Preliminary Thoughts on Yuri Visual Novel Kindred Spirits on the Roof

February 7th, 2016

kindred-spiritsI give.

Yes, really. I know you all know how vehemently I dislike the reading mechanism associated with Visual Novels, so I won’t belabor that here. I will say this – the thing I like most in any media is good characters, and in that Kindred Spirits on the Roof succeeds.

It took me a surprisingly long time to get through the demo (which is downloadable now on the Mangagamer site.) There are 6 scenarios total – the ribbon story with Yuna and the spirits and 5 couples (and an obvious sixth couple, as well.) I expected one, maybe two scenario set-ups as a taste of the story, but the demo gave me a tremendous amount of content. It took me quite a while to plow through the approximately three to five chapters from every scenario.

I’m not going to get into the scenarios themselves – that we’ll save for another time, although I will say that only one scenario was a complete ick for me and one was “meh”. The others ranged from good to excellent. And the final two actually piqued my interest.

But the reason I say “I give” is that by and large, the characters are surprisingly fleshed out. In fact, several times while going through the demo I had a slightly snarky thought and immediately one of the characters – usually Yuna – said the very thing I was thinking. ^_^

I really like the Day Planner as the basis for moving through the stories, but I’ll get into that more in a full review later.

I have two more thoughts just now: Here’s what Mangagamer had to say about the title: “In regards to the title, the “Yurirei” in the Japanese title is a pun which joins the words yuurei (ghost/spirit) and yuri together, so we wanted to come up with a title which preserved this naming sense as much as possible. After much internal discussion between the translator and other staff, “Kindred Spirits” was chosen since it retains the nod to their relationship, as well as keeps the “spirit” pun from the original title.

I understand their manifesto on this, but “kindred” still strikes me as an strange word choice. “Kindred” means blood relations, something that doesn’t at all express anything like “Yuri.” But then again, gay people still call one another “family.” I’m well aware of the phrase “kindred spirits” so please no more definitions in the comments. It’s just not all that awesome a pun. In fact, it’s pretty meh.  I know people who do describe their lovers as “soulmates” although thankfully no one has ever forced me to not roll my eyes at them by telling me their spouse is their “kindred spirit.”  And  I guess they didn’t want to go with the word Yuri for the slangy quality. and how offputting it might be to non-otaku fans. Every fannish translation has pretty much failed to capture both sense and spirit, as well – such “Gay Ghosts on the Roof”? Seriously? That’s just ugly. This kind of stuff is hard and I recognize that.

Secondly, Sachi says she’d never heard of ‘S’, but tells us she died 80 years ago…that would put it in the 1930s, smack dab in the center of ‘S’ popularity. I wonder why Liar-Soft had her say she hadn’t heard of it?

In any case. Kindred Spirits on the Roof becomes available on February 12 from Mangagamer and on Steam and I am throwing my hat into the “this one is worth getting” ring.

Ratings withheld until I complete the thing.

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24 Responses

  1. Saki says:

    Also on steam.

  2. FoundOnWeb says:

    So, the original could be translated as ‘gay ghosts’. Why not hark back to an earlier usage of ‘gay’, and make it ‘blithe’? Then we could have Blithe Spirits, On The Roof.

    • Because “gay” is not a good translation. That was my point – the fans did a terrible job too.

      • FoundOnWeb says:

        You are right. I read it too fast, and was too taken with the ‘Blithe Spirits’ thing.

        BTW, your followup comments notification tool isn’t notifying me of new comments. I signed up and confirmed, but haven’t gotten anything.

  3. Jenny says:

    Typo in “while going through.”

    Also, thank you for this review… I’m definitely picking up the game. 8)

  4. David Schwager says:

    I can’t imagine you haven’t tried it, but my problems with the visual novel reading mechanism are tremendously helped by setting the text appearance speed to “instant” in the options.

    • It’s still not fast enough. The voices speak so much more slowly than I read, I’m able to move more quickly when there’s no voiceover.

      But that’s not the problem. The problem is that it’s reading a coloring book. One line and a picture for hundreds of pages. Makes me want to scream my lungs out.

  5. tzivya says:

    So which one creeped you out? I’m being it was the teacher and student, because that’s a guaranteed ick for me. actuality if they leave it where they did and never progress it as a romance, I think it would be ok. but they won’t. and the highly infantilized teacher is ick. The others are all ok, but there’s such a high level of love at first sight… but I can ignore that. overall I liked it and have pre ordered it.

  6. Andrew says:

    “Kindred spirit” is a common idiomatic expression, meaning “one who shares similar attitudes or interests.” I doubt this expression immediately brings the concept of blood relatives to mind for a substantial number of people.

  7. Day says:

    HMMM I, too, have a poor history with VNs, but you’ve piqued my interest on this one…

  8. Mariko says:

    This was my first experience with a visual novel, so I’ve gotta ask – are they usually this repetitive? I was getting really frustrated with the opening chapter – Yuna repeats herself over and over about the most minute things, sometimes in back to back panels. It took sooooo long to get to the planner, I kept thinking “do something already!” So much wimbling and hand-wringing. >< The obvious tropes and "don't make it sound so physical, we love each other purely" stuff made me groan.

    This seems like another thing I'll buy more from a philosophical standpoint in hopes of better things to come. But maybe it gets better as the story branches out?

    Also, how is it that Megumi is "reunited" with her true love Sachi when they died 50 years apart and clearly would have had different loves tying them to the mortal world (and as far as I know at this point based on their surprise that Yuna could hear them, she never knew Sachi-ghost in life) Maybe I am overthinking this…

    • This is actually less repetitive than most. Usually they are so banal that I want to stab myself and I can’t even get through the demo.

      Are you old enough to remember “Choose your own adventure” books? They were a pretty standard sword and sorcery adventure, and you had to make choices to get to one of several possible ends. It’s the same thing basically. There are a couple of possible ends, but pretty much anything you choose gets you to the same one and instead of a fantasy adventure, it’s a Yuri romance.

      The details on Sachi and Megumi are confusing I agree, but this is also only the demo. My *guess* is that Sachi died by accident (which we learn in the demo) and Megumi “met” her on the roof. We know that Sachi dies before the new building was built and that Megumi can’t go to the old building, so something must have happened when she died to bind her to the new areas. I expect we’ll find out as the story goes on…or not. ^_^ I never expect good writing from Light Novels, much less VNs, I’ll admit.

  9. FoundOnWeb says:

    I haven’t had much luck with VN’s myself. As you said, they are essentially a “Choose your own adventure” story, which isn’t bad of itself, but the format is made up of exactly the wrong elements of the ones it rubs Venn diagrams with. They can’t compete with books for narrative detail, and the need to keep clicking next, or to pace yourself to the speed of the autoreader breaks up the flow. They don’t have the action an anime has, because the characters are essentially static, as if they were painted on fans. The limited number of body positions for the characters, and the limited number of background graphics, means they don’t do as good a job at static art as do comic books or graphic novels.

    I suppose this post is a little off topic from a discussion of Kindred Spirits. So I’ll end by saying that I do plan on at least trying the demo for this one.

    • And the repetitive reading mechanism. I agree completely. The biggest problem I run in to is that fans tell me it’s just like reading a book. Sure, if the “book” in question is a picture book, in which I have to turn the pages after a sentence or two and the pictures change so little. Resources in VNs don’t go into good storytelling, so – like the “Choose your own” – the stories are typically very meh.

      In this case, while the story got going a little slowly, especially as the first two scenarios are not exceptional, by the time I reached the last two, I was hooked. “I’m in Love with the Demon at the Gate” was actually laugh-out-loud funny.

  10. rue says:

    So now that you’re on steam…do you think there is any chance you’ll play Life is Strange in the future?

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