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. ❤

In Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site

If you are uncomfortable with sensitive topics, or spoilers, please do not read this article.

First of all, I would like to say, thank you to the first 5 followers I got. It really made me happy that you followed my blog 

I’ll work hard and do my best to bring more content slowly!

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When people don’t like mahou shoujo site

Back on topic. A recent anime adapted from the manga of similar name, Mahou Shoujo Site has been making rounds in the anime community lately. Personally, like it, if not love it. But for the rest of the anime community, reception seems to be mixed judging from the ratings in BakaUpdates, MyAnimeList and YouTube, and I couldn’t blame them for it. For one thing, it is undeniable that the first episode of the anime does, bring a lot of so-called shock factor into the table. This is especially amplified by the transitions the directors used when switching scenes. This eventually leads majority of the opposition to say that the anime is merely shock value, and offers no substance whatsoever.

Another thing is that some people in the community accuse the show of being a blatant shot at a “Madoka ripoff,” and I couldn’t blame them for it because there are some things that are similar to Madoka in many ways. The most obvious being the fact that the show is dark and has magical girls in it, as well as death and despair.

But probably, the one thing that stood out among all of the other factors that contributed to this anime’s rise to its currently (in)famous  status is how the anime tackles very sensitive topics such as child abuse and rape. In the first episode alone, I could see why the anime gained the title “the edgiest anime of the season.” We have bullies making poor Aya’s life miserable in school (even attempted to rape her towards the end). We have a brother whose pressure from his father forces him to turn his sister Aya into a punching bag. It’s really, as the anime’s tagline says, unfortunate (不幸だね).

However, I personally will admit that I could handle such edge and I continued on to watch the anime. I even started to read the manga, and I am planning to buy Volume 10 of it soon. Since the anime isn’t finished yet, I decided to go and read the manga so I know what will happen next. By doing that, I realized two things:

  1. I love this manga
  2. The edginess in Episode 1 is important and necessary

What do I mean by Number 2? I personally think the Mahou Shoujo Site’s appearance to Aya wouldn’t have made much of an effect had the “edginess” been toned down. If we take a look at the mechanics behind when does the site appear to a girl, it’s obvious that the site is approaching unfortunate young girls. For the site, the meaning of unfortunate seems to be that a person really has to have a sort-of living hell in their lives. And this lines up with the fact that the purpose of the sticks is apparently to collect negative energy from daily interactions with the world. Obviously, living a living hell, which causes despair, is chock full of negative energy.

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I love these two to bits

Let’s take a look at the backstories behind some of our main characters before they became magical girls:

Asagiri Aya: Abusive brother who uses her as a punching bag, bullies that almost got her raped, but cause her physical harm everyday. “Everyday, all [she] thinks about is dying.”

Yatsumura Tsuyuno: Her entire family was murdered by a burglar, and has since lived alone in a state of panic and fear for her life

Nijimin: Her father committed suicide due to debt from loan sharks. Her mother, and she was (from what I understood) almost was forced by these loan sharks to become a prostitute.

There is another Mahou Shoujo who I forgot the name of had her family killed off by a murderer in a stabbing spree.

We can see obviously that these are very, very unfortunate situations unimaginable to happen in our daily lives, living hells if you will. Had these been toned down to just being lonely, then I think it defeats the purpose of the site catering to “unfortunate” young girls. If it was toned down, the Mahou Shoujo Site wouldn’t even approach Aya in the first place. These things do happen in real life, and possibly this was the best way the author could have made the girl’s lives really unfortunate while still being realistic and unfortunate. I know the themes being tackled by this series are very sensitive and serious issues in society, but honestly, I would rather the author use these instead of some unrealistic way to make the character’s lives utterly miserable.

Had Aya’s situation been just relegated to bullying without the physical harm and attempted rape, or domestic abuse from her brother, or really anyone in the story, then the story would deviate from the dark nature the Mahou Shoujo Site possesses.  Again, going back to the sticks and harvesting negative energy, it only makes sense that the most surefire way of harvesting negative energy is to get it from girls who are living a living hell.

Furthermore, I personally think that the accusation that the anime is all shock value is unfair. While it is true that the anime does bring a lot of shock value to the table, advancing a few episodes or reading the manga would reveal that the series isn’t really all shock value. There were plenty of opportunities for character development down the road, and honestly, one episode of an anime isn’t enough to label the entire series most of the time. We could argue every day about the flaws of the writing, and I’ll admit it isn’t the best, but to say that the series brings nothing but shock is unfair and is a weak argument in my opinion.

On the subject of the anime/manga being a Madoka rip off, I beg to disagree. Sure, the series is similar to Madoka in many fronts, other than the fact that both are about magical girls in despair, with magical tools from “magical beings” with ulterior motives. However, the one big difference in Madoka and this series is the way the “magical beings” represented by Kyubey in Madoka and the site administrators in Mahou Shoujo Site approach their targets.

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In Madoka, Kyubey esssentially approaches young girls, and doesn’t seem to have a criteria for them. Kyubey judges based on the potential magic ability, and grants young girls a wish in exchange for being a magical girl, which may or may not cause despair when the wish takes a turn for the worse. In Mahou Shoujo Site, despair is a pre-requisite for one to become qualified to be a mahou shoujo. The site administrators do not grant wishes, they simply give a stick with a random power to the girl in despair.

The mechanics of the mahou shoujo also differ a lot from Madoka Magica. Unlike Mahou Shoujo Site’s girls, in Madoka, the use of magic ability does not adversely affect biological lifespan. Madoka’s system is that with every use, the girl’s soul gem gets darker and needs to be purified by a grief seed to become clean again. In Mahou Shoujo Site, every minute equates to loss of life and physically affects the health of the user. It should be noted as well that the nature of the soul gem is different than that of the sticks, in a sense that if the stick is lost, you simply lose the thing as evidenced in the events after the  incident with Sarina and Yatsumura’s apartment, rather than being a lifeless corpse after a certain distance has been travelled as demonstrated by Sayaka’s gem being thrown by Madoka into a truck.

With all that said, in the end, whether or not the anime is to your liking is up to you. However, I highly suggest following the three episode rule and give it another chance. That is assuming, you’re alright with seeing a lot of blood because if there’s one thing that the anime doesn’t hold back about, it’s blood. I love the anime and manga and obviously I’d love it if people loved it too, but what you prefer is out of my control. I could sit here all day, and try to counter the arguments posed by those who do not like the show, but really, only you have the power to decide what is good for you. Please remember that. I simply wrote this article just to bring my opinions to the table, and to possibly give you a different perspective when it comes to this really edgy anime that I, personally, came to love.

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How about you? Please let me know with a comment how you feel about this series? If you dropped it, would you consider rewatching it? Or at least read the manga?

I think that’s all for now, please have a great day and a happy mahou shoujo life. 

If you want to watch the anime legally, it’s available on Prime Video. If you want to buy the manga, I recommend heading over to eBookJapan for the cheapest digital copy (based on what I could find). Just a quick note however, based on what I noticed, the anime differs a bit from the events in the manga, especially with Sarina.