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Old 2009-02-23, 11:43   Link #2562
阿賀野型3番艦、矢矧 Lv168
*Graphic Designer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Belgium, Brussels
Age: 32
Recently could play Fortune Arterial, Prima Stella and Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo.

Being a lazy commenter, I think sky's article would summary well my opinion regarding Fortune Arterial: pretty neat and clean scripting, proper build up and twists and likable characters (minus a very tiresome Kanade, and a loathable Kaya).
Although I was expecting more on the action side due to story relying on vampires matters, it was definitely an excellent visual novel no doubt.
I would however rants for few additional things:
-a ridiculous use of the CPU for few mere effects or ending scroll (it baffles me that a dual core got busy for 92-96% of its capacity due to a silly scroll + song)
-Some laziness that is a bit too noticeable considering the quality of this title (most notable part: the lack of altered effect on people voice when they are using their cellphone)
-True end being borderline a deus ex machina and "too good to be true" (players know what I'm talking about).

Well, I guess I will post something bigger in the future, but heh
Favourite character: Kiriha (stylish with insane moe side anyone?)
Favourite route: True end (though closely followed by Kiriha's route, then Erika... no, not because of the bias )


Prima Stella, on the other hand, was seriously one of the worst VN I could read (and this feeling got exacerbed as I played it right after FA).
Aside of the mediocre quality production (which is extremely cheap in term of interface, BG and BGM), PS suffers a lot of a inherent issue: mindless ero.
Quantity isn't exactly an issue when it is well timed or somewhat meaningful. But PS manages to make me facepalm so many times I was wondering if I wasn't wasting my time dangerously.
The characters themselves are bland, quite stuck with their set behaviour. Although Kousuke is shown to be a decent male lead, the inconsistencies in the story telling show him as bad as Itou Makoto: screwing around.
Although he is good natured, the scripters didn't have the slightest good common sense to actually keep the ero for heroine routes. Therefore, you have to taste the "goods" one after another before defining the heroine of your choice.
This is really detrimental to the story telling because it simply involves to many "out of characters" decision. As result, it is simply a matter of scripters' whim than anything remotely decent.

That alone made me give up quickly especially how forced the drama was spawning like nuts in the common route (especially Kusumi's).
That experience made me realize that I could have avoided this eroge if I had the smart idea to check possible english reviews here and there. Now, unless it is really rumored to be good, I will certainly avoid any Atelier Kaguya titles like the plague.


Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo was a title I wanted to try after how G senjou managed to impress me.
And, hell, I wonder why I didn't check this title before.

Sharin storyline suffered slightly the same way than its successor: things make "only sense" with natsumi. As result, choosing either Sachi or Touka (or even Ririko) is not exactly fitting (a huge sense of incompatibility with Natsumi's route, no doubt).
I will however give the scripters some slack because there isn't much they could do considering the peculiar branch system. In fact, I'm kinda satisfied that they did bother adding few things that make a certain cohesion if you don't choose Natsumi as a romance interest. Of course, it doesn't have a broad convincing effect and sounds kinda cheap, but it is still coherent nevertheless.
And I would say that: the chemistry between the main protagonist, Morita Ken'ichi and the main heroine, Hinata Natsumi is so strong that it IS criminal to choose any other girl.

Now, on the good side of the plot: Sharin has nothing to be ashamed with its pacing (except perhaps, Touka's chapter).
Clean and straightforward, the plot itself dwells with each character issues with a global view, and sooner than expected, it unfolds a much more gloomy and dark aspect.
And this is Sharin plot strength: the interactions of Ken'ichi with each girls are always aiming for the resolution of everyone problem. However, the more the protagonists are going deeper, the more questions are emerging, especially with the unorthodox borderline darwinist view of the society, lead by Houzuki, the main "villain" of the story.

Thus, the scripters successfully avoided rampant cliché and convenient resolution, as they absolutely don't hesitate to leave blatant question and reconsiderations. So much that the protagonists themselves would have to go through dilemna.
That said, while Sachi and Touka routes are mere appetizer, the story really shines once Natsumi's chapter kicks in: balanced melodrama, heartwrenching moments ("she needs a hug, QUICK!" inducing portions) and neat emotional driven moments.

All is then left with a final chapter that explains most portions left unanswered by the VN, with a very satisfying climatic end.

As you can see, the plot itself was really the strongest element of Sharin no Kuni, and this is absolutely no coincidence with a colorful cast.
Ken'ichi is really one of the better male lead I could have read. Pretty much like FA Hasekura Kouhei, Ken'ichi is absolutely not clueless and is sensitive to girls problem AND feelings. As much as it is surprising, dense doesn't belong to his dictionary and he is proactive. Adding the fact he also manages to play the "necessary evil for the better welfare of the girls" behaviour adds a strong sense of sympathy towards this fellow.
To add again some unique aspect of his personality, Ken'ichi isn't shown as a superman, but rather a weird random joker that soon has a darker and flawed side which he won't mop (!) unlike usual emo protagonists.

Sachi would be considered as the usual "genki" borderline sportive girl, but her route shows very well how a motivation can change one's actions. Sachi is quite a refreshing "energy battery" as she is shown as sensitive and surprisingly straightforward. Not totally unique, but still a balanced character.

Touka is the most "bland" (well, don't take it to the first degree) character and still shines on various parts of her route. Tsundere, her antics are however "bearable" (especially her amusing "I will beat you to death!" catch phrase). I was fine with her as she didn't resort much to violence (despite her short temper) and she does show quirks and various dere moments. Her undecisiveness did annoy me hell lots during her route, but her development and changes were good enough for me.
I would simply rant about the fact her route is the least well geared to proper storytelling, as the pace was really jerky past the first part of her route. Climatic emotional ending indeed, but there was a lot of room for improvements to end up to this conclusion.

Natsumi is, at the first glance the tragic girl that seem to be abnormally shy and nervous, but after such a ridiculous awful past, who wouldn't?
Natsumi is probably the most complex character, being torn with various burden and probably the most painful obligation among the cast. And still, she manages to splendidly grow up and advance, thanks to Ken'ichi.
Her route was probably the most depressing one, for good reasons. The surprising element of her story is, however, how things are always advancing to a development, which prevents a forced drama to cripple and drag needlessly the plot (unlike Touka's).
As the interactions are the main feature of this route, the plot itself was really the most emotionnally moving, which is why choosing any other girl is kinda dubious.

Favourite character/route: Natsumi (default heroine, for good reasons)

As you can read, Sharin has a very strong structure articulated on how ken'ichi will help each girl and how things are smoothly raising the question regarding society and individuals aspiration. Each route is always relevant to the main route and come to a real conclusion with the final chapter.
It is however a shame that the epilogues for each route weren't given any justice, but I guess this is fixed with the fan disc, yuukyuu no shounen shoujo.

*phew*, I guess I will do an article, just like I did for G senjou

Next target... No idea, perhaps Himawari, as Zepy seems to be quite fond of it... But probably after Yuukyuu Shounen Shoujo (and perhaps any other akabeisoft title, if anyone has a suggestion).
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