A time that was never “now” and never will be. A place that was never “here” and never will be. That’s what “tonight” is.
Title: Rewrite (Moon)
Developer: Key, Visual Arts, Amaterasu Translations
Release Date: June 24, 2011
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Romance, Tragedy
Rating: All Ages
Well, that was confusing.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Moon. It was fairly short, for one – I finished it in one sitting, and it took me about 3 hours in total. It was also very surreal and very bizarre, and some of my questions were answered. I also got answers to things I didn’t even know about in the first place. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I definitely appreciated the change of pace and scenery, but in many respects it felt like an entirely different game that just happened to share some characters and elements with the heroine routes. I’m not sure how to explain it – it’s just one of those things you have to experience in order to see what I’m trying to get at. Likewise, I’m not sure I fully understood all of what Moon was trying to explain. Sometimes it felt like Kotarou was just high, and that we were reading through his various drug trips – more specifically, I’m referring to his numerous attempts of rewriting himself towards perfection in order to understand the flowchart theory thing and thus life itself. Maybe that’s what he was sharing with Kagari during all those centuries they spent on the hill. I knew that coffee was suspicious. He won her over too easily with that.
I actually don’t know where to start with this, so I’ll just try to sort out my thoughts and work my way through. As if the title screen wasn’t a big enough clue, initially I didn’t realize just how detached Moon was from the other routes – I thought it was some sort of continuation, perhaps from Akane’s route where the imperfect salvation resulted in afforestation all around Kazamatsuri. But in reality, it’s both completely separate from and yet deeply tied into every event in the series – and this was reflected in Kotarou himself, who revealed a clincher right at the very start of the route that highlighted just how alien it all was. Being a unified version of all the Kotarous in all timelines, with his stamina, knowledge and powers all converged to their optimal state, Moon Kotarou is an entity beyond anything we’ve seen so far in Rewrite, barring Kagari of course. Amidst all the confusion, there was also a deep sense of loneliness for the first half of the route – he was literally the only human left in the world, although calling him a human at this point is also debatable given the number of times he rewrote his state of mind in order to understand the theory. And he must have been there for an incredible period of time. The messed up flow of time meant that several actions took months to complete, and sometimes Kotarou would find himself having roots grow from his feet or stalactites from his body as he sat on the hill. It’s only natural that he’d end up depending on Kagari’s very existence, and it was nice that Kagari was there for him, even though she wasn’t exactly a great conversation partner.
Of course, Kagari was probably worst off, as there was never anyone else on the moon besides her until Kotarou showed up – and at the end she sent everyone away again, which was really sad. Kagari’s so precious. It’s not like there was a great deal of character development for her, nor was there a truly meaningful romance, but even so I felt like I wanted to protect her – I must say, I agree with the pet animal analogy Kotarou mentioned. All she did was stare at her research, drink coffee and tilt her head cutely whenever Kotarou tried to interact with her in some way. What I didn’t get was why she kept on killing him in all sorts of violent ways during his first few attempts on the hill, although he might have deserved it when he was trying all those pick-up lines on her. Good thing he could converge again an infinite number of times. I did enjoy their little dance on the roof though, that was pretty romantic. Hopefully the Earth Kagari will be a bit more talkative.
After sleeping on it, I’ve decided that I loved the setting. The garden civilization couldn’t have been more different from Kazamatsuri despite being a replica of it in ruins – the most stark contrast being the fact that it was a silent world, with absolutely no-one properly “existing” besides Kotarou and Kagari. It was always night, and I felt it was quite barren and bleak despite the abundance of daisies on Kagari’s hill – I imagine this is what the world would look like after the end of civilization, perhaps after a round of salvation has finished. It’s pretty surreal in its own way, but as someone who liked the original Kazamatsuri setting, it was initially quite a jarring experience. Apart from one scene where they all played Sims, gone was the light-hearted slice of life of the common route – I don’t think its even tragedy in any strict sense. Rather, it was more like a strange blend of fantasy, melancholy and surrealism, backed by a huge plot line that blew all the others out of the water in terms of sheer scale – if all of the heroine routes were single branches, then they were incredibly minuscule in the grand scale of things. With all the branches just fizzling out, it’s heavily implied that all routes ended in destruction, regardless of whether Kagari emitted salvation or not. That’s ultimately what the entire route is about – Kagari is trying to find a way out, a version where humanity doesn’t just die out. She’s making all these sacrifices and working endlessly – I think that more than makes up for any resentment she may feel towards Earth Kagari for having been alone for so long. Moon feels like it’s taking place on a higher plane of existence even though it’s just physically distant from the Earth in geographical terms – Kagari was looking down on the timelines themselves from a dimension that assumed a form as the garden civilization. In a sense, it’s almost like she’s taking on the role of god – ensuring the survival of humanity and a timeline where “good memories” can be procured. If nothing else, she’s a higher being for sure – her language appears as incomprehensible squares, and Kotarou initially had headaches when he interacted with either her or the theory. Re-evolution was never this desperate in the other routes – only with the full picture do we realize just how important the Key is as the last hope of the world. Which means that both Gaia and Guardian have been along the wrong lines all along – the former is just a group of fanatics, while the latter suffer from short-termism. If anything, the most “righteous” faction for the Earth itself would be Kotori and the druids.
Much of the route’s exposition featured just Kotarou and Kagari – the appearance of other characters was when things started heating up. I don’t know how I feel about the fact that the big bad was such an intangible character – putting aside the fact that Kashima Sakura never had a sprite, she never spoke at all and existed in a whole other dimension. The end result was that we just had waves of enemy familiars descend upon the moon, without any concrete background as to exactly why they wanted to hurt poor Kagari other than the idea that Kashima Sakura despised the concept of life itself. And it’s not like this is something limited to Moon, either – even in Akane’s route, she was already old and infirm. We never knew the real Kashima Sakura -the one in her prime- at all. Luckily, the other supporting characters were wonderful, especially Kotori. Given that I played her route first, and that she goes missing in every other heroine route, I haven’t seen Kotori for a long, long while – so it was incredibly warm and reassuring to suddenly see and hear her once more. As well as her OST theme! Of course, the tragedy is that, again, everybody died. What is it with this game and sacrificial deaths? It was bad enough when Kotori and Lucia died. Then Akane, Yoshino, Shizuru and Chihaya all died one by one. Even when Sakuya came to help them, he died too – and he actually died, as he wasn’t an “illusion”. I get the feeling they don’t like Sakuya much, which is a pity as he’s now just behind Yoshino in my list of favourite male Rewrite characters. Evidently the suffering in Chihaya’s route wasn’t enough, and now his existence is gone from every single timeline. At least Yoshino got a wonderful exit filled with bromance, and Kotarou even called him Haruhiko ;_; Also, Kagari turned into a tree. Heh.
If Moon was set on… well, the moon, then Terra should be set on Earth again. Moon felt like a prelude in many ways, and I think that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be – the primary purpose it serves is to carry out exposition. The minor issues that Moon has can thus be explained off as inevitabilities, as in the end Moon is a prologue. It’s showing us this final opportunity the planet is getting to keep itself alive after Terra Kagari failed and used up all her energy, and Terra is presumably going to be about this last chance – the title screen has gone completely black apart from a single shining moon. If that’s supposed to be in the sky, then Earth is almost like this uncreated world that Kotarou has to pave -terraform- for himself. These reviews are getting longer and longer, but I feel like there’s increasingly more to say as Rewrite enters its final stages. Terra’s going to be the last bomb that Key will drop on us, the big splash – the Refrain or After Story of Rewrite, you could say. It’s gonna be wild.
“I hope to see you again someday.” – Tennouji Kotarou