Review: Toki o Tsumugu Yakusoku

This work is easy to roast.

This article was originally written on 4/17/2016 . May contain conceptual/structural spoilers.

Generally-speaking, whenever I write a review, it’s for a work that I’ve finished or intend to finish. In the case of Toki o Tsumugu Yakusoku (Tokisoku), I’ve finished the common route, and read sparsely through its remaining routes. By read ‘sparsely,’  I meant that I skipped a great deal of content, pausing during the more dramatic moments to grasp the essence of the plot. I did this because I felt that the work wasn’t worth reading in its entirety. This was caused by a variety of reasons, of which, I hope to enumerate within this post:

From the onset, I came into the work expecting a plot-orientated work. From its summary, we’re led to think that this work will be more than just another charage. This was unfortunately, not the case — this had as much as to do with magic as Chrono Clock had to do with time travel.  The premise of the work is that the protagonist, for some unknown reason, can use magic. His ability is simple — he’s able to pause time effectively for ten seconds, and is able to do as he wishes during the duration. There is no strict limit on its usage, but it’s understood that the protagonist experiences fatigue after repeated usage. The source or reason for the magic, to my knowledge, is never developed in great detail. In the context of the work, the ‘magic’ plays a useful instrumental role during some encounters, but is understood to not be a ‘pivotal’ part of the work. In fact, its significance is so understated, that its introduction was incredulously matter-of-fact.

During the common route, the protagonist confides within a heroine that he can use magic. The heroine, assuming the protagonist a clown, brushes it aside. In retaliation, the protagonist exhibits his magical capabilities by ‘vanishing’ a coin from one of his hands. The heroine, initially assuming it to be clever slight-of-hand (as is presumably the case with all cases of ‘magic’), challenges the protagonist. In order to persuade her this time, he shows her an instance of ‘teleportation’ by means of his magic. This has her convinced. In reaction, she essentially goes “Oh cool, you really can use magic” nonchalantly, in a way similar to being informed that the protagonist could juggle instead.  I found this to be bewildering, as the world of Tokisoku is presumably the same as our world — that is, magic is unrecognized as existing. Indeed, in Tokisoku, there are no organizations of magicians, much the less, another recognized magician. Yet, the reaction of the heroine (and later, that of the rest of the main cast), accept the protagonist’s magic not only as matter-of-fact, but disinterestedly.

As discussed, in the context of the work, the protagonist magic plays an instrumentally useful role. But, I found the application of the magic in most instances, to involve ridiculous premises. The work is set in the town of Yunohara, which is characterized as a ‘remote hot spring town.’ In this allegedly remote hot spring town, there appears to be more thugs and sexual predators per square foot than in a small state prison. In every route, without fail, some ‘shady’ character is said to cause trouble for either the protagonist or the heroines. As if needing a way to show off the protagonist’s power, the scenario writer, Shimatora, felt it necessary to have the protagonist essentially beat up the ruffians. I found this ridiculous and discouraging for a variety of the reasons. One of the primary reasons being that the heroines in the work were incessantly saved by the white knight protagonist. Whereas in an ideal charage, the protagonist and chosen heroine enter into a mutualistic relationship, in which one covers the flaws of the other, within the scope of Tokisoku, the protagonist consistently saves the heroines. Another reason that I disliked the work was that Japan, which we understand as being a safer country than most others, is described as being the opposite. Indeed, as discussed, ruffians are aplenty in what should be equivalent to a Japanese suburb. In the same way that I would get a lot of flack for writing a moege set in Detroit, I would imagine that needlessly developing a ‘dangerous Japan’ to be detrimental to the realism of the work.

To add insult to injury, the protagonist, considered the linchpin of any decent novel, is insufferably dull. While he lacks any true ‘negative’ traits, he’s inconsistent and generic. He allegedly grew up in a violent institution (orphanage), where he suffered abuse on a daily basis. I know this because he conveyed this in about four lines during the common route — perhaps the apex of his development. I don’t know what it is with visual novel scenario writers and developing ‘bruised’ protagonists that are allegedly emotionally unstable, but otherwise, an all-around great person. At the inn where he works, the protagonist is studious and trusting — no doubt, two traits that should have resulted from his environment. While he does experience some additional development in the other heroine routes, I found his development to be unsubstantial, failing to differentiate him from the mold of genericness. To make matters worse, Miria, the adoptive daughter of the protagonist, fares no better. Nothing differentiates her from being just another kid — she had the same development that a minor supporting character would have had. Yet, she not only plays a primary role in the work’s plot, but the ‘true’ heroine’s route, which we understand to typically focus extensively on the true heroine, concerned her far more.

The rest of the heroine cast do play a symbolic role in embodying the spirit of the show — namely, like the show, they’re pretty insignificant and unmemorable. Indeed, by virtue of the fact that two heroines had the exact same hair color, for the first hour of the work, I failed to notice that the two were distinctively different in each scene. In fact, I went on to forget that one of the black-haired heroines existed, because she played such a minor role in the common route, and was introduced more heavily only during her actual route. Which is to say, the common route of the work clearly focused on and favored the ‘true’ heroine of the work. The true heroine is unremarkable in that her development within the first ten minutes of the work goes on to mirror her character for the remaining majority. Her route itself, as discussed, focuses on Miria, which we also understood as being a rather flat, dull character.

I think that from the aforementioned, it’s obvious that my apathy antipathy towards the work is great. The pacing & directing of the work, while not discussed at length, is ‘decent’ in the sense that it doesn’t get boring, but atrocious in the sense that nothing happens. Despite having a lot of elements to properly develop (say, the magic or the character relations), this work included a great deal of slice-of-life, which wasn’t even ‘interesting.’ I thought that the work was aesthetically-decent, in that the core soundtrack wasn’t bad,’ but because the context of the work was so mediocre, it also felt mediocre. The production quality of the work is modern, but not necessarily good – one of the heroines is a reputed idol singer, yet BGM plays over her performances. The art style and general art quality of the work was not bad either — but is altogether dwarfed by how mediocre the work was.

All in all, I don’t think that I’ll be picking up any ‘risky’ works again in the future. I generally pick up works that are proven quantitatively, to be favorable to popular opinion (e.g. EGS & VNDB). In the case of this work, it averaged in the 80s, but had a very small sample size. It seems that as far as visual novels go, there are no real sleeper hits — the great works, even from the most obscure of fully-funded studios, will go on to enter the realm of ‘great works.’ It’s not worth it to pick up a mediocre work. If there were one word of praise for the work, it’d be in its soundtrack — while the music itself was decent or ‘good’ at best, it’s one of few works that released with the full soundtrack next to a dedicated piano arrange album.

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

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