Review: Evolimit

To transcend humanity, is to transcend the limit of evolution.

This article was originally written on 3/1/2015. May contain mild conceptual/structural spoilers to the work.

In Japanese, there are at least two words which denote change: ‘変化'(change, variation; alteration; mutation; transition; transformation; transfiguration; metamorphosis) and ‘進化’ (evolution; progress). It’s apparent that the former term, ‘henka/変化’ is a broader term without a particular connotation, and the latter term, ‘shinka/進化’, apparent with the connotation of ‘going forward.’ Indeed, if we were to look at the characters which make up each respective term, we’d see that they both share ‘化’, translatable to change, while they respectively have  ‘(変)’ translatable once more to change, and ‘進’, translatable to ‘advance, proceed.’ This distinction is important within Evolimit (エヴォリミット), a science fiction work by Propeller.

Evolimit is a rather impressive work. It poses profound themes, but it doesn’t do so in a didactic or preachy way. Moreover, it presents individually, respectively affable characters (both main and side), with meaningful group chemistry. And in area of its structure and plot, it never feels ‘repetitive,’ with each route showcasing a different side of a multifaceted storyline. Indeed, whereas most works excel (if at all) at one, and at times, two areas, Evolimit seems to adequately (at the least), handle all three. Nonetheless, Evolimit’s weakness in my opinion, is ironically, the fact that it feels ‘limited,’ and not nearly as ambitious as it had originally been developed to be.

The main theme that the work commentates on is predictably ‘evolution.’ The work’s setting is such that it’s similar to a ‘utopia’ in that most of the threats within society are containable, and that natural disasters, artificially nullified. Each respective citizen is endowed with a ‘patch,’ which effectively gives each member superhuman fortitude and strength, and society as a whole, enjoys a drawn-out peace. Nonetheless, just as much as an individual could interpret a lack of events as ‘peace,’ another could interpret it as nothing short of ‘stagnation’ — this is essentially what the ‘antagonist’ of the work is thought to believe. Without spoiling too much, he raises a group of so-called ‘disasters,’ or prodigious individuals who had valued evolution more than their own humanity; committing genocide, and causing mayhem for the sake of ‘breaking’ this equilibrium, so that humans can once more, ‘evolve.’

This type of philosophy espoused by the antagonist is by no means, adventitious. Rather, he makes a ‘meaningful’ argument. This work is set several hundred years into the future — humanity’s enjoyed peace for a long time. Because humanity as a whole, has ‘achieved’ this type of peace, they no longer find it necessary to change; whereas in the present, we aspire to ‘improve’ on areas (say, whether it’d be on climate control, world hunger, or human rights), the future society tries to ‘maintain.’ The antagonist had noted that humanity, within a span of fifty years, had gone from achieving basic flight to making it into space. The humans of the past (our present) were not endowed with ‘patches’ (that basically ‘immunizes’ most of the populace from natural disasters, sickness, and accidental injury), yet, they had managed through diligence, a vision for the future, and passion, achieved greatness. The humans of the present on the other hand, are reluctant to change, insisting in maintaining the equilibrium. With this ‘stagnation,’ with the ‘goodness’ of humanity as the goal, the so-called disasters break this equilibrium. It’s of their belief that humans from the past have ‘changed’ (変化), but have not ‘evolved’ (進化).

Now, on the surface, this plot doesn’t seem entirely original (nonetheless, nothing immediately comes into mind, especially within the realm of visual novels, which deals with the same topic). But, I’ve virtually summarized & dumbed down the main theme of the work. Evolimit’s nomenclature derives from the words ‘evolution’ and ‘limit’; in short, the term signifies as transcendence of humanity, for the sake of ‘progress’ and evolution. In the realm of science-fiction, I think that most works misunderstand the notion of evolution, as something ‘consciously’ done (e.g. similar to Lamarckism). Evolimit’s no different in this regard. Rather, despite the fact that it’s labeled as a science-fiction work, I’d say it leans heavily on the fiction side. Indeed, towards the end of this novel, the work makes Gundam’s evolutionary scheme look like ‘stagnation.’

In answering the question of whether or not the work conveyed its theme well, I’d argue that the work does an adequate job. But, despite this ‘theme’ being the central facet of the work, I don’t think that it was the ‘strongest.’ Rather, I think the work excels in the realm of characters. Typically, works with several heroine routes find it necessary to integrate them into the storyline by any means necessary (often, giving them inadequate or merely explanatory routes). Evolimit handles this well on two fronts: one, it actually limits the heroine selection to just three, and of the three, each of their routes respectively deal with the ‘same’ storyline, but on a different level. On the second front, Evolimit actually has really affable heroines; all of them are lovable, with none of them irking (for the majority of the work at least). Next to the heroines of the work, the work develops a balanced, ‘good’ visual novel protagonist (typically more relaxed outside of conflict, serious and dedicated in the face of it). The protagonist is actually developed further by the existence of another ‘side character,’ which resides within him, as both the literal and formal form of his dreams, life, and passion (this is meant to sound vague). The antagonists of this work are predictably, not very monochromatic; rather, if it’s a question of ethics, most would argue that they’re not ‘evil’ by the sense of the word. I had earlier commented on the impressive group dynamic developed by this work; I mean this in the sense of the protagonist, heroine, side characters and the antagonists of the work.  Among them all, there was first, a sense of respect, followed by a sense of camaraderie.

The two most ‘profound’ relationships is between the protagonist, and the main heroine, Shizuku, and the protagonist, and an initially enigmatic existence, by the name of ‘Kokoro.’ Shizuku and the protagonist have a long history; they’re both aware that they’d unconditionally die for the other, but they’re not romantically involved (the reason for this is explained within their routes; it’s a reasonable excuse). I don’t want to spoil much about their relationship, but it’s evident that among the romances developed within this work, their’s is the strongest — rather, in some endings, we see this type of love reach near eternality. Shizuku is effectively the ‘body’ to which the protagonist owes his success in that she’s someone he treasures (the most in the world), someone he respects, someone he can consult unconditionally and trust, as well as someone, who can encourage him. ‘Kokoro’ on the other hand, is not a romantic interest (displayed above), but she’s evidently the heart of the protagonist in that she gives him his dream. Out of all the characters, he and Kokoro and quite literally, the most intimate.

The work’s weakest part in my opinion, lies within the plot. The plot in my opinion, is ‘good’ on the ‘micro’ level (in terms of smaller arcs, and individual encounters). But, the plot, while it has continuity and while it’s ‘coherent,’ is often developed arbitrarily, with dei ex machina propagated by its lack of a sufficient explanation for its domain of discourse (the way that the ‘patches’ work is enigmatic). Some of the routes ended with incredibly grandiose, incredulous conclusions. Moreover, in other routes, endings that should have embodied sacrifice, were waived, basically through another deus ex machina. So while the work has ‘strong’ themes, and while it commentates on those themes effectively (in select encounters), it ultimately executes them in the scheme of the plot, generically or dumbly.  To make matters worse, there were a lot of instances of needless, insignificant-to-the-main-plot, conflict (a certain individual who desired strength). To make matters worse, during some routes, previously respectable characters, were developed dumbly. Additionally, this work contains a great deal of action. I’m a firm believer that action within visual novels is invariably executed mediocre or underwhelmingly — but, Evolimit surprisingly, changed my stance on that. Within a work, you’d expect to remember the ‘themes’ more than you do the ‘battles’ — but, this is not necessarily the case with a work like this.

So, it’s evident that the work is flawed on several levels. I don’t think that these flaws damage the work too much though, it simply, as I mentioned, ‘limits’ it. I haven’t commentated on the work’s aesthetics yet. In short, it’s done very, very well; while it’s in standard definition, the game’s art style is affable and competitive even with modern-day works. The art plays an important role during the scenes full of action. Additionally, the work has a really nice soundtrack; both, in battle themes, and in sentimental themes. I really enjoyed the opening song, and I found the insert song nice; but the ending theme (only limited to one), was not as good. On commentating on its more minor elements, I felt that the work handled its comedic, more light-hearted aspects very well. It was well-rounded in this regard. Categorically speaking, this is the very definition of a well-rounded work.

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