Reviews: Swan Song

A nice, but very disturbing change of pace

I don't have the greatest amount of experience reading visual novels, but it seems to me that many utsuge games follow a pretty basic formula to produce "the feels": introduce couple, give them some characterization, start to develop romance, and have something bad happen to release said "feels". It's nice to see a story make me cry through a different route. I often find myself enjoying a good "feel-bad" story now and then where "feels" are acquired differently. This is where Swan Song comes in.

Swan Song wastes no time in making life hell for its cast. The characters' town is immediately destroyed in the prologue and everyone in the town is affected. Many die and the living often wonder if the dead are better off than they are. As surprising as this may seem, things get more and more unhappy throughout the story all the way to the main ending in a rather interesting example of Cerberus Syndrome, as the main article notes. The dreariness of the plot, presentation, and animation can all weigh on the reader. I lost a lot of sleep while reading Swan Song from the very dark feeling it gives off.

Be aware that Swan Song is rather disturbing. As many others have stated, even a simple, straight run through the main plot will take you through multiple rape scenes. They will contain a lot of Male Gaze and I suspect that this is done both to excite and mortify the viewer. I had to stop reading a few times since it could get to be too much. Most of the gore is described rather than shown, reducing the fan appeal. I think these feelings of disgust and horror were used quite effectively in Swan Song and you will probably get very uncomfortable while reading.

The main characters are all well made and likable. I particularly feel than Tanomura, Takuma, and Hibari were very effectively designed. The remaining protagonists were also good, but I found myself less interested them. My only major criticism with the cast of Swan Song is that many side characters felt like they were only in the plot to move things along and to bring about change in the main characters.

Overall, I'm quite happy with Swan Song (not that happy describes it at all). I'm glad I read it and I recommend it. It certainly won't lift you up and I don't think I could even call it fun, but it makes for a good sad story with a very different feel.