Saturday, May 5, 2012
Let's Read: Of Love and You
This is a review and read-through of a visual novel that I had a small hand in bringing to completion.
This review is merely copypasta of the same one I posted at the teacup and is addressed to the author.
I really liked how the opening and ending subtly tie in with each other, especially the metaphorical use of the bubbles without the narrator explicitly stating anything -- which would have been quite out of character and furthermore, I believe that explicit storytelling (E.G. I shot an arrow into the air. This arrow was the symbol of how our love for each other would soar powerfully, not to mention gracefully, throughout the heavens and then unceremoniously come to an abrupt halt once it hits something or if it runs out of momentum. This is how our love works.) is tantamount to spoonfeeding and therefore underestimating the reader.
The writing was solid and the dialogue flowed quite naturally between the two characters. The narrator-protagonist is an excellent foil for Dewi's stronger, whimsical personality as opposed to his self-deprecating, almost apathetic persona - that is, if his narration is to be taken honestly, since he has demonstrated a tendency to lie in order to prevent conflict with Dewi - which doesn't really save him from getting punched err... I mean, "playfully jabbed" a lot.
The weakest point of the story would be the theater scenes, wherein I felt the characters didn't really have any reason to be there and the dialogue between them felt a bit awkward. The lack of music during this scene might have also colored my perceptions.
The Brutally-Honest-To-Goodness-Hammer-And-Nail-To-Your-Face-Holy-Sanctimonious-Slightly-Sacrilegious-Spoilerific-Effin CRITIQUE ... to help you improve.
All lines below this one are to be taken with a grain of salt... to help you improve. I will try to point out some of the negatives that I found in this VN... to help you improve. Of course, my critiques are generally quite opinionated, but I hope you still find them useful... to help you improve.
While the piece works well enough for me as a dialogue-driven short kinetic novel, I did feel that it could have been much more than what it currently is as far as the emotional involvement of the reader in the piece is concerned.
I like the slice-of-life feel of "Of Love and You" and I understand that it doesn't want to be a "masterful work of staggering genius," but what I felt was lacking was a solid plot. The back-and-forth conversations between Dewi and the protagonist, while entertaining on their own, do not seem to serve any deeper purpose than characterization. I might have missed it, but I feel it would have been better if the dialogue as well as the narration were being used to slowly work towards the eventual conclusion in the ending. I didn't see this happening in "Of Love and You" and thus, while the beginning and the ending were quite well-made, the meat of the VN, the middle portion felt slightly detached from the intro and end. I short, it doesn't seem like the middle portion was moving towards the ending.
One thing that I believe could have helped out is foreshadowing. The visit to Dewi's house could have been foreshadowed via a casual conversation between the two characters while they were still blowing bubbles in the field or anywhere else prior to the actual house visit for that matter. Other elements such as the bottle that Dewi used to blow bubbles could have been subtly given some significance in the intro or middle portions in order to give them the impression of having some significant role in the ending. Of course, this is how I'd personally handle foreshadowing and I'm sure you have some ideas of your own. In any case, I just didn't see them being put to use in "Of Love and You."
Finally, I think some sort of climax scene could have made the VN more emotionally-engaging. You could have used a simple plot device such as the protagonist revealing something about his past to the audience near the end of the story just as they come out of the house to start blowing bubbles again, which makes the act of blowing bubbles or spending time with Dewi just that much more significant. There are a number of ways this could have been done from the tired cliche of "I have a terminal illness" to "she used to be a drug addict" or something like "I was once suicidal until I met Dewi."
Of course, over-all, the VN works for what you intended it to do as a dialogue-driven VN that makes the reader think about the relationship of Dewi and the protagonist. A belated congratulations on the release and I know you are capable of doing better and even more enjoyable stories in the future.