This review contain minor spoilers.
Roughly 16 years after the people who emigrated to the Moon had settled themselves. An age where a great number of people are chasing their wild dreams within the great skyscraper at humanity's frontier. A young boy named Haru, born and raised on the Moon, is one of those people chasing his wildest dream. His dream, is to stand where no man has before. In order to do so, he needed capital. A ludicrous amount of capital. The boy named Haru was facing a place that gathered up people's desires. Sometimes it granted them, and sometimes it crushed them mercilessly. There are only two key rules that govern that land.
The first rule, is to never take a loss. The second rule, is to never forget the first.
Only those who followed these rules were able to obtain enormous wealth. The stock market. A place that has gathered crowds of persistant men and women for centuries.
World End Economica (WEE) is a science-fiction "investment bank novel" doujin game with a story by Isuna Hasekura, the author of Spice and Wolf. This episode is the first of a trilogy.
WEE is fairly short. I finished this episode 1 in less than ten hours (like, started in the morning and finished by the night, with a lot of things in between). And this is a kinetic novel, by the way.
As someone whose interest in consuming stories in form of block and block of text was kickstarted by light novel, I generally find that a VN's common route is boring, really boring. They spend too much time in uninteresting interaction that make the readers yawning. Simply put, it's painful (I know there are several reasons behind this, but it's still painful).
But WEE is different.
Probably because the writer is someone from LN world, but every scene, every interaction, every conversation in WEE is meaningful and interesting, unlike the general recipe of "I woke up in the morning, pondered something for a while, went to school, had some pointless interaction, encountered the meaningful scene of the day, had another pointless interaction, returned home, pondered something again for a while, then went to sleep" (yeah, this is a really broad generalization, but you get the idea).
The story's flow is really smooth and natural. The storytelling as well as the characterization is great. We get to actually understand how the protagonist's brain works and why he feels what he feels, and it's really believable. Very different than some series where the strange protagonist just do whatever implausible action he want for the sake of the plot and getting some unreasonable feeling, contrary to the readers' expectation.
The story itself is quite simple, there's no huge twist or tear-jerking scene, but it's heartwarming for the most part. The economy part is relatively easy to grasp (there are quite a few things I don't comprehend, but it's likely because I wasn't paying full attention when the explanation unfolded). Another thing to note is the protagonist. Where else you get a protagonist whose dream is to become the richest man in the world and stand at the frontier of humanity? In addition, he's pretty likable most of the time.
One last thing I couldn't help but notice, Isuna Hasekura is apparently an avid fan of the church. Spice and Wolf, Magdala de Nemure, and now WEE, the church have significant role in all of them (albeit it's much smaller in WEE in terms of relation to the plot). I don't really like recurring theme personally, but well, it's his story after all.
Rating : S-
I was shocked when I found out WEE is not voiced at all. Perhaps because all of the VN I've played until now (short of Katawa Shoujo) is voiced, but the idea that VN has to be voiced already rooted in my mind, and a VN wouldn't be a VN without voice. That's when I realized that this is a doujin game, so maybe it couldn't be helped (you know, budget problem). Therefore, yeah, WEE would be much, much more awesome were it voiced.
Nevertheless, the music and sound effects is well done, no complaint in this aspect.
Rating : A-
Nothing short of beautiful, both the CG and the sprite and the background. I especially really like the scenery of lunar city, it's just so... inspiring. The OP video is a bit rough though, wish it could be better.
Rating : A+
Usually I don't even talk about the localization. But this official localization of WEE is just so bad that it need some special attention. The version I read was the 12th June 2013 release by Spicy Tails and Kawa Soft (the very first one). Don't really know about the latest patch.
When I heard WEE is getting an official translation, I somewhat expected the quality to be decent at the very very least.
I was wrong.
The translation looks like an unedited subpar script written by some amateur translator. Hard-to-comprehend sentences are not rare, there's still typo here and there (with some of them is pretty important, like messing up the zero in number), and most of the text simply feels unnatural. They don't even know how to place comma properly.
Some example (note that I wrote these from memory) :
- "I'm not really sure but, isn't it...." instead of "I'm not really sure, but isn't it ..." [the original sentence is probably something like "bla bla けど, bla bla..."]
- "most people around here I can easily beat" instead of "I can easily beat most people around here"
- "1000 shares with each share priced at 267 moules, totaling 27k moules" [mathematics aside, why did they use '27k' instead of 27000 anyway?]
In other words, the translation is bad.
Moving on, we have a screen full of katakana popping up every time the config button is clicked. Is it really that hard to translate the config screen? Thankfully I know some basic japanese so it turned out just fine, but what about people who don't know them?
Lastly, the CG Mode and Music Mode doesn't work, but maybe it's just me.
Rating : C
WEE is a good read. Unlike most VN, there is no uninteresting repetitive scene here, which is great. The story is simple but heartwarming. And the 'stock market in the moon' setting is plain awesome. Unfortunately it isn't voiced, but the music and sound effects is well done. The time-to-enjoyment ratio is one of the highest for a VN. And the ending undoubtedly will make you crave for the next episode.
WEE certainly worth your time, if you can stand the bad localization or are able to read moonrunes, that is.
Definitely looking forward to the next episode!
PS : I voted '10' for this in VNDB solely because no one else has (at the time of this writing), which is just too sad.