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Visual Novel: don't take it personally babe, it just ain't your story

don't take it personally babe, it just ain't your story [sic] is a 2011 Visual Novel by Christine Love, creator of Digital: A Love Story and Analogue: A Hate Story.

Set in the year 2027, the protagonist is a middle-aged guy called John Rook who, in the midst of a nasty mid-life crisis, switches careers and becomes a high school English Literature teacher. His new school has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, and to help facilitate this, Rook is (discreetly) given complete and total access to the school's social networking service, including all the private messages of his students.

Can Rook sort out his own personal problems, learn to be a good teacher to his students and keep the lid on his voyeurism?


don't take it personally babe it just ain't your story provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: The first 12channel thread you view is one long one on the typical Visual Novel. It's got shameless fanservice, the amazingly Japanese title, romance, utsuge, tsundere, and more Japanese Media Tropes than you can shake a stick at. It's also one of the typical Visual Novel fan and anti-fan: the former tries to desperately convince others that it's got more to it than sex, while the latter thinks it's only about boning a big-breasted 15-year-old girl.
  • all lowercase letters: The title.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Ms. Yamazaki, one of Akira's moms. When she confronts you over Taylor's bullying, she's incredibly brusque, straightforward, and furious, which carries onto when she calls Rook about something she just figured out, which flips out Rook, as it has to be about his spying. It isn't.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Shades of this. At least Taylor is.
  • Alpha Bitch: Taylor, who harasses Akira repeatedly after manipulating Nolan and Akira into giving her information, to the point where Akira breaks up with Nolan.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: You MUST get under Arianna's spell, instead of handling her with fatherly sympathy.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Akira has an amazingly embarrassing ka-san. He'll mention her insanity quite a bit. Rook never actually meets her, but if he goes to the dance with Akira, Nolan finds out just how eccentric she is first-hand.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Nolan. He says he's just dating Akira to make him happy and have a friend, but it very quickly becomes clear that things are more serious than that, especially given his reaction to Taylor convincing Akira to break up with him.
  • Arc Words: "That's it for the day. Well... as far as classes go, anyway."
  • Author Appeal: The reason for Cast Full of Gay.
    • The Rant: And be prepared to hear plenty of reasons why high school English is awful.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: And his name is Mr. Rook. As it turns out, everyone knows, but nobody really cares.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Akira's mom posts on AmieConnect on the topic of his coming out in Japanese. It roughly translates to "It's about time you did lololol" Though not in a very natural-sounding way.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: In the end, no one cares about Rook's spying. This bizarre, obsolete concept called "privacy" is nonexistent in this generation of children, who grew up using Facebook (not known for being very private) and saying stupid shit on the internet. Akira's mom points out that it's not very different from kids passing around school notes, and that these kids are smart enough not to air really dirty laundry. Their sense of humor is similarly bizarre.
  • Book Dumb: Most of the class is doing pretty badly in John's class, and it's probably not all due to his inexperience and the frequent distractions from his actual job. It doesn't matter anyway, because in the end the school imposes a ridiculously generous grading curve to maintain their reputation.
    • The fact that the entire class pulled a large prank on him thinking that Isabelle killed herself, up to and including getting someone to play a ghost and spam his inbox with creepy messages, didn't help things either.
  • Brain Bleach: John's normal reaction to thinking about his students having sex.
  • Brand X: AmieConnect is totally not Facebook, and 12channel is totally not 4chan or 2ch/an (and not 12chan either, you perv)! Amusingly, the former "real thing" is referred to by name towards the end, and the Internet equivalent of a Collective Groan occurs when an (old at the time of the game's publication, much more so by 2027) Interrupting Meme from the latter appears in its equivalent.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Implied with Kendall, who makes up a flipped perspective on the use of gore and horror in a violent story. Then again, it was on the topic of Battle Royale... and Rook wasn't very impressed.
  • But Thou Must: The VN stops you at several points and forces you to lurk on 12channel. It does the same thing if you don't read a plot-relevant status update or message soon enough.
  • Camp Gay: Akira.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Even lampshaded in a message by Taylor. Although out of the 8 main characters, 4 are straight, 2 are gay, and 2 are most likely bisexual, so it's a pretty even split.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ichigo Yamazaki shows up as the only non-student on AmieConnect long before she actually has a significant role in the plot.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Rook if you decide to romance Arianna. When she over at his house watching TV he's almost in physical pain from his arousal but refuses to even entertain the idea of having sex with her.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Taylor, who says some... not-terribly-nice things in pursuit of Nolan. You can chew her out for it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Rook's first 12channel thread has some anon desperately try to convince the rest of 12channel that the visual novel he's playing has an amazing, emotional story, despite the fact you bone a 15 year old in it. The rest of 12channel think it's just more creepy Chinese cartoon porn shit.
    i like the fact that you bone a 15 year old in it
    COME ON.
    I did olololololo
    Okay, so did I ololololol
  • Continuity Nod: The girl in the Kimono that's been guilt tripping you as a joke? She the daughter of your character from Digital: A Love Story.
    • Rook shares a name with J. Rook, the sysop for Lake City Local and a minor character in Digital: A Love Story. He was born during the same time frame, too, and has been involved with computers and admin stuff.
  • Cool Teacher: Rook tries to be one.
    • Sadist Teacher: At times, he gets frustrated to the point of being this, and can verbally beat the shit out of Taylor if he's in a relationship with Arianna and she attempts to blackmail him over it, and point-blank tells Kendall that he doesn't care if she fails or not later on, after being frustrated with Kendall's constant distractedness. The principal tells you point-blank to not care about Isabella's suicide, as her parents weren't paying tuition.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Inverted. The gays in the class are, for the most part, quite sane and well-adjusted, while the heteros have all sorts of emotional issues.
  • Driven to Suicide: Isabella... But not really. Akira and almost the entire class pulls a prank on you when they figure out you thought she killed herself.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If you're bored/perverted enough and got Kendall and Charlotte together and type in the bit.ly urls they provide when they're both posing for each other, the urls lead to (now dead) links. You can get into the pictures, but that requires sleuthing and a very shameful mind.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The moment John Rook comes into class and introduces himself, the students begin discussing him online.
  • Fan Disservice: If you Decide to romance Arianna most of the CG scenes are disturbing.
  • Fan of Underdog: Arianna, and you are the Underdog.
  • Fille Fatale: lampshaded by this article's title.
  • Four Point Scale: The student grades get pushed into this after they're off your desk, so the school will not lose funding.
  • Foreshadowing: The 12channel posts and the books Rook teaches always reflect what's going on with the students.
    • Also shows up in the students' posts after they discuss Rook's reasons for changing their study of Romeo and Juliet to Twelfth Night. Specifically, they express surprise that he's taking Isabella's suicide so seriously. Well, hell, it's a suicide. Of course he's taking it seriously! But once you realize that Isabella's death was a hoax, their surprise becomes more understandable: it's them realizing that Rook truly has fallen for their prank.
    • The "this is not going to have a happy ending" meta-conversation in Chapter Three as the class goes into Battle Royale, where someone kills herself. Except not, because she actually moved away.
    • During Kendall and Akira's performance, they mention the plot to Digital: A Love Story. They then spoil the plot to the sequel: a girl faking her death actually just moves away.
  • Genki Girl: Kendall, who also brings this out in Charlotte.
  • Genre Savvy: Somewhat with Rook. He can tell immediatly when Arianna is going to make a move on him.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Akira calls one of his mothers “Mom” and the other “Ka-san” (Japanese equivalent to “Mom”)
    • On Akira's coming out post Ichigo (one of his moms) posts this in the comments. It roughly translates to "finally olololol"
  • Greek Chorus: AmieConnect. A rare example where all of the characters serve as the Greek Chorus for each other.
    • 12channel. And while everyone's anonymous, it appears that some of the characters post on there as well.
  • Has Two Mommies: Akira is stated to have a mother and another mother.
  • High School Dance: The plot of chapter 6.
  • Hot Teacher: John Rook is extremely well preserved for being nearly forty years old, a fact that does not go unnoticed by the students. It's the reason why Arianne begins to pursue him.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Nolan finally settles on this when it comes to his relationship with Akira. His AmieConnect status even reflects this: "Straight, but with one exception".
  • Image Boards: Mr. Rook is a lurker on 12channel, and several cast members are heavily implied to be participating. Imageboard culture mostly hasn't changed over the course of 16 years, though there's far less cursing, trolling, and general misanthropy, and someone gets made fun of for using The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, though Rook is using a "stupidity filter". Also, Akira and Kendall act out a thread for their big project...
  • Ironic Echo: Nolan's "there's being pathetic, and being pathetic" comment, his complaint about people emasculating Akira, Rook telling someone to "why don't you have a seat", and Akira being annoyed at something everyone else already knew but him.
  • It's All About Me: Taylor. And when you chew her out over her treatment of Akira, it becomes clear that it's to an absolutely insane degree.
    Nolan: She just really is that retarded about other people's feelings.
    • Trying to live her romantic story, Arianna is convinced Rook's rejection must be no other than chivalrous care for her, rather than concern for his career or lack of interest; his apologies in the rain, saying she could do better than chase a much older man is insecurity about being good enough for her, instead of trying to let her down gently. Not to mention her entitlement to have him run to comfort her whenever she has private problems, be it surprising him in his flat when he is busy or use his (also coerced) hug to kiss him.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Akira tries to pull this on Nolan after Taylor manages to convince Akira that Nolan isn't attracted to him and that their relationship was making Nolan miserable. Luckily for both of them, Nolan was having none of it.
  • Keet: Akira, BIG TIME.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: When Rook screams at Taylor about her bullying. He feels bad about it but she did having it coming.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Rooks rants to Taylor about how much of a cliche she's being when he decides to dress her down for her bullying.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The literature discussions and 12channel threads relate to the story. For bonus points, one of the first discussions is about the use of Show Within a Show in the Book Within A Show.
  • Leet Lingo: Kendall converses primarily in chanspeak. This is heavily lampshaded in an AmieConnect conversation about how conversations between her and Akira turn out utterly incomprehensible to the point Rooks feels incredibly embarrassed to witness their final project, which is a supposed attempt to emulate a chan thread.
  • Let's Play: Quite a few on YouTube, but the one narrated by LaCool stands out for his hilariously bitter and angry readings of Rook's dialogue with some improvied inner thoughts:
    [After reading a post from Charlotte]: Hey, you know what, Charlotte? Fuck you! Fuck you, Charlotte! You are fucked for this!
  • Long Title: It can't be displayed in full when you're installing the game.
  • Loser Protagonist: At least Rook thinks he is. He even uses it to get Nolan to open up.
    "Listen. I'm a twice divorced 38 year old who only got into teaching as a bizarre mid-life crisis. I'm the last person to judge you."
  • Limited Wardrobe: Akira wears the same shirt several days in a row.
  • Loving a Shadow: Arianna is quick to idealize Rook for pretty shallow reasons.
  • May-December Romance: A 16/17-year old with a 38-year old.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Taylor convinces Akira that Nolan isn't attracted to him, and just hangs out with him because he needs a friend, on top of wringing information out of both of them under the pretense of apologizing and talking to them about their significant others.
    • After Isabella's suicide, Arianna's "talk" with Rook before class (if he turned her down previously) is the height of emotional manipulation. It's even worse in hindsight, when you realize that Isabella wasn't really dead, and Arianna was using Rook's guilt as a tool to instigate an illegal relationship.
      • Even if he doesn't turn her down. She surprises him in his flat and tries to guilt-trip him into sex, then.
  • Metafiction: Both the books on the curriculum and the anime 12channel foreshadow important events. And just to make things double-meta, Rooks even discusses metafiction in one of his classes. Self-parodied in Akira and Charlotte's presentation, which is a very, very awkward and (purposefully) unfunny shadow play in the form of a 12channel thread.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Discussed in-universe regarding Kimi, a character in a Show Within a Show of a magical girl anime who betrayed her best friend.
    "Well, how could you redeem Kimi after that big betrayal? She’s a great, interesting character, but you kinda can’t forgive her for that."
  • Multiple Reference Pun: "Foreshadowing!"
  • Mythology Gag: "J. Rook" was the administrator of the Lake City Local BBS board in Digital: A Love Story. He even acknowledges that his last job was "with computers". This John Rook was also born in 1988, the year Digital: A Love Story takes place in.
    • Akira also mentions a book written by his grandmother, Eriko Yamazaki, called 'Digital Shinigami'. In Digital: A Love Story, Yamazaki is a poster on the Gibson BBS, who mentions that she won't be posting much anymore - even mentioning a book she was in the process of writing - due to her daughter, Ichigo (or, Akira's mother) being born.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Apparently, nobody cares about the dresscode... except for Kendall. Ironically.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted in the ending with Kendall and Charlotte.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Seriously, Arianna? Is the nicest rejection possible from a complete stranger so traumatizing?
  • Obligatory Joke: On the forum, Christine Love said, "All I ask is if you don't like it, come on, at least make the obvious joke ;)". This paid off amusingly in this review, in which the reviewer observes the similarities between Rook's Back Story and his own.
  • Old Save Bonus: Ichigo's friend (the shinigami) will have the last name you entered for your character in Digital: A Love Story if you have a completed save file for it.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Akira, who talks in all lowercase letters, leet speak, chan slang, and all the stereotypical grammatical failings of a teenager, speaks in perfect English when he breaks up with Nolan. Everyone immediately wonders what the hell is going on.
  • Open Secret: The students know you're reading their AmieConnect stuff.
  • Psychologist Teacher: Rooks points out he had to deal with the students' private issues more than the subject, and continually agonizes about it.
  • Pun-Based Title: Most of the chapter names.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Yes, you can give one to Taylor. No, you're not going to get one from Mrs. Yamazaki.
  • Rejection Affection: Arianna in the rain, thanks to Rooks' failure to make his "no" clear enough. Wanting to spare her feelings, he ended up sounding like an Insecure Love Interest.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Kendall and Charlotte, though the latter seems to call herself pansexual.
  • Secret Keeper: Taylor, for Arianna. If Rook cites school policy when chewing Taylor out, she'll fire back by threatening to expose his relationship with Arianna. He talks or bluffs his way out of it.
  • Shared Universe: With Christine Love's other game, Digital: A Love Story, which is set in the Lake City of 1988. Turns out it Never Was This Universe. In this universe, the Internet evolved from an AI cloning itself, and AIs are a common sight. Digital even features a brief appearance by Eriko Yamazaki, Akira's grandmother and author of some of the books Mr. Rook assigns. (Confusingly, there's also a "J. Rook", despite how young that would make John; perhaps his father?)
    • Someone posts about themes of bondage (in the 'restraining' sense, not the sexual sense, just to annoy a horny 12channel poster) and restraint in 16th-century Korea. Guess what the next game featured...
    • Akira's mothers, Hazuki and Ichigo, are characters in Christine Love's 2007 game, Cell Phone Love Letters.
  • Shinigami: It starts stalking you after the supposed death of Isabella. Turns out to be a friend of Akira's mom, as part of an incredibly elaborate prank.
  • Shipper on Deck: That could be you, depending on what advice you give to the various members of the resident Love Nonagon. Isabella and Taylor play this role for Arianna and Rook, whether Rook turns her down or not.
  • Shout-Out: Rook: "Nothing's really changed at all since then? 'Things aren't different; things are things.' Is that it?"
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Arianna with Rooks, based on how hot and smart he appeared on the first day.
  • Snark Knight/Little Miss Snarker: Kendall, oh so much.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Arianna. Okay, not dangerous, but pretty annoying.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Rook.
  • Stylistic Suck: The students and 12channers do not necessarily type with perfect grammar.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: You can have a fairly platonic one with Arianna... or you can dive right into it and make out with her in chapter one. You can also avoid it entirely, though it requires deliberately being a jerk to her. If you continued down the path, in the end, Rook and Arianna have an actual relationship.
  • This Is Reality: Taylor tries to defend her bullying with this by saying what happens in the real world when someone does that. Rook logically points out that doing what she did in the real world would get you fired.
  • Title Drop: During dialogue between Rook and Isabella in one of the endings.
    • Played with a bit, in fact:
    Isabella: Well, don't take it personally, babe, but...
    Rook: I know what you're going to say: but it's not my story, right?
    Isabella: No, that's stupid. Why would I say that?
  • Too Soon: An in-universe example. After one of the students commits suicide, Rooks decides that Romeo and Juliet would be rather inappropriate material, and switches to Twelfth Night at the last minute.
  • Transparent Closet: Akira realizes he's gay and works up the courage to come out. When he does, everyone else is surprised it took him this long.
  • Troll: Taylor, in the sense of trying to stir up drama. In stark contrast to Taylor's antics, Kendall is the anti-troll. Her (public) response to anything and everything Taylor says or does can essentially be summed up with one of Kendall's own retorts: "u mad?"
    • When Akira finally comes out of the closet, he complains that his mom wouldn't stop trolling him about it all weekend.
  • Tsundere: The love interest in the visual novel from Rook's first 12channel thread.
  • Two-Teacher School: We get some evidence of there being other teachers and classes in the school, but Mr. Rook and his class are the only ones to have portraits or speaking lines. The most you get is Rook complaining about a teacher who, in his words, uses the office for doing absolutely nothing at all.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Arianna's first attempt to get with Rook revolves around her knowing that Rook didn't bring his umbrella, not expecting rainy weather, and insisting that Rook come with her (and her umbrella) by deliberately involving this trope. You can either go with it, or walk home in the rain.
  • Wishful Projection: Arianna says "you are handsome, smart, kind" etc. to the man she knows maybe for two days. Though even "knowing" may be a strong word for hearing him introduce himself and seeing what he looks like. Even the terribly humiliating rejection was a reason for further idealization (he rejected me out of responsibility. What a gentleman!) This applies (to a lesser extent) to the rest of the class, who decide he is a Cool Teacher (and handsome, as well) and can give wise advices about their interpersonal issues. Rook is not happy about it.
    • Isabella acknowledges this of her first romance and whenever she runs into her significant other time and time again. It makes her terribly sad. And dead. Maybe.
  • You Bastard: Subverted, or perhaps zig-zagged. You're set up to think you'll get chewed out for creeping on all of your students' private conversations, when in fact you get a far milder lecture on how the concept of privacy has changed.

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