Book Review: 放課後のゲームフレンド、君のいた季節

Do you like video games? Do you have fond memories of playing them together with friends? Do you wish those good times could last forever? And most importantly, can you read Japanese (because there is no English translation of this book)? 放課後のゲームフレンド、君のいた季節 (Afterschool Game Friend, The Season When You Were There) written by Murasaki Yukiya brings back a lot of these memories for me. It’s a single volume story about a high school aged boy nicknamed Rio who meets a sweet girl named Mizuki Yumea who happens to play the same MMORPG as him. Unlike him, however, she’s a no-life gamer who until then spent all her time alone. The story follows the highs and the lows of their school and MMORPG lives.

First thing’s first. I have to say the characters were written quite realistically. None of them really fall into any tropes except perhaps the main character’s friend, Tatsuya. He’s the popular guy in the class who’s friends with everyone and always wants to go out and party. However, he is like that for a reason, and he is only a supporting character who rarely appears anyway. The real star of the story is, of course, the heroine. She is quite eccentric, but in a charming way. I almost want to say she’s like a manic pixie dream girl, but she doesn’t really fall into that trope at all when you really think about it. If anything, the main character fills that role in relation to her. But she’s not brooding and waiting to be saved either. Both the characters need each other in different ways. What she is, is cheerful and a bit of a jokester. She’s just completely sucked into the world of games. Honestly, there’s a lot of people like that in real life. Perfectly normal people who like to joke around and have fun, but because they’re so into games, they find it difficult to connect with others. But that makes the friends you do make feel all the more precious. The heroine is great, but the main character was a bit boring. By that, I mean his choices are usually imposed on him by other characters. Rarely does he go out and decide to do something himself without an outside impetus. That also brings me to another downside. The main character is also quite repetitive in his monologues. Whenever something good or bad happens, you can expect to read how that makes him feel at least 3 times. However, I don’t find that his downsides really impact the enjoyability of the story.

You should not come into this expecting a balls to the wall romantic comedy with a zany main character like 俺を好きなのはお前だけかよ. No, this a drama. The first sentence of the book’s outline is ゲーマーな少女との楽しい日常がずっと続くと思っていた…… (Very roughly: I thought that the fun days gaming with her would last forever……). There is a lot of foreshadowing in the book, but the author handles it well. That is, he does not make it spoilery. It almost feels like he takes into account the reader figuring out what the foreshadowing means beforehand when he writes, and uses that to enhance the tension. And the drama is well done. The situations do not feel forced. You can really understand the character’s feelings behind each action. And the ending, without spoiling anything myself, is certainly fresh.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend it if you can read Japanese. Even if your Japanese isn’t all too great, this is a great book to begin with. It is pretty easy to read, and because there is only one volume, you will not need to invest as much time to get the same enjoyment as you would with a multi-novel series. Oh, and last but not least, the art is lovely. Shiromizakana did a really great job at capturing the cuteness of Mizuki and the fun she shares with Rio.

The Amen High School Experience

Howdy, Amen here. I figure now, after my last post about my second year of university, would be the best time to post about high school. It’ll set the stage for the following posts. This is the Amen Origin Story, so to speak.

It all began like I imagine most high school stories begin: with a lot of confusion. Most people from North America will already know how it goes, but for anyone else reading this, I’ll explain how it works. In middle school, you were stuck with the same classmates all day for the whole year, and you usually stayed in the same room. But in high school, the students in your math class could be completely different from the ones in your English class, and you have to travel from classroom to classroom for each subject. It was similar to university in that regard. Also, my high school was big. We were given maps and we actually had to use them to find our classes. It actually was similar in size to a small university.

For me, high school began in grade 9 (shortly after I turned 14 years old). I don’t have much to say about this honestly, but I had been living in this town for 2 years already at this point, and had a good number of friends that all shared the same interests. Or rather, we all ended up developing these interests together, creating a special bond that can’t easily be replaced. Coming from a family that moves around a lot, 2 years was pretty good for me, and life was going good too. I was never really alone in any of my classes, and we all met up during lunch and hung out at a wall next to the school’s theater room. Eventually we even put up a flag and claimed it as the land of Japanada.

Japanada Flag

Another thing: in middle school, we were bound to the schoolyard during lunch, but in high school, we could go wherever we wanted as long as we made it back in time for class again. For example, there was a convenience store just down the road from the school. It was a 5 minute walk away, so people often frequented it. The cafeteria was alright, but the pizza at that convenience store was far better. Also, there was a mall about 15 minutes away. We had a full hour lunch break, so a 30 minute round trip was no problem. Me and one of my friends would often go there, eat McDonald’s or KFC, quite literally fill our pockets with candy skulls, and eat them in English class after lunch. Also, the year was split into two semesters.

Skull Candy

Now, I don’t have anything to really say about the classes themselves – they were insignificant. But back in those days, me and all my friends were hooked on a free to play MMO called Mabinogi. I played an Elf named Amen, of course. Unlike most MMOs, this one had a lot of room for socialization. People often just hung out in towns and had chats, or you’d be training a skill and find someone else doing the same thing and you’d end up making a friend while farming resources. I met a lot of friends I still talk to today on that game, and at one point, I even got… an online girlfriend. Yep. Sounds kinda dumb when said like that. We couldn’t see each other in person, and sometimes that really sucked, but overall it was a good experience. Plenty of friends at school, two of my friends lived within walking distance just up the street from my house, and playing games with my friends and girlfriend after school. It was a relaxed lifestyle. Things couldn’t be better.

My MMO Character

Fast forward to grade 10, my second year of high school. Things were still pretty good. This time, we had a strange class. I can’t remember the actual name of the class, but I called it “lecture class,” cause all that happened was we’d get lectured. It was a class designed in order to counteract rising suicide rates. The teacher would just try to give life lessons and stuff. I never paid attention in the class. “My life is fine, I don’t need this class,” I thought to myself. That year was also the year I decided to learn Japanese. I knew it would take a long time to get good, but I was ready for the commitment. I knew it would pay off eventually, and it really has. My other friends also tried to learn it but all gave up at one point or another. Studying Japanese was a good way to pass the time during class though. Oh, and I forgot to mention. During grades 9 and 10, all students were given netbooks. These were very tiny, and very bad, so we had to disable many needless settings and features in order to increase performance, however, they were good enough to run old games. Me and my friends would all connect to each other through the school’s network and chat and play starcraft. There was one period called “achievement period” which was just a glorified name for “study hall,” where you were supposed to study or do homework for an hour. Instead, we all (each of us in different classrooms) would pull out our netbooks and wage war in starcraft. I was a Protoss player, and one of the best of the bunch. You could also play Touhou on the netbooks too, so that was nice. At some point or another, all my friends had also gotten back into Yugioh – the children’s card game. During lunch, the cards covered the floor. We’d have Japanese music going, the Japanada flag waving, and we’d be playing yugioh. I was also at the top of my classes – as in I actually had the highest marks in all of them without even trying. I was living the dream. But you have to wake up from every dream eventually…

Things weren’t going well between me and my girlfriend, for one. We ended up breaking up. Secondly, I learned I had to move away from my beloved town. I had so many friends, and we shared so much in common. It’s not easy to find people like that, and I had to leave all of them behind. Not to mention I’m not exactly the most socially skilled person. Honestly, I was pretty shy, so it was already a miracle that I made so many friends in the first place. Things were looking bad.

So, we moved, and I was now in grade 11. I spent my 16th birthday all alone. What a sweet sixteen. In my first high school, we’d take 5 courses each semester, for a total of 10 per year. In this new one, it was 4 per semester, for 8 per year. A bit of a downgrade, but whatever. But wait, there’s more. I was forced to take a careers and civics class. All the content here I had already covered in what I called “lecture class” the year before. This was a complete waste of time. The class was for grade 10 students, if I recall, so I was the oldest in the class by a year. This gave me cool points, at least. Things were going smoothly in this class, but one day, I went to type something in microsoft word on my laptop and accidentally had Japanese left on. A particularly loud girl was sitting next to me, and when she saw it, she yelled out “Hey everyone, Amen knows Japanese!” The whole class stopped, and everyone swarmed around me asking questions. Even the teacher forgot what she was doing and was completely amazed. Honestly, it was really overwhelming, but I got even more cool points for that, and one girl even became interested in me. She started sitting next to me. People behind would try to throw things at her like crumpled up paper, but I’d catch it stylishly before it hit her and throw it back at them. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Way to go trying to impress her, you try hard,” but I didn’t act for that reason. I just didn’t want to see that shit going on in my classroom, no matter who it was happening to. Once, I was playing touhou in class while waiting for the teacher to arrive or something like that. Again, I gathered a crowd and everyone thought I was hardcore. This never would have happened at my old school, but the people here were easily impressed. I was also taking chemistry, which was fine, and law class, which was quite informative. Not much to say beyond that, but at one point we had a mock trial, and I was the prosecutor. Whoa. I had never played Phoenix Wright at this point, but I was dying to slam down my hands and yell “objection!” I studied hard so that I would school the defense lawyer and it paid off. I won the case and sent the defendant to jail. And most importantly, I had an opportunity to do the “Objection!” thing. That was fun. At the beginning of the semester, I was supposed to be taking French too, but unlike my previous school, where French class was an absolute joke, it was the real deal here. I couldn’t do it; I was too far behind. So I ended up taking an art class in which I was absolutely lazy and did the minimum. The worst part of it all was that in order to graduate, we had to do 30 hours of “volunteer work.” Since it was mandatory, I called it “unvolunteer work.” Every week, I went to the library to sort books for an hour. It was alright at first, but within a few sessions I had sorted everything in the library. and the rate of unsortment was low, so I was left doing next to nothing for an hour each week.

Now, you might be wondering if I made any new friends. At first, it was bad. I’d just eat lunch in the library then read Lord of the Rings. As I mentioned earlier, a certain girl from my careers class became interested in me, so we kinda became friends. I’m sure she wanted to be more than that, and I would have dated her too, but there was one problem, which I’ll get to later. In the meantime, I met a guy in my law class. He was a member of the school’s geek squad. We talked, and I started to sit with them at lunch. Now, I say they were the geek squad, but they were not close to the same level as my old friends. They were entry-level geeks. Honestly, the whole school felt like I had travelled to the past. Everyone was so easily impressed with everything. So, I asserted my dominance and became king of the geeks. Every now and then, a certain girl would come by, and man, never before have I seen such a sad sight. These geeks were her slaves. They all put her on a pedestal and fawned over her. I couldn’t stand the sight of it. The saying “bros before hoes” was very unknown to them, as they would throw each other under the bus for her. Eck. Anyway, they weren’t as great as my old friends, but it was something. The guy who introduced me to the group had many personality problems. He would brag about how he threatened to kill his parents over trivial things. I visited his house once and he said he had a Death Note. “Cool,” I thought and opened it. Inside, I saw something I was not supposed to see. He had actual students’ names written in. Spooky. Once, during lunch, he was sitting next to me on his laptop. I heard him laughing, so I looked over. He was watching gifs of animals being killed. He wasn’t forcing the laugh either – this was the most genuine laugh. At this point, I became aware that I was friends with a maniac. One day he even said he wouldn’t kill me if he ever shot up the school. Nice. At least I was safe. Believe it or not, he got a girlfriend. Remember that girl all the geeks fawned over? She had a little sister who didn’t get as much attention, and dated this guy because he asked her out instead of her older sister. Geez, that’s not a very good reason.

This town was a fairly common place for military families like my own to move to, so I nicknamed it “The Town of Fallen Angels” after all those who were pulled here from the places they belonged. Chuuni, I know. But one day, I met someone who had been at my old school. This guy had also been infected by the yugioh craze that started there, so I got a small taste of old times and got to duel. At my old school, my friends and I were always improving, trying to be the best, so I had an unorthodox yet fairly decent deck, so in this school I was the king of games. I never lost once, and this guy would actually bow to me whenever he passed me by in the halls. Things weren’t as good as my old school, and some days were spent in sadness that I wasn’t with my old friends, but it wasn’t too bad. I could live with this at least. And that’s when it happened. Not even halfway through the year, I learned I had to move again. Though they weren’t as great as my old friends, I still got lucky with these ones. I even had a girl interested in me, but nothing would ever come of it. Everything was in vain. All the effort I put in was futile. I’d have everything taken from me again. You ever play a game and get really far without saving, then the power goes out or the game stops working? It’s a really bad feeling, having to start all over again. Now imagine that happening twice. I’d just give up on the game, and that’s how I started feeling about life. What was the point of even trying if I’d just lose everything again and again? I only had a year and a half left of high school, so why even bother when everyone will have to leave again for university. On top of that, mysterious happenings began to occur that made me think I was targetted by some sort of conspiracy. For our law course, for example, we had a final project that was mandatory for completion of the course. We worked on it in the computer lab, and at the end of class, none of the computers were able to save. That was extremely bizarre, but not a problem. Just email the file to yourself. Except as soon as I had that thought, the internet went down too. Luckily, I had a USB and it would save to that. Another incident was during the final exam of law class. I had to take it early since I was moving, so I went in, and the people at the office guided me to a small room. Oddly, they let me bring my backpack. Never have I been allowed to have more than a pencil and eraser near me at a final exam. But, well, they wouldn’t have a hard time supervising me. But the person who guided me to the room left. What? They left me in a room alone with my personal belongings to write a final exam. On top of that, a textbook was on the table. We weren’t supposed to have that. At this point, my suspicion was through the roof, so I look around the room, and bam, everything makes sense. There was a small camera in the top corner of the room. They were trying to tempt me into cheating. On the same day that I went in early for the exam, I saw the girl who liked me one last time. I couldn’t bring myself to say that I was leaving for good. In careers class, sometimes she’d notice me feeling down and ask what’s wrong, but I couldn’t tell her the truth, so I’d just lie and say something dumb like “I’m just bored.” Perhaps I should have said the truth.

So, I moved uneventfully mid-December. What a great Christmas gift. Things were already looking bad, but I learned that things can always get worse. For one, we wouldn’t have internet for a month. This is one thing when you actually have a life, but in this situation, being unable to even message my friends online or have any contact with the outside world was painful. At that time, I learned true loneliness. And when I registered with the local school, I had trouble even transferring credits since my last school was being difficult with sending my transcript. A similar thing happened with my last school. And even after they received the transcript, it didn’t make any difference. I had to take another careers class. The past 2 I took didn’t count. I had to do unvolunteer work for this school too. All the unvolunteer work I had done before didn’t count. I asked to be placed in the highest level of math they offered. They threw me in the second lowest. We were forced to go home for lunch, so I didn’t even have an opportunity to really talk to people and make friends. To make matters worse, this school wasn’t semesterized, so I came in smack in the middle of everything and wasn’t allowed to take any real courses like any of the sciences, which I was looking forward to. Instead, they did 7 courses for the duration of the entire year. I went from being the best in every class, at the very top, and taking 10 classes per year, to taking classes at the bottom of the barrel and only taking 7. I had English, basic math, cooking class, two gym classes, and careers class. Yes, two gym classes, back to back. That should never happen, and it was exhausting. I normally enjoyed gym classes, but this was painful. Once, after a couple weeks of attending cooking class, the teacher just looked at me and told me to get out. She said I don’t belong in there. I was speechless. I couldn’t say anything. I could barely even register what she just said. That’s not the kind of thing a teacher should just say to a student for no reason. Other people in the class defended me and I had to show her my schedule to prove I belonged. After all that, I was allowed to stay. Still though, what the hell was that? I didn’t ever receive an apology either. The conspiracy against me had succeeded. With my life spiraling completely out of control and looking hopeless, I soon fell into a deep depression. I’d throw up every day before going to school, I’d have panic attacks in the middle of class and have to rush to the bathroom to calm myself down. I’d sleep a ridiculous amount because dreams were the only place I could feel normal. I tried telling myself that it was all in my head, and I can just quit being like this, but I couldn’t. I wanted to do some sort of science at university, but that was looking impossible, so I had no present and no future. When I did get internet, I’d spend my few waking hours just binge watching anime without even really enjoying it. I ended up watching an average of 5-6 whole anime a week (assuming 12 episodes per anime). In class, I’d just think about the different ways to die. I was particularly inspired by Cassius’ death in the play “Julius Caesar.”

This day I breathed first: time is come round,
And where I did begin, there shall I end;
My life is run his compass.

So, I wanted to kill myself on my birthday after I went to university. It would be a sunny day, in a relaxing, green forest. I didn’t want a tragic death. I wanted something peaceful. But oftentimes, I just wished I’d die in my sleep. Once, it almost happened. I was lying in bed, when suddenly my heart felt like it was being pulled out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe. My mind went blank. Not only was my heart being pulled out, but it felt almost like it was vibrating out of control. But within moments, everything was back to normal. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t think to call a hospital. In fact, I was happy. “So this is how I get to die. Something painless and effortless.” When confronting suicidal people, one common line is “Things get better – you’ll be happy that you didn’t go through with it” but I can honestly say that even now, as things are much better, I would be fine with having died then. It was a nightmare, and my parents didn’t help either. They just made things worse. “Acting like that just makes everyone around you sad,” or “No wonder you don’t have any friends.” At some point, I tried playing MMOs again to try to find some sort of joy. It gave me something to do, at least. But soon my laptop broke, and the next one I got was too shitty to play games.

The next year came along and I was finally taking science. Grade 11 physics, grade 12 chemistry and biology, English, robotics, geography, and more shitty math since at this point I was locked out of higher levels. Some of these classes weren’t so bad and didn’t feel like a waste of time, so that was nice, but there wasn’t much to say about them, except that the physics class inspired me to major in it at university. It was around this time I had really gotten interested in Alstroemeria Records. As you could imagine, the emo lyrics (ex. End of Daylight) really resonated with me. I got more interested in touhou music, and more interested in their lyrics. Usually I’d find videos with subtitled lyrics on youtube, but every now and then there would be a song that I couldn’t find lyrics for. Since I had been learning Japanese, I decided to try translating some. Eventually, inspired by Kafkafuura, I even ended up making this site. Back then, I was admittedly pretty bad at it, but it was a learning experience. Eventually, the site started getting attention. Seeing my views grow felt really cool, and seeing comments thanking me felt so nice. “There’s actually something only I and few others can do. There are people who need me. My life isn’t pointless,” I thought. I spent nearly 2 years just wasting my time with nothing to show for it, and there was nothing I could do about it. But now, I finally had a purpose. That, and perhaps that alone, had saved me. Little by little, my depression began to lift as each post would get more views. As I would receive more kind comments. As I’d see people uploading videos with my translations. In addition, my Japanese skills were getting better and better.

By the end of the school year, I think I had mostly recovered, though a few aftereffects remained for many more years. The dream was to get back to my old friends, but I didn’t have enough money for that. I’d have to go to a local university instead of the one they were all going to. My attitude towards death was still not normal. University for me was quite literally win or die. It’s either pass university, then get back to my friends, or fail, drop out, and end everything there. The aftereffects of the conspiracy also remained. They had succeeded in setting me back. Though I decided I wanted to do physics, I didn’t have the math required. I would have to start at the very bottom. Just catching up on math alone took a full year (I even had to take a class over the summer), and my second year just consisted of the two basic first year physics classes. Excluding those two classes, I would basically have to do a full physics degree in 2 years. Easier said than done. But anyway, that about concludes it for my high school experience. If this is your first time reading one of these stories, you can read the chronological sequels here.

The Amen University Experience (Year 1)

The Amen University Experience (Year 2)

unlasting【Sword Art Online -Alicization- War of Underworld Full Ending】

I’m alive. Anyway, LiSA is good. I’m not sure if she’s ever sung a song that I’ve disliked. This one is no exception. See also 紅蓮華 (Gurenge).

Note: This translation was based off a by-ear transcription from the folks at Lyrical Nonsense. There may be small errors.

★ Title: unlasting
☆ Album: unlasting
★ Album Artist: LiSA
☆ Publisher: SACRA MUSIC
★ Vocals and lyrics: LiSA
★ Composition: Kayoko Kusano
☆ Arrangement: Shota Horie
★ Website: http://www.lxixsxa.com/

一人きりでも
平気とこぼれ落ちた強がり
二人の眩しすぎた日が
こんなに悲しい

hitorikiri demo
heiki to kobore ochita tsuyogari
futari no mabushi sugita hi ga
konna ni kanashii

Even alone
I pretended I was fine, but my act has fallen apart
Our days together were so bright
It makes me so sad

一人で生きられるなら
誰かを愛したりしないから

hitori de ikirareru nara
dare ka o aishitari shinai kara

If it’s possible to live alone
then I’ll never come close to loving anyone

あなたの香り あなたの話し方
今も体中に 愛の欠片が残ってるよ
私の願い 私の願いはただ
どうかあなたも何処かで 泣いていますように

anata no kaori anata no hanashikata
ima mo karadajuu ni ai no kakera ga nokotteru yo
watashi no negai watashi no negai wa tada
douka anata mo dokoka de naiteimasu you ni

Your scent, the way you speak
Even now, remnants of love remain throughout my body
I have a wish, I have just one wish
Please, wherever you are now, may you also be crying

いつも新しい一歩は
重くて寂しい

itsu mo atarashii ippo wa
omokute sabishii

The first new steps are always
heavy and lonely

もし生まれ変わっても
もう一度あなたに出会いたい

moshi umare kawattemo
mou ichido anata ni de aitai

Even if I were to be reborn,
I’d want to meet you just one more time

真夏の日差し 真冬の白い雪
めぐる季節中に 愛の欠片が舞い落ちて
幸せなのに どこかで寂しいのは
あなたよりも大きな 私の愛のせい

manatsu no hizashi mafuyu no shiroi yuki
meguru kisetsujuu ni ai no kakera ga mai ochite
shiawase nano ni doko de sabishii no wa
anata yori mo ooki na watashi no ai no sei

The midsummer sunshine, the midwinter’s white snow
As the seasons go around, pieces of love flutter through the air
I feel happy, yet in some ways I feel lonely
because my love was greater than yours

鍵はあなたが持ったまま
歌う意味を失くしたカナリア
暗い鳥籠の中で

kagi wa anata ga motta mama
utau imi o nakushita kanaria
kurai torikago no naka de

Like a canary who lost the point of singing
in a dark birdcage
as you hold they key

あなたの香り あなたの話し方
今も身体中に 愛の欠片が残ってるよ
私の願い 私の願いはただ
どうかあなたが幸せで ありますように

anata no kaori anata no hanashikata
ima mo karadajuu ni ai no kakera ga nokotteru yo
watashi no negai watashi no negai wa tada
douka anata ga shiawase de arimasu you ni

Your scent, the way you speak
Even now, remnants of love remain throughout my body
I have a wish, I have just one wish
Please, may you be happy

Unlasting world
The course of love
From everything think of you…

hollow hope

They say to be a good translator, you can’t just understand a language, but you must also be a skilled writer. These lyrics complement the song perfectly. Anyway, album’s free (name your price), and I wrote for track 5, so go get it.

☆ Title: hollow hope
★ Album: Million Stars
☆ Album Artist: Norowareta Night
★ Vocals: Un3h & Xandu
☆ Lyrics: kafkafuura
★ Arrangement: wasi (Takamachi Walk)
☆ Original Title: U.N. Owen Was Her? (U.N.オーエンは彼女なのか?)
★ Website: https://norowaretanight.bandcamp.com/

Why am I still believing? Muda na agaki da
Yami wo kaketemo ikisaki no nai story
「warekaketa kibou wo kakaete dou sun’ da yo」
Jibun’ ni kon’ya mo azawarareru

Why am I still believing? It’s a futile struggle
I run through the dark but this story’s going nowhere
“The hell are you doing, holding onto a hope that’s begun to crack?”
Tonight I’m ridiculed by myself again

I’m holding on to memories oboreteiru
Bring me back to how things used to be before I lost it all
Ippo zutsu ni jibun’ wo nakushitekita
Don’t tell me to try again
when I know there’s nothing left

I’m holding on to memories and drowning in them
Bring me back to how things used to be before I lost it all
I’ve lost myself one step at a time along the way
Don’t tell me to try again
when I know there’s nothing left

Jikan’ wa kizu wo
Iyasu to iu
But it never gets better
It’s time to stop the pain

They say that time
heals all wounds
But it never gets better
It’s time to stop the pain

I’ve lost myself I’m out of luck
Don’t waste your time on me
Hitori de ochiru yo
So don’t remember me

I’ve lost myself I’m out of luck
Don’t waste your time on me
I’m going to fall alone
So don’t remember me

I know there’s nothing left

The world has turned its back on me
Won’t leave behind a memory
Gan’battekita kedo
Nani mo kawaranai

The world has turned its back on me
Won’t leave behind a memory
I’ve done my best up to this point
but nothing ever changes