Tag Archives: Ne no Kami

A visual novel by Japanese circle Kuro Iroduro Yomiji, written by Fenrir Vier. Ne no Kami incorporates elements of Japanese Shinto mythology into a tale of disparate worlds colliding, a young woman learning that there’s a lot more to life than she thought — and lots of lovely yuri. MoeGamer’s coverage also looks at its companion piece Sacrament of the Zodiac, a shorter work that unfolds in the same narrative universe.

The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: Ten Years, Ten VNs

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas!

It’s nearly the end of a decade, and you know what that means: looking back over the last ten years to arbitrarily decide what was “best” from that equally arbitrary length of time.

I was just going to do a “games of the decade” sort of affair, but I realised while putting my provisional lists together that I had enough visual novels to do them in their own dedicated, separate list. So the “Ten Years, Ten Games” award will be following next week, and for now let’s talk visual novels!

For each year of (English language) release, I’m picking a visual novel that I found personally significant. This doesn’t mean that it was necessarily the “best” that year had to offer — whatever that means — but it was important to me. So let’s delve in… and note that at the time of writing, there are holiday sales going on all over the Internet, so you can pick up many of these for pretty cheap right now!

And the winners are…

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The One-Liner Challenge

Time for a Community tag post! This one looked like a particularly fun one, and after the lovely Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime specifically requested me to do one about games, who was I to refuse?

The original tag came from The Awkward Book Blogger and was based around, as you might expect, books — but it has since expanded to encompass anime and now, thanks to my contribution, games as well.

So let’s jump right in. After the jump. Jumpy jumpy jump.

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The MoeGamer Awards: Best Couple

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!

I love the fact that modern gaming is such an interesting, broad medium that it is possible to even contemplate something like the idea of a “Best Couple”. When I think back to the earliest games I played, and their mechanics-centric, narrative-free, abstract representations of various concepts and consider how far we’ve come, I get very happy indeed. Not that there’s no value in those old games or indeed modern mechanics-centric narrative-free experiences, of course; it’s just nice we also have the option to immerse ourselves in more narrative-centric experiences such as visual novels now.

There were a number of excellent candidates for the title of “Best Couple” from the games I’ve played and written about this year. But the more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to one pairing in particular, so it ended up being a fairly easy choice.

And the winner is…

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From the Archives: Embracing the “H”

Sex.

Yes, that was entirely a cheap trick to get your attention, but it’s also the subject of today’s column.

There are some interesting and varied thoughts about sex in games out there, but it’s a subject that still remains largely taboo for many developers, publishers and even critics. It’s also a subject in which Eastern and Western approaches and philosophies differ greatly, and it makes for some fascinating discussions.

So let’s talk about sex, specifically with regard to visual novels.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: On the “Idiocy” of Interactive Storytelling

Back at the end of November 2012, this article appeared over on community-led games writing site Bitmob (now folded into VentureBeat’s GamesBeat).

For those too lazy to follow the link and/or read the article, the gist is as follows: Shawn McGrath, creator of the psychedelic abstract shooter Dyad for PlayStation 3, made some rather bold proclamations on how inappropriate he thought video games were as a medium for telling stories.

Specifically, he noted that “linear story and interactive anything are diametrically opposed,” that they “make no sense together at all” and that “any attempt to put storylines in games in any traditional sense is completely idiotic.”

Strong words indeed. So what was his justification for this?

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Ne no Kami: Inspiration and Intent

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With visual novels having a lot more in common with conventional, non-interactive fiction than many other types of video games, it’s eminently possible for individual authors to give their work a clear sense of artistic identity and authorial voice.

Such is the case with Ne no Kami and Sacrament of the Zodiac, the work of Japanese circle Kuro Irodoru Yomiji and writer Fenrir Vier, who have made a great deal of effort to ensure that their work — and the world they’ve created — are internally consistent and true to their original visions.

In other words, unlike larger-scale projects developed by huge organisations, many members of whom have contrasting and conflicting priorities in development, the small team behind Ne no Kami was able to focus on giving their work a clear sense of artistic integrity rather than thinking of it as a “product” first, a creative work second.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pick Fenrir Vier’s brain about the creative process behind the development of such a piece of work.

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Ne no Kami: The Extended Universe – Sacrament of the Zodiac

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Due to the fact that they are often rather substantial, ambitious undertakings, in many cases with multiple narrative routes, visual novels are often treated as “standalone” affairs. As such, it’s relatively rare to come across multiple works set in the same narrative universe.

There are exceptions, of course: the Grisaia series, which we covered last month, presently comprises three very long visual novels, with the series set to continue further later this year with Phantom Trigger, which unfolds after the conclusion of Yuuji’s adventure. And this month’s Cover Game, Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto, also falls into this category, with protagonist Len’s story unfolding across two games, the second of which is yet to be released.

Ne no Kami doesn’t stop there, though. At the very outset of the game, we’re introduced to two young women named Hitsuji and Arissa, the former of whom is a friend of protagonist Len. We don’t see them again for the duration of Ne no Kami’s narrative because they’re not directly relevant to Len’s story, though there are a couple of occasions where Len comes across things in her new life that remind her of her friend.

It is possible for us to find out more about these two mysterious young women, though, through the visual novel Sacrament of the Zodiac: The Confused Sheep and the Tamed Wolf, a title that unfolds in the same narrative universe as Ne no Kami, but which has a very different focus indeed.

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Ne no Kami: Love, Innocence and Ayakashi

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The narrative of Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto has a number of different threads, all of which intertwine with one another to create a rather compelling whole.

We have the very personal story of the protagonist Len, as she attempts to come to terms with a new world that is vastly different from everything she has ever known. We have the story of humanity’s hidden struggle to protect the world against horrors that most people will never know about. And we have the story of lifelong feelings of love that, although based on a misunderstanding, have grown into something genuine that transcends traditional societal norms.

There’s a lot going on, in other words — even though the work as a whole is a single-route kinetic novel with no choices for the player to make. In many ways, though, that’s an entirely appropriate structure for the story Ne no Kami is trying to tell: more than anything else, it’s a tale of being swept along by fate, seemingly unable to deviate from the plan the Universe has for you despite your best efforts to find alternative solutions.

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Ne no Kami: Exploring Shinto Myths and Legends

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One of the best things about the visual novel medium is its ability — and willingness — to tackle things that are outside the normal remit of “video games” as a whole.

In the case of Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto, a visual novel from small, independent Japanese circle Kuro Irodoru Yomiji, there’s a certain degree of “crossover” in terms of subject matter. We have the sort of “plucky young heroes tackle otherworldly horrors” angle that we’re most used to seeing from more conventional video games, but at the same time we also have some sensitively handled exploration of romantic relationships, disparate cultures colliding and young people trying to find their place in the world.

Of particular note is Ne no Kami’s exploration of traditional Japanese and Shinto mythology, an angle which it takes great pains to point out is only its author’s interpretation rather than “fact”. But this doesn’t make it in any way “invalid”, of course; mythology, by its very nature, doesn’t have any “factual” basis in the first place, and has only survived so long by being reinterpreted and passed on across thousands of years.

Before we investigate the game’s story in detail, then, it behooves us to have a general understanding of the mythology on which it is based.

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