If you didn’t know, I’ve never played a visual novel before this week. I don’t exactly know why I didn’t get into them. It might’ve been my patience, lack of interest, I don’t know. But, this summer I just had the urge to experience an actual visual novel with a great story.
I already talked about this on Sunday, but I started to play a visual novel that is highly praised on the internet, called Katawa Shoujo (2012). The premise of that VN is that an ordinary person living an ordinary life has his life changed upside down after suffering a fatal heart attack due to his health condition. Because of what happened, he is forced into a new environment than what he is used to, which is attending a school with only disabled people. While he doesn’t exactly like this new experience, throughout the story, he later finds that it’s not that bad and can actually make friends, even though they have their unique features such as being deaf or not having any arms.
I’ve only played this VN for about five hours and only scratched the surface of this amazing story so far. The concept is very interesting and provides me information about disabilities and such, while at the same time having a romance between characters. I highly suggest you should try it out if you want to experience a more unique story.
So, after completing the first “route” you can take to finish this game, I’ve actually learned quite a bit in various ways. And that’s what I’ll be discussing today.
1. This Kind of Makes Me Want to Read a Book!
I’m not one for reading books. I think in middle school, I just gave up trying to read a lot and really only read novels if it’s necessary, such as for assignments for school. A part of me regrets that a lot, but I know that I still have time to get back into reading. And I think experiencing a visual novel helped me with that a little.
Visual novels are much more different than anime. If you like watching anime with subtitles, you’re multitasking and focusing on actually watching what is going on visually, while still trying to understand what the characters are saying since it’s in a language that you probably don’t know. It’s not hard to do, but after playing a visual novel, I find VNs different and easier.
In VNs, you can just put most of your focus on reading the story rather than looking at the visuals. Most visual novels just have still sprites of characters or if some sort of scene is going on, it’s usually a still picture. So, I would just take a quick glimpse at the visuals, then immediately go back reading. Sometimes, I only focus on reading because I assume that the characters barely changed emotions or whatever so I don’t really care at that point.
It might be that the story is so good, I’m really into reading it, or that visual novels are easier to handle than actual novels, but I have a feeling I’ll get back into reading more actual paperback books in the future.
2. CHOICES ABSOLUTELY MATTER
There were numerous times when I was presented with a simple task of choosing between two decisions, and I ended up thinking really hard about it for as long as thirty minutes.
I think visual novels have helped me think more thoroughly. For example, when I was presented with choices A and B, I had a long thinking process:
“Oh, A and B sound like they are both great choices. In that case, I’ll pick A because it sounds better. Oh wait, but what if picking A changes my relationship with this girl drastically and it’ll come haunt me in the future… but I can’t pick choice B because I know the girl’s personality and I don’t think she would appreciate if I pick that one… oh no what do I do?!”
That was seriously what was going through my mind for at least five times in Katawa Shoujo.
I’ve definitely learned how to be patience and think about things and/or choices more thoroughly. What I mean by “thoroughly” is that I want to take everything I’ve learned so far about the setting, the story, the characters, their personalities and take all that in consideration because I KNOW that it’ll haunt me later on if I make the wrong move.
To help me relax about this aspect, I just kept individually saving whenever I was presented with a decision and while I could always go back and change my choice, I really wanted to get it right the first time. That’s just probably me and the way I think.
3. Feeling Awful About Your Decision
I felt like this one needed to be in it’s own section.
I have no clue if this is for every visual novel, or only the ones where it’s romance based, but you usually get multiple endings based on your choices: Best, Good and/or Bad. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
So, you’ve plowed through the story and you believe that you made the right decisions to get the best ending possible and to start dating this girl you’ve been hanging out with, sacrificing your life for, sharing bento boxes with… only to find out that you screwed up.
The sight of the girl have an angry expression on her face, walking away in disbelief, only because you didn’t pick the other choice.
It sucks to experience that.
As I said, I only played one “route” in Katawa Shoujo and that exactly happened to me. I thought I did it, I thought it would go smoothly, I thought I would get the girl. But I didn’t and I found out that choosing the other choice I had, just completely fixes everything and you get a happy ending instead.
It might’ve been me not taking enough consideration like I said, but whatever it was, it’s still a horrible feeling to have to get that bad ending.
4. Appreciating Background Music
When I watch anime, unless the background music is at a volume where I can actually hear it well, I could care less about the BGM.
For example, the OST of Non Non Biyori and Clannad, they had some, if not all background tracks that were obviously not as loud as the voice acting, but still could be heard and some started getting stuck in my head. Most anime don’t really crank up the background noise a lot.
But, with visual novels, they usually do not have voice acting at all. So, the background music is the only audio you hear, except for the sound effects and such. And that’s what makes me appreciate the music you hear while experiencing a story. Actually hearing it well.
In my adventures in Katawa Shoujo, I loved every background song they presented. It was so calm, relaxing and later on in the day, I started humming the tunes because that’s the only thing I hear when playing visual novels.
They start to become memorable because of them looping and looping over and over. In anime, I only care about the openings and ending themes of the show, but once the voice acting is removed in visual novels, I can finally appreciate the music that we usually don’t pay attention to.
In conclusion, I learned a lot from visual novels. It’s definitely a new experience for me, but it isn’t that different from actually reading a book. There are many visual novels to experience and hopefully in the future I can get to some others that may or may not involve romance.
What have you learned from playing visual novels? Leave your answers or any other thoughts in the comments section!
Thanks for reading!! 😀