The Importance of Your Most Mundane Choices

This post will heavily spoil the content of the visual novel Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi. You have been warned.

She seems innocent enough…

Regardless of how much you know about what makes the visual novel Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi as interesting as it is, one of the main heroines Aoi immediately begins the story by talking about how they are in a game. Thus, the lurking suspicion of whether she is just being a denpa girl or actually breaking the 4th wall is there from the onset. However, no matter what she says about being a fictional character, or about how the game CGs or the “god” of the outer world, it is never clear which of the two it is. At least for the first third/route of the game, which features the cute childhood friend Miyuki. However, after you complete her route and begin Aoi’s, things slowly get weirder as you interact with the denpa girl. The natural conclusion is that she’s just crazy with her talk about god and needing sex to maintain her existence. Then the game reaches a climactic scene just after you’ve fulfilled her obsession for sex. Miyuki crawls out from under the bed (and now the Nitroplus horror begins) where you just did the deed, straight up murders Aoi and breaks the protagonist’s limbs with her baseball bat, accusing him of betraying her. But this is a VN, and on the Aoi route, you never got together with Miyuki. Yes, but she’s not talking about THIS route, and she’s not talking to the protagonist. She’s talking about the previous route, and she’s talking to the YOU behind the monitor screen, playing this game.

And thus the 4th wall is shattered as you enter the final leg of the story that challenges everything you thought you knew about this game. The game is actually forcefully closed and rebooted. The new loading game screen looks like some 8-bit game out of the 80s. You can try to load your old saves but they no longer exist. Yes, the game literally deletes all your save files. You start a new game that appears to be the same as before. However, if you click the wrong choice, you end up in an inescapable loop. You close the game because there is no way to exit the loop. The game will not close. There is literally no way to close the game other than doing a forced shutdown (at least, I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe there’s some gimmick). You reboot the game. Instead of what you expect, Miyuki appears and asks “do you understand how this world works now?” You are no longer playing a game. You are playing against Miyuki, and she knows exactly what you are doing and can control the game as she pleases.

怖怖怖怖怖怖

The rest of the game basically consists of trying to outwit Miyuki, in a loop of satisfying Miyuki’s yandere lust for you all while the game remembers every action and choice you’ve taken. Even when you think you’ve outwitted Miyuki, she still knows because she is the game. The final climax involves YOU the player, not the protagonist, choosing which girl you truly love. After the credits roll, you will find you cannot go back to replay anything. The only way is to completely uninstall the game and reinstall anew. In this way, the game’s story and message has a direct effect on the real world. In the end, what the game asks of you is that even though you are playing a game, to truly consider the meaning of the choices you make and care for the characters you interact with. While it comes off as an amusing and hilarious trick that makes for a memorable game, it is nevertheless something that is very interesting to consider on a deeper level.

How much do you really think about the choices you make in life? I’m not talking about the big ones like where to go for college, whether to buy a house, or whether to take that job on the other side of the world. But how much do you think about the small choices; do you even think at all? How much do you think about the daily conversation you have with your coworker, or about the momentary interaction with a stranger on the street? There is a natural inclination to care less about the decisions you make when it comes to people you are not too invested in or are not a big part of your life. After all, there’s nothing wrong with going through the motions that society expects of you for a person you may never interact with again. Who cares if it’s thoughtless when your paths will never cross again? Yet, this VN challenges that very inclination through fictional characters – people who are not people; characters who are purely programmed by a script.

Christians always speak of “planting seeds,” but seem to easily glance over the fact that everyone is always planting seeds. The question is what kind of seeds are you planting? What sort of effects are you going to have on others with your words and actions, for everything you say and do can be seen as the act of planting seeds. If Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi can teach you to treat fictional girls with even the smallest extra degree of respect, love, and thoughtfulness, then how much better should you treat the real people around you? When you start a new game in a VN, the characters do not remember what you did in previous game. It’s your chance to start fresh and try a new route to see a different part of the story. But the girls in this game remember what you’ve done and said. Your actions have left a permanent mark in their lives. In the same way, your actions can leave lasting impressions on people no matter how little you may think they do. While people may not remember all of their experiences in life, those experiences are still a part of what makes up who they are and who they become.

We don’t know the situations of those around us; even our close friends have personal thoughts and feelings that they do not share on a regular basis. Thus, our actions and words can play far larger roles in people’s lives than we realize, even if they are strangers. This is not about helping others, reaching out to them, or trying to save anyone, per se. What Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi wishes to convey is only that you be fully considerate of the decisions you make and the effects of those decisions on those around you.  Is this not right in line with living our lives out as followers of Christ? Being loving and thoughtful towards others is not something to be done when it suits us but rather incessantly throughout our lives. You don’t know what effects your decisions will have on the strangers around you, but at the very least, you should act with the awareness that you are an ambassador to Christ, and every action you make is representative of your beliefs. Strangers aren’t NPCs in a game, and in the real world, there are no re-dos.

 

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Author: Kaze

Kaze is a graduate from the University of Tokyo who currently works on developing gene therapies for genetic diseases. He is a Nanatard since 2009 and mostly spends his time reading VNs and studying Japanese. Strangely enough, also a devout Christian.

15 thoughts on “The Importance of Your Most Mundane Choices”

  1. I think we often – Christians every bit as much as everyone else – compartmentalize our lives. It’s frustrating to me to see people speak Christianese and talk about things like “planting seeds” and then doing things the same way as everyone else in their lives.

    Even worse is when “planting seeds,” part of that compartmentalization, becomes purely about evangelism. Instead of just trying to love people, we aggressively love some of them with the gospel and treat others with little thought. Our church’s retreat had a famous speaker once who I described as a legalist evangelist. He made me want to throw up. He made me want to leave my church.

    One great marker of growing in your faith, I think, is in having the heart of Christ, which was to love others at great self-sacrifice. In our lives, it might come across as still treating people kindly when we’re in a bad mood or going the extra mile for a stranger when we’re in a rush to get home. Less of us and more of him – which sometimes means less of “We’re all sinners in need of redemption” and more of “How are you doing today? Really, how are you doing?”

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  2. Hello, Kaze, I’m rick12uw, and I like about your analysis on the messages that Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi is showing and teaching us. If I may with your permission, can I ask you a couple of questions about the story of the VN and at the end of said VN?

    Here’s a quick question: who was the girl that YOU chose at the end of the VN to truly love and be with her to the end (Miyuki or Aoi, they are the only two girls)? Is it Miyuki? Please tell me, especially since I don’t think Totono will ever be officially translated to English for a long time. It’s sad, I know. I hope I can talk about this VN with you.

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    1. Hi rick12uw! Thanks for reading and the comment. I wasn’t conflicted with the final choice: Miyuki easily. There’s the simple reason that she’s just more my type visually speaking and me generally not liking denpa girls either, so negative points for Aoi. But also Miyuki was just so much more fleshed out as a character. She took center stage in the last route while Aoi barely even got any appearances until the end, getting practically zero development as a character the entire story. I think Nitro+ could’ve done more with Aoi’s character, but I guess they were too busy focusing on making all the mechanical tricks work. A bit of a shame, but considering that was the whole appeal of the VN, I can’t fault them too much for it.

      As for an English translation, yeah, that doesn’t look like it’ll happen…get the feeling Westerners would just call it a cheap copy of DDLC given the recent events in the fandom heh.

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      1. Hey, Kaze, thank you for your reply to my questions. So, in the end, you chose Miyuki for the final choice, correct? Sorry for asking again, just want to check that Miyuki was the chosen girl. I admire that you knew who you were going to choose based on your interactions with Miyuki, especially since she’s far more fleshed out and developed as a character in the final route.

        I mean, YOU, Kaze, get to learn about Miyuki personally, such as what she likes, hates, and her true personality. You become attached to her as you spend more time with her, something I love about Miyuki, as well as her love for YOU and the means that she’ll go through to show that she truly loves YOU. Is that what you felt, Kaze? Yeah, I didn’t like Aoi much, especially due to her having no development to her character.

        Also, did you see Miyuki’s True Ending after you chose her? Can you explain it to me about what happened in it? By the way, don’t you notice that Aoi is basically gone, as well as Miyuki not remembering US? Additionally, did Shinichi and Miyuki forget about Aoi, especially when they received a photo of Aoi with them by an unknown sender?

        Personally, do you think that Totono will be translated in the future someday? Also, Totono is NOT a cheap copy of DDLC, especially since the former is four years older than the latter!

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      2. Haha yeah I guess you could say that. After all, that’s the point of the story isn’t it? That YOU actually consider the feelings of the girl in the game, not just Totono but for other VNs too. As for the finale, it’s been a couple years since I read it so I don’t recall exactly what happened. But basically when you choose Miyuki, the world of Totono gets reset to its “intended” properties of a game. The characters forget US because that knowledge disrupts the balance of the world, so to speak; however, the picture with Aoi shows that the events still happened, so it isn’t a complete hard reset. It’s also possibly Miyuki is still aware but is choosing to play dumb for the sake of maintaining the status quo; after all, she was chosen by YOU, and that’s enough for her.

        As for a localization, given its age and the current trend of focusing on either new or truly big name titles, I don’t foresee it happening. Though I am just a single fan, so I could be wrong.

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      3. Yeah, it would amazing if Miyuki WAS still aware of US and knew that WE chose her, but I’m not sure, considering that she was talking to Shinichi. There were no indications that she’d remember US, but I could be wrong. So, the world of Totono was reseted to its “intended” properties of a game, a romance one?

        Also, the picture with Aoi shows that it wasn’t a complete reset since it proved that the events still exist? What happened to Aoi herself?

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      4. She? Are you referring to Aoi? They? Who are ‘They’? Are ‘They’ the other players? How is that possible?

        The status quo of being a romance VN, huh? Strange times.

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      5. Yeah, it’s very likely that Aoi is with the Players that chose her and not Miyuki. I wonder, does that mean she can teleport to those players then? Also, have you seen Aoi’s True Ending if you choose her? If not, would you like me to explain it to you? It’s unknown if Miyuki still does remember US and is playing dumb to keep the status quo of the ‘game’ she’s in. Like I said above, it would be sweet if she still does remember us and knows that WE chose her as the girl to truly love to the end, even subconsciously. It’s… sad, yet that’s overcome by the sweetness, if I have to say.

        Anyway, what do you like about Miyuki? I think you explained it in your previous comments, but I think they put her FAR above Aoi, and it’s no contest that you and me would choose her (Miyuki) due to US caring about her as a REAL person, even though she’s a FICTIONAL character.

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      6. I’m going to have to stop you here. This blog is for discussing Christian themes in anime/VNs, not for having a back and forth discussion about every aspect of the story. If you want to talk about the story, there are plenty of other online forums to do so, but this is not one of them.

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  3. I´m getting the idea that metafiction is a constant in good VN´s. The meta aspects of both Rewrite and Little Busters were one of the best points of both works, making the most interesting parallels, subversions and reflections (which are very useful if the plot has philosophical points) and reaching a powerful convergence in the final route. I´ve only watched the anime versions of Steins;Gate and Clannad, but the same mechanisms are there (the microwave and the alternate versions of the world, the parallel world/story about the robot and the lights). And there are welll-defined characters with unique personalities in them, something that much metafiction lacks (it tends to feels like a literary experiment or a joke). Your comments on Subahibi, Sakura no Uta and now this VN seem to confirm this point: each one of them seems to open more perspectives with which can be done with metafiction, as others I have noticed recently, like Grant Morrison´s comics or Princess Tutu, which is brilliant and truly moving.

    This is very interesting from a Christian viewpoint, because it allows us to illustrate by parallels, limited as they may be, how some realities trascend time (be it communion, prayer, sin, the Church, Revelation, the Bible, Redemption), how freedom and Providence can coexist, or how a cycle of illusions and despair thought to be “the story of my life” can suddenly be revealed to be a preparation for something which trascends it, or on the contrary, how what is done in a narrative “level” can break such a cycle in another narrative “level”, or what makes a difference and what doesn´t. I´ve been thinking about it recently, because I want to write fiction which presents philosophical themes, deals with good juvenile protagonists and deals with things that trascend time. So althought I can read few VN´s, I´ll be reading your comments with interest.

    A fictional girl must be treated with respect, certainly. I thought this recently because I got mad about some fan-made images of Haruhi Suzuyima I came across in the Internet. Haruhi is special. She may be fictional, but her personality comes from real girls with strong personalities, looking for the wonder, being dumb and capricious sometimes, and opening to life and love. She is a sign of something real and valuable, not “fetish fuel” for perverts, and whoever looks to her otherwise diminishes himself. She is not real, yeah. But the kid who tortures a wasp harms himself, and the one who slaps a wasp in the window does not: the heart is still affected. I will admit that I took this a little to the extreme at first, and when I first read Rewrite, it took me a while to start a different route after Kotori, which was my first. It felt simply not right to pair Kotarou with anybody else, knowing how this girl felt and what was her story. Yet, I finally did so and that taught me another lesson, which was very needed and somehow connects with what you´re saying: be it marrying one girl and not another or choosing to be a part of the way of any human being, Providence would have been there from the beggining, and the love of Christ will be able to shine also in this different, new, unique situation. I find that hopeful.

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