Subarashiki Hibi Review

yande.re 147233 sample (1)To say that university life and life in general has made vn reviews a lot priority of mine is something of an understatement, but what is also true is that it’s been a long, long time since any vn really stirred up something inside me without leaving me feeling empty at the end. Looking back on the past year, I certainly enjoyed Baldr sky and Sou Akki Muramasa, but there has just been something missing. Even stories from studios that I really liked, such as Forest and Irotoridori no Sekai, didn’t make things better (as a side note I thought both games were a little disappointing, mainly due to the very high hopes I had for them). Whatever was missing made me kind of sigh and uninstall after I reached the final ending, rather than write up ridiculously long reviews that I used to do. At one point, I came to the conclusion that for a bit over a year, I was using this blog to use up my free time to fill up some kind of hole in my heart, if you’ll pardon this horrendously clichéd expression. And so, as I grew older, there was less of an urge, less of a need to write my shallow teenaged view on life (not that growing physically older necessitated me to leave a teenaged view behind, I’m still quite attached to it).

However.

Holy flying buckets of cheese I really love Subarashiki Hibi.

When I first heard the announcement of this vn, I wasn’t particularly impressed. The biggest impression I had of Sca-ji was getting his artbook and reading H2O -footprints in the sand-, neither of which are all that good. Yuri isn’t something that’s very interesting to me. The art looked pretty good, but the coloring that comes from KeroQ and its related companies always looked kind of blank and cold in my eyes. After the game’s release, I took a look at the CG pack, and some of the h-CGs were… well… really disturbing. The one bestiality scene alone hardened my resolve to never go near this game with a 10ft pole. Then, all these positive, raving reviews came in, and my curiosity was piqued. What on earth is making all of these people say such good things?  This is a seriously long-ass intro, but please read on to find out.

Premise:

Subarashiki Hibi is a story about a small group of people, and their lives as they progress through the first 3 weeks of July, 2012. The story is told through multiple perspectives, and finishing each chunk of the perspectives unlocks the next part.

The beginning of the story is told from the perspectives of Minakami Yuki, a tomboy with a bad memory and a habit of skipping classes, much to the chagrin of her childhood friends, Kagami and Tsukasa (if this sounds somewhat familiar, just bear with it and don’t focus too much). One day, she meets a mysterious girl named Takashima Zakuro, who seems oddly familiar with her. Through some plot twist straight out of an eroge (wait what), all four girls end up living together, and so they lived on in their fun, lovely and misunderstanding filled lives. But there is something missing. There are bits and pieces of the story which seems to be hinting at something more, something ominous. And should Yuki choose to pursue the truth, she will wake up near the end of the chapter, then go to school only to hear that Zakuro has committed suicide. This event propels her to search for the truth of what happened, racing before the prophesied end of the world on July 20th, a little over a week after Zakuro’s death.

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So… I just finished Baldr Sky

And there are SO many things I can say about this series. The music is fantastic, the plot is intricate (not to mention addictive and long as hell), the world view is vast, the characters are likeable, the older characters are VERY likeable, the art is hit or miss but somehow turned more loli-ish as it went on…….. But I can’t go into details.

Why? Because there are battles in this game, and they have tired me out so much that I can’t move my fingers long enough to write a full post anymore.

There are so many battles in the last route. And they make you go through the last route twice JUST to unlock the 2 minute epilogue. And there are SO. MANY. BATTLES. The battles, while fun at the beginning, has traumatized me. At some point when I was fighting off a 40 strong swarm of little green robot things I realized that people who play these sort of games are insane and that after I just get through the battles I am never touching this game ever again.

tl;dr: the visual novel aspects of this game are fantastic. I hate any kind of game with fighting and I still made it through. If you don’t hate fighting and have around 80 hours to spare then for Noi’s sake PLAY THIS GAME.

Seraphim call

Seraphim call isn’t what usually comes to mind when the phrase “Sunrise anime” comes up, as it’s a relatively old series that wasn’t all that popular even in its own time. Every episode focuses on a different heroine, each with her own style and story. This led to a lot of directional freedom, but also rather restricts the amount of story that can be told. In this case, I wouldn’t say that the length undermines the story, as even the silliest story (involving saving the world and giant robots) can be analysed somewhat. The meat of this series, however, are contained with the darker tales. Episodes 5 and 6 are my favourites, as they’re nearly identical, but the differences between the twins present the biggest mindscrew I’ve watched this year. Every story involves an interesting set up or a twist of some sort, and this is definitely a series to be rewatched. My main complaints are about the lackluster soundtrack and the last episode. There was such potential to tie all the stories together, or have one story unlock plot points for another, but that option wasn’t taken advantage of. Overall, it’s a nice little series, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you don’t mind the high variance in episode quality.

 

Death by moegasm

Inu x Boku SS is cute. Reeeeeeeeeeeally cute. Karuta brings moegams, Ririchiyo is just hhnnnnnnnnnnnng, and the cutesy fluffy romance sprinkled in between the comedy is just tooth-rottingly sweet. But Soushi is just delicious. From his normal look, to his casual sweater with glasses look, to his shouta look, to his smiling and sadistic 天然黑 tendencies… Ohohoho I can’t remember the last time I liked a male character this much. My only complaint is that the anime ended before the meat of the plot set in. What a waste…

 

Iris Zero: kinda like Hyouka on drugs, in a good way

I’ve been watching Hyouka. But, I admit that I don’t have any particular reason to watch it other than the fact that the art is pretty and Chitanda is cute. The characters are moderately interesting, I suppose, but the mysteries mostly fall short of being interesting. When I started reading Iris Zero, I thought it was going to be the same thing. I mean, both stories are about a guy who’s rather antisocial and detached is forced to solve mysteries that an overly eager/helpful girl drags him into after all.

But OH HO HO HO HO was I wrong.

It takes a few chapters, but the drama quickly overwhelms the mystery aspects of the story, which serves as an excellent backdrop to presenting a whole sleuth of twisted human interactions. While there are little breather episodes in between the longer arcs, they introduce little nuances to the story along side a great mix of comedy and romance. I don’t want to spoil anyone with a specific example, but to see society degrade perfectly normal children into twisted, manipulative individuals surrounded by oodles and oodles of drama is something to be relished.

This is one of the more light hearted scenes. I’ll let you find the murder-y and rape-y stuff on your own.

Read it with me and suffer the long agonizing wait for the next chapter!

Natsuzora Kanata review

If I had to name a few games that really piqued my interests in Visual Novels early on, Natsuzora Kanata would definitely be near the top of the list (alongside Toheart 2 and Aster). The moment I saw the promo art I went “WHOAAAAAA I GOTTA SEE MOAR OF THIS”. Serendipitously, a Chinese patch got released JUST as I made myself promise to not open Baldr Sky until my exams are over. So of course, I set out to play it immediately. Overall, I’d say that this is a pretty good game, as far as these types of heroine-centered games go, and at the very least I like it more than Tenshin Ranman (I played Sana’s route, got bored, skipped around a bit, got to the ending, and then deleted the game. Sana’s fans can try to murder me now).  Continue reading

Rewrite mini review

It took me forever to finish Rewrite.

On that, I can blame a couple of things: the sheer length of this thing, unlikeable characters, the lack of communication between the writers leading to inconsistencies all across the story, etc etc, but I’d say that the main reason is that this doesn’t feel like a Key game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it throws you off when something is so different from what you expected. No matter what had happened, all of Key’s previous works fit inside a certain social frame. They didn’t touch upon religion, have high body counts, or have multiple, jarring, changes of setting. The story that Rewrite tries to tell is grand and complex, but the integration is rather badly done and at the end of it I’m really wondering about the point of most of it. If 3/4 of the stories were chopped out and the writers were more organized I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more. Then again, I’ve never really liked VNs that start out in the school setting then shift to another setting half way through (as much as I loved Clannad I had problems with the After Story), so feel free to take what I just said with a grain of salt.

Other things that made Rewrite different from what I expected was the sheer bleakness of the story. Key is known for their tear jerking stories, but other than Kotori’s path, the story mostly just felt depressing. Well, any story that delves into the  morality of human existence is bound to be depressing, but the lack of closure involving the heroine paths really made my wish for something a little happier, even if it was a bit of a cop out.

Production wise there is very little to be picky about. The amount of images that look “off” has decreased from Little Busters, and the coloring team did a fantastic job. The soundtrack is extensive, the effects sleek, and people who have played Key’s games before will appreciate the large number of save slots and their signature reverse to the last option function. One thing of note is the mappie system, which is used for the user to explore the terrain. It really eats up a lot of time if you’re going for completion, and while there is a function which gets rid of most of the hassle, I really wish it could be turned off entirely.

In the end, I don’t really know what to think of Rewrite. Its world is certainly interesting, and various open plot threads invite the readers to draw their own conclusions. I can’t say that I hated it, but I’d certainly hesitate to recommend it to others.