Greetings faithful readers, I unfortunately will be taking a break with my VN reviews after this one. That’s not to say that I’m done writing for the time being (as I’ll be doing general purpose anime and video game reviews), but to be completely honest, I’ve run out of VNs to review. They generally take some time, so I don’t have a large list of titles under my belt. That being said, since it’s the final episode of the season, let’s end it with a high note (yes, I’m pretending my series of reviews is a show)!
Well, Kara no Shoujo is quite different from the standard VN fare. Kara no Shoujo is mainly a detective VN where you have crack a few cases and prevent people from getting murdered in gruesome ways. It’s sort of like a more terrifying, more mature, more symbolic, and most of all, more depressing Phoenix Wright. However, is it capable of telling a deep, mature story, or is it overly ambitious?
I like how the opening tries to appear all calm and peaceful, and some of the imagery is not calm and peaceful in the slightest. It actually really says a lot about the game, both overtly and subtly.
The game’s plot is probably the most important part. As I’ve said above, the game is part detective mystery, so a large part of it is investigating murders. The game’s main character, in addition to investing, must also balance his social relationships with other people, as well as put up with feelings from a certain case from six years ago that made him to quit the force. If you like detective stories, I almost completely guarantee you’ll like the story of this VN. The murders start out with people unrelated to you, but as they keep going on, the murders start hitting closer to home. It’s a great way of keeping the reader’s interest through all the extraordinary levels of tension and suspense, as they’ll be very emotionally invested in much of it. What I feel I should point out is that it’s hard to get some sense of personal satisfaction from this, as much of it is very depressing. And I’m only pointing this out because it’s really really really depressing. Still, that doesn’t hold the story back in the slightest. The game’s plot also happens to be very thematic: what’s truly amazing is how the themes are very neatly tied into the game’s mysteries. And that’s what makes the plot rather fantastic.
I really really dig the game’s art. Everything about it just screams “beautiful” to me. From the realistically drawn characters, to the enchanting CGs, to the gruesome and disturbing corpses, everything is beautiful and strangely alluring. The Kara no Shoujo art may be my favorite VN art yet. On the music side, a lot of the soundtrack fits quite well. Sadly, it can be rather forgettable. One thing that particularly stuck out was how there weren’t any songs that were overly cutesy and the like; the lighthearted songs were kinda subdued, but were still perfectly capable of portraying a playful and joyous mood. The creepy songs are really creepy, and only serve to increase the tension of a creepy scene tenfold. Emotional music happen to be very emotional. Yet despite all that, I can’t help but think the songs are rather forgettable, save one or two. It feels as if something is missing. Still, the soundtrack is great, but don’t expect the best.
Kara no Shoujo is unique in that it has investigative segments. You handle crime scene stuff, rationalization, questioning people, and various other investigative tasks. Sort of like Phoenix Wright, again, without any of the courtroom stuff. However, unlike Phoenix Wright, you are never guaranteed to have all the evidence you need: you can sometimes fail to pick up vital evidence, fail a reasoning segment, and get smacked with a bad end. While this makes it rather realistic and challenging, it can also be a gigantic pain in the ass, as sometimes that evidence is next to impossible to spot, and often enough your character will give up before you yourself may be done investigating. When it comes to the inductive reasoning segments, however, they’re done well: you’re fully expected to know your evidence inside and out, so you can come up with the right solutions. Alas, these segments are too few and far between, as the protagonist often solves things himself without asking you (erm, himself!) for help. It’s a novel idea, but the execution just needs to be tweaked a bit. The narrative, however, is very well written. There is a ton of symbolism in the narrative, and it ties in with the game’s themes and characters so well. Sometimes, I feel as if the symbolism is too heavy handed at some points (symbolism is used to justify many of the very depressing moments). The translation is also really well done (despite the occasional hiccups), as it reads extremely smoothly and manages to keep all the symbolism. Kara no Shoujo, as a result, has outstanding presentation.
One of my largest gripes happens to be with the sex scenes. Specifically, I don’t like how most of them come out of absolute nowhere, and ruin some of the proceeding scenes. Seriously, many of them have little to no, if any at all, build up, and if anything, you’ll feel really stupid after some of them. Though a few of them actually do fit in with their preceding scenes, I feel as if the vast majority are really rather pointless.
The characters are both some of the strongest and some of the weakest links. Getting the negatives out of the way first, you have much of the supporting cast, who don’t get enough characterization. Fortunately, many of these characters do get some manner of development, but for some, what’s there is too little. On the other hand, the main characters are absolutely fantastic individuals, characters with seriously insane amounts of depth. The symbolism applies here for these characters, as well, and the way they used symbolism to build these characters is nothing short of incredible. These amazingly interesting characters will be one of the major reasons you enjoy the entire ride.
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