Visual Novel Spotlight: Ame no Marginal

We’ve been given enough time to dry our tears after the Steam release of Stage-Nana’s Narcissu series. Now that things have settled, we have yet another Stage-Nana title to play: Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal-. Made as a prequel-of-sorts to Tomo Kataoka’s Mizu no Marginal novel series, Ame no Marginal shows us yet another introspective kinetic novel.

 

There exists a world in which there is but one person, where pale grey flagstones reflect the equally grey sky, where time is still but rain falls for eternity. There is no hunger, no sadness, no death, but in turn there’s nothing at all. Here is where Rin lives and stays as the mistress of this rainy world, until a suicidal man intrudes on her solitude and stays by her side for three short days.

 

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Of course, Ame no Marginal being a Stage-Nana kinetic novel brings to mind the quietly contemplative Narcissu and Narissu Side 2nd games. There’s certainly a lot of easy comparisons between this and the Narcissu series, from its similar visuals, similar characters, almost unnecessary faceless protagonist, the tone of the soundtrack and the whole depressing story of a suffering little girl who wishes for death. While it has a different direction, a slight touch of fantasy and a nice split perspective, it’s very much a game like Narcissu, right down to how it reads.

 

Agilis, who worked on the Narcissu translations, makes a return to translating Stage-Nana’s works with Ame no Marginal. He noted in Narcissu’s extras that his translation style can be described as recreating “the mental experience of reading the original”, and that philosophy and deliberate oddness comes across in Ame no Marginal as much as it does in Narcissu; there’s still the preference for equally weighted sentences, sentence fragments and leading dependent clauses, which gives the writing a strange, unique feel. I bring this up though because sometimes it’s a bit too much in Ame no Marginal, and it can feel like the editors simply changed to proofreading mode, allowing a few too many Japanese quirks to pass (such as emphasis quotes, うん, and sound effects) in addition to all the grammar quirks. It’s not the usual dry, somewhat-localised translation, and that can be nice or odd depending on your taste.

 

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Ame no Marginal is a brief few hours to play but no less a thoughtful, introspective story that follows two characters who have no set future. Religion, atonement, punishment and death are given sensitive consideration but don’t push any ideals or provide any solid conclusions; it’s a struggle from start to end where things only change with kindness. As you can’t progress without knowing what happens to the other character, both perspectives work together to expand what the rainy world might be, what it means to the two, and how a chance meeting can change everything. It’s not something that answers all your questions though, and thinking about what things could mean is half of the fun.

 

As a bonus, the game also includes a full copy of the first Narcissu (unlocked after clearing the game), with a bonus episode and even re-recorded voice acting. It’s nice as an all-in-one kind of deal, even if the other games are available for free separately, and for especially keen fans the re-recorded lines are a nice touch.

 

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Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal- is a short and touching kinetic novel in the vein of the well-loved Narcissu series. It tells a new story with much of the creator’s quirks, from the broad production aspects down to the specific tone of the text. If you’ve been looking for something just like Narcissu, Stage-Nana’s next title is what you’re after.

 

Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal- is available for Windows on Steam for £9.99 / $12.99.

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