お久しぶりです。。。 really applies to this category of my blogging ventures here on N-Field. In fact, I was a little shocked myself once I realized (in the progress of writing today’s update) that it’s 1 year anniversary time since I came up with some writting of this kind. Quite embarrasing, but the last year really kept me occupied with various stuff, so you may excuse my total lack of timing “this time around”.
Yet, I felt it rather ironic that the last time yours truly did a fully fledged entry of this kind, it was also focused on a project by the mighty fine Softhouse I’m ever since addicted to. So keeping the usual rant and lame excuses short, let me continue right to a hopefully worthwile attempt to compile some thoughts and impressions on this awesome epic title at last. As usual, keep in mind that more or less heavy spoilers are contained within the following part (although I tried best to keep thme to an absolute minimum, because *this* is so absolutely not to be spoiled for the sake of experience).
• Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~
Art: Motoyone | Kagome | Suzuri | karory
Scenario / Produce / Plan: Sukaji
Sub Scenario: Ayane | Fujikura Kenichi | Chitose
Sound: szak | ryo | PIXELBEE | H.B STUDIO
+ Basic Plot Outline:
“Down the Rabbit-Hole” ~ 「空と世界」の物語
Minakami Yuki – a young literate woman with a partwise slacking attitude and pretty bad (name) memory is the main protagonist within “Down the Rabbit-Hole”, the starting point to KEROQ’s Subarashiki Hibi. One day while on her way home she encounters a girl who’s throwing stuffed animals from the top of a mansion’s roof – Takashima Zakuro. Up to then, Yuki had a peaceful everyday’s life together with her Osananajimi the Wakatsuki sisters – Tsukasa, the gentle and kind (cute) type and Kagami, the Tsunderekko out of the duo. This shall change with the meeting of this strange girl who’s seeks the “day to return to the sky” and requests help from Yuki, eventually moving into her household offering her duties as Maid there and causing some hilarious uproar with that…
“Down the Rabbit-Hole II” chronologically moves back to start – 12th July 2012. Events are once again portrayed via the perspective of Minakami Yuki. Also this time around she has a rather weird encounter with fellow student Takashima Zakuro, who ends up to kiss Yuki and acts as if she knows her better whilst our lead lady here can’t even remember her name. Interrupted by two annoyed appearing girls whom Zakuro apparently arranged an appointment with that day, a puzzled Yuki is left back. This incident gains even more importancy to Yuki when the follow-up day at school the shocking news arrives that Zakuro and two friends of her committed suicide by jumping off a mansion’s roof at the evening the day before! Upon further investigation by the young tough lady on regards of Takashima Zakuro, Yuki soon finds out that the cheerful girl that left such strong impression on her the day before she killed herself, went through serious bullying at school. There’s little time for Yuki though to delve deeper into the truth behind this Zakuro bashing conducted by a few students, because from the day this incident was announced, everything seems to turn crazy at school when Mamiya Takuji – also up to then a seriously bullied Otaku – freaks out in classes announcing the world’s end with the “final/end-sky” (終ノ空) forthcoming on 20th July 2012…
“It’s my own Invention” 「終わりと始まり」の物語
Another reset to 12th July 2012 from another perspective – Mamiya Takuji starring in Subarashiki Hibi chapter 2 “It’s my own Invention”. The bullied Otaku who seeks the dark isolation by crafting a secret hideout underneath the drained school’s swimming pool. Facing details of the treatment Takuji undergoes at school, one can somewhat relate to him trying to evade his fellow classmates and along his summerly efforts to transport stuff (Manga) from his home to the hideout, he also has an encouter with mysterious Takashima Zakuro. As the girl is also trying her best to avoid the bullies at school and is about to be caught by them, usually unsocial Takuji sees no other chance but to help her revealing the details of his hidden wonderland to the girl. While it appears at first, as if the lonesome youngster found some company in Zakuro, soon the day arrives when the teacher enters the classroom with bad news about Takashima Zakuro and two of her friends. This is when things turn upside down crazy for Takuji as well and caught in a state of mind where reality and illusion is hard to tell apart from each other, the young man soon turns into the savior who’ll preach and lead people to the sky…
“Looking-glass Insects” 「文学少女と化学少女」の物語
At a rooftop Takashima Zakuro once meets a boy whom she soon will bear affection towards. A poet, philosopher and literate young man who leaves a striking impression on the lady – Mamiya Takuji. A welcomed escape for Zakuro who’s going through hell at school. Together with her friend Tachibana Kimika the two girls are the main target of classmate tyrants missing no single opportunity to make them feel miserable. Her random encounter with Takuji turn into a highlight for Zakuro caught inside her loneliness, yet it doesn’t take the girl long to notice that there’s something odd with Mamiya-kun. “Looking-glass Insects” aims focus at reflecting the final days left in the life of Takashima Zakuro…
Yuuki Tomosane is the “destroyer” (破壊者) in the world about to face the ending sky. Aiming to stop the self-proclaimed saviour (Takuji Mamiya) he’ll become a hero for the sake of protecting the girl as promised long time ago.
“Which Dreamed It” 「兄と妹」の物語
Mamiya Hasaki – the girl who waits for brothers return. For years she waits that this day as promised would arive…
“Jabberwocky II” 「向日葵と坂道」の物語
Finally the story that is the starting point to all. A brother and his sister. A memory from distant days. The starting tale to conclude the ending sky…
While in the very beginning – “Down the Rabbit-Hole” first part – Subarashiki Hibi appears to be yet another harem-type Galge with lots of slice of life, yet with the twist to make the main protagonist a female of Kuurukei kind, that impression is literaly crashed once going for the second half of this chapter. Upon reflection it felt like reason for this rather contrary light tone of the start is not for fillers sake at all, even though back then some moments of it (i.e. the Osama Game) dragged on for a bit, but more like a wish/dreamful reality for Yuki. That stance receives somewhat of a back-up during the end of this arc when Zakuro raises the question towards Yuki (along the conclusion to the Wakatsuki sister sub-routes) whether she enjoys (to continue) this wonderful everyday’s life. What all appeared so peaceful and perfect turns nightmare during the second half of this chapter and therewith revealing real grounds of the scenario this Soft is set at. Along the road of Minakami Yuki’s self-set quest to find out the truth behind the events occuring at school as the days ’till Mamiya’s proclaimed end of the world will arrive, more and more questions and mysteries arise. It doesn’t help the puzzling situation once Yuki encounters another strange figure in the play – Otonashi Ayana – causing way more confusion than to really assist or even solve things for her.
This is were the next chapter telling the more or less exact same events portrayed from a different perspective enters the play. Even though the basics are known by then, KEROQ scenario writting mastermind Sukaji not only acchieved to succeed at but instead redefined such story telling method as far as I’m concerned.“It’s my own Invention” has some of those explanations prepaired for questions Yuki was left with while coevally adding new mysteries to it through the eyes of Mamiya Takuji. In the course of it the boy who’s from Yuki’s perspective gone nuts with the death of Takashima Zakuro, is introduced and one’s exposed on much frothright manners what sort of treatment and life the young Otaku endures at school, turning the merciless bastard from the previous chapter to some extend a real pitful yeah partwise sympathic person. Trapped within (in)sanity one does not know for certain whether Takuji has truely gone mad or if he’s the savior as claimed by himself along the progress of “It’s my own Invention” and despite the bizarre outbursts of this scenario (Riruru), it’s due to the craze confronted herein I take a deep bow over the genius of Sukaji. Speaking of which also besides the overlying heavy literature references Sukaji kept Subarashiki Hibi in, Otaku aimed notes are also represented during this particular chapter as well. Personally the most interesting bunch of remarks expressed by Takuji herein besides literature and thesis of Wittgenstein, Rostand, Lewis Carroll, etc. though involving Lovecraft and Norse mythology on which Sukaji already showed his heavy interest in back during MAKURA’s Supre~me Candy. Another mesmerizing aspect about this different perspective firstly showcased through “It’s my own Invention” goes to how different the events and protagonists are approached by. Mainly refering at this point to the involvement of Otonashi Ayana and better phrased the reception by Takuji over this girl’s appearance. In contrast to how Yuki tried to figure out what she was hinting all the way through, Ayana with her unchainged precocious attitude is not such a welcomed entity latter on in both “It’s my own Invention” as well as “Looking-glass Insects” while especially during the conclusion of the former, she’s been approached as enemy trying to interfere with Takuji’s goals. Regardless of situation and approach, Ayana on the other hand though obviously has her fun with the people in her surrounding and at this point I must officially declare to be in love with this girl, especially once completed the final “Tsui no Sora II” route of Subarashiki Hibi I can’t help but consider her perfection. The third chapter “Looking-glass Insects” not only continues the awe of this Soft but moreover I considered its placement so perfectly done. Zakuro Takashima’s decision to quit her own life was the catalyst event to initiate Tsui no Sora, yet given that all chapters thus far remained pretty vague as to what led the cute contained girl to such drastic move, I was more than ready to enter this strand at last. That is content wise even stronger stuff than what Takuji experienced during “It’s my own Invention”. In fact, at the conclusion of Zakuro’s story in its main route, it felt like it’s impossible to go through such experiences without any grave mental damages/scars left). Despite the Denpa volume increased, “Looking-glass Insects” felt even more mesmerizing on several scales, as besides shedding light on Zakuro Takashima’s motivations (the end of it was so totally unexpected judged Yui’s encounter with the three girls!), it did great work on revealing or better said pushing forward secrets that were merely hinted during the previous two arcs of SubaHibi thus far. These to be formally expressed by “Jabberwocky”, the route that initiated the road to the big conclusion. I for one fully disagree with people saying that the revelations this arc starts out with, seems like KEROQ tried to “throw out all at once”, because as progressing through the story of the “destroyer”, those elements that were visable especially during the previous arc confirmed on quite clever ways Sukaji now meticulously shapes the mass of revealed secrets into the main story, dating long before the present time events occured yet kept in direct correlation to them. The portrayal of Yuuki Tomosane as well as the girl he promised to protect – Mamiya Hasaki – combined with the return of Minakami Yuki was handled that decently, it still amazes me how Sukaji pulled this of here. During the brief scenes Tomosane had an appearance before, always on direct / brutal collision course with Takuji somehow felt so out of place back then, but needless to say that these moments suited so perfectly in retrospect. Specifically making a break at this point as well as sticking to the official pieces of story information released by KEROQ, given that I try hard to stay faithful to the “spoilers included but to a minimum”-promise expressed in relates of this Soft earlier today. Summarized there’s also little left for me to say about the scenario Sukaji & KEROQ came up for Subarashiki Hibi. Genius to epic work would probably describe the job they’ve done on this best, while I think that regardless of what I’m expressing at this point, it certainly won’t do it justice as deserved. While personally speaking Sukaji already won this fanboy’s heart through his other mainly MAKURA related works thus far, I guess it’s this return to Tsui no Sora that makes him as comfortable to craft something as epic as Subarashiki Hibi. With a main focus on painstaking detailed worked-out chapters, Sukaji-sensei truely acchieved to craft something that I’m certain can’t be repeated nor done as wonderful as this writing talent managed. Not to repeat myself though, but the method Sukaj-sensei produced the different people’s perception of their surrounding and events occuring there, is simply put a masterpiece.
+ Graphics / Visuals:
It requires a mere glimpse at the credited talents to deduce how well Subarashiki Hibi does on regards of visual presentation I’d say. The KEROQ/MAKURA staff is known as squad working joint to bring forth awe, so this is not taking an halt when it comes to graphics here either. Of course a lot happened ever since the release of this Brand’s 3rd project (MOEKAN) such as former staff members (2C=GALORE, Mizusawa Mimori) leaving (in case of the former it’s minori he moved on to), but the core remained and moreso returned for this latest project by KEROQ. Hence also in these fields SubaHibi shines bright unlike anything else (at least, as far as I’m concerned). On the unique side of things, an aspect through which especially this Softhouse stands out, is that, despite these many talents involved with each of them featuring some quite diversified style, they all work together so perfectly balanced resulting in an absolutely smooth grand outcome. That this seems to be KEROQ staff philosophy shows also with Subarashiki Hibi to which also a new face been sourced out from their Sisterbrand as famed karory, formerly known as MAKURAnian who debuted at Supre~me Candy, joined the core staff consisting of Motoyone, Suzuri and Kagome. Also writting talent Sukaji on rare occassion (nowadays at least) contributed to the graphical side of his project, most obviously visable at sub-characters such as Iwata or the Bar’s Master (and I *think* some of the sky shot background art carries his style as well). That said, the level of detail and effort invested on this project is of sheer amazing scales. Besides the total amount of Event CG being rather high (about the dosage as previously MAKURA produced), there’s so much love coming from every other element of the visual presentation – the wonderful Tachi E, the refined worked out settings and background art, the shocking Denpa moments (bloody Zakuro..kudos to Yoshida Seiji at this point for that coloration!)..I could go on like this praysing with no end in sight, but that’s not efficient for reading sake of this write-up. Only one thing which I planned to point out at this category of the review, because it totally wowed me all over again. It’s certainly not fair to name one specific talent who’s work on SubaHibi stick out most, that’s in fact not possible either. Yet, both Motoyone and Suzuri exceeded my wildest expectations (on a personal random sidenote they left such striking impression on me that the two were the among the few and first KEROQ-kei artists I had to line-up for last summer at Comike ^^ at this point be warned that some major KEROQ/SubaHibi blogging is planned to follow the next couple of months once I get this write-up finished) and especially the pretty serious Ayana fetish of mine I can blame for much extend on Motoyone (now, why was there no Ayana Dakimakura Set released again, KEROQ?). Another noteworthy element out of the amazing rich and wide-spreading graphical/visual world SubaHibi is represented right at the end of each arc, mainly refering to the various ED each of the main chapter branches feature. Accompanied by sheer wonderful music, more on that latter though, these bring along special artistical contribution such as independent talent duet with his fascinating watercolor style in charge of the abstract and coevally fascinating art for the “Looking-glass Insects” ED. All of this led me once again to the conclusion that KEROQ most definitely did not shy to aim for grand things with this project of theirs.
+ Music / CV:
It feels hard to touch upon a category where KEROQ not outdid themself with Subarashiki Hibi. Hence it won’t lead to surprise you that also the audio side of this project left a positive striking impression on me, as much as that I had to pick-up the Soundtrack at KEROQ’s booth back at Akiba DenkiGuyMatsuri3 this summer. No wonder either, given the Sound staff from MAKURA namely ryo (I *still* wonder whether it’s penname coincidence or if it’s *the* ryo) took over for this project (while former staff like Blasterhead turned into an independent and now Visual Art’s related musician ever since the MOEKAN days) and also in these fields new talents were brought on board, such as szak, while vocal-wise the same has been conducted with PIXELBEE as MAKURA prooved Sound Unit working next to (Doujin) musician Hana on the various themes (of course featuring lyrics crafted by mastermind Sukaji as well) and ending songs SubaHibi comprises.
Character voices is yet another category where this work amongst all KEROQ and also MAKURA projects sets itself apart, given that for the first time also a male voice is part of the cast, with Sayama Shin as Mamiya Takuji and as a first time work as (Eroge) Seiyuu I think he delivered a terrifc job, in fact also Sukaji agrees on that. The rest of the cast, well, Kawashima Rino (Yuki – a perfectly suiting role I’d say for hers), Hokuto Minami (Tachibana Kimika) or Naruse Mia (as..Ayane, yeah another reason I love this girl that much ^^), it comes down to me turning repeat mode stating KEROQ saved no costs and effort on terms of chara voices (also female sub-charas received voicing) either for Subarashiki Hibi.
+ Ero Content:
Okay lastly *this* is a category where some could find flaw with SubaHibi or let’s say some scenes to be more than one thinks to stand. But at this point I think Asceai probably put it best alongside his great review with “you may be tougher than you think”. Honestly speaking, despite my KEROQ obsession, I’ve got to admit that some scenes, particularly during “Looking-glass Insects” put me to edges, but ultimately these as horrible of an experience as they partwise are, they’re included for a reason and strengthen the compassion and understanding for certain characters and what they’ve gone through. In some cases I was also surprised by how daring KEROQ went with this project, as that’s something I guess people are very picky and some may also decide for themself whether it’s hit or miss, but as bizarre or scarry as that may sound (it’s certainly not ment in such way though), I’m glad that KEROQ did not cut back their visions. And in case you wonder, no, I’m not refering to the inclusion of Futanari. This is Sukaji/KEROQ we’re talking about after all and honestly I would have been a bit surprised if amongst it all, that particular theme would not have been touched on (nice pun btw. ^^). At this point it should also be noted that not all of the Ero scenes, which there are rather plenty of, are located on the shocking side of things as several among them are of the beautiful tasty sort as well, though selecting these out of them all is certainly subject of personal preferances.
There’s not much to be said about the System itself. It features the basics one would expect and requires (skip, save, load, etc.) whilst everytime a chapter or subroute of it is completed, you’re returned to the main screen where you can start the next one if possible to do so. I personally found the concept to complete through one chapter (and do the same with its alternative branches) quite awesome as it requires you to fully finish a part of the story before moving on to the next one. Other than that the Omake section features also bonus as to be expected – the event CG gallery plus the (Ero) scene replay collection.
The Tokusou Shokaiban of Subarashiki Hibi comes along in the same (actually it’s identical) fashion as known from MAKURA Soft of recent years, meaning a large style sturdy packaging with additional halt by its Obi. Another similarity between both releases goes to the special bonus included. Subarashiki Hibi Official Artworks consists of 72 pages in total, with the exception of cover and starting pages, collecting selected artworks as featured in the course of project coverage by various Bishoujo Soft/Eroge magazines, kept in b/w. Contrary to the Official Artworks the former MAKURA Soft came along with in it’s Tokusou Shokaiban release, I must note to enjoy the content of this one a little bit more. That’s for one because the selected Event CG rough and character portrayal sketches are so much more detailed collected but also during the end it features a special interview with KEROQ mastermind Sukaji, that is quite a big plus as far as I’m concerned. Also on terms of pre-order campaign goods, KEROQ keeps up the high standard to reward their fans. While not as exceptional as the bonus lastly seen in the course of pre-order campaing for Supre~me Candy, this KEROQ Soft doesn’t need to hide itself on that terms either. Titled Shagaihi (社外秘 – the title itself irritated me as to consider this some kind of unpublished work collection like the Motoyone x Sukaji 2003 published Copyshi of similar title) coevally with the release of SubaHibi KEROQ announced a new project. Labeled as “Korie Riko x Yuzuriha project” it contained lots of awesome rough/draft artworks (except starting pages also all b/w) by the artistical femme fatale of KEROQ relations (as well as a neat Yuki artwork in Korie Riko style as it’s backside cover art!), plus interviews with both on this project their now revealed to work on, whilst details are kept..well, a secret even within this rather extensive bonus (just note the “Ikilove” attached to the background art pattern for one of the starting color pages – KEROQ is teasing ^^). Now of course, ever since late August last year it is known that this secret work will be MAKURA’s upcoming IkiKoi on which also Sukaji is going to be in charge of scenario while karory turned out to be the other main artist involved. Overall the packaging conducted on SubaHibi definitely holds what the Tokusou Shokaiban title attached to promises, leaving no flaw to be found.
+ Overall Impression:
I never made a secret about my stance on this particular Softhouse, hence when it comes to KEROQ there’s certainly some bias in the mix. Yet, even with a non-clouded mind there’s no way around and neither doubt that Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~ is a masterpiece through which KEROQ revived themself after all these years of absence. It’s the rare case of that every single praise this project received ever since its spring release last year, was absolute rightfully expressed and pointed towards and I can’t help but to consider this an essential venture for everyone wondering about the fame this Brand gained since back the days of Tsui no Sora. To me, it’s also been quite a while that I completed my way through a Soft, felt completely satisfied and coevally sadness for having finished, demanding more of the same quality. While I’m inclined to doubt that this write-up does Subarashiki Hibi the proper justice it deserves, I still hope that at least to some extend yours truly was capable to provide an impression as to what scales Sukaji & Co. acchieved to craft here. Subarashiki Hibi raises the quality bar for Eroge/Denpa Adventures quite some levels higher, which leads to my resume that even if you’re not a fan of the paticular “genre”, there’s no way to miss out on a venture as crafted by KEROQ.