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Review of Kosaka-san.

SubjectKosaka-san.
Kosaka-san.
ByVote: 7vninfohata on 2020-09-06
ReviewWelcome to my first review on vndb. Usually I'm creating reviews for our own website, but I'll probably drop some reviews here. Today's short review is about Kosaka-san, a small Doujinge from GENKAI OTAKU SPACE which had been translated recently by the illustrous mdzz over the course of two days.

German version (with images): link

Synopsis:

Kosaka-san is a short philosophical game about a boy who uses an unconventional way to climb on the school roof to spend his lunch break there. He arrives at the top and witnesses a girl called Kosaka standing on the roof, telling him she was just about to jump off and commit suicide. Her talks enrapture the bored boy and he begins to think about suicide too. Kosaka and him form a suicide pact on a whim and she offers him something to drink... Drinking from her cup makes them partners in crime. After becoming partners Kosaka tells the protagonist about a meteorite which is about to hit the earth (a gigantic red glimmer in the distance) and it's the prime reason why they should commit a double suicide. There is just the kicker: If they both shall commit suicide then it must be for more "optimistic" reasons. Thus they get closer to another by trying to find things in life which would warrant such optimism for the two suicide-enthusiasts.

mdz just came to me and wanted me to play the short doujinge he translated and I didn't say no, because I'm as much a sucker for small concise visual novels as Zakamutt is. After having played Subarashiki Hibi, Sayonara o Oshiete and also Kodoku no Yurikago these roof-top settings also give me good feelings, they make me feel so closely connected to the sky as I enjoy the transience of clouds passing by. It's not an exception for this game.

Content:

In a sense this game mixes a lot of subplots of Subarashiki Hibi and condenses them into one short story. The meteorite thats about to hit earth is the Tsui no Sora in this game and the importance of life and death and the mundaneness of life as well as living happily are all touched upon. Even drugs and pleasure make their way into the narrative and whoever played the Kimika End, does also know the way this game will end. The important part is the dialogue leading up to those events. (Just with a lot less space cows.)

Now I want to mention characters. Besides Kosaka there is also an american black guy called Moses in this game. Moses is somewhat of a comedy relief character who makes the mundane school life a bit funnier for us. He speaks Japanese but sometimes the protagonist is wondering if what he says is right or if he doesn't mean another word? Generally he doesn't play as much an important role, he is just fun to hang around.

Romance:

There is some adorable romance in the game so if you ever dreamt of having some leisure with your Waifu at McDonalds you can have that here. The dating spots the couple goes to couldn't be more mundane but it fits the mood of the game. After all you are spending some quality time to make your suicides worthwhile. Kosaka carries this game in more than one form.

Artstyle:

The artstyle in this game is phenomenal. For a small doujinge they really put effort into the portrayal of the sky. The sky looks like painted with water colors mixed with oily clouds and makes up most of the beauty of the game. There have been moments where I just sat silently looking at this backgrounds and counting the stars. The sprites in front look a lot less detailed but they have their own charm. There are big inked outlines around the sprites and often times only the facial expression changes much.

What I have to touch upon is the perspective some of the shots are composed of. Usually doujinge shouldn't be this good... every image evokes feelings out of me. Twitter: link

Music:

The music is the next thing I have to mention. Similarly to subarashiki hibi the OST is piano-themed. It's sometimes slow and uses a lot of ambient panning in the background to create atmosphere and a bit of surrealness. Sadly the transitions between songs aren't clean so you often have tracks cutting off and immediately restarting which can be a bit jarring. Some of the themes are probably easily as good as Yoru no Himawari or Naglfar.

Localization:

Lastly let me get to the localization. When mdz told me that he translated the game in 2 days I became sceptical, because usually you can't produce a good translation in that little time. mdz has a really good grasp on Japanese though (given he can read all the cartel eroge + Senshinkan just fine) and he had proven it with this game. The text in the game is not complicated but it needs a bit of tweaking of the English language to make it work - especially the sections where the text surrounds around the mean of one or the other word which have just different nuances.

He made it work pretty well, though my scepticism was proven right because there was typo in the second line of the game. After this blunder all the mistakes I found were barely worth nitpicks though. He might fix them, but it's not necessary to enjoy the game.

Conclusion:

Obviously if you haven't played Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~ then the associations I made in this review are practically useless but even if you haven't Kosaka-san is still a game worth playing in my opinion. It lasts around 2 hours, maybe 3 when you appreciate the backgrounds as much as I did and this concise story packs a punch. You'll love the ending of this game as it is just as you expect it from the beginning but subverts your expectations with some really beautiful dialogue.

Comments

#1 by vninfohata
2020-09-06 at 12:51
< report >Spoilers for both Kosaka-san and Subarashiki Hibi my friends. Make sure you read both before close reading the review.
#2 by meltyred
2020-09-06 at 15:25
< report >You probably have more words in this review than the actual game had in it's script itself.
#3 by mdzz
2020-09-06 at 15:43
< report >I'm glad that you enjoyed reading through the game.

Kosaka-san is probably one of the most efficient novels out there - it's short, but every line has a purpose (either in plot, or more often than that, at developing the characters + the core philosophies). This is a game that you can play through in about an hour if you so wished; but, it still culminates in a moving experience. I think any work of fiction that can develop all that within such a short span is worth reading (low effort for a high return).

Hata also sent me a discord message w/ the typos that he mentioned. I put up an update of the game up with the aforementioned errors fixed. To my understanding, there were no major mistakes, just minor typos (the tricky type, e.g. "The only person who I to talk to in this class is absent"; there being a misplaced 'to'), incomplete ellipses, and a few weird phrases. I appreciate the work that he put in.

I don't know how Tyrano works, but it has a habit of placing in random spaces where they shouldn't be. So, if you see that on your playthrough, I swear that I didn't do that intentionally.Last modified on 2020-09-06 at 17:37
#4 by draconyan
2020-09-06 at 18:03
< report >I was surprised to see this getting a TL since I *heavily* disliked it and didn't think it would gain any kind of traction. But then again I also disliked Subahibi so it's probably just not for me.
#5 by mdzz
2020-09-06 at 18:19
< report >Yeah, I think it's bound to be a polarizing work - especially if you think further about its message. What about the work did you dislike?
#6 by draconyan
2020-09-06 at 18:46
< report >My memory is not the best, forgive me if I mess up some parts, but I remember really liking the idea of the plot twist of the meteorite only being a product of the drugs' effect, and the family situation of Kosaka.
However, everything that led up to that felt like a waste - I remember getting the gist of the phylosophy behind their dialogues, but it wasn't written in a way that got me involved with it. The date scene was especially hard for me to get through.
Long, empty (empty to me, at least) phylosophical talks are one of my biggest complaints about Subahibi as well.

The review mentioned the art as a high point, but, leaving aside the sky shots which I honestly can't remember, everything is a sketch. It may be viewed as an artstyle choice, but to me it just looked unpolished and unfinished. I think I remember one of the school building shots being exceptionally weird.
The crude hallucinations drawings also felt extremely out of place, even after learning their purpose. Now that I think about it, they are similar to Subahibi's God depiction, but in a short work which had so little time to develop the descent into madness and absurdity, it only managed to take me further away from the story.

As a side note: I'm not one to usually complain about this, but Moses felt so stereotypical it hurt.

tl;dr I hated it because it felt like a waste of time. I don't give out votes, but I would place this game at the second to last place in the VNs I've read (in front of Erewhon, another VN regarded as generally good).

And this concludes my "review inside another review".
#7 by mdzz
2020-09-06 at 18:57
< report >That's a fair take on the game imo.

I think that the game did a good job with raising some philosophical questions, but it didn't really develop them. I think it works for its format; the game, through its music + art, and honestly, its script, reads like a reverie - a transient daydream. It raises questions, makes you feel about them, however briefly, but lacks the 'body' to make it critically profound.

Under this view, the 'sketch' aesthetic - coupled with the watercolor painted an image of incompleteness, which if pushed to say, contributes to that transient, sloppy daydream.

Moses was a bit of a stereotypical character (a little off color, the way he was written). Strangely enough, I've only heard positive things about his character.

You did a service by reading the work & getting it on VNDB though. I don't think that /u/fuukanou would have found the work if not (since he located the work initially through the random work function on VNDB). I read the work after having found it on his list... and well, the rest is history. A bit of an ironic twist of fate - having the work you dislike get a translation because of your own altruism.
#8 by vninfohata
2020-09-06 at 18:59
< report >@6 Erewhon is a big nukige so I agree with you on that part.

I disagree that the art looks weird, the charm IS that everything looks like a sketch. It's a surreal game with surreal topics and the aesthetic fits it all too well. Obviously Doujin-games can't boast the quality for their art that a minori game can for example but some of them came really really close.
#9 by mutsuki
2020-09-06 at 19:51
< report >@draconyan, as mdzz said, I found this game solely thanks to you, so thanks for putting it up (and good choice in screenshots). I agree with you completely with your spoiler comparison you made to subahibi (I thought the exact same thing when I saw it in game) and I also agree that it was kinda offputting. However, in the context of this being a very short free one-man doujin game, I could look the other way to some of the other shortcomings of this game, for example for the sketch nature of the art (which I thought was part of the charm of the art, and the empty "unfinished" looking nature was like it was describing how the protagonist isn't properly looking at others). I appreciated how they didn't just do the classic "find a stock photo and put a dodgy filter on it" deal for the backgrounds, even if it's a bit lacking. I hate philosophy in VNs (I had the same complaint for Subahibi) for the sole reason that I'm usually too stupid to appreciate it, but I feel like they broke it down enough to easily understand it.

@vninfohata sorry for derailing the comments lol
#10 by draconyan
2020-09-06 at 21:23
< report >Oh yeah, it's still impressive for a one-man doujin game. I found it when a friend who followed that artist noticed he made a VN and brought it to my attention cause she knew I was into VNs, and since I couldn't find it on here it felt only natural to add it. The screenshots were taken from the developer's site except for the ones on the character pages.

In any case, more translations are always good! I know all too well translating is not easy, even for a game as short as this, so good job on that!

I'd have taken this to the game's Discussion page but I didn't even know it was getting comments until I saw this review on the main page, lol.
#11 by vninfohata
2020-09-07 at 09:23
< report >@9 I don't mind civil discussion. Keep going :)