The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, December 3, 2021 – To the Moon

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon, everyone, and here at Rice Towers we’d all like to wish you a very happy weekend. It’s bloody cold here so your Editor is sitting at his desk beneath a nice warm blanket, because it’s socially acceptable to do so when it’s this freezing. Even if it does make you look a bit homeless. At least I’m not wearing my woolly hat.

Anyway, it’s time for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, your weekly opportunity to have your say! Remember you can write to us at any point during the week either using the widget over on the right-hand side of any page on the site, or by replying to the Rice Digital Weekly Digest emails. In the latter case, please make it clear you’d like your message to be included in the next Letters Page, otherwise we’ll assume the message is private.

We’ve got a few things to be getting on with from the mailbag this week, so let’s crack right on!

Fanart by Maru Takeo. Support the artist on Pixiv!

Playing favourites

Dear Rice,

What is your favourite visual novel? Can you also explain the motivation? Thanks to you, Pete, and all the staff for the beautiful site.

Kerift


Hi again Kerift, and thanks for the kind words! My favourite visual novel of all time is The Fruit of Grisaia, which we actually haven’t covered here on Rice, to my shame; I read it well before I joined the team here, but I can probably find an excuse to talk about it more at some point.

The Fruit of Grisaia, if you’ve not come across it before, is a story about an unusual young man called Kazami Yuuji. He’s had a colourful background that doesn’t become completely clear until the two follow-up installments in the series — the last of which I must confess I’m still yet to read — and so The Fruit of Grisaia is primarily about him arriving at a very peculiar school and getting to know a highly memorable cast of heroines.

To explain too much about what makes Grisaia’s cast special would be to get into spoiler territory, but suffice to say that this is about as far from a conventional slice-of-life harem romance that you can get. Each of the main narrative routes through the game is very different from the last, and all of the characters are completely and utterly fascinating. The stories deal with some weighty themes without being overbearing about them, and they grab hold of the emotions like nothing else.

One of my favourite things about Grisaia is how well its 18+ versions make use of their erotic scenes to advance the stories. Rather than feeling gratuitous, as they can do in some other titles, in Grisaia the sexual content feels like a natural progression of the relationships the various routes explore — and it’s often through those moments of intimacy we get to learn things that we wouldn’t otherwise find out about these characters.

My only hesitation in recommending Grisaia to someone is that it’s quite a commitment, even to read just one of the visual novels. There are three lengthy, hefty beasts to explore in the original Grisaia series, plus several spin-off titles — and more recently they’ve been followed up by a full sequel series known as Phantom Trigger.

As previously noted, I’m yet to read the third title from the original trilogy, The Eden of Grisaia, but I do fully intend to get to it — and in the meantime I have absolutely no qualms about recommending The Fruit and The Labyrinth of Grisaia to anyone who thinks they can handle a long read.

Keeping it light

Dear Rice,

Forgive my ignorance, but as a relatively recent convert to all things anime fandom and surrounding whatnot, I’m a little unsure on the difference between light novels and manga, since both of them seem to get anime adaptations. Can you shed some light on it?

Mab


Hi Mab, and thanks for your contribution to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. Of course we can shed some light on it! It’s easy to feel like stuff like this is a “stupid question” if everyone around you seems to already know the answer, but if you don’t know something — well, part of the reason sites like this exist is to help newcomers immerse themselves fully in a fandom they’ve stumbled across recently, as well as to provide longstanding fans with fun stuff to enjoy too!

The difference between a light novel and a manga is pretty straightforward: a manga is told through pictures arranged in sequence with speech bubbles and onomatopoeia (like a comic), while a light novel is very similar to a regular ol’ novel. The only real difference between a Japanese light novel and a regular novel that you’d get from your local Smiths is that light novels tend to have more illustrations in them than western novels, and they often put a much stronger emphasis on dialogue than descriptive prose.

letters page: light novels
Occasional big illustrations + pages of words = light novel.

When localised for the west, manga tends to be kept in its original format, where you read from right to left — changing this would involve the localisers flipping all the art, which would be a big pain in the arse for them — while light novels are transposed to the left-to-right format we’re more familiar with over here in the west. That means when you put them on your shelf, light novels appear to be the “right” way around, while manga appear “backwards” to our western sensibilities.

One reason both formats tend to get adapted to anime is that both already use art styles that are easily adaptable to the medium; light novel illustrations typically wouldn’t look out of place in a manga panel, and vice versa. That and they both often tend to deal with the sort of slightly exaggerated situations that lend themselves well to colourful animation — although there are exceptions.

Hope that makes things a bit clearer for you! Time to start filling those bookshelves?

Agony

Dear Rice,

Endwalker’s out. You joining us any time soon?

StepOnMeYshtola


Hello. Yes. I’m in pain right now. My wife has been playing Endwalker all day, and I still have all the Stormblood patches and all of Shadowbringers to do, plus all the raids and other gubbins.

I was actually making good progress — I finally finished my New Game+ run and got into content that was all-new to me — but then Blue Reflection: Second Light came out and completely monopolised my attention.

Letters page: Final Fantasy XIV

You know what, if I can brave the login queues I might just make some time to work on getting caught up this very evening. It is the weekend, after all.

Say hello to Amarysse Jerhynsson on Cerberus if you see her. And say hi to Y’shtola for me.

Sisters are doing it

Dear Rice,

I noticed in the recent newsletter and in the site sidebar you’ve got links to a site called “Retrounite” now. What’s the deal there, a sister site you say?

PixelP


Hi PixelP, and thanks for noticing! Yes, Retrounite is our sister site, focusing exclusively on all things retro gaming. We launched it earlier in the year as a separate thing from Rice and it does operate independently, but anyone paying attention will doubtless notice before long that I write and edit both sites — so I figured we might as well do a bit of cross-promotion.

Retrounite is still very much in its initial growth phase while we’re trying to build an audience, so if you enjoy what you see over there please make a point of sharing it with your friends, family and retro enthusiast acquaintances. We think we’ve built something rather lovely over there, and it’d be great to have more people reading. If you fancy a bit of fun today, go try your hand at the inaugural Retrounite General Retro Gaming Knowledge Quiz! And don’t forget to follow Retrounite on Twitter.

Going forward, you’ll find all sorts of retro fun stuff over on Retrounite, including stuff about the new Evercade systems and carts, more general retro information, hands-on time with emulation devices and guides for those who are just getting into retro gaming as a hobby. We hope you enjoy what you find over there, and look forward to seeing you!


And we’re done for another week. I’m off to get a pizza and attempt to log in to Final Fantasy XIV. Wish me luck — and have a fabulous weekend, whether or not you’re lunar-bound!

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