JP title: 月光のカルネヴァーレ
You may have noticed that this post is not labeled in the way I usually label reviews, and there’s a reason for that. That’s because I haven’t finished all of the game (let me explain), and as such, I don’t really consider this a “proper” review in that sense. Sure, you may consequently dismiss this entire post with a wave of the hand, followed by a “but he didn’t finish the whole thing”. Yes, absolutely. I understand. However, after fully completing two of the game’s four heroine routes and dipping my toe in the third, I have decided that I simply cannot take this anymore.
…At least for the moment. I do, however, have things to say pertaining to the parts I *did* complete and the game in general (I mean, the common route alone is fairly long), and I figured it’d be a waste to let my arguably brilliant thoughts collect metaphorical dust in the recesses of a notes.txt file somewhere deep in the swamp of my HDD. And really, I figured I’d let this post stand as a warning to others toying with the idea of plunging into the snooze-fest that is Gekkou no Carnevale. And after you, in your hubris, gaudily ignore all my heartfelt warnings and end up wasting dozens of hours on this offensively average piece of audiovisual entertainment, I will be there to shake my head, like a wise old grandfather saying “I told you so”. Because I told you so.
Either way, I need to get this off my chest. I need to vent while the memories are still semi-fresh. This is my rehabilitation therapy. My healing period. Don’t worry, though, in the event I do go back to the VN and finish the rest of it, I will probably update this review accordingly. Or maybe I’ll be just glad I won’t ever have to talk about it ever again and move on with my life. There’s that option, too. Anyway, this introduction has dragged on for long enough (like the bloody VN itself, gah), so without further ado, here it is: Gekkou no Carnevale. My thoughts.
Gekkou no Carnevale is the kind of VN that pulls you in instantly with its charming Italian setting, somber atmosphere, and decent enough soundtrack. Hell, that’s what pulled *me* in. It takes place in the city of Belmonte, where protagonists Romeo (who, by the way, is also a werewolf, and no, this is not a spoiler) decides to settle down and lead an ordinary life as a taxi driver, alongside a robot maid (yes this world has mechanical dolls, just roll with it) called Anna that she picked up from the trash. No, really. He seriously picked her up from the trash and took her in. Romeo mostly just wants to be left alone — he used to be in the werewolf mafia (yes there is a werewolf mafia, just roll with it) but quit after a certain incident I would almost describe as a spoiler but it’s so obvious you’ll basically figure it out after the first hour or so. The other werewolves want him to return to the family but Romeo wants none of it. He’s done. Like I am.
So basically, if the VN’s aim was to illustrate how boring life would be as a werewolf taxi driver, then good fucking job, here’s your certificate, your medal, and a hearty handshake to go with it, because you have passed with flying colors, now try to actually give me a story that doesn’t unintentionally work as a sleep aid. Off you go. So yes, the game is fairly boring. A test of endurance, if you will. It masks this trait quite well, because the beginning is actually pretty neat, and the introduction of Romeo is done in a fairly stylish way. Some of the slice of life is decent (largely due to Anna’s lovable quirkiness) and as long as the novelty endures, Gekkou is actually a fairly okay-ish read. The kind of VN that you can sit back and read with a cup of coffee as you let the whole Italian atmosphere seep into your very bones. But after the honeymoon is over… nothing. Or rather, noting interesting, just generic, by-the-book chuuni stuff with predictable plot points and not much imagination.
The best parts are probably, to an extent, the setting/soundtrack (which consequently create the above-mentioned atmosphere), as well as maybe a character or two you’ll find endearing. Like Anna. Did I say I like Anna? Because I do. But when you’ve been reading this shit for 20 hours straight, the novelty starts to wear off, and oh hi tedium and disappointment. It’s a ride at the Italian Disneyland that slowly, but inevitably, devolves into a trainwreck of unfulfilled potential. The perfect example of “wow this is gonna be such a cool VN!!” which then turns into “oh god let it end”. The first two routes are like that, at least. Because y’know, “he didn’t finish the whole thing” and all that jazz. The pacing is also not all that cool I guess (that was my most diplomatic way of saying “shit”), mostly due to the above-mentioned “when will this fucking end” kind of scenes and the fact that many of the characters are simply not interesting enough to maintain the reader’s attention. Battles are a big offender here, particularly because the game severely lacks any kind of battle that could be labeled as, uh, epic. Sorry, I know the internet hates that word and it’s not cool to say it in 2016, but still. Remember the Ichijou route final battle in Muramasa? Haha, fuck off, nothing of the sort in Gekkou, at least not in the routes I completed.
Either way, moving on with the characters. Anna is the energetic hyper genki robot girl voiced by Saya from Saya no Uta. Yes. She’s fun, quirky, has a smile worth protecting, and says the weirdest things in the cutest way and I really liked her. And probably you will, too, which will make soldiering through the common route that much easier. Her route more or less deals with the idea of “Pinocchio wants to be a real boy” but really, it’s about as by-the-book as you can imagine, with repetitive fights and a predictable, syrupy sweet ending… which I was actually quite fond of, even though it was nothing special. It’s a pretty standard action VN story, really, and likely the most “fitting” conclusion to the story seeing how Anna feels like the main heroine. I call this one the “waoon” ending, by the way, and if you’ve read the VN you probably know why. Her other ending is the height of meh. In fact, I demand the dictionary to include the word “meh”, with the definition “The other ending to Anna’s route in Gekkou no Carnevale”.
Still, I like Anna. Anna is good.
Noel is the street kid who refers to herself as “ore” and people think she’s a boy when really she’s not. After a certain set of events, she also comes to live with Romeo for a while and, you guessed it, kinda falls for him. I was getting ever so slight Kageaki / Ichijou vibes from her and Romeo, which was pretty neat. She’s also the character where I kinda had trouble understanding her motivations, in fact, I found her actions to be kinda stupid, but seeing how I didn’t fully beat her route, I will not comment or draw any further conclusions regarding her character, since it’d be unfair. My highly trustworthy sources (furi: Twitter) tell me her route is not quite as shit as the others, so if I ever come back to the game, it’ll be for her. But we’ll see.
I’ll quickly mention the other heroine whose route I didn’t beat, Miss Cleavage McPuppyEars, aka Rebecca (sadly not Chambers). A former partner of Romeo at the werewolf mafia, she treats him quite harshly and pretends she has moved on with her life, but you can tell she secretly masturbates to pictures of Romeo every night while sniffing his underwear. Either way, she’s very much a minor character in the routes I beat, but if she brings on the dere in her own route, she might be more interesting. Or not.
Okay, the other heroine whose sorry excuse for a route I completed is Lunaria, the kuudere Hatsune Miku cosplayer voiced by Michiru from Grisaia. No, I’ve never played Grisaia, I merely wanted to type out that sentence because it sounded funny. Either way, she suffers from a severe case of “I just met you and this is crazy, but this is my own route and I’m barely even in it what the hell”. Her kuudere antics can get kinda amusing, I sort of wished she’d do that more. I found her route even more boring, to the point I barely even remember what the hell it was about, but this is where I was starting to feel severely burned out by this game, so cut me some slack. Thanks, Lunaria! Let me pull your twintails.
Another big gripe I’ve had during my reading was the lack of any good villains. Like, holy shit. Carmelo was somewhat annoying, and I honestly wondered how the hell he kept surviving when I thought he’d be the Spinne of this game. Either way, he does have some redeeming qualities because his yakuza semi-bromance with Silvio was interesting enough. And it’s amusing when he uses です as DEATH. If you have clicked on my links above, you already know how I feel about Iris, the token loli with the nails-on-chalkboard voice. There was also the lady always playing on the chessboard who basically did nothing interesting at all. I don’t even remember her name. Whatever. Norio fucking Wakamoto voices a guy and not even he’s that cool, though his disturbing laugh is *almost* on par with Sorimachi Ichizou’s from Muramasa, but let’s be honest, Hikaru Midorikawa did it better.
There’s a lesbian robot (Perla) who’s… not a very interesting villain either but her lesbian antics with Anna were pretty cute. But by far the stupidest villain had to be Pius. Oh. My. God. This guy. Okay, so imagine a 14-year-old with a raging case of chuunibyou trying to write a “cray-zee” and “edgy” character, and failing miserably. That’s Pius in a nutshell. He tries to sound so cool and intimidating but ends up coming off as ridiculous and childish. He also does this thing where he usually talks in a very quiet, calm voice, but then something clicks and he goes batshit crazy in an instant. I mean, look at this guy. LOOK AT HIM. How can anyone take him seriously? How is he supposed to be intimidating when I’m laughing my ass off? Basically “lolsorandum and cray-cray: the character”. Yes, I know about his condition and why he’s crazy, but it wasn’t enough to make me swallow his nonsense. To be fair, he’s still not as laughably bad as the guy from Sword Art Online who literally licks up the main girl’s tears. Nothing is *that* hilariously atrocious. *ticks off “random jab at SAO” box*
Thankfully, the game looks very pretty, with plenty of nice CGs. And I mean, really, this game has a fuckton of unique CGs. Having pretty CGs doesn’t save it from mediocrity, though — in fact, you’ll just feel stupid for thinking it would be a superb VN based on the art alone, but… uh, I figured I’d point it out. It was done by the same artist as Tokyo Necro, I believe, so hats off to the guy. As for the music, think Muramasa (Zizz) with an Italian flair and a couple of really nice songs. I particularly enjoyed the ending theme (one of them, anyway), Memento Vivere, as well as the BGMs “Granfia” and “Lume”, if you wanna look them up.
The bottom line is, if you’re considering playing Gekkou no Carnevale, you might want to reconsider. It’s prrrrrrrobably not the worst thing ever. That much I will grant. It’s likely fine, especially if this is like your first VN ever, in which case why aren’t you playing something better… but, uh, I digress. But as I’ve said, it’s just so offensively *mediocre* and by-the-book (I’ve used this expression three times in this review to emphasize it, not because I’m unimaginative!) that I cannot in good conscience recommend it based on what I’ve played of it so far. Do listen to the OST if you can, and maybe rub one out to the HCG if you so desire, but yeah, there are better things to waste time on in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen.
Okay, that felt good. So now that I have successfully passed this kidney stone of a review, we can move on to — not necessarily bigger — but certainly better things. What kind of things? FIND OUT NEXT TIME ON GAREBLOGS. Whenever that may happen. I need a coffee.