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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Anime Backlogs and My Experience With It

Good morning/evening/afternoon! Ayappi here (^O^☆♪

3rd time post today, I know. I don’t know what else to do right now so I just started writing teehee. Anyway…

When you’re a university student, you might be similar to me in a sense that you often go into this phase where you think to yourself, “I miss the good old days.” No professors yelling at you, no daily panic attacks from that one class you forgot existed (for good reasons). Back to a time when all I did after school was sleep in the car ride home instead of panicking and writing a 50 page minimum “thesis” while trying to contact my groupmates that suddenly disappeared on me.

With that, I suddenly remembered my early days in the anime community. Back when I started to watch anime outside of the stuff they aired on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. When I started to use Facebook to connect with fellow fans of anime rather than to exclusively play Pet Society, Farmville, Nightclub City. I could write many blog entries on my early days (and cringeworthy moments and mistakes), but today I want to tackle something that might have happened to anyone who is an anime fan and is busy.

My backlog was so bad, I basically looked like this looking at it

I’m talking about the dreaded “anime backlog.” What is this specifically? We all know the drill, every new season we head over to livechart.me or Haruhichan (though they’re not doing this anymore since 2016, and we pick what we want to watch from the many titles on our screens. Then after we select about 5 or 6 or sometimes 10, we desperately try to map out the schedule at which these series come out. Lately we’ve been able to do this better, but before I had to rely on the date stamps of the first three episodes before I could make my schedule, or I was just dumb.

Anyway, as time passes, by the fourth episode or so, we drop a few series, which lessens the number, but other factors come in to play. Peer pressure from friends to watch a certain show that isn’t in your list suddenly rushes in. A sudden change of heart to watch a series because of reasons such as, suddenly finding the characters cute. Professors suddenly giving mountains of homework that’s easier said than done. Delays in fansubs if you require subtitiles, or if you’re one of the brave souls that prefer raw: lack of signal. A lot can happen, especially since most anime air on a weekly basis. Eventually, not only do you have a mountain of responsibilities on your hands, but you also have a huge backlog of anime on your plate.

Many times this has happened to me. Believe me when I say that I have dropped really good series not because I eventually found them boring, but because I got lazy and overwhelmed by my huge backlog of unwatched, unfinished anime. Even if let’s say, I had 6 months of no school (yes I had this). How many anime was I able to finish? One, out of 20+ unfinished series, out of the sheer number and laziness. Also partly to blame is my bad habit of rewatching CLIPS of series I already watched amounting to 4 episodes of something I haven’t watched.

I blame these things. I got this one from Animo.

When I think about how did this even happen, I guess I was pressured. I knew deep inside me that I wanted to watch all of these, not only because I wanted to watch all of these from the beginning, but also so I could increase my “anime list.” I blame my innocence and those posts that say “If you are an otaku, name 50 anime,” back when I only have, 17 clocked in. I guess the idea of being a “true otaku” got the better of me and caused me to drop great series such as Charlotte, Anohana (bad timing on this one because I had to carry my group for a project) and Denpa Onna To Seisyun Otoko. I also guess, that if I didn’t watch these anime the same time everyone else is watching, I would be forgotten and be irrelevant.

I guess I was also pressured at the fact that at my first blog, the reception was horrible due to my reviews of old anime. I got so angry when I received my first and only comment, saying something along the lines of “stop reviewing old anime you weeb.” I deleted the thing and went on to add more anime to my list, mostly new ones. I ended up dropping most of them except for one (Nagi no Asu Kara). Whoever that person was, I don’t know who you are, but I could care less if you found my new blog and started commenting again.

Youth sure is a dangerous thing let me tell you haha. I’m still young though, I’m not even in my twenties yet.

Nowadays, as I matured and learned that this “true otaku” nonsense won’t make me any better, or any more prominent as I originally imagined in the end, or trying to satisfy the expectations of people whose only instance of communication was from a comment I went bonkers about, I tend to have less of a backlog than I used to have. I generally stick to one or two or three per season now, and the only time I make changes is if any of these happen:

1. I find the character cute and I have time to add in another one

2. I’m just bored in general

3. It really got me interested in it.

I’m not even going to watch anime just to fuel my blog to satisfy anonymous commenters like I used to. Honestly I also thought about it, and because of that, my review of Nagi no Asukara turned out really horrible. Though, as if the rest of the content I wrote wasn’t horribly written to begin with _| ̄|○

I did this show injustice. Got this from Deviantart

So, if you made it this far, I kind of want to leave a little message to those who are experiencing something similar, or has an anime backlog themselves. What’s the takeaway in all this Ayappi-nee? Think about why do you want to watch this series. There’s no shame in not being able to watch a series everyone else is watching. There’s no shame in not being able to watch as much anime as you want. “True otaku” is just a title given by a picture on the internet asking you to name 50 animes you watched. We’re all living busy lives, and it’s understandable.

Don’t let these things give you an anime backlog, because honestly, it ruins your experience in this community.

Have you ever had an anime backlog? How did you cope up with it? Did you have to drop series too, or you miraculously found a way to bounce back? Please let me know your thoughts!

Have a great day or evening, and happy watching ❤

If you’re curious, and this is inconsistent with my MAL account, here’s my watchlist so far. Trust me, this is less than what I had 5 years ago:

1. Mahou Shoujo Site

2. Better Sword Art Online: Gun Gale Online

3. Hinamatsuri

4. Comic Girls (binge watching this within this week to catch up)

Reading list:

1. Mahou Shoujo Site

2. Magical Girl of the End

3. Bloom into You

4. A couple of BL one-shots

5. My Wife is a Man

The Busy Anime Fan’s Guide to Studying Japanese

Nowadays everything is faster. From things such as your phone being probably faster than your old laptop (well based on the Geekbench scores at least), to the way we communicate with people from any corner of the globe, to how fast we could access that new episode of Uma Musume. But with this new fast paced and busy lifestyle comes a cost; less time. Less time means less time to study Japanese which could mean, it’ll be easier and FASTER to forget everything you’ve learned in Japanese, or really any second language, especially if you don’t live in Japan.

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That’s unfortunate

So what can we do then? I want to study Japanese but, priorities and the newest episode just came out of Gun Gale Online so now what? Do we just accept our fate as it is and let everything we learned go to waste, or have no time to study at all? Well, no. Please keep reading as I will give you some tips on how you, the anime / manga fan, could still learn and retain their Japanese despite the lack of time.

Now as an anime fan, I will be assuming that you are getting around 5-8 hours of sleep, a total of 3 hours for the appropriate mealtimes and daily routines, 8 hours of work and/or school, an hour for transportation, 2 hours for studying and 2 hours for watching anime (6 episodes). I will not be including social media time because, this can happen any time really.

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Busy life is normal for our day and age

This guide is assuming you already know Hiragana and Katakana. If you don’t, please make yourself some flashcards or a table, and memorize the two alphabets before even proceeding with anything else. Try memorizing 5 a day per alphabet, preferrably in this order:

Day 1: あ い う え お ア イ ウ エ オ

Day 2: か き く け こ カ キ ク ケ コ

Continue the sequence, starting syllables are さ、た、な、は、ま、や、ら、わ

Memorize only these first, because the rest of the sounds are only modified by adding two lines or a circle to the character, with the exception of な、や、ま 、わand ら characters. To illustrate

か becomes が

た becomes だ

Starting and continuing to study with romaji is the one of the worst things any Japanese learner could ever do to themselves. The reason why is for another article.

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Let’s not get to this point shall we?

Okay, so let’s say you only have an hour per day to learn and practice Japanese on your desk. Let’s go to grammar first, because that’s what’s most important in my opinion. What I suggest is that for every two days, learn only one grammar point and stick to mastering that one point. You could extend this to three days, but really just go with your pace. For me, two days is my self-imposed deadline for learning a grammar point. For every day after this time interval, try to recall and review the past grammar you have studied.

As for vocabulary, try not to push yourself by memorizing entire vocabulary lists. In my opinion, especially given the possibility of you being mentally tired and stressed after a busy day, this is counter-productive. Instead, what I would recommend is just learn the words when you need to know them. What do I mean by this? Until you want to say something, do not learn the word. When the time comes that you want to say, let’s say: “I want to eat vegetables,” then you only look up and learn the word for vegetables when that time comes. The same principle applies for kanji, and I actually learned kanji this way for the past two years.

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Time to put that Japanese podcast/Jpop collection to good use too!

Okay so far we have grammar and vocabulary/kanji covered, but how about listening, reading, speaking, and writing? For one thing, writing would have to be done alongside the grammar and vocabulary sections during note taking, so that’s alright. As for speaking, unless you have a partner, or are willing to speak to yourself, then you’re in trouble.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Listening and Reading could actually be done while you’re watching anime and/or reading manga. While the accents in anime are questionable, the one thing that is accurate is the speed and vocabulary. Your skills at listening and vocabulary recognition will be practiced as you watch anime. As for reading, you guessed it, manga will help. Sure, the vocabulary you might pick up might be a bit questionable (especially if all you watch is shounen or obscure and deep titles) but listening and reading will be practiced. This is actually the method I personally use if I can’t talk to my Japanese friends, friends who can speak Japanese, or relatives in Japan.

The trick here is maximizing exposure time. The mere fact that you are watching anime (preferably without subtitles), counts as exposure time. So long as you could use the Japanese that you learned, or you place yourself in situations where you have no choice to learn, then you could retain or possibly improve on your Japanese. You could also try putting your entire phone in Japanese, whatever works! Just make sure you get to see even just one hiragana each day! It sounds hard,  but trust me it isn’t.

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マイペースでやりなさい!

To be clear, you don’t have to follow this guide exactly as I say. We all learn differently and I simply wrote what I have proven, to be an effective way of learning Japanese in a busy lifestyle. You could even multitask and study Japanese while, let’s say as your driver drives you to school, or as you eat dinner. Just please, however, do not forget to do your responsibilities. Once you get in “the zone” I know it’s really really hard to stop studying, but please remember that there is no point in studying Japanese if you will just starve yourself to death, or die of lack of sleep in the end.

So I think that pretty much covers it! Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great Japanese language journey! ❤

P.S. Please don’t die. Seriously.