By EquitasInvictus 5 Comments
With recent unfortunate recognition of not-so-good visual novels released on Steam (I won't point fingers at other threads because that's not nice!) I figure I'd attempt a positive discussion on visual novels I thought were not-so-bad that I finally got to reading: WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode .01 and Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos. Coincidentally, both are 3-part series with the last two parts successfully funded on Kickstarter and pending a Spring 2015 release. (WORLD END ECONOMiCA is already complete in Japan, as far as I know) Also, both VNs' protagonists are coincidentally coming-of-age and I suspect both novels (I have no idea how they're actually going to play out at this point) could be considered bildungsroman, hence my title...
Bildungsroman, puppylover, do you read it?!
A bildungsroman is essentially a story centered around character growth relative to the demands of society. If you were ever made to read Great Expectations for an English course, that's a prime example of the bildungsroman: in it we see the orphan protagonist Pip, whose simple life under the guardianship of a blacksmith is knocked off course as a mysterious benefactor forces upon him the wealth of an English gentlemen. With it comes the titular "great expectations" that come with an English gentleman's wealth, so much of the story follows how Pip in his youthfulness copes with this sudden elevation in socioeconomic status and responsibility. Essentially, his unforeseen financial and social boon comes with an emotional cost, causing Pip to grow up and get real.
I thought it was ok! (Don't ask me why, I was made to read this waaay back in the 8th Grade, which in hindsight was probably a little early.)
WORLD END ECONOMiCA
Wealth disparity happens in the Moon, too!
That opening movie doesn't communicate much, but it's cool because hey - it's Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets!
From what I've been teased of future episodes and what I've read of the first episode in the 3-part kinetic (as in, no player choices) visual novel WORLD END ECONOMiCA, I'm hoping that its protagonist, Haru, is going to take this 3-part series opportunity to grow up and get real, because his initial aspirations and naivete were whack! I know he's a teenager so I'm not actually hating on him directly that much; in fact I actually think he has potential to gain some great, worldly insight on surviving the economically disparate reality of the moon in the next two episodes. (Quite a brutally capitalistic place you got up there, @video_game_king.)
I have especially strong hopes for the next episodes since this is a product of the same author of Spice & Wolf, Isuna Hasekura. As such, there's a lot of talk about economics and especially a lot of stock market jargon, so be cognizant of this fact if you plan on reading it! It is by no means easy reading.
Similarly, if you're an interested English-reader, note that there are some strong criticisms against the quality of the English translation worth noting:
Well... At least World End Economica -complete- got funded on Kickstarter!
If the translation is anything like the first episode, I'd stay far away from it
Maybe I have a good imagination, but I found it read-able even with my mid-tier experience with literature. Perhaps it's the fact that the Japanese author in question is so renown for his talent that it's reasonable to hold the translation to a high standard, but I actually didn't find anything too jarring about the English version that lowered the quality of the VN for me. I'm a good speed reader, though, and perhaps I was able to read past really bad translations.
I should also probably mention at this point that WORLD END ECONOMiCA is being translated by Sekai Project. (They also translated the very recent VN released on Steam that is on the front page of a certain video game website.)
Anyway, with regards to the actual story, I did enjoy the beautiful mess of almost tragically flawed characters in WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01, and I'm really looking forward to some great character arcs over the next two episodes. The titular protagonist himself was originally presented as a self-assured runaway teen with a natural talent for stock trading, so while he might not seem like an approachable, exciting protagonist from the start, his experiences, encounters, and character development in the first episode lead to a perfect storm that demonstrates promise of Haru being a great bildungsroman subject. Even with a supporting cast filled with arguably stronger and more lovable characters than Haru, he's got great character development potential that I am almost certain will be addressed in the next two episodes.
While this is a difficult read that I wouldn't be able to recommend to everyone, I think there's literary merit and quality (translation issues notwithstanding) in WORLD END ECONOMiCA that may make it a great example of a visual novel bildungsroman.
Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos
Yoooo... a world *actually* ends in this
Due to the first part of Dischan's Dysfunctional Systems being extremely short (can be read in under an hour), I don't have too much to say about Dysfunctional Systems short of that crazy spoiler or any spoiler for that matter. There's a lot of criticism against its length, which is somewhat reasonable if you take into account how its sequel was an uncertainty at the points of those reviews being made, but I think there's a lot of promise now in the wake of its episodic completion being successfully funded on Kickstarter.
From the short read that's this first part of the story, I am actually excited to read more. Perhaps this makes me the exception rather than the rule. I must admit to being partial to a supporting cast member introduced towards the end that'll likely play a larger role in the sequels.
There is an overarching moral conflict involved with Dysfunctional Systems that suggests the precocious young protagonist, Winter, will similarly be going through a coming-of-age transformation as a result of her firsthand experiences in attempting to mediate intergalactic imbalances, and the hints of this in the first episode is what gives me hope that the complete series is going to be a good read. People might call out the gravity of "Learning to Manage Chaos" as contrived, but I think it'd actually be safer to consider the hour-short prologue an in media res introduction to the enigmatically complex universe of Dysfunctional Systems.
It was funded as of March this year and its continuation is slated to be released next year. Maybe hold until then to pick this up? I'll definitely have more to say about it when that gets out, and I can definitely speak about its literary qualities in greater depth then.
Neither of these are actually my favorite VN of a protagonist growing up and getting real...
In writing this, I finally remembered I once wrote a blog about Sharin no Kuni. I would like to conclude this blog by reaffirming Sharin no Kuni: Himawari no Shoujo is still my all-time favorite dystopian bildungsroman of a visual novel.
Nevertheless, I still definitely believe that there's merit and promise in World End Economica and Dysfunctional Systems, and that they're kinetic/visual novels I'll be keeping an eye on.
On a tangentially related note: now that I finally have a x86 tablet and Steins; Gate made its way stateside, I am definitely looking forward to my next bit of visual novel reading.