I love amateur work. Amateur art, amateur animation, amateur films, amateur games and amateur novels…and any form of amateur work! I find that there’s a spark in them which you don’t get in other mediums, and that’s what this review is about. Jisei is an amateur visual novel created by a team of college graduates, as their way of trying to express a story they thought of. After trying comic books, a paper-based novel and many other forms of storytelling, they decided to go with a visual novel. See, I love how a bunch of Americans borrowed a famous Japanese format to tell their story, and the voice acting and the music is entirely Western. In fact, the only way this could tie into Japan is the Japanese styled names.
It’s a detective story, a story of how you, the role of the unnamed male who stumbles onto a crime in a cafe. Being the first person to discover the body, you’re obviously the suspect in this case. Solve the crime and find the victim. Jisei proceeds in a pretty straightforward manner; a lot like a real novel would. It’ll start off with a handful of story segments, with the amazing voice acting, all setting the stage for the murder mystery. After that, you start investigating the cafe and in doing so, talk to the three other people in the cafe at the time of the murder. You can talk to people, examine the vicinity, explore each area in the coffee shop and report your findings to the detective. On top of that, everything that you learn is complied into a really well organized notes section, which is helpful when it gets to the end where you have to point the finger.
A detective novel is hard to write, i’d know because i’ve written my own. There are more rules and regulations than I can list, and it’s more complicated than I can explain. You have to make the crime complicated but not overly complicated, you can’t make the detective overly smart, you can’t make the culprit obvious and you can’t hide clues. I’m really pleased to say that Jisei follows every single one of these, with the result being a crime that’s lovely for non-mystery fanatics and a real treat for mystery fanatics. It’s amazingly well written, and the soundtrack, the atmosphere and the artwork are nothing short of being fabulous. However, there is ONE problem with the novel.
15 dollars is a lot of money nowadays, and paying 15 dollars for an hour or two of entertainment is pretty steep. In fact, it’s very steep. Whilst you do get really entertained by it, and whilst you really enjoy what’s there, you’re paying a lot for the tiny amount. It’s amazing, no doubt about that, but is it worth the money? That depends on just how much you’re interested in reading, and how interested you are in supporting up-and coming companies. Amazing work, Sake Visual! You’ve created a true labour of love in this novel, and I really want to see more of it. Just one case is hardly enough…you’ve addicted me to it now.