Akihito calls himself a feminist, though basically that just means that he’s kind but only to girls. He tries to remain distant from the people around him, but fully acknowledges that he can’t live completely alone. He was born in Takakura City, but moved away when he was only a child, only to come back after a series of traumatic events, and hence lives alone in an apartment there. Well, almost alone. Upon arriving in Takakura, due to mere chance he discovered his childhood friend. This child good friend, Kagome, is often called the Black Witch due to the fact that she is capable to the point of her abilities appear like magic, can be both incredibly violent and selfish, and has a personality centered around scorn and sarcasm. She quickly made herself at home at his apartment and began calling herself his ‘partner’ and ‘loving childhood friend, even though she spend much of their time together tormenting him.
However, Takakura city is strange. It is an epicenter for a number of crazy rumors floating around the internet. Akihito discounted most of these rumors as ridiculous, up until the point where he saw ‘Girl A’. Girl A is a strangely clothed girl seen and posted on by a number of people on message boards, who most people can’t see but to those who can see her appears constantly, never doing anything but singing in the distance. Eventually, despite how utterly bizarre this is, because it ultimately has no effect on him, Akihito just continues on with his life, ignoring her. However, one day, he felt her call to him and was pushed to answer it, going with Kagome to a rooftop with 4 other people on it. Out of nowhere, a monster appears and tries to attack them. And even more out of nowhere, another monster, an evil looking black dragon appears and protects them, which Akihito and the four others can clearly tell is linked with and controlled by them. Working together, they manage to defeat the other monster.
However, this is only the beginning. They soon learn that they are now linked to the Black Dragon, their avatar, which they name Babylon. They are all capable of summoning it, though each one that assists in controlling makes it more powerful. Furthermore, while it does offer power, if Babylon is killed, no matter where or when, all five of them will die. Furthermore, they are certainly not the only Comyu, as groups of five coordinators come to be called. Rather, there are a multitude of factions such as the Round-Table, Caesars Legion, and the Anti-Rounds fighting for control, as well as individual groups hunting down avatars for sport, thus making the Comyunet quite dangerous.
Hence, Akihito is forced to have to get close to and rely on the rest of his Comyu. The other members include: Benio, a slim girl that believes in justice to the point of being nonsensical; Mayuki, a very young chibi glasses wearing Otaku with terrible fashion sense and biting personality that doesn’t fit her age; Haru, a very nonchalant and ero minded maid that can very easily ignore things she doesn’t want to deal with; Izawa, a young and effeminate looking but very hot headed and conflict prone gang boss. And of course, while Kagome may not be in the Comyu and appear to be just a normal human, even when dealing with events involving monsters, she’s still more than capable of playing a major part. These six together, along with those they meet along the way, without any guidance from the girl that gave them their powers, continue life in Takakura City, for better or worse tied together.
This is a primarily a battle VN with an air of mystery and some slice and life. The way this VN is structured is that there is a mostly set order you’re supposed to go in in terms of routes. You don’t unlock routes 2-4 until you complete 1, and you don’t unlock 5, the true route until you’ve completed 2-4. Before each main portion of each route, there is a prologue chapter. This chapter is mostly the same across each route, and it establishes the foundations of the world and introduces all the main characters, but in every route except the first route there are a number of choices you can make that are followed by small scenes which control the route you end up going down after the prologue, with the exception of the fourth route that branches off the third route. In addition to these choices, there are also a couple other choices you can make that lead to bad endings, but these actually lead to a pretty funny scene where you are explained to why the choice you made was wrong, and are hence worth getting. The routes in order:
The first route, and the route that you are automatically thrown into, is Benio’s route. This route while serving as a good starting point and mostly being quite simple, all around felt a bit unsatisfying. It had good potential with the central theme of the meaning of justice and a plot that was moving in an interesting direction as it approached the ending, but the conclusion felt half done, with a battle and conflict that just sort of ends rather than actually being dealt with and the romance felt like it needed far more development as well. To be more clear, it didn’t really feel like the story was over yet at all, it just ended, which I suppose may be common for first routes in novels with playing orders, but it still felt off and I liked Benio’s character so I think she deserved better.
The second route is the Hisoka Route. In this route the common route provides more info from Jack the Ripper’s Comyu’s POV and provides an intro to the goddess of Death. However, the actual entrance to her route was completely random, with there being very little build up. The relationship once it gets going is pretty amazing, but it feels somewhat rushed going into it. The plot was incredibly interesting though, providing a lot more background about the world and making it seem much darker. This route has two endings, normal and good, wherein the choices that lead to the good ending can only be chosen after completing the normal route. The normal ending was very intense but also very sad. The good ending was less sad, but also less intense, and it felt similar to Benio’s route in that it sort of just dropped off at the end rather than there being much of a finale. Still, it builds very well of Benio’s route in providing more foundation for the world, but as a route in and of itself, it felt lacking, just like Benio’s route.
Next is Mayuki’s Route, who it should be noted is definitely 18. It clearly says so. This route is very different from the other routes, in that the focus wasn’t as much on Comyus and avatars and such, but instead based around Akihito slowly becoming an Otaku due to the influence of Mayuki. This is centered around a message board based crowd developed game called Acceptor, which is pretty cool in its own right. This route takes a mechanic the previous routes had a little of, having online threads and chat conversations appear within the VN, to a new level and uses it to great effect which is incredibly awesome. The connector stuff, when it appears is good, but it all around very much does take a backseat to games, idols, etc. which is fine because it leads to the best story so far in terms of plot, character development, romance, etc. and comes to a solid and great ending, thus making it a major step up over the routes before it, and making it awesome in its own right even if it feels very distinct from the core subject matter.
The next route after that is Ayaya’s route, which branches off of Mayuki’s route, and is closer to that than the other routes. She is so cheerful it is infectious and her dedication is admirable as well, especially towards the end. It was a really really happy and cute route. The route is more of a side route than anything, having almost nothing related to Comyus or much conflict at all, and also being incredibly short. But it was amusing, so it was good for what it was.
The next route, the final route, is Kagome’s Route. This route returns back to being focused on the story that was developing in Benio’s and Hisoka’s routes, but goes much much further, and also goes to a whole other level of intense. In a way, it takes everything from the previous routes, including things the reader may have thought weren’t all that important, and ties them all together. It finally gets to the core of the story, to the point everything before in the other routes felt like it was only scratching the surface. The romance is by far the best, and even though I have a fondness for Mayuki’s route, this definitely took it to a whole other level with the events surrounding it being far more intense and also tremendously good chemistry between Akihito and Kagome. The ending was truly fantastic, tying up everything and just feeling like the perfect place to end at. Kagome’s character truly shined, and how much she was developed in contrast to how she was in previous routes stood out and was incredibly interesting. The overarching messages about moving forward, regardless of the sins, hatred, etc. that were touched upon in other routes are taken to completion, leaving a very strong impact. The battles are far more intense, and the combat system also gets much further developed. This is also the route with the best CG and where the soundtrack really shows how great it can be. It is just all around the most amazing route, very much being worthy of it’s title as true route, and gives justification to the ordered structure of the novel, as even if all the other routes exist only to lead up to this, its worth it.
Now in regards to general comments, the writing on this can get somewhat annoying sometimes. Regarding some topics, Akihito narrates things in a way that there is a lot of fluff and repetition, which makes things feel slow sometimes. The action is solid, especially in Kagome’s route. The comedy is also solid, though that’s better in Mayuki’s route. The art is pretty good, though there was a very distinct feeling of too many characters completely lacking sprites, which felt odd. The music is incredibly good, including the OP/ED/Inserts, and soundtrack.
A VN that has one fantastic and very humorous route that’s quite a bit different from the others, and another route that most of the rest of the novel builds to that is intense, interesting, and impactful, that across both results in a tremendously satisfying VN.
Kagome> Mayuki > Ayaya > Hisoka >Benio
Also, rendering logos is hard, and I couldn’t find anything good to render the logo for this off of. If anyone can point me towards the render for the logo or just the logo on a single color background that would be much appreciated.