The Brave Under the Summer Sky — A Tale of Courage.
[This review was written immediately after the read. As such, it’s bound to contain numerous grammatical, and pacing errors. Sentiments are also at an all-time high, granted the proximity to the work’s completion. As always, there will be conceptual spoilers within this review. All specific spoilers are simple to the point of being revealed within the first half hour of the novel.This is an explanation of how I do my reviews.]
A dream can be ascribed numerous adjectives. A dream can be magical, a dream can be actual. A dream can be memorable, a dream can be forgettable — a dream can be reasonable, and a dream can be everything but feasible. Natsusora no Perseus (夏空のペルセウス) bears the visage of a dream — in concept, in execution, in immersion, and ultimately, in remembrance. Within a dream, the dreamer generally doesn’t think too much about what’s happening. The dreamer accepts what happens as it is.
Within Natsuzora no Perseus, characterization is minimal, with love and romance subsumed rather than developed. Within the span of a week, the protagonist and the specified heroine profess the existence of the most fervent love, without actually developing the proper premise for it. Whereas some series intricately, and thoughtfully develop the psychological portraits of each respective character to the point of near-verisimilitude, Perseus works like a dream, in making the audience just go with it. The reader, as if in a carefully-induced, somatic reverie is asked by the work to swallow otherwise dubious events with ease. In Perseus, living in the moment supersedes reason.
As a result, plot development is minimal too. Each route outside the true takes under three hours to complete. Each route is structured similarly to a sandwich: thick buns of salacious, but commendable h-scenes on the outer edges, with a hefty serving of melodrama in the middle. The h-scenes are executed so wonderfully, that in 2012, Getchu’s community agreed that it was deserving of the award for “#1 Ero Scenes.” This is an award typically reserved for nukige, novels established for the sole notion of sex. The h-scenes within the novel were artistically laudable. In relation to the plot, sometimes they offered a good deal of psychological development [not in the traditional innocent sense either]. But in most instances, they felt forced and awkward. When the volume of the h-scenes are bundled with the fact that minori’s engine is archaic, and missing a skip function, then it’s easy to see how frustrating it gets.
So like a dream, the work skips the necessary fundamentals befitting of most series. There is no need for an extensive common route which provides the basis of the work. The work jumps straight into the action, after offering the minimum, necessary introduction. In a sense, this is effective in that there’s no down time — plot follows plot. There’s no need for verbose, meaningless slice of life. Contrary to many works which go with this approach, despite the lack of a long common route, there is a sense of connectedness among the characters. The common route’s largest strength is its capacity to provide the work with a central theme, and a foundation for the character relationships. This work manages to establish all of that moderately-well in a short duration. Nonetheless, the connectness is only in interaction; thematically and structurally, the other routes aren’t very centered.
The majority of the developments within this novel are grandiose. It’s analogous to a dream in more dimensions than one. Within a dream, the dreamer doesn’t really remember all of the events. They remember the large events, the climaxes. Some of the events within this work don’t make sense because the type of characters within the work shouldn’t exist within proper reason. But minori’s perseveres. As a result of incredible execution, at the climactic points within the novel, the reader reaches a point of accepting everything as is. The reader gets caught up in the moment, within the reverie. Whereas within a normal work, the reader would question the development, and scrutinize its questionable, awful pacing, minori’s so good at what they do, that it pulls the reader along, compelling reason to submission.
In induction, minori does so by masterfully setting the stage. The production quality of the company’s probably their most telling feature — Perseus is a gorgeous, artistically-consistent work. By visual novel standards, it’s cinematic, and impressive in more ways than one. Through field-of-vision, they can make scenes centered around sprites seem like a shot from an animation. There’s a great deal of simple animation in speech when the characters talk, and in some instances, when they move. Of course, as a result of its production quality, the work is relatively short compared to most other works. Nonetheless, within its length, the work never fell aesthetically.
As melodrama’s emblematic of a minori work, so is the music composed by TENMON & Eiichiro Yanagi. Within the past, I’ve raised criticisms that the duo knows no subtlety — the reader never has a problem knowing what to feel, because their tracks obnoxiously hammer it in, persistently. Generally, their style is so recognizable, and their instrumentation, so limited [yet so dream-inducing] to the point where it’s hard to tell their works apart. At a certain point, it’s generally not a good thing when all of their tracks sound the same. The music for Perseus doesn’t break free from that pattern.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny that the music isn’t in itself, good though. While Perseus is considered to be a relatively-short work, its soundtrack boasts 52 tracks. Unlike most other visual novel soundtracks, minori soundtracks are cinematic; so there’s a lot of tracks included for the sole purpose of ambience. The work has four routes, each with its respective ending theme songs. As a fan of collecting soundtracks, the premise of that alone is exciting [despite wishing for a little variety]. But more importantly than personal preference, the soundtrack couples well with the artistic approach, and ultimately, presentation of the work.
The reverie which the work bases much of its momentum on is induced first-and-foremost with its soundtrack and art. But, outside of aesthetics alone, its method of presentation gives the work additional depth too. At times, scenes change without the playing track pausing or changing, resulting in the illusion of skipping through time. In other words, the work belittles the passage of time to the extent of masterfully mimicking the structure of a dream. In this way, minori could argue that their minimalist approach with characterization, and their grandiose, dramatic, but flawed scenes be a result of artistic taste, than of blunder.
Yet, even if for artistic taste alone, the work’s crippled by numerous factors. As stated, it’s a work best enjoyable if the reader just accepts what occurs. The premise of the work revolves around the fact that the protagonist and his sister have the capability to ‘take’ someone else’s pain away by receiving it for themselves. The protagonist in numerous instances stated how in the past, he and his sister were forced to use the power for the sake of another, and as a result, he and his sister are wary of people. But, that never shows. It’s only mentioned. The reader is asked to assume a lot of things, both plot-wise, and character-wise.
This work does have a true heroine route. Yet, it’s a true heroine in the absolute most trite sense. She’s tied to the protagonist by ‘fate’, with no connection other than one particular line [which the reader is to presume is profound]. The true heroine, does play a fairly important role within all the other routes [by advising the protagonist during the crucial junctions], but other than that, she really isn’t connected to the series in theme, nor in plot. Her route’s without a doubt, the longest, and ‘best’ route of the series — but that’s because all of the other routes were incredulous, or mediocre. Of course, while the climaxes of the other routes were enticing due to minori’s prowess with presentation, in memoriam, the reader’s less likely to go “that was great”, and more likely to go “that happened?”
So, it’s a dream in more ways than one. Like most dreams, Natsuzora no Perseus’ largest strength is just how potent it is during its highs, but like most dreams, its largest weakness, is how forgettable it ends up being, because there’s a lack of a logical foundation. In its moment, it’s sublime. But for the period which follows, it gradually dissipates.