Ne No Kami is a visual novel set in modern day Japan. It’s about a young girl named Ese Len, who has her life turned upside-down when she suddenly finds herself involved in an epic battle with mysterious beings known as ayakashi. The situation is dire, and the battle will determine the fate of the world. It may sound very interesting, but it’s not. It’s one of the driest, most boring visual novels I have ever subjected myself to. I have a lot of negative things to say about Ne No Kami, but before I do, I’d like to point out the positive aspects first.
Ne No Kami has a fantastic art style. Nothing ever looks amateurish or under-developed. It all flows together with gorgeous detail. The H-scenes are all yuri, so there isn’t much variety, but what they have is also done quite well. The CG images adjust slightly to illustrate the events as they move forward, and everything is written with passion and care. It’s a damn shame most people won’t read long enough to ever see them. Ah, excuse me — positive aspects. The battle music is pretty sweet, reminding me of Castlevania. Unfortunately, this is to Ne No Kami’s detriment, as it also reminds me of how much fun I could be having if I were playing something else instead. The only fun I’m going to get out of Ne No Kami is ripping it apart.
It’s going to be a long time before this game shows you.
The story begins by showing you two girls that are scouting for enemies, the latter of which notices the former and proceeds to head their way. The two girls flee, whereupon the story then cuts to a girl at a bus stop talking with some friends. Sound exciting?
Yeah, you’re right. It isn’t.
Storytelling 101 – begin your story with something enticing; something that will draw the readers in. Rather than entice the reader, this segment just seems out of place. Cutting from an impending battle that never happens to a slice-of-life anime scenario where we watch some girls discussing their mundane lives isn’t the worst way to open a story, but the story really needs to pick that pace up quickly. Ne No Kami fails to do this. It fails hard.
We are then introduced to Shinonome, a friend from Len’s past. Shino proceeds to coerce Len into a van and drives her back to her village. Once there, Len realizes that not only was she essentially kidnapped, but also that her parents were in on the whole thing. Len is told that she is trapped in the village, and if she wants to go home, she must traverse down the treacherous mountain alone on foot. They also inform her that she is expected to put her life on the line to battle an unstoppable enemy. At this point, alarm bells go off in Len’s head. Just as you begin to believe that Len may be a level-headed person after all, she is suddenly okay with the situation after sleeping on it.
Much like you will after sitting through this game.
Keep in mind, this whole set-up takes almost three hours to transpire, and this is Ne No Kami’s biggest flaw — the story is 75% padding. There’s a decent plot in there, but it has been fluffed up so much that it turned into gibberish. On top of that, they like to reiterate everything, making conversations feel like they were copied and pasted. Often, Len will converse with character B about what she told Character A. Afterwards, she will find character C and tell them the same thing she told characters A and B. This may be how small talk transpires in real life, but in a visual novel, it just forces the reader to re-read the same dialogue over and over. If this wasn’t enough repetition, you also get to sit in class lectures where they “teach” you things that you read about previously.
Yeah, it starts to all sound like this after a while.
After several hours of listening to girls discuss super fun politics while eating ice cream and pretending that no one was recently ripped from their home against their will, we get to see Len start her training. Len’s training occurs in what feels like real time. Her instructor, Mitsurugi, goes into hellish detail about how to hold a sword, flank an enemy, and so forth. It’s endless. It’s boring. It put me to sleep. I can’t count the number of times I had to save and quit for later because the story was droning on so much.
Even Mitsurugi fell asleep from talking all this bollocks.
Eventually, training is over and it’s time for a real patrol. What does the military do before sending soldiers out on patrol? They brief them. Trust me, there is nothing brief about a briefing. Ne No Kami makes their briefings long for the sake of realism. Despite the fact that this isn’t an action or military game where you need to know every nuance of the plan, you are forced to read through every painstaking detail.
The patrol carries out with an even more military spiel. It starts to get a bit exciting at this point when interesting things actually transpire. The writer must have been aware of this and thought it was too much entertainment for people because it ends very quickly. After you return from your patrol, the realism continues with a debriefing. You get to spend ten minutes discussing the events that transpired over the last five minutes. Or, in simpler terms, more reiterating. It feels like the developer really did intend for this to be a military action game.
There’s a reason that Metal Gear Solid wasn’t a visual novel.
By this point, you may be asking yourself, “What about the lewd stuff? How do you fit a yuri love story into all of this?” The answer is simple: You don’t. This was about hour six of the story, and there was no lewdness to be found. Ne No Kami is all about war and the political struggle between two opposing ideologies. The yuri scenes are tacked on near the very end. It took about eight hours to see two girls kiss, and it was another few hours before the H-scenes began. Actually, I waited so long for a hentai scene or even an ecchi one that I double-checked to verify that I didn’t have the all-ages version by mistake.
The story and the lewdness really pick up after this point, but it’s hardly worth pushing yourself to see them.
When the story reaches its finale, things get genuinely exciting. If the story chopped the beginning bits down considerably, I could almost say it’s an awesome story. You see, the problem with the ending is that it ends on a cliffhanger. Yes, once the story becomes interesting and readable, the game abruptly ends. The entire story thus far was just the build up to another game. When you can finally get engaged with the plot, you’re told that you have to shell out more money for the conclusion. Not gonna lie, when it was over, I was still relieved that I was done this garbage.
Though I wasn’t actually done. There is a side story that opened after the main story ended, putting you in the perspective of Shino. While it offers some additional insight into some events that only Shino witnessed, it also forces you to repeat entire dialogues sequences you’ve already borne witness to too. After spending time re-reading through an hour’s worth of the story, the side story also ends with its own knee-to-the-balls cliffhanger. I have no interest in subjecting myself to more of this just to reach a final conclusion. There are also a ton of typos in the side story. It really says something when the developer won’t re-read his story for proofreading, but expects his customers to do so.
That’s what I said every time I opened this VN.
So that’s the story. It’s long, drawn out, and incredibly dull. It’s like watching the Star Wars prequels first and being told that episodes 4-6 would be released some time in the future — not many will return to finish it. On top of that, it’s paced out like it was intended to be a full anime. Imagine Dragon Ball Z in novel form. There are no pictures, only text to describe Goku’s battle with Frieza. Also, imagine that it takes just as long to read as to watch it, if not longer. No one wants that.
Speaking of the battles, Ne No Kami’s page on Nutaku claims, “A unique feature in Ne no Kami is the use of videos to illustrate battles and action, dynamically changing the pace and tension.” This doesn’t happen. There’s a video cutscene a little over halfway through, and it certainly wasn’t a battle scene. It took me so long to reach that point, I initially thought it was the end credits. Aside from that, you get to see about four seconds of animation as Len draws her sword one time. Otherwise, the battles are standard text with static character sprites.
This is your standard battle.
The main characters have are fully voiced in Japanese — rather, the characters in the H-scenes are fully voiced. Ruka has about ? as many lines as Mitsurugi, but gets a voice solely because she’s in an H-scene. As I mentioned before, the H-scenes are very well-done, but after having your will stripped away by trudging through the main story, it’s too little too late.
You see this? We need more of this.
One other point of interest is Uzume, Len’s love interest. While she has a much greater role in the military aspect of the story, her role as an actual character is unfortunately small. The fleeting moments she’s around, the story really picks up. She adds some much-needed fun and lighthearted humor. You can see a stark contrast between scenes with her and the ones with other characters. Most of the other characters are so serious, you feel like you’re constantly being lectured, whereas the yuri moments between her and Len are adorable. They do a lot to make you care for them as a couple. It’s quite sad that this aspect of the game was pushed to the end of the story due to the heavy padding at the beginning.
Ne No Kami is gorgeous, and aside from the ending, it feels complete. It isn’t riddled with bugs, and everything is mechanically locked down and polished. The problem is that there is nothing new, and the experience is incredibly boring. The story is supposed to be the main draw, yet it’s is a chore to read through. With the art style and the hype it received, I was expecting something great. I wanted a cute yuri story with flirty girls, but what I got was a long, stuffy war story. The yuri references are adorable, to say the least, but they are diluted with excessive history lessons and strategic battle planning. I can’t help but wonder: who was this even made for? I can’t imagine a person who likes girl’s love stories mixed in with hardcore military tactics. Overall, if you have to make a choice on this title, pass on Ne No Kami. Credit: LewdGamer