[Review] Subarashiki Hibi – Furenzoku Sonzai

https://vndb.org/v3144
JP title: 素晴らしき日々~不連続存在~
Opening

Wonderful Everyday, or: A Zero Gravity Dance of Happiness and Despair.

Well, I’m still trying to process everything I’ve just experienced. Subarashiki Hibi, or Wonderful Everyday, as it is known in English, is certainly not without its flaws, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since I finished it, so that should count for something, at least. It’s ambitious, unique, depressing and uplifting at the same time — and it’s probably one of the more memorable visual novels you’ll read, even if it won’t necessarily blow your mind.

So SubaHibi is one of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” kind of games. Sort of like Himawari. It starts off innocently enough, but the deeper you dig, the stranger things get. The game works with multiple protagonists and switches POVs in each new chapter you unlock; most of the chapters revolve around the same few days in July 2012, but they’re presented from vastly different perspectives, allowing you to slowly piece together the full picture of what’s going on. And by slowly, I mean that the first two chapters, Down the Rabbit Hole and It’s My Own Invention, will bombard you with questions and Weird Shit without providing any clear answers regarding the “why” of it all. Which is totally fine, but it kinda stretches on for a bit too long. As a result, the consistent theme that characterized the first 30 hours of my 60-hour SubaHibi reading experience was “well okay this is cool but I’m still waiting for it to start making sense”. Additionally, I felt the game was padded with a bit too much porn and one of the major twists is maybe a little clichéd, although it is fairly well-done due to how it’s presented. There’s also some disturbing content but if you ask me, it’s not nearly as bad as people might make you think. Or maybe I’ve just become desensitized to dark shit after reading/watching too much ero manga/anime, lol. Thanks, Asanagi.

Best girl? Best girl.

Right, so back to the plot. There are six chapters: Down the Rabbit Hole, It’s My Own Invention, Looking-glass Insects, Jabberwocky, Which Dreamed It, and finally Jabberwocky II. Rabbit Hole Part 1 will have you scratching your head in confusion, but that’s the reaction you’re supposed to have, while Rabbit Hole Part 2 is sort of a detective story with some bizarre elements. I feel like Rabbit Hole 1 gets kind of a bad rap as being this game’s version of MuvLuv Extra, but honestly, there’s enough eerie stuff and foreshadowing peppered throughout the chapter to make it a solid enough introduction to whet your appetite with. Invention, probably my least favorite chapter save for a few really good bits (cows et al.), puts a new spin on things by showing you another aspect of the incident from Rabbit Hole 2 but suffers from less than optimal pacing and ends up severely outstaying its welcome — something that is only partially offset by chemistry-savvy Science Girl Kimika being thoroughly and irresistibly awesome in all her scenes. It’s not until the third chapter, Looking-glass Insects, that SubaHibi’s story actually starts for real and things begin to get more interesting. And you get more Kimika Content, too.

Having said all that, SubaHibi’s structural weirdness is part of the reason why it’s such a unique reading experience. You’ll be reading one chapter from the perspective of one character and you’ll literally have no idea what’s real and what’s not. Then the next chapter will switch to another character’s perspective to show their version of the same time period you’ve already experienced earlier. Through overlaps, differences, and the fact that each chapter gives you a look into the mind of its narrator, you’ll start to peel back the game’s veil of madness to see the bigger picture, and contrary to what you might think, it actually doesn’t get repetitive due to how significantly different an experience each protagonist provides. Honestly, if you like the concept of unreliable narrators and interconnected plot threads, you’ll probably eat this right up. Also, a word of advice: if you’re gonna start reading this, I would strongly recommend just focusing on it until you’re done and taking little to no breaks, because aside from being a 50-60-hour-long beast of a novel, SubaHibi relies on you constantly reconstructing and reevaluating events in your head. So, like, if you stop playing for a week or two and certain details become vague in your mind, you might end up having a more difficult time appreciating things later on.

Zakuro is a sweet, innocent child and I just want her to be happy.

When strictly just viewed as a storyline to an eroge, the plot is good but not great; there are some cool twists and events but for me personally, they lacked the kind of catharsis I experienced with games like Muramasa or Masada’s works. You could even say that the final ending is a bit of an anticlimax, but ironically enough, it’s actually this part that will make you question everything you thought you knew. As for the philosophical aspects of the novel, you don’t have to be a 19th century scholar, a Dickinson biographer or a Wittgenstein expert to be able to understand SubaHibi’s messages because the game will tell you what you need to know for the most part. In fact, at various points it kinda spoon-feeds its messages to the reader in a very straightforward, dare I say heavy-handed, manner.

Other things in the plot are left open-ended and up for interpretation, which might either frustrate or fascinate you. Personally, I enjoyed this aspect of the work quite a bit. SubaHibi’s the kind of VN that will make you immediately start fervently looking stuff up to see what other people thought and how they interpreted the ending, and I just find that really cool in its own way. The actual plot, in retrospect, can feel secondary compared to the door of possibilities opened by the last ending and how it connects to the way the author structured the novel. If you have VN-reading friends who are familiar with SubaHibi, discuss it with them. Or look up other posts from people who finished the game. You may even want to go back to the first chapter and re-read it with all the new knowledge you’ve gained. Like I’ve said, it’s just that kind of VN.

Get in the fucking robot, Takuji.

Anyway, I’m gonna cut myself short here because SubaHibi is something you should read without knowing too much about it beforehand. For me, browsing through other people’s posts and comments after I’d 100%’d the game was both fun and a little surprising because despite having enjoyed the overall experience, I didn’t come away from this VN thinking it was some sort of life-altering kamige masterpiece. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a deeply fascinating work that made me think about a variety of things, but I wouldn’t consider it to be one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written or anything along those lines. Either way, regardless of whether or not it changes your fundamental outlook on reality, SubaHibi’s still interesting enough to warrant checking it out. If nothing else, it will give you the kind of eroge experience you won’t often find elsewhere.

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