Release: 2015 (minori)
Writers: 鏡遊 (ef ~fairy tale of the two~, eden*) Towa – 4/5
御影 (ef ~fairy tale of the two~) Haruka – 4/5
花見田ひかる (new writer) Mayura – 3/5
Japanese difficulty: Medium
Ratings: VNDB (7.82); EGS (7.86)
Coming from the writers of ef ~fairy tale of the two~, Soreyori no Prologue (Prologue to After) is yet another actually tasteful romance story that minori chose to grace the visual novel medium with.
Tormented by his ability to inadvertently perceive the feelings of his peers, Miyasaka Shu finally finds solace in a girl whose emotions he cannot read. Unfortunately, their relationship does not work out too well as it turns out that Shu himself is partially to blame for the wall that envelops the said girl’s heart, forever blocking her emotions from seeping through outside.
The concept of emotion reading unsettled me quite a bit at first as I imagined that it’s either gonna make the plot and character motivations extremely predictable (since you know what they feel, duh) or make the protagonist into a retard who can’t tell what’s going on despite being able to read feelings. Luckily, neither of my concerns proved true, well, maybe the first one did a bit in the somewhat soothing and beautiful but ultimately underwhelming Miyaura’s route, but it surely didn’t in the others. Mainly thanks to the novel’s extremely complicated and unpredictable heroines, especially Haruka.
The main girl, Towa, already comes with her emotions unreadable, and is for all intents and purposes completely unpredictable, the looming premonition of a new set of her crazy antics constantly keeping you at the edge of your seat. You are pretty much waiting for her to suddenly stab the protagonist when she is acting nice and cute, and wonder if anger and cruelty is the way she actually expresses affection when she is in her poorer moods. Yet despite this bipolar, and even at times seemingly psychopathic behavior, she still somehow comes off as a very compelling full-fledged character whose motivations actually make perfect sense in the end. I was captivated by her from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed all of the trials Shu had to overcome to finally be on the same page with her. Nonetheless, given how much he has to go through, the very ending and the final revelation in her route are kind of, well, still nice but a bit underwhelming; it kinda made me wonder if we couldn’t just solved everything in a single one or two hours long serious conversation. Well, the route still surely taught me that human emotions can sometimes get messed up in ways more complex than common sense could ever dare to fathom.
Interestingly enough, the other heroine, Haruka, comes considerably late in the story, but totally steals the stage if you as much express interest in her. A natural liar, the protagonist can’t see through her tricks even with his powers… but who can blame him when the girl is a raging tempest of conflicting emotions that never go along with how she is actually behaving. The more interesting aspects of the concept of emotion reading, empathy, really shine through in her route, as there you are exposed to constant mind-wrecking over what the hell is actually going on in her head when raging fury and vicious glee explode inside her at the same time when you ask her what she had for lunch. Though not as carefully constructed as the aforementioned grand route of Towa, I found Haruka’s route even more exciting and her mind-boggling character even more fascinating than the visual novel’s supposed main dish. Still, just like with Towa’s route, I found the ending and the conclusion to be underwhelming compared to the ride that lead to them; though it still certainly did a good job at justifying some really complex emotions.
The protagonist’s childhood friend, Mayura’s route certainly pales in comparison with the other two. Though it does offer some heartwarming, relatively tasteful youthful romance, and there is quite an amazing catharsis with Towa near the end, it is also painfully predictable and a lot more simplistic than the other routes. The power of “empathy” definitely causes this one more harm than good.
The thing that I should mention before my conclusion is that the erotic content of this visual novel is, like, mind-blowingly good. With those production values the scenes are stunningly beautiful, and some contain more HCGs than some other visual novels have in their entirety. On top of that, the scenes are almost perfectly paced, one occurring every few hours with no performances wasted by shoving them back to back. I’d say this visual novel had the best erotic content among all visual novels and nukige I went through alike so far, if only only the writing in those scenes was a bit better. It seems minori hired some nukige hack to write erotic content for them, the drop in linguistic prowess and the vulgar trashy talk sticking out like a sore thumb in this otherwise very tasteful work.
Anyway, Soreyori no Prologue is a classy visual novel that doesn’t shy away from delving into more complex emotions permeating romantic relationships. It doesn’t quite have the power of ef ~fairy tale of the two~, but it’s still an amazing read and should be enjoyed by anyone who wants a break from painfully bad shallow crap that tries to sell moe for actual romance predominantly infesting this medium.
|Stunningly beautiful, and numerous high quality visuals||Protagonist’s indecisiveness, and tendency to always go along with the flow can get on one’s nerves|
|A couple of beautiful music tracks||Romance is the sole thing driving the plot|
|Interesting, likable, profound characters||The final ending of the true route is surprisingly underwhelming, despite the good build-up|
|Tasteful romance||The writing in erotic scenes is nuki-ge level bad|
|Profound understanding of more complex human emotions|
|Insanely long and visually stunning ero scenes|