Gardening Team Alpha Squad Redux.
I always hate finishing a VN I really like. It kind of feels like a friend is going away and you’ll never know when you’ll see them next. In this case, however, I do know when I’ll see them next, which is Harvest Festa, but I’m not sure if that totally counts. Either way, Rewrite is something I’ll probably remember for a pretty long time. Flawed in quite a few ways but enjoyable in far, far more. From it’s incredibly creative way of showing it’s message, it’s incredibly dark shift in tone, its great sound-track and one of my favorite common routes I’ve ever experienced, mostly due to the hilariously bright cast of characters. Speaking of which, I think Key is going to have to find a way to mix a straight-up foreigner in there next VN. Kud was half and even she has been eclipsed by the ever so absurd Kotori as far as butchering the english language goes. I don’t know how Key plans on topping themselves after this one. Maybe the next setting could be in boston. That’d work.
So, I’ll just say this now, because the first couple of things I’m about to say are probably going to make it sound like I don’t like Rewrite and that couldn’t be further from the truth; I think Rewrite is the best thing Key has made. By a long shot. My favorite will probably always be Little Busters due to the relatability of its message, but as far as just being good, Rewrite takes it. I think everyone could guess at least the barebones of Rewrites message just by reading the synopsis, which at first glance can probably come off as.. a sort of pro-recycling/pro-environment story with the occasional “humans suck!” chant from the VN, but at it’s best that’s a skeleton. Rewrite is far bigger in scope than that.
Rewrite gives us a rather dark look at humanity’s relationship with the world we occupy. It showcases how humans can really resort to sledgehammer tactics and infighting even though it’d be in everyone’s interest to work together. Humanity has to get pushed to the breaking point and to the point of crumbling all-together before they work together which can result in far too many sacrifices because we all seem to be caught up in our own agenda unless the future is staring at us in the eyes. This doesn’t even cover all of the character lessons it shows from Kotarous perspective, and I could probably sit here and think of a ton more ways that Rewrite is thought-provoking and creative, but we have limited space here, and I must always look to stem my gushes at least somewhat constructively.
I’m sure everyone has probably read a few of the Rewrite reviews floating around already, probably most people have seen Ixrec’s primarily, so you probably know what cons I’m about to list. Not so much about the shōnen tropes, but the length is something worth mentioning. A rather small amount, but noticeable amount of scenes go a bit farther than they need to. I wouldn’t say it’s any sort of deal breaker, but this VN would still be really long even if you trimmed out the scenes that dragged on for longer then they should have. And I don’t really see how, but if you don’t like the humor of the common route, the whole section might honestly seem a bit pointless outside of character showcasing. It’s borderline, really, but I think it’s enough to say that Rewrite’s length does work against it sometimes and it probably will for most people too.
One other thing that I feel like I should mention is that Rewrite does occasionally suffer from a bit of a mood swap. This seems to be one of the bigger complaints I see with Rewrite. Having multiple writers sometimes doesn’t really do it any favors as we switch from one genre to the next, so sometimes just the sheer difference in style can be off-putting to some people. Anyways, I admit that Rewrite does sometimes suffer from a bit of a jarring identity crisis, but I don’t think the shift in mood is as breakneck as people say, and I think the reason people find these shifts so jarring is because they missile in on the shonen tropes being played so straight. So, really, it’s up to you, but I feel like the shift in mood is noticeable and might generally be off-putting to enough people to warrant me saying it.
At the end of the day though, these complaints are quite minor. Although I seem to be one of the rare people who actually liked all the side-routes despite how flawed some of them are. And to be fair, I think that even the worst side-routes of Rewrite are above the worst side routes of some of other Key works. Some zig-zag in quality with absolute frightful precision to the point where you could swear they were doing it intentionally and I feel like I always got at least something answered in most of the side routes, but this seems to be quite argued among people, so I’ll just leave this here and see what you think.
Anyways let’s not be totally 2serious4everyone here. Need to keep this entertaining enough so that everyone doesn’t immediately TL;DR it. Let’s get into a couple of specifics. Liiike.. the common and side routes!
Crusherdere vs The Chihaya Dozer
You know, the thing I’ll always give Key is that no matter who is doing it, they always produce some rather hilarious common routes, and they really out-did themselves with this one. The incredibly goofy and fun atmosphere of this left me always happy when I was going through it. I remember actually dreading going into a side route because I kind of knew I was going to get a big kick in the face for it. I feel like Key is really starting to intentionally screw with us here. I used to think that Key was just making it easier to connect with the happiness of the characters before ripping it out of our hands, but in this one it feels like they’re just stapling still fresh meat on us before releasing us to the lake filled with sharks. With all the little bits of foreshadowing in the common route getting placed beside all the humor and fun slice of life segments I swear you can almost sense the malice in Keys eyes here. You aren’t fooling me, you heartless bastards.
Awkward and unfunny analogy aside, if you don’t like the humor portion of Rewrite, I would probably accuse you of being satan. Before that though you’ll probably find that a lot of it is.. a bit pointless. It really is a lot of character highlighting with tinges of mystery splashed on here and there to remind you that you aren’t in Kansas anymore. Then again, though, even if it is just using glowing lights to point at characters, I’d still argue there’s a point to that. Of course, though, too much of a good thing can be bad. And arguably the common route is a bit too long, but it’ll probably depend on how much you yourself enjoyed the whole thing. And I did. Enough to actually go back and find a few more things that I missed before.
Some would even say the common route left me feeling quite booby.
I, too, was overcome with booby feelings.
Now, before I go into the side routes, I need to enter a slight ranty-esque mode of mine for a second. Yes, Rewrite does have a problem with the side routes really looking really small and seemingly worthless story-wise. Is it a flaw? Yes. It is. Do Rewrites side-routes make sense within the context of the story? Yes. Do they offer anything? Yes, albeit some more then others. Rewrites side-routes are made specifically to clear the sky, lay the blanket, buy the fire-works and set it all up before letting the fire works fly for Moon and Terra so you can enjoy the show while they sink into the shadows. Almost everything Key has done has the same flaw of turning side-routes into nothing but party confetti, the only difference is Rewrite is a hell of a lot more freaking blunt about it. Yes, Other Key works side-routes might mean more to the overall story, but i’d argue Rewrites mean a lot more to the reader and about as much to the characters. The reason it’s not as obvious in the other Key works is because Rewrites story is just simply bigger and broader so that it’s a hell of a lot more noticeable. So, yes. Rewrites side routes do lack a lot of route continuity and it is a problem that I wish most VN’s would solve. Yes, Rewrite does make side routes look small. Yes, they tie in and yes there is a point in reading them, but as I said, some are better then others in this.
First, Chihaya and Shizuru, since there’s no point in putting it off. Shizuru is really a lot of foreshadowing which I guess isn’t really entirely neccessary, but I think it helps to see what Guardian is like. Mostly because it helps see the characters in Guardian who become rather important later on so it won’t feel quite as random, which Lucia’s despite being on the Guardian side of things aswell doesn’t really do all that much of. And I’d also say Shizuru’s route is a rather good indicator of what happens when shit gets really, really bad, incase you were wondering what a worst case scenario would be like. Chihayas, which I managed to like despite all its hilariously obvious flaws for reasons I have a hard time explaining, is mostly there to explain most things related to the Rewrite ability. What it can give, what happens if you do too much of it, etc etc. And of course Sakuya, my husbando. I guess you could probably say it’s just foreshadowing, but I think that’s kind of unfair.
Akane and Kotori’s.. well, they set quite a lot up, really. Those are probably the most important despite Kotori’s route being a little derpy on one side. Akane’s route really is a must-read though, although I can’t say a lot of it would make much sense if you decided to read hers quickly, and it sure as hell can get hard to read sometimes. Kotori’s is.. well, a pretty general scope that it gives you. It kind of lays the basic framework for everything else to take place on. It’s like.. the set-up for the set-up, if that makes any sense. Kotori’s route kind of suffered from having half of it have a romance focus that was incredibly ambigious and far too in the air to take seriously, and Akane’s route had a problem where it tried to sell us on a relationship that seemed to mostly take place off-screen and away from view, but the latter has a lot more going for it. So, yeah. Take it for what you will.
Then theres Lucias which get’s its own section because I’m biased as shit. She wins my award for best side-route of the VN. It comes equipped with one of the most colorful side characters I’ve seen in a while, emotional ups and downs, a rather intriguing separation from the rest of Rewrite, was relatable, a rather rattling horror segment and a satisfying conclusion. I find it actually hard to criticize besides the fact that it doesn’t really offer much as far as story-building goes towards the main plot of Rewrite. It is fairly independent, but I think it adds to what makes it so interesting in the first place. So, good job Lucia for winning my side-route award, now please stop hitting me.
So, yes. Akane and Lucia are the two winners here as far as the side-route royal rumble goes. I wouldn’t call any of them pointless but the two here definitely stand.. above them. Kotori’s really is a good set-up, but I felt like it could have been quite a lot better. So, moving on from this, let’s start repeating what I said before about Moon and Terra!
KAGARI FROM OUTTA NO-WHERE!
I’m not sure really what to say, besides damn. Really, even if you found the rest of the game average before getting here it’s hard to not notice just how awesome Moon and Terra are. It is, as I said before, a bit sad to see how much quality jumps when it comes down to the true-endings of visual novels, but, whatever. I find it hard to complain if it’s the only way to give us great stuff like this. Moon, even for all it’s absurdly cryptic ways of delivering information, was just really interesting way of answering a lot of the questions we had in the side-routes. I wouldn’t say the big reveal is dripping in wow factor, but it’s certainly creative, and rather depressing to see unfold. I slightly understand all the confusion when it comes to Moon, but not it’s not like it tries to hide things from you. You just.. actually have to read it. It’s a simple concept, really. Who knew. Anyways, I actually think Moon is quite a bit underrated. Everyone, including myself sometimes, always talk about the greatness of Terra, but I don’t think it would have had nearly the impact of Moon wasn’t delivered the way it was.
Speaking of Terra, that was pretty good too. Y’know.. with the whole.. well, everything. All of Rewrites themes really play a part in Terra and almost all the good I’ve mentioned about Rewrite takes place inside the games finale. I still hold on to the statement I made before, which is that Terra really could use a damn trip to the amusement park sometimes, because I swear if it gets any sadder it’s going to need therapy, but again that’s not even a complaint. Terra really is all the good coming together in Rewrite and delivers a rather satisfying and, in my opinion, surprisingly happy conclusion to Rewrite. If you’re wondering why I don’t say more, it’s that I really don’t know how to word Terra in general. So, this is what you get.
One more thing to say that I beat to death in my finale Review is Kagari. Thinking back on it now, I am really, really glad they stayed away from some sort of romance between Kotarou and Kagari. Too often do we see the whole problem revolve around a couple that seems to only get fed bullshit because a really bored grim reaper and luck decided they’d fuck around this two people specifically. Sure, it doesn’t carry the same emotional impact, but it goes to show that the theme of love doesn’t always have to be nailed to some sort of heart breaking relationship to get its point across. Kagari not only didn’t need a relationship to establish herself as a character, she didn’t need one to come off as someone you could genuinely care about. Of course, this is for me and your experience will probably differ, but I find it a bit unbelievable to say that Kagari has no merit as a character without a relationship. If they had put a romantic focus here, I think it would have either A) completely overshadowed the main point of Terra, or B) Been unnaturally forced in for no real reason AND along with either of those, been a detriment to the mystery behind Kagari’s character. Kagari didn’t need it, the theme of love didn’t need it, Terra didn’t need it. I’m glad it stayed that way.
I feel like this whole review is just me ripping up stupid problems I see a lot of people complain about that either don’t exist or have no basis for them. Ugh. Too late to go back on it now. So, let’s try to at least end this with an actual semblance of sanity, aye?
I’m walking on sunshine~
OVERALL THOUGHTS, REVIEW AND WHATNOT?!
It’s hard for me to really recommend Rewrite. The identity crisis I mentioned earlier really makes it so I’m not really sure what it’s target audience it’s supposed to be. Even if it was simply Akane’s route, Moon and Terra I still don’t think I’d know who would really enjoy a story like Rewrites. This is probably why it’s so polarized in the first place, which I think I’m going to forever call Chaos;Head syndrome. People expect Rewrite to be something it’s not and get a little bit too mad when seeing that it didn’t fit their vision. Rewrite has a lot to offer someone, I think. A lot of imagination and thought-provoking themes go into it, and I would like to see more people read it with an open mind rather than expecting to be something it’s not.
However, that crap isn’t going to stop me. Yes, you should read Rewrite. I enjoyed it immensely and it managed to fit itself into my Top 5. If you’re looking for a score, I’m afraid I can’t offer you one, but I can simply say it’s all damn worth it. However, remember what I said before. There is a rather slow but noticeable shift in mood and tone as you read on, and it is really unlike anything else Key has made before. It’s also quite a huge time investment and the side routes really are person-by-person. I found a way to enjoy something out of all of them, but you might not. Also, if you are looking straight entertainment, Rewrite really can be quite the downer. All the side routes are rather depressing, including Moon and Terra, so I can’t say it’s exactly fun to read sometimes.
Even with all that being said, there’s simply too much Rewrite offers to the open mind for me to really say you shouldn’t read it for any reason I’ve said. An incredibly creative and damn great story, a rather fun and great cast of characters, some deep and thought-provoking messages about how we interact with the world we live on and some interesting insight about how humanity deals with the future. Not everyone will find it as enjoyable as I did, but I think if given the chance Rewrite will have something for almost everyone, regardless of how much you liked X or Y. I really do think it’s the best thing Key has ever released. It may not have the emotional impact of Clannad, the big ‘wow’ moment of Air, or relatable theme and energy of Little Busters, but the story and scope of everything are bigger, broader and far, far more creative.
So, try it! Go in with an open mind. Don’t expect to like everything like I did, though. I’m probably a bit different in this case since it hit a lot of cylinders which I really liked. Don’t go into it comparing it with anything else Key has done or whatever. Don’t expect a high romance focus. Just go in and try to take something away from it. It’s worth your time, I promise.
So! With that, what’s next, you might ask! Well, thanks to Ixrec pointing me in the right direction and my own interest, my next big VN will probably be Sekien no Inganock, however it looks like I might be a bit busy for a bit, so I might need something a bit lighter. I might do a small thing for Harvest Festa if I’m feeling up to it, but I kind of shot these reviews out in rapid fire, so I might take a bit of a break for now, so I’ll see you whenever I decide to write again!
Ciao for now
See you next time!