While still at the beginning of Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~ (SubaHibi) my thoughts where about how good this work is already and how I should write a Review so more people would read this. After finishing it this changed into ‘how can anyone finish this and write a normal Review about it?’. So I’m not going to, but still trying to get across why this is worth reading.
SubaHibi is an Eroge/Visual Novel that was released in 2010 by KeroQ and written by Sca-Ji. There are plans to release the game officially in the west in the near future and I hope people will end up supporting that.
One of the first differences to most other works in the medium is how the story is structured; SubaHibi is essentially made of five parts that all feature a different protagonist, but most of it happens around the same time in July 2012. The reason for this is the prophecy about the Last Sky, the end of world. Honestly I think people should go preferably into this without knowing too much about the story. There is only a little bit of overlap that is compensated with all the new information due to the perspective change. Writing about the story without spoilers would only scratch on the surface and therefore wouldn’t do it any justice. I should note that Down the Rabbit Hole I is quite different from the rest and forms with Down the Rabbit Hole II what is basically the prologue. Also reading all the endings of all the parts is strongly advised for understanding SubaHibi as a whole.
It should be noted that SubaHibi is really dark, while there are funny moments as a whole it’s depressing and disturbing. It’s not pulling punches and plenty of content in itself is likely nothing people will actually enjoy reading. None of that extreme content is there just to shock or similar, but strongly tied with the message/meaning of it all. Some scenes took me a while to read while taking deep breaths and being close to just quitting the game and doing something else. There was even a time where I put the headphones down to get through a scene. I’m glad that I kept reading though, since in the end I got a unique experience that was worth those moments and made me think about all kinds of things. While there are other works who are similar to parts of SubaHibi there is nothing comparable to the whole title.
SubaHibi’s use of philosophy clearly sets it apart from other works, since it’s build around the Tractatus logico-philosophicus. It is putting Wittgenstein’s logical statements into narrative form without just being a literary reading of it. Another aspect is how and with what themes it is dealing in general. Which most other ‘entertainment’ works wouldn’t touch, since these tend to be not entertaining, easily digestible and ‘postive’. Two other things that are prominent influences are Cyrano de Bergerac and Lucky Star which shows just how wide the range is that influenced Sca-Ji here. I don’t think that it is needed to be familiar with any of the referenced works to understand SubaHibi. All the important aspects of those works are pretty well integrated and explained when it is needed. Even without any of the philosophical background the story would be able to stand on it’s own. If anything people should be inspired to pick up some of the referenced works after reading SubaHibi when they are interested into delving further into the matter.
What is szak did for the Soundtrack is some extremely good work, plenty of tunes that can stand on it’s own and enhance the scenes they are used in. The Seiyuu’s are all really good and those scenes where horrible things happen wouldn’t be as bad without their excellent work. There are more than enough CGs to get a feel for the scenes. The only point that could be criticized is that the prose in those text parts at the beginning that where taken from Tsui no Sora are worse than the parts that are not. Which isn’t suprising considering how Tsui no Sora came out 11 years before SubaHibi. Not that I feel like this matters much and I would probably even overlook plenty of other things for an experience such as this.
In a way SubaHibi is the Antithesis to the claim that Eroge would need to get rid of the Ero-Scenes to become more than what they are. The Ero is as essential here as are the quotes Sca-Ji is using to tell this story. Removing the Ero would water down the core of it and would change it drastically. The Ero in itself isn’t used like usually, most of the scenes could hardly be called erotic and those scenes who carry a sense of eroticism are de-eroticized in time due to the underlying narrative. Lust isn’t playing an important role in those scenes, at least not from the perspective that reader/protagonist is taking. Sex turns into a cycle of punishment and salvation, the meaning of the act becomes more important than the act itself. The sexual content is often on the extreme end of the spectrum, for a story-focused title like this, but that content is not meant to be enjoyed by the reader.
There is plenty of sexual, psycholgical and physical violence shown over the course of the story and therefore the 18+ rating should be taken very seriously. I think it is one of those titles where a lot of people would say after wards how it changed their view on things and had some sort of strong influence on their life. This should make clear that there is a lot more to SubaHibi than just suffering.
Hopefully my ramblings make sense and some people look forward to reading this.