Why Even Bother Playing Visual Novels?

Ayappi here (*´꒳`*)ノ

Who would have thought I wouldn’t have classes (except for one day) for the entire week (*´-`)

Anyway,

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Manga is definitely literature, trust me. My professor approved my essay on Prunus Girl

For the “uninitiated,” you might be asking yourself, what is a visual novel? Is this a fancy term to refer to lengthier manga, the same way graphic novels in the West work? You could be forgiven for thinking that, but if you have ever at any point in time heard about Katawa Shoujo, Doki Doki Literature Club, or have watched Oreimo, then you probably already have encountered visual novels.

It doesn’t take much to run a visual novel, because there aren’t any fancy polygons found in 3D games, or multiple AI’s to stress out the CPU. Literally anyone with a computer capable of running Windows can run visual novels at max settings.

After downloading anywhere from a few megabytes to lots of gigabytes worth of game files from Steam, DLSite or the discs these visual novels come in, we’re ready to play. The way they work is simple, players simply click on the screen to progress with the story. Along the way there might be some choices, where each choice affects what kind of ending the player will get. Games in this genre are usually dating simulators, or bishoujo/otome games featuring cute and/or sexy characters of either sex. Most often than not, these visual novels contain erotic material or hentai as we call it outside of Japan, and are classified as eroge or erotic game (エロゲ).

It’s basically something you’d find in between a manga and an anime. It’s not entirely animated like a normal anime, but it contains voices (sometimes) and contains more room for movement compared to a manga. Most often we read the text too, much like a manga. The way it differs from anime and manga however, is that you’ll need a computer of some sort to run them and keep their game files.

Given that, visual novels seem to be more of a hassle and a waste of time more than anything. I’ve already mentioned its requirements of a computer and the waiting time needed to install and/or download the game files for starters, which in my opinion is one of the biggest supports to this notion. Especially with the latter, I’ve downloaded visual novels that reached up to 4GB in game files alone (I think it was your diary+H). Whiles yes, hard drives are getting cheaper and cheaper, if you compare file sizes to something such as Cities Skylines, a much more intensive game, you begin to question why a visual novel needs 4GB of system storage. You begin to contemplate on how that storage space could have been used up by other games.

Time to buy another 4TB drive

On the subject of storage space, let’s talk about eroge. Eroge visual novels, like their non erotic counterparts still need to be installed in whatever device you own. If you’re one of those people who play these games for the sex scenes, and nothing but the sex scenes, then it might not make sense to even install the game in the first place. I’ve seen countless of times on Booru sites (anime picture compilation sites) such as Danbooru and Gelbooru, the sex scenes found in most eroge. One could easily just type in “game_cg” and the title of the eroge, and you get the full package and more. With this way, not only do you save yourself the time of playing through it, but also storage space on your devices.

But probably a bigger reason, and this is especially because this is a factor in the former two I just mentioned, is that it simply takes up time. For one thing, you’re limited by the devices running these, so that’s effectively downtime if you happen to lose access to your devices at a certain place or time. Installation and downloading is another thing, and this is directly affected by things such as internet speed and compute power. After that, unless you want to just hit “Skip” and not understand anything at all, you’re essentially forced to click or tap your way through the story. That takes up lots of time, even with the text speed set to the maximum. Once you’re done, you either uninstall it, or keep it probably only to uninstall it later on to make way for another game. The time spent getting, playing this game, and uninstalling it could have gone to more productive tasks, or binge read 3 mangas with an anime off to the side.

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You can’t deny that the art is well done

So article over? Visual novels are horrible in concept and you should never play them? The answer really, is a huge it depends.

The reasons I outlined above are coming from my perspective: a university student pressed for time every single day. If you’re also in a time constricted environment, who doesn’t have access 24/7 to the devices where you keep your visual novels, then I really do think visual novels are probably not worth your time. You’ll probably enjoy yourself more reading a manga on the commute, rather than lugging your laptop, playing in public at risk of getting robbed.

However, if you have the time, the storage space, and to a lesser extent the strong enough internet connection, then I don’t see any reason for you to not play visual novels. I mentioned earlier that visual novels are sort of the middleground between anime and manga. There are many things that an anime and manga couldn’t do that a visual novel can do.

One of these things is that, a visual novel could include minigames to better interact with the consumer. Majority of the visual novels in the market do not have these, but there are some who have an extra layer of spice, and I think it helps in the overall immersion in the world of the story. Some examples of these include the famous poem minigame in Doki Doki Literature Club, or this battle mechanic found in Twinkle Crusaders that I personally find interesting (I only seem gameplay of it though, never played this).

You really do feel that it’s happening live

On the subject of immersion, yes it could offer good immersion at levels anime and manga simply cannot offer. Majority of the visual novels are dating simulators, putting you, the player in a self insert character to participate in the story. You, yourself through Mr or Ms. Self Insert interact with the cast of the story firsthand. Oftentimes, you call the shots and not the writer of the story, through the choices you made.

I know there are anime that have done this sort of self insert main character type of thing, where the characters interact with the viewer. However, in my opinion it’s very awkward to watch, and you’re still purely bound by whatever the writer intended to put inside. Manga might have a better chance at beating visual novels, but I personally have never encountered a “Choose your own Adventure” manga. Please do let me know down below if you know any that exist.

Also, and I think this is one of the strongest points of visual novels over any anime and manga, is that the art is simply noticeably well drawn. I will admit that many times have I gone out of my way to look for particular CG scenes, just to make them my desktop wallpaper. The art in my opinion is just way better compared to standard manga or, heck even anime screenshots from shows made by PA Works. I know this is subjective, but honestly I think visual novels easily destroy anime or manga when it comes to art. It’s on a whole different league in my opinion. To prove it, look at scenes from Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, and the picture somewhere above captioned “you can’t deny the art is well done.” Both are drawn by the illustrator Kantoku.

So yes, personally I’d not play a visual novel simply because I have no time for them. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t play them completely. If given enough pressure from friends, or if I’m genuinely curious about the game, then I will definitely play . But yes, if I could just have a manga version of whatever visual novel is presented to me that would be much appreciated.

However, that’s me, and you’re you. It’s still up to you to decide. Please don’t cut off visual novels completely especially if you have the time. Who knows, you might eventually become obsessed with them in the future. I want to hear your opinions on the matter, so please do comment down below if you want!

Have a nice day and remember to enjoy life and anime/manga that there’s no one else other than Just Monika. ❤

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An Open Letter Regarding Good and Bad Anime

Ayappi here (=´∀`), and I’m officially getting old and a third year in university!

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Oh goodness, here we go

Last night I couldn’t sleep because of my allergies, so I decided to check if I missed an episode of my favorite anime, Mahou Shoujo Site. Out of curiosity, I decided to check the comments section of KissAnime, to see whether or not the divide between the community on this anime is still present. Turns out, the divide is still present, but more people are noticeably leaning towards the positive. However, what ticked me off were some very special people in the comments section. This blog post is inspired and addressed to the wonderful people at KissAnime.com, so here we go.

Dear “wonderful people,”

Liking an anime, and hating an anime are both opposites of each other, but are still two completely acceptable things. Art and Literature, including anime, are inherently subjective, and as my professor in university would always say: “There are no wrong answers.” Our definition of good and bad will only be determined by you, and only you.

Remember that no two people will have the exact same definition of what is good. For some, a good story is a relatable story with heartwarming characters, a laid back setting and cute characters. For others, a good story is simply something that imitates nature, or has a moral lesson to teach, or something that serves as a good outlet for the author’s emotions. For some, edgy shows such as Mahou Shoujo Site are good stories.

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For some, the original is way better than GGO. Although I prefer LLENN over Kirito

Now we all have our own sentiments when it comes to things like literature. You see, the entire anime community could be comparable to a university classroom. It’s like a book club (or in this case an entire anime club), where we express our opinions about a show, what WE THINK is good and bad about the series, and try to convince those who haven’t watched the show to either watch or not watch it. It’s a great thing on paper as it offers platforms for discourse on these animes that we love to watch. It’s good that things such as comments sections give a chance for the audience to give feedback.

That’s probably where it ends however. In practice, it’s extremely problematic. For one thing, I constantly see lots of people who don’t realize that there’s a huge difference between expressing your opinion, and shoving your opinion down people’s throats. I saw this from the same person who replied to some people who think Mahou Shoujo Site was good, and replied to them with the same identical string of words that person used to fight someone else. First of all, you certainly have lots of time on your hands, don’t you? Second, if you think it’s a bad series, then go ahead and let the world know. What isn’t right, is if you constantly try to change people’s minds into thinking your word is the law. If your point is that an anime is objectively bad, then you’re using the wrong viewpoint from the get go unless we’re talking about things like lackluster editing (and even then, a horribly edited video could be good in itself).

Please remember that no one’s opinion in the anime community is the law. The only difference between reviewers such as me, and you, is how we express our opinions on the anime we’re tearing apart. My reviews aren’t the law. Your reviews aren’t the law. Even someone as prominent as the Anime Man’s words are not the law. You’re free to agree or disagree, but never to declare that something is law. No opinion transcends space and time and is absolute. Get off your high horse. We’re dealing with subjective matters here, not objective matters. If you’re a PC gamer, remember that an anime review is an entirely different species compared to a review of a Radeon HD7990 and a Core i9-7980XE prebuilt, if that even exists.

Segueing into my next point, if you are completely insistent on claiming a certain series is the worst series ever, please please PLEASE, make sure you have textual evidence to back it up. A simple summary of the entire series based on what you think will not help. If anything, it will help me in tearing apart your arguments. As I’ve said, there are no wrong answers in literature, provided they are well defended. You can’t say, a series is bad because “it’s edgy for the sake of being edgy,” without giving me examples from the text itself as to how and why it’s edgy. If I was your literature teacher I’d write a huge “so what” in your paper.

Let me illustrate with an example:

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Example A: Otokonoko Tsuma is a sad attempt at appealing to trap lovers.

Example B: Otokonoko Tsuma is a sad attempt at appealing to trap lovers, because the series echoes many similarities with existing works in the genre. A similar story can be seen in (trap story) where, just like Otokonoko Tsuma (this and that).

Which do you think I’d see as more credible? It’s so simple to add some textual evidence to an argument. It won’t make your argument bulletproof by any means (forget about it, we’re dealing with subjective things here), and in most cases people won’t change their minds regardless, but it does make your arguments stronger. It gives the people you’re trying to convince, the impression that you actually watched it and know what you’re talking about. No amount of “it’s bad because this and that” will convince me. If you can’t show me proof in the form of textual evidence, then your argument, not the anime, is trash.

One example for the above is the overwhelmingly abundant amount of comments dismissing the anime for being a mere Madoka clone, period. No textual evidence whatsoever highlighting the things Mahou Shoujo Site allegedly ripped off. I’m not even going to lie, I wanted to spam my “Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site” article in there, to show how weak their arguments were. I have no problems if you hate the anime, provided you give me concrete examples. To be frank, these people just spouted shit that would easily grant them F’s in an analysis paper.

Finally, for those who start fights on the matter of good and bad anime. My goodness. If you’re still a teenager, that’s understanable. You’re young and learning about the world still, so it’s completely understandable. For the grown ups however, seriously? I’m pretty sure you already know if you lived this long that these things are subjective. Please do be a little more mature in both dealing with people who say an anime is bad, or when trying to express your opinions on certain animes.

Again, I would like to say, an anime’s goodness or badness is determined by you. Only you have the power to decide if an anime is good for you. Express your opinions if you want to, but don’t act like some lawmaker declaring that a certain anime is trash and shouldn’t be watched, or proceed to start fights on it. Believe it or not, these things are some of what makes us have a bad name in society.

I would also just like to add a little thought. Who cares if people think an anime is bad? Just watch it if you really want to watch it, not because people think it’s a good anime. Don’t let the opinions of others affect how you enjoy the hobby.

With all of that said, I think I exhausted what I have to say for now. I wish you have a fun and happy day ahead. ❤

Let’s Talk Anime Popularity Polls

Ayappi here (*´꒳`*)

Anitrending on Facebook, NHK Top 100, the MAL Popularity/Rating Rankings. Do all of these sound familiar? These are just some of the many anime popularity ranking polls scattered all across the internet. These popularity polls bascially take votes from people through a form, and then the one with the most votes comes out as the #1 most popular anime. Simple as that. Arguably this could be easily rigged by submitting multiple entries, but trust me these sites have gotten way better at preventing that from happening.

These popularity polls are great because it gives a voice to the normal anime fan. It’s a great way to know what the people are watching and possibly what their favorite series are. It also brings people together, and should their favorite anime land on the number one spot, it gives a small but still present, sense of joy to that person. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to see the things that they like flourish like that?

However, and here is where the messy part comes in, some people take it seriously. Even too seriously sometimes if that’s even a word. It starts flame wars and heated debates. Mostly it’s the so-called elitists in the community that start these wars, un-ironically. It’s as if, their way of thinking is that if an anime places high in a popularity poll, it’s automatically the best anime in the world.

I remember when I was still a Love Liver when the second season of Love Live Sunshine!!, the spin off series to the original Love Live, got first place in an Anitrending popularity poll, it was the ugliest post I’ve seen from them. It was total chaos, inside and outside of the post in question. Love Livers constantly taunting everyone else. Elitists typing up HUGE walls of texts just to prove the Love Livers wrong, enough words to even be considered as an academic essay by my professors. One or two trolls, just took advantage of the situation, but mostly it was an ongoing war between Love Livers and, well, everyone else. That’s just how I remember it.

I think, and I mentioned this earlier, the argument behind all of this is that an anime’s rightful place in a popularity poll must be consistent to its “quality.” I’ve seen many people say that the Love Live anime is written horribly and should therefore be lower in a popularity poll. The same people then proceed to endorse another anime that I frankly never cared to watch, which allegedly has “stellar” writing to be #1 in a popularity poll.

First of all, please remember that this is a popularity poll. This is not a “quality level ranking system.” The metric for this entire thing is simply, how many people like the series, nothing more nothing less. If many people watch it, then many people happen to be watching it. It’s as simple as that. Let’s go back to the case of Love Live. It’s undeniable that in Japan alone, Love Live isn’t something I’d consider to be a typical “community only” anime. It has certainly taken mainstream already in Japan, and it has huge cult level followings all across the globe. I already left the scene because of personal reasons, but I can tell you, it’s unstoppable. We could argue all day long about the flaws in the writing, and there are many, but many people still watch it.

Also, an anime’s “quality,” is entirely subjective, which means it may be different for everyone. Just because you perceive quality different than the average person, does not mean your words are superior. You could always argue to someone that an anime is good because of this and that, or bad because of whatever. Trying to convince people by stating your opinion, supported by solid arguments, that’s perfectly alright! That’s called, tearing apart a series and doing a close reading on it plus an opinion. What is not alright is to claim that your words are like the end all, like you’re the only one people should listen to. If it was like that, then AniBloggers and AniTubers wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Furthermore, honestly, not a lot of people watch anime for the “exquisite” writing and simply watch it as a stress reliever or a past time. Sure, it’s fun to tear apart a series and appreciate its good bits while roasting it’s bad bits, but normally that’s done AFTER the entire thing has finished.

Lastly, I know it feels bad to see your favorite series score low in these sorts of things (imagine how I feel everytime I see the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Site), but please do not let this get in the way of your enjoyment. You’re investing yourself in a battle, that will most likely take more away from you, than it will gain you. The broken interpersonal relationships, wasted time, stress, and decreased enjoyment that were consumed in this battle are not worth a #1 spot in a popularity poll.

To be clear, this isn’t an piece against popularity polls. I personally have no problem with them, and I actually like how it gives the fans a voice in the community. What did I hope to achieve writing this post then? You see, I personally think the petty fighting going on inside and outside these popularity polls is stupid, and frankly, this is just one of the many things that give people like us a bad name in the world. There’s more to anime, and life, than just numbers on a simple popularity poll, and I’d rather enjoy another 5 minutes of my favorite anime than to use that 5 minutes to look like a rabid weirdo fighting with a person I never even met with in the comments section of an AniTrending post.

I’m sorry if this was a bit too tough to swallow, but I felt the need to say it. What do you think? Please let me know!

Alright, I think that’s all for now. Thank you for reading as always, and please have a nice day ❤

My Honest Opinion on Dubbed Anime

Greetings anime community! This time I would like to talk about a somewhat sensitive topic regarding this community. From the title itself, you guessed it, I’m here to give my opinions on the never ending debate that is dubbed or subbed anime.

But first, a quick backstory! (3 paragraphs long if you want to skip it teehee)

I was scrolling through my feed on Facebook when a post from Netflix (or some Facebook page, I forgot) advertised its exclusive ONA with Sanrio, Aggretsuko (アグレッシブ烈子). After being hooked because Retsuko is just, really cute, plus I like the whole death metal thing going on, I finally had a reason to subscribe to Netflix. Luckily my aunt let me use her Netflix account and I have since been watching Aggretsuko and other anime (Tip: You can actually watch more anime if you use a VPN to Japan).

Now for all of you who are subscribed to Netflix, I think you know that you could change the subtitles and audio tracks in their TV shows and movies. For those that aren’t, there’s an option to change the audio tracks and subtitles through a little menu on the upper right if you’re using iOS. I’m not sure how it works for Android and PC, but anyway. By default, the show was set to English with no subtitles as far as I can remember. Being the person I am, I set the audio to Japanese and the subtitles to Japanese.

However, while it’s convenient that the show is just on Netflix and I could access it whenever I wanted to hear “SHITTY BOSS,” I get lazy and choose to just look it up on YouTube. Truth be told, I was kind of disappointed that the Japanese versions of the “SHITTY BOSS” songs are nowhere to be found, and only the English ones have been uploaded for my listening. However, what surprised me was that the English dub of Aggretsuko was actually really good. It was so good that I actually wanted to rewatch it in the English voices, while still retaining the Japanese subtitles because reasons.

STORY TIME OVER,

Dubs vs. Subs, it’s been a long running debate in the anime community. Many of the common arguments I hear about this issue is that, watching dubbed anime is tantamount to ruining the anime, watching dubbed anime does not give the same experience as that of the original, etc. In short, dubs ruin anime.

To an extent, I kind of agree with these arguments. In a way, a dubbed series kind of ruins the experience that the original aims to deliver to its audience. After all, there are some words and expressions that simply sound weird when translated into another language. The director or writer may have specifically chosen words, in the original language, as well as certain ways or accents of saying these words, that could simply not be captured as well if it was translated and adopted into a different language. You could say, some words get lost in the translation, and it really depends on how the translator interpreted these words, which could possibly cause lost meanings.

Let me give a little scenario on how I think this could happen:

Original Japanese: 「参ります」

Natural Translation: Going

While yes, the translation is correct, by translating to somewhat natural English the word has already lost its politeness level the original Japanese possesses. 参ります is the super polite form of the word 行く. Going could mean anything in terms of politeness in English. Furthermore, if we consider the fact that 参ります is also the super polite form of another verb 来る (come), we’re in trouble should the interpreter interpret it as such when it should be the other verb.

If you want evidence of this in Western animation being dubbed to Japanese, I suggest you listen to Japanese Spongebob. It simply, doesn’t work in my opinion. Patrick’s dopey English voice suited him better than the pathetic voice he has in the Japanese dub. Spongebob’s voice is kind of acceptable, for me at least.

However, I also kind of disagree with this statement simply because of the fact that there are some dubs that do a good job at it, an example being (if you read story time) Aggretsuko. Another example of dubs being good is the Dragon Ball dub. These are in my opinion, examples of dubs that actually match, if not make better the experience being set by the original. If we consider the fact many people simply watch anime to enjoy the experience of anime, and if a dub could deliver a similarly good if not better experience, then why not. In my opinion, anime’s purpose, other than being art waiting to be appreciated (and critically torn apart by critics), is to be enjoyed by the people who love it after all.

In the Japanese dub of Western animation side of things, if you ever get a chance to watch Japanese Gumball (TAWOG), I think that show’s Japanese dub is good. Gumball’s voice actually matches his character, and same goes for the rest of the characters, mostly.

With those out of the way, my take on the matter is that in the end, it’s really up to you, the watcher, to decide. Anime is subjective and we’re all into different things. Some of us could care less about a little loss in translation and prefer dubs. Some of us are simply purists and would rather appreciate the art in its purest form. (To be fair though, by reading subtitles there’s still some loss in translation from the smallest nuance to a complete butcher).

Me, I personally would rather watch my anime in its original Japanese audio, simply because I can practice my listening skills, and because of the argument I just said earlier about how there are terms that simply could not be captured well if translated into another language. However, I’d still watch a dub if I wanted to. Other than to aid my Japanese studies, I mainly use anime to relax and unwind so if a dub could serve that purpose, why not. Just make sure it’s like Aggretsuko level good and not that HORRIBLE niconiconii in that Tagalog Love Live dub I stumbled across.

How about you? What’s your take on the matter? Do you agree or disagree?

I think that’s all I have to say on the matter, for now at least. Bye and have a beautiful day!