Isekai Shokudou Is A Perfect(ly Okay) Anime

Isekai Shokudou or Restaurant to Another World is exactly as it sounds and little more. Its title is literal, succinct, and as will be repeated: I think that’s fine. Doubtlessly you don’t need a plot summary as there really isn’t much to delve into. It portrays characters from a fantasy world finding a magical door to a modern Western restaurant, Nekoya, in Japan. There’s a lot of questions that could be raised when watching the show or reflecting on it. Several can be asked about the magical door itself. There’s also brief glimpses at the evolution of technology and agriculture as a result of customers emulating modern food and tech. What about the discrimination towards demons and half-elves? The wage gap? While fantasy currency is useless in the modern world, what about its purity and cost as a metal? I could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that the show didn’t really explore these topics. 

Audience reception was generally positive, but Isekai Shokudou aired during the Summer 2017 season. For reference, Shokugeki no Souma was airing its third season in Fall 2017. As a result, I think there were some misconceptions about the show. Cooking anime don’t seem to be particularly prolific and so Shokugeki no Souma was the only point of reference for a lot of people. I suspect the anime community expected a bit more focus on action and fantasy in the vein of shounen while the show ended up being the exact opposite. Critique followed the train of thought that the show had no progression, main story, or plot as nothing happened. After reading the previous list of topics they could’ve written about in-depth, you might be inclined to agree that a larger overview of topics related to cooking should’ve been explored. Well, I actually disagree.

My argument here isn’t that Isekai Shokudou is an objectively great anime. I understand why it has a 7.35 on MAL and I think that’s a fair score. In fact, this article is barely an argument. I’m writing this to affirm why I liked the show and to explore the main theme because there was one integrated into every episode. It was never about large complicated ideas. Instead, it was about appreciating the small things. In this case: food and food culture. 

From the beginning of the show, it’s stated that Nekoya is not a traditional Japanese restaurant. While it does have Japanese cuisine to suit the local palate, it’s a so-called Western restaurant. In this case, they define Western not just as food from Europe and the Americas as is often associated. Instead, Western is closer to a term for foreign, defined as food not having originated in Japan. This alone is integral to the entirety of the series. By showing culturally diverse food, it holds up and embraces its interconnected nature. We shouldn’t be stringent in what we accept or negative towards foreign food as so much of what we eat doesn’t originate natively. Sometimes this is the case in recipes, but it’s also true when we look at crops themselves and international trade routes.

When it comes to food, no one is excluded. Elves represent this most overtly with their aversion to eating meat and dishes created with animal products: veganism. Even then, there’s still options available to them and they’re quite good. The perspective is not that veganism is exclusively a restriction either- it’s a push to further explore new tastes. SORTEDfood is a great channel that maintains the comedic nature of a bunch of friends while talking, teaching, and messing about with food. In the past, they’ve brought to attention and raised good points about traceability, food alternatives, and veganism to name a few. You don’t need to be particularly interested in cooking to have a laugh.

In a way, there’s also a subtle allusion to the unification that food can provide. Nekoya is often filled with multiple inhabitants from the other world, all varying species. Despite any barriers that may exist, that all fades away when they enter the restaurant’s door. No one wishes to physically fight in earnest fearing they’ll be kicked out. As such, it’s almost like they’re on sacred ground. The only argument that transpires there is about which dish is supreme. It’s a common occurrence, but it’s always friendly banter with the resolution that everyone has their own preference. Those arguments also serve to broaden the horizons of other customers, urging them to try other dishes.


The very lighting of the restaurant, or at least the warm colors used in its depiction, reinforce the homely nature of the environment. I’m sure everyone is aware of color psychology so we can sail past that. Interestingly though, when I looked to see if there were any articles written about lighting in restaurants specifically, there was one worth mentioning. Its title is Fast Food Restaurant Lighting and Music can Reduce Calorie Intake and Increase Satisfaction (Wansink & van Ittersum, 2012). Before I discuss it, I do feel that the title is irritatingly misleading. To me, it presents itself as some miraculous way to reduce calories while maintaining portion size and food consumption. That’s not the study at all. It merely observed the effect of lighting and music and its relation to how much people ate. Dim lighting and soft music caused people to eat slower and often less than the other extreme of loud music and bright lights which accelerated consumption (p. 231). Very generally, this (dim lighting and soft music) led to greater satisfaction with the food. There is other speculation about their data, but honestly it’s fairly flimsy and so I opt to forgo writing about it.

Usually, I’d apply a study’s conclusion to the anime I’m discussing- that’s the point of bringing it up after all. In this case though, I want to make a few points: 

  • The study was about fast food restaurants. That means it doesn’t directly apply to proper restaurants. It’s difficult and often faulty to generalize results that occur outside of a lab setting due to the amount of factors out of the researchers’ controls.
  • The study’s sample size consisted of 62 people. While that is decent and the results it concluded are backed up by significant enough data (large enough to not be a result of random chance), it remains a singular study. Despite this phrase being frowned upon since it’s self-evident within the science community, I say it anyway: “further research must be done.”
  • To you as a reader, while it may be difficult due to a variety of reasons, try and read a citation’s original text. At the least, skim it. While a writer may propose something, even with citations, don’t treat it as fact. Not all research is done well and you need to learn when to disagree with experts’ methodology or conclusions about their data.

All that aside, there are still other factors beyond the lighting which theoretically increase the homely feeling of the diner. For one, it’s the proximity of the dining room to the kitchen. While you’re seated at your table, you can hear the chef preparing your food. It’s one step away from watching your parents cook as you did as a child. You’re doing nothing physically, but you’re anticipating the meal and thinking about it in your head. You can smell the delicious aroma wafting from the back that causes you to salivate. The placement of the furniture and lack of separators between tables aids this. In an open room, you’re not only smelling what’s being cooked currently- you register all the sensory information from others’ food. You’re able to see their reaction, one of pure bliss, and you too come to expect that. Those other people aren’t just customers either. You’re all regulars at this lovely restaurant, nicknames given to each other based on your favorite dish. It’s truly a familial experience.

While it never explored the purity of coins, it did touch on the craftsmanship and advancements of the modern age. Episode 2 featured a treasure hunter and soldier baffled at the availability of free cold water and the presence of ice respectively. Episode 5 featured a half-elf who emulated a fridge with magic while wondering how the restaurant copied her writing perfectly to produce multiple menus. Episode 9 featured a dwarf who marveled at the craftsmanship of a beer mug. This is all a showcase of the little things we take for granted. Settings like the restaurant shown in the anime are personal favorites of mine. Whether they be cafes, tea shops, or bars, they all represent a peaceful place away from the business or action. It’s as if time stops and life allows you room to breathe. When you’re there, all you need to do is enjoy the atmosphere. Places like that transport you to another world. 


“Isekai Shokudou Is A Perfect(ly Okay) Anime” – There’s nothing exceedingly spectacular about it and that’s fine. Not everything needs to be met with raving reviews, heralded as a masterpiece for all to follow. It’s still filled to the brim with little details to appreciate and makes for both a pleasant and relaxing viewing experience. To like it is to recognize the little things that make it good, a successful passing on of the theme. Watch it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, or Amazon if you haven’t already. There has even been an announcement of a Season 2!

A Starlight Shores Analysis: Time & Ambiguity

Header Image from Starlight Shores.

Note that this analysis of Starlight Shores does contain spoilers for the story. As such, it will sparingly show screenshots from the game; however, they will not portray the integral story beats per se. Instead, I’ll be using them to convey what I believe capture some of the themes of the game. Still, if you only want to hear my thoughts without spoilers, this will summarize it:

Starlight Shores is a hidden gem masquerading as a writer’s first full-release. The dialogue is poignant, and the short-novel style fully utilizes the medium while playing into the theme of time.

No review copy was sent to me, nor was there any other incentive for writing this analysis. Starlight Shores was bought with my own money and my connection with the development team is limited to following them on Twitter and tweeting at them sporadically. 

Starlight Shores is available on both Steam and Itch.io

The development team as documented on the Itch.io page and in the game’s credits:

Sam Kerr- Creative Director and Lead Developer

Nanae Lia- Creative Director, CG & Character Artist

Tanuma San- CG & Background Artist

Alcaknight- Lead Composer

BackgroundTK- Outdoor Background Artist

Re.Alice- Logo Designer

A special thanks to Uncle Mugen, CC backgrounds were from his lemmasoft page!

Click Here for their Discord!


I don’t know what I expected from Starlight Shores (SS). I played the demo of Tidal Blossoms (TB) a while back, also written by Sam Kerr of Delphinium Interactive, and from what I can recall it was quite decent. I wouldn’t single it out as anything too spectacular, but I think it’s still important to bring up. The fact that they’re both in the same universe and SS is a sort of prequel to TB aside- from a writing perspective, it’s very interesting because the tones are perceivably different, or at least that’s my feeling.

Tone is something I’ve commented on before and even then I noted that I’m hesitant to do so because it’s such an ephemeral and subjective concept. It’s very easy for tone to control an author’s writing rather than it purvey throughout. As such, intended tones often come off heavy-handed and almost amateur in their application. Its role in Starlight Shores though is dare I say excellent. But before that, what is Starlight Shores? 

To quote the the short blurb on the game’s page:

“Starlight Shores is an island-themed romance game where you’ll visit the town of Seaside with your friends. Party under the stars, play games together, and remember that your choices matter!”

It’s very straight-forward about being a romance game which is quite ironic in retrospect when we view the dynamic of Theo, Lena, and Will who is our main character. To start, while Will is the MC, he is by no means a blank slate to be puppeteered around completely by the player. His history is extremely relevant to the story as Theo was his close friend and their parting left a sense of longing and regret which aided in dividing the two. Being able to reunite after so long, it’s both a blessing and a curse. People change over time and without significant introspection, it’s difficult to consciously notice that change within one’s self, regardless if it was for better or for worse. After so long, will the memories they made remain consistent with who shows up at Seaside? 

That’s a good hook in its own right, but the personality and views of a person aren’t the only things that change with time. Our lives are never static. Conversely, they’re always in development and that brings new stories and new characters, even if we’re sometimes stuck in the past. That’s where Lena comes in, the new best friend of Theo. She’s affectionately referred to as Theo’s replacement best friend, a stand-in for Will, and that has very relevant implications. Top among them is the formation of a perceived romance barrier. Yes, Lena is not just a love interest for the protagonist. She too carries feelings for Theo and draws very significant parallels to Will as is mentioned time and time again. 

The dynamic of the previous two paragraphs is the crux of the story in a nutshell and your choices dictate your answer. All that was only to explain the premise but henceforth I’ll be talking about its themes. The themes which stood out the most to me were these:

Time & Ambiguity

I’ve already discussed time’s role in the synopsis, but I talked about it in a way which denoted inevitable change. I don’t mean to contradict that, you can’t stop time, but critical is what we decided to do within that context. We are not helpless bystanders that watch the world go by. Though our lives are fleeting, all the more reason to seize what we want while we still can. Carpe diem. But what does that really mean? Does that involve reconnecting with and romancing Theo? Does it mean to date Lena? Does it mean to reconcile that your feelings were not romantic but platonic?

If you date Theo, then you’re affirming that while both you and her have made mistakes in the past, you still love each other and vow to be there for one another in the future. That goodbye kiss, whether purposefully memorable or done spuriously, bound you two together in a relationship not to be confined by distance. Lena though? She’ll never end up with Theo who she loves dearly. She missed her chance by waiting too long. Maybe she can accept that, but can you? 

A similar conundrum persists if you date Lena. Perhaps you do contend that you love Theo in a platonic way and so you choose Lena. Well, she still loves Theo. Your choice is then to hook up with Lena for the night or abstain, in the case of the latter not knowing what will come from that choice. You can spur her on, but at this point all you can do is hope the future will prove fruitful for the two. Do you opt for sex for the sake of it, again hoping that a proper relationship will further blossom from that? Only time will tell.

And of course, when you maneuver a path to bring Theo and Lena together, for the most part, you step out of the picture. You’ll be there to support the two, but are you alright leaving Starlight Shores like that? You’re playing a romance game, so the game’s objective in theory is most likely to end up in a relationship. It’s your choice to walk away knowing that your preconceived goal wasn’t met, but perhaps this was the supposed correct choice. Or was an ending without a relationship between the player and someone else a waste of time?

I don’t have an answer, but I do know that there’s no correct choice. I’d posit that the author didn’t have a canonical choice in mind either. You find this string of text at various different endings: “This wasn’t the night that I expected, but I’m glad that I’m here.” Your choices are something you have to live with. You don’t always need to justify your actions and you won’t always know where you’ll end up. There’s nothing wrong with that though. It’s through the passing of time that we ourselves bring meaning to our choices and our lives in full. 

Throughout all of this analysis, there’s been a level of ambiguity present reflective of the VN. Sometimes ambiguity is frowned upon, but usually that critique is levied at a lack of information which prevents readers from formulating any cohesive meaning from a work. That isn’t the case in Starlight Shores. There’s undoubtedly ambiguity, but it’s tactful in its use as the meaning needs to be both ascertained by the player and the characters themselves. Take this for instance:

Besides the fact that it’s a beautiful line, the context of the scene is discussing the past of Theo and Will’s and if they were ever truly in love. The ambiguity here is not just well placed, but it’s accurate. Relationships and emotions in general are ever so complicated and sometimes our minds get a bit boggled trying to make sense of the events around us. It’s easy to second guess and doubt ourselves, especially when we’re in stressful situations and I think it’s fair to say that the isolation that came from moving away from a potential partner and the rigors of college life are significantly stressful. Moreover, the quote plays into the idea of personas and romanticization. We wear a mask to appease different social groups. Individual masks subtly alter our mindset and behaviour, though not too far from the cumulative average. These masks though are not only relevant when outward facing. When we view them all, our emotions must be consistent with them otherwise one of them must change. This conflict of memory and emotion, not knowing which is correct, leads to a downward spiral as one’s self is lost. 

I’d like to bring in an academic article titled My Time, Your Time, or Our Time? Time Perception and its Associations With Interpersonal Goals and Life Outcomes by Yu Niiya (2019). Niiya talks about the concepts of zero-sum and nonzero-sum time. The former is when time is viewed as a limited commodity or resource, usually taken up, taken away, or spent on another in an interpersonal relationship (p. 1440). A nonzero-sum on the other hand is when time is not perceived as property, neither given or taken away. Rather, it’s unowned and exists for everyone’s benefit. It’s argued that people most likely perceive time as zero-sum or nonzero-sum in different situations. The conclusion to take away from that article are the primary results about time perception, interpersonal goals, and life outcomes: In layman’s terms, people who wish to help others are more likely to have a nonzero-sum perception of time since they view the processing of helping to aid in self-growth resulting in no perceivable loss. Overall, there was a correlation between nonzero-sum perception and happiness (pp. 1451-1452).

These conclusions are considerable when we think about the dialogue contained within Starlight Shores. By not looking at time as a commodity, we stand to be happier for it. Thoughts about wasting each other’s time should cease, though that’s definitely easier said than done. However, this does happen at certain points in the game, principally select endings. It fits thematically as that’s the culmination of their life experience and conversations that transpire- learning to live in the moment, uncaring of judgement by others, wholly trusting, and only wishing to be happy with one another.

Parallel Timelines

Before I close out, it wouldn’t do to avoid talking about the “short story” romance style of the game. On a meta level, the player experiences the story through parallel timelines via their different choices. It’s through these different stories that we learn about different facets of individual characters’ lives. The background information is both relevant to understanding them and substantial when accumulated over multiple playthroughs. It’s even on a meta level that we once again return to the core themes of time and ambiguity. We can see that on certain routes, say when Will romances Theo, Lena is willing to grant them reprieve and essentially gives up on her chance with Theo by returning to the house. With this knowledge of character’s actions and mindsets, we can make a more informed decision about what we really want to do.

I think this is of the utmost importance to other developers who also develop their games in the “short story” romance style: consistency, and Starlight Shores does it well. There must be consistency in actions and if not, there must be a very good reason. Undoubtedly characters are dynamic and their words and actions should suit the situation, but they need to remain true to their personality. Otherwise, you run the risk of ruining players’ expectations of how a character will act, negating any sense of knowing that character on a deeper level. Breaking those expectations is no doubt useful, but that’s a tool to be used sparingly.

With that, we’ve reached the end of this analysis. Starlight Shores is a wonderful game that has somehow managed to claw its way into my list of favorite VNs. Admittedly, I didn’t expect that, but credit where credit’s due. The writing was superb, the artwork was beautiful, and the music a joy to listen to. Thank you for reading and I implore you to buy Starlight Shores if you haven’t done so already.

Critique

As I don’t review games as I’ve done in the past, I’ve opted to bundle my critique of the game here. Firstly: the amount of choices. It’s an odd critique to be sure, but I do believe it’s justified. At junctions, I sometimes felt unsure as to which choices were relevant. Couple this with the amount of choices, and there are quite a number of permutations to go through. I don’t feel as if it detracted from the experience, and as has been stated, there is importance even in the finer details of small junctions, but something to note nonetheless. 

I believe this problem of “getting lost” when searching for a new end doesn’t need to be solved by lessening those choices, though practical and aesthetically pleasing ways of doing so are difficult to think of. The most efficient and fitting way I can come up with at the time of writing is implementing coding which denotes that a choice has been picked before. Other mechanics to consider are a hint system or a flow chart that effectively serves as a chapter select after a certain amount of progression has been achieved. These two systems don’t seem very pleasing though and I’d opt for the initial recommendation. For all that, this is the critique and recommendation of one person. Other methods are available if the critique is to be agreed with in the first place. 

Two other minor critiques are the speed at which text fades in and the settings (preferences) screen. I think the fade-in is a tad too slow and could use a slight bump. Maybe allow that speed to be configurable in the settings. The settings screen itself is, and this really is the most minor of critiques, a bit plain. There’s nothing wrong with something default, but in the future and with a bigger budget, it’s a little detail that would be appreciated. 

Despite these critiques, I still vehemently believe that the quality of Starlight Shores is worth your time and money. 


The game’s credits and potential conflict of interests are listed again for redundancy:

No review copy was sent to me, nor was there any other incentive for writing this analysis. Starlight Shores was bought with my own money and my connection with the development team is limited to following them on Twitter and tweeting at them sporadically. 

Starlight Shores is available on both Steam and Itch.io

The development team as documented on the Itch.io page and in the game’s credits:

Sam Kerr- Creative Director and Lead Developer

Nanae Lia- Creative Director, CG & Character Artist

Tanuma San- CG & Background Artist

Alcaknight- Lead Composer

BackgroundTK- Outdoor Background Artist

Re.Alice- Logo Designer

A special thanks to Uncle Mugen, CC backgrounds were from his lemmasoft page!

Click Here for their Discord!

Video Games in Education – A Rudimentary Exploration ft. Visual Novels

Header Image from Hello, Goodbye.

Edit: Later on in this article Manga Classics is mentioned. Unfortunately, it seems their main website continues to be down. Last night, I was hoping it was a result of maintenance during low-traffic hours, but it seems that wasn’t the case. If you are interested in buying their products, manga adaptations of literature, here is another official link. At the least, I encourage you to check out the titles available as they’re unexpectedly less known, or so I’ve come to find out. They’re also available on Amazon. The dead links will persist unless the site remains down for another day.

I’ve never been too fond of most educational video games. There’s nothing wrong with video games that seek to teach. In fact, I think that’s a brilliant idea. Technology has become increasingly integrated into the world and to be proficient, despite dissenting opinions, is a near necessity. This notion has become obvious during the pandemic we find ourselves in with most work being done online. Thus, it’s good to introduce tech to children at a young age and get them experienced with handling interfaces. Additionally, most children are exposed to video games quite often and would therefore be more inclined to learn a topic if presented in a similar format (Parent Zone, 2019; NPD, 2019).

My problem with educational games lies in the execution.

Games, by their definition, must be fun. And if we’re looking at video games specifically, I opt to use Ahoy’s criteria in his documentary film “The First Video Game”.

A Video Game Must:

  • Exist in a practical implementation
  • Generate some kind of video signal
  • Have interaction that alters this signal
  • Be principally intended for entertainment
  • Be playable solely through the video display(s)

Educational video games forget, or perhaps forego, designing their gameplay elements to be entertaining. I understand that some people may find that self-evident. An educational game’s purpose is not to entertain but solely teach; however, therein lies the problem. If we design games with that philosophy, we are not creating software that can be called a video game. What we create is an online textbook with monotonous steps that doesn’t incentivize the student to continue playing or learning. 

Current educational games

Many educational video games that have been released revolve around teaching typing and there is a logic to it (BBC, n.d.). One of the first hurdles to using a computer is the keyboard. The QWERTY layout of the keys isn’t exactly intuitive relative to how we teach kids the alphabet, that is in A-Z format. Even though digital keyboards kids use on their phones or tablets also conform to the QWERTY layout, there is still a valid reason, I think, to teach kids typing. Simply, it’s so that they don’t need to look at the keyboard to type.

I’m sure many people who are reading this find that a bit funny- having to look at the keyboard to type, but that is a problem many older people face. Moreover, depending on the typing method taught, this could lead to a higher WPM. There are no doubt diminishing returns after a point- WPM isn’t something people are hired for and high levels can be achieved by self-practice (Barbash, 2016), but the fundamentals should be in the curriculum somewhere. That isn’t to say typing should be taught throughout all of, say, elementary school. In fact, since keyboards, either physical or digital,  are so ubiquitous in daily life, it could be argued that teaching typing has become less important over time since the practice has become something natural to learn. Research should then seek to find the efficacy of typing classes over time.

Two other common topics often expressed through games are the broad science and mathematics fields. Science is quite a good topic given that it’s quite creative. By that, I mean there’s room for errors and its essence lies in experimentation. Thus, the interactivity games provide are perfectly suited to it. Even at the university level, students learning through virtual labs aren’t particularly uncommon. It’s also worth noting that virtual experiments remove the financial burden of lab equipment and experiment materials. Though I wouldn’t classify these virtual labs as video games, as an example, a game that could be integrated is Spore and its reflection of evolution and natural selection.

SPORE (Maxis, 2008)

Math on the other hand is interesting. I’m not going to say it’s not creative or there’s no experimentation with it. It’s not always exact with a well-defined answer. I point you to two talks on the Royal Institution’s channel by Matt Parker. But- we’re talking about educational games here, “the fundamentals.” You don’t really delve into abstract math until university and so everything’s rather straightforward. However, that’s also a great reason to make it into a game. If, at first glance, a topic seems uninteresting, then present it in an interesting way. In writing, it’s like a hook. It grabs people so that they’ll be interested enough to read more. If only games could be like Abstracts in academic papers- Though more advanced and not applicable below the high school level, Kerbal Space Program is a great video game with a complicated physics system that I could see used as pseudo-simulation. Perhaps Garry’s Mod and its physics engine is robust and general enough for wider use.

Kerbal Space Program (Squad, 2015)

Anyway, I can’t talk about educational games without mentioning the ever famous: The Oregon Trail. It’s not about science or math really and certainly not a typing game, but instead it’s a history game. We’ve talked vaguely about gameplay until now which is why it took so long to bring up. There’s no clear proposition of what a history game’s gameplay would entail; however, it’s undeniably a great fit. There’s a large disconnect between a student and what they read because all they see are proper nouns. It’s very difficult to imagine a world you have little reference of. How are you supposed to become immersed in semi-objective explanations and the occasional illustration as your anchor points? Instead of being confined to a textual explanation, a game allows you to visualize past civilizations and architecture in vivid detail. There’s the potential to portray both the pivotal events in history as well as the equally important daily lives of people. A wide berth of potential gameplay options stems from this. Andrew Webster wrote a brilliant article on The Verge with an interactable image detailing Assassin’s Creed Unity’s portrayal of Notre Dame.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Modelling (Webster, 2019)

The sentiment is somewhat shared for literature as well. Now, I won’t dismiss an author’s ability to conjure up an in-depth world in a reader’s mind through the use of words alone. I love contemporary novels and by visualizing the narrative you do lose something important, if intangible. Despite all the work an author does to describe the setting, the onus falls on the reader to interpret and then imagine that setting. The personal background and even mood of each individual reader causes their interpretation to differ, however slight. By playing a game, you lose that personalization and may not agree with a developer’s interpretation. Because of all this, I believe if games do want to adapt a novel’s story, it’s best to relegate games to a similar state to movie adaptations. Thus, comparisons between different formats would make a decent exercise. 

With literature, the problem of gameplay is also exacerbated. Not every story includes physical conflict- there won’t always be such a spectacle as Odysseus blinding the cyclops. There’s not always room for player agency either which may signal a bad fit with video games. In large part, I do agree; however, there’ s still room for exploration. Video game adaptations of novels do exist, but admittedly there’s little if any overlap with novels in school curriculums and I don’t think that will change. I don’t expect Metro or The Witcher being mandatory to read. So, why don’t we meet each other in the middle here?

VN adaptations for novels

For those who don’t know, there are things called visual novels. I use the terribly general and widely panned term “things” because there’s some debate around their classification. They’re either regarded as a genre of games or a medium in of themselves. The reason for the latter is because of how unique they really are. If forced to compare, they’re usually closer to a play’s script than novels; with an abundance of dialogue between characters and internal monologue. Yet, there’s still narration and description of events and surroundings. Speech is typically presented in what’s known as ADV mode with extensive text being presented in NVL mode.

They’re quite different from other games also in how little gameplay and animation there often is. Gameplay in VNs is typically restricted to making choices at certain branches in the narrative. Think of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Animation is also restrained- limited to changes in sprite poses, screen transitions, and visual effects. You may have some rigorously animated cinematics at the beginning or end of the VN, sometimes between chapters, but those are implemented by those with a significant budget. 

Perhaps surprisingly, there is precedent of a story being adapted into a visual novel: The Dandelion Girl. Originally written by Robert F. Young, a group called Outis Media took it upon themselves to adapt it and it’s available for free on Steam. There are no choices, but it’s still accompanied by artwork and music. 

In truth, I don’t view what I’ve said as an argument to include VNs in the curriculum as I’ve done with games for other subjects so far. I do believe that VN adaptations should be experimented with to see if modern students will be more likely to read or retain the material. Argument should ensue only on the bedrock of that data. At the moment, I’d much rather see VN stories looked at standalone from an analytical lens. Further considerations are publishing rights and development costs of such adaptations. Even outside of an educational setting, perhaps there is an untapped market for VN adaptations similar to Manga Classics and its adaptations of classic stories into manga format.

Research About Vns

Interestingly, research about VNs has and possibly is going on right now. It doesn’t explore the potential for adaptations, but rather its potential as a vehicle for teaching history, values, or even language. A brief glance reveals that a large portion of the research has come out of Indonesian journals, but this may be due to my institution’s database. Among all articles found relevant to VNs and education, here are a few:

Amalo et al. in 2017 published Developing Visual Novel Game With Speech-Recognition Interactivity to Enhance Students’ Mastery on English Expressions. As you may be able to tell, it implemented speech-recognition which functions as the trigger for events rather than clicking on a choice. The results indicated 

“The Visual Novel Game with speech recognition interactivity significantly donated constructive outcomes toward students’ achievement in mastering English expressions” (p. 135). 

Pratama et al. in 2018 published The Visual Elements Strength in Visual Novel Game Development as the Main Appeal. I didn’t find this paper to reveal anything too novel, but in its Conclusion, it reads:

“It is hoped that local visual novel developers will also prioritize the creation of visual character and visual styles that prioritize the characteristics of Indonesian society, as well as lift the narrative of Indonesian history, such as the characters of the Majapahit kingdom figures, so that novel visual games can be utilized into educational media that attract teenagers” (p. 332).

Andrew et al. in 2019 published Analyzing the Factors that Influence Learning Experience through Game Based Learning using Visual Novel Game for Learning Pancasila. To my knowledge, Pancasila is a philosophy whose values are deeply ingrained in Indonesian society. It found:

“Based on the survey results the respondents showed that the friendship game prototype has an interesting game play and easy to understand story so that it attracts users to learn the precepts in the Pancasila through Visual Novel games. Based on regression analysis, the motivation to apply Pancasila values in everyday life can be influenced by understanding and recommendation of the game” (p. 358).

Finally we have Manuel B. Garcia’s paper: Kinder Learns: An Educational Visual Novel Game as Knowledge Enhancement Tool for Early Childhood Education. Contrary to the other three, this is a paper from the Philippines. and-

“Based on the rating obtained through game testing and evaluation, the result of the evaluations from 272 respondents therefore supports the acceptance of Kinder Learns as an educational tool for knowledge enhancement in preschool”

Equally important as those results is a part of the author’s closing thoughts:

“Albeit the result of the study is not generalizable, the use of video games in early childhood education, and the use of visual novel as a genre of an educational game are both worth exploring”.

concluding statements

While the studies discussed seem to show educational visual novels as having a positive effect, I want to make it clear that their appearance here is not a stamp of approval or an indication of their applicability. First and foremost, their purpose is to represent the fact that visual novels are, and should be, of interest in the academic world. As an aside, a notable contradiction in this observation is the lack of articles which explore the content of visual novels compared to those which seek to use its format. I implore those capable to remedy this absence, especially relevant now given the increasing popularity overseas of Japanese culture via the medium of Japanese animation as well as the trend of virtual avatars and the exploration of parasocial relationships that stem from it.

In closing, there is room for video games ranging from preschool to university. While most are developed and aimed at the youngest age bracket, the potential exists to create sophisticated virtual environments to emulate what otherwise appears as dry passages in a textbook. Games should not replace these materials but serve to accompany them. If we don’t implement more new and interesting vehicles to educate, we stand the risk of stagnation and alienation of students who are uninterested in contemporary formats. Visual novels appear to represent one potential path forwards among many. With this knowledge, future work should address questions of accessibility and determine if any games in general which are currently released are accurate enough to be implemented.


References

Ahoy. (2019) The First Video Game [Video]. Youtube.

Amalo, E., Agusalim, I., & Murdaningtyas, C. (2017). DEVELOPING VISUAL NOVEL GAME WITH SPEECH-RECOGNITION INTERACTIVITY TO ENHANCE STUDENTS’ MASTERY ON ENGLISH EXPRESSIONS. Jurnal Sosial Humaniora, 10(2), 129–136.

https://doi.org/10.12962/j24433527.v10i2.2865

Andrew, J., Henry, S., Yudhisthira, A., Arifin, Y., & Permai, S. (2019). Analyzing the Factors that Influence Learning Experience through Game Based Learning using Visual Novel Game for Learning Pancasila. Procedia Computer Science, 157, 353–359.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2019.08.177

Barbash, F. (2016) The Washington Post. Is Touch Typing Overrated?. The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/12/scientific-proof-that-nobody-really-needs-to-learn-touch-typing/

BBC. (n.d.). Dance Mat Typing.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zf2f9j6/articles/z3c6tfr

Facepunch Studios. (2006). Garry’s Mod. [Video Game]. Valve.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/4000/Garrys_Mod/

Garcia, M. (2020). Kinder Learns: An Educational Visual Novel Game as Knowledge Enhancement Tool for Early Childhood Education. The International Journal of Technologies in Learning, 27(1), 13–34.

https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-0144/CGP/v27i01/13-34

Lump of Sugar. (2019). Hello, Goodbye. [Video Game]. NekoNyan Ltd.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1009460/Hello_Goodbye/

Maxis. (2008). SPORE. [Video Game]. Electronic Arts.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/17390/SPORE/

NPD. (2019). Notable Increases in Both Engagement and Spending Coming from Kids.

https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2019/according-to-the-npd-group–73-percent-of-u-s–consumers-play-video-games/

Outis Media. (2016). The Dandelion Girl. [Video Game].

https://store.steampowered.com/app/990090/The_Dandelion_Girl_Dont_You_Remember_Me/

Parent Zone. (2019). The Rip-Off Games: How the New Business Model of Online Gaming Exploits Children. 

https://parentzone.org.uk/the-rip-off-games

Pratama, D., Wardani, W., & Akbar, T. (2018). The Visual Elements Strength in Visual Novel Game Development as the Main Appeal. Mudra : Jurnal Seni Budaya, 33(3), 326–333.

https://doi.org/10.31091/mudra.v33i3.455

Ren’Py. (n.d.). NVL-Mode Tutorial. 

https://www.renpy.org/doc/html/nvl_mode.html#nvl-mode

Squad. (2015). Kerbal Space Program. [Video Game]. Private Division.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/220200/Kerbal_Space_Program/

Webster, A. (2019). Building a Better Paris in Assassin’s Creed Unity. The Verge.

https://www.theverge.com/2014/10/31/7132587/assassins-creed-unity-paris

The Unique & Sad Dynamic Between VTubers & Translators

Header Image from Flowers -Le volume sur printemps-

VTubers are fascinating. I don’t mean their personality, I’ve already written an article about some of my favorites a while ago, but from a translation standpoint they seem incredibly unique. Specifically, I refer to monolingual Japanese VTubers. There are a variety of them, much more than I can document, and that poses some interesting problems.


There was a VTuber boom during 2020, around the time the Hololive English branch made their debut. People from all over the world started to invest in virtual avatars and rigging. Some conventional YouTubers and livestreamers simply substituted themselves with the avatar while some took it a step further. Instead of a change going forward, they opted to close their channel, erase their virtual footprint, and rebrand as a VTuber. That seems quite risky and it really is, but it’s not as if they were starting from square one. Besides the experience under their belt, some joined pre-existing agencies that had existed before the boom which represented a stable income and guaranteed exposure. Even if others didn’t, taking into consideration the size of their fanbase prior to becoming a VTuber, it was impossible that their old fans wouldn’t eventually find themselves watching their favorite creator again. We can thank the algorithm for that.

Although, for all the VTubers out there, there’s only so much audience to attract. Inevitably, some would get left behind in subscriber count. This problem is exacerbated when you consider the language barriers. English is pretty much a universal language (despite the inconsistencies which make it difficult to learn) and so those who speak it have an advantage over those who don’t. Well, it’s perspective whether you see one side as advantaged or the other as disadvantaged or both, but that’s besides the point. The takeaway is that certain VTubers, such as monolingual Japanese VTubers, couldn’t attract a dedicated audience and couldn’t maintain growth. 

There’s a translator named Yoyuu who I respect a lot for their neutral stance and articulation about the state of VTubers and the community that surrounds them. In an article about the state of Hololive post-EN, they expound on why Hololive originally became popular in the first place. It wasn’t an intentional action taken by the company to cater to the English-speaking audience. Rather, it was due to fan-translators choosing to upload subtitled videos of their talents. This has had a ripple effect on VTubers who want to emulate the success of Hololive. Namely, they believe that by streaming in the same way that Hololive talents do they’ll be able to reach some semblance of success if their personality and quality of stream permits it. Of course, this isn’t the case as the catalyst of fan-translators aren’t there for those upstart VTubers. 

Obligatory music to break up the text.

This is the unique problem I referred to at the start of the article. VTubers are, in my opinion, time-sensitive. If they don’t get exposure within about a year, morale really begins to plummet. That continual loss of motivation to stream is bound to be reflected in the livestreams themselves. Additionally, if met with no reception, one would expect that those VTubers would need to turn to part-time jobs at the least to pay the bills. This lessens their stream schedule and total uptime with the possibility that they’re relegated to work hours which prevent streaming during golden hours. How is this different from the typical streamer? Besides the model and rigging, a significant budget still needs to be allocated to the hardware, software, and fast internet. In one word: translators.

VTubers are massively different from novels or visual novels. A novel or VN can be completely forgotten about by the author but popularity can still arise at any time. Translations can expose an audience previously unable to access the material and generate revenue for the author by buying the product. VTubers aren’t like that. A stream needs to be active, or at least scheduled, to send a donation. Thus, if a VTuber temporarily retires and a clip of them gets massively popular and drives traffic, unless they capitalize on that and come back quickly, it’s all for naught. The sad part is that even if they do come back quick enough, can they retain an audience they don’t speak the language of?

All this is why I think being a VTuber translator is such a rough ride. I won’t touch on the topic of translators monetizing clips, Yoyuu has already done so competently here, but there is such a swath of VTubers to translate you really don’t know where to start. At the same time, there is a perceived pressure to translate everything in a vain attempt to help draw awareness to independent creators. Then, one day, a VTuber you’ve wanted to translate clips of for the longest time retires. While it wasn’t your fault, you can’t help the small voice in the back of your head. That is a translator’s regret.


I wouldn’t say I’m a VTuber translator. I can and have translated some videos in the past as well as translated Sister Claire’s daily series for a bit more than a month, but really I just translate whatever and whenever I want. Those translations never caused a big splash either so I doubt my contributions to a small VTuber would’ve done much, but I still think about it. I wonder if bigger VTuber translators think about it as well? 

I say all this in the wake of Nijisanji IN’s suspension and the graduation of their three livers: Noor, Aadya, and Vihaan. I was particularly quite excited to watch Noor after skimming through a few VODs and listening to her KING cover, but that’s not possible anymore.

My favorite cover of hers.

More pertinently, I say this in the wake of Futamochi Yamai’s retirement. I translated her announcement myself and published it on Twitter, YouTube, and in an article here. The remaining covers on her channel dwindle by the day.

In response to both, I can only say one thing: Good luck. I wish them all the best and hope the future brings them good tidings. Therefore, what other image to pick than cherry blossoms…

[EN] Futamochi Yamai – Notice of Removal

“Thank you for always warmly supporting me.

As of today, Futamochi Yamai will end activities as a VTuber.

I apologize for the sudden announcement. The reason for the departure will be withheld. I will not be answering any questions regarding my departure, and I will be deleting my posts on YouTube and Fanbox.

I’d like to thank all of the VTubers who have been involved with me, everyone who has supported me, and everyone who has made my life as a VTuber so enjoyable. I’m not good at goodbyes, so I’ll end with this. Thank you for all the encounters. Thank you very much!”

April 14, 2021

Futamochi Yamai


As of 4/14/2021, 12:30 AM EST, only song covers remain on her YouTube channel. All tweets prior to the removal notice have been deleted.

My favorite cover of hers…

VN Barriers: A Comparison of Taylor’s Article+ [P1]

Header Image from Riddle Joker.

In this two-part post, I will be comparing the purported barriers I proposed in an old article of mine with the cultural barrier Emily Taylor proposes in her academic peer-reviewed article Dating-simulation games: leisure and gaming of Japanese youth culture (2007). Before I compare them in part two, let me first explain Emily Taylor’s article. I know a lot of people don’t have access to it via their institution so I’ll do my best to summarize her article. Note that her focus was specifically on Japanese dating-sims (of the bishoujo variety), not VNs as a whole.


Past the abstract, Taylor first includes a section which justifies her study of dating sims. She asks the main question of why dating-sims aren’t popular abroad and brings up the lack of spotlight dating sims have in academic literature. This is despite the frequency of articles seeking to study otaku and hikikomori. She emphasizes the point further by pointing out that dating sims encompass three important categories of study: “(1) Japanese dating and personal relationships, (2) Japanese gaming and leisure, and (3) obscenity and pornography in Japan” (p. 193). Thus, the overlap which dating sims represent should call for further research.

The next section will not be summarized as its purpose is to define dating sims. I expect, and I don’t believe that this is unreasonable, that those who are reading this already know what they are. Once again though, I will reiterate two facts she puts forth. The first being that the focus of Taylor’s article is on bishoujo dating sims. The second that dating sims represent a significant proportion of the Japanese gaming market’s sales as opposed to overseas in America and Europe.

The subsequent section lists the four dating sims which “reveal the complexities and possibilities of the genre…” with summaries of them (p. 195). I opt to directly quote Taylor here as I find the phrasing interesting. The following then serve as the bedrock of the article:

  • [Touching Fan Favorite] Kana Imouto(加奈~いもうと)
  • [Eroge] Sensei 2(せ・ん・せ・い2)

[Author’s Note] There are some discrepancies between the English titles and the redirects to JAST USA, specifically with Kana Imouto and Tottemo! Pheromone. Kana Okaeri is a revamped version of the original Kana Imouto. Target Pheromone on the other is a discrepancy I cannot explain.


Taylor then classifies dating sims- what she terms an “ambiguous genre” (p. 197) and makes the important connection between dating sims, video games, anime and manga, and Japanese pornography. She begins by calling dating-sims overall a type of video game given their availability on consoles as well as computers. The extended length of time between choices within dating-sims evokes an atmosphere similar to anime- Besides a similar structure, e.g., anime and dating sims both containing an animated opening and transitions using still frames there are also shared story elements between dating sims, anime, and manga. For the comparison to poronography, she similarly lists shared tropes. 

An example of transitions.

“I propose, therefore, that dating-sims games be considered interactive anime/manga with erotic content, a classification recognizing that dating-sim games combine both the voyerusitic aspect of (pornographic) anime or manga with the participatory aspect of video games” (p. 198).

Next, a very important part of the article, explains the common appearance and nature of male characters in dating-sims. Usually they’re young enough to be in school, high school or college, and heterosexual with a realistic daily routine. Their physical features are generally Japanese (“usually dark hair and light-colored skin” p. 198) with the caveat that their facial features are rarely shown. This is exemplified by hair covering the eyes. On the basis of personality, they’re rather plain and serve as a self-insert. While not many dating-sims allow for players to change the name of the main character, the name itself is quite generic. 

Source

Interestingly, male characters are characterized by Taylor as “the opposite of shōjo” [少女 shoujo or young girl] (p. 199). 

“[D]ating-sim games protect otaku from the risk of being labeled as shōjo, a pejorative appellation that is a result of being feminized through watching romance-comedy anime and from being sexually inexperienced, unmarried consumers” (p. 203).”


[Author’s Note] Contemporarily, in the western anime scene, shoujo is recognized only by its literal definition. Usually it’s referred to in conjunction with other mediums: shoujo manga or anime, denoting the audience they’re aimed at.  


Shoujo in this context alludes to a lack of sexual experience and, to an extent, femininity or rather a lack of traditional masculinity. Therefore, male characters are actually portrayed as quite sexually experienced compared to the females. This holds true even if the female character is older and has had sexual experience before. Additionally, male characters rarely show outbursts of emotion.

More on female characters, Taylor concludes that they’re quite contrary to male characters. Even in physical appearance, they’re quite exaggerated and rooted in the realm of fantasy with colorful hair and eyes. Moreover, they’re typically written to be weak characters: submissive and subordinate. Therefore, all female characters can be described as shoujo, even if they’re quite mature, due to their portrayal as sexually inexperienced and emotional.

“Thus, in dating-sims, women are presented as either being defenseless playthings for the male character or are reduced to such by the end of the game, essentially reverting to a childlike, shōjo state” (p. 202).

To summarize and finally conclude:

“Additionally, as the otaku figure is becoming increasingly feminized, dating-sim games, through their control and exploitation of weak, shōjo characters, allow (or even encourage) the player to affirm his identity as a non-shōjo, or masculine, thus empowering and reassuring him” (p. 205).

“With these deep connections to Japanese society and culture, therefore, we should not be particularly surprised that such games have not yet been well received abroad. Perhaps gradually increasing levels of popular awareness of Japanese culture in the West will enlarge the market for Japanese-style dating-sims among certain populations abroad; or perhaps producers of dating-sims will modify their approach- the very premise upon which dating-sim games are built, and the very premise that makes games so quintessentially “Japanese” – for foreign markets” (p. 206).


I realize that some people may find speaking about femininity/masculinity in relation to otakus weird. Due to that, let me touch very briefly on a paper that you can find online quite easily: Acquisition of Cultural Competence through Visual Media: Perceptions of Masculinities in Japanese Society by Kaori Yoshida. It looked at three films:

Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai, 1954)

Jingi nakai tatakai (Battles Without Honor and Humanity, 1973)

Densha otoko (Train Man, 2005)

  • Historically, Seven Samurai was released post-defeat in World War II.
  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity was released during the rapid economic growth that occurred in Japan between the 1960s and the early 1970s. 
  • Densha Otoko was released after the rapid economic growth which subsequently caused female employees to be sought out due to growth in the service industry.
From Densha otoko TV series (2005).

To summarize the article succinctly:

The first film portrayed Japan as a nation that had been feminized, forced to submit, by the US and a collapse of patriarchal authority. The ending however displayed the resilience of Japan and the survival of traditional masculinity, also associated with physical strength,  persisting even its defeat.

The second film portrayed the yakuza and internal betrayal which was analogous to the sentiment of salarymen in Japan. While salarymen worked hard for their company, other individuals sought to pave their own path and abandoned the group in favor of profit. Loyalty and chivalry, also an aspect of traditional masculinity, have been abandoned as well.

The third film portrayed a story of an otaku’s romance, based on a supposedly real story which originally circulated online on Japanese forums. It shows the changing perception of gender norms and the move away from traditional masculinity. 

Finally, since otaku’s are the main focus here, I’d like to supplement both Yoshida and Taylor’s article with some points from Susan Napier’s Where Have All the Salarymen Gone? Masculinity Masochism, and the Technomobility in Densha Otoko (2011). Napier talks about how traditional masculinity which values physicality has instead been replaced by technical skills; otakus represent high-level knowledge of cutting-edge technology. Moreover, despite not being muscular, standing up for others is still valued by otaku. Therefore, as more traditional masculinity, represented by the salaryman ideal, is slowly being phased out in Japanese society, new forms of masculinity as represented by otaku, among others like “bishōnen (beautiful boys), aggressive young entrepreneurs… or the creative ‘cooking man’…” (p. 133), are replacing it. 


I hope you enjoyed this look at three academic sources! It was a joy to write and a bit of a delve into science communication and practice in academic summaries. I’m sure all of you can draw a lot of ideas from these and of course feel free to do so. References to said sources in APA format below. Part 2 to follow.

REFERENCES

Napier, S. (2011). Where Have All the Salarymen Gone?: Masculinity, Masochism, and Technomobility in Densha Otoko. In Recreating Japanese Men (1st ed., p. 154–). University of California Press

Taylor, E. (2007). Dating-simulation games: leisure and gaming of Japanese youth culture. Southeast Review of Asian Studies, 29, 192–208.


Yoshida, K. (2012) “Acquisition of Cultural Competence through Visual Media: Perceptions of Masculinities in Japanese Society,” Journal CAJLE, Vol. 13, 135–152.

Visual Novels: Completion And Internalization

Firstly, I’d like to credit the blog Intermittent Mechanism. I was perusing the WordPress Reader this month looking for interesting articles and lo and behold, I saw an article about Katawa Shoujo. Cited in it was the academic article by Emily Taylor which kicks off the post you’re about to read. Apparently that KS article was written by a university student in Ian Bryce Jones’ class where Katawa Shoujo was, in part, a required read. That alone should interest you and so I encourage everyone to explore that site.


I read an article by author Emily Taylor titled Dating-simulation games: leisure and gaming of Japanese youth culture (2007). It’s a fascinating article which talked about the popularity of dating-sim games in Japan, what it says about the culture and playerbase, and why that popularity hasn’t translated overseas. I’d love to talk about the findings of her peer reviewed article and compare it to what I wrote early on about VN popularity, but not today. Instead, I want to chime in on a particular few sentences she puts forth about game completion in dating-sims. 

“Intuitively, one would think that players would aim for good endings, but such is not always the case. The only way to ‘beat’ the game is to play it numerous times, experiencing all the endings. After playing through the game, players can go to the main menu and check their ‘status,’ which shows how much of the game is finished. To reach a status of 100 percent, signaling completion of the game, all endings must be reached. Essentially, the only way to ‘lose’ when playing a dating-sim game is not to get a bad ending but to get the same ending twice, since doing so prevents players from making any progress toward game completion” (Taylor, 2007, p. 195).  

Overall, I think that’s a brilliant explanation. In fact, when I reviewed VNs, I adhered to this concept of full completion before writing a review. Each segment of the story, irregardless of whether it’s a good or bad end, tells you so much about the characters. In fact, bad ends are fascinating in that they often portray the side of a character you may not see if you’re aiming only for the happy ending. Take Katawa Shoujo (KS) for example. Hanako is perceived to be a shy and timid girl. During her route, one could name a number of things that would cause her anxiety or distress, but what about anger? It’s a magnitude more difficult to picture and it’s not portrayed outside of the bad end. Furthermore, on a simpler level, bad ends may also contain exclusive CGs. Therefore, a game completion stat of 100% based on both good and bad ends is perfectly reasonable and should contemporarily be considered what beating a VN means.

After all that, what if I told you that I believe completing a VN isn’t getting that 100% stat? You beat the game, but you didn’t complete it. How does that sound? Obviously I’m referring to completion in a different context to Taylor. In this case, I’m talking about something more akin to internalization. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) definition of internalization is this: “the nonconscious mental process by which the characteristics, beliefs, feelings, or attitudes of other individuals or groups are assimilated into the self and adopted as one’s own” (n.d.). 

To continue using Katawa Shoujo as an example, there are five routes encapsulated by five different questions on the KS webpage

“Can you face your fears?”

“Can you seize the day?”

“Can you see what I see?”

“Can you stand up for yourself?

“Can you tell me what you think?”

The correlation might be loose, but if you read KS’s story and choose options based on how you feel versus which character you want to romance, you’re led along to about where you should be. By the end of each route, the main character will have found an answer to the corresponding. More than that, you yourself will begin to think more about the question and its relevance. You may not have an answer as Hisao and his romantic partner do, but you’ll be one step closer to finding out. Thus, the ending of a route is a pivotal moment that marks you, the player, further reflecting on what has transpired. In truth, this self-reflection begins somewhere along the route itself when you begin to draw parallels, but I believe this step of realizing what you don’t know fully manifests near the end. This is further magnified as you complete each route and continue to reflect on the other thing you don’t know. 

The next step, after you’ve completed all the routes [and found all the bad ends], happens away from the game. A few days after, you’ve finished it and are off to do something else. Maybe you’ve transitioned to another game, VN or otherwise- Perhaps you’re driving along in your car to work or taking a shower. Nevertheless, you begin to think about the themes of that game unprompted. You begin to apply those themes to other aspects of your life, aspects that are different from the context of the game. The application has then shifted away from only applying to direct parallels. [I think this is the optimal time to write a review.]

The last step is the unconscious application of those themes. At this point, you might not even remember the plot of the game in full. Nevertheless, what you’ve learned from it has seeped into your life. That said, to phrase it like such is a bit of a misnomer. Stories, in my mind, don’t teach you; however, you still learn from them. 

So, where does that leave us? I’d say you’ve completed the game at step two, but is a game’s journey truly completed when it reaches this step? Actually, I’d argue that some are never completed, even when application is unconscious. This is due to how ideas fundamentally travel. If it truly did seep into the facets of your life, you’re more than likely to spread it via your own writing or other work. Take these two screenshots from a VN called Campus Notes – forget me not below. What really underscores the point is the state of the developer group 4th cluster, disbanded since August 10, 2018. Nearly three years since their disbandment, I’m referencing their work originally released on April 6, 2016. 

What’s the point of this article? Think of it as a bit of a mental exercise. What are some things that have influenced you- especially works that you haven’t thought about in a long time? I talked about visual novels and games in this article, but the sentiment spreads to any artform really. Whatever you’re doing, keep that question in the back of your head. You might rediscover something.

If you liked this article, I recommend the VN Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time. It’s a kinetic VN with Japanese voice acting which is centered around a group of three girls tasked with actively finding the answer to the question, “What makes a wonderful life?” 

Sister Claire’s まいにち動画+ [10.31] [ENG TL]

Japanese Transcript*
今日もまいにち動画始まります!

2020年、10月 31日(土)

みなさん、おはようございます。

そしてお誕生日の方もおめでとうございます!

うらめしや~

この格好でこのセリフはおかしいか?

TRICK OR TREAT

お菓子をくれないとーいたずらしちゃうぞ!

ーなんて

私はもう子どもたちにお菓子をくばるがかりです.

でもたまには
いたずらもーいいかも?

それでは今日のくち占い!

今日は暗い道をあるくとき
きをつけてあるいて

なんたって今日はHalloweenですから

早くお家にかえるとラッキーです

今日も健康にすごせるように、手洗いと、うがいをしっかりして楽しい1日にしていきましょうね。

本日のスケジュールはこちらー

お昼頃もし,できたら
できたなかったら21時ごろやりたいけどお休みの可能性も高いです

明日はトークアバウトもあるので,夜遅くはやらない子定です。

それでは今日もいっしょにがんばるぞ!





English Translation
Today’s Daily Video begins now!

October 31, 2020 (Saturday)

Good morning, everyone!

And to everyone whose birthday is today-
Happy birthday!

うらめしや~ 
(U-ra-me-shi-ya – A common phrase of ghosts or vengeful spirits. It’s pretty stereotypical so it’s more relevant in stories for kids.)

Does that seem weird in this format?

TRICK OR TREAT

If you don’t give me candy, I’ll pull a prank on you!

Just kidding~

I’m already giving kids my candy, but sometimes… Maybe a prank might be good?

And now, it’s time for-
Fortune-telling! 

When you’re walking along the dark roads today, be careful. After all, it is Halloween.

If you hurry home quick, you’ll be lucky!

To stay healthy today, remember to wash your hands, gargle properly, and remember to have fun!

The schedule for today is-
Here~

[Around noon if possible. If not, around 21:00 JST, but there’s a high possibility I’ll be away. There’ll be a Talk aVout tomorrow so I’ll be sure not to do it late at night.]

And then, as always-
Let’s do our best today!




*Typos and various mistakes in the Japanese transcript may be present. If you’d like to read Japanese, refer to the subtitles within the video.

My translations of Daily Video+ will be restricted mostly to holidays or other special occasions. Why? Because I’ve begun translating more stuff! I still love watching Claire, but I’ve wanted to translate videos from smaller VTubers and so- I did! Maybe I’ll make an article compiling it all for you? Here’s my YouTube Channel in the meantime. Happy Halloween!

Sister Claire’s まいにち動画+ [10.8] [ENG TL]

Japanese Transcript*
今日の朝もまいにち動画から
まいにち動画+

2020年、10月 8日(木)

みなさん、おはようございます。

そしてお誕生日の方もおめでとうございます!

みなさんは今日の朝、1番最初にどんな言葉を発しましたか?

おはよう!などの挨拶って意識しないうちに、家族の間でもしなくなっているかもしれませんでも、朝に顔を合わせた人に挨拶をすると、なんとなくー心がほっこりすきがするんです。

みなさんも、身近な方に、おはようございますって、いってみてください!

それでは今日のくち占い!

今日は人気の場所やものをリサーチしてみて!

自分の好きなものだけじゃなくて、誰かが喜ぶ何かを発見できるかも!

今日も健康にすごせるように、手洗いと、うがいをしっかりして楽しい1日にしていきましょうね。

本日のスケジュールはこちらー

18:00〜にじさんじSEEDsオフで大集合 
(出雲霞チャンネル)


それでは今日もいっしょにがんばるぞ!






English Translation
Your everyday morning video-
This is Daily Video+!

October 8, 2020 (Thursday)

Good morning, everyone!

And to everyone whose birthday is today-
Happy birthday!

What were the first words you said today, everyone?

“Good morning?” or something similar? You may not be aware of it, even when said to family members, but saying hello to someone in the morning makes you feel relaxed.

Please say “good morning” to those around you!

And now, it’s time for-
Fortune-telling! 

Today, try researching popular places and things!

You might find something that not only makes you happy, but would make others happy too!

To stay healthy today, remember to wash your hands, gargle properly, and remember to have fun!

The schedule for today is-
Here~

~18:00 JST Nijisanji SEEDs Large Offline-Gathering [Off-Collab] (on Izumo Kasumi’s channel)

And then, as always-
Let’s do our best today!



See October 7’s translation here: link.

*Typos and various mistakes in the Japanese transcript may be present. If you’d like to read Japanese, refer to the subtitles within the video.

Sister Claire’s まいにち動画+ [10.7] [ENG TL]

Japanese Transcript*
今日も元気に過ごせるようにまいにち動画+

2020年、10月 7日(水)

みなさん、おはようございます。

そしてお誕生日の方もおめでとうございます!

みなさんは、しっかりお休みできていますか?

出来ないことを、どうか、責めないで。
前進している最中なのですから!

頑張っている人はとっても、輝いていると思います!

頑張ってね!

それでは今日のくち占い!

今日は食器を綺麗に片付けるとラッキーです!

片付けたあとは、何事もすっきりこなせそう!

今日も健康にすごせるように、手洗いと、うがいをしっかりして楽しい1日にしていきましょうね。

本日は配信がお休みです!おすすめのアーカイブと動画はこちらです。

それでは今日もいっしょにがんばるぞ!







English Translation
So that you’ll be able to your best today-
This is Daily Video+!

October 7, 2020 (Wednesday)

Good morning, everyone!

And to everyone whose birthday is today-
Happy birthday!

Have you all been getting a good rest?

If you aren’t, please don’t blame yourself. After all, we’re always moving one step forward.

If you’re doing your best, you’re already shining brightly in my eyes!

Do your best, okay?

And now, it’s time for-
Fortune-telling! 

If you clean the dishes today, you’ll be lucky! 

After you clean up, everything will look neat!

To stay healthy today, remember to wash your hands, gargle properly, and remember to have fun!

There’ll be a streaming break today. I recommend watching the archive and this video.

And then, as always-
Let’s do our best today!


See October 6’s translation here: link.

*Typos and various mistakes in the Japanese transcript may be present. If you’d like to read Japanese, refer to the subtitles within the video.