Saihate no Ima

Saihate no Ima

Saihate no Ima

It is a really strange endeavor to follow Romeo’s visual novel career. Starting at drama-fueled slice of life pieces, he somehow managed to end up writing disturbing existential science fiction. What is oddest, however, is that his ability to create interesting, entertaining characters is somehow inversely proportional to the complexity of his stories. Kazkoku Keikaku had great characters, but very simplistic plot, meanwhile his later work, Cross†Channel, had a really lukewarm cast despite its amazing, complex scenario. Saihate no Ima (Fruit of the End of the World) is probably Romeo’s most complex sciency work yet… but you know what that also means.

I am really perplexed at how such a good concept could have turned out so boring here. Despite seeming like an amazing creation in retrospect, Saihate no Ima is simply a pain to read through. First you are forced to endure countless painfully inconsequential and boring slice of life situations with characters you barely know and most likely don’t even want to know. Most of the scenes, apart from a few flashbacks, are completely random and you could shuffle them between the routes and no one would even notice. This disjointed story-telling is deliberate and makes sense later, but it’s also very ineffective at making you actually care about the stuff on screen.

Once you complete all of the routes and are left completely clueless with what their ending was all about, you have to sit through all of them *again*, now with a few extra scenes here and there which instead of explaining things add even more mysteries to the whole thing. I usually love confusing, mentally stimulating works, but I felt Romeo was being deliberately obtuse at this point. You have to keep providing answers to keep readers invested in a mystery story, not just confuse them over and over again with nothing to grasp on.

Finally, after that ordeal you are put into a route which is almost completely unrelated to anything what happened beforehand and has a completely new cast. Then you are forced to read a million of wikipedia-like excerpts on a plethora of subjects, both scientific and fantastical to make sense out of wtf you are supposed to be reading. While I enjoy gathering knowledge, there is a time and a place for it, and reading long articles about Jung’s collective unconscious or gene splicing, crudely inserted in the middle of a fictional story, is certainly not it. Romeo could at least put some effort to digest his vast knowledge into character conversations or lead you to understand them through observing the setting, but alas, all you are given is an initially incomprehensible story and an encyclopedia to make sense out of it afterwards. That’s not how fiction works, you can have the best concept in the world, but you still have to tie it to a narrative somehow. The “show don’t tell thing”, you know.

Anyway, despite being extremely bored by its underwhelming characters, plot which is pretty much incomprehensible until you are given an encyclopedia, and needlessly cumbersome writing, I still find myself respecting this work in retrospect, if only for Romeo’s vast knowledge and imagination. Had he made an actually interesting story out of this fascinating concept of his, it might have even reached the heights of Subarashiki no Hibi’s mind-blowing brilliance. You might get the most enjoyment out of this work if you just skipped through all the routes and read the last one alone… that is, if you can see yourself enjoying reading wikipedia articles on scientific subjects. Still, despite its even superior complexity, I didn’t find Saihate no Ima as thought provoking or interesting as Romeo’s best work – Cross†Channel.

Positive: Negative:
Complex concept tying up cybernanopunk and existentialism Bland music
Characters have some depth though the plot doesn’t capitalize on it Painfully boring plot
Thought provoking on limitations of life forms Boring, unattractive characters
Thought provoking on the concept of reality All the interesting parts are in the wikipedia-like articles existing outside of plot or character conversations

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