Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, April 25, 2014

On Visual Novels

I am a geek, but I am not am omega geek. Sure there are a lot of genres and... facinations I would like to pursue, but pursuing all of them would be exhausting and expensive. Yes I know of comics, manga, dojenshi, doujinshi, the con scene, videogames, modeling, fan art, cosplay, light novels, and all that good stuff, or at least that they exist but I mostly stick to actually participating in a few hobbies I really dig. Anime and movies.

But because both Robotics; Notes and Steins; Gate are based on visual novels I feel the need to talk about the medium a little. Keeping in mind that I have very limited knowledge.

Okay when I was in college my lit professor wanted to open up the class to the idea that literary quality can be judged independent of medium and genre.  "Chillers and Thrillers" what did you expect. We read a few classic thrillers but also a few contemporary ones some of which weren't...printed.

Enter Patchwork Girl.

Patchwork Girl is not a visual novel, but it did relatively early in computing history demonstrate the capability of non-linear story telling in a digital space.


You cretins! Fine then M.S. Paint Adventures.  Happy.  Probably the closest thing I can think of to a well known western-centric example.

Visual novels combine text, images and and interactivity to make what's basically a digital choose your own adventure story.

Most anime are adaptations, in particular adaptations of manga (comics) but every now and again you'll find one that's an adaptation of a visual novel.

And it's interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First of visual novels have... conventions. A lot of them involve a dating subplot where the ending is tied to the girl you've been courting. That is a loaded statement and I do not feeling going into the politics of that, but it's there and a lot of the anime based on visual novels have a not so subtle shipping angle based on the original player character's choices. ZUTARA4EVAZ!!! Nah Avatar ended just fine.  It was probably one of the best damn endings I've ever seen in a show actually. You know I need to talk about that one of these days.

For those who don't know shipping is the romantic pairing of characters in a show, mostly by fans but creators can be stinkers about it. Though there are some weird ones.

I bring this up because the big problem of these shows is tying together multiple endings and plot lines together in a way that makes sense and since a lot of the endings are tied to which girl you spent the most time with, which girl explained her motivation and back story to you, who's skills sets were around when, things can get weird. Stuff has to be explained to the anime audience that the novel crowd would have found out more organically.

If you look for it you can see both Robotics;Notes and Steins;Gate, and while I'm at it Fate/Stay Night trying to write themselves out of this problem and I think they mostly succeeded, but it is a problem. Heck the central confict of Gate is the main character realizing that he cares about the well being of all the girls in his life and is being forced by fate to choose in some cases literally which one lives and dies. His solution is to go "Nope. Not doing this again. REBOOT BUTTON, BITCHES!" until "You can't fight fate" starts having an effect on his sanity.

The issues in Steins;Gate are big enough, and pathos deep enough that the all the girls are important to me angle doesn't seem douchey. But I've seen adaptations that leave off important arcs, or stitch them together into an incomprehensible mess. Making the success of Gate and Notes all the more remarkable to me.


Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.