Hey folks. I’ll be having exams coming up in about a month, so I want to give an early warning that my Weekly Ramblings may be put on hold in the near future. Unfortunately study comes first. However, i’ll try my hardest to keep them going, and they’ll make a comeback afterwards in any case. Anyway, on with the post!
Looks like we’re back to the Visual Novels this week. Key is an incredibly well known VN developer that has produced some very highly regarded titles such as Clannad, Little Busters! and Rewrite, and many of their productions have gone on to get their own Anime. While Rewrite is getting its own review in the near future (and is therefore not part of this post), it’s been a while since i’ve played the others so they won’t be getting their own articles. Though they’re not my favorite developer, they’re probably a company you should know about. They also worked on the Anime Angel Beats!, which I enjoyed immensely (which is also getting its own review).
Kanon was Key’s first Visual Novel released all the way back in 1999 and probably took the Visual Novel world by storm. I say probably because I was seven at the time and wouldn’t even know about the existence of VNs for the next 12 years. Wikipedia assures me that it features an up-to-date anime drawing style, though i’m not entirely sure whether that’s a compliment or not.
Kanon really set the style of the majority of Key’s productions which, to paraphrase Kai’s description, is Slice of Life plus a little bit of magic. You play as Yuichi Aizawa, a high school student who has just moved back to the town he visited when he was much younger, as the events of his past make themselves known once again. There are 5 routes to choose from, each with their own heroine and varying degrees of magical input. From straight-out love stories to katana-wielding demon slayers, Kanon probably has at least one route you will like. It wasn’t one of my top Visual Novels by a long shot, but i’m sure it holds a special place in the hearts of many VN veterans.
Speaking of special places in your heart, Planetarian occupies one of mine. Though it’s a much shorter story than most VNs and veers away from Key’s normal formula, it still manages to convey the emotion inherent in all of their works. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but if you can get through all of Key’s Visual Novels without crying you must have been born without tear ducts.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Planetarian tells the story of a young scavenger who happens upon an old planetarium as he seeks shelter from the harsh elements of the outside world. While there he meets Yumemi Hoshino, a female robot attendant, who is unaware of the state of the outside world and spends each day waiting for a new customer to walk through the planetarium’s decaying doors. I find that some of the saddest tales involve a character who is unaware of just how bad their situation is, and Planetarian exemplifies that beautifully. It’s a Visual Novel that I can definitely see myself coming back to in the future.
Little Busters! is Key’s second most recent Visual Novel franchise and is also my favorite Key Visual Novel. I loved reading it and can’t wait for the translation of the 3 extra routes Key has added since its first release. It also has a fandisk by the name of Kud Wafter that focuses on one of the characters in particular but that one’s not high on my list of priorities.
Like many other Key productions, Little Busters! is primarily of the Slice of Life genre, following high schooler Riki Naoe as his group of childhood friends attempt to make the most of their last years together. Once again with a range of heroines and routes to choose from with varying degrees of the supernatural, Little Busters! also has a final route known as Refrain that will tie everything together and blow your mind. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the wonderful ending that Key has produced. Easily in my top 5, this is a Visual Novel that I heartily recommend.
Finally we have what I believe may be the most well known Visual Novel of all time: Clannad. I have no idea what the name means, but it plays very much like an upgraded version of Clannad, again following the Slice of Life + magic formula, though the Slice of Life aspect dominates in this case. The twist with this Visual Novel, though, is that it follows the main characters out of high school and into their adult lives, which doesn’t happen often, and I can 100% guarantee that the latter half of the tale has succeeded in making grown men cry the world over.
While it’s hard to describe Clannad’s story, I can tell you that you play as Tomoya Okazaki, a self-proclaimed delinquent who still manages to spend more time at school than at home. While there are only 5 main heroines, Clannad has a number of extra routes that must be completed before you can view the second half of the story. To be completely honest I found it to be a bit of a slog, but the reward was probably worth it. There’s an alternate-ending sequel called Tomoyo After, in which Okazaki ends up with another girl, that I actually enjoyed quite a bit more than the original game and would highly recommend for after you’ve played Clannad.
Those of you in the know may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Air, Key’s second Visual Novel. This is because Air hasn’t been translated yet so I can’t read it >.<
That’s all for this week! I’m running out of specials, but there’s at least one more on the horizon.
“Samurai die for their own sake. Knights die for the sake of another. That is why I have always called myself a knight.” – Rewrite (Sakuya Ohtori)