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Review: Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete (PC Eroge)

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Paradise is a place where VN sprites are animated.

Stupid internet problems got in the way of publishing this before the anime's first episode aired. Oh well. Here it is!

This post does not contain any R18 content, but contains mild nudity and pantsu. Other than that, it's SFW.

TITLE: 失われた未来を求めて (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete)
A.K.A.: À la recherche du futur perdu, In Search of Lost Future, WaraMete;
DEVELOPER: Trumple
RELEASE DATE: 26th of November 2010
RATING: +18
GENRES&THEMES: Sci-fi, Time Travel, Enforced playing order, School, Club, Group of friends,
PLATFORM: PC
Uchihama Gakuen has seen an increase in enrolment in recent years and as a result, a new school building will be constructed. With the final school festival just around the corner, clubs are desperate to show off their greatness and fights ensue between them. The School Council resorts to asking the Astronomy club, whose members they deem highly capable of resolving the troubles that will surely begin to appear, to lend them a helping hand.
Akiyama Sou is a member of such club, though unlike the rest he doesn’t particularly poses any special abilities. As he’s resting in the infirmary after being knocked out cold by the Judo club whilst trying to resolve some trouble related to the festival’s timetable, the whole building shakes and he hears a loud sound upstairs. He rushes to the scene, thinking someone might be in trouble, and finds a mysterious naked girl that seems to know him. Her name is Yui, who will soon join the Astronomy Club… but there’s something very peculiar about her.


The Story

I think the enormous faults the story presents are pretty obvious from the summary I wrote. The fact that the student council would recur to the Astronomy club to take care of things THEY should be taking care of baffles me. The members are like some sort of overpowered Avengers team, with Sou being the only useless git.
Story wise it’s your generic high school plot, BUT WITH A TWIST! It has a nice sci-fi subplot going on, though it’s not particularly amazing… most of the time it falls flat on its head, but I won’t deny enjoying it and it did give the story some creativity points. Those of you who are very into sci-fi will most likely find it lacking, but those who aren’t too worried about everything getting scientifically explained and making perfect sense will find this to be a nice pleasant ride.
There are a few general comments that have to be made that kind of apply to all of the routes. Firstly, this game has an enforced playing order and a mystery that requires you to play all routes to resolve. Secondly, if you take this game's TRUE END as the actual true end of it, this game technically has no happy endings for the rest of the characters (I'm trying very hard not to spoil here, bear with me...). Technically they're 'alternative endings' to the original storyline, and all of them make almost no sense in relation to this sci-fi subplot. Taking this option (the happy end, which can only be unblocked once you've completed the character's main route) leaves you in the dark, and the alternative endings feel incomplete with loose ends that haven’t been tied up properly. Thirdly, as you progress through the routes, these become longer and provide more information about the whole sci-fi subplot—that was cool to some extent, I guess. It kept the mystery going. But lastly, this sci-fi subplot makes no sense half the time anyway. It’s like an extra to the story. It seems as if it loses its original purpose halfway through, and then the endings comes along and BAM everything’s just cut off, and we either swing right into a completely different story (‘bad’ ends ultimately leading to the TRUE END) or nothing really makes sense (‘alternative’ ends). The story concept is cool, but the development of it was pretty bad.
The only ending that actually makes sense is the TRUE END, that actually ties things up pretty neatly. The down side of it is that all the other routes feel wrong and never meant to be after you’ve completed it, so it sort of ruins the other characters.
Incidentally, the name is based off the French novel series À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), but I highly doubt this has any purpose other than to fool you into thinking you're in for some deep shit. You're not.

The Character Routes


Sasaki Kaori 佐々木 佳織

CV: Arisugawa Miyabi

How can I express how much I hated Kaori’s ‘Kya’s??
Kaori is the Vice president of the Astronomy Club and plays the childhood friend-type character, though not really because she isn’t really Sou’s childhood friend. She is the voice of reason and is one of the top 3 girls boys want to make their waifu at school. Her mother is a researcher, and has known Sou’s parents (who we never actually get to meet because they’re out somewhere investigating and neglecting their child, as most VN parents do) for some time. He’s kind of been freeloading at their house for the past 3 years (bad parenting skills, BAD. PARENTING. SKILLS.)
Kaori gets scared easily, is overly kawaii, and goes kya kya every time Sou touches her. She’s everyone’s tea slave, since they’re always bossing her around and having her make tea in the club room (kind of like Asahina Mikuru but without the maid outfit), and my brain and I had a hard time comprehending why on earth someone as useless as her is the vice president. I know this is just a club, but come on! She even stops coming to the club room for a while during her route because she has a squabble with Sou… irresponsible bitch (╯°Д°)╯︵/(.□ . )
That said, her route wasn’t that bad. Her character is just the type that gets on my nerves, but I won’t deny her route was sweet. She shares this game’s main heroin position with Yui, and therefore her story with Sou progresses in a very natural, logical way. However, it felt the least developed of all routes. Kaori’s route is the first one you have to play and is the most confusing one, and it just felt incomplete, sliced with a knife with a sudden full stop. Sure, we’ll get more info in the next few routes, but it just kind of leaves you hanging… especially her main route.

Hasekura Airi 支倉 愛理

CV: Kawashima Rino

Why do I love black haired character designs the most?
Airi is the Astronomy Club’s president and the single most badass character in this visual novel. She excels both academically and in physical strength, and is quite the forcible person. You can always rely on her, and is one busy bee. She pushes herself too hard and tends not to rely on anybody to get things done, causing others to often worry about her. Of course, she’s been crushing on Sou since the very day he met him because apparently he said something along the lines of ‘you have beautiful eyes’(?). Us girls just love that sort of romantic shit, don’t we?
Aaaahhh I loved Airi. She was a big change from the overly-moe Kaori. Airi has balls, or more like, a good pair of ovaries. She’s crazy strong, so much that she’s well known for her powerful kicks. The Judo club is scared stiff of her, and she’s usually the one to save the day. I loved her to bits—it was wonderful seeing how her tough attitude slowly crumbled down when she was with Sou, and I thought their relationship was a cuteness overload.
But! (there’s always a but, and you know it). Throughout all the routes, and especially during the TRUE END, Airi seems to know and understand what is going on with all this weird sci-fi shit. This continues in her route too, but we never actually get an answer as to why or how she found this out. In fact, sometimes it seems as though she knows exactly what’s happening, and then it seems as if she’s just making wild guesses and just magically figuring it out because she’s such a GENIUS. The sci-fi subplot just becomes a big mess of incomprehensible and pointless plot points that seem to have been added in just for the sake of it… or maybe I'm just stupid and didn't get it, idk.

Hanamiya Nagisa 華宮 凪沙

CV:Tamiyasu Tomoe

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Nagisa was, initially, the character I least wanted to play for some strange reason I fail to understand right now. She is a 3rd year student, and scary as fuck—she is the one person in the school you do not, I repeat, DO NOT want to make an enemy out of. She comes from a very rich and powerful family, hence why she isn’t one to be messed around with. Nagisa plays the love-to-torture-my-cute-little-kouhai onee-san who can be very cruel sometimes, but extremely cute when you get to know her better. I’d take her as my waifu. She attempts to distance herself from the group and doesn’t play much of an important part in any route but her’s and feels pretty much like a backdrop, which was a little disappointing since she is beyond adorable.
I actually enjoyed Nagisa’s route the most, which was a very surprising. Sou’s relationship with her is quite complicated, as she gives him mixed signals and he’s not too sure about what she thinks of him. Unlike with the rest of the characters, Nagisa’s main route leads to nowhere romance wise and because of this it’s quite the tragic end. Her alternative route, however, is perhaps the most hopeful out of the alternative routes, as it ends on a very happy note and we actually get to see some post-school marriage life. I can safely say this was possibly my favorite ending in the game.
Unfortunately, the investigation that takes place during her route is the single most senseless, boring thing ever. Not that the other two to-be resolved mysteries in the other routes were any good either, as their potential was wasted too, but this one just made no sense and had no resolution. In fact, they pretty much adopt somebody else’s hypothesis as their own and decide to bring the curtain down on their investigation. Out of the three ‘normal’ heroines in the game, Nagisa’s route is therefore the one with less sci-fi elements, as it pretty much gives up on it halfway, which was sort of weird, because you’d expect her route to have more clues in it about what is going on, seeing as she is the third character you have to play and this is supposed to be a progressive mystery…

Furukawa Yui 古川 ゆい

CV: Aoyama Yukari

Yui is the game’s mystery character—the first year student that Sou finds lying unconscious and stark naked in a room that’s known as a spot where accidents (such as windows breaking or cardboard boxes falling) frequently happen. She’s set on not telling them what she was doing there, but she seems to know Sou, though he’s pretty sure he’s never seen her before. Yui is hardworking and helplessly innocent and straightforward, and will pretty much do anything you ask her to take care of. She felt very mechanical, especially when speaking to the others, and very childish (which is actually fits with her back-story nicely, so I can’t really complain about it).
Yui’s route is the longest of all routes, and actually has three parts to it. The first two are what you could consider Yui’s main route, the only difference between it and the other routes being that Yui’s ‘good end’ so to speak is actually attached to the ‘bad end’—in other words, the main route doesn’t branch off into two different short endings of roughly the same length like with other routes, but rather the good ending is actually part of the bad ending, as it continues from where the bad ending finishes. The third part to Yui’s route is the game’s TRUE END, that actually picks up from where the good ending finishes and brings the game to a conclusion. Thus, Yui’s whole route is long as fuuuuuck comparatively speaking, and actually feels as the most rewarding story-wise out of the four heroines. It also ties up most of the loose ends, and easily becomes the most solid out of all routes, and thus feels right.


The Voice Acting

Ummmm do I have any special mentions? I’d say the cast was great overall, but there wasn’t anything in particular that made me think wow I must mention that in my review. Awesome voice casting, but as always the kya's where very over the top…
Props to Kenny’s CV though, Yamaguchi Kappei, for his funny Engrish lines (even if they made no sense half the time) and weird tones, because they actually made me laugh a lot.


The H scenes

Pretty good, I guess? Fap material for those who play VNs for the +18 content, decent scenes for those not too interested in it. As usual, we never get to see the protagonist’s face (WHY?! I know this is a VN aimed at a male audience, but why?! It's like she’s being raped by a no-head, no-body, only-penis man half the time  ಠ_ಠ I WOULD LIKE TO SEE BOTH PARTIES, PLEASE).
There’s a total of 17 H scenes, which is quite a lot for an eroge that's actually not that long. As you progress through the routes, each character gets an extra H scene than the previous one, so Kaori has the least. They were also really long, but I think that’s just because they felt long in comparison to the time we spend on the actual story.  There was a lot of chit-chat through it and before it. I actually quite enjoyed them, though they sometimes became a little tedious and I found myself wishing they were shorter. But overall, they were good.

The Artwork

Do I even have to make any comments?
Misaki Kurehito and Kuroya Shinobu's character designs and drawings are gorgeous.
And the characters are animated.
THEY’RE. ANIMATED.
Their mouths move and their eyes blink.


The sprites also move around the screen, it was just like watching anime.


Music

There’s nothing that particularly stood out from the soundtrack, really. I enjoyed the opening and ending theme songs, but not enough to listen to them 24/7. The rest of the tracks mainly use the theme song tune, so they quickly became boring and repetitive. The action scene soundtracks actually really got on my nerves, and somehow it made the scenes drag on for me. But the sci-fi pieces were great, and I actually stopped playing just to listen to the background music.
We also get a whole load of new pieces during Yui’s TRUE END route that you never get to hear during the rest of the game, which contributes to her ending being the best out of all endings.
All in all, there were only one or two pieces that I actually liked in the whole game, and a bit too many I didn’t like.

System & Gameplay

Very straight forwards, very simple system. It has a few funky cool futuristic features, and the design is very modern. The play screen is very wide, which I loved, and the buttons make funky sounds when you hover your mouse over them. To unblock certain features you had to finish certain routes, which was quite cool too.
Overall, very clean, neat and modern design. Loved it.


Conclusions

I unfortunately made the one mistake you must never make: judge a book by its cover. I bought it impulsively in a second hand shop when I saw it was so cheap (I’m sorry, low prices for things I like are my greatest weakness).The VN isn’t awful, it’s actually pretty good, very much above average, and a really fun ride, but I guess my expectations were a tad too high. I’d just finished playing an otoge (Koezaru wa Akai Hana) with an amazing storyline at the time I played this, so that might be why. Going back to VNs orientated towards a male audience might’ve been too much of a shock lol. However, playing it again (even if I skipped through most of the scenes I still remembered) made me think it wasn’t such a bad ride after all.

The Good:

  • The beautiful artwork
  • The animated sprites
  • THE BLINKING EYES AND MOVING MOUTHS
  • Interesting sci-fi subplot that makes the VN slightly different from the rest, even if it isn’t much of a thing.
  • The TRUE END and the sci-fi subplot give the game a sense of continuity, and the whole thing feels like one long story
  • The artwork
  • The artwork
  • …. The artwork?

The Bad:

  • Very stereotypical high school setting, with a group of friends who are members of the same club.
  • An attempt at a sci-fi subplot that sort of falls flat on its head
  • Because the mystery is resolved progressively throughout the routes, the first ones you play have endings with big plot holes.
  • Some routes are shorter than others.
  • The TRUE END makes the rest of the routes feel as if they were never actually meant to be, and Yui’s route becomes the only logical ending.
  • Enforced playing order (though you may not really care about this)


FINAL VERDICT!

Give it a go(?)

Play it for the artwork and the blinking characters. DO IT.
But not so much for the story…

I’d say it’s a high ‘Give it a go(?)’ and a low ‘Shakespeare approves’.

I'll be missing the original voice cast in the anime... only Kenny and Nagisa have the same voice actors...



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