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[Visual Novel] The consumer galge miracle of 1998 – part 1

“Let’s chat about history.”

This is a translation of an article titled「コンシュマーギャルゲー1998年の奇跡」 [original article] which is held at Otaphysica, a vault dedicated to the storage of all sorts of otaku-related thought pieces and writings.

Some essential characteristics of humanity remain a constant across all the ages. I have heard stories about writing that dates back to the prehistoric era, symbols etched onto ancient stone tablets, hieroglyph vestiges found on millennia old papyrus paper. Their message is a time-worn one: “Young people these days are just plain slackers…”

Even within the much shorter history of the otaku, such sayings are commonplace: “The stuff they make these days are paper thin in content!” or “People just buy on impulse. Content is disposable – use now forgotten later.” or “Otaku just aren’t well educated nowadays. They’ve got no real craftsmanship.”

10 or 20 years ago this sentiment was the same back then as it is in the present and it will repeat itself forever into the future. The younger generation listen to the rantings of old fogeys, they themselves eventually grow old and then begin to complain about the young ones…. that’s why I think when someone is feeling like ‘the world has really changed!’… in most cases they are probably just in delusion.

But as I grow in years, the source of those delusions shared by my fellow otakus became more and more understandable: it was the sharp prick of history in our backsides that leaves us all in such a state!  Take the galge industry for example.

When the second half of the 90s was upon us, consumer-galge (i.e. all-ages galge) exploded from mere single-celled organisms into the innumerate diversity of complex living creatures in one short spurt, a time we now address as the Cambrian era.

You may be surprised at the bouquet of mixed media galge content we have nowadays, the full might of Idolm@ster, of Love Plus and Amagami and its hordes of offshoot material. But for those who have lived the past, this is nothing new. The difference in that, back then it was obscene the number of experimental works that was being battered onto shop shelves… it was utter chaos. Back then the super airheaded ditzy protagonist was an assumed menu item and consumers did not feel the level of aggravation they may cause in present day works.

Particularly, 1998 was just absurd. From memory alone I shall share with you a line up of 10 items that I thought to be particularly mind-blowing to my younger self during the time, the list as follows:

1. Mitsumete Knight
2. Sakura Taisen 2
3. Prism Court
4. 悠久幻想曲
5. Kuon no Kizuna
6. ひみつ戦隊メタモルV
7. お嬢様特急
8. 星の丘学園物語 学園祭
9. Atelier Elie ~The Alchemist of Salburg 2~
10. ファーストKiss☆物語

It was in this year the ‘cream of the crop’ emerged, a peak point of the 90s. This year was the full culmination of the years of nurtured creative individuals, and gameplay finally made possible through technological breakthroughs. On closer examination, perhaps some of those 10 titles really did lay the groundwork for a large number of galge to come. (let’s put aside the matter regarding Atelier Elie as galge or not for the time being) But there is more.

In 1998 the super controversial, legendary game makes its debut: Sentimental Graffiti. On the eroge side we had another major work, One ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~. Although not a galge but just for name drop’s sake, Tokyo Majin was also another phenomenal work.

I suppose my boiling sense of excitement over these old-timer’s only, otaku-neta would not reach a fraction of the young folks today. Even this site you are reading my article on is sort of a survivor from a different age and the lonely feeling that I am all that remains of a large drove of peers makes me want to mortar you all down with in-jokes from my top 3 games (but I will withhold).

These games were: 『みつめてナイト』『サクラ大戦2』and『プリズムコート』(translate: Mitsumete knight, Sakura taisen 2 and Prism court.) If I was asked why I like them so much it would boil down to one shared common denominator. I call it, ‘situational nature’. I will now say a quick word about each of these games. The composition, story and images and characters in these games had been so wired into my brain that they cause instant-euphoria upon being reminded of them… and so you must forgive me if I do exaggerate a little…

Mitsumete Knight (to be continued)….

Sakura taisen 2 (to be continued)….

Prism court (to be continued)….

Original article.


I'm the Fuwanovel community admin and a big fan of Visual Novels. The easiest way to get a hold of me is via a PM on the Fuwanovel Forums, by twitter (@ArchmageTay), or by email.

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12 years ago

Thanks for posting on history. For a second there I thought it was your own personal history, but something seemed really off.

12 years ago

I became an anime/manga fan around 1998. I’d already been enjoying a variety of worksafe translated games. It took about three years for me to decide that visual novels might be worth my time.

Thinking back thirteen years, there seemed to be so many promising untranslated things. These days, it’s awfully difficult to feel enthusiastic about most of Japanese pop culture media. I’m not sure where some of the promising series went. The Sakura Wars franchise is a shadow of its former self, there were only two Mitsumete Knight games, and it’s been eight years since First Kiss Story 2. Well, at least there’s still a few Atelier games, and a few are getting translated…

Everything looks better in retrospect, doesn’t it? When you’re focused on the current and upcoming anime, manga, and related games, it’s difficult to be optimistic. When you look back on previous years, you start to think “Hmm, there was a lot of good stuff in 2002” or “Maybe not everything was terrible in 2008.”

12 years ago

Haha i guess this makes me one of the newer generation i guess. I actually own my first galge only at 2008 with Little Busters! EX LE, but have been working my way back to buy off backlogs and older games.

It goes without saying my knowledge of classic galges are limited to only Tokimeki Memorial and Sakura Taisen, which are the more mainstream ones.

For surviving so long as an enthusiast, I’ll have to say, “Good job senpai!”

That being said however, there have been many new breakthroughs in galge/eroge as well in the 2000s. 0verflow with it’s dynamic animated system is one of the more memorable ones. Games have also successfully incooperated mainstream gaming aspects such as RPG elements for games such as Tears to Tierra and Baldr Force.

There are countless others as galge/eroge move into the next decade, so we should all be happy at the direction the VN scene is moving along.

Let’s give cheers to all galge/eroge from 2 decades back, and cheers for more to come!

12 years ago

I was wondering, do you know when the first horror visual novels came about? Or was there ever horror visual novels? I’ve been kind of seeing a few in the independent developer scene.

Reply to  Sarah
12 years ago

I wish I knew too. It could be early Chunsoft games.

There is an article (one of the only articles like this in the english language) here on the history of visual novels. I read it a long time ago so I can’t remember well. maybe it has something to do with what you are looking for