[Novel] Pressure (Jeff Strand)



A cool thriller that details a certain man’s relationship with a psychopath from their childhood up to their college years and adulthood.

Well-written, snappy dialogue
The story is for the most part simple and very predictable
Interesting, likable characters
Doesn’t offer much insight into the mind of a serial killer
Relatively involving plot

[Anime] Hinamatsuri



Damn, I figured to check this show out since I’ve read that yakuza were involved, which is not very common for anime, but… this turned out one of the dumbest shows I’ve ever seen in my life with its lousy attempts at comedy literally hurting my brain.

Every line in this anime is so full of cringe I get shivers just from the memory.

Interesting premise?
Below average animation
Flimsy setting that barely makes any sense
Irritating, poorly-written characters
Awful, braindead dialogue
There’s no plot
The story goes nowhere
Not funny, cringe-inducing attempts at humor

[Novel] Perdido Street Station (China Mieville)

perdido street station


China Mieville is a master of imaginative worlds, and while the story this novel tells isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable ride due to the utterly fascinating world it takes place in.

Imaginative, complex fantasy setting
More interesting for the world it establishes than the story it tells
Interesting, likable characters
Involving plot with lots of twists and turns

Top 10 Best Rated Visual Novels Translated in 2018

Although I’m a big fan of Island and Evenicle, this year has been nowhere near as kind to translated visual novels as the previous one with the top of this year not even coming close to the top five of the 2017’s list.

A lot of moege can be seen on the list this year, indicating where the market is heading to lately. I haven’t checked most of them as they didn’t fall within my area of interest, but if you’ve been following my reviews, you may remember I didn’t have the highest opinion of Sabbat of the Witch or Hapymaher (some people say it’s not a moege, but it shares all the worst parts with one as far as I’m concerned).

At least Sorcery Jokers made it to the list to represent the only chuuni release that I know this year. I wonder if we’ll see any next year.

I probably should check Maitetsu out since I’ve heard it’s actually a pretty entertaining read behind the excruciatingly cutesy exterior. And I’ll probably be checking Fureraba sooner or later too, as SMEE’s Pure x Connect was one of the few moege I actually enjoyed.

All in all, it was a pretty underwhelming year. I wish we could have released Damekoi this year as it was a good chance for it to contend for the top spot. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before it’s released now. And I hope 2019 will be a more exciting year in general.

EDIT: Oh snap, I had to update the video because I missed a few things. First, one of my favorite visual novels Baldr Force was actually randomly translated and no one was talking about it. I’m flabbergasted it’s not on top of the list, but maybe it does look a bit outdated by today’s standards and not many people have gotten past the first two boring routes yet. I personally enjoyed it more than Baldr Sky, so now I’m starting to wonder how that game is going to do.

Tsujidou-san was also something I had in my to-read list for a while as it seems one of the few visual novels not written by Takahiro to successfully capture the charm of Tsuyokiss and Majikoi.

I also added a few special mentions I forgot. Namely, Chuusotsu, which I definitely expected to see higher on the list. I wonder if that’s because it’s only the first game in the series or that the west isn’t really into the old-fashioned philosophical visual novels in the vein of Cross†Channel and Subahibi.

And speaking of the first in the series, I Walk Among Zombies was also released this year to much lower ratings than I expected (it was pretty high up on egs and in my to-read list). I originally delayed reading it because I was waiting for the rest of the volumes be released, but it’s definitely one of the VNs I’m really looking forward to.

Finally, If My Heart Had Wings has been finally retranslated, so people can finally read the actual game and not the garbled mess shat out by moenovel. I thought it was pretty boring when I read it in Japanese, but it still deserved to be coherently translated at least.

It turns out this year wasn’t as bad as I thought with low-key fan translations surprisingly getting us some of the more interesting titles.

[Game] Persona 5

Perosna 5


It didn’t quite live up to its predecessors, but Persona 5 is still the best JRPG I’ve played in years.

Beautiful visuals, both on technical and artistic sides
Less background music variation than in the previous installments
Awesome soundtrack that oozes style
Underwhelming (and kind of stupid) human villains
Great, funky atmosphere
The story up until the very end feels like a collection of set pieces
Likable characters
Characters pale in comparison to the previous installments
Enthralling plot
Story feels a lot more simplistic compared to previous installments
Awesome culmination (once human villains are out of the way)
Thought-provoking on society
Fantastic challenging but fair game-play
The social sim parts are absolutely addicting

[Game] Into the Breach

Into the Breach


An insanely addicting and satisfying turn-based strategy game that’s a bit bare-bones on the narrative and way too short for how good it is (I ended up beating the game with all teams because I just couldn’t let it end so soon).

Good atmospheric soundtrack
Bare-bones narrative
Fantastic, super addicting and super satisfying game-play
Too short

[Novel] The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)


A fascinating journey to the Middle Ages that follows an ambitious architectural project of a cathedral and the lives and adventures of many people — both historical and fictional — that end up involved with it.

Positive: Negative:
Interesting, likable characters A few historical inaccuracies here and there
Surprisingly captivating plot Not really the deepest book you’ll ever read
Multilayered, epic story
Enlightening on 12th century England


[Novel] The Portrait of the Lady (Henry James)


The Portrait of the Lady lacks the wit of Jane Austen and the profundity of Marcel Proust, ending up as a fine, but ultimately forgettable depiction of the life of aristocracy in 19th century England, and their clashes with American culture.

I can’t help but visualize this being something equivalent to a 19th century telenovela that happened to be ascribed literary merit just because of how old it was.

Positive: Negative:
Provides some insight on the life of 19th century British aristocracy Dim-witted, annoying protagonist
Relatively profound characters Characters aren’t all that interesting
Nothing much really ever happens in the plot


[Game] Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc


A psychological thriller mystery adventure game that feels like a blend of Persona and Phoenix Wright. …And you know that can only mean good.

I ended up picking the official translation for the PC version, and while I could tell NISA put quite a bit of effort into conveying the quirky dialogue, their take is rough around the edges with tone inconsistencies and a few mistranslations here and there which leads me to recommend the fan translation by Black Dragon Hunt and Ritobito instead that from what I’ve seen, ironically, feels more professional.

Positive: Negative:
Beautiful, attractive character designs Not fully voiced
Memorable, wacky soundtrack Some murders come off convoluted to the extent it’s detrimental to the perpetrator
Good voice-acting Interesting characters who are forced to “retire” early feel wasted
Bizarre and mysterious yet upbeat atmosphere The lack of proper romance options holds the game a step away from a true masterpiece
Interesting, extremely likable, quirky, and relatively profound characters The free roaming sections in-between murders feel like a waste of time
Monokuma is bearwsome
Interesting, thought-provoking story
Captivating plot full of mysteries and twists
A couple of ingenious detective tricks
A couple of strong emotional scenes, especially when it comes down to unexpected betrayals
Solving and re-enacting mysteries is incredibly fun


[Novel] Heechee Rendezvous (Frederik Pohl)

Heechee Rendezvous

It’s interesting how every book in Gateway series feel like it should belong to a completely different sci-fi genre. While the first novel mostly concentrated on the protagonist and analyzing his mental state, and the second was some weird xenophobia mystery, the third installment is a space opera that offers the grandest of scales but is somehow the least exciting.

Well, at least I know what one of the main inspirations of Mass Effect was.

Positive: Negative:
Fascinating setting
Feels very incomplete, as if it just stops instead of delivering an ending
Large intergalactic scale The answers to the Heechee mysteries turn out pretty underwhelming
Relatively interesting, likable characters Despite the scale, the least memorable of Gateway books
Engrossing plot with a couple of cool twists

[Anime] Parasyte: The Maxim


A dark paranormal thriller that besides remaining throughly entertaining and tense from the beginning to the end actually manages to reasonably argue the propriety of monsters that devour mankind.

Positive: Negative:
Awesome opening Some discrepancies with a nineties manga being adapted to a modern day setting (cell phones)
Good OST The last few episodes that depict dealing with the final threat are a bit too action driven
Interesting setting
Interesting, likable, profound characters (especially the protagonist)
Tight, captivating plot
Full of surprising and emotional twists
Solid, interesting story
Thought-provoking on what constitutes a man (protag keeps turning into “something” else)
Thought-provoking on human place in the ecosystem


[Novel] The Adventures of Augie March (Saul Bellow)

The Adventures of Augie March

A deconstruction and refutation of the idea of traditional American hero that is both thought-provoking and enlightening, but also almost maliciously hard to follow.

Positive: Negative:
Interesting, profound, likable characters A billion things happening in the plot in an almost incoherent order makes the whole thing very hard to follow
Covers almost the whole life of one individual A billion characters popping and disappearing one after another makes the whole thing incredibly hard to follow
Thought-provoking on life and norms of society
Enlightening on American culture and society


[Novel] The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)

Windup Birds

Haruki Murakami has a knack for coming up with mysterious concepts and weird but fascinating characters, but in this particular book, I felt like the plot  — despite being full of interesting things  — was all over the place, as if he had no idea what he was writing about and only penned random (but awesome) ideas on the page. The Wind-Up Bird is still among the more fascinating books I’ve read, but I had a hard time getting invested in the personal struggle of the characters when it felt kind of, well, random and inconsequential half of the time.

Positive: Negative:
Crisp, flowing prose The plot has trouble deciding where it wants to go and keeps jumping all over the place
Mysterious, surreal atmosphere The mini-stories of the side-characters end up more interesting than the main plot
Fascinating, mysterious characters
Interesting story full of mysteries
Enlightening on Japanese culture
Enlightening on the World War from Japanese side


[Game] Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman - Arkham Knight

I feel like Batman games might have caught the Assassin-Creedalytis because despite using a great game as its foundation, Batman: Arkham Knight just feels uninspired with a dull story and new gimmicks that rather than improving only succeed at making the game more tedious. I think it’s about time we shoot this old dog goodbye.

Positive: Negative:
Good visuals Dull story and plot
Charismatic, well-written characters Batmobile and all the other new gimmicks suck
Good fighting mechanics Feels like the same game all over again
Good stealth mechanics
A cool, big city to explore


[Novel] River God (Wilbur Smith)

River God

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and so I had a hard time seeing how River God is supposed to be it. Rather, it feels like a fantasy novel that merely happened to be set in Egypt but might as well have had its trite plot take place in Middle Earth or something.

I enjoyed the snippets of Egyptian culture that I could catch from a few scenes, but my overall opinion of this book is that it’s simply shallow. Both on its history and plot.

Positive: Negative:
Somewhat enlightening on Egyptian culture Dull, predictable plot
Dull, superficial characters
Feels more like a fantasy set in Egypt, rather than genuine historical fiction


[Game] Divinity: Original Sin

Divinity Original Sin

It might be the first time I’d ever mention “trying too hard” as a bad thing, but whoever wrote the dialogue for random NPCs inthis game should have been told he wasn’t being tested for writing Shakespearean plays. The writing is complex and flowery and sometimes even follows complex rhymes, but when the context is “Villager A talks about nothing of consequence” it feels like a lot of wasted effort, and a lot of wasted time on the part of the reader, too.

In any case, I was really pumped up for this game, but besides misguided writing, all it offered me was a trite excuse for a story and game-play that I figured how to break in a few hours: all I had to do was pump everyone with stun skills and have all of my enemies in all of my subsequent encounters perpetually stun locked. I might have ruined the game for myself that way, but before long it started feeling so repetitive I couldn’t bring myself to continue. Especially since there was nothing compelling in the narrative or anything else to keep me going, not to mention the game moved at a pace of a crippled snail.

Positive: Negative:
Some dialogue is actually pretty impressive on writing level Overwritten, needlessly cumbersome dialogue
Fun and complex character customization Boring characters
Challenging and fun game-play, as long as you don’t break it Incredibly slow pace
Dull, generic story
Game-play is easy to break
Navigating trapped areas is a major pain in the ass


[Novel] New York (Edward Rutherfurd)

New York

Edward Rutherfurd guides you through the entire History of New York, starting from Dutch versus English struggle during its earliest moments, continuing through War of Independence and the Civil War, and concluding with the Great Depression and September 11.

The novel goes so deep and personal into those events you’d think Rutherfurd actually participated in them. Highly recommended for people into historical fiction and history in general, though I doubt the work would appeal to anyone else.

Positive: Negative:
Crisp, accessible prose Not exactly mind-blowing material if you’re familiar with all of the history already
Interesting, likable characters Only appeals to those interested in history
All the little plots taking in the backdrop of the historical events are pretty interesting
Enlightening on the history of New York and USA in general
Enlightening on the culture of New York