I'll get to the book club discussion of this story soon, but first...
Matigno wrote:I finally catched up with the story after shamelessly forgetting to check it up for updates in April. And I have to say, the ending is certainly my favorite part of the story. I seem to be kind of picky with endings. They often feel rushed, or unnatural to me, especially when the story is well written. But this one ? I'm satisfied. It really brings closure, without being abrupt, and the feeling of continuity, without feeling like the author stopped at a random point. I really liked how the Nakai household was portrayed, and this Yuuko POV ? I felt stressed just reading that.
As my french teacher always said; Developpements, mais surtout conclusion et ouverture ! It's what you write last that will be remembered.
Good work, dewelar. I hope to read you again.
Thanks! I hope to write something again
This will be long. Very long. I'm giving my thoughts and opinions on the entire story at once here. I might ramble a little bit and go out of order here and there.
Heh, it's fine.
First, I want to say, this was a great story. I'm insanely jealous of what you managed to accomplish. This hit with as much emotional impact as the game itself (and more so than some of the routes.)
High praise indeed. Thanks.
Still, having said that, it didn't all work for me. There were some points I really didn't like and couldn't understand why you did the way you did. The Rin point of view chapter for instance was extremely painful to read and destroyed any immersion I had in the story for that chapter.
*nods* As I mentioned at the time, I expected that chapter to get a mixed reception. I did the best I could to represent Rin as accurately as I could picture her in my head, and since Rin herself tends to elicit a wide breadth of opinions, her POV should do no less
There are two things I was going to complain about, but after thinking about them for a while, they begin to make sense. We all know how Hisao changes depending on the route he's on and the girl he's pursuing, but in the story there was almost nothing of the habits and traits he picked up from Lilly present. The next part if how Hisao keeps talking about wanting to move forward but not actually doing much about it. A LARGE portion of the story was him just waiting for the right moments and hoping everything would fall into place with the girls
Then I realized how that worked. Hisao may have said he wanted to move forward, and he may have even thought about it, but that wasn't what he was actually trying to do. He wasn't trying to move forward as much as he was trying to move away from the person he was when he was with Lilly. Sadly for Hanako that includes his relation with her. Hanako was very much part of his time with Lilly, so moving past that, she had to go as well. I'm not sure if that was something you intended or me just reading too much it it, but it works for me.
There is some truth to this. Part of the reason Hisao didn't move forward was just Hisao not knowing how
until quite late in the game. That was meant to reflect the passivity he'd acquired from his time with Lilly. I also understand your take on things -- obviously, Hisao didn't intentionally
leave Hanako behind, but part of what he becomes in her route is also carryover from what he picks up from Lilly, so in moving past that he also moves past Hanako as part of the package. This is part of why I maintain that Hisao-x-Hanako only has a narrow window in which to work, and why, perhaps, my writing may have telegraphed the endgame as noted below.
For most of the story, it felt like Emi was a better friend to Hanako than Hisao was.
The Love triangle. A good four fifths (maybe more) of your story was about the love triangle, so I'm going to assume you wanted it to be ambiguous who Hisao liked for a while. This didn't work for me. Maybe I'm smarter than other people (I doubt it) but it always felt like Emi had the lead.
She pretty much did. Hisao just wasn't prepared to realize it for most of the story. It's a bit strange, given that this was originally conceived as a Hisao-x-Hanako story until I realized why that likely wouldn't work given the circumstances.
Part of me wants to say what the story needed was Miki.
In fact, I will say that. Why not? Miki was the only supporting character in the game that was strictly Hanako's. Granted they didn't interact, but Miki hinted at some history between them, seemed fully into a Hisao/Hanako relationship and seemed anti-Emi.
Fair point. I hadn't actually thought of it that way, and if I had I might have been more inclined to include her.
Also, speaking of people that weren't in the story. Kenji's absence was quite noticeable. I get why you might not have wanted to write him, but it really felt like there should have been one of his more serious scenes that helps Hisao put things into perspective... before he starts rambling like a loon again.
Actually, I didn't really feel like I could write Kenji well, period. Of course, leaving him out was what led me to invent Yoshi, who wound up playing that role to a degree.
Miss Yumi's appearances sucked. That may sound harsh, but it really felt like you were holding back because it wasn't really your character and therefore not your place to develop her or do anything new and dramatic with her. She was just a placeholder.
This, too, is fair. Miss Yumi was indeed stagnant by necessity, and I therefore used her as sparingly as I could. As I've mentioned elsewhere, if I had the confidence in my ability to develop OC's at the time I started this story, I would not have used Miss Yumi.
A lot of times, your Hisao felt the same way. I think you feel into the trap of thinking that Hisao was the boring one, so you didn't try to do anything to change that.
Yeah, I probably could have done better here, too.
I think out of the three main girls, it took you longer to get good at writing Emi than it did Hanako or Lilly. The first few chapters she just didn't feel as real a character to me.
True. I put that down to lack of material outside the game that expands on her character, since at the beginning I was mostly using extant material as a guideline to writing the characters. Eventually, I developed my own take on each, but the beginning was, as you say, rockier.
I really liked Mayoi's character. She just fit so perfectly in the story. I'm going to have a hard time picturing Shizune's mother as anything else now. Actually when she first appeared, I think I would have been more interested in hearing her story than the main story. Granted, when she did tell her story, the presentation felt off. I think that was something that would have worked a lot better with visuals. Prose style, it felt a bit flat.
As I mentioned, the presentation was actually meant
to feel off. This is how Mayoi tells her stories
I think the most painful part was Hanako realizing (or trying to rationalize to herself) that she didn't really love Hisao but just wanted what they already had. Knowing how things could have worked out if Hisao had made a few different choices, I couldn't help but feel like this was just Hanako trying to justify why things where her own fault all over again. It's ind of sad that Hanako finding strength is something that separates her from the two people that actually meant the most to her.
I think part of her problem too in this story was she had people pushing her, but nobody really supporting her. As a result for the longest time, we ended up with a Hanako who was more active and more vocal, but nothing was done about her actual insecurities and self esteem. That's a horrible combination.
*nods* Pretty much.
Lilly, she got it really bad too. In the game she was the one with her act most together. Here, she lost BOTH of her “families”, let's face it, her relationship with Hanako is quite strained now and neither of them can really expect even friendship from Hisao anymore. On top of that, she doesn't even know what she wants to d with herself anymore. She might[/i still want to be a teacher, or she might want to just travel for a while, possibly with Hanako, who may or may not want to go with her.
Also, I just realized that once graduation comes,s he doesn't actually have a place to live anymore.
Somewhere early on, I realized that Lilly was essentially becoming a classic Tragic Heroine, so I went all in on that route (minus her dying, anyway). I think it suits her character.
Noriko was an interesting character. Strange how you managed to pull such and interesting character and still used tow of the biggest cliches out there with her, both the “other girl answering the phone and causing a misunderstanding,” and the “vaguely defined disease get a miracle cure.” You pulled a nice twist on them, but I'm unsure if they really worked for me or not.
I was honestly surprised at how well-received Noriko has been. She was conceived as a plot device for Hanako's arc, at least to a degree, but she took on a life of her own in my head.
I did like how Emi never actually did accept any responsibility for how she treated her old boyfriend. Yeah, she strung him along, but it was his fault he took it too seriously. Even when she's being the good girl and the winner, little bits like this help the characters feel more real.
Towards the end it did kind of fall apart. Everything wrapped up too neatly. Miss Shizune's Mom Mayoi provided everyone with resolution and words of wisdom before riding off into the sunset never to return. Following that up with Yumi again didn't help, as we got two chapters where the older experienced woman was giving her advice. Then we followed that with Rin talking to her. The Yuuko. It's just seemed like a parade of people all showing up to give their advice.
Heh...I suppose that's true. To some degree this might be because I was beginning to feel burned out, and there was so much I still wanted to say. It could have been paced better, perhaps.
The last real chapter was an odd duck as well. Frankly, I really enjoyed it. I felt Hisao got more development, more characterization, and more history there than the rest of the story combined. We finally got to see where he came from, who he was, and why he acts the way he does.
It just didn't feel like it belonged in the same story. Up until that point, Hisao's parents and Iwanako were non-entities in the story. Nobody mentioned them, nobody talked about them, Hisao didn't think about them, there was no contact make, and even Iwanako's infamous letter was a thing of the past.
Having Hisao come back and face them, while as strong a chapter as it was, didn't feel like it was supposed to be the ending of this story. You might as well have had him go meet Jigoro or Nomiya for all the build up you gave them. A few mentions here and there throughout would have done wonders for making them fit in more.
Actually, he did mention them a few times, but they were few and far between. This, too, is a reflection of him taking so long to put the pieces together. Also, the fact that it feels like a different story is intentional. His parents, especially, were tangential to his reason for returning home, and as he mentions on several occasions he feels like he doesn't really know them. The same is true for Iwanako, really -- nearly the entirety of his interaction with her took place in the hospital, under trying circumstances. He has no real understanding of her, and he knows this.
Also, I liked Shin's character, bro, but he realy uses the word “bro” too much, bro.
I wasn't a huge fan of Meiko's parts. I'm ot fan of stories that hook her and Nurse up. It feels too easy and too clean for me, and making her an alcoholic just felt like trying to tack on cheap drama where we already had real human drama.
In the story we had, she had difficulty dealing with the death of her husband and her daughter just started drifting away. She tried, but she never felt like she knew what to do or how to handle it. Emi's attitude became that she didn't need anyone close to her. It just felt like Emi was taking advantage of her mom when she was convenient and shutting her out when she wasn't. To me, that felts a lot more human than Emi just deciding she couldn't rely on anybody because her mom was a dirty filthy drunk all of a sudden.
I can understand this, too, although I can't agree with most of it. Yes, she had difficulty dealing with her husband and her daughter, even in the present. I had to think, then, about what the pain would have felt like in the more immediate aftermath. Her just deciding that she couldn't rely on her mother, despite all evidence to the contrary, needed a deeper explanation beyond typical teen angst. I'm not sure how this is a less human reaction than what KS gave us.
Anyway even with those complaints, great story. Congratulations.
I'm still jealous.