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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Is Gojikanme no Sensou Worth Reading?

Ayappi here (๑╹ω╹๑ )

When aliens invade the world, what’s the first thing you plan to do? In this manga’s Japan, the plan is to deploy teenagers to fight the alien invaders. It’s every man for Japan in this manga, in an attempt to repel the unknown threat, which only (spoiler) gets revealed at the end who they exactly are. In this review I’ll go over my thoughts I had with Gojikanme no Sensou.

Girls and Guns, and Alien Invaders

The story is set in a world where the Japanese mainland is invaded by an unknown force of aliens. In an attempt to get as much forces needed to repel the threat, the Japanese government issues an order where select high school students will get deployed in the mainland to assist the SDF in fighting. This in my opinion, while some could argue that this is just an attempt at including girls with guns, this would actually make sense given the issues Japan is facing right now such as the rapidly aging population. While old people could fight, there’s only so much an aging body could do. Therefore the decision to use young people to fight may have been the only option at the time.

One common theme in this story, is loss. As the manga progresses, we get to witness ourselves the deaths of the class. These losses however, are not limited to physical losses or deaths of the characters and Japan but extend over to strained relationships and misunderstandings between the characters.  Despite these losses and deaths (towards the end the classroom was near empty), sufficient pages were given to developing the characters and their backstories, so it wasn’t at the cost of character development. One such example of this is the entire chapter dedicated to Miyoshi, the painter boy. If anything, should the characters end up being relatable to the reader, it only boosts the drama and the immersion factor of the manga for the reader. With this whole loss thing however, there’s one thing that boggles my mind: “Why and how did Saku suddenly disappear in the end, without a trace?”

UPDATE: Saku ran off to the mainland to meet with his current girlfriend, which isn’t Miyako. However, it’s safe to assume Saku died as this is the last we’ll ever see from him.

However towards the end, we get to see Miyako bearing 2 children, a boy and a girl, in a new world without the aliens. We get to see life blooming both from her, as well as the formerly resource scarce, now crop filled island. It should be noted that prior to the last chapter, Miyako had to buy food from a merchant boat that brought supplies from the mainland. That, and vegetables were handled by a small farm near the school grounds tended by Saku. The last chapter in particular (which is really long), gave many emphasis on nature, as well as the children of Miyako. The aliens are gone, and a new life starts for Miyako, her children and Japan. This is a nice contrast in my opinion to the first theme which is loss. As old life is lost, new lives begin to grow. It reflects the natural cycle of life and death, and is a smart and beautiful way of conveying that message in my opinion. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

What’s interesting to note of is the names of the two main characters. It’s foreshadowed from the beginning by the act of declaring Miyako and Saku to be unfit for combat, that one or both of them will be the only ones to survive. Now the kanji for Miyako’s name, 都, means “metropolis” or “city.” Being a mother of two children in a newly deserted island in Japan, it’s obvious that her children will be responsible for repopulating the entire island. In other words, make lots and lots of babies, people. Saku’s name, means north or first day of the month. However if we change the characters to a verb, 咲く which means to “bloom (as in life),” then we could possibly see a connection between their “plot armor” foreshadowed survival and the cycle of life and death I just discussed. Although Saku disappears in the end, you could say Saku and Miyako’s fruits “bloomed” in the form of their children.

This cycle of life and death also extends over to the strained interpersonal relationships of the characters. In particular, this one scene with Miyako and Saku towards the end of the manga. The two have sex in order to have babies, possibly because they think they’re the only humans left, but really prior to this scene Saku just answered Miyako’s confession. Now, sex is one of those things that may possibly reflect the closeness of two individuals. This could have indicated a revival of their past relationship as in the story their relationship has been kind of rocky, mostly due to the unrequited love. Again, it reflects the theme of life and death possessed by the manga.

The art for this manga, is really nothing special. However it does set the moods really well in certain scenes. Probably one of the best instances of the art setting the mood is with the drawing of the stuffed rabbit. It is heavily implied that the talking rabbit is the alien threat, and spoiler, it is. However, we don’t know its true nature just yet, but I personally leaned towards the “messenger/traitor from the enemy out to help the main characters.” It was only until the depiction of a rabbit in an eerie devil costume (drawn well enough to give anyone nightmares) was the true loyalties of the “rabbit” foreshadowed.

The pacing of the story is okay. Scenes didn’t feel rushed at all, and I personally think skipping some months to kill off some side characters helped a lot in the pacing. Besides, the majority of the manga are scenes set in the island, so adding more chapters just for the sake of showing how the rest died probably wouldn’t have helped at all. It just would hurt the pacing and would look out of place in my opinion.

Overall I’m pretty happy I read this manga. I only have a few gripes with the story, but regardless I enjoyed the ride. Now, would I recommend, the, that you read this manga? Are you a fan of alien invasions, high school students going to war, and apocalyptic stories? If you cannot read Japanese and are alright with waiting for the translations, then I might be able to recommend this manga to you, because that’s the one thing keeping it out of reach for English only readers. But if you’re a brave soul, I would strongly suggest that you have a dictionary nearby if you choose to read the Japanese because majority of the dialogue is in a dialect. However it is by no means a poorly written story and I think it deserves a chance to be read.

Have you read Gojikanme no Sensou? Please do let me know down below! Thank you for reading, and have a great day ❤

Also, I would like to give a little heads up regarding my current situation. I will be starting my third year at university tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have time to post as much as before. Given that, I will only be posting at minimum, one post per week. Maybe even more if I have the time for it, but certainly there will be one post per week unless something like a blackout happens.

Also, thank you for taking the time to subscribe and read my articles! It really means a lot to me!

Anime and Manga Merchandise on a Budget

Hello, Ayappi here! (●っゝω・)っ~☆

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Even if I had a lot of yen to work with, I still couldn’t fill up my shelves

Let’s be real for a moment here, anime and manga is an expensive hobby. We see all of these magnificent “otaku rooms” posted everywhere on the internet. Room tours in YouTube, people getting featured in Danny Choo’s blog, it seems like heaven for some of us. One thing’s for sure though, these setups costed a lot of money. The total cost for such a setup would probably even be enough to cover for university and a Ph D program. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating on that one, but the bottom line is, it’s expensive, and not all of us have safes as large as Scrooge McDuck.

Let’s also be real here, not all of us have parents who are willing to shower us with ¥10,000 bills every single day just to cover for our expensive interests. Even if let’s say you were filthy rich, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your parents are the type to throw money away (from what I know, it tends to be the opposite). If you’re older, we all have monthly bills, necessities, dues and debt to pay off, and a monthly salary may not be enough even for just one copy of Magical Girl Apocalypse. I won’t even get into economy and all of that financial stuff.

Fortunately, over my time with my other expensive hobbies, hobbies that I spent way more on compared to anime, I’ve gotten a bit smarter when it comes to handling my hard earned money. Because of this I’ve been able to build up a small collection with the small amount of money I have for these stuff. Now some of these tips might seem like common sense, but believe me, it hasn’t even crossed my mind that these are possible until I did some reading on how to get cheap GTX 980Ti’s. So without keeping you waiting any longer, let’s get started.

Tip #1: Buy Used! Sell Used! 

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Selling or Trading is a very good idea in my honest opinion

 

Let me just say that I personally like going the used route when it comes to certain things. Sometimes you could find really good deals when you go with the used ones instead of brand new. It is for this reason that my favorite anime goods store in Japan is Mandarake, which specialized in used goods.

I’d recommend doing this for things that are not easily bootlegged such as manga, anime magazines, acrylic stands and charms of characters, official clear files, wall scrolls, CDs of anime OSTs, artbooks etc. Figures and construction kits, I’d be a bit more wary only because there is a huge number of bootlegs circulating.

This might seem like a no-brainer, and this probably the most surefire way to get the best deals out of goods. But believe me, not a lot of people are comfortable with this sort of idea. This probably is the result of numerous eBay and Craigslist scams that get publicized everywhere on the internet, and I don’t blame you for being scared to undertake such a thing. In fact, my parents require me that I update them every time on my cell phone every time I sell my books, or buy new ones from fellow students in school.

However, the secret to keeping safe in my opinion is just to be vigilant and smart to both your buyers and any sellers you come into contact with. Ask for pictures of the item or their faces to avoid scams. Do your transactions near a trustworthy person or a policeman to avoid, unwanted encounters. If a person seems creepy on the other side, you have the right to refuse the transaction.

Your life is more important than goods. Remember that. I am not responsible for anything bad that might happen to you because of reading this entry.

Tip #2: A Relative or Friend can be Helpful

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Family sticks together

This next one may sound rude, but the stuff my relatives send over from Japan has helped in my collection so, yup! If you have a relative in Japan who owes you that one birthday or Christmas present, why not take advantage of the situation and ask for anime or manga goods. This, in my opinion, is the most reliable way to get 100% legitimate goods from Japan. In this method, the only thing you need to worry about is the shipping cost and customs if they choose to send it over to you, or your relatives/parents not agreeing to this.

However do keep in mind that in Japan, a Japanese person who is a huge fan of anime and manga might be looked down upon. But based on my experiences with Japanese, there are some who are a bit more tolerant to foreigners, so I guess that could work?

Oh, quick suggestion. Should you go with this tip, just remember that your relatives probably have busy lives and are stressed as well, so be nice to them when you’re asking. Japanese society can be taxing on mental health, depending on where you are and what you do. Tokyo, as far as I know, is a really stressful and busy environment, and to go act like Logan Paul did in Tokyo is insensitive (throwing a pokeball at a policeman, really?). Try to do them favors too, in return for the favors they did for you. It’s not necessary, but considering what they’re doing for you, honestly they deserve your love and affection in my opinion.

Tip #3: Be Careful During Conventions

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Conventions are fun, but expensive. But they can also be a place for good deals.

Ahh yes, the anime convention. This is a good place to do Tip #1, as well as to interact with the special guests or other anime fans, assuming they’re not glued to their smartphones or Nintendo Switches/3DS’s. This is also a good place to score good deals when it comes to anime goods, particularly fan made ones such as pins. You could also score some figures and other official merchandise in these events at prices too good to be true oftentimes.

You could probably practice your “haggling” skills here if you could, but ultimately it depends on the merchant you’re dealing with. Some merchants are generally, much nicer compared to others based on experience.

A word of warning however, especially for conventions outside Japan. While the prices may seem too good to be true, oftentimes they are, especially with unestablished booths. Based on my experience, I bought 4 figures, three of which are nendoroids: Taiga Aisaka, Yukata Madoka, Nakano Azusa, Hatsune Miku, on different conventions. It wasn’t until I bought Azusa have I realized how much money I wasted on buying fake goods off of conventions.

The bootleggers are getting smarter too. I recall one time there was a Kousaka Honoka nendoroid that seemed legitimate when I ordered it online. It had the holographic stickers yes, but only when I looked at the joints did I realize that it was another fake. Please be careful with buying figures during conventions.

Manga, wall scrolls, and the other not easily bootleggable things I just mentioned should be fine.

Also, food could be expensive during the event itself, so I think this a good opportunity to segue into the last tip that I could think of:

Tip #4: Every Coin Counts

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These small 1 Yen coins can be dangerous in numbers

This is probably the hardest to do out of all the tips because it requires a lot of discipline, patience and tolerance. However, if done correctly it could save you a lot of money and support even a second expensive hobby. For every opportunity you could penny pinch legally, I highly suggest taking it. Going to an anime convention? Make your own lunch! You could even imitate those bento boxes in anime. Buying your own water bottle could account for your drink spending (which believe me, piles up easily).

Going out with friends? Suggest somewhere budget friendly. If you’re all students there’s a good chance that this will work. Although if the group doesn’t agree, I guess you’ll just have to take one for the team. Lost your pen? Borrow your parents’ ones or your friends.  If it’s free, and it’s legal, it’s a good way to save a few coins for that shiny new figure.

However, do not go too far with this. I surely have at one point and I almost fainted when I had to take the train home. You’ll know when it’s too far when you start getting sick because of this. It doesn’t hurt to spend once in a while for something, especially if it’s food. What we’re trying to do is to maximize your savings, by cutting down unnecessary costs and presenting free alternatives. Remember, the only thing more expensive than anime goods is a hospital bed, and the only thing more valuable than anime goods is your life. No laifu no hasubando/waifu, not the other way around, remember that.

I think I’ve exhausted what I could write at this point. How about you? What do you do to save money for this “black hole” of a hobby?  Do you have your own tips you would like to share to the community?

I hope you have a nice, happy day ❤