Will edit when I look up the other endings but after getting the perfect run done I wanted to drop a review, though it's been 3 days. Hopefully this was already fixed in the three days but at one point the script mixed up "better out than in," and switched the "out" with "in," not really a big deal.
Initially the appeal to this third series installment to me personally fell on exploring Manami's life and the people in it as a foil to the TGV (trans and gender variant) as well as femme and gay (the script pulled an Annalise Keating in that the words "I am bisexual and whether publicly or not it's a thing for me to say it" were forgone for a focus on interpersonal dynamics+overall narrative themes/pursuits+ and past history ... Note: I love HTGAWM ♡ and think it's fine ♡ I admire viola davis) protagonists previously. Whereas in Last Day of Spring, the very first introduction of the texting mechanic had us interacting with folks whose faces and entire lives were pretty clear and pretty intimately gotten-to-know'd (I know that isn't a word lmao), there not being any picture for Watanabe as he speaks to you left me in suspense as to any details on his entire deal: I was surprised to see he had such a rad sense of fashion when he finally showed up! I was excited to go see the entire cast again because I truly do have so much love and so many feels for them, but I was really hopeful to learn more about Manami's room or bourgeois effing house as well as her co-students, professors, closest influences and closest caretakers, whatever may have steered her towards Chris-Evans's-Captain-America levels of "perfect human: canonize as saint immediately." (This numinous quality will come up later btw) I got into it and got into the pacing over time and thankfully eventually there was some resolution as to who Watanabe was and what I could be able to say about him, as the partner figure at the very least.
The purpose of the game seemed muddled when the assets and art from last of day spring were reused but moreso when there were options that I couldn't click on. Or seemingly so. From anyone who is used to role-playing it might be seen as blueballing but I definitely understood its purpose. However it was and remains hard for me to embrace.
I am going to bring up how I felt wholistically now.
With all these initial impressions added together, the metaphorical goal of the game was definitely hard to shoot at now except ~vague gesture at having Social Links with people previously introduced as prominent friend figures in-universe or something else of that nature.~ The ball was totally in the dev's court (hewwo). I spoke to someone, once I forged through and finished three of the half dozen endings, about her own journey which partially mirrored Manami's journey. Transphobes and homophobes as well as structural tools for violence such as barriers to navigating public spaces were very clearly propped up as potential sources of negative character reactions revelations and development ----and it was clear the moment that I learned about THEE iconic one night hot springs.
Me convening with my friend (who also is a really proud and wonderful and daring and open-minded young lesbian), whilst also desperately pushing to the background my own experiences proudly stating that I am probably ace and aro, yeah, brought forward and highlighted some hard-earned and really embittering lessons based on the lived experiences of people who are not cisgender nor str8 such as myself and her when it comes to the movement.
Now, whereas I find it strange from an audience standpoint for us to be speculating whether or not someone who is barely removed from being fifteen, twelve, eleven years old should be given to repeatedly saying and questioning if she's asexual versus if she's not asexual, I find it even stranger that the stories of those who are (young and) gay using the thing, among other things -like microidentities, lithoromantic is one for example which the uninitiated can look up- known as the split attraction model for their (internalized) homophobia --e.g. I know myself and honor that I am gay but I don't and wouldnt date women and have trauma to solve around relationships so I'm aromantic/heteromantic--- haven't been used as a modulating influence when it comes to thematics in the script.
As an aside•As a patreon supporter I hope I can share some thoughts and experiences, because the modulating influence, I think, is really key here for something to share and share widely, and it would kill me if this causes any feelings of erasure or antagonism.•
I rly rly rly rly hope that I can make that clear whilst stating I am grateful to your games, of which I have played all but 2 even the itchio exclusive mini games♡and their ace aesthetic cool plots and ace design and font choice and music collectively creating this calm gentleness and some healing qualities as I played: as much as I have gotten so much emotional personal closure and encouragement to hold my body and my mental state w/ empathy from playing your games -- esp. with this lovely series in particular -- I want to state that despite that, I begin to stress and spiral when this particular topic is given without those ^^^ stories as a modulating influence in particular. To quote first my lesbian and nb friend (I'm bi and trans and femme; bigender feels right to me too), "i used it as a buffer from solving trauma that i had around relationships. i honestly can't tell people how to identify, that's not my place. but I do think that we need to be careful around these things and applying the split attraction model to everyone has caused some trouble;" and to quote someone else, as a segue, "(With the UN-reported epidemic of violence on women by ab----ve perpetrators globally, we are) still grappling with their ideals. Conversations about r--e culture, feminism and misogyny are important, sensitive and nuanced... let people learn in public."
For all the implied postulation around progression towards a really healing, fervent, emphatically bold and militant discourse that's for and not lazily protective of gay rights and representation and trans people's rights, especially in the national context one find oneself in locally, I think that this sequel to Erika's game in terms of nuance sensitivity and prioritizing the spirit of recognition of disenfranchised peoples really falls short, in comparison and in light of what I previously asserted. I would hope that this isn't a case similar to Kishimoto Masashi's where he made Naruto such a self insert of himself to such a degree that everyone has nothing to do but to fall over themselves for him and Sasuke is so involved in his (the author's) self-insert's numinous qualities that Kishimoto accidentally made his property gay, which is to say (in a roundabout way) it isn't compelling to me that Manami is defined first by her straightness in relation to her place in the heart of Haru who likes her, and secondly: by the absolute most distressingly upsetting thing she has learned / experienced in that point of her life, to the point that I believe there was an interesting and probably deeply human character still left unexplored and unseen by the time more than half of this game's endings were cleared. After a whole game about her that is set in her bedroom and inside of her life, should not "Manami: perfect human being" and "Manami: ally who never messes up" have been torn down for nuance? How do you balance heavy moments with worldbuilding that is core to a character's backstory or simply about aesthetics and following tension with a break or relief? And to return to my original point: How do the messages of the series get communicated and who is it that should not be left out and counted out, or more specifically is it difficult to ask, "Which mistakes do we abolish regarding the offhand dismissal of ace identity as a possibility when considering the full breadth of things and can we focus on their issues while not tearing down the experiences of people who identify issues in the foundational base assumptions and react differently? How do we reconcile that there can be issues with the split attraction model while having the tools to blame not towards this person or that person--but at structural things like homophobia, the way we wage war on the LGBT community's rights as citizens, ideas on the family as an institution that constitute and enforce patriarchy, and ultimately colonialist imperialist and supremist ideas of gender roles mandating you must be married by 25?" Why doesn't Manami have a photo of Tatsuya instead of just his name set for her incalls!?
Manami to me seems to be defined by an earth shattering experiences solely. It doesn't help that there was no foreshadowing prior to that realization. For example: The first and easiest endings one may get, Let's See A Movie - and it was the first I got - takes the story, and its subtext revolving around Watanabe getting the vibe Haru and Erika are dating, to places that don't even touch this crucial cornerstone in her life as someone who may identify as being proudly aspec. With that taken into account, unfortunately, it is possible that even with me, and with my lesbian friend, we could go for entire days with the memory of only those first two or three runs (and none of the other endings unlocked whatsoever!) going about the rest of the day walking around like assholes totally 100% ignorant of Manami's aromantic identity which is being discussed by the script as a whole. There' something interesting in that and it bleeds into the writing of the series as a whole in a specific way, which I'll get into. If anything, in that hypothetical situation where I didn't play more than a couple runs, I would assume that the rest of Manami's story is only to do with teasing out information about Watanabe's hunch and/or Haru potentially being in a wild, fun, emotional love triangle and maybe even potentially approaching Manami with a confession. To be perfectly honest it felt weirdly like an on the nose thing at first (not quite as subtle or informative or as enjoyable as the ending in One night hot springs where Haru declines but at least the ending was titled "normal" which is very protective of her boundaries) and sorta comes across as a jab at people who, without encouragement from the writing and lacking proper information from the previous games or the game's actual script itself, wouldn't bring to mind the aspec / the spectrum immediately, who otherwise are innocent of antagonism towards ace identity and ace people, and finally, who may never have been initiated in the internet conversations around all of that. The aforementioned lack of foreshadowing of Manami realizing that she (oh dear!) is ace didn't help. Manami being framed as the cishet among her friends also didn't help.
One can't help but see the other games with a sort of... tilt. There will now be a change to how I regard Manami's arc and her whole deal...and I wish that it didn't bleed into One night and Last Day in that way. Manami and her friends are lovely and real in the way that truly striking novels or comics's characters are lovely and real; they stick with you and leave you with the impression that they're growing and learning in some multiverse alternate dimension maybe somewhere because they feel so complete and full of life. However there is an entire story being told outside of them, on top of a narrative with a purpose and even a politic. I think many of aspects of this are un-worked-through despite all its strengths, the personalities who are navigating their 20s together, the childlike optimism, the musical and aesthetic polish, the widespreadness of its supporters. The series doesn't fall in my estimation and I hope that I didn't mess up anything grammatically in attempting to get my concerns and my experiences from the game through. I understand that they are subjective and I have no expectations. Praying that the rest of your month is wonderful and that the earth is kind to you! 💜💛💚💙💗💖💜💛💚💙❤💖💗💜💛💚💙💖💗❤💓💜💛💚💙💗💖❤💜💛💚💙❤💗💖💜💛💙💚💗❤💖