[Review] Phenomeno – Mitsurugi Yoishi wa Kowagaranai

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http://vndb.org/v10526

JP title: フェノメノ 美鶴木夜石は怖がらない

A very short horror/mystery story by Nitro+ about spooky ghosts and denpa girls and delicious illustrations by Namaniku ATK of Muramasa fame. The same guy that brought us this, God bless his face. (okay so maybe I just needed an excuse to post that sh-shut up) Oh and Yoshitoshi ABe as well. It’s also been fan translated to English, so holy shit I’m finally writing about a game that more than 10 people might have read! Anyway, I don’t expect this review to be very long since the VN itself is extremely short (around 2 hours). I’m sure you’re all still traumatized by the tl;dr Sigma Harmonics review so I’ll (try to) keep it short!

Phenomeno is a visual novel released back in 2012 in order to kind of sort of promote a series of youth horror stories. Or (light) novels. Or whatever we’re calling these. The thing is, a *part* of the whole Phenomeno saga has been adapted to the VN medium with great visuals and sounds, which is what this is. The writing is actually surprisingly novel-like, as in, it’s not shit. However, there are no voices, not for the protagonist, nor for any of the other characters, which is understandable but at the same time a massive shame. In the meantime I’ll just pretend Yoishi is voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki and continue to swoon over her.

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The plot concerns one [family name I forgot] Nagito who moves to Tokyo from his rural hometown to conquer the big city and thus become a successful and classy person. He begins by buying a massive mansion in the middle of the woods — probably a bit too big for one guy to be living alone in, but it gives him bragging rights compared to his fellow university classmates, and the house itself was apparently cheap as dirt. It’s also rumored to be a “house that grants wishes”, so what’s not to like, right?

Right?

Rule #1 — when you’re in a Japanese horror story and someone is selling a mansion at a suspiciously low price, run the fuck away. Just do it. And for the love of God don’t go in the house. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN JU-ON THE GRUDGE

So anyway he does buy the house, and guess what starts happening one night!

Weird shit, that’s what!

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He starts hearing creepy, scratching noises at a fixed time in the middle of the night, and soon after finds the kanji of the number seven carved/scratched into the wood. He freaks out. The noises continue on subsequent nights, and more carvings appear: six, five. If you’ve seen The Ring you can probably tell where this is going. So he freaks the fuck out even more, leaves the house and tries asking for help from his nerdy occult friends — long story short, he begins investigating the reasons behind the mysterious countdown along with #1 occult maniac denpa girl Mitsurugi Yoishi. Probably unrelated to another Mitsurugi I know, but both of them are doing investigations, I guess. Sort of?

Not much else can be discussed of the plot without really spoiling it, but Phenomeno, on the whole, was a decent enough read. It didn’t rock my world or anything, but if they made more VNs out of this, I’d probably read them. The atmosphere is quite good and I was very pleasantly surprised by the soundtrack as well. The whole thing even got somewhat creepy here and there, especially as I was reading it late at night. The countdown, aka the curse that just keeps on going and you can’t escape from it, is hardly a new concept, but I enjoyed it, plus it makes the entire story one big countdown in itself, with the reader sort of expecting shit to hit the fan when we finally reach 1. So it definitely builds anticipation and sets the tone for the novel.

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Yoishi’s character sort of takes the spotlight, as you might expect, and while we don’t exactly learn too much about her during the VN, we learn just enough that sort of makes you want to crave for more. She has a fascinating duality about her, on one hand she’s almost like an otherworldy being, an enigma of sorts; one the other she’s just a complete weirdo, basically a regular girl who’s totally nerdy about the occult. In a weirdly cute way.

Also, hime cut. My #1 fetish.

In any case, the entirety of Phenomeno feels a bit like a massive prologue — a “tutorial section” for future supernatural cases. So you’ll probably want to read the novels after this — they’re also fan translated as far as I know, so no worries. The story itself is somewhat predictable, but it throws an interesting, “dun dun dunnn” curveball at you in the very last second that really reinforces the “tune in next week for more” feeling of the VN — except there’s no next episode, at least not in a visual novel format. Still, it was definitely a solid finale, and one that kinda creeped me out a little bit (yes, I’m talking of that final CG).

So overall, as I’ve already stated, Phenomeno is a decent read. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing or even a must-read, but it’s short enough that even if you’re not overly impressed with it, in the end it only wasted one or two hours of your life. Give it a shot, I say.

ph-t

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15 thoughts on “[Review] Phenomeno – Mitsurugi Yoishi wa Kowagaranai

  1. Superb review as always(Even though I miss me some of those delicious translations). I remember looking at Phenomeno on youtube and I really enjoyed what I read of it, so I might look into it, especially since two hours is nothing to a NEET like myself. I must ask though…. on your twitter, in that post from Yui Sakibihara, is that Masada!? OWO

    • There *might* be more translations in the future as I get further in Dies irae, I’ve been stalled for a while. Still at the end of Marie’s route. I blame Dark Souls 2 and FF14 taking up all my time.

      Yep! That’s Masada in the flesh. Now if I see him in person I’ll recognize him so I can worship the ground he walks on.

  2. Even though it’d probably be a difficult undertaking, I’d love to see a trans ver of Reinhard and Ren’s final fight in Marie’s route, since I watch the video almost every day(It’s on youtube). The reviews, though, are just as good, I’d like to see what other games you play besides vn, might even help me regain my love of video games, haha.

    Also, you’d best let me share in the worship of the Chuuni God that is Masada. ‘_’

    • Oh cool. Mind linking me to that youtube vid?

      Yeah, I sometimes talk about “regular” non-VN games on twitter or that other gaming site I write for (gtogg, should be a link around here somehwere), so that’s probably your best bet. I’m trying to keep *this* blog mostly VN/JRPG/Japanese stuff centered.

  3. Were you aware that a PVC figure based on that artwork of Muramasa is already got announced? Im having a really hard time deciding wether to get her or the also announced Chachamaru figure.

    • Oh, I actually wasn’t aware. I don’t collect figures though so it doesn’t quite affect me, but I’ll be sure to drool over other people’s photos of it, at least. :p

      (get Muramasa obviously, is this even a question duh)

  4. Understandable I wouldn’t wanna change what works for ya! And here’s the link – http://youtu.be/KSfm_iBdNvU Of course, it’s not the entire fight, only the chanting phase. Since you’ve read it, though, without spoiling me too much, how was it? ;-; It’s been soooooo long since i’ve read a vn with awesome fight scenes, though that’s more or less because of my lack of japanese. That’ll change soon though, since I’m a HUGE fan of Masada and iearning japanese for his works alone would probably be more than worth it in the end.

    • Thanks for the link; I actually haven’t read it yet, I’m still a bit earlier in the chapter. However I have no doubts that it’s gonna be awesome. I totally expected Reinhard to actually quote the lyrics of Dies irae though for his incantation.

  5. Your welcome! I’d love to hear your thoughts when you do get around to reading it. :3

    Masada’s villains really are amazing. Reinhard and Mercurius happen to be some of the best villains i’ve ever seen in a VN or anime. They’re not even your cheesy typical, “I’m evil, nyehehehehe!” villains either. They’re so classy, it’s just amazing to see them at work….

    • I thought the exact same thing, they’re among the very best villains I’ve seen in a long time. This is something I’ll elaborate on in my review of Dies (whenever that happens lol…), about how they differ from your usual Saturday morning cartoon villains, and why their characters work so well in the novel. But I’ll leave that discussion for the review~

  6. I cannot wait to see your opinions on them, haha. As an aspiring writer, if I could write any type of villain, It’d definitely be along the lines of Mercurius or Reinhard in terms of how they operate, their goals, and not falling into the category of typical antagonist territory. Whenever you’re writing a story, it’s hard on deciding how you want your antagonist to be. Do you want him to be a bastard, who steals candy from babies, burns villagers, and does anything bordering on depravity to incite a reaction? Or, do you write a villain with his own goals that even the reader may agree with, and isn’t so necessarily focused on world domination but have their own rules for enforcing the status quo. Masada proves you can have your antagonists shine, and possibly even steal the show over the protagonist! And that’s why he’s becoming one of my top visual novel scenario writers, that ability to write wonderful villains five star males in general.

  7. This was in my backlog, but I totally forgot about it somewhere down the line, lol. It looks like the perfect story for when I need some thrills during the night. Didn’t know the novels are translated too, if so, it does give more motivation to play this VN ^^”

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