人造夜空

“World Famous Moe Artist” ~ An UNDER17 Retrospective

UNDER17 is undoubtedly my favorite band. Prior to this, I didn’t really have a particular attachment towards a specific music group beyond a passing interest in the albums and I felt a disconnect between myself and the people making the music. I was never the type to follow the creative careers and lives of those other artists off-stage as extensively as I have with Momoi Haruko and Koike Masaya. Something about this group was different. I started listening to UNDER17 in 2017 casually after watching the anime for Genshiken but never really explored much else outside of their anime music at the time. Then I forgot about them for a while. It wasn’t until the summer of 2019 when I was getting into denpa music for the first time that I rediscovered this group. It was during that fateful summer; amidst my time playing bishoujo games and rewatching Oreimo that I found music that truly made me happy. I used to listen to melancholic music because my adolescent self liked to put on a mask of stoicism and thought it was cool to LARP as a sad boy. But after a prolonged period of serious depression, I realized I never wanted to be unhappy ever again. I found solace in the music of many wonderful artists like Nanahira, Toromi, MOSAIC.WAV and eventually, UNDER17.  Continue reading

Overthinking why Ai-chan’s breasts shrunk in Video Girl Ai

Let’s be honest, it was pretty obvious that Youta rented the tape because he was expecting something a bit more… naughty, let’s say. The concept of these “Video Girls” seemed to be analogous for an adult video actress or singing idol in that they cheered up men on lonely nights. Pretty faces presented on over-controlled stages to capture and embody the fantasies of men everywhere. The reason he rented this tape in the first place, as we would later learn, was because he wanted to forget about his failed confession that day. So the most likely thing for an adolescent guy to do would be to rent some adult videos to help forget about the whole ordeal. However, Youta gets more than he bargained for after he realizes that the thing that ejected from his CRT was indeed a living-breathing girl now laying on his bed. This event likely excited him even more, until he realizes that she is not exactly the soft-spoken yamato nadeshiko he might want. During my viewing, I began to realize the interesting implications of my interpretation. Continue reading

Ludonarrative dissonance in eroge

More so than their traditionally book-bound counterparts, visual novels rely more heavily on a narrator to convey a story. The majority of visual novels are told from a fixed perspective and much of the characterization is done through monologues or conversations with other characters. In that sense, they are more similar to film. Light novels also are told with a bias towards dialogue and are more sparse on technical explanations about settings. Visual novels tend to do the same since oftentimes the setting is either unimportant to the narrative, mutually understood as a familiar location such as a school or bedroom, or is able to be conveyed through background art. However, unlike light novels or traditional novels, visual novels invite the reader to be an active participant in the story. Here is where problems begin. Realistically speaking, it’s impossible to allow the reader to make every choice in a story for a number of reasons. From a game design standpoint, the amount of branching paths would scare even the most insane scenario writers away. That’s why writers must choose where to write in break points and where to write in their own decisions. Some choices should be left up to the reader while others are unavoidably needed to be made by the writer themselves. This is where ludonarrative dissonance is brought to the table, and unfortunately, where we are able to distinguish good writers from the poor writers. Continue reading

“Where is my Misaki?”

She was the only beautiful thing. The evanescent image of her standing under a parasol, in that otherwise uneventful summer afternoon, burned itself into my retinas. Sunlight was streaming through the pure white filter of her parasol to gently illuminate her soft skin; I swore, I saw an angel that day. At the prelude to summer in the opening movement, my life would finally begin to move, though ever so slowly. Within the heat-haze days as the beginnings of summer beat down on that small town, a haze settled comfortably upon us and planned to stay until winter took its place away. And within that daze I stumbled through my own flights of fancy which could only irreparably change my stagnant lifestyle.   Continue reading

Overthinking Sister Princess & Da Capo

Sister Princess has some of the most atypical opening minutes that a suspiciously incestuous bishoujo game adaptation might otherwise be undeserving of. It hits the ground running with a chaotic depiction of downtown Tokyo, focusing on a group of identical looking cram school students rushing out into the streets. The uniformity and rigidity of the metropolitan lifestyle is pushed to the limits of absurdity. The clockwork systems of infrastructure contrast the living organisms within it, though they themselves are willingly subjecting themselves to a system which discourages their individuality. The students streaming out of the cram school buildings are indistinguishable from one another; they have all co-opted the same visage of “success” and consequently, lost any sense of agency within their life. Becoming marionettes to the ambiguous social order and internalizing uniformity as the stepping-stone to a promised success.  Continue reading

The standardization of morals (in anime)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai is a story about rejecting reality. NHK ni Youkoso is a story about indulging in being a hikikomori otaku. Oregairu is a story about denouncing social structures. Wait, you can’t say such things! Let me correct myself: Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai is a story about Keima learning to love reality, NHK ni Youkoso is a story about overcoming the worst parts of yourself and Oregairu is a story about learning to accept people without airs of cynicism anymore. There are some conclusions artists are not allowed to reach. Continue reading

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