I've been thinking about Subahibi lately. I've been wanting to hear from someone their personal interpretations of it/what they took away from Subahibi. It's a very nuanced work which I have alot of muddled thoughts on, and I feel I haven't really grasped it fully yet.>>58018
I wanted to elaborate a bit more on some of my thoughts here; now that i've had additional time to digest them. Specifically on the themes of Fata Morgana and on Nirvana Initiative in general.
While Fata Morgana is, in the general sense, about suffering, responsibility and empathy, it is also more specifically about generational trauma, trauma in general, and the cycle of abuse. Because of what morgana goes through, she actually ends up inflicting even worse suffering on many, many people - many of whom were completely innocent. And of course, the suffering that she inflicts has roots in the pain she endured in her lifetime. In other words, it's an endless cycle of hatred, where an eye for an eye makes the entire world blind. Morgana is hurt, and she goes on to hurt others, and so on. It takes empathy for michel to provide everyone salvation from their wrongdoings, and to ultimately break the cycle of endless trauma. And this not only frees the victims, but also the abusers. Because the two are intertwined - the abused become abusers and the abusers become the abused. Only by providing salvation to both can the cycle end - and this doesn't necessarily mean forgiveness, but merely that you don't yourself become the abuser. At least, this is one viewpoint and one interpretation of one of Fata morgana's many themes. It is an incredibly nuanced work, and I am certain I haven't grasped all of it's complexities. This blogpost sums up a few of them: https://incognitionblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/the-house-in-fata-morgana-themes/
I also wanted to talk about the wasted potential of Nirvana Initiative. After mulling it over, I came to the conclusion that I probably like it less than the first game, but that if a couple aspects had been changed, it had the potential to be one of the best visual novels ever written. Here's what I would have done: First of all, I would have made Ryuki the sole protagonist. The plot works better that way. Ota and Moma would be written out of the game, except in passing mention, and as much as I like Lien in particular, he and Kizuna would also be removed. They don't have enough of a purpose. Instead, they would focus more attention on Hitomi and Iris, and specifically their relationship with Date and Mizuki. I'm not normally one to demand that a game focus on a character when their story is done, but I feel their was more that could have been done with these characters. Also, Date wouldn't get written out of the plot. That happens for no reason. They wouldn't hide that Amame is Shoma's sister. They had no reason to do that either. Amame and Gen's ending was shit, so i'd just change the events of that entirely. And the actions scenes would be less stupid.
Onto the most important changes. The ending of the actual game is salvaged mostly by the Nil ending, which casts almost everything in a brand-new light. I really like it. But, thinking about it, this twist would work much, much better with a couple adjustments. The perspective twist of switching back and fourth between the past and present would still occur, however Ryuki would contract TC-Perge much earlier, and it would be explained that the TC-perge altered his perception to iron out alot of the inconsistencies between the two time periods that would clue him into what was happening. Ryuki also experiences hallucination and time distortions as a result of his mental illness. He's implied to believe he's still living six years in the past, and there's no reason this shouldn't be employed to better make the timeline twist work. This way, the twist doesn't have to rely on certain characters just happening to not appear in certain segments. To be blunt, the twist in the regular game relies on a bunch of contrivances and coincidences. Alongside the TC-Perge/hallucinations, it would also be explained that Tokiko specifically manipulated alot of events to maintain the illusion of the time periods. The reason she does this in the first place is that she needs the Frayer to 'warp and weft' between the past and future, but also has to keep things seeming consistent to the frayer so that they don't get confused and stop playing. Alternatively, it could be that she's trying to trick the game itself into thinking the timelines in a different order so that it's presented to the frayer that way. Either way, the point is that Tokiko manipulates events so that the shifting between past and future occurs as it does, and that she does this for the purpose of having the frayer warp and weft between the past and future. This is implied in game, but it's left very vague, and doing it this way makes it more explicit how exactly tokiko made the frayer perceive things in the order they did.
Anyway, onto the second important change. The addition of a third time period in the story that takes place at the exact midpoint of the past and present - 3 years after the game begins. This would iron out so many problems with the story, and make things much more consistent. One of these is that it'd give more time to devote to the characters without the limitations of timeline twist. This could mean spending more time with Amame so that her being revealed as a killer has more impact; more time with Hitomi, Date, Mizuki and Iris to expand on what was set up in the first game. And it'd help smooth out the transition between past and future. Ryuki would, at some point, talk to the Tokiko. Probably at the 4th X between the past and present. It's here where she would ask about the Nil number. This is important for later. Anyway, the reason the events in this time period will be important is that it's where tears in the simulation will appear. Specifically, they'll appear at the stadium, as this is the midpoint between where the bodies were placed. As for what these 'tears' are, I didn't think about that. Every day, some kind of inexplicable phenomena would occur at the stadium to indicate the simulation beginning to fall apart. Or something like that. Perhaps it'd spread out to other locations as time progresses. On the final day, Tokiko would ask about the nil number. If you don't provide it, as you won't be able to before finishing the game, things will continue onto the present time period, where in the actual game you play as Mizuki. Also, since this game put an emphasis on Duo endings, perhaps Date/Hitomi could have one focusing on their relationship, or perhaps mizuki/iris could have some kind of ending focusing on a sibling kind of relationship. Or, of course, they could just do a date/mizuki and hitomi/iris ending. Just some ideas. Maybe even a ryuki/date ending?
Anyway, the specifics of how events play out from there don't really matter. It'd end the same way, with Amame being outed as a killer, and everyone 'stopping' the nirvana initiative. And then, there would be a scene of someone other than Ryuki being told the Nil number. Perhaps date, it doesn't quite matter. I only say this because it's important to emphasise that the frayer specifically is the one who brings this information to the past rather than Ryuki himself. You'd go back to the Nil number scene and input it, and this would break the simulation and have Tokiko reach moksha, like in the base game. However, this way it makes more sense, as this would be the exact midpoint between the past and future which the frayer has been warping and wefting between - and at the 4th x, or intersection, the nil number would be the final blow needed to break the simulation which was already starting to show it's seams.
Unlike in the original game, this wouldn't just lead into a secret ending, but rather an extended true route about the world being a simulation. One of the main themes of Nirvana Initiative is the clash between the ideas of egoism and self-denial. This is represented by Chikara (Egoism) and Tokiko (Self-denial), but also by Shoma who chooses in his ending to reject the simulation theory and to embrace that his feelings are real, with whatever suffering they may bring. I don't know what the exact contents of this true route would be, but it's only fitting that, like the rest of the game, it'd focus on this duality. The first game ended with a long scene explaining the backstory of the game while the title theme played - i'd have this game end in a similar way. Tokiko would explain her backstory from beginning to end and would also elaborate on all the details of how she came up with her plan; How she was able to lure in the frayer; How she was able to manipulate things to trick the frayer; All of the exact details, basically, of how she made the nirvana initiative work. Secret faith playing and all (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiSWmbNcvfk
). From here, i'm unsure where the story would go. Perhaps there could be two separate endings. One where, like Tokiko, you choose to forgo the simulation and to head for the 'true world', and another where you choose to stay in the simulation and declare that the world still matters even if it's simulated.
I think my ideas help fit together the game in a much more cohesive and satisfying way, and that it might have made for Uchikoshi's best work if he had executed things this way. Anyway, I just had this on my mind, and wanted to express it somewhere while I still remembered it. As it stands, Nirvana Initiative is pretty weak. It definitely doesn't fit together as nicely as the first game did, which left everything important resolved.