Visual Novels and H-Scenes – Are They Necessary?

grisaia_sachi

Visual novels have H-scenes, for anyone who played these adventure/interactive games for awhile, I think it comes as no surprise. But the be–all and end–all question is always this: are they even necessary?

No! They are necessary! I swear!

No! They are necessary! I swear!

Before we get to that though, we need to ask ourselves “does H-scenes contribute anything to the story?” — I would say yes. H-scenes represent the destination for a couple in a visual novel — a perfect culmination to conclude a couple’s romantic progression. It’s easy to forget sometimes since a lot of visual novels have extremely ambitious large-scale storytelling nowadays, but at it’s core, they are called galge (girl game, literally) for a reason. Romance will always be there somewhere no matter how plot-driven the story is. It’s pretty much a dating sim where you get to choose which heroine you’re aiming to “romance” with; hence the branching routes. Now there are a lot of subgenres of visual novels and it’s going to take forever if I were to go into more detail, but the point is — in these visual novels, romance will always be present, since well, that’s the entire point for most of these titles.

Fujishiro.Noeri.full.2002529

Which means, romance will be a plot point for the characters’ developments; whether or not if the overarching plot involves futuristic world wars between giant robots, or if it’s simply standard slice of life — romance will always be there. Admittedly, there are some good or bad ones still, but for the good ones, you can really feel that romance slowly, but eventually building up — the couple started off as acquaintances, to friends, before developing genuine affection for each other, culminating in a sex scene; there’s just a certain sense of satisfaction in this entire sequence. Because of the H-scenes, couples in visual novels re-affirm their feelings for each other, and we as viewers, get a conclusion in their romance stories. Furthermore, because the focus are centered so much on these two, you can understand why they would fall for each other since their build-up and development were so consistent.

In short, these H-scenes are good because of the build-up to get there and the sense of conclusion in the climax of their romantic journey. Ultimately, the presence of H-scenes actually enhances the story instead of diminishing it. In fact now that when I think about it, I like most visual novel H-scenes because most of them are vanilla… and I like my vanilla.

accepting-sumika

Aside from that, H-scenes can definitely enhance a story, but this time in a completely opposite end of the spectrum — in that it bolsters the depressing atmosphere. Some visual novels like Saya no Uta, Muv-Luv Alternative and Homeless School Girl are especially good at this; sure there are H-scenes, but not the titillating kind, in fact, the only things you can feel from them are unease and discomfort. These aim at making the scenes as eerie or disturbing as possible so as to sympathize with the character.

These H-scenes serve their purposes, in that they create a sense of unease and discomfort creeping up onto the viewers, and also effectively made the character pitiable. While I like these lesser, I nonetheless, still appreciate them to be able to invoke such feelings — these scenes made me extremely sad, angry and just all around terrible, and not many visual novels can invoke such powerful (despite not really good) feelings.

So are H-scenes necessary? Perhaps no, but you really can’t argue their effectiveness nonetheless. They are incredibly helpful finishing touches that enhance the story. This will always and forever be argued, but I personally feel they are more of a merit than a demerit. H-scenes aren’t just lubricious, but they are the ultimate conclusion to a couple’s romance tale, and on the other end of the spectrum, the ultimate tone-setter for dark, somber stories.

Last but not least, I just want to get this out here. Vanilla is good.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

18 thoughts on “Visual Novels and H-Scenes – Are They Necessary?

    • I think the difference is that many VN H-scenes are designed for sexual gratification rather than as the culmination of a relationship or as a plot device, whereas movie sex scenes are almost all too short-lived to be used for…other purposes.

      That said, I agree with the article. H-scenes have the potential to have a massive emotional impact on the reader, whether that be positive or negative, and when they’re used well it’s phenomenal. However, many of those same emotions can be evoked in other ways, and H-scenes are sometimes used as the easy way out – for example, repeated rape scenes for shock factor.

      Are they necessary? No. Can they contribute to the quality of a narrative? Yes. How often do they contribute to the quality of a narrative where other methods would not be as effective? Rarely.

      • I’m going to admit firsthand that I’m actually looking at this a lot more abnormally positive. I do agree that a lot of VN H-scenes are designed for simply sexual gratification, but when VNs used them in aforementioned ways, then they are pretty good. In fact I remember playing a VN where there was only one H-scene which iirc, is just before the ending or at the epilogue, which is actually quite a perfect place to insert the H-scene to culminate the couple’s relationship.

  1. Nice points!

    I agree with your conclusion; I personally don’t think they’re required for every visual novel, but I also don’t mind them, either. And I do think they can contribute a lot to the story if they’re done well. Then again, there are also some visual novels that incorporate them just for fanservice or for getting more sales, which both aren’t very good reasons, imho.

    And yeah… vanilla is nice. *wink*

    • Yeah the key point here is that they are certainly not required in every visual novel, but ones that used them for more contextual purposes, are the ones definitely used right.

  2. Sup. Visual Novel veteran here.

    In my opinion, it’s a little bit of both. In games where romantic relationship of the protagonist and the heroine is the main focus, H-scenes are almost necessary as part of that “transition” in a romantic relationship. A “good” romantic novel will often display said romantic relationship slowly developing across chapters and episodes with plenty of interactions between the two characters, and end with a cute and satisfying H-scene which confirms the two characters’ relationships.

    There are other games out there for which romantic relationship isn’t the main focus, however. Games from Asa Project are mostly there for humor, and their H-scenes are rather awkward or inappropriately placed. Sci-fi themes involving AI heroines might “force” H-scenes just to meet the quota. H-scenes aren’t for every game, yet it is the “norm” and pretty much one of the things a consumer will pay the ~100 USD for when he buys that disc.

    So in conclusion, H-scenes is like that icing on the cake. It should decorate said cake and make it look appealing to eat, but it shouldn’t overpower the flavor of the cake or else you might as well just shove sugar down your throat.

    • H-scenes is perfect when it’s used contextually, naturally fit right in and don’t occupy every single part of your VN. You mention about the genres but yeah, VNs where romance is the main focus is one genre which might has the highest potential to adhere to all these criteria. Other genres that have overarching stories might be harder to pull this off since romance is mostly a sideline story in favor of the main storyline.

      “So in conclusion, H-scenes is like that icing on the cake. It should decorate said cake and make it look appealing to eat, but it shouldn’t overpower the flavor of the cake or else you might as well just shove sugar down your throat.”
      This is actually the perfect analogy.

  3. I have played visual novels with H-scenes, namely Kanon and it’s somewhat strange. Still, like with sex scenes in movies, I do agree that it’s meant to show the romantic feelings the female heroine has with the main character. Then again, it depends on the execution. Most times, the execution of these scenes are mixed. Still, it’s mainly there for fanservice given that there are clean copies of popular visual novels.

  4. Pingback: Just my guilty pleasure reblog.

  5. When the VN looks especially nice, of course we want to see some heroines naked and with cute horny faces XD
    I guess it’s necessary to portray the romantic aspect between characters, without any sex scenes it would feel off.

    Sex scenes are all right, although sometimes it could be less x events in a plot driven VN,
    also protracted x events “oh, it’s still hard?” (〃⌒∇⌒) annoy me quite often in such games.

    Kamidori Alchemy Master is a negative example of a lovely game with too much sex,
    seriously the protagonist does it with every female in the game ヾ(。ꏿ﹏ꏿ)ノ゙

    • Lewd.

      Yeah that’s why they are perfect to use for culminating a couple’s relationship, as long as they are not too excessive… which is unfortunately a mistake a lot of VNs make anyway.

      Kamidori is pretty much a nukige, lol. It has good gameplay though.

  6. If my girlfriend walked in on a VN H-scene and I said, “It’s okay, honey! Look, it’s vanilla, you said you like vanilla!” she would probably like, “What’s ice cream have to do with hentai?” and then I would be like, “Come here and let me show you.” and she would be like…[insert ice cream related sex fantasy]

  7. Sometimes it is, especially in a romance VN. Other times I wonder, like the Fate series…though that did give us Kuro’s “Mana Drain” so it can be forgiven. I haven’t played enough het-VNs to really give a proper opinion on when H-scenes are pointless to the story though based on your excellent article it has its place.

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