This is probably going to break me.
But first, some backstory.
I went through a period of a few years where I kind of fell away from being an anime fan, for various reasons. Lack of money, lack of time, lack of interest in the shows I saw on retailer shelves, disgust with fandom, and of course playing MMOs every waking moment of every day.
Still, there was enough residual fanboy in me to make me fly to Japan for a vacation in late 2005 after getting a deal on plane tickets that staggered belief.
That trip was really a sort of rebirth. MMOs started seeming a lot less important afterwards, I started getting in better shape, and I started trying to pick through the last several years of anime to find the gems. It was a good experience.
Anyway, we spent probably too much of our trip in Akihabara, and we just happened to be there in the month when Leaf launched two big titles: the PC version of ToHeart2 and the PSP version of Comic Party.
The result was that you saw Leaf characters pretty much anywhere you looked.
Not, mind you, that I really knew what I was looking at. I’d seen the Comic Party anime but didn’t realize that it was based on a game (to be honest, I’m not sure I knew what a visual novel WAS at that point) and though I’d heard of ToHeart, it was in the context of “hey, it’s that anime that they kept talking about in the Comic Party anime” and I certainly didn’t know anything about the original game or its sequel.
Thing is, though, I kept running in to ToHeart2 in various media, and one thing lead to another and I eventually wound up buying a copy of the PC game just so I could get around to seeing what all the fuss was about.
Now, I had learned what a visual novel WAS by then, and I knew that, while it did have a fair bit of the “visual” in it, it also had an awful lot of the “novel” and that playing a visual novel consisted of doing a heckuva lot of reading and occasionally pressing the enter key to continue and not much else. In addition, at the time (August 2007), spending $70 on a Japanese visual novel was basically spending $70 on a pretty box. I’d taken a term and a half of college Japanese 8 years prior, but that was about it.
Four years later, I have my bachelor’s degree in Japanese under my belt, I have enough dictionaries to choke a horse, I have a vague understanding of grammar, and I am terrified that I am going to forget the Japanese that I spent four years and $40,000 learning, so I have finally started to play ToHeart2.
As I started off this post by saying, it might just break me. I played it for about two hours tonight and all I’ve managed to do is wake up, realize that I’m alone in the house because my parents are away on a business trip, and had my house almost immediately invaded by the neighbor girl who my mother has given a key to so she can take care of me while they’re away.
It strikes me that guys in Japan must be seen as fairly helpless for quite a while.
Anyway, the thing that really slowed me down was the crazy idea that, whenever I hit a word I didn’t know, I’d write it down in a book.
I’ve revised that idea somewhat. Now I’m only going to write down words if I have to look them up at least 3 times.
It’s STILL slow going.
I’ll see how long I last. 🙂