Written by Kotaro Uchikoshi (who planned 999 later) and main Infinity series writer Takumi Nakazawa, Ever17 introduced many English speakers to the world of visual novels, and to this day remains a favorite of those who have read it, Japanese and foreigners alike. It was released in 2002 (and officially 2004 in the U.S.), and while it’s not the most popular title out there, it’s one of the best. This is due in part to complex and loveable characters, fascinating storytelling and presentation, and an engaging plot that eventually leads into a mindshattering experience that you can’t afford to miss.
Continuing with the story, there are five routes, one of which must be unlocked by finishing the other four routes. The story of each initial route varies in quality: some can be very engaging, some can drag on, some can be very heartrending, or some can be emotionally uninteresting. While the engaging routes are the ones where the application of each route’s themes are immediately apparent, the slow and dragged out ones have themes that don’t apply too much. Granted they all do get reused in the final route, but the themes only drag down the route they initially appear in. Speaking of the final route, this is the main course. It is a rollercoaster of emotions, has an amazing plot, and incorporates mindfucks that will riddle any reader who gets through the first four routes. Due to massive amounts of spoilers, I cannot begin to describe how amazing the plot of the final route is. Overall, Ever17′s plot will very likely raise your bar for sci-fi plots in the future.
While the character art is somewhat bland and undetailed, the CGs at times can be rather breathtaking; other times they are just good. The art does its job; there’s not much else to say about it. Music, similarly, is good on average. Many of the tracks are somewhat forgettable, save the few chilling, creepy and tear-jerking tracks. What saves the music is its title theme, Karma, which is quite exceptional, and instantly makes any scene it plays in 100 times more tearjerking. In fact, when talking about the music of Ever17, Karma is the first thing that comes to mind.
On the presentation side of things, Ever17 would probably be the king of unique narrative. Remember how I said in the 999 review that there’s a unique twist in the narrative? Yeah, Ever17 did it first and did it better. While at first the narrative is standard stuff (besides switching back and forth between protagonists in the prologue), it becomes apparent in the final route that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. So much more, in fact, that it made me reevaluate how fiction could not only be written but presented as well. This would be my favorite part of the VN if the plot and characters weren’t so excellent. Still, this VN had the best narrative, bar none.
Finally, the characters. You have seven different characters, each with radically different personalities. You have Takeshi, a normal college student, Kid, a young man who cannot remember a single thing about himself, You, a college student with a cheerful personality (and a weird name), Tsugumi, a girl who just wants to keep to herself, Sora, one of the amusement park staff, Sara, a high school girl who is also good with computers, and Coco, a little girl with huge amounts of childish energy. Similar to 999, each character has a seemingly archetypal personality, but the hidden depths to each character are slowly revealed as you go along. Each character grows in such a way that you come to care about all of them, and will drive you through the slow parts of the story. Also, unlike 999, the characters in Ever17 definitely don’t take a backseat to the plot; if anything, the characters are what drive the plot, and the plot cannot function without the characters. By the end of the VN, I can say that Ever17′s cast is probably my favorite cast in all of Japanese fiction.