Kindred Spirits on the Roof: Another Yuritopia

More fluffy yuri.

People who know me know about my obsession with this series. It’s fluffy, it’s cute, it’s real, it’s meaningful, it’s enticing, it’s emotional – as I’ve said before, there’s something about the series that stays with you long after finishing it.

But enough about that; I’ve written enough about all those aspects. The reason I’m writing about it again is because yesterday I finally received the official manga sequel, titled Another Yuritopia. And really…there’s not much to say about it. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect a KSotR manga to be, with all of the same elements that made the visual novel so adorable. The book itself comes with two new stories set in the world, and both take cues from the visual novel in their own distinct art styles (with single-page drawings from Peg, who did all of the art for the game). I particularly like all the appearances/references to all of the characters in the game; Side A, set just one year after the visual novel, is the direct sequel (Aki’s a guitarist now!), while I believe Side B to be set one more  year after that.

Side note, the two main characters in Side B appear to be character reincarnations of Sachi and Megumi based on their personalities. This is also strengthened further by their similar physical appearances.

Anyway, I won’t talk about the stories, because you really won’t care unless you’ve actually played through the visual novel. But it is out there if, for some reason, you’re as obsessed as I am and just want to continue Yuritopia.

Kindred Spirits on the Roof: a soundtrack analysis

How music enhances the interactive experience.

As promised, I have done a full musical and emotional analysis (more or less) of the soundtrack to Kindred Spirits on the Roof. Windows’ File Explorer helpfully informs me that my first file was created on September 19, 2016 at 11:24 PM, which means I’ve been working on this project for just under a month now.

There were a few times I was worried I bit off more than I could chew. Many times I thought about forgoing the Reddit deadline to give myself a bit more breathing room, but in my stubborn nature and my acceptance of any challenge I steadfastly refused. Probably not a good idea, because now it’s 1:23 AM on a Friday/Saturday and I’ve been putting finishing touches on this thing for the last three hours or so.

Basically, my process was:

  1. Do harmonic reductions on every track (which means quite a bit of transcribing)
  2. Do pencil-on-paper analyses
  3. Type up results

Step 3 took far more time than anticipated. I had gone into this project prepared to write a lot, but I was legitimately enjoying myself going through all of these analyses. I really am quite exhausted right now, so I’ll finish by just pasting the introduction to my paper:

Kindred Spirits on the Roof is, in its own words, Steam’s “first uncensored sex game.” While technically true, such a description does not do it justice. I, for one, first started reading it based solely on that description, only expecting to have some fun with it while bored during a summer stint in California. However, I soon found it to be a very captivating story about friendship and love, about sadness and joy, and a commentary on life in general. I found myself inexplicably drawn to the title’s multifaceted, deep – visceral – characters, and ended up coming back to it two more times.

Soon, I started thinking about what made this visual novel so effective in eliciting such a powerful emotional response. The answer, in a nutshell, is everything. That is to say, the relatable situations that protagonist Yuna is thrown into (minus the supernatural shenanigans, of course), the careful development of each character and their significant others, the art style itself, and, simultaneously the most and least important thing, the music.

For music, when done well, is inexplicably subtle, especially in a visual novel setting where the entire story is told primarily through boxes of text (hence the name visual novel). In KSotR, the music, in my opinion, fits the game’s various settings perfectly, and on multiple different levels (that we’ll talk about later). That’s a difficult goal to reach. In my experience and in my opinion, music tends to be one of the more divergent things about a video game, either because of budget problems or because the composer fails to capture emotion. Music is also all about creating and releasing tension, and the very setting of Kindred Spirits on the Roof allows such music to flourish.

The point of this document…essay…thing…is to dissect the music of Kindred Spirits on the Roof and see what about each of the tracks makes it fit so well in the overall scope of the game and in each of its particular styles of scenes. In particular, I will be looking at each track first from a theoretical perspective, then moving on to how each technique highlights specific emotions and why they fit with their respective scenes.

You can read my paper here.

Featured image: me right now (now it’s 1:32 AM).

Kindred Spirits on the Roof

“For our yuritopia!”

What a game.

I spent the better part of this week playing, replaying, and reopening Steam’s first “uncensored sex game”. Honestly, such a description hardly does KSotR enough justice.

I’ve already reviewed its English version here, but I felt that it’s still worth talking about. In my mind, visual novels tend to be cheesy stories accompanied by terrible, stereotypical dialogue and awfully drawn scenes, particularly those on Steam. Part of it is that I don’t think I’ve actually played a good visual novel before this one, and so my expectations were fairly low.

I recommend you just read my review, because I can’t say enough good things about KSotR. The pacing, the music, the story – oh, its poignancy and charm! Finishing the game left me with an empty feeling I’ve only felt once before, but at the time I couldn’t remember where. Soon after I realized how much I was still thinking about the game with all its characters and events and stories and little quirks that I had to find something to fill the hole it had left me.

So of course, I played it again.

This time, noting how many people praised the voice acting, I decided to let the voiced sections play themselves out (the first time, I just read the text). Yes, the voice acting certainly brought my experience to a new level; the sex scenes in particular benefited from certain…noises that came into play. I also decided to try to keep track of the date that each event falls on (as the game relies on a planner-type approach to the story) instead of focusing on just the content itself. This allowed me to immerse myself in the story more, though eventually caused me more pain as I finished the game again.

Which is where I remembered the last time I felt such a hole in my heart.

Several years ago, I watched Avatar: the Last Airbender for the first time. I loved it so much that I ended up watching it three times consecutively. Of course, it was after doing this that I realized nothing else would ever compare (Korra wouldn’t be finished for another two years or so), and so I obsessed myself with finding every little Avatar-related piece of media there was available (to which I’m still doing). Similarly, KSoTR is so well written that I’ve been trying to find another visual novel similar in scope and likeliness, but so far I’m stuck with the manga (which, apparently, isn’t even fully translated into English yet). At the time of writing this, I have finished the main storyline twice; I’m planning on going back and locating all of the extra scenes for the sake of completion, but then I have a sneaking suspicion that I might very soon play through the game a third time.