Hoshi Ori Yume Miraihttps://vndb.org/w28
Whenever I look back and think about Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai, I always have too many thoughts circulating through my head. It's been an incredible journey and it's impossible to put all my thoughts into a short VNDB note, as evident by the links I added above. Being able to spend time with these amazing characters is such a joy and I'm grateful for every single moment. Everything about this VN evokes so much nostalgia for me and it inspires me to look towards my own future and aspirations. This VN exemplifies romance in its purest form and is such an ethereal experience that made me tear up and almost cry at certain points. Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai is an experience I will never forget for years to come. Routes finished: All; 5th VN finished in JP, first perfect 10
White Album 2 ~Closing Chapter~https://sites.google.com/view/llee1000/vn-essays/maruto-fumiaki-the-herculean-journey-of-love
Phenomenal in every respect. This is a romance story written in a way that appeals exactly to how I want romance to written. Everything I said about IC still applies, just amplified. Kazusa's true route is the culmination of everything Maruto built up during the entire VN and executes everything flawlessly. Seeing the main trio suffer throughout the course of the story is heart-rending, yet cathartic as I just find myself being so engrossed in their own personal journeys. Everything is held up by the excellent and emotional writing as Maruto continues to delivers powerful scenes that push the characters to their emotional limits. At the end of the day, Haruki, Setsuna and Kazusa all went through their own stories and dealt with their own issues, clashing with each other and their world. Romance was handled excellently and enticing to read and the struggle from said romance equally as pulling. This is an experience that will never leave and quite literally the most powerful experience I have felt from any medium. Routes finished: CC- Mari and Setsuna; Coda- All four endings; Ninth VN finished in JP, second perfect 10
White Album 2 ~Introductory Chapter~Heartfelt and emotional. It accomplishes everything it wants to do in a very clean and short package and delivering where it counts. Every scene is relevant to the maim drama as every bit of dialogue is filled with potent characterization and development. Maruto truly is a genius for crafting such deeply realistic human characters and building up these emotional wrenching relationships via his amazingly well-written dialogue. Everything about this VN appealed to me in basically every single way and I my only complaint is that I want more (which of course I'll get with CC and Coda - and I did in spades!); All content read including the extra scenes, 8th VN finished in JP
Gin'iro, HarukaOriginal note: https://pastebin.com/rvTyApfL After finishing all 5 routes, I can say with certainty that GinHaru really is stellar, special work. There's nothing quite like what it brings to the table in terms of delivering on a satisfying life journey. While I personally feel Hoshi Ori is better than it, GinHaru has a lot of good moments. Seeing the characters grow and develop throughout the years is something that is really heart-warming. Striving towards your goal, with your loved one always by your side, it is this main throughline that carries GinHaru's main thematic linchpin. Every single SoL scene is used to push this idea to its very limits, presenting a nuanced and subtle romance that feels genuine. Routes finished: All routes (Finish date: April 26th 2020), 12th VN finished in JP
Kara no Shoujo - The Second EpisodeKara no Shoujo 2 is one my favorites in the medium, that's for sure. It improves upon the first one a lot by making investigation more clear cut and making the endings less ambiguous, to the point where they give us a list of all the endings. Nothing really stands out as jarring unlike in the first game. Here, everything flows together perfectly. The new characters are interesting and I’m glad to see many of the old one as well. The flashback scene is kind of long-winded, but the payoff is great and looking back on it during subsequent playthroughs makes it even more amazing as how it ties everything together. The art and music are heavily improved and Reiji even has a voice now, being voiced by Junichi Suwabe of all people. The plot itself is very suspenseful with all its revelations and mystery surrounding everything. The themes of loss, acceptance and obsession are all explored greatly throughout and character interactions and development are always a treat to watch. This VN is truly spectacular and the True ending is probably one of the best endings of all time. All in all, I can’t wait for Kara no Shoujo 3. I need my damn fix already! Routes finished: All plot relevant ones; Revoice edition finished September 17th, 2020; 40th VN finished in JP
Dies iraeDies Irae was a great read and I'm glad I decided to go back to it. I initially dropped it, but picked it back up again and I have no regrets. Some of my previous issues still persist, like heavy-handed philosophical moments and continuity issues. The pacing and fight scenes are also a bit underwhelming and can drag from time to time. However, the characters make up for it so much. There are so many great and memorable character, with Reinhard, Kei and Shirou being standouts. Seeing all the characters grow throughout the routes is worth it and Dies Irae delivers on quite a bit of emotional payoff, despite some of the logical parts being a bit inconsistent. It's plays heavily on the emotions, which is a testament to its abilities as a creative work. Music, art and voice acting are all fantastic and done well, with many memorable selections. Overall, a very well-done chuunige that executes what it wants to very well. Probably will remain as my favorite chuunige. Routes finished: All
Aiyoku no EustiaA consistent fantasy read with a strong narrative throughline. Has a clear goal and sets to see it through until the end. The way it builds up its themes was done really well as it explored quite a few ideas thoroughly and gives it the breathing room to work properly. The characters are the centerpiece of the story and carry the emotional weight throughout, as the narrative beats would not have had as much impact if the characters experiencing them were not as solid as they were. Each major character goes through their own respective arc and grows because of it. Seeing them develop through the course of the story is also so fun to read through, delivering on touching character moments throughout. This story was clear written for these characters and the world around them, as simple as that. Its tone feels grim, as opposed to plenty other VNs out there, but not overtly depressing where everything feels hopeless. Everything feels so well realized and intricately built, it is pretty damn impressive. While chapter 2 in particular feels really weak in comparison to everything else and most of the OST doesn't carry the same weight the writing has, the fact that those are my strongest complaints goes to show the impact the quality Eustia has built throughout. Overall, very solid VN that I would recommend to basically everyone. Routes finished: Fione's side route and main story; 6th VN finished in JP
Kara no ShoujoOrignal Note: https://pastebin.com/75C9kZKG
Re-read the HD remaster and it was as good as I remembered it being, maybe even better. I don't really care too much about the mystery, so those elements didn't really bother me. For me, Kara no Shoujo is a story detailing itself based on the themes of obsession and freedom. Using the murder mystery foundation as a canvas for its theme, Kara no Shoujo displays its ideas in a beautifully horrifying manner. The themes are well explored through each case and the within the main characters. Each of the prominent characters have their own shares of struggles that relate back to the core themes and that elements of Kara no Shoujo is executed flawlessly, delivering on many though-provoking ideas. Touko Kuchiki is probably my favorite eroge character of all time (it's essentially tied between her and Touko Yukimura from Hoshi Ori) and her entire arc really resonated with me. The upgraded art and voice for Reiji was also a nice touch. Ultimately, my re-read made me fall in love Kara no Shoujo even more and I am even more excited to read Kara no Shoujo 3 whenever that comes out. Routes finished: a few normal ends and the true end; 21st VN finished in JP.
White Album 2 - Mini-After StoryShort, sweet and to the point. Ties up some loose ends, but it mostly there for the always fun character interactions and amazing writing. It's just a nice condense package of all the stuff I like about WA2, something nice and relaxing to chill to after the emotional rollercoaster of Coda. 10th VN finished in JP
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai!!Yamato is one of my favorite VN protagonists and the other characters are great too. They are well-developed and grow wonderfully throughout the different routes. This VN is light-hearted and deals with themes of friendship fantastically. The attention to detail with the minor details is pretty stellar. Stuff like the special effects are neat additions. It also helps that OST and art are great. This was the first time I played a VN with a stronger gameplay focus in its choices and was really interesting for me as a new reader to VNs. Probably one of the few VNs (maybe only lol) that used its comedy effectively and actually had me laughing. They don't feel jarring at all and flow nice with the overarching story. One of the few VNs that I still uphold highly to this day. Routes finished: All content
Aonatsu LineOverall, very good VN. Miki's route is definitely the star of the show. It's a very seishun-esque VN that deals with a lot of high school related themes, but it hits all the right points for me and that goes for the drama as well. It is executed well and fits with the characters and their respective arcs, who are amazing in their own right. Each of the main five characters goes through their arc, growing and developing as the VN goes on. All the slice of life moments are endearing and seeing the characters act like a group of friends is really refreshing. It really is refreshing to read something that isn't too obsessed with all the high school hijinx, instead opting for a more grounded story to allow the characters room to grow. Routes finished: All three routes; 22nd VN finished in JP
Ourai no Gahkthun ~What a Shining Braves~A very good visual novel. Gahkthun’s strong points lies in its world building and character relationships. The world feels bustling and alive, with its exposition used to great effect to build its world from the ground up. Some of the background information could have used more fleshing out, but Gahkthun still delivered on a believably built and functioning world, with its own political and economic system. The music and background sound effects makes a classical flair to the world, with many of the tracks sounding reminiscent to pieces from that era. The art is drawn really well and brings to light the vivid descriptions in the text, giving strong imagery to the reader. The characters and how they interact with each other is the strongest part about them. Neon and Tesla’s dynamic is very strong, probably being the best in the VN. How they bounced off each other felt organic in the truest sense, Their relationship is well developed throughout the game and their own characters are well-grow and develop throughout as well. The side characters are kind of underdeveloped and could have benefited from more screen time, but the Governing Council members were particularly strong. The fights and were also another underwhelming portion, as they don't have that same flair other scenes have. The exercises for the reader was a good addition to insert philosophy and various themes into it without feeling overt. As I said before, a very good VN worth checking out. Routes finished: Gahkthun is a kinetic novel
Cartagra ~Tsuki Kurui no Yamai~A solid VN with a few setbacks. It is not as good as its successors, but is still a worthwhile read. Having played this after both Kara no Shoujos, I feel like everything Kara no Shoujo did was building off this game. As its own thing though, while they are some flaws with it, like weak character writing and how the plot falls off towards the end, Cartagra is still an emotional ride and does not deserved to be overlooked compared to its more successful sequel. Things can get a bit nonsensical, but it still delivers on a human story. The setting and world-building is done in a great fashion. Tells an impeccable story of obsession and explores those themes in well-developed manner. The characters, for the most part, are solid enough and well some stuff is pretty logically confusing to try to wrap my head around, as I said before, the story it tells is very human. On a side note, Toko Kuchiki is a better heroine than Kazuna Kouzuki. Routes finished: Takako, Hatsune and Kazuna Normal and True
Hatsukoi 1/1A very well-polished VN with a few setbacks, but nothing too deal breaking. Has great art, music and UI hindered by an MC that, while not bad by any means, can be a bit inconsistent. The heroines are pretty well-developed, with Maya taking the cake for best girl. Some scenes can be long winded, yet this is one of the better dating/high school focused game I've played. In the end though, I really enjoy what it sets out to accomplish. It offers a realistic world with realistic romance to boot. The drama is also not to blatant or overplayed. While Hoshi Ori and GinHaru are still better, Hatsukoi still holds up. Excited for Hoshi Ori, especially since the Common Route patch just released. Routes finished: Maya and Midori
Yokorenbo ~Immoral Mother~Probably the best nukige I read so far. It's short but gets what it wants to get done in a nice simple manner. While it operates on nukige logic a lot of the time, it's still enjoyable to read through. The slow descent of the characters into sexual madness is honestly enthralling as they break inside. Junko is hot and I really like the art a lot, which helped. Also contains one of my favorite H-scenes of all time (guess which one lol). Honestly, I came for the H and was not disappointed one bit. Routes Finished: All Ends; 39th VN Finished in JP
HarmonEyVery good romance VN. Dedicated to crafting relaxed slice of life experience and accomplishes it in spades. Spending happy moments with your loved one and going through life together is done amazingly. Ultimately, it made me root for the two and their continued happiness. This is only a two week slice, but it's enough and provides enough good times, feeling like a condensed toneworks VN. The h-scenes are also some of the best I've seen, so a definitely plus for me. Routes finished: kinetic + after scenarios; 16th VN finished in JP
Dies irae ~Interview with Kaziklu Bey~An amazing add-on to the Dies Irae universe. Seeing more of the colorful cast of characters is wonderful and seeing their various dynamics is always a treat regardless. The plot is short, but simple, choosing to focus in on a single element of Wilhelm and expanding a lot on that. The scope may be small, but still feels grand in its own way even though the events here won't affect the events of Dies Irae proper. I was legitimately enjoying a lot of the comedic, action and philosophical moments and it all feels quite natural in the world. Still has some of the issues from the main Dies Irae, like going further beyond story elements after climaxing and getting a little too heavy-handed with certain themes. Doesn't detract from things in the grand scheme of things as this FD still presents a short, human plot that is a welcome edition to the Dies Irae universe.
Nagomibako Innocent Grey FandiscOverall, it was a pretty nice FD. Always nice to go back to a world and characters that I like. All three stories are good in their own way. The first one is a nice extension to Cartagra and adds some nice resolution to the characters, the second story is a touching standalone story and the last story is a good old meme fest. The minigames are a meme though and there is no way I am playing through them in their entirety. It sets out everything it wants to do as a short FD celebrating its previous VNs and I have no faults with that aspect at all. Routes Finished: All three stories and tried the minigames; 36th VN finished in JP
Sekai de Ichiban Dame na KoiI have an interesting relationship with Damekoi, I read the first two routes in Jan/Feb 2019, set it as dropped, then went back and finished the last two routes in Sept 2019 in five days. Very interesting to see my how my reading has progress. This wouldn't have been as special if I did not read WA2 in between, where I can see the parallels and similarities between the two. Maruto does draw a lot from Damekoi with WA2, with the latter feeling like a more polished and refined version of the former. That isn't to say Damekoi is bad, it has its charms. The drama and characters dynamics are handled well, especially in the last two routes, as it feels reminiscent of WA2, but with a more optimistic spin. A lot of the more slapstick and in-your-face comedy is kind of grating after a while, and the pacing is a little too fast for its own. It moves through events really quickly, making them feel a bit ham-fisted and forced, with some of the story resolutions really coming out of nowhere and having no time to develop at all. The epilogue in particular is the epitome of all the things I didn't like about Damekoi in one package, which did bring down the VN as a whole leaving a bitter taste in otherwise pretty solid romance story. It definitely has some clearly defined faults, but hold it too liable because in the end, it's quite the heart-warming tale. 11th JP VN finished; Routes finished: All
Koi x Shin Ai KanojoHas interesting ideas and themes plus the writing in individual scenes in really well, but stumbles quite a bit from poor execution and a kind of shoddy overall narrative. Nijima's writing is hard-hitting when it needs to be, as the scenes meant to build up a certain mood hits home every time. The character routes aren't too eventful, even by SoL standards and the Last Episode should have been expanded out a little more and removed some of the padding. Had excellent presentation with art, OST and voice acting being top notch. A solid read but could have been improved in some aspects. Routes finished: Ayana, Sena and Last Episode; 2nd VN finished in Japanese.
AmamaneI actually liked this VN a lot for what it delivers in its short time frame. The heroine, Satsuki, is right up my alley and her interactions with the MC are really heart warming to read through. While it definitely feels nukige and the developments are probably really fast, I felt like the MC did grow well over the course of the VN and his whole arc of overcoming his nerves on the big stage was handled well. I also enjoyed the romance between the two and the small moments that they shared together. The h-scenes are also really fucking hot, I don't think there was a single h-scene I disliked, so it did it's job fucking well on that front. Overall, I liked this VN a lot and it was definitely a memorable experience. Routes Finished: Kinetic; 32nd VN finished in JP
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! A-2A nice continuation of the Majikoi universe, but I sort of feel it has overwelcomed its stay to a certain extent. Still, the three routes available are satisfying enough. Monshiro’s after route is a very fine conclusion to her arc and very heartwarming. Cookie 4 IS’s route was a lot more emotional than I expected even though I knew what the outcome would have been. I really warmed up towards Aiess, which is an amazing strength of Majikoi as it makes every heroine seemingly likable. Another strength Majikoi has is keeping side characters relevant through the whole game, with moments tailor-made for them. Seeing Fukumoto play a significant part in the latter half of Seiso’s route is one of many examples. Speaking of Seiso, she has my favorite route since Momoyo’s in the original. Everything about it was near perfection, to the battles, relationships and Seiso herself. Unfortunately, the sex scenes seem to have gotten shorter, which is a shame as I enjoyed the longer sex scenes of the past. The comedy is A-2 is still spot-on as it continues to surprise me and make me laugh. Routes finished: All Content
Onee-chan no YuuwakuI can safely say this is one of the better nukige I have played to date. H-scenes are fucking fantastic, the main heroine is great and the little interactions between the h-scenes are a nice touch as well. Everything about it is a wholesome nukige that checks all of my boxes. Maaya's voice acting is top notch and the whole engine is just really smooth and flows well. Routes finished: All; Fourth VN finished in Japanese
Kono Oozora ni, Tsubasa o HirogeteReading the retranslation patch made me appreciate this VN more than Moenovel ever could. This game is very nostalgic and single-minded on a certain topic, that being the sky. While it does deliver emotional moments during its course, it's single-mindedness can hinder the story as it has a very limited scope to work with. Seeing more expanded scenes focusing on non-sky elements would be great. Nice to see another SoL that has a smaller focus on comedy, though the comedy it does employ is a bit too slapstick for me. Some of the minor characters are under-developed or have confusing motivations, but the main cast is given enough screen time, except maybe the twins. On a more spoilery note, I din't really like the use of a time-skip too much, as the characters didn't feel like they grew at all during that time skip, so it didn't really feel like it affected anything. The romance was nice and seeing them develop was a nice treat. Audio design was top notch and art is decent enough. Overall, a pretty good experience. Routes finished: Kotori and Amane
Dracu-Riot!Dracu-riot is pretty solid for what sets out to accomplish. It’s charming, fun and brimming with a lot flavour. The routes range from mediocre to highly engaging, with Miu's route being the best of bunch. The routes don't focus on just romance and drama, but also flourishes itself with thriller and suspense elements. While the whiplash between the serious and comedic tones can be bad at times, the individual scenes are still enjoyable enough to read through and have fun with. The relationship dynamic between Yuuto and his chosen partner are developed alright, with Azusa being the only questionable one. The characters are bouncing with energy and have a good dynamic with each other, which helps give the various scenes more life than they otherwise would have. The SoL is done pretty well, and while there's nothing completely stand out, it still sells itself pretty damn well. Yuuto is a decent protagonist without feeling overly bland or overpowered. Art, voice acting and OST are all solid, with a shout out to the jazz undertones in the OST, making the already pretty well-developed world feel more urban feel. All in all, Dracu-riot is a heartwarming and comfy VN. The romance can be pretty emotional at times and in the end, feels heart-warming in all the right spots. Routes finished: All routes
Einstein Yori Ai o KometeFinished trial, will read when it comes out https://sites.google.com/view/llee1000/vn-thoughts-and-impressions/einstein-yori-ai-o-komete-first-impressions
Aa Mama ni Naru! ~Anata o Omotte Afureru Oppai~Honestly a good nukige, I enjoyed myself in more ways than one. The art is fucking hot, the situations are extremely erotic and it's just a fun ride. It's nothing too deep, but I don't think it needs to be as long as it delivered on its concept well and it did. Ryouko is such an amazing heroine and being able to hear her thoughts is quite refreshing and something I would enjoy seeing more. The whole mama thing is good too (guess my fetish lol). Routes finished: kinetic; 18th VN finished in JP
Koi to Senkyo to ChocolateA pretty neat romance VN. Although it has its problems, like being excessively melodramatic and having shoddy character writing at times, it’s still fun to play through something that has the emotional beats it has. The routes themselves can become fairly generic, but the execution is where it shines. The watercolor palette is soft on the eyes and the OST is one of the best I’ve heard, which is hindered by the fact that the “Extras” menu only unlocks after beating all the routes. This game offers a nice dissection of school life, politics and corruption, though the school setting itself is kind of unrealistic and questionable at best. The comedic and serious moments blend well together and flow nicely between each other without any major clash between the two. All in all, this VN surpassed my expectations and I quite a few good words about it. Routes finished: Chisato, Isara and Satsuki
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! SStill had the same old fun the original had, but steps back it takes become a little more palpable. It was great to hang out with the people of Kawakami again and experience more of their lives. Majikoi S, for the most part, does not overstay its welcome as each individual route does not take a long time to finish, meaning the game can be completed pretty quickly. The characters are as great as ever, with the new heroines being pretty awesome and well developed, in more ways than one. The sequel has a greater focus on sex, which is both as blessing and a curse. Each scene is really long and can get boring to read in succession with one another. The overarching story can get quite nonsensical at times, which is expected of Majikoi, but I would enjoy some more serious story beats as well. Some of the events of the story were a little controversial in my mind, but oh well. Seeing the new battle animations is breathtaking and how they are choreographed is amazing too. The art is the same style, just looks just as good. However, the OST is less memorable this time around, which is a shame. All in all, a good sequel and not too disappointed with what it offers. Routes finished: All Content
Grisaia no Kajitsu -Le Fruit de la Grisaia-Common route is a slog, as it’s filled with plenty of comedy that gets stale after a while, but the payoff is worth it as the routes delve deeper into the character's background and broken psychological state. At times, things get questionable as the execution of various plot elements is shaky. Angelic Howl probably left the deepest impression on me as a very new VN reader. Yuuji is a solid MC but his actions can become confusing as they are inconsistent with his character. Overall, good read. Routes finished: Amane, Michiru and Yumiko
Yamete! Onee-chan!! Shiroi Oshikko ga Dechau!!Pretty fun nukige. The art is wildly amazing and the positions used in the H-scenes are fantastic. Voice acting is also top tier and Miu is a good older sister character. Shotas aren't really my area of liking, but this is still good nonetheless as a nukige. The ending was a memefest, but a good one. 23th VN finished in JP.
EvenicleA fun experience, but nothing to engaging. The gameplay was simple, but fun. It was a bit challenging at times, but also rewarding. I didn't need to do a lot of grinding as changing my skills and strategy was plenty to beat most bosses a second round. Having more variety and having more ways to increase SP and BP might have made the game a bit more enjoyable. The story and characters were also fun. The character dynamics and interaction were mostly snappy and fun. Many characters go through their own arcs and grow throughout the game with most the protagonist and side characters feeling fleshed out, while the villains were a bit underwhelming at times. The story was a lot of fun and had plenty of comedic moments but knew when to dial back and insert moments of seriousness, though it didn'tt really feel to prominent. Some of the dialogue can get a bit tiring after 40 plus hours and some of the later boss fights get annoying but an overall fun experience. Being someone who does not enjoy RPGs due to their difficulty, this was a fun enough but wasn't too difficult.
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! A-1It felt like a continuation of Majikoi S, for better or for worse. It still had the same old charm the other two games had and was still the same old fun, yet at times it felt a bit lacking and stale. The comedy is still spot on with a lot of good emotional moments. Seeing heartwarming characters are always welcome. Overall, it definitely continues on the Majikoi experience through to the end, but I feel it's getting a little to complacent for it's own good. Routes finished: All Content
Tsuki no Kanata de AimashouHeavily imbalanced with some very good scenes and very bad scenes. Touka is the shining beacon of light in this VN, as every scene she stars in is fantastic, with her amazing personality and colorful interactions. Everything else is pretty much stale and lifeless, the other characters not having the fraction of exuberant energy that Touka possess, with all of them feeling less like characters and more like mouthpieces at time. The past/future stuff is pretty useless in the grand scheme of things and Tsukikana likes to meander around a lot, artificially creating tension by stuffing boring scenes between great ones, which inherently inflates the script size. Overall, had some good moments but not enough to justify it being better. As I said before, Touka makes this VN and without her, Tsukikana would be off significantly worse. Routes finished: Touka; 19th VN finished in JP
Parfait ~Chocolat Second Brew~Original Note: https://pastebin.com/wP4yMptt I went back and read through Rea, Ema and Rikako's routes and my opinion has definitely improved somewhat from when I finished Yui's route way back way. I still stand by the map selection portion of the common route being very limiting. This makes everything feel too formulaic and doesn't allow for much growth or development during those moments, which unfortunately takes up a significant portion of the VN run time. Yui and Rea's routes are still pretty bad. The drama is external and suddenly thrusted upon in the middle of the route. Given how short the routes, there isn't enough time to let these situations organically grow, so it just feels pretty rushed in the end. Ema and Rikako's routes are much better as they focus more on the internal relationships, which is where Maruto's strength lies. While the routes are themselves are pretty solid, it can fly through events pretty quickly, not letting them having the emotional salience they deserve. This is compounded with the extremely short route length devoted to the main conceit of the route, as there are portions dedicated to SoL that drags its feet a little too much. Nonetheless, the characters feel well realized as they learn and grow with each other, and while the situations can seem a little far fetched at first, the emotion in the writing is clearly there, with Rikako probably being the highlight of the VN. While Parfait definitely has some missteps, Maruto is able to create an intricate web of character relations and it's clear where he improved with time. Still, reading more Maruto is never a bad thing. Routes finished: Yui, Rea, Ema and Rikako (all 3 ends for Rikako); July 27th 2020 for current update completion, 13th VN finished in JP
PP -Pianissimo- Ayatsuri Ningyou no RinbuPianissimo definitely doesn't feel focused at all compared to other Innocent Grey VNs. It starts out with random SoL scenes that feel mostly disconnected from each other and there's no sense of urgency at all. We are told how things are, but the way things are shown, there is nothing to indicate that anything is out of the ordinary. It feels empty, and because of that, that makes the setting itself feel empty. Pianissimo doesn't feel like a product of its times. By that, it does not feel like a VN set in the 1930's. Characters speak in seemingly modern mannerisms and there isn't anything to indicate that this is in 1930's Japan. There's a lot of meandering around in this VN, which can get pretty boring to read after a while. Chapter 4 is really good, but unfortunately, the rest of the VN can't pick up the slack. If the whole VN was similar to how chapter 4 was presented and written, this would have been one of my instant favorites. Ayane carries this VN, as she's such a vibrant character in and otherwise dull-ish cast. Ultimately, Pianissimo was pretty disappointing, but it did have good moments here and there and still has that Innocent Grey charm, so I can't fault it too much here (unlike another Innocent Grey <__<). Routes Finished: All ends; 35th VN finished in JP
Yoake Mae yori Ruri Iro naI like how the SOL moments are not filled with over-the-top comedy, instead opting for a more relaxed, serious tone. Most everything is presented realistically enough and the situations are more or less grounded without too much absurd jokes fluffing them up. The characters are interesting, but most of the side characters are relegated to the backgrounds once the routes start. Art, OST and voice acting are all standard with nothing standing out. Feena's route is filled with melodrama that bogs down the overall quality as it is pretty ham-fisted and resolved haphazardly. Their relationship dynamic is decent but all the needless drama adds some blemishes to it. I don't feel the need to read the other routes either. Overall, delivers on a grounded SOL read that is filled with unnecessary drama and conflict. Routes finished: Feena
Konata yori Kanata madeTakehaya's more elaborate writing style fits well for more emotional scenes but is a drag everywhere else due to its more long winded nature. SoL isn't meant for that type of writing and it's a shame since the majority of KonaKana is SoL. Also, Takehaya fails to make the comedy hit home at all and that makes those scenes even worse. The whole fantasy element is thrown in there and could be easily removed. It's not even explained at all in any routes and when the fantasy elements do show up they hardly matter at all. The best parts of the VN where when did delved into the stuff with his illness and the various monologues and conversations about overcoming it. They're really interesting and philosophical to read and really helps propagate the idea of the "right" thing to so when this sort of stuff happens. Unfortunately, these scenes are pretty rare all things considered, so that's a bit disappointing. The routes are a disappointment story wise. There's barely any plot in them and Chris's route, which is the most developed route, is still pretty disappointing. That being said, the characters are the best part. While none of them besides MC and Chris get a lot of screen time, their dynamic with each other is pretty salient and the crux of the VN. The character drama which involves the monologues and conversations is the best part by far, as the various characters some to terms with everything happening in their daily lives. While MC's illness is not always front and center in these situations, the characters coming to terms with each other and navigating the maze of life is always interesting. Overall, it's pretty decent but nothing that wowed me. Routes Finished: All; 29th VN finished in JP
AmakanoHas a nice winter setting. Unfortunately, it did not do much with the winter setting and left it mostly for a backdrop of the story instead of embracing it for the atmosphere of the story. It has very comfy and cute heroines, but it's nothing extremely special beyond that, though it does what it wants to well. Some of the SoL scenes get tiring after a while as they are written in a dry manner. The protagonist was also kind of infuriating because getting into his headspace was pretty difficult. Overall, good enough moege that does what it wants to without setting out to do any to set itself from the pack. First Japanese VN finished. Routes finished: Sayuki
Sakura no Mori † DreamersHad some really good moments here and there, but it was overall a disappointment. The writing style makes it feel like a plot summary at times, not giving scenes the emotional impact they deserve. Also feels very matter-of-fact, which does sell the horror with its bluntness but not on anything else including the character dynamics which feel forced at times. The routes are definitely a huge downgrade and the epitome of my issues with SakuMori. I just wished everything was executed better and felt more cohesive. Routes finished: Mifuyu and Kureha; 17th VN finished in JP
SaDistic BlooDDoesn't really do anything special nor does it have the script size to fully develop the characters and scenario. However, what it does have is charming and I enjoyed myself quite a bit while reading. The text flows well and Ban'ya is able to write descriptive and interesting scenes with the limited time he is given. The true end was touching in its own right and the bad ends, while used for guro h, were unique to say the least I'll admit the H was pretty hot too. In the end, doesn't really do much, but it's a satisfying short read despite its more underdeveloped nature. Routes finished: couple bad ends and true end; 20th VN finished in JP
Tsujidou-san no Jun'ai RoadFeels like a discount Majikoi. Does its job well enough to deliver a somewhat emotionally satisfying story. The protagonist is pretty bad in how he acts and not really the best focal point of the story. The side characters feel like cardboard cutouts, feeling bland through and through. The comedy was very miss with very few hits. The UI is reminiscent of Majikoi's, which is good as Majikoi had a great UI. The art and voice acting are top notch while the OST is mostly used for background without any standout. The main heroines themselves are a mixed bag, but the romance elements are nice enough and feel natural. The way the game is structured, choosing anyone but Ai feels wrong in some weird way. Overall, delivers what it wants well enough without really upping the bar, so to speak. Routes finished: Ai's Normal and True endings.
NinNinDaysShort and Sweet. Might not be the most engaging or hard hitting experience, it does well in presenting a cute character for a decent portion of time. Things might be pretty underdeveloped or weak because of the length, but it does good in making the reader feel comfy for the whole ride, even if it is a short one. Pretty relaxing read overall despite not offering much in the first place to really sink the teeth into.
Furifure 2Way better than the first game in everything but the OST. Sumire is really cute and I really like her design. The complexities of the “Free Friend” app and other similar themes of social communication are explored well for a nukige. The evil ending is pretty dark and the good ending is heart-warming but gets pretty melodramatic and drags through during the middle section. Seeing the two protagonists grow and change throughout the story based on their actions is fun to watch play out. The art is just as good as the last game, except this game has the better character design, with Sumire looking sexy. Unfortunately, the OST is a lacking in this game compared to the last one. Overall, a very good nukige and I don’t regret playing it. Routes finished: All endings
Zombie no Afureta Sekai de Ore Dake ga OsowarenaiFeels like a LN in VN form. The protagonist feels like a isekai protagonist and the writing feels very LN-like, in the amateur type of way. Despite being nothing special, he somehow gains special powers and gets some women to fall for him. There are also revelations, while interesting enough, feel like amateurish in their execution, especially a later plot point that screams a forced LN plot point for more tension. There is also a heavy focus on sex and kind of detracts away from the whole seriousness of the situation. The "romance" also feels very rushed. Besides some glaring issues, it manages to create a tense atmosphere and the two leads are interesting enough to hold their own. While some moments are a bit farfetched, moments of growth are apparent and done pretty well. It ends on a cliffhanger, as every LN does because they never conclude, so I'm excited to read all 100 volumes when they come out.
Sansha Mendan ~Rensa Suru Chijoku Choukyou no Gakuen~Has some weird art here and there, but looks sufficient enough. Some h-scenes that involved stuff like toys are not really to my liking, but some of the more "vanilla" h scenes are done extremely well. The corrupting portion is kind of unrealistic with many different factors at play that make it seem questionable at best, however it still delivers on an entertaining enough experience in the "don't think about it" type of way. Having only played one route, I don't think I really want to try the other routes, which in of itself is sort of a flaw since it sort of feels same-y in a sense. Routes finished: Mifuyu