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What is a Visual Novel? Explaining VNs and their termilogy.

Discussion in 'Visual' started by AirConditioner, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. AirConditioner Der Rosenkavalier Schwarzwald

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    What is a Visual Novel?

    A Visual Novel is more or less what the term means. It's a novel presented in a visual format, or rather, it's a game that is really focused on text heavy story-telling rather than gameplay - due to most visual novels' gameplay consisting of only picking ''choices'' that decide onto what story branch you will be going to. They present a novel or rather a text heavy story with the support of visuals, sound and voices - some older VNs may not have voices though.

    What are routes and choices in visual novels? And how are visual novels told?

    Most visual novels are told in the perspective of the protagonist which means you'll be viewing everything that happens through the protagonist's eyes and his descriptions. This can sometimes give greater meaning or impact to scenes by knowing what the protagonist is exactly thinking during them as well as flesh out the protagonist more strongly. However, there are Visual Novels that have the perspective of ''God'' rather than the protagonist, in which you read everything in detail, more or less, from the perspective of a third unrelated party or rather ''God's perspective''.

    Now, while the player doesn't really have much power over the Visual Novel (more so than a reader of a book would, really), the player still has the option of being able to pick choices that would decide onto what route the story moves on or rather, what heroine the protagonist ends picking through a series of choices. Routes are branching story-lines in Visual Novels that approach the meaning of the story and it's ending through different events and mindsets (as choices can easily change one's mindset).

    They usually consist of the common route, which is a route that focuses on the start of the VN to the point where it branches off into actual route, and few or many heroine routes (but not necessarily ''heroine'' routes in some VNs as they might not have heroines or aren't heroine focused). Of course, reading through every route would be warranted due to the nature of Visual Novels and routes being in the fact that the branching story-lines end up contextualizing each other and giving greater meaning to the whole story than just reading one route. In fact, some Visual Novels even have an enforced route play order, which would mean you'd have to play one route to unlock or understand an another route.

    Sub-types of Visual Novels:

    However, not ALL Visual Novels are focused on choices or routes in general as there are a sub type of Visual Novels which is the following:
    1. Kinetic Novel: A sub-type of Visual Novels that has no presence of choices or routes so all you do is just sit back and read the story. An example would be Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
    2. Sound Novel: A sub-type of Visual Novel that focuses more heavily on the sound rather than the visuals (in the form of CGs) in order to build up a more heavy atmosphere to the text or ''visualize'' the story. An example would be the Higurashi sound novel.
    3. Gameplay-heavy Visual Novels: Well, this specific sub-type has actual gameplay unlike other Visual Novels. Of course not nearly as much as you'd find in an actual game, but they are still gameplay focused and needless to say, there's a number of these that give more focus to the gameplay rather the story - albeit, there's also those that give more focus to it's story rather than it's gameplay. An example would be Baldr Sky. Another thing to note is that some JRPGs, while not really Visual Novels, are treated as VNs by the general community due to having heavy similarities with a Visual Novel. An example of this would be Fate/Extra and Fate/Extra CCC that uses CGs (not a numerous amount though) to visualize some scenes, is divided up into routes and is viewed from the general VN protagonist perspective with story heavy bits.
    Visual Novel terminology and subgenres:

    Visual Novels consist of a numerous amount of subgenres, defining the different types of stories seen in Visual Novels. Coincidentally, a good number of these terms were coined in the western community and later got caught on even in Japanese visual novel communities. Subgenres consist of the following:

    1. Charage (Lit. ''Character Game''): Defines a game focused on character interaction, but not necessarily an overarching plot. As most Visual Novel contain heroine routes, Charage could be considered one of the most numerous type of Visual Novels due to heroine routes tend to go into character development, interpersonal relationships, and intense personal stories for individual heroines.
    2. Chuunige (Chuu2): A slang term coined by the western community using the term ''chuunibyou''. These types of Visual Novels focus on stories with lots of fights, superpowers, energy beams, character/attack names that were pulled from norse mythology or other western sources because they sound cool, extreme power levels, and other supernatural phenomena. Examples of this would be Fate/Stay Night, Steins; Gate, Dies Irae, etc.
    3. Moege: A somewhat controversial term, but basically a title whose main appeal is a very lighthearted feel-good story with cutesy "moe" characters and visuals. A rather fine line defines what might be a Charage or Moege, so they could be considered not to be mutually exclusive.
    4. Nakige (Lit. ''Crying Game''): A subgenre focusing on making the reader cry, basically. A nakige's defining feature is light-hearted, comedic, and heart-warming first half to get the player to attached to the characters before shifting the plot into more tragic scenarios which serves to leave a bigger impact on the player and make the game itself more memorable. Examples of this would be all of Key's Visual Novels, really. Clannad, Rewrite, Little Busters, etc.
    5. Utsuge (Lit. ''Depressing Game''): Different from Nakige in the fact that rather than focusing on making the reader cry, this specific subgenre focuses on making the reader depressed. Unlike Nakige that tend to dish out a ''good end'' after everything, Utsuge is more so an unforgiving subgenre that tends to leave the reader on a bittersweet ending. An example would be Kara no Shoujo 1 and 2.
    6. Otomege (Lit. ''Maiden Game''): Essentially a game with the gender roles reversed. The player plays as a female main character, and the focus of the game is dating males. Note: The presence of a "playable" female main character does not necessarily make a game an otomege
    7. Eroge: A genre that means ''erotic game''. As it implies, this genre of VNs possesses erotic content, but it's not directly a hentai game due to the nature of older story-heavy VNs containing erotic scenes (hardly a numerous amount though) in which the protagonist makes love to the respective heroine.
    8. Nukige (Lit. ''Fap Game''): Unlike the genres above, this is literally a hentai game. They tend to have an extremely weak plot not worth reading, if there's any at all, and more so focus on... well, hentai. There's not much to say about them. They're the hentai side of VN genres just like hentai anime are the ''hentai side'' of normal anime.
    Concerning 18+ content in Visual Novels:

    Now as many may know already, Visual Novels tend to have a small number of 18+ content in it's story in which, like I said above, the protagonist makes love to the heroine. This is due to the fact that Visual Novels weren't an actual popular thing until only recently, so most of them were doujin projects that later on got picked up by actual companies. On that same note, most newer story-rich VNs don't have 18+ content anymore due to not requiring them at all. Whether you read the hentai content or not doesn't matter as they're not really important to the story what so ever so you can just skip them.

    Saying this because there's no need to get discouraged by sex scenes in a story (in case you're that type of person) as the sex scenes don't really devalue anything. They're just there. The story is perfectly fine so just skip the sex scenes.


    And that's pretty much all I have to say about this. If I got something wrong or you wish to add something onto the thread or just change something in general, feel free to post below and I'll change whatever.

  2. AirConditioner Der Rosenkavalier Schwarzwald

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    If people want me to, I can create a thread for listing general ''Visual Novels you should read in your life time'' recommendations, but there's no specific reason to make the thread unless you guys want me to.
    Kame likes this.
  3. Kame Heaven's Feel

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    That last bit, some people seem to think that defines visual novels. Nice thread.

    U stil suk tho
  4. Ars Almadel Salomonis your fav animay is trash desu

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    whoever edits or deletes this message apart from myself is gey
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016

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