[Visual Novel] Rewrite

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[Visual Novel] Rewrite

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Postby esselfortium » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:51 pm

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Rewrite is a massively ambitious visual novel written by Romeo Tanaka (Humanity Has Declined, Cross Channel) with contributions from Ryukishi07 (Higurashi, Umineko) and Yuuto Tonokawa (Little Busters!). It's published by Key, but is ultimately unlike anything else Key has ever done. It's become one of my favorite works alongside Madoka and Evangelion. If you haven't read it (or heard of it at all), this post was written for you.

Rewrite is complex and deceptive in ways that make it remarkably challenging to describe what it's actually about without massively spoiling later parts of its story, but I'll try to give a taste of its premise here. Rewrite is a series of related personal stories all revolving around a war being waged by two ancient secret societies both seeking control over an apocalyptic device. It's also a ridiculous school comedy, a romance, an action-adventure, an espionage plot, a meditation on human conflict and compassion, and so much more.

For a more surface-level synopsis of what you'll see closer to the beginning of the story: A goofy dork named Kotarou Tennouji awkwardly tries to wrangle some other weirdos into an after-school group to do occult research around town. Kotarou has had some bizarre supernatural experiences of his own, and for as long as he can remember, he's kept secret an ability to "rewrite" his body, changing himself in irreversible ways.

Rewrite is a sprawling, multifaceted work that was supremely enjoyable to read, made me feel a lot of things, and left me with a message I'm going to be thinking about for a long time.

It also has some supremely good music.

And Chiwa Saito, Eri Kitamura, and Kana Hanazawa all in amazing roles.



Some questions and answers for newcomers:

  • Where can I get Rewrite?
    There's not currently an official English release, but if you can find the original Japanese release (not the recent rerelease version, "Rewrite+"), Amaterasu have released a full English translation patch that can be downloaded from here.

    There will be an official English release of Rewrite+ at a yet-undetermined future point, but the changes are relatively minor, so if you're interested at all, I don't think there's much reason to wait. If you like Rewrite, though, please support the creators and buy Rewrite+ when it becomes available in English!

  • This is just more typical Key stuff, though, right?
    Nope! Only a minority of Rewrite's content was written by an in-house Key writer, and the scope and execution of the story as a whole are hugely different from what Key is known for. It's not a harem, and Jun Maeda's only creative involvement was a small (and awesome) contribution to the soundtrack, so you're not going to find any baseball episodes, deus ex machina endings, or moe girls dying in the snow here. Rewrite actually makes a point of skewering no small number of Key cliches.

  • Can I just watch the anime instead?
    Please don't! The anime leaves out nearly all of Rewrite's original story and sits in a weird place between clumsily-rushed partial adaptation and guilty-pleasure self-parody. It has some entertaining moments if you're already in love with Rewrite's world and characters, but it's missing nearly everything that makes Rewrite what it is. Characters' personalities have been heavily altered, motivations have become often arbitrary as a side effect of the rushed pacing, and much of the seriousness and meaning are just gone from it. The anime also frequently suffers from some seriously awkward (cheap) animation. If you're new to Rewrite, I really, really strongly recommend avoiding the anime and checking out the visual novel instead.

  • I'm reading, but when do things get serious?
    Rewrite has three distinct phases: the Common Route, the Heroine Routes, and finally the True Routes (Moon and Terra).

    The Common Route is largely a comedy serial, intermingled with some small glimpses into the secrets of Rewrite's world. It admittedly starts off a bit dry, but for me it became progressively more ridiculous and fun as I got further into it. The Common Route is rather lengthy, spanning around a month and a half of in-world time, but the payoff for it is enormous. (If you're still in the Common Route and need a reminder of some of the things you're in for later, go into the Gallery and rewatch the opening credits video.)

    Toward the end of the Common Route, certain significant events in mid-November lead to a branch-off into one of five Heroine Routes, each of which is a largely-independent story focused around a different piece of the same larger conflict. Each of the Heroine Routes has a completely different mood and even genre from the others, and completing all five of them is required to unlock the True Routes.

    The True Routes are in some ways a complete departure, and in other ways the culmination of and answer to all that came before them.

    Rewrite does have a small handful of really dumb out-of-place fanservice moments here and there, but thankfully they're very few and far between, only occupying a few minutes of a story that's countless hours long. The Rewrite+ rerelease unfortunately adds some more of this.

  • Where should I start with all the different Heroine Routes?
    The usual recommendation you'll hear online is Kotori->Chihaya->Lucia->Shizuru->Akane, but I don't think you need to follow it quite that strictly. (I didn't.)

    Based on my own experiences, my advice is to pick between Kotori and Chihaya first. Once you've completed both of those, read Lucia and Shizuru (again, both in either order). Then Akane's is left as the last remaining one. (Lucia's is pretty different from the other routes, Shizuru's has plot points dependent on information from Kotori's and Chihaya's, and Akane's is arguably the most complex and relies on having a solid grasp on Rewrite's world gained from the other routes.)

    Each route has a very different style and feel than the others, with one being a grim survival scenario, one being a shonen action-adventure, one being mystery/horror, and so on.

    Amaterasu's English translation patch for Rewrite comes with a walkthrough txt file that should be findable in your Rewrite folder after you've installed the patch. I recommend checking into that so you can get into the routes you want without having to guess about it.

    (Don't forget to read Moon and Terra after you're done with all the Heroine Routes!)

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The tl;dr version of this post: Rewrite is great, I love it, more people need to experience it. Give it a try sometime.

If you've already read Rewrite, I want to hear what you think of it! Please tag any spoilers with the relevant routes!
Last edited by esselfortium on Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: [Visual Novel] Rewrite

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Postby Seele00TextOnly » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:51 pm

I feel like Rewrite reawakened a lot of my heart. To me it's sort of a seminal event in my life so far, much like when I saw Evangelion and joined the forum. Unfortunately there really isn't much in the way of a Rewrite fandom or forum. I'd definitely migrate there if it existed.

I'm almost too enamored to speak coherently on it; even without a spoilers consideration I'm not quite sure what I'd say. I want to wrap myself up in it and have people around me who know and value the experience in a similar way. In that sense I feel rather lonely for most part.

I think I'll have more to say as others join in, I've already spoken at length with essel on this. Essel's the one that got me into it. I was sort of dragged kicking and screaming through the Common Route which I had trouble with. I guess I just really didn't get what was going on or why things were happening (or moreso not happening) the way they were. But I was assured it was a powerful and moving work that I simply must play. I finally got to a crucial bend in the Common Route and was under it's spell; then the Heroine Routes came. I absolutely fell in love with each of those. Rewrite is so varied and dense in the best ways. I endured despair, action, romance, loss, estrangement... there was so much it was overwhelming.

Then came Moon and Terra which I really resented at first. The heroines take a very distant backseat in those, and that made me feel I'd lost my emotional connection with the work. A new heroine enters the fray though, a very different one. Everyone is so different from one another in this game. Even the main character Kotarou is different in every route, in a very understandable manner that works.

That's not to say that Rewrite is 100% perfect. Maybe 99.5% . There are at least a couple incidents of out of place fanservice that bugged me and could tarnish the experience for some people, particularly one in Lucia's route that doesn't fit the tone at all unfortunately. There's a disturbing focus on Chihaya's panties early on for a while which I could really do without. There are also incidents early in the Common Route where Kotarou speaks or thinks some fairly sexist or misogynistic things, and I guess that's just Japan being Japan. I got inordinately bent out of shape as I noticed and looked for them, but ultimately I accepted it despite the minor blemish.

I started out this post unsure what I'd have to say but I suppose I've said plenty. I'll say more as it occurs to me, and I sincerely hope more of you will check out this truly wonderful experience and get back with us along the way.
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Re: [Visual Novel] Rewrite

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Postby Reichu » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:33 pm

Well, you've definitely piqued my curiosity... Won't be able to check it out immediately, but I'll make a mental note. ;)
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Re: [Visual Novel] Rewrite

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Postby Seele00TextOnly » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:14 pm

It's been 6 months and I am ~still~ completely obsessed with this VN. The show has continued to be a craptastic disappointment to be avoided unless you've already read it properly first. Been trying to get friends to read it with mostly limited success. Honsou started but he can't seem to get past the entry barrier that is the oddball slice-of-life stuff that goes on in the common route so far; I'm remembering how it was for me too and I can relate, if you don't know what's going on then like, it can really feel grueling. But you can't know what's going on, that's so much of the fun and the point of how to approach this work. It opens up in such a beautiful way into such a beautiful multi faceted thing that it's ... it sadly just cannot be described or done justice without massive spoilers, which I suppose is sort of another barrier to entry. You really have to have faith in the person telling you to go for it and take the plunge with Rewrite.

Anti-Goth, on the other hand, eventually fully dove in and while she hasn't finished it yet (she's putting plenty of time into it though), she's already 'one of us' on the other side of the divide. Hanging out with her as she reads has been a total blast as she is quite vocal in her exclamations as things happen and become apparent. I think I've read every variation of 'oh my god what the hell is this?!!' that can be written now from her. I really can't encourage you enough to check this out and join us among The Rewritten (that's what i'm calling our hapless little cult). I've been wanting to do a new playthrough for a long time now but really don't have much the time, too busy. But I have been watching some commentary-free 'let's play' videos on my phone of someone letting it autoplay.

If you do give it a shot, please post some feedback or reactions in here, though do keep things spoiler free please. And for goodness sake don't spoil yourself just read it and let it do the talking. It is still by far my favorite work of art.
Check out my AMVs: Kaji/Misato in "18 Apostolos" & Kaworu and the Harpies in "The Beast That Shouted 'I' at the Heart of the World" w/ music by Esselfortium!!
Shinji embraces the otaku empowerment fantasy and dives headfirst into his mother's basement. -Chrad
Acts of man are better than acts of god. -Misato


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