In the near feature, schools will be equipped with its own social network system which will be used to monitor student activity. This is to prevent or reduce certainÂ incidents fromÂ happening and to keep order within and around campus. Sucks if you’re a student living in this time, but don’t take it personally, dude. It just ain’t your type of future.
Let’s be honest, only a handful of original English-language visual novels deviate from the established and well-known Japanese eroge formula — school setting, self-inserts, stereotypes, etc.. Most of which you will uninstall during the first or second chapters. So what makes Christine Love‘sÂ don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story different?
It Just Ain’t Your Story
Readers assume the role of John Rook, a 38-year-old beefcake currently in a mid-life crisis after being divorced twice and some other stuff, as he enters aÂ prestigiousÂ private school somewhere in Canada to work as a teacher. This new workplace of his has an exclusive social networking system dubbed AmieConnect used to monitor the students’ activities and chatlogs. Teachers not only can see the students’ public profiles, but also their private messages with other students, for the sole purpose of preventing bullying and gossip-mongering. The students and their parents however, are not aware that they are being monitored. A faculty member who spills the beans can be fired from the job, so John does his best to keep his eavesdropping in check. As his days goes by, he deals with the problems of seven of his students in Literature class. From coming out to same-sex relationships to just being a horrible bitch, as homeroom adviser he has to offer advice while acting oblivious to the students’ ranting online.
Cool premise, if you ask me.
Is this where I point the negatives?
As a story whose one of its main themes revolves on technology, it fails to develop its in-world technology into something that is convincing and real. Though the nature of the technology is easy to understand, the motive for its use is very questionable. Maybe this is to fit John’s eavesdropping escapades more and to keep things simple. As interaction with the students happen online, these characters are developed in a bizarre-kind of way, instead of just creating a scenario involving them, even going far as updating the students’ profiles to go along with the flow of the story. However, the in-world technology doesn’t develop the protagonist’s character. Instead, he is reduced to browsing an anonymous message board just for giggles. Funny thing is, he is browsing for topics that doesn’t explore his character. John browsing threads about fetishes, currently airing anime, and nostalgia doesn’t really reveal much about him. Could it be that he’s interested in these kinds of stuff and just not vocal about them in the narrative? Maybe, but hisÂ dawdling looked like cheap fanservice.
The characters border between likable and irritating. The protagonist represents the grown, ‘mature’ adult whose temper and composure are tested in front of a group obnoxious, noisy, meme-spouting and hormone-charged brats. As someone who tried to associated with John, I can feel his frustration burst into the screen with his mumbling in trying to deal with his students. I can’t blame him. He’s exactly what every grown adult would be like in the middle of a sea of immaturity. The students on the other hand are stereotypes taken from your usual teen-oriented American drama plus stereotypes pulled from the depths of the internet, whose issues are, well, taken from the aforementioned. They have their solid set of mannerisms and personalities which tell which help the reader to tell them apart, but the way their lines were delivered are sometimes off-character. As one reads through the students’ lines, one may wonder if people in real life do try to merge the internet with the real world with the use of memes and catchphrases. It makes me think whether real people say ‘LOL’, ‘TY’ or ‘weeaboo’ in real life, like they were the norm. The students’ dialogues looked like they were pulled from Facebook. The creator should’ve written off their lines like they were real people talking, not some character sprite on screen, spouting out internet memes like they’re dead in 2027. Maybe 17-year-old high school students in America do that, a cultural gap perhaps?
And yeah, the sprites were greatÂ especially along with the dialogueÂ , but some bonus material like CG sets could’ve worked on a little.
A Patchwork with Too Much Choice.
The story structure of each chapter follows a simple problem-procedure-solution pattern. However, this simplicity in story structure has its downsides. First being, leaving some of the previous events aside to give way to the on-going event, which this game is guilty of. There are some short stories which are left untapped until the middle of the story while some are just left unresolved, if not resolved in such a runabout way. Second is redundancy. Though it features different problems of different people, it looks like it’s a wash-and-scrub routine. I admit the way these problems are resolved go between ordinary and special, but the way they were presented is so predictable like you will know how things will work out. Lastly, due to itsÂ predictable andÂ redundant nature, the story resorts to not so sudden twists thatÂ wasn’tÂ developed well, just to leave the reader dumbstruck . The narrative is so busy with solving the problems each student had, that it forgot to develop the twist it was trying to pull. Instead, it just dropped sublime hints that something weird is going on, yet the hints aren’t really connected to each other. This made the supposedly shocking twist into a cheap ass-pull.
Visual novels are known for branching paths, triggering certain flags to get to certain events. This game takes it another notch. There are lots of event choices, which make the protagonist look a bitÂ indecisive. Sometimes the reader may encounter two or three consecutive event choices for a single developing event that it is redundant to make to same choice to trigger a certain flag. If theÂ unnecessaryÂ event choices were just pulled out for more narrative, it wouldn’t have been a problem, and the characters would have been fleshed out much more.
Secrecy is Nothing
don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story has also another great side. Aside from theÂ unconventional characterization, it tackles the concept of privacy and secrecy. Don’t you just feel bad after reading somebody’s diary? That’s the same feeling I first felt when I read the first private messages of the students. It felt bad even if you’re just doing this to keep everything under control. Does such a system of surveillance an acceptable way of keeping order? Can an all-knowing authority police even the most intimate things people do?
It challenges the readers’ concept of privacy, attempting to shatter the old societal views regarding it. In today’s age of social networking and and information dissemination, the game argues that you choose the information you are willing give out to other people, and it is most likely that the said information will be received as truth and fact, and people can just keep everything else, thus breaking down the general idea of privacy where confidential and personal information must always be kept within certain bounds.
Don’t Take it Personally, Babe…
With such a great premise, I can’t believeÂ don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story only excelled in it. Everything else was either lacking or disappointing especially in narrative and overall world structure. It could’ve been better, but yes, it is entertaining. It’s just it overreached itself into thinking that it can add depth into the medium by prioritizing fanservice first over the development of the visual novel’s story and world, then going back to its central theme in a very abrupt, untimely manner. It needs a lot of improvement, and well, developing time, as doing quality work within one month is oneÂ humongous task. Take it from Katawa Shoujo devs.
I look forward to more works by Christine Love in the future. You can download the game for free here.
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