Island Review and GD

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#1 by krafty
2016-09-27 at 18:41
Island is a story that depends on three things in order to fully enjoy: your attention, your ability to empathize with the main character's circumstances, and your willingness to piece together the puzzles it throws at you. The first and third conditions are easily fulfilled thanks to Island's excellent pacing and effective use of red herrings (you will encounter many of these). The second condition will depend a lot on the reader, and will determine whether many of the emotional scenes have any impact or whether you'll just end up frustrated with Setsuna's reactions to delicate situations.

I'll try to make it a little easier to put yourself in his shoes: Setsuna is a man with absolutely no memories except for two names, and the echoes of a girl's voice. He is not even sure the name 'Setsuna' belongs to him, but because it is the one thing that allows him to connect with the other characters, he clings onto it desperately. His false bravado consisting mostly of unashamedly proclaiming that he is a man from the future without any proof and firing off perverted jokes is just a thin veil hiding the oblivion he is afraid to to show others and to face himself. If you are able to acknowledge this fear, then while his choices may not seem optimal, they should at least become understandable.

Back to the visual novel itself, Island's scope is grand both in terms of its thematic content and its world-building. It explores and discusses such diverse topics as the possible methods and ethics of time travel, the bonds and shackles that exist from being born into a family, the relationship between one's memories and one's identity, and the behavior of human society with regard to those afflicted by incurable disease--to name a few. This sometimes works to the detriment of the novel, because it becomes difficult to find its central focus.

It is also difficult to pin Island down to a specific genre--it takes elements from romance, tragedy, comedy, adventure, psychological thriller and science fiction in varying amounts.

As for its structure, the story is divided into a common route which branches off into either the Karen or Sara routes. After you've played both, you gain access to Rinne's route, which then leads into part 2 and part 3 of the novel. The whole thing can be finished in about 20-25 hours of total reading time, but is best digested in morsels rather than as one large feast--as mentioned above, a lot of the enjoyment of this work comes from trying to make a coherent narrative out of the incomplete information you are given and then comparing it with the author's answer (which may or may not be another red herring). My personal recommendation is to start with Karen's route because it is the least involved with the main plot.

There were no punches pulled in terms of budget for the art: I counted a total of 89 unique CGs (remember that there are no H-scenes whatsoever) with over a dozen characters having been given sprites (some of them with multiple outfits).

Favorite route: Part 2 "Winter" of the novel to me was the most immersive and the most densely packed in terms of raw emotion and thematic relevance to the work as a whole so I choose it as my favorite 'route'. The change in music here really helped carry the general atmosphere of this segment of the novel; this is also to me where the work feels the most focused.

Favorite character: while all of the heroines were likeable, I found them to be a bit too immature for my tastes (Sara's design in particular is obvious jailbait), but I did enjoy seeing how they evolved by the end of their particular routes. My favorite character is Kuon, Rinne's mother, who takes on the role of a teacher and advisor. Throughout the novel, she shows both great wisdom and self-sacrifice while also somehow managing to be disarmingly cute. She is also the only character able to turn Setsuna's perverted jokes against him by taking them even further than he himself meant to. Surprisingly enough, Satou Rina turned out to be a great fit for her voice.

Final comments: Island manages to be consistently "very good" throughout its entire playthrough. The work has a strong grasp of when something is about to overstay its welcome, so almost nothing ever feels like it drags on. On the other hand, it does not truly manage to be "excellent" in any regard-- in other words, there are none of those profound moments vital to VNs that have been elevated to the status of "masterpieces". Still, given the scope of the narrative, it does a great job at being internally consistent, and I found it to be a very enjoyable read overall.
#2 by 420yoloswag
2017-06-04 at 00:54
Fantastic review to a fantastic VN. I agree with you on all your points.

I knew nothing coming into this, and oh man I was blown away again and again. Every time I realized that the story had another dimension of depth, I became so shocked at the consistency. Like wtf, this story is so grand and huge, like infinitely continuing n^n^n^n^n^n^n^n..., and everything actually makes sense despite the vastness.

Part 2 is my favorite part as well, mostly because I really like the heroine of it. I don't usually place much importance on the BGM of VNs, but I would say that the music and the CGs here were responsible for about 80% of the atmosphere, the other 20% being the actual writing itself.

Kuon is alright I guess x) but the heroine in part 2 is so pure. Almost every one of those scenes with her made me want to jump into my bed and squeal into a pillow.

I enjoyed it a lot, particularly all the strolls at night.

Btw that fetish that Goo kept forcibly shoving into our faces actually gets actualized in possibly the most roundabout and ironic way in the universe. And it doesn't even stop at her lol...
#3 by burningblade04
2017-06-04 at 03:48
>The work has a strong grasp of when something is about to overstay its welcome, so almost nothing ever feels like it drags on.

That's funny, I found it to drag a lot. Especially when they make you think it's going to end but then they show even more plot twists into the mix for extra padding. Lots of places that suffered from the pacing basically goes like this: "Oh you know those explanations we came up with a few hours ago? Now they're no longer relevant any more because we came up with a better idea to instantly fix those problems!"Last modified on 2017-06-04 at 03:52
#4 by bunny1ov3r
2018-02-21 at 17:52
The story turned out to be a lot more grand than I had imagined, and while it was told in a very complicated fashion that suit the tale, I can't say it made me care about it all that much. Either the characters or the dragging pace was the problem.

but maybe the writer just wanted to write a double-way incestual ntr story. Well done sir.Last modified on 2018-02-22 at 01:47
#5 by behappyeveryday
2018-03-26 at 12:03
IMO by trying overcomplicate the story author created a lot of plot holes (which are obvious after you'll get all endings and will think about some matters) and sacrificed emotional side of the story.
For example If there wasn't real time travel to the past, then why did MC remembered things from alternative routes? Those routes obviously couldn't end in a way in which he will prolong his travel to future. On the other hand if he isn't Setsuna from 5 years ago, then why he have had memories about old hut? If they are different people, then why other Setsuna wrote such similar story about time travelling? Moreover it was clearly stated (and this make sense) what if there was older civilization, then there should be much more traces of it, moreover so if only 20-40k years passed, this time isn't enough to destroy traces of civilization, even million years wouldn't be enough. And there much more such little details which don't make any sense..

If talking about emotional side, then this was strange when MC almost wasn't affected by deaths of Sara and Kara in Winter arc, he even didn't have any reaction to news (even though false) about death of Rinne.

Other than that story could be much more romantic than it ended up. For example imagine what if after reaching RyuuShima MC really ended the loop by sending past Rinne home and it ended up what there was only one Setsuna and only one Rinne - without any fakes or other people mixed up. In this case all would be happy - including the reader. And there could be still a lot of place for later development, because in this case they would end up on the RyuuShima without any ways back - there you could add flashbacks from the past and basis for future story development. Instead first part of Rinne route ended up in much boring and irritating way, even though unexpected. But IMO this "unexpected" just wasn't worth it.

Well, to tell the truth I expected something like this, because previous work of the author - Himawari as well ruined great idea by mixing too many things up and in this way creating unnecessary plot holes. It is as if author deciding to change the course of the story while writing it, but forget to change contradicting parts.

Of course there are strong points - music is great, art is great, interactions are funny and entertaining, there basically no boring moments (only irritating ones) and main idea is very original. Compared to, for example, Steins; Gate here we can see much more complicated time travelling story, but it just have too much shortcomings and much less polished. If it really was as polished as S;G then I think it could be top 10 in ratings and could have much more 10/10 votes.Last modified on 2018-03-26 at 12:07
#6 by phantasm
2018-03-26 at 15:58
Personally, I didn't find the story to be full of contradictions or plot holes.

In order to understand story, we need to establish these 4 points first.

1. There was no time travel to the past. Only travel to the future via cold sleep(or hibernation or Cryogenics or whatever jargon you prefer.)
2. Whenever a person use cold sleep machine, he/she lost some memories.
3. The world itself is in a reincarnation loop of "summer" and "winner". Every 20K year, the earth undergo big environmental change. The oceans dry out, the current civilization got destroyed one way or another and the earth enter ice age, covering the whole planet with snow. This is "winter"(to quote the game flowchart). And after 20K year, snow melted, the civilization was destroyed by some means again , forming the current "continents divided by oceans" earth. This is "summer".
4. Even people reincarnate via 20K year cycle as was shown by similar people existing in both summer and winter.

"Island" story started in winter. First, MC(Setsuna) and Rinne lived in that underground city, fall in love and together they developed cold sleep machine. They both went into cold sleep hoping to escape their horrible world and awaken at a better time. At that time, Rinne was already pregnant.
^ (This part is speculation. It maybe just like that or maybe they are in a predestination paradox with no real "beginning")

She awakened first. She lost some of her memories but fortunately still remembered MC. She gave birth to 凛音, changed her name, got married(platonic relationship) and waited for MC. During that time, 凛音 met Setsuna(Other one, not MC) and that event happened. About 20 years later, MC awakened on the shore with total memory loss. He fall in love with one of the 3 heroines, either living a happy life(in this case, the story ended but after 20K years have passed, another reincarnation happened, Rinne and MC fall in love again and they are back to the start of the loop)

--- Or ---

Tragedy or some things happened, forcing MC to entered cold sleep in order to change the past. But whenever he get to the "winter", he lost most of his memories and that resulted in him falling in love with Rinne which means another loop back to "summer". We can assume that our MC has experienced multiple loops this way as he had vague memories of most happenings.

Anyhow, this time he fall in love with 凛音. His vague memories altered the history in someway, resulting in 凛音 death. Admist despair, Kuon offered him a way to save her daughter. He entered cold sleep and traveled to "winter" but as always, memories loss occurred. So another loop of falling in love with Rinne and traveling to summer happened again. Maybe destiny is at work, somewhat this event went into a loop. (Everytime Rinne followed MC to summer, she drew a love umbrella(Linne x Setsuna) and there were many umbrellas drawn on the machine)

凛音 death -> winter -> Rinne route -> MC traveling to summer -> Rinne followed MC to summer -> Rinne arrived first -> 凛音 birth -> MC arrived 20 years after -> fall in love with 凛音 -> 凛音 death.

And finally, after many numerous loops, a loop where MC retained some memories upon arriving to summer happened. This lead to "True Summer". MC can choose 凛音 route which is a glorified father x daughter incest(lol) or realize that Kuon is Rinne which is real true end.


@5

< If there wasn't real time travel to the past, then why did MC remembered things from alternative routes? >
< if he isn't Setsuna from 5 years ago, then why he have had memories about old hut? >
Bcoz they are his own memories, Admist numerous loop, he has encountered many things.

<why other Setsuna wrote such similar story about time traveling? >
I don't remember this part clearly but if I have to hypothesize, I say this is just a coincidence as they are both the same person reincarnated.

< this time isn't enough to destroy traces of civilization, even million years wouldn't be enough. >
This sort of make sense considering that entirety of "winter civilization" is just huge underground shelters. There is nothing on the surface and we don't even know how many shelters exist. So it make sense that only a few relics remain. Or it might also be that most relics are deep under ocean that they haven't been discovered yet.
On the reverse, in winter, we saw that many traces of "summer civilization" exist.
Last modified on 2018-03-27 at 06:12
#7 by behappyeveryday
2018-03-27 at 06:48
@6 "< If there wasn't real time travel to the past, then why did MC remembered things from alternative routes? >
< if he isn't Setsuna from 5 years ago, then why he have had memories about old hut? >
Bcoz they are his own memories, Admist numerous loop, he has encountered many things."

This doesn't explain anything at all - this is what is called plot hole. As glaring as it is. You don't understand one moment - if he choose to be with either Karen or Sara then he couldn't have a reason to travel in the future it means loop is ended. Same goes for all bad ends. He don't have a reason to remember anything from routes which doesn't ended up with him using cold sleep machine, ok? Moreover he doesn't have a reason to remember something about unrelated guy with same name.

"I don't remember this part clearly but if I have to hypothesize, I say this is just a coincidence as they are both the same person reincarnated."

This as well explain nothing. This is what is called plot hole.

"This sort of make sense considering that entirety of "winter civilization" is just huge underground shelters. There is nothing on the surface and we don't even know how many shelters exist. So it make sense that only a few relics remain. Or it might also be that most relics are deep under ocean that they haven't been discovered yet.
On the reverse, in winter, we saw that many traces of "summer civilization" exist"

No, it doesn't make any sense from scientific point of view. Current science have chronology for last few HUNDREDS MILLIONS YEARS, let alone 20-40k years. From scientific point of view - if you have basic understanding of chronology - last plot twist is total bullshit - as well as explanation about genes in Karen route. Author just don't have enough scientific knowledge - that is all. Also we currently have chronology of human evolution for at least few hundreds thousands years - 100% proven. There is just no place for such civilization to exist. Let alone plastic and metals can't erode completely in such very short time period. For our planet and evolution 20k years is nothing at all - just a moment. Real time travelling makes much more sense - though not in a way author explain it - he don't even understand why speed of light is maximum possible speed in our universe. You can search real explanation from top physicists in Google.
Last modified on 2018-03-27 at 06:48
#8 by phantasm
2018-03-27 at 09:26
@7

<< if he choose to be with either Karen or Sara then he couldn't have a reason to travel in the future it means loop is ended. >>

It doesn't matter even if the loop ended. When winter came, a reincarnated Setsuna and Rinne will be born, repeating the history and restarting the loop.

<< Same goes for all bad ends. He don't have a reason to remember anything from routes which doesn't ended up with him using cold sleep machine, ok? Moreover he doesn't have a reason to remember something about unrelated guy with same name. >>

I have speculations and theories-crafting of my own but I don't think that will convince you. And they are purely speculations on my part so maybe like you said, these are plot holes and I am thinking too much into it.

<< No, it doesn't make any sense from scientific point of view. >>
This is just a different "Willing Suspension of Disbelief ". I chose to believe that Island is set in a fictional world/earth where reincarnation and Baimonbyō are real. The world where everything is set up so that the world attains perfect carbon copy "reincarnation" every 20K years.
And your stance is "real world fictional timeline"
As far as I remember, the characters never explicitly stated the world they live is "our earth".(i.e they never called it"Japan". Only "mainland")
Last modified on 2018-03-27 at 09:35
#9 by behappyeveryday
2018-03-27 at 09:54
@9 It wasn't stated properly who is really Setsuna - when he was born and who is his parents. You assume he is real brother of Rinne(winter)? But this is impossible - it was clearly stated what they have different looks and voice - completely different people, moreover her real brother did have Baimonbyo (there more reasons, but this is enough). It is unknown how the loop really started. Speculatively I can say it could be what Setsuna is real Ohara Setsuna from Urashima Island and without meeting Rinne (she didn't existed originally in this time) he somehow ended up in cold sleep machine and then real loop started with him founded by Rinne (winter). But again this leaves a lot of holes (for example he wasn't recognised by Rinne and she said his looks and scent are different, moreover without Rinne he didn't really have a reasons to end up in RyuuShima), though definitely more convincing than any other speculation.

Your theory crafting can't convince me because it is a job of the author to do this, not yours. I can create my own theories which can explain some plot holes, but not all of them - because if you solve one problem other one become inconsistent. So, by using Occam's Razor we can have most obvious answer - author just fucked things up similarly to how he did in Himawary. And as an writer myself I can perfectly understand him - when writing such long story and changing your original intentions to more interesting (in your opinion) plot twists it isn't simple to correct flawed parts. Maybe he just didn't have a time to make corrections and later just didn't give a fuck, because anyway most people wouldn't care about plot holes and he already get his money for work he done.

As about "fictional world" - my standpoint goes from science fiction definition. True science fiction should be based on real science to make sense. Otherwise this is just fantasy like Harry Potter. So if you try to make science fiction story and explain things from scientific position (which author tried to do) then at least learn your lessons properly. :)
Last modified on 2018-03-27 at 09:57
#10 by behappyeveryday
2018-03-28 at 07:59
Actually I have a theory. Do you remember how in first half of Winter arc all CGs were without face of MC - even kiss with Sara? Moreover there was mirror which wasn't used in plot at all even though it even get special CG. It doesn't make sense at all unless author wanted to add plot twist like in Ever17 - different face of the MC. And it could make sense - because after 20k years long slumber it is very possible that his looks could be different. And overall before last part of the Winter arc there wasn't real plot holes. But after that moment anything changes - writing become worse (deaths of Sara and Karen were bland and without descriptions of MC's feelings), third part of true route is really-really short compared to other parts of the game, supposed to be "second true heroine" Kuon almost didn't get screen time (less than ten minutes) and "true end" is short, fast, creates glaring plot holes and overall anticlimactic even if compared to secondary routes. All this, I think, proves that author just didn't get enough time (what is why story become so fast pasted after church revolution event) and funds (what is why third part of true route have less CG's than anything else). Or maybe he just get tired from writing this story, or become ill, or whatever. Last modified on 2018-03-28 at 08:01
#11 by silentrzk
2018-12-28 at 08:28
To be frank, I have some more issues here than Himawari despite most people think it's the other way around.

The routes are okay. Heck, they're good. I really love Rinne but her route just gives me confusion. Well, the whole stuff was confusing at first but at least it explained everything on the Winter and Midsummer chapters. However, I'm still very confused on the true events of Boryujima and Rinne's ending(Not the epilogue).

Also, I finally understand why some or most people dislike the True End. In fact, I also wish I unread it... It's just... it totally leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yeah sure Kuon is the RINNE, heck, I had some gut feeling that she is but what I truly don't understand why Rinne is having memories or deja vu regarding RINNE's experiences on Winter chapter. To me, Rinne being RINNE has more sense. I think it'd be better if Kuon and Rinne are both RINNE but maybe that might not make sense.Last modified on 2018-12-28 at 08:29

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