It’s always a pleasure to stumble across a new experience you know nothing about and to have a wonderful time doing so. Such was the case when I first booted up Red Entertainment’s Our World is Ended back in 2019 — this really is a thoroughly entertaining visual novel that I still have a lot of fondness for, and a big part of that is down to its protagonist Reiji Gozen.
Our World is Ended tells the story of a group of independent Japanese game developers known as Judgement 7. The company is, to put it politely, struggling a bit, but they do have some formidable talent on board — and the story ends up going to some very interesting places, exploring the idea of being able to live on digitally after our physical death, among other things.
But all that is something to perhaps explore another day. For today, we’re concerned with our leading man.
Who is Reiji Gozen?
Reiji is a part-time worker at Judgement 7 rather than a full-time staff member. He’s enthusiastic about new technology such as the augmented reality headsets that the company has been working on, but doesn’t have a lot of technical knowledge himself, and he also has a crush on his friend Yuno, who also works part-time at the company.
Unlike the full-time members of Judgement 7, who all have clear talents (and glaring character flaws to go along with them), Reiji considers himself to be the height of normality — and he’s probably right about that. He’s a natural choice for the player-protagonist because he doesn’t really veer particularly in one direction or the other — he’s straight down the middle, has a streak of rationality about him, but also has a tendency to get swept along in the absurdity of a situation when the occasion demands it.
Why we love him
Who hasn’t felt a touch of the ol’ impostor syndrome at some point in their lives? It’s fairly common for you to look at yourself and think “I don’t deserve to be here among all these talented people” — and Reiji is the very embodiment of that concept. Although he clearly really enjoys working among the chaos of Judgement 7, he also wonders whether or not he really “belongs” there, and that sort of thing is eminently relatable.
While Our World is Ended explores the character traits, passions and personality flaws of all the major characters in the story over the course of its complete runtime, Reiji’s personal character arc remains one of the easiest to understand. He’s deliberately designed to be a normal, everyday sort of person — and this doesn’t mean that he’s boring or perfect, either.
On the contrary, he’s eminently imperfect, but the lack of deliberately exaggerated personality traits he has in comparison to his fellow cast members makes him stand out — and also makes him easy to step into the shoes of.
Why you’ll love him
Reiji’s imperfections are apparent right from the very first scene in the game, where he is testing the aforementioned augmented reality headset for his boss at Judgement 7, Sekai Owari. When Owari demonstrates that it’s possible to overlay imagery on top of the real world using the headset — and uses erotic imagery to do so — Reiji finds it difficult to resist his baser instincts, particularly since said erotic overlay also puts his crush Yuno in a form-fitting school swimsuit.
“I am not a small enough man to be lured and forced to act because of such a simple pleasure…” he says to himself, trailing off. “Yeah, right. I’m taking the bait and I’m doin’ it proudly.”
While the other characters in Our World is Ended tend to embody an extreme exaggeration of a particular character flaw, Reiji presents a more realistic, nuanced exploration of the inherently fallible nature of your average human. And once the main thrust of the story becomes apparent, making Reiji really question his place in Judgement 7 given the context of the things he has learned, it’s hard not to feel for the guy — because we’ve all been there.
Whether or not Reiji attains some form of happiness over the course of Our World is Ended’s complete narrative is, at least partly, up to you as the player. Regardless of how things end up, though, he has an interesting journey ahead of him — and with how relatable said journey is, even with the unbelievable things happening around him at times, it’s hard not to be thoroughly invested in his story.
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