What's new
  • Donate and support Agora Road's Macintosh Cafe to keep the forum alive and make any necessary upgrades to have a more pleasant experience! In addition, you will be able to have "moods" enabled on your profile and have donation only awards! Update: I configured the site with Brave Browser, so you can send tips to the site with BAT.

    You can now donate directly to the forum without signing up for patreon. You will still have all of the same perks in patreon but its now one less sign up method. It will be under Account Upgrades

    This is the submission thread for the 2nd E-zine! Please use the dropbox linke for submissions and bump the thread with ideas, comments, statements, or just to bump. If you want to submit your stories or whatever you want to the second edition.

Visual Novels - Old or new, let's talk about them

Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
So many options nowadays I remember when babies first visual novel was Yume Miru Kusuri
Damn, guilty as charged! You must have been into VNs for quite a while, since I still remember Katawa Shoujo dropping and a bunch of people (relatively speaking) getting into VNs after that. Technically YMK wasn't my first VN, but it was the first one to truly hook me on the medium. I really related to the MC at that point in my life, and in general it's fairly well written by VN standards. First discovered it because of this old ass video review:


View: https://youtu.be/IcuX5UgE-ew
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Chen

Traveler
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
42
Reaction score
75
Awards
11
Damn, guilty as charged! You must have been into VNs for quite a while, since I still remember Katawa Shoujo dropping and a bunch of people (relatively speaking) getting into VNs after that. Technically YMK wasn't my first VN, but it was the first one to truly hook me on the medium. I really related to the MC at that point in my life, and in general it's fairly well written by VN standards. First discovered it because of this old ass video review:


View: https://youtu.be/IcuX5UgE-ew

On and off but yeah. I just remembered it was the most popular game on 4chan for a while. After that there was a list of like five to ten games that everyone had to read. I remember reading after that Saya no Uta, Ever17, Fate, Kana Little Sister, Planeterian, Narcissu and also Sengoku Rance. In no particular order since it's been a loooong time ago lol

I haven't read any visual novels in a long time but I was always fond of them.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
It's crazy, but sometimes I feel VN openings can tell better stories than the VNs themselves. Recently I've been obsessively rewatching/relistening to this opening because I think it tells such a powerful story of getting back in touch with the Eternal Feminine.


View: https://youtu.be/15y13X34GW4
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

SomaSpice

Agora's no.1 tryhard
Silver
Joined
Jul 26, 2021
Messages
669
Reaction score
3,000
Awards
185
It's crazy, but sometimes I feel VN openings can tell better stories than the VNs themselves. Recently I've been obsessively rewatching/relistening to this opening because I think it tells such a powerful story of getting back in touch with the Eternal Feminine.


View: https://youtu.be/15y13X34GW4

Gotta love those early 2000's synths. Would you recommend I give the novel a read? I'm intermediate level in japanese so translation is not that big of an issue.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
Gotta love those early 2000's synths. Would you recommend I give the novel a read? I'm intermediate level in japanese so translation is not that big of an issue.
The VN in the video I linked is an OG translated VN, and tbh I haven't read it. From what it looks like and what I read about it, it seems like a fairly generic Bishoujo game (do your best to get the waifu kind of VN). However, if you're intermediate in Japanese that opens way more doors than you might think.

With a text hooker (I recommend Textractor) and dictionary software, you can conveniently extract the text in a VN and look up the words by just hovering your mouse over them. For example, when I was reading For Elise, this is what it looked like for me:

p8 screenshot3.png


Any word that I didn't know the meaning of, I could just hover over with my mouse and it would instantly provide me with dictionary definitions. I run Textractor in the background to extract the text, and I have it displayed with Translation Aggregator. Here is a tutorial on installing Textractor, and here is a tutorial on getting Translation Aggregator setup with Dictionaries (Only do Tasks 1, 2, and 3, you don't need ITH since Textrator does that same function but better): link

With Intermediate Japanese and the Textractor + Translation Aggregator combo, the world of untranslated VNs is basically yours. Of course, you'll be reading them at a slow pace until your vocabulary and grammatical knowledge builds up. But you can definitely read them. If you're willing to give it a try, I suggest reading Sayonara wo Oshiete. In fact, that was one of the earlier VNs I read in Japanese. I progressed at a snails pace, but it was 100% worth it. Here's a blog post I wrote about it at the time.

In fact, if you do decide to try Sayonara wo Oshiete, hit me up if you have any questions. I really want more people to read that one.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

SomaSpice

Agora's no.1 tryhard
Silver
Joined
Jul 26, 2021
Messages
669
Reaction score
3,000
Awards
185
The VN in the video I linked is an OG translated VN, and tbh I haven't read it. From what it looks like and what I read about it, it seems like a fairly generic Bishoujo game (do your best to get the waifu kind of VN). However, if you're intermediate in Japanese that opens way more doors than you might think.

With a text hooker (I recommend Textractor) and dictionary software, you can conveniently extract the text in a VN and look up the words by just hovering your mouse over them. For example, when I was reading For Elise, this is what it looked like for me:

View attachment 26145

Any word that I didn't know the meaning of, I could just hover over with my mouse and it would instantly provide me with dictionary definitions. I run Textractor in the background to extract the text, and I have it displayed with Translation Aggregator. Here is a tutorial on installing Textractor, and here is a tutorial on getting Translation Aggregator setup with Dictionaries (Only do Tasks 1, 2, and 3, you don't need ITH since Textrator does that same function but better): link

With Intermediate Japanese and the Textractor + Translation Aggregator combo, the world of untranslated VNs is basically yours. Of course, you'll be reading them at a slow pace until your vocabulary and grammatical knowledge builds up. But you can definitely read them. If you're willing to give it a try, I suggest reading Sayonara wo Oshiete. In fact, that was one of the earlier VNs I read in Japanese. I progressed at a snails pace, but it was 100% worth it. Here's a blog post I wrote about it at the time.

In fact, if you do decide to try Sayonara wo Oshiete, hit me up if you have any questions. I really want more people to read that one.

Wish I could love react to this ten times. You see, I'm at the point in my learning of the language where I'm looking to immerse myself hard. Recently I've been wataching anime with japanese subtitles on animelon, and I'm able to comprehend without aid around 60 to 80% of the material, depending on topic.

My main goal when I began studying was to read both visual and traditional novels in their native format, but I always stood clear of doing so out of fear of missing important context and of growing to dislike the activity, as I feared reading would become practice instead of something naturally enjoyable. That's also why my 'want to read' list hasn't budged an inch since 2-3 years ago. Everything I want to read I'd rather read on the original Japanese, but I don't read what I want to because I feel my Jap still sucks. But if by that time you were intermediate you could dive onto the media that interests you and come out not hating yourself, that means it might be time I do so too. It could also be what I need to accelerate my learning.

Just so you have a better metric to measure where I stand right now, my SRS tool tells me I can read around 1400 kanji, and I'm currently halfway through 'Joukyuu he no Tobira', which should put me around N3 grammar wise.

Sayooshi is definitely on my list. When I get to it I'll contact you and we'll have a nice chat. Also, thanks for hooking me up with a text hooker! :agpepsi:
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
Wish I could love react to this ten times. You see, I'm at the point in my learning of the language where I'm looking to immerse myself hard. Recently I've been wataching anime with japanese subtitles on animelon, and I'm able to comprehend without aid around 60 to 80% of the material, depending on topic.

My main goal when I began studying was to read both visual and traditional novels in their native format, but I always stood clear of doing so out of fear of missing important context and of growing to dislike the activity, as I feared reading would become practice instead of something naturally enjoyable. That's also why my 'want to read' list hasn't budged an inch since 2-3 years ago. Everything I want to read I'd rather read on the original Japanese, but I don't read what I want to because I feel my Jap still sucks. But if by that time you were intermediate you could dive onto the media that interests you and come out not hating yourself, that means it might be time I do so too. It could also be what I need to accelerate my learning.

Just so you have a better metric to measure where I stand right now, my SRS tool tells me I can read around 1400 kanji, and I'm currently halfway through 'Joukyuu he no Tobira', which should put me around N3 grammar wise.

Sayooshi is definitely on my list. When I get to it I'll contact you and we'll have a nice chat. Also, thanks for hooking me up with a text hooker! :agpepsi:

Over coming the fear of not feeling ready to read the stuff you really want to is almost a form of initiation in a weird way. Because you won't ever get started until you overcome it, but it can be quite paralyzing. Thankfully the solution really is this easy: Read what interests you and don't worry about understanding everything.

That's what somebody told me, and I doubted them for months. I read at least 2 or 3 VNs that bored me to tears because I thought they were "at my level". I never finished them, and it had me dreading studying Japanese. At the time I was a relative beginner (I read through 3/4ths of Tae Kim's grammar guide, and was enrolled in a Japanese 101 class). Still I couldn't take the boredom of stuff "at my level". So one day I just decided to start reading Sayooshi, despite the fact that it's certainty at a higher level then the average VN. While it took something like 4 months to complete, it ended up being the first untld VN I finished.

I was of course worried about whether or not I would be able to sufficiently understand the work. After all, there were LOTs of new words, and worse still, lots of new grammar I would have to look up as it came up. But what's nice about VNs is that they give you so much external context! The music and visuals really help out in this regard. Sometimes you might not have really understand most of the text in a given scene. However, just the knowledge of "Okay, these several words kept popping up, and the scene involved two characters. Ominous music played, and one of them looked really upset", is all you really need to get. If something really important is said in a scene that you didn't catch, it will always surface up later. However, usually the collective context of words, visuals, and audio will make it really clear what is important the first time anyway.

From everything you said, you're definitely more than ready. Just get comfortable being in a place where you don't understand things 100% of the time, and you'll be surprised how much you learn. I've also noticed, that any given VN has it's own language so to speak. As in, certain words will get repeated A LOT. To the point that by the last quarter of the VN you'll notice that you aren't looking up words nearly as much as you were in the beginning. Your vocabulary will just naturally expand through osmosis.

If you want a good VN for dipping your toes, try For Elise. It's short, you already know the story, and you could try reading the other route I didn't cover. Also, imo the vocabulary/grammar isn't that hard. Some difficult words come up occasionally in the scenes at work, but as you probably remember he doesn't spend a whole lot of time at work ;P
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

夢遊病者

Internet Refugee
Joined
Mar 5, 2022
Messages
21
Reaction score
50
Awards
10
Over coming the fear of not feeling ready to read the stuff you really want to is almost a form of initiation in a weird way. Because you won't ever get started until you overcome it, but it can be quite paralyzing. Thankfully the solution really is this easy: Read what interests you and don't worry about understanding everything.
This fear is what I like to call 'the flipside of Dunning-Kruger', since it's essentially just being aware of your own lack of skill. It can happen with pretty much everything, but when you're learning language it's deadly.
If you're already into reading, especially when it comes to VNs, you realize that your first reading of something is always an experience that you likely want to have in the purest form possible. Understand everything, characters, plot, themes, other things you can find in the intertext. Well, this is not really limited to the literary arts of course, but we find it the first experience to be most important for stories.
Everyone who starts learning Japanese to read untranslated Visual Novels and to engage with other Japanese media has some kind of works that are praised to death for their excellence ("kamige" in nerd-tounge) on their plan-to-read list already, and once your studies reach the point where you find branching out to read to be something you think you can manage, you either dive head-in first or start with the easiest but also most boring shit imaginable. And the second you only do because you think you're not "at that level yet", because, yeah, obviously you would need to pull up your texthooker and dictionaries when reading something plot-heavy, but the way you progress only slowly and need to look up everything feels like you're not even progressing and burns you out.
But this is so incredibly important for your learning process. You need to actively challenge yourself with new and harder texts. Moegeshit will cause a burn-out way faster than any Sayooshi ever will. Reading the same things you keep seeing in your anki reps anyway will not help you, it stagnates your brain and understanding of the language, and kills your drive to learn. The fact that you're reading in a new language, plus the different symbols from your usual alphabet, is already a hard task requiring a lot of patience and endurance. That resistance to read is something you need to conquer, not see as a sign of incapability. And that resistance is your greatest enemy. First, it was just getting started, then it became keeping studying everyday, and now it's to actually use it for something useful for once. There's no escaping it. You need to fight it everytime.
The way I've somewhat gotten over my fear was remembering how I, an ESL, learned English via the internet. Most of us here did it that way.
When you're a kid, your bullshit-resistance abilities allow you to read so much more in different languages, likely because of what cognitivism is telling us. In no way I advocate for that theory over all the other language acquisiton theories out there, I have too little knowledge on that topic to have anything to say about it, but my initial point is that your brain is pretty much a sponge sucking up all kinds of information on language, and even if you don't understand everything, you manage to learn more and understand more. The more you read, the more you let your brain consume, the better you got. Now, as someone far, far older, you have a sense of value when it comes to time. That's why reading is not only harder, but you feel like you're spending too much time on it, you're conscious of time and have a direct comparison to your native tongue. But this is something you can use in your favor: Do you really want to waste time finding that one 'perfect moment' to read? Of course you should come prepared, but you shouldn't rack your brains out about not being able to understand this masterpiece you always wanted to read. You won't. Simply because you won't read it. Learning a new language requires lots and lots of repetition. You'll eventually reread, find something new in the work, wonder how you missed this, be amazed at how far you've gotten and how much better you've become. Read. Read. Read. And you should read what you find interesting, because if you don't, it'll be a bigger pain in the ass in the end.


I just wanted to get this out of my head since it's important to me. I hope someone reading this will take something away from this. It wasn't as concise as I wished for this to be, but as I'm only reinforcing the point [email protected] made anyway, it should be fine keeping it like this. Thank you, and don't give in easily, lads, learning is failing, you can't seperate those two things. Cheers.
 

MoonSire

Internet Refugee
Joined
Feb 18, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
12
Awards
6
Speaking of VNs Anyone has a legit and safe download link for Kanon?
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
Speaking of VNs Anyone has a legit and safe download link for Kanon?
Go to erogedownload.com and you can find Kanon, as well as many other English translated VNs. The site has been around forever, and I downloaded my fair share of VNs from it years ago. It's honestly a miracle the site's still up.

Also, I would give a disclaimer of how I "don't condone piracy blablabla", but apparently there's still no official translation of Kanon available (kind of baffling imo).
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

lainpharma

Traveler
Joined
Jul 4, 2022
Messages
46
Reaction score
46
Awards
16
Doki Doki. Still one of the greats. I loved the game. Especially the fact that I knkw what was going to happen beforehand. Still shocked me.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

L. Rhodes

Absolutely Wizard
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
196
Reaction score
872
Awards
82
Website
kiramekipublic.neocities.org
I read my first traditional VN during winter of last year (I read AA before that, but I would consider that closer to a point-and-click adventure game than a typical VN).
It's called AIR, and it left profound enough of an impact on me to continue my investment in the genre.
35900-air-dreamcast-front-cover.jpg

It have quite a few thoughts on it, though I don't intend to spoil it here. If I was anymore pretentious than I already am, I might even call it a >subversive masterpiececostanzayeahrightsmirk
Then again, many whom have read it don't seem to agree--It does have quite some pacing issues.
Shoutouts to what this person on VNDB had to say about it :):
Toono1.png

Toono3.png


Personally I thought it was both funny and charming, but I don't have much to refute him besides that...

Overall, I love it but I suppose it's not for everyone or maybe even anyone except myself.
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
I read my first traditional VN during winter of last year (I read AA before that, but I would consider that closer to a point-and-click adventure game than a typical VN).
It's called AIR, and it left profound enough of an impact on me to continue my investment in the genre.
View attachment 31711
It have quite a few thoughts on it, though I don't intend to spoil it here. If I was anymore pretentious than I already am, I might even call it a >subversive masterpiececostanzayeahrightsmirk
Then again, many whom have read it don't seem to agree--It does have quite some pacing issues.
Shoutouts to what this person on VNDB had to say about it :):
View attachment 31715
View attachment 31717

Personally I thought it was both funny and charming, but I don't have much to refute him besides that...

Overall, I love it but I suppose it's not for everyone or maybe even anyone except myself.

I'm honestly pretty curious to hear your extended thoughts on it, just put in a Spoiler tag if that's an issue.

Air was actually one of the first VN's I desperately wanted a translation for when I was first getting into VNs. Back then it only had an incomplete translation patch that was long since abandoned. By the time the project got picked up again and eventually released by another fan translation group I had pretty much lost interest in it. But my sister who was a big fan of the anime read it, and told me she had to stop because Misuzu comes across as an unironic retard. I mean, she's pretty slow in the show, but apparently down-syndrome tier in the VN.

Regarding Minagi Tohno, there's actually an alt-chan named after her called tohno-chan. She's the admin's waifu, hence the name. It's honestly a pretty sad and pathetic place though. "Misery loves company" is the best way I could describe it, that and (100% genuine) waifu worship. It was actually in some part a source of inspiration for my own VN
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

L. Rhodes

Absolutely Wizard
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
196
Reaction score
872
Awards
82
Website
kiramekipublic.neocities.org
Regarding Minagi Tohno, there's actually an alt-chan named after her called tohno-chan. She's the admin's waifu, hence the name. It's honestly a pretty sad and pathetic place though. "Misery loves company" is the best way I could describe it, that and (100% genuine) waifu worship. It was actually in some part a source of inspiration for my own VN
Thanks for showing me this, I'm definitely going to explore it later.
I mean, she's pretty slow in the show, but apparently down-syndrome tier in the VN.
I take if from how you've worded this that you have watched the anime adaptation but not the VN, which is the exact opposite situation as me. Although, I have read reviews of the anime, so I think that I get the gist of how it's different from the source material.
With that in mind,
I'm honestly pretty curious to hear your extended thoughts on it, just put in a Spoiler tag if that's an issue.

Time for a blogpost
I'm not really sure how to best encapsulate the VN version of AIR. While it is a buzzword, I really do think that it can best be described with the term, "kino" (or, in this case, would it not be KEYno?).

I believe that when and where you experience something is very much related to your enjoyment of something. I mention this because, during my month-long playthrough, I was in neither a particularly good or bad place emotionally. Despite that, AIR is probably the piece of media in which I have been the most emotionally invested in, so I believe that it has to have been made with some degree of love and quality, at least to the extent that it was capable of evoking such feelings in me.

AIR relies heavily on metaphors, themes, and symbolism to tell its story.
It does so to such a degree that you often have to rely more on what the themes of a scene are supposed to mean, rather than how it would be placed in a traditional story structure, in order to figure out what's going on. If you go in with the wrong mindest, which I believe many others have, you may find it to be nothing more than the most boring SOL story ever written.

AIR is separated into 3 arcs. My review here will mostly be referring to the first arc, since it would take me way more time to think about how all three fit together than I'm willing to spend on a single post. It's similar to Kanon at an overview, but the way it allocates screentime to its characters is completely different. The five girls in Kanon each have their own routes, which can be completed in any order; each of said routes are roughly equal in length, as well. There is a "true ending" involving Ayu, but it's more-or-less equal in terms of content as the other routes. This is not the case in AIR. When starting up the game for the first time, the premise is similar, only with three girls this time instead of five. It remains that way only for the first arc. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that the focus is on Misuzu, and the other two are just there on the sidelines, which is what I would consider to be the other main fault of AIR's narrative. IIRC, it is literally stated in the script that the entire town is centered around her, and all of the supernatural elements in the story occur simply because she exists; this is only mentioned once or maybe twice, however, so I'm not sure if I'm interperating that correctly.

What this fundamentally boils down to is this:
If you don't like Misuzu (In which case, how dare you:REEEEE:), then you're not going to like AIR.

In regards to Misuzu:
I had pretty much lost interest in it. But my sister who was a big fan of the anime read it, and told me she had to stop because Misuzu comes across as an unironic retard. I mean, she's pretty slow in the show, but apparently down-syndrome tier in the VN.
It can very much seem this way at times, but I think that's what distinguishes her from other, similarly clumsy characters.
It's no exaggeration when I say that she can feel like the stupidest person on the planet on some (many) occasions.
No hyperbole.
Her moe-autism is so severe that I seriously cannot think of a single character from any piece of fiction ever who can even remotely compete with her.
Extending as far as all the stories which I have read throughout my life, I have not found one with a portrayal which reaches the extremes of a character archetype to such a degree as that of Kamio Misuzu.
None.
She is the worst.
This is not a contest.
None can best her.
MisuzuCement.png


this is, however, the aspect of AIR that hit me hardest emotionally; for you see, she ever-so-rarely has moments where she becomes completely aware of her own faults and it's seriously one of the most heartrending things I've witnessed. I don't think I'm unjust when I compare the fascination with her to that which people have had towards Chris Chan, and that's her at her best. By the end of the VN, she's so unstable that she can hardly even form sentences properly. The ending to AIR is like watching an oncoming train which has been going at a snail's pace for 30 hours, to the extent that you become desensitized to it and don't even remember that it's there until the moment that it runs you over.
You cannot save her.
So, instead, you just get to sit back and watch, awaiting to see if she becomes even worse than she already is.
As fate would have it, she does.

You cannot save her.
More importantly, this guy cannot save her.
CGYK16.png


That's Yukito, the protagonist.
I hated him on my first playthrough.
I think that I almost quit the game halfway through, and thus would have abandoned visual novels as a whole, because I couldn't stand him.
After having read a few other VNs, however, I've realized that he's not at first dissimilar from many other VN protags, such as Yuuichi.

AIR was my first VN, though I think that if I had played a few others beforehand I would have probably grown to appreciate him more than I already do.
His role in the VN, as when compared to that of the anime adaptation, is probably one of the reasons that AIR isn't more well received. I've seen some reviewers of the adaptation describe his personality as a generic, faceless self-insert, when I think that his role in the VN was specifically trying to distance itself from those tropes.

Because he's not generic.
Or faceless.
After all, he has a face.
CGYK17S.png


Although the game starts off from his perspective, by the third arc he has both metaphorically and literally distanced himself from the role of self-insert. He's a twenty-something year old homeless man with bizarre talents and supernatural abilities that literally no one cares about. He spends his time monologuing and waxing poetic about the sky and the colour blue and clouds and stuff. What a nerd. The only way he can look cool is by showing off in front people who are even worse off than he is.

As for the other two routes, I will go over them briefly.
Funnily enough, all of the main characters in the first arc can be described as "airheads" to some degree.
Misuzu is the worst (and best) offender of this, and Yukito's faults become more apparent when you get to see him from a literal birds-eye view during the third arc.
Kano Kirishima is the most "normal" of the three girls. She's upbeat most of the time, though she likes to act stupid as a joke sometimes. She drops the act once you start making fun of her. She also tries to commit suicide a few times; however, I don't think there's ever a bad end where she succeeds. She's usually only briefly mentioned in reviews of the series, and it seems that most of her route was scrapped in the anime adaptation.
(She has her own theme music, and it's a bop btw!)
Kano1.png

On MAL, she's even less popular than her own pet dog.
As for the VN, she's not that special, although it would be very hard for her to compete with the often nonsensical writing of the other characters.
Where her route really shines is the atmosphere. It has many of the best moments which combine timing and the tones of the scene with the music. Overall, however, many of her route's best moments are when she's not onscreen, rather than when she is. She also has an older sister, who often outshines her in both her own and other girls' routes.

And now, for the number one enemy of the human race herself.
Minagi1.png

Minagi Tohno is first portrayed as a contrast to Misuzu. She's introduced as someone who's both wise and competent, and her grace is rivaled only by her mysteriousness. Even Misuzu is enamored with her beauty and poise. She's always tagged along by her friend, Michiru. I did not like Michiru. If there was one thing in particular that made me dislike Yukito to the point that I contemplated dropping the game, it's his interactions with Michiru. I'm going to refrain from mentioning Michiru for the rest of this review.

Although she seems reasonable at first, If you spend the time to learn more about her it becomes obvious that that isn't exactly true. I don't exactly like throwing these disorders around as hastily as this, but it's the best comparison that I can think of; for if Misuzu is a moe-autist, then Minagi is a full-blown moe-schizo.
She even has a tulpa of her dead sister, who also happens to be herself (dammit, I mentioned Michiru again...)
As you get closer to her, the things she talks about begin to make increasingly less and less sense.
It quicky reaches a point where every single conversation with her is like this:
Minagi what are you talking about.png

Actual /x/-tier ramblings.
At first I though it was building up towards some sort of Lovecraftian, Azathoth-esque reveal, but it doesn't, really...
There aren't even really any stakes. She's never in any danger, and her emotional struggle is less than relatable, or even decipherable.
I mentioned before that AIR often uses (And perhaps overuses) themes/symbolism/metaphors, and that could not be more true on this route.
If I'm to be honest, not even I could piece together half of what she was saying at times or how it's related in any way to the other routes or even the other arcs.
Maybe it's a cultural thing?
There's this one scene where you meet Minagi's mother (who doesn't have a sprite ingame btw. She's literally faceless, despite appearing on multiple occasions. I thought that that was interesting.) at a store, buying rice. There's a lot of tension built up during this scene that hints at something happening later, but I can't figure out what that something is supposed to be. It perplexes me to no end, and no matter how much I've thought about it, I cannot seem to figure it out.

Overall, I think that the two of them aren't as boring as most people say, but I do agree that the story would probably be better off without them. I believe that the reason which they were included in the first place was to contrast and magnify just how miserable Misuzu is, and perhaps also because it may have been poorly received if there was only one route, as opposed to Kanon's five. In any case, I believe it would have been better to just combine their traits into one, much more fleshed-out character.

The later two arcs are much better, although the third is basically just a retelling of the first arc from a different perspective.
I've seen some people describe the second arc as "the best writing KEY has ever done", and although I haven't read all of their VNs, I have to admit that its conciseness and characterization that it does is very impressive, especially when compared to the first arc, which is much longer.

The experience I had reading the ending to the VN version of AIR is something which I'm not sure I will ever have replicated again.
It's something that could only really have the effect that it did because I sat through hours and hours of Kano's, Misuzu's, and Minagi's shenanigans beforehand.
It certainly lives up to its name, "AIR".
After all, atmosphere is its best characteristic.
As far as I am aware, nothing else can really replicate the atmosphere of daily life alongside people who fit into character archetypes to such an extreme degree that they somehow become a whole which is far greater than the parts which they should sum up to.
I was more invested in these three* than I have been for almost every character written to break, change, or subvert these tropes which they fall into.
For that reason, I don't think I can give AIR any summation besides, "I love it".

*There are a total of eight characters in AIR which I would consider to be endearing in some way. The fourth is Yukito, the fifth is Haruko, whom is Misuzu's mother, and the three main characters of the second arc make up #6, #7, and #8.
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

夢遊病者

Internet Refugee
Joined
Mar 5, 2022
Messages
21
Reaction score
50
Awards
10
Glad to see this thread revived again. I've recently read both Little Busters! and planetarian, and I immediately fell in love with both of them. Seeing love for AIR makes me want to check it out, and I'll do it ASAP once I have the time for it.

It was actually in some part a source of inspiration for my own VN

I have had your work on my eye for quite some time but struggled to get around reading it, but I'll get around it this month. Very excited to see what you have in store! I'll keep ya posted! :D:
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
Thanks for showing me this, I'm definitely going to explore it later.

I take if from how you've worded this that you have watched the anime adaptation but not the VN, which is the exact opposite situation as me. Although, I have read reviews of the anime, so I think that I get the gist of how it's different from the source material.
With that in mind,


Time for a blogpost
I'm not really sure how to best encapsulate the VN version of AIR. While it is a buzzword, I really do think that it can best be described with the term, "kino" (or, in this case, would it not be KEYno?).

I believe that when and where you experience something is very much related to your enjoyment of something. I mention this because, during my month-long playthrough, I was in neither a particularly good or bad place emotionally. Despite that, AIR is probably the piece of media in which I have been the most emotionally invested in, so I believe that it has to have been made with some degree of love and quality, at least to the extent that it was capable of evoking such feelings in me.

AIR relies heavily on metaphors, themes, and symbolism to tell its story.
It does so to such a degree that you often have to rely more on what the themes of a scene are supposed to mean, rather than how it would be placed in a traditional story structure, in order to figure out what's going on. If you go in with the wrong mindest, which I believe many others have, you may find it to be nothing more than the most boring SOL story ever written.

AIR is separated into 3 arcs. My review here will mostly be referring to the first arc, since it would take me way more time to think about how all three fit together than I'm willing to spend on a single post. It's similar to Kanon at an overview, but the way it allocates screentime to its characters is completely different. The five girls in Kanon each have their own routes, which can be completed in any order; each of said routes are roughly equal in length, as well. There is a "true ending" involving Ayu, but it's more-or-less equal in terms of content as the other routes. This is not the case in AIR. When starting up the game for the first time, the premise is similar, only with three girls this time instead of five. It remains that way only for the first arc. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that the focus is on Misuzu, and the other two are just there on the sidelines, which is what I would consider to be the other main fault of AIR's narrative. IIRC, it is literally stated in the script that the entire town is centered around her, and all of the supernatural elements in the story occur simply because she exists; this is only mentioned once or maybe twice, however, so I'm not sure if I'm interperating that correctly.

What this fundamentally boils down to is this:
If you don't like Misuzu (In which case, how dare you:REEEEE:), then you're not going to like AIR.

In regards to Misuzu:

It can very much seem this way at times, but I think that's what distinguishes her from other, similarly clumsy characters.
It's no exaggeration when I say that she can feel like the stupidest person on the planet on some (many) occasions.
No hyperbole.
Her moe-autism is so severe that I seriously cannot think of a single character from any piece of fiction ever who can even remotely compete with her.
Extending as far as all the stories which I have read throughout my life, I have not found one with a portrayal which reaches the extremes of a character archetype to such a degree as that of Kamio Misuzu.
None.
She is the worst.
This is not a contest.
None can best her.
View attachment 31773

this is, however, the aspect of AIR that hit me hardest emotionally; for you see, she ever-so-rarely has moments where she becomes completely aware of her own faults and it's seriously one of the most heartrending things I've witnessed. I don't think I'm unjust when I compare the fascination with her to that which people have had towards Chris Chan, and that's her at her best. By the end of the VN, she's so unstable that she can hardly even form sentences properly. The ending to AIR is like watching an oncoming train which has been going at a snail's pace for 30 hours, to the extent that you become desensitized to it and don't even remember that it's there until the moment that it runs you over.
You cannot save her.
So, instead, you just get to sit back and watch, awaiting to see if she becomes even worse than she already is.
As fate would have it, she does.

You cannot save her.
More importantly, this guy cannot save her.
View attachment 31748

That's Yukito, the protagonist.
I hated him on my first playthrough.
I think that I almost quit the game halfway through, and thus would have abandoned visual novels as a whole, because I couldn't stand him.
After having read a few other VNs, however, I've realized that he's not at first dissimilar from many other VN protags, such as Yuuichi.

AIR was my first VN, though I think that if I had played a few others beforehand I would have probably grown to appreciate him more than I already do.
His role in the VN, as when compared to that of the anime adaptation, is probably one of the reasons that AIR isn't more well received. I've seen some reviewers of the adaptation describe his personality as a generic, faceless self-insert, when I think that his role in the VN was specifically trying to distance itself from those tropes.

Because he's not generic.
Or faceless.
After all, he has a face.
View attachment 31749

Although the game starts off from his perspective, by the third arc he has both metaphorically and literally distanced himself from the role of self-insert. He's a twenty-something year old homeless man with bizarre talents and supernatural abilities that literally no one cares about. He spends his time monologuing and waxing poetic about the sky and the colour blue and clouds and stuff. What a nerd. The only way he can look cool is by showing off in front people who are even worse off than he is.

As for the other two routes, I will go over them briefly.
Funnily enough, all of the main characters in the first arc can be described as "airheads" to some degree.
Misuzu is the worst (and best) offender of this, and Yukito's faults become more apparent when you get to see him from a literal birds-eye view during the third arc.
Kano Kirishima is the most "normal" of the three girls. She's upbeat most of the time, though she likes to act stupid as a joke sometimes. She drops the act once you start making fun of her. She also tries to commit suicide a few times; however, I don't think there's ever a bad end where she succeeds. She's usually only briefly mentioned in reviews of the series, and it seems that most of her route was scrapped in the anime adaptation.
(She has her own theme music, and it's a bop btw!)
View attachment 31750
On MAL, she's even less popular than her own pet dog.
As for the VN, she's not that special, although it would be very hard for her to compete with the often nonsensical writing of the other characters.
Where her route really shines is the atmosphere. It has many of the best moments which combine timing and the tones of the scene with the music. Overall, however, many of her route's best moments are when she's not onscreen, rather than when she is. She also has an older sister, who often outshines her in both her own and other girls' routes.

And now, for the number one enemy of the human race herself.
View attachment 31751
Minagi Tohno is first portrayed as a contrast to Misuzu. She's introduced as someone who's both wise and competent, and her grace is rivaled only by her mysteriousness. Even Misuzu is enamored with her beauty and poise. She's always tagged along by her friend, Michiru. I did not like Michiru. If there was one thing in particular that made me dislike Yukito to the point that I contemplated dropping the game, it's his interactions with Michiru. I'm going to refrain from mentioning Michiru for the rest of this review.

Although she seems reasonable at first, If you spend the time to learn more about her it becomes obvious that that isn't exactly true. I don't exactly like throwing these disorders around as hastily as this, but it's the best comparison that I can think of; for if Misuzu is a moe-autist, then Minagi is a full-blown moe-schizo.
She even has a tulpa of her dead sister, who also happens to be herself (dammit, I mentioned Michiru again...)
As you get closer to her, the things she talks about begin to make increasingly less and less sense.
It quicky reaches a point where every single conversation with her is like this:
View attachment 31762
Actual /x/-tier ramblings.
At first I though it was building up towards some sort of Lovecraftian, Azathoth-esque reveal, but it doesn't, really...
There aren't even really any stakes. She's never in any danger, and her emotional struggle is less than relatable, or even decipherable.
I mentioned before that AIR often uses (And perhaps overuses) themes/symbolism/metaphors, and that could not be more true on this route.
If I'm to be honest, not even I could piece together half of what she was saying at times or how it's related in any way to the other routes or even the other arcs.
Maybe it's a cultural thing?
There's this one scene where you meet Minagi's mother (who doesn't have a sprite ingame btw. She's literally faceless, despite appearing on multiple occasions. I thought that that was interesting.) at a store, buying rice. There's a lot of tension built up during this scene that hints at something happening later, but I can't figure out what that something is supposed to be. It perplexes me to no end, and no matter how much I've thought about it, I cannot seem to figure it out.

Overall, I think that the two of them aren't as boring as most people say, but I do agree that the story would probably be better off without them. I believe that the reason which they were included in the first place was to contrast and magnify just how miserable Misuzu is, and perhaps also because it may have been poorly received if there was only one route, as opposed to Kanon's five. In any case, I believe it would have been better to just combine their traits into one, much more fleshed-out character.

The later two arcs are much better, although the third is basically just a retelling of the first arc from a different perspective.
I've seen some people describe the second arc as "the best writing KEY has ever done", and although I haven't read all of their VNs, I have to admit that its conciseness and characterization that it does is very impressive, especially when compared to the first arc, which is much longer.

The experience I had reading the ending to the VN version of AIR is something which I'm not sure I will ever have replicated again.
It's something that could only really have the effect that it did because I sat through hours and hours of Kano's, Misuzu's, and Minagi's shenanigans beforehand.
It certainly lives up to its name, "AIR".
After all, atmosphere is its best characteristic.
As far as I am aware, nothing else can really replicate the atmosphere of daily life alongside people who fit into character archetypes to such an extreme degree that they somehow become a whole which is far greater than the parts which they should sum up to.
I was more invested in these three* than I have been for almost every character written to break, change, or subvert these tropes which they fall into.
For that reason, I don't think I can give AIR any summation besides, "I love it".

*There are a total of eight characters in AIR which I would consider to be endearing in some way. The fourth is Yukito, the fifth is Haruko, whom is Misuzu's mother, and the three main characters of the second arc make up #6, #7, and #8.

That was a fantastic write up man, thanks. It's true, I've only watched the anime. It was unfortunately a rushed work, but not without it's charms. Although I haven't kept up with KEY's more recent titles, I'm familiar with their work up until Little Buster and Rewrite, and Air is I think their most experimental full-length VN (I'm intentionally leaving Planetarian aside). If you look closely enough, you'll notice that KEY is constantly rewriting the same story and characters, but Air is kind of an exception. It's also one of their few titles not to go for a cop-out feel's good ending
where everything gets mystically resolved.

For example ONE ~To the Radiant Season~, which is an unoffical KEY work since many of the people who made it went on to create KEY, reads like a thematic first draft of stuff they later expand on in Kanon, and then most notably expanded on in Clannad. It kind of goes: ONE --> Kanon --> Clannad. As in you see characters and themes in Kanon that were clearly taken and reworked from ONE, and then in Clannad you find many characters and themes that got taken from both ONE and Kanon.

I bring up all of this though, because looking at their library Air's story really does standout. Even just the anime adaptation captures this. And I'm reasonably confident if you brought in their post-Rewrite titles which I am unfamiliar with, Air would still probably standout.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
390
Reaction score
1,399
Awards
111
@L. Rhodes Oh boy have I found something you (and others here) might find interesting!

In the early 00s there was a Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance Japanese homebrewing group called Inside-cap that focused on porting VNs of the era to the GBC and GBA. Among them was AIR.

Here's a sample of the GBA port, called Air Pocket Advance:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFHmUiIK0ic&t=128s


It looks and sounds way better than I was expecting! In fact I would even go as far to say that this is a pretty good port. Even the opening sounds pretty good.

The GBC version is called Air Pocket, and you can find a sample here:

View: https://youtu.be/wfE5a9GHbSk


It honestly looks pretty good all things considered, but boy does it sound like shit (hardly a surprise though). Ambitiously enough they even converted the opening as well.

I just thought this was pretty cool and had to share it here. An archive of their official website and page on their Air port is still up, but it's all in Japanese (link). Unfortunately they don't have any roms available for download. The way their ports work is that they have a converter which takes the files of the VN on your computer and converts them into a gba compatible version. I suppose that is how they got around copyright law, but it kind of sucks because it seems like a complicated process tbh. Especially since the software is long out of date at this point. Although a good point about it, is that theoretically an English patched version of Air might be compatible with the converter.

EDIT: They actually have a demo rom for download! It's just a music room featuring the converted bgm but it's still pretty cool.
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

L. Rhodes

Absolutely Wizard
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
196
Reaction score
872
Awards
82
Website
kiramekipublic.neocities.org
I just thought this was pretty cool and had to share it here. An archive of their official website and page on their Air port is still up, but it's all in Japanese (link). Unfortunately they don't have any roms available for download. The way their ports work is that they have a converter which takes the files of the VN on your computer and converts them into a gba compatible version. I suppose that is how they got around copyright law, but it kind of sucks because it seems like a complicated process tbh. Especially since the software is long out of date at this point. Although a good point about it, is that theoretically an English patched version of Air might be compatible with the converter.
Thank you for sharing this! It really is a great find. I've seen some clips of the gba opening in the past, but I thought it was just a mock-up. Crazy that a full port actually exists.

I don't have access to my pc at the moment (phoneposting hours), but I have to keep this in mind. When I have the time, I would love to try and get it running on an actual flashcart, as well as seeing if getting running an english patch would be possible.

It may not be, however, since the version of the game which is fully patched is the 2005 release, meanwhile the gba converter seems to only work with earlier versions.
Getting my hands on the original release may prove to be quite the challenge, as well...
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
71
Reaction score
414
Awards
36
I have read a decent number of visual novels, pretty much all of the "classic" VNs on /a/ from a decade ago like F/SN, Saya no Uta, Tsukihime, Yume Miru Kusuri, Sengoku Rance, and some more gamey ones like the DS Ace Attorneys and Danganronpa.
More recently I read 428 Shibuya Scramble which has an awesome routing system, and it uses real-life photos instead of anime artwork. There's something like 120,000 images in the game which is bonkers. It also features actor Kousei Amano who plays my favourite Kamen Rider.
Another recent VN I loved is Subarashiki Hibi. The plot of this game is totally insane and the writer is clearly incredibly erudite with all the references that get thrown around. Even people who deride VNs as an art form tend to admit that SubaHibi is the closest we have to "real literature" in the field. Although, pretty much every adult scene is wack as hell, and seems to have been put into the story to be as WTF as possible rather than in any way erotic.
I was of course worried about whether or not I would be able to sufficiently understand the work. After all, there were LOTs of new words, and worse still, lots of new grammar I would have to look up as it came up. But what's nice about VNs is that they give you so much external context! The music and visuals really help out in this regard. Sometimes you might not have really understand most of the text in a given scene. However, just the knowledge of "Okay, these several words kept popping up, and the scene involved two characters. Ominous music played, and one of them looked really upset", is all you really need to get. If something really important is said in a scene that you didn't catch, it will always surface up later. However, usually the collective context of words, visuals, and audio will make it really clear what is important the first time anyway.

From everything you said, you're definitely more than ready. Just get comfortable being in a place where you don't understand things 100% of the time, and you'll be surprised how much you learn. I've also noticed, that any given VN has it's own language so to speak. As in, certain words will get repeated A LOT. To the point that by the last quarter of the VN you'll notice that you aren't looking up words nearly as much as you were in the beginning. Your vocabulary will just naturally expand through osmosis.
This is the case whenever reading anything in Japanese I tend to find - you start off at a snail's pace as you adjust to the setting and its relevant vocabulary, but by the midpoint you will be speeding through. As long as you understand most of the paragraph then you don't need to let any unknown words slow you down, just let them brush off you. If it's something you need to know then you'll pick it up eventually. The same thing happens with authors in English - when you read DFW, or Book of the New Sun, you quickly learn that there is no use looking up every new unfamiliar term, and you can just accept "fantods" or "sabretache" or "fuligin" as they are presented.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Similar threads

Containment Chat
Rules Help Users
  • Junious:
    hospital jobs have ridiculous hr hurdles in many cases
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    Junious said:
    hospital jobs have ridiculous hr hurdles in many cases
    wym?
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    i thought you meant hr as in hours
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    what kind of hurdles?
  • Junious:
    i had to have my blood tested for a variety of antibodies, had to take physical strength tests, 4 different interviews and warning sessions
  • Junious:
    the online form was extensive
  • Junious:
    retyping whole resume into their system
  • Junious:
    every school, all past jobs
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    Junious said:
    i had to have my blood tested for a variety of antibodies, had to take physical strength tests, 4 different interviews and warning sessions
    whoa....but thats for nursing right?
  • Junious:
    yeah
  • Junious:
    mandatory flu shot, optional covid
  • Junious:
    lots of hr bullshit classes. clicking through powerpoints on my "subconcious bias" where the correct answer is that i promise to always be nice to people who are different
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    well guess im not working at a hospitsl lol
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    Junious said:
    lots of hr bullshit classes. clicking through powerpoints on my "subconcious bias" where the correct answer is that i promise to always be nice to people who are different
    lol
  • Junious:
    but also they provided physical combat training and have approved patient takedowns for if a nurse gets choked or something
  • Junious:
    which was my favorite part
  • ?!MemoryHead!?:
    Junious said:
    but also they provided physical combat training and have approved patient takedowns for if a nurse gets choked or something
    damn
  • Junious:
    i partnered up with the biggest dude in the class and we beat the shit out of each other lol
  • Junious:
    but really the medical and time off benefits are a big draw
  • jaedaen:
    alright guys time for bed I think. nice chatting with yo uall as always
  • Junious:
    peas bro
  • jaedaen:
    see ya homies
  • Rusty Shackelford:
    Northern hemisphere pooftas
    Rusty Shackelford: Northern hemisphere pooftas