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Review of Soukou Akki Muramasa

SubjectSoukou Akki Muramasa
Full Metal Daemon Muramasa - Download Edition
ByHelpfulness: 0
Vote: 8
vizer on 2022-05-17
ReviewGreat story that was worth waiting 11 years for (in English). I'm gonna write down some of my disorganized thoughts here, that I'll clean up over time. It's easy to find praise for this game, and while I agree with a lot of it, I don't want to repeat it, so I'm going to start by focusing on the negatives that make this an 8/10 for me, and not a 9 or 10.

The rape scenes were good at being loathsome and disturbing, and I loved how effective those were. But why did consensual sex scenes have to be so dumb and rapey? There is, conceivably, an in-world reason why the main character has sexual trauma that made him be a sex weirdo, but why doesn't it manifest anywhere else in the story? It's just offputting and out of place.

The final battle was a satisfying ending. Why did there have to be like 3 hours of sucky epilogue after that? It was clear that they wanted to have the main character spend some "slice of life" time with the true ending heroine, because they didn't fit it into the main story. Problem is, there was no good reason not to include that in the main story, before the climax. Show the characters making an effort to bond, and let the reader appreciate how it gradually comes naturally to them. Get the reader invested in their friendship before the end, not in the epilogue. Writing that into the epilogue just makes it look like lazy, last-second fanservice waifubaiting to make people like that female protagonist more.

I loved Hanachirasu's combat writing. Narahara Ittetsu is great at it. But Hanachirasu is much shorter than this, and has only a handful of fights. Maybe 20% of Muramasa's fights reach that quality. It's inevitable—if you put in this many combat scenes (apparently ~25% of the script is combat), they're not all going to be good. There's an additional silly problem introduced by the genre of Muramasa, though. The fact that there are giant robots involved, who have Ultimate Techniques, means there's an extra layer of cheesiness here that's mostly absent from Hanachirasu.

You know that the fight can't end until you see the enemy's Ultimate Technique. You know that the main character's Ultimate Technique can't ALWAYS work. They have to contrive silly ways to make it miss or land a glancing blow, or else it would just end every fight effortlessly. In good fights, the characters are responding to what the other is doing, and the winner is decided by experience, technique, craftiness, or even luck. In a bad fight, a character goes "darn I'm on the ropes, I guess I'll finally use my Ultimate Technique now to end the fight. I hope the writer makes it work."

Muramasa is at its best when it's focusing on the characters, but so much time is devoted to worldbuilding and politics that often have no payoff or direct plot relevance. If the characters care about the politics, or are heavily involved in them, then politics is great fun, because we get to watch how the characters navigate and influence them. But in Muramasa, the main characters either don't care about the politics going on around them, or, like Otori Kanae, their motivations are so mysterious that you have no idea what their political goals are. There is, however, a part where a main character takes on a politician role for a while. During that, the politics suddenly become really cool and directly relevant to them.

Good worldbuilders captivate the reader by making the reader want the information. The reader should be happy to read about the world because it puts a piece of the puzzle in place for them. The worldbuilding and politics here feel like Narahara indulging himself, instead of the reader. There's too much of it, it's too long, and too often it does nothing to enhance the positive aspects of the story that people rave about.
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