Sono Hanabira series. Before this, I had been looking for ages for a yuri anime/visual novel like Sono Hanabira, one which doesn’t just have yuri undertones, one that is only purely about two girls loving each other. No drama, no magic, no actions and certainly no weird fetishes like tentacles or d*** girls. Just as soon as I had given up, the discovery of Sono Hanabira was like finding a tiny oasis in a massive sea of sandy dessert. Sono Hanabira has all my needs, all my specified “ideals” and uniquely acquired tastes of yuri; it has them all, which just makes me appreciative of the visual novel medium that much more. Since then, I had been periodically prowling through the translated Sono Hanabira titles one by one in a gradual manner, getting my yuri fix, and getting fixated on my favorite yuri couples of Sono Hanabira, and occasionally, some nosebleed here and there, and checking my sugar levels.

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At some point, I started learning the Japanese language due to my fondness for visual novels. I memorized hiragana and katakana, and decided to tackle kanji by playing visual novels. I played a few titles like Cure Girl, Yosuga no Sora, Furifure 2 in this manner. Ironically, instead of checking and studying the kanji I saw on screen, I just breeze through them using machine translators. I opened up my electronic dictionary in hope to learn some kanji, but I found myself clicking through the screen at lightning speed regardless, guess I just can’t help myself when there’s an already convenient translator right in front of me, embarrassingly. I didn’t know what came over me at some point, but I even played visual novels like Bloody Rondo and Dies Irae, the latter completely not suitable to a greenhorn like me, as I wasn’t even able to understand 90% of what I read on screen. In short, a failed endeavor, and as a major amount of my time was also spent on other media like anime, manga, games and novels, I decided to put playing untranslated visual novels on hold for now, as I could barely even keep up with the translated titles as it is, let alone untranslated titles.

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The later parts of my visual novel history involves frequently visiting sites like fuwanovel and erogedownload to check out for new translated releases that interests me, and also playing old visual novels recommended before which I still haven’t had the chance to play. I finished Little Busters, Deardrops, Kara no Shoujo, Rewrite, Grisaia no Kajitsu and a dozens of translated visual novels at this point, all great titles in their own rights. At this point, I had changed a new desktop computer to replace my extinct one so I was able to play some visual novels in full + widescreen format, providing they support such resolutions.

muvluv

The last major visual novel I had played for now is the Muv-luv trilogy – Extra, Unlimited and Alternative, which was as lengthy as playing three different visual novels at once. Still, playing Muv-luv is such an emotional experience, a level of empathy I had never once felt to such a degree, perhaps exceeding even G-Senjou no Maou. There are the relaxing slice of life moments, yet, there are also exciting moments, especially during the fighting scenes. There are also those extremely shocking moments, and the constant fear knowing that your comrades could die at any moment, and the despair that you share with the protagonist. Earlier, I mentioned that each visual novels seem to evoke different kinds of views and emotions, but Muv-luv here is just such an emotional series that you would just about experience any kinds of human emotions throughout the series-joy, wrath, disgust, despair and the list goes on.

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What makes me keep coming back to visual novels? What makes them so alluring? For some titles, they consist of a plethora of inducing-emotions. For some titles, they are life-inspiring. For some titles, they just tell an extremely fascinating tale, or perhaps, a very heartwarming romance story. To me, visual novel is the ultimate form of entertainment. Visual novel is a story, just like novels, but visual novel tell it’s story not only through words, but also through visuals, sounds and interactions.

Although quite a time-consuming medium, I can still see myself coming back for more, more.. and more, prowling through my massive backlog of visual novels gradually, which include visual novels like the newly translated titles – I/O, Cho Dengeki Stryker, Ayakashibito, to older titles I had yet to play like Planetarian, Narcissu, Umineko and the likes.

What’s your history with visual novels?

[CrunchySubs] The World God Only Knows - 04 [480p].mkv_snapshot_20.37_[2014.05.11_21.31.12]

List of participants:
Kai
Joyjason
Garejei
Lazarinth
Russoturisto

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This entry was posted by Kai.

50 thoughts on “Kai’s History with Visual Novels

  1. “What’s your history with visual novels?”
    Just one, Katawa Shoujo. Don’t know what caught my attention to try that specific one. I thought it was interesting, though uneven, and one route I couldn’t even start because I couldn’t bring myself to do what was needed to raise that “flag”. Overall, I think “VN” are really cool, but just not for me.

    • I assume that particular route is the *spoilers, sort of* yaoi route? :p

      I see. I would recommend to try out more titles (all the ones I mentioned in this very post are very good titles, and also the ones in my Fav VN list), but if you think they are really not for you, then I understand^^” If you’re willing to give it a second try somewhere down the line, then do try them out if you can^^

      • LOL, no, nothing of that sort (though, the “bad end”, which I never got, hinted at that…). In one scene there is a confrontation between two of the women and you’re more or less forced to take sides, and to me the one woman was ‘in the wrong’, so I couldn’t bring myself to side with her.

        • I may be that I didn’t play the route you mentioned, since I don’t think I ever saw a scene with such a conflict between two girls, at least not to such a level. I assume it’s Misha and Shizune? Could be wrong though, the only routes I played were Emi and Hanako’s, lol.

          • Close, Lilly and Shizune (I forgot Misha also has a route, but I think you need to go through Shizune to get there). It wasn’t anything like a fight, so much as a dispute about something I think was school related — it’s been a couple of years, so I don’t recall exactly what it was. Whatever it was, I recall it just felt wrong to side with Shizune so I never did.

            • Misha has? Actually, I was about to say “two heroines” in my previous reply but I opted for “two girls” since I thought Misha doesn’t has one, lol. Ahh, I think I remembered which scene, although I can’t quite remember the exact details either, lol.

              • Misha doesn’t have a route; just a sex scene for Shizune’s bad end. Sorry if this crushes anyone’s dreams of a Misha route (and I do think some dreams were crushed… oddly. Shizune’s route just wasn’t very good and I’d assume Misha’s would be of even worse quality based on the hoops they’d need to jump to make it happen).

  2. Ever17 was my first and the one that got into the genre. Like you said, it is one of many titles that seem to be best formatted as a VN, especially with all the branching routes and perspective shifts involved. Very amazing how the final route weaved together all the interconnected paths. Other than that, just like with anime, I tend to go for the slice-of-life/comedy themed ones like: Angel Ring, Pururun Cafe, and Tsuyokiss. Of course, being someone that likes RPG’s, also got to a few of those as well. Personal favorites are: Wizard Climber, Mine Fukaki Se ni Tayutau Uta, and Quantum girlfriend. Then there is the miscellaneous translated ones like: Princess Waltz, Moero Downhill, Sharin no Kuni, etc. Wish I could play more, but simply time is an issue, since I tend to roll through titles very slowly compared to most people. Although, this summer I have time craved out for XBlaze and Cocoro@Function, so those will be first VN’s I play this year since 2 years ago, lol.

    • And it’s one of the first too (if I’m not mistaken). Indeed, the perspective shifts might work in novel format, but the branching routes is something I honestly think would work best on visual novels and just visual novels alone. I think it may be one of the reason why VNs like Ever 17 or Muv-luv will never get adapted (with the exception of MLA: Total Eclipse, but that technically isn’t even a VN adaption anyway, and it’s actually not pretty good either, lol).

      I see a lot of titles I’m not familiar with, then again, you play untranslated visual novels too, lol. I try to sway away from VNs with gameplay since they just take so much time to play. The only one I was able to somehow finished was Kamidori (and Utawarerumono, but the latter has a more minimalistic amount of gameplay anyway), and I already need about 100 hours just to finish a route, lol. Every time I played these, I kept thinking, maybe I would rather just clear some video games from my backlog. I heard of Moero Downhill, but other than being that it looks like a huge parody of Initial D, I don’t think I’m particularly interested, lol.

      We talked about XBlaze before, and indeed, being a prequel to one of my favorite fighting games, I’m totally interested too (need to buy myself a Vita though, lol). As for Cocoro@Function, #Idontplayuntranslatedvisualnovelscough, although I see a translation is in the works, which is great, since it looks rather amusing :D

  3. Believe it or not, Clannad was my first visual novel I played and eventually played Kanon (also applyed a patch to disable the sex scenes). I also played a little of Little Busters on the Vita, but generally, I only finished a few arcs on Clannad and almost the whole visual novel for Kanon. One of the reasons why I hardly complete visual novels as they take a lot of time to complete… and that I’m more into playing RPGs instead. Even so, some Japanese RPGs these days are influenced by visual novels with the ability to read past messages and the use of sprites opposed to 3D models (this is more apparent in Idea Factory/Compile Heart games).

    • I see you play mostly Key VNs, lol. If you’re interested, Air just recently got a full proper translation as well (after like a decade or something?). What do you think of Kanon?

      And I can totally understand. I can play standard visual novels just fine, but ones that integrated gameplay into it can get extremely time-consuming to play. Games like those are something which had pretty much blurred the boundary between games and visual novels, which is something I talked about a little while, lol. Funny how you mentioned Idea Factory/Compile Heart, since I only just recently finished Hyperdimension Neptunia (the very first one), decided to finally start out the series.

  4. I think i’ve said this in a few places but my first visual novel was Aselia the Eternal, followed by Kira Kira and Deardrops.
    Aselia was presented to me as a regular video game, and it had enough gameplay that it was able to pass as one. After finishing it, however, I then discovered that it was in fact part of a completely different genre and I absolutely had to have more. After that I talked about whatever I was playing with some random guy on the internet, and then I started my blog so I could preach to other random people on the internet ^_^

    I still agree with you that Visual Novels are currently the ultimate mode of storytelling. I don’t think you can find more poignant tales in any other medium. With the length of regular novels and the added sense of connection and involvement evoked by the visuals and sound, it’s incredibly hard to beat a good visual novel.

    As for the learning Japanese side of things…i’m a bit stumped at the moment. Vocab is easy – I can learn a few words a week using flash cards without any problems – but the grammar is simply to difficult for me while i’m studying full time. Hopefully i’ll be able to use my holidays to buckle down on things and maybe even still the earlier levels of the JLPT.

    • Some visual novels tend to do that, lol – having enough gameplay that it completely blurs it’s very genre, although I think we (and some others) talked about this a lot some time ago. I still haven’t started Aselia (since I had issues with the installation), but I did played it’s spiritual successor, Yumina the Etheral. I didn’t play far enough to judge it properly, but other than having a very fun cast of characters, I don’t I particularly like it, a big part of it probably being a dungeon crawler, one of my least liked genres of games, but perhaps another bigger part of the reason is that it, in itself, is a VN + gameplay hybrid, not something I would normally add to my list of VN backlog, lol.

      Indeed. In that way, playing visual novels is just like reading a huge digital picture book.

      Good luck with it^^ The problem with learning kanji is that, just like with Chinese (and some other Asian characters), it doesn’t has an alphabetized system, and you literally had to memorize each word and their meaning one by one. And yea, for one, Japanese’s sentence structure seems completely reversed than English’s if I’m not wrong.

  5. Pingback: My history with visual novels | gareblogs

  6. Thanks for joining! But a heads-up, just a pingback is fine^^ I only just need them to know who joined and submitted their posts.

  7. Sorry about the late reply, I’ve been planning to write about it anyway, so thanks for providing me with incentive to get around to it sooner. That being said, I’m not sure when I’ll be in the right state of mind to actually write.

  8. Wow great to see another visual novel lover! One VN i suggest that you should play is Katawa Shoujo it’s one of the best vn out there considering its history and who made it.

  9. A few days late, you may not care, but I’ll share~

    I first heard of VNs through Shuffle!. Yup. I actually enjoyed the anime (I enjoyed anything at that point; male otaku-aimed fanservice isn’t really my thing anymore), and I was told that Rin could actually become the King of Heaven or Hell or whatever the two worlds were. I imagined an RPG style game, so I looked it up and was surprised that things like porn games existed. The first one I read, though, was Fate/Stay Night. I loved the anime, actually, the concept anyway, ignoring Shiro’s stay in the kitchen attitude. It really played into my love of mythology that I was especially swept up in the Archer vs. Berserker fight ’cause nameless guy destroying Hercules? C’mon, that felt epic. Then I learned more details and became interested, so I looked for it and eventually read it. On youtube (I still occasionally read on youtube; don’t have to fuss with a system). The auto read was way too fast, and I knew all the spoilers but I really enjoyed it nonetheless, especially UBW. I especially enjoyed all the differences between routes because characters made certain decisions. Unique parallel worlds and events are my favourite part of VNs, and I especially love comparing Shiro’s growth (I’m currently re-reading it; it’s really fun to read Fate and pay attention to the Archer hints. My favourite game was ‘when does Archer remember his identity?’… UBW I just blasted through).

    I only really tend to play and finish ‘epic’ novels (like G-Senjou and MLA, etc.) and use manga or dating sims to satisfy the sweet tooth craving you’re talking about, I think. Doesn’t help that the BL games are all intense in some way shape or form…

    Ah, I’m playing Ayakashibito right now. It’s not bad. The best fights scenes so far (finished Tonya, Kaoru, one Touko end) aren’t involving the protagonist, sadly. There’s one character I can’t stand and one that I love and they’re both guys again, so. I heard that scenes drag and some of them do, but it’s not as bad as I read in reviews… but I’m reading Fate at the same time, I guess. My one true annoyance are the sex scenes, which are back-to-back and too much for a poor little fujoshi that might as well ctrl through them. ;.; I hit my limit at 4 scenes back-to-back, with a mixture of noncon and consensual sex. Okay, there’s my opinions on a game it’ll take you at least a year to play!

    …Wrote too much. Too tired to edit. Apologies. Tl;dr: Heard about it from Shuffle, first was FSN, worked through a few story-heavy ones and a few ‘tragic romance’-y ones, Ayakashibtio isn’t bad but needs to space out or cut out its sex scenes.

    • King of Heaven or Hell.. it actually sounds like a fighting game to me, lol. Yea, in the anime, since it followed the Fate route, Shirou’s “stay in the kitchen” altitude is more apparent, which does indeed is a bit of downer. I honestly didn’t feel much for the VN when I was playing Fate route. Part of the reason is perhaps it’s basically the least good route, and that I practically know most of the events from the anime, the key parts at least, since I do applaud the visual novel for expanding on the details. A lot of Fate/Stay Night’s fight scenes are noteworthy, but the fight scene you mentioned is definitely one of the more epic ones^^ “Garcher” is ftw.

      One interesting thing about Fate/Stay Night’s branching routes is that it isn’t simply just creating “a different outcome”, other than a different outcome and focusing on a different heroine, you can clearly see the different views that Shirou had towards his initial ideal, accordingly to which route that you went for – it’s a very dynamic effect in terms of characterizations, and is one of the thing I like best about Fate/Stay Night’s branching routes.

      About the BL, I don’t play those but from the ones I know, most of them does seem rather intense. Brutal, even. It’s completely unlike yuri where the focus is more on simplicity and light, which definitely does satisfy my sweet tooth craving indeed. I might want to add though, it’s not like there are no dark yuri titles at all, and likewise, there should be some “lighter” BL titles somewhere – I could had sworn there was an anime just like that (I didn’t watch it though), not sure about visual novels but they should exist somewhere, lol.

      Thanks for your quick thoughts on Ayakashibito, it is in my backlog, aforementioned in my post. But honestly, I think I have bigger priorities first, lol. Currently, I’m playing A Drug That Makes You Dream. Although I only managed to finish one route so far, it’s pretty great so far, although it can get pretty depressing, although it’s something you can probably expect solely from reading the VNDB synopsis. For the newer translated titles, I think I want to prioritize on I/O first, since.. quite frankly, it just seems to look more better than Ayakashibito, lol. Look, at least, still not sure about the content inside of both titles to be able to judge better.

  10. Hey, I haven’t played much VNs but one of my first was Hoshizora no Memoria by Favorite. It’s probably the best VN in terms of artwork for me and the story and theme was quite good too. So, if you haven’t played this yet, please do so. And could you suggest me a VN with artwork just as good

    • I played it and it’s certainly quite a great title, several times better than a certain moege I played recently…

      Not sure just what kind of artwork style you’re specifically looking for. Hoshizora mainly features soft, vibrant illustrations, one visual novel with somewhat similar visual style that comes to mind, is Osananajimi wa Daitouryou. Not sure about this also, but Shinikiss seems pretty similar to Hoshizora (not the graphics, but overall) so maybe you will like it too, I haven’t play it myself though.

  11. I only got into visual novels pretty recently. I guess I could say it started about 4 years ago when I began playing the Ace Attorney games, although those aren’t quite conventional VNs. I first really started playing VNs about a year ago (interestingly enough, back when I first began blogging) and got into things like Narcissu, Katawa Shoujo, and Saya no Uta. I also finished Fate/stay night a few months back, and as of now it’s probably my favorite VN. There are a lot I still really want to play though so I’m hoping to find the time to get to others. Haven’t found one I’d give a 10/10 yet but I know they’re out there.

    • Indeed, I don’t really regard those as visual novels (though I think I better stop, since I had been rambling about this in a mountain of comments + five full length posts… xD), but they sure are damn good games. Not sure if it is, but it will be interesting if Saya no Uta is your first visual novel , lol. They are a really great medium so you should definitely play more of them if you find the time to^^ You know where to look if you need recommendations :p

  12. The only VN I play is Fate/Stay Night, Steins;Gate, 999 on the DS and Virtue Last Reward. Oh and there is also the free Katawa Shoujo. All of this are damn good ones but mix feelings about Katawa Shoujo. I don’t see anyone mentioned about 999 and Virtue Last Reward here, it’s one of the best VN ever.

    • Good titles you played^^ I’m not sure about the others but I don’t really consider titles like 999 and Virtue Last Reward as visual novels, but rather, as games. But I will agree with you that they are damn great games indeed (mostly 999, since I haven’t play Virtue Last Reward, lol)

      • Well it is a VN with a bit of puzzle in it. You have to play Virtue Last Reward it’s great and I heard the continuation might be coming out in the future too.

        • The reason why I haven’t play Virtue Last Reward for the longest time ever is that I don’t have a Vita. Then again, that mightt change since I just got a 3DS. Then again, I’m a bit worried about the saving problems.

          • For the 3DS issues just avoid saving at the point of where the save bugg could happen, and you are all good. Not quite sure myself about the bugg but if you are interested to get it be sure to do some research as it’s really a gamebreaking one :(

  13. Pingback: From the Seedy Part of Town: How I Got into Visual Novels | Holy Church of Incoherence

  14. my VN experiece? hmm lets see Katawa Shoujo, Clannad, Chaos Head and then just a whole lot of Eroges. I didn’t know i was playing Eroges but then lots of sexual content came in and well turns out it was an eroge.

    • Those are good choices for your first few VNs :p Those aren’t the only thing they had to offer though, I personally don’t mind them as long as there is a good story :p (although I usually still do skip them for heroines I don’t really like, lol)

  15. Pingback: Kai’s History with Visual Novels – FuwaReviews

  16. Pingback: My 100th Completed Visual Novel and Why I’m Still Playing Them Now | deluscar

  17. Pingback: My 100th Completed Visual Novel and Why I’m Still Playing Them Now | VN Reviews Hub

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