Review: Akeiro Kaikitan

A comparative look into Kazuki Fumi’s latest work.

This article was originally written 4/10/2016. May contain mild conceptual/structural spoilers.

Akeiro Kaikitan (AK) is Silky’s Plus Wasabi’s second work. Their first work was Nanairo Reincarnation (NR), which was written by Kazuki Fumi. When the previous work was released, I wrote a review on it. In short, I had called it an exciting, fun, but succinct read — while it lacked ‘significance’ in the scope of being deep or meaningful, it presented a colorful cast and took the readers on a thrilling ride. Its largest weakness, as I remarked, was due in part to its lack of real purpose, and repetition among its routes. For better or worse, (AK), written by the same author, fixes all of its flaws. But in doing so, it had also eliminated what I found to be so attractive about (NR).

To begin, (AK) reads a lot more like a traditional mystery work. It has six routes — five heroine routes followed by a true route. In true ‘traditional’ tradition, the heroine routes exist primarily to develop the events surrounding the true route. The quality of the heroine routes themselves are variable — some of the routes are written as being engaging and interesting, some of them as decent but predictable, and one as being negligible outside of additional h-scenes. In a sense, (AK) is the better structured novel, in that it has a clear purpose (to unravel the events of the true route — this is the central mystery), but was not nearly as raw, or emotionally-evocative as (NR) was. Recall, that in the prequel, I had made the comment that the reader could effectively read any of the routes and end the work on that note — this is because we could envision all of the routes of (NR) as ultimately telling the ‘same story’ with mild differences. I had complained that this made reading through the other routes a little trivial and frustrating, as on one hand, the information repeated among the routes, and on the other hand, we lacked a definitive, ‘linchpin’ route (i.e. true route). But, despite being ‘flawed’ in this way, (NR) never felt boring. Indeed, because its focus was that much more narrow, it was constantly exciting.

In contrast, while (AK) is by no means a boring work, it wasn’t nearly as viscerally satisfying as (NR). On one hand, its overall development was much slower than its predecessor — we actually only learn about the truth of the events surrounding the central mystery itself. This means that the other heroine routes which had lead up to it only developed marginal hints that would have been unraveled ultimately within the final route. In other works with comparable route structure, the heroine routes served not only to develop minor plot points (‘hints’), but they were in themselves, meaningful insofar as adding an additional dimension to the work. Historically-speaking, a work has done by developing in greater depth a plot point within the respective heroine routes (effectively explaining and introducing a mechanic that would be assumed in the true route — Tasogare no Sinsemillia is the most apparent example). Or, a work could focus less on the plot points, but instead, use the character routes to accentuate its themes or its character relations (while White Album 2 was not a mystery work, we can consider it as a work which accentuated character relations with its secondary routes. Indeed, in the scope of the work, the alternate heroines served to greater develop the dynamics of the primary trio). In contrast,(AK), through its heroine routes, only develops these minor plot points (‘hints’). In essence, what does this amount to? Effectively, we’re able to understand the work’s mystery is its entirety by skipping its heroine routes and jumping straight into its true route.

I think that (AK)’s weak utilization of structure result of a few reasons (with ‘bad writing’ not as a considered one). The largest reason, I’d garner, would be due in part to Kazuki Fumi’s writing pattern. In essence, both (NR) and (AK) do not concern grand mysteries — if anything, we could view the central mystery of each work as a more elaborate mystery which you would find in an arc-based mystery series. This means that because (AK) at its core, lacked a complicated, awe-inspiring mystery, it did not need to devote its alternate routes to more extensive character or thematic development. In this way, while we could accept that nominally, (AK) is the better structured work, it is not necessarily the work with the superior utilization of its structure. In fact, I found (NR)’s structure [or lack thereof] to be more accommodating to the vision of the work than (AK)  was to its’. This is not to say that necessarily, (AK) is the inferior work. Although I won’t hesitate to assert that (NR) is undoubtedly the work which tugged at my heartstrings more effectively, and the work which will be more memorable. (AK)’s structure, while clean, hurt it at some parts. In particular, because the author felt a duty to ‘tie’ the central mystery with each heroine route, the ‘nod’ to the central mystery was at times very marginal and nominal (through the ‘hints’). In integrating the heroine route with the rest of the work, Fumi had at times asserted two stories within each of the heroine routes. The first story concerned the true route — it served to develop the ‘hints’ of the main mystery. The second story involved a negligible story involving the heroine to further her development (this contained the majority of the h-scenes). This lack of focus resulted on one hand in heroine routes that were not in themselves that interesting, and on the other hand, in routes that ‘dragged’ on for for too long.

On the topic of the characters themselves, I found myself liking (NR)’s cast a whole lot more. I feel that Fumi himself might have preferred the original cast, as the original cast actually shows up in (AK), playing a significant support role in the scope of the work. The original protagonist is seen as more reliable, more beloved, and more important. (AK)’s protagonist isn’t bad either — he’s not nearly as whiny or as insufferable as Gun Knight Girl‘s (which Fumi wrote). But, he lacks ‘charm’ — I would characterize the protagonist as being average, but not the insufferable type of average. The average protagonist lacks the charm of a good protagonist, but does not negatively affect the work as much as the insufferable type.  The heroine cast I felt, was as a whole, as superficially likable and as developed as the cast of (NR). By ‘superficially likable,’ I mean to say that the heroines themselves are given very minimal development outside of their initial impressions — they are for the most parts, static characters. I do not consider this to be a major flaw of the work(s), as (NR) and (AK) are first-and-foremost mystery works focused on plot. For what it’s worth, I found Ruri & Ruka to be particularly endearing. What I did dislike about the character cast was that in contrast to (NR), a work which clearly depicted Kotori as the central heroine, (NR) is stuck between prioritizing Velvet and Kana. My complaint about this is that whereas Kotori was the clear central heroine (playing a pivotal role in each of the routes in (NR)), Velvet and Kana share the spotlight to the point where they’re just ‘another heroine.’ As a result (or perhaps contributing to the result), the true route of the work is roughly a ‘friendship’ ending — there is no real romantic pairing.

(AK) does have some evident strengths over (NR). As discussed, the work has better structure. When a work has a weak structure, it reads messily. The fact that this review is written as clearly as it is is a testament to how crystal clear (AK)’s planning and development was. In writing reviews, I prefer writing about structured works, as they’re more straightforward. We can envision them as ‘proofs,’ with each lines clearly noted. If the proof is mistaken at one of its lines (features), we can note it and commentate on it accordingly. In contrast, works with difficult structure (namely works by SCA-JI) are not nearly as straightforward. We can envision them as ‘proofs,’ with lines at times missing, and a conclusion often formulated based off the known lines (facts of the work). Of course, works with difficult structure are at times, ingenious. SCA-JI is likely the ingenious writer whose intent and purpose as evident to himself as write, but is otherwise as intelligible to the rest, who require philosophical introspection to come at a like conclusion. While I don’t think that (NR) was a deep work, its weaker structure didn’t affect my enjoyment of the work negatively enough to note. As a whole I thought that (NR), even with its weaker structure, utilized it better.

All in all, I enjoyed (AK), but not nearly as much as I could have. The central mystery was by no means ‘bad’ — in fact, it was thoughtful, meaningful, and a little surprising. But, it wasn’t the ‘memorable’ type of mystery. I’m sure that it’ll be forgotten in time. But, because looking back, I found (AK) to be an enjoyable read overall, I think that its true strength lies less in its content (the mystery and development), but more in its experience (it’s enjoyable to read).

I enjoy reflecting on works which I've read and sharing my thoughts on them.

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