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).

I did a thing

Must…stop…writing…about…this…game…

I wrote a fanfiction. I’m not sure why I’m sharing, but here it is. It’s, uh…it may or may not be a KSotR fic. Technically, though, I didn’t break my promise last time. This isn’t a post about the game; it’s a post about the fic.

Go see if it you really want.

Kindred Spirits on the Roof: Very well done

So much fluff

Aaaaaaah, I still can’t get enough of this game.

I started playing Kindred Spirits on the Roof again because of the hole left in my heart when reaching the end of Yuna’s story. In my original post, I essentially likened it to Avatar: the Last Airbender, something that you may or may not consider sacrilege, but it honestly did have a similar emotional impact on me. This was my third time through the game, and I found myself drawn to every relationship as if it were the first. I noted each change in each character’s speech as the in-game months moved forward, and I paid particular attention to almost every sliver of foreshadowing and how they tied into the story very well. In this way, the characters I’d grown to know and love so well became a little more real, a little more tangible in my mind.

And this sense was only heightened by the extra scenes. Oh my, those extra scenes. I had already played through about half of them on my previous playthroughs, thinking that’s all there were, but I quickly figured out that some of the decision points you reach in the main story actually unlock different scenes with each choice. I ended up chasing down each main story segment to go through all of the choices, just to make sure I got them all.

And I’m glad I did. Never mind the fact that the extra scenes add about another eight, ten hours of backstory and day-to-day happenings at Shirojo, which would have been good enough for me. I love the alternate perspectives and build-ups and follow-ups to events you see in the game, but what pulled on my heartstrings the most were the two CGs you unlock by pursuing these scenes – two CGs you normally would not see. I was pleasantly surprised when I found these, because, of course, both were fully voiced, and it was nice to hear Yuna and the gang one last time before moving on to the rest of the KSotR media, and I had never actually seen them before. In fact, the last CG (the one I attached to this post) of Yuna and all of the friends she met in the half year since meeting Megumi and Sachi-san almost seems to set up a sequel. Of course, that’s a little unrealistic, because somebody would probably have to die for the series to keep the name “kindred spirits”, and the story wrapped itself up in such a complete way that it makes little sense to keep going, but there was an electricity in the air that was so well developed that you I couldn’t help but want to see more of Yuna and co. in their third year (second for Seina and Hina) and moving forward. There is the manga, of course, and the drama CDs, but for now I’ll let that unrealistic part of me hope.

More than everything, though, playing through KSotR made me reminisce about my own high school days. I don’t think that was intentional, of course, what with the game’s primary focus on yuri couples, but nonetheless I found myself remembering the hallways of my old school, and the closeness that seems to be unique among high schoolers. The extended sequences of the third-years retiring and touring the school reminded me of my own senior year, and brought back feelings of anticipation for the great unknown and a sense of sadness and closure for a chapter in life left behind.

Personally, I generally grade games on their story and music, and as long as it works I don’t really mind what mechanics it uses. Of course, KSotR is a visual novel, so it pretty much can only offer music and a story. Regardless, this story, as I’ve said multiple times in my earlier post, my Steam review, and some Reddit threads, is captivating, joyful, heartbreaking, timid, brash, quiet, loud, scared, and excited. There do exist issues of freezing and very little control over your saves, but neither were problems for me. The music suited the different situations perfectly, though, and in my opinion the combination of wonderful music with such a charming setting more than made up for it.

Unfortunately, I’ve now played through this game three times, once completing it. Steam helpfully(?) informs me that I’ve spent about 29 hours in the last week playing, and I’ve played it so much that I can pretty much place important events in the right places, more or less. I do love this game, though. I am certainly one to replay games that I believe deserve my repeated attention, so for now I’ll set it aside for a few months from now and focus on the series’ other media. I ordered the physical limited edition last week, so now I have the mini artbook detailing some notes on the CG scenes and including some unique art, and I have the four drama CDs waiting to go. My time with game may have to end for now, but I have a feeling this series is still going to keep me busy.

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.