Visual Novel Book Club - Planning Phase

I’m not sure if you’re looking for recommendations at all but I’ve been reading through a year of springs as part of my studies, and it’s perfect for a beginner level! The language and grammar is very everyday and accessible (i’m almost done with the first chapter, which focuses on a trio of friends going on an onsen trip) and it’s pretty cheap.

As for other visual novel reading groups, I’d definitely be interested but am focusing on this for now :slight_smile:


While I’m here making another post, just want to say, thank you for helping me think through various difficulties @PetiteChose ! And for doing a whole lot of the thinking on how we’ll handle these things @AzusaChan . Nothing much to add to what you’ve said.

Yeah, thank you! Now that it’s clear we’re definitely going to go ahead with this, I’m saving setting up official recommendations for when I make a sort of official club thread in the near-ish future, but floating around ideas is totally welcome. It might help people who are newer to the medium (I’m realizing now I wish I made a poll about prior VN experience, but I’ll do it in the real thread) get some ideas they might want to nominate, too!

Also, hope to see you in the future then!


Just popping in super late to say I’m also very interested (as expected haha); I think starting out with something shorter to see how it goes and work out all the details makes sense! I also personally think having voice acting is a big plus for anything we choose, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of VNs with it and it’d generally make it more approachable. A lot of the specifics would depend on what we end up actually picking obviously. I’m definitely excited to see where this goes in the future!


Yeah thanks! Having your encouragement too helped me decide to go ahead and do this. I definitely agree given what I wrote in the top post about voice acting as a common benefit to the medium! I feel like it’s probably not necessary to make that a hard requirement, but I think when people nominate things in book clubs they list pros and cons of picks, and voice acting is the kind of thing that would be listed as a definite benefit. Plus, a lot of VN voice acting is just really good, so I enjoy having it, haha. And if people want pure reading, it can often be disabled.

nothing of value to add, just a (pretty obvious) realization I had recently

I also used to think so - recording times for my Japanese reading has (very recently) changed my opinion though!
The average book takes the average native reader a couple hours (2-8, let’s say, depending on density and difficulty as well es reading speed etc).

2-8 hrs would be considered quite short for a vn! A lot are around 30-40 hrs average play time, with some getting up to 70-100 if you go for every route, even with skipping read parts.

So vns have a lot of text! Many of them are comparable to a series rather than a single novel.

Considering the value you get… I used to think they were super expensive, but considering we get multiple novels’ worth do story with the audiobook included, plus visuals? I’m willing to pay for that.

It’s nice to have options though.

Daisoujou reply

Haha same. Thanks to that I have a bit of a backlog of English language vns I haven’t touched because I’d rather play them in Japanese, but what can you do. Japanese (vn) backlog is still quite manageable…

Agreed, let’s not get into that here. Anyway, I’m aware I’m in a rather fortunate position to be able to afford my hobbies like I am and didn’t/don’t intend to judge either way.

Probably better not to start down that route unless you’re excessively familiar with the other party.


Agreed generally. I always have a tendency to keep talking and in retrospect, while nothing too bad, i think the whole thing is better dropped for the moment, inadvertently will put too much attention on things :zipper_mouth_face:


Isn’t Clannad some 200 hours? There’s a lot of routes, and I did them all but finish the main one.

Apparently it can be done in like 80, but some people do take longer, like me.

And it seems like that’s the one longer than LotR. :sweat_smile:


Clannad is definitely long; I played it a while back but burnt out before the finish so I don’t have personal experience with just how long (though I definitely tend to take a lot longer than most VNDB times). 200 still sounds on the high sound to me, but I’m unsure. That said, both have stats on jpdb, Clannad having 1,364,891 characters and Umineko having 2,241,817. The way I put it was “extreme outlier” but I think it may actually be THE longest visual novel? Not 100% sure though.


Oh, I had forgotten. A few friends have read Umineko and 200 hours seems to be the consensus.


Oh I thought you were saying 200 on Clannad? 200 on Umineko is probably about right, yeah. Reading speed varies so much I’m only guessing anyway. In the end, stuff is extremely long, that’s all I know. Longer than the Bible in Umineko’s case.


I’m not sure if there are many VNs that would take 200 hours to read (at least if you were fluent in the language, I’m sure if I tried to read Clannad in jp it would take me 200+ hours). The longest VN on the jpdb site has a character count of 3,046,809 and VNDB estimates almost 168 hours which is the highest I’ve seen.

With that said though, that is definitely an outlier. A majority of popular titles seem to be around 20-30 hours per VNDB with some a couple hours below/above that. Looking at jdb, seems like 15-20hr mark is about 300k characters? Of course, those numbers are assuming fluency so I know it’ll take a lot longer in jp for me at least but I don’t think we’ll have to worry about many 1 million character count games coming up :sweat_smile:


I logged 182 hours across all 8 main arcs of Higurashi, though I probably did leave some extra idle time here and there. Hard to say how much. Umineko being allegedly longer (you made me realize JPDB actually says Higurashi is the longer of the two, but that clashes with what everyone says online. Maybe they’re wrapping in Higurashi side arcs?) will probably take me over 200, but like I said, my times are always slow!

But yeah, for those watching from the side or anything, the second paragraph is crucial haha. These are ridiculous outliers (also technically sold in parts, though they’re one story in the end). Though if anyone gets the chance to read Higurashi, do it, it’s good! Umineko I’m a little mixed on but I guess I have to see where it’s going. For the purposes of this, even when we do increase the length, it’ll be those nice 20-30 hour ones.


Oh, I was talking about Clannad, then Umineko.

Is it wrong that I don’t think of the Bible when I see the word…

And yeah, most I’ve played are 20 hours or less.


FWIW — most of the VNs mentioned here so far have full playthroughs on youtube…so they’d be about as accessible as this forum. And although youtube probably isn’t the ideal way to read a VN, it could have some benefits.

For example, timestamps could help you plan a schedule with limited spoilers. Also, if unvoiced lines are read aloud, some might even prefer this for listening practice.


Excellent point actually, I’m aware a lot of them have Youtube playthroughs but it just didn’t cross my mind at all for some reason. As you say, that could be a great resource in more ways that one. Thanks a lot!


Really interested in this as well!
I agree that with the massive amounts of text + usually voice acting they are a great resource for learning Japanese. Unfortunately also agree that they are kinda hard to deal with for club purposes. But maybe we can try with a short simple one and just figure it out from there.

Just some random thoughts on things that might help (most have already been mentioned):

  • Game is text-hookable/ has a script / has some quick way of doing lookups - I think a big concern is these VNs can be really long even for natives so without this help, participation attrition could be brutal (It might be anyway). I’ve been reading the same VN on console since February and having to do manual lookups has me advancing like :turtle:
  • Voice acting - For obvious reasons already mentioned like additional listening practice and ease of lookups. Bonus points in the protagonist is also voiced.
  • Push to continue - We might want to avoid the rare VN with cutscenes that advance on their own and might not even be subtitled.
  • Game is divided in chapters or sections - For organization purposes and, when it comes to reading in JP, I personally find it easier if there are some break points to feel some small measure of accomplishment and not get burnt out.
  • Routes are clearly separated - This could either mean you select the route at the very beginning or after a common route, but the choice is explicit and doesn’t depend on previous choices. This might help with organization but limits choices so could be dropped once we get a hang of things.

I do agree that we might be better off starting with a linear VN but if we eventually want routes I think making threads for all routes but giving a “suggested reading order and schedule” is a good idea, so that those who want to real along with a group can do it but everyone is free to read in whatever order.

So I basically said nothing new :sweat_smile: but there were a lot of messages and I wanted to organize my thoughts about all the good ideas already suggested. Exciting stuff!


That’s a good point. Clearly separated route would be much easier to coordinate.

If we pick a game that locks in the route through choices made in the common route, alloting a set time to lock in the route we’re aiming for might be a possible way to go.

Often choices don’t have such a huge impact on what’s said, and (in most vns) you can skip parts you’ve read in previous playthroughs, so it would not be a lot of new text each time.


I remembered one more title that could be added to the “waiting list” - Aonatsu Line

It has three routes and three heroines - two “side” and one “main”. It has great friendship vibe between characters, and I found it to be relatively easy language-wise :slight_smile: jpdb rated its difficulty level at 3/10, and they even have vocab lists for it - although those lists contain some stupid mistakes, especially when it comes to guessing the right meaning of the casual contractions :wink:

It isn’t excessively long - it took me 36 hours without text hooking to complete. Route selection is very straightforward - there are six choices throughout common route, where you just have to pick your girl.

The downside is that there’s no Steam release, and to have version without h-content you have to go with console editions. It has PS4, PSV and Switch releases. I bought Switch edition on Amazon, and played it on PC using emulator :wink:


I’d definitely be interested in joining if it’s a VN I’m interested in (ie a mystery and hopefully not a dating sim), and I haven’t played it before (except Ace Attorney, which I can play forever).

Timing/difficulty doesn’t matter to me. I also don’t mind playing routes in a certain order to stick with the club. We could just use a spoiler-free walkthrough to stick together, it’s just that depending on how many important choices there are that could get annoying. (And I could understand not wanting to play like this.)

I’ve played Higurashi and 3/8 of Umineko. They are very long and fairly difficult, and contain a fair amount of gore. (Original Higu also had (non-sexualized) full frontal nudity of an underaged character, but I assume the Steam version doesn’t.)

The Science Adventure series exists but I’ve hated the two games I played from it so someone else can bat for it if they want.

Anyway, the issue is that I’m interested in games I haven’t played, and because I haven’t played them I don’t know much about them, and because I don’t know much about them I don’t know if they’d be a good fit for a VN club. But I’ll see what ends up getting picked.