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Space Cadet Hangs Up His Conductor's Hat
Dr. Wood LXIX
Today is a very bittersweet day for me. After 60 hours of heartwarming fun, I’ve finally completed the visual novel, Maitetsu. The emotions right now… it’s like… well, I actually don’t have enough life experience to make a large-scale real-world comparison. What I’m trying to say is that it’s like being with company whom you love and are very comfortable with, for years and years, and saying goodbye to them. But it’s also not quite like that, because I’m very happy that I got to complete this amazing visual novel. But I’m also filled with regret. But also not. What the fudge do I feel?! I’d actually planned to make an entire entry just about this game for when I finished it, and I had a lot of things that I wanted to talk about it. But now it’s all eluded my brain, which is actually pretty typical for my “diary stage fright”. I’ve also peppered my previous entries with raves about this game, so it’s not like I’m completely exploding with things to say since I’ve said a great deal of them already. This is, however, my tablet to express how I feel, even if it may seem repetitive. So I’ll just *eye-rollable cliché alert* write from the heart.
I started my journey with Maitetsu after playing Clannad crushed my soul. In a good way. Yeah, imagine a good way of one’s soul being crushed. That was Clannad. It was such a heavy, sublime work that I needed something easygoing to dilute my palate. So I picked a game with trains and anime girls, called Maitetsu. Never heard anything about it prior to finding it on Steam, but I read reviews and it seemed like a fun, educational and lighthearted game with romance routes. Also read that it had good H-scenes, so I was like “heck, that’s a bonus” (or maybe at the time I was just lying to myself, and that was the real reason I started the visual novel… who knows? XD) So I began playing it. I was immediately enraptured by the beautiful art/CGs, the fluid animation (which, visual novels don’t often have – I’ve only played one VN that had some level of animation, and it was minimal with no VA accompaniment), the voice acting, and the serene soundtrack (which I’m listening to as I write this – it’s the only proper way to set the tone here). I began to explore the town of Ohitoyo, a somewhat rural/traditional town in the Kyushu region of Japan, and I got to experience a setting where aircra (personal aircrafts that are basically handsfree) dominate the transportation sector, and railroads are in large disuse. I have to say – as far as world-building goes, this game did astronomically. I felt like infinite side stories could’ve spawned from the many components of the town, or that an entire book of lore could’ve been written about it all. This was a pleasantly surprising element.
And best of all, I got to meet one of the most likable – nay, lovable – casts of characters I’ve ever been acquainted with in any animated franchise. Cheesy as this will sound, I’m feeling the slightest onset of tears as I write this… and it probably doesn’t help that the piano of “Glassy Sky” is resonated within my ear canals. So the characters of Maitetsu… as I’ve said in past entries, they are almost completely free of common anime tropes. They’re the faces of Ohitoyo and all develop connections with Sotetsu (the main character), who pretty much became my proxy for connecting with them. Wow, yeah, that’s really how it felt – since the VN is nearly 100% first-person, it truly felt that way. I got to meet Hachiroku, the raillord of the stowed away steam locomotive 8620, who is always kind, calm, levelheaded, a wealth of information, and adorable. I got to meet Hibiki, one of Sotetsu’s adoptive sisters, who is a talented artist, very loving and very hardworking. And adorable. I got to meet my VN soulmate, Paulette, whom I gabbed on about many a times already. Unbelievably hardworking as she juggled being a mayor, president of the Ohitoyo Rail Company and dear friend, her sweet, kindhearted smile on the screen would always make me feel at ease on the other side. And she’s adorable. Yeah there’s a bit of a shared trait among these ladies. I got to meet Kisaki, the branch manager of the bank in Ohitoyo, who is very business-oriented but also very welcoming, with a forward-minded attitude and an aura of playfulness. Despite her maturity, though, she too is adorable. I got to meet Makura, Sotetsu’s other adoptive daughter, who is another very mature figure – very calm and with a comforting presence, but also highly dependable and almost motherly. Yeah, still adorable. I got to meet Fukami, one of the guides for the Kuma River downstreaming, who is very softspoken and sometimes meek, but also super sweet and astonishingly precocious. Ridiculously adorable, too. I got to meet Nagi, the fun-loving friend of Fukami, who is adventurous, inquisitive and helpful… and adorable. I got to meet Reina, Paulette’s raillord and my proclaimed adoptive daughter, who is adorable, adorable, adorable, adorable, knowledgeable, sweet, and adorable. And adorable.
I got to meet so many other supporting characters too, who all have their roles in bringing the rails back to Ohitoyo and Kyushu, and helping Ohitoyo’s economy through increased tourism. Most importantly, though, is the warmth that every single character brings to the town. I haven’t seen such an unspoken “we’re all in this together” vibe from any other fictitious location in media as I have from the constituents of Ohitoyo. While disagreements and spats may occur, and not everyone sees eye to eye, there’s something about the characters that really sets them apart from others that I’ve encountered in shows and games. Even though I wasn’t directly involved in the goings-on of the plot, I felt so welcomed and embraced by these characters. And I know that makes it seem like I’m obsessed to the point where I’m confusing it with reality… but in a bit of a solipsistic sense, it is my reality. I go back to all my talks about relationships with individuals of the fictional world, and the experiences that I have from those relationships are genuine. The smile on my face as I listen to the wholesome banter between these characters is real. I spent 60 hours on this VN, and I would not trade them in for anything else. This was really special to me, and it’s why I’ve written about it in so many entries. There was nothing like concluding my day with a vegan ice cream bar and an hour of shoveling coal, brewing shochu and manning locomotives with such lovely, amiable friends. Like, try to even find such a sweeter concentration of entities! I can’t express how much this otherwise silly little thing impacted my life. Whereas the Clannad VN before hit me in a generally profound, insight-invoking way, Maitetsu was like a hug and kiss “good night” filled with gentleness, warmth and familiarity. Even though I have it good in life, life is still hard sometimes. At times it’s even unbearable, or just simply stressful, especially when needing to work lots of overtime. And at times, it’s straight-up lonely, and yet in such times I don’t even desire to talk with other humans. Where darkness may have enshrouded my days, Maitetsu was something I could look forward to and never, ever be disappointed. I never felt so immersed in the world of something like I did with Maitetsu.
And now, this experience will be another mini-period of my life. I had the era of playing Clannad, and today, I’ve reached the end of the Maitetsu era. It’s fun to apportion my life like this when I look back at it. It’s like, “what was I doing while I was playing Maitetsu?” I think about all the things that happened during the three months I was playing this game: I ordered a body pillow; I bought a new car; I learned how to make Japanese-style potato salad and fried chicken; I began my journey on mydiary.org; I applied for a position as a risk underwriter at my company; I watched numerous, numerous anime shows that will stand out because of having watched them during this time period. In an odd way, all of that was tied loosely together by a visual novel with classic trains and beautiful ladies. I guess all my babbling about it is my way of showing appreciation for its presence in my life. In terms of social approval, I should probably express more gratitude to my friends and family and whatnot… but in all my authenticity, I really just want to scream out my praises to this amazing world that I got to be a part of, with all these characters that I love so much. I wanna write it all down while its effects on me are still fresh… so that when I someday reread this, I can perhaps – just perhaps – remember the inexplicable feeling that I feel now.
With that, I rest my case on Maitetsu. I might bring it up again from time to time, but probably not to this degree. “Glassy Sky” has now officially played for over an hour (I’ve listening to it on loop in the game menu, and it shows how long it’s been playing). There’s a lot of postgame content with viewing interactive artwork and learning about a ton of different train-related terms in the glossary, so there’s a comforting amount of reason for me to come back and revisit the world at my leisure. There’s also a fuuuudge ton of H-scenes I haven’t explored, considering I’ve only viewed one (I’m talking, like, there’s close to 50). Apparently after completing the grand route, ALL of the scenes are unlocked and playable… which is pretty daunting actually. And I really don’t know how disposed I am to viewing them, considering how much I’m in love with the wholesomeness of the game and the characters. Then again, I don’t need my arm twisted all that much to bear witness to the more devious sides of Makura and Kisaki. So we’ll see what happens. There’s also kind of a comfort knowing that there are still some character interactions I haven’t yet explored, albeit lewd ones. I think all the postgame content in general just helps me feel like I have plenty reason to see all my friends in Ohitoyo again. There’s also the hope that I may replay it someday, too. I rarely ever do that, but hope is hope. For the time being… I will alight from the train that brought me here and board the next one, journeying with it wherever it may lead me to.
Okay I’m gonna exit the game menu finally and spare one paragraph for “normal” stuff. I had my second panel of interviews (third interview in total) for the underwriting position, and I think it went well. It felt a bit more conversational and fluid than the one before. I have my next one on Tuesday, and then it will be all out of my hands. Tomorrow I will be spending time with my dad’s/stepmom’s side of the family as we will be going out to dinner to celebrate my step-maternal grandmother’s 80th birthday, which was a few weeks ago. Eric and my Aunt Sherri seem to be doing a bit better in terms of health, and yesterday I got to go to the grocery store and stack my cupboards once again. Ah, that feeling is glorious. I love seeing full cupboards. Also had a really long and fun talk with Eric on the phone yesterday, which was super nice. And yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to share. Oh, no it’s not – gotta give my anime-watching update too. Almost done with Kamisama Kiss, and I also started a new harem called Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Spring, which seems like a pretty fun show. At work, I’ve been watching the anime for Little Women, and while I haven’t read the book, I’m surprised by how thoroughly I’m enjoying the show. I’m planning on updating my MyAnimeList on October 1st, so I’m getting in a few more shows before I finally do that. Holy cow, I’ve written so much today. Lemme click the “save” button on my Word document just a few more times… yes, there we go… aaaaand now we shall copy it over to mydiary.org. All righty – now I just need a snack, a quick episode, a shower, and I’m off to bed. And if I’m lucky, I just might get to visit Ohitoyo in my dreams (yeah, I guess I AM obsessed after all…)