Developer – Akatsuki Works
Translator –Amaterasu Translations
Length – 30-50 Hours
There are some visual novels that will capture you with their story, some with their characters, and others yet that will dazzle with production quality. Of course, the very best will go for top marks on all three. Comyu is an enigma in that the feature that I enjoyed the most doesn’t quite fit any of those categories. It was recommended to me a few months ago by a number of people (you know who you are) and surprised me by keeping me interested with its writing style and translation. Overall, however, it’s one of those experiences that I can only recommend if it sounds like it would appeal to you personally.
Connections to others make you stronger, but they might also get you killed. For Mizuwa Akihito that statement is a reality. Along with four others he has been irreversibly linked to an Avatar, a being of massive power that they must work together to control. Where he succeeds, they succeed, and where he fails…well, that should be obvious. Along with Hinaori Kagome, Akihito’s beautiful, talented and indisputably dangerous childhood friend, the Comyu, as groups of Connectors are called, soon discover a whole new world hiding in their home city. It will take all of their will, ability and effort to stay alive long enough to find their place in it.
Comyu is one of those visual novels that just doesn’t go far enough. The concept has the potential to make waves, with an interesting set of circumstances and characters just begging to be slotted into an epic tale. Unfortunately the story gets so bogged down in exposition and smaller intersecting plotlines that it never manages to form a truly exciting experience. The number of times the phrases “glass castle”, “gentle kingdom” and “justice” pop up should give you some kind of indication as to just how dedicated Comyu was to exploring “deep and meaningful themes” when it should have been developing its plot. Having gotten that out of the way, Comyu was always enjoyable even if it didn’t reach the highs it could and should have. Relevant events occurred often enough, and the characters’ interactions were interesting enough, that I was never bored and my reading sessions never felt like they dragged on. There were times that I was excited to get back to reading each night and by the end of it all I had that deep pit in my stomach that signalled the conclusion of a good story.
One of the factors that contributed to my enjoyment, as mentioned in the introduction, was Comyu’s writing style and translation. I can’t even count the number of times I smiled at or was impressed by a turn of phrase and, at times, the writing alone was enough to keep me reading. Amaterasu deserves some major praise for their efforts and my meagre understanding of Japanese can tell that the source material was just as well written. In a similar vein, the visual novel’s characters are varied and interesting, with Comyu’s method of forcing them together making for some entertaining encounters. If I had a complaint to make about them it would be that they’re not particularly well developed; the naïve, well-intentioned rich girl is always the naïve, well-intentioned rich girl, and the angry loner with a soft spot is always the angry loner with a soft spot. There’s literally not much more to them than those shallow descriptions. Strangely enough, two of the routes’ heroines aren’t even really main characters, though that’s an observation rather than a criticism.
One of the factors that I didn’t find so flash, and an exception to my earlier praise for Comyu’s writing, were its battle scenes. In a story with a great deal of conflict, action scenes can play a major role in getting the audience excited and feeling involved in the overall production. When it comes to Comyu’s combat, however, descriptions of the action seem to flounder around without doing much, double back on themselves and generally not make a whole lot of sense. While it does get better as the story progresses, there was at least one route that featured an incredibly disappointing ending as a direct result of its poor fight scene. Additionally, the scenes in question are some of the most static I’ve ever experienced in a visual novel. There’s no flow to them, no feeling of movement or danger, and that’s a problem.
I often make the argument that visual novels are story- and character-focused above all else, with adult content being a minor inclusion designed to sell more copies. I also admit that sometimes that same content can add positively to a story in significant ways. Comyu is one of the few titles I’ve reviewed where I feel that the H-scenes are detrimental to the experience as a whole; they pop up so darned often that it negatively breaks up the story, and the reasoning behind when and why they occur is shaky at best. It’s a minor complaint, though, considering they can be turned off in the options menu.
Static combat aside, Comyu’s visuals are pretty top-notch. Character designs are fantastic as well as consistent and natural-looking, while backgrounds do their job without being particularly noteworthy. Sprites change their expressions midway through sentences which is something you don’t see very often and it works wonderfully. The problem I have here is that, for its length, Comyu has a teeny, tiny number of CGs. For the more exciting scenes, extra CGs would have gone a long way to assuage my earlier complaints. The BGM reminds me of Persona 3 in a good way, though I don’t think it’s the kind to really stick with me, and clever use of insert songs in a finale will always garner my praise. Voice acting is of as high a quality as you would expect.
Summary – It sounds like I’ve been pretty harsh on Comyu but the truth is that I enjoyed my time with it. While excellent writing (for the most part) and interesting characters vie with questionable battles and a lack of overall excitement, they all come together to form a story that doesn’t get old but also doesn’t reach the highs you might expect from the concept. Also, my complaints about technical aspects have more to do with quantity rather than quality.
I guess the question now is: Do I recommend Comyu?
If it sounds like your thing and you don’t have anything else lined up, then go for it.
Score: 7.5/10 – Enjoyable