Developer – Rúf
Translator – JAST USA & Peach Princess
Length – 10-30 Hours
Have you ever had that feeling that you’ve heard a particular voice actor somewhere before? Have you ever made a guess as to which character they may have voiced previously, and then reveled in your awesome matching power when you got it right? Is it just me? In any case, while reading through Yume Miru Kusuri I found myself thinking that it read a lot like Rewrite and, lo and behold, the same person (Romeo Tanaka) played a major role in each. For some of you, that may be a fantastic reason to run off and pick up this visual novel right now. For me, however, it means I have to rehash some old complaints for a new setting.
Kagami Kouhei is a pretty average honor student. He gets up in the morning, does his work at school, heads to his part time job, then goes home and sleeps. He feels like his life is colorless and that he is just drifting along in the currents like everyone else. The people surrounding him, however, are somewhat different. There’s the girl being shunned and bullied by her class, struggling through every day with no friends and nobody to stand up for her. Then there’s that weirdo running around in a “fairy” costume who may or may not be insane, and finally the student council president who seems intent on trying every single physical pleasure out there to the detriment of everyone around her. Kouhei may just get the color in life that he dreams of, but will it be worth the cost?
I must be sounding like a broken record by now, but the concept of Yume Miru Kusuri is one I can get behind while its execution is what’s lacking. Youths getting into more trouble than they can handle? Lives on the brink of being ruined forever? Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Regardless, much like Rewrite, the “who” and the “what” of YMK are very much present and serviceable while the “how” and “why” have been left behind somewhere in the distance. After a surprisingly enjoyable and amusing common route, the character stories charge ahead from idea to idea without stopping to consider how best to fit them together, or how best to describe them in the first place. For each route’s good ending I could appreciate how fitting each conclusion was to the tale that had preceded it without having been drawn into the tale itself. For the bad ends…well. In a story about drugs, mild insanity and crippling emotional bullying, you might expect some fairly harrowing stuff to take place when the more negative paths come to a close. You might expect it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen and this is one example of that.
One thing I would have liked to see more of in Yume Miru Kusuri is description of both its events and its settings. It was hard to become immersed in what was going on because of how shallow the writing was, which isn’t a complaint I have very often. It becomes a major problem in this kind of visual novel because the end goal of emotional engagement requires a bit more than a simple telling of events. Don’t just tell me she’s standing there with a knife to her throat (not a spoiler, don’t worry), tell me about the fear in her eyes, more of what may happen if she survives than of the death that awaits her. Tell me about the markings strewn over the walls of her room that record the pain and hatred that have ruled her life. Tell me about the way her legs are shaking as her subconscious instinct for preservation tries to take over and stop this madness. For this kind of writing especially you need to be able to connect with your audience on a deeper level and force them into the here and now of your story, and Yume Miru Kusuri does not do that even a little. It does pack an emotional punch, albeit a small one, though even that is brief compared to the length of the story and undeveloped to boot.
I’ll take a brief moment here to talk about the characters. They’re not particularly deep but they are believable, which is impressive in a story that is itself hard to believe at times. I found myself giving a damn about their safety and rejoicing (a little) when good things happened to them, though I didn’t miss them at all once I had completed the VN. It doesn’t help that both the character sprites and CGs are incredibly variable in quality, from average to really quite bad. There was one particular CG in which the heroine of the day looked more mentally challenged than distraught or distressed which led to me laughing out loud in the middle of what was meant to be a touching scene. Similarly, while I have to admit that some of the sprites are appreciably cute, others make the characters look darned creepy (and it’s not intended!). Neither the BGM nor the voice acting deserve any special comments.
Summary – I’ve been pretty hard on Yume Miru Kusuri but the reality is that it wasn’t terrible and much of what I have said takes the form of reasons I don’t score it higher more than reasons I didn’t like it. I may have thought that the writing wasn’t up to scratch and the art needed (serious) work but the common route was very enjoyable and a lot of the groundwork for good character routes had been put down. Ultimately, and unfortunately, however, YMK fails to realize its goal of being an emotionally heavy production and for that reason does not stand out among all of the other visual novels out there.
Score: 6/10 – Average