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Saya no Uta has been on my radar for a while now, often recommended to me by people who feel the need to defend the visual novel medium from my more common criticisms. Complaining about V Ns having too few or too arbitrary choices? Here's a game with only two! Don't like the one sentence on screen at a time format? This one has text filling the screen...(sorta)! Want something different from a sloppy, soppy porno? Try an Eldritch horror story porno! I finally gave in and tried it last week.
I can be a bit more generous than usual and say Saya No Uta is head and shoulders above many of the V Ns Iíve tried, but considering the competition, that is probably faint praise. The story is certainly a great deal more economic and a damn sight more interesting than the usual mopey slice of life, school setting scenario. We are immediately thrown into a bizarro hell world of pulsating flesh walls and monsters, and in the middle of it all is a girl who, besides being the only one not covered in teeth and horror tumours, is so obviously too-good-to-be-true the story doesnít even bother to deny it. Good start.
Sadly, the trappings of the medium are still an issue. Whilst the text gets to occupy more of the screen, I am still having to click like a lunatic to get the words to appear quick enough to match my (not particularly quick) reading speed. Just put the whole damn paragraph up and spare my finger! Then there is the fact that this is a porno as well as a Cronenburg movie. At first it seems like an opportunity to match up some really disparate visuals (sexy vs disgust), only rather than do that, the game has a bunch of kidnap/rape scenes that I guess you are meant to be jacking off to. Iím sure this appeals to someone, but I found it unappealing and counter-productive (surely the worst thing porn can be). As usual with these things, the sex scenes feel redundant and clearly arenít the focus, but they do hinder the enjoyment of the main plot. I think there is the option to turn these scenes off but having not done that, I canít report on what effect this will have on the story.
My final thoughts are that Saya No Uta has some good ideas, but they are dampened by ill-fitting, perfunctory VN conventions. Tropes arenít bad, but they should at least be in their right place. Itís a mixed experience.
I wonít bother praising Saya no Uta outright: a quick glance at its ratings should tell you a thing or two about the quality of the story, without even factoring in its reputation. My Nitro+ experience is currently limited to this game and the Chaos;Head anime, which most people would rather forget, so Iím not sure how Saya compares to their other stories, but suffice to say it does a good job of electrocuting the mind more efficiently than a Satoshi Kon film.
In retrospect, however, the story contains a strange kind of tenderness to it; a sort of delicate interior beneath the harsh, rotting-flesh-coated exterior. Most wouldnít notice it initially Ė or at least I couldnít, considering my sanity was severely compromised at the time of playing Ė but thereís a bit to be said about the game after one has finished it, and after they learn the startlingly innocent truth behind the gameís namesake.
Full review here.
Saya No Uta. I came across it by accident, but I found it very interesting, before and while watching it on Youtube. It's a great plot. Fuminori, at the start, is a very sympathy-inducing character, being trapped in a world only he can see, and no family left due to the same accident that put him in this state. Saya is also great, as a mysterious, eerie-feeling character who is always cute and smiling and makes you think of Esther. All the other characters, except for Yoh, are realistic, logical and non-stereotypical. The Soundtrack, suspense, terror and the scenario are epic, especially for a visual novel. You could even imagine a horror movie or series based on it.
Now, the first problem: Sex element. Despite the later scenes, this shouldn't be a problem for me, except for the fact that Saya looks like a 4-year old and looks more like Fuminori's daughter! I know this is meant to show how Fuminori's sanity is crumbling due to isolation from the world that looks like Silent Hill gone WAY deep into Lovecraftian Genre, but it's kind of hard to watch the romantic interaction(And I mean the relationship, not sex) between these two when your mind keeps naturally thinking "Lolicon Scene". Then comes that scene people who saw it will surely remember and think Lolicon. While the objective might have been of simply making Saya shorter than Fuminori and add to the harmless and innocent image, the result wasn't harmless and innocent, it was a Brain Bleach scene even before things got really ugly. I don't know about the comics, but I hope they didn't keep Saya's child look and made a bit more teenager.
Second problem: The logic of Fuminori's decisions. It seems like he's trapped between suffering Fate Worse Than Death or causing Fate Worse Than Death on others, with no middle ground. And while it's understandable he feels... awkward about his friends turning into Cthulu's spawns, it doesn't mean he would, in real life, instantly hate them for it. Also...
If you chose to ask Saya to fix his brain, he didn't need to go to an asylum forever. Yousuke went mad; from the killing of his family, Fuminori could claim self defense against a deranged attacker in his house. And I think Saya would be careful enough to hide Oumi's remains.
At any rate, it's a great story. Not perfect, but the good elements are worth it!
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