Laevatein’s Readin’ Sessions: Ever17

No, I'm not telling you to read some sick, twisted VN where everyone drowns.

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.

The story begins with select individuals all winding up in an underwater amusement park right when an accident happens, and they all get trapped. You get to pick one of two point of view characters to follow after the accident. From there, the story is about trying to escape from the park that’s slowly being destroyed, while also trying to figure out all the machinations behind the accident. If this sounds like 999, you’re obviously on the right mark. Ever17 and 999 share some basic plot outlines (people sometimes humorously say that 999 is Ever17-lite), but they go in widly different directions. Ever17’s plot is actually very slow, and more focused on character interactions for a while. The plot kicks in at places, while also moving in the background as well, but it’s essentially a slow one. Like 999, Ever17 deals with metaphysics, but this time manages to incorporate almost everything it brings up in some manner. Almost every plot and character element is some sort of Chekhov’s Gun, even the seemingly nonsensical title.

This may or may not be a Chekhov's Gun.

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.

The only way they could make the plot better would be if you got this T-shirt upon completion.

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.

One of the well done CGs. And a mindfuck. And maybe also a Chekhov's Something.

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.

I can't post anything related to the narrative, but instead, you get this CG about "perspective."

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.

Also, the protagonist might be a tsundere.

Rating Breakdown
One of the first English titles to put a unique spin on the narrative, Ever17's presentation gives new meaning to the phrase 'getting the audience involved.'
While not paced nearly as well as 999, Ever17 presents a unique, complex, and exceptional plot that, when it gets going, will hold your interest and never let go until even after it's all over.
Great set of characters that grow very well from the archetypes they come from, it's hard not to care for all of them when the plot unfolds around them.
Character art is rather standard, but CGs vary in quality from good to very well done.
Somewhat forgettable soundtrack that, aside from a few good tracks and one particularly amazing one, gets its job done.
While it can be a bit boring at times, Ever17 is a masterpiece of a VN that combines every aspect into an amazing experience that is capable of being both an introductory VN and a favorite title that I and many others still love.
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A mad scientist who's so cool!


A mad scientist who's so cool!

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