You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ll be talking about Machi for a while. You know how everyone is playing Pokemon Go and writing about it? Well, Machi is my current fixation instead. With the added advantage that nobody actually knows anything about a japanese-only sound novel released on the Saturn 18 years ago, whereas the latest mobile phenomenon can be (and currently is) played by everyone, so this is at least more useful.
I’ve noticed there are a couple character guides on the english-speaking internet, but they are extremely short and not informative at all. So I put together a primer intended to give people a vague idea of what to expect, should they ever choose to play Machi. After all, it is quite good. Keep in mind I’ve only finished the first day, so who knows what kind of hijinks are gonna happen next?
I spoke a little about this scenario before, but let’s have a quick rundown again. Keima is a young detective whose job is patrolling Shibuya to prevent trouble, but who seems more willing to spend time at the arcades hiding from his superiors. During his latest round, he ends up discovering a bombing plan, and it then turns into a race against time, as his gaming skills are put into use and his determination tested. The day ends with the bomb revealed as a dud, but the one responsible for sending the notice is still at large, and will no doubt strike again – this time for real.
Keima is the “first” scenario of the game (the cursor defaults to him at the start), and also one of the longest so far. It is a comedic scenario about a detective whose gaming skills and knowledge are somehow the key to solving a seemingly serious incident. He is connected to many of the other characters, with a number of choices influencing other scenarios, and only has one zapping point early on. I’d suggest getting through his story as soon as possible.
A talentless actor, or perhaps just one with very little confidence in himself. He is currently involved in the filming of the latest episode of a popular TV series, where he plays a yakuza boss. Unfortunately for him, he ends up mistaken for a real yakuza and taken along for a ride by petty thief Kojima “Kitsune” Sanji. Said criminal just stole 300 million yen’s worth of jewels, and given he’s carrying around a gun at all times, Umabe has to play along and keep pretending to be a fearsome gang member.
Another very humorous scenario, Umabe’s tale ties very closely with Ushio’s (which I’ll be describing next), so there are several points where one can zap between the two characters. The first day isn’t particularly long, though.
The other side of the coin. Ushio is a yakuza who has decided to give up his criminal life to marry a girl. Unfortunately for him (and Umabe…), he ends up accidentally involved in a jewelry robbery and has no choice but to escape, right into a film shooting crew, who mistakes him for their lead actor. Impressed by his great acting skills – mind, he’s a real yakuza – they don’t suspect he’s actually a fake. With the police still looking for the robbers, he has no choice but to tag around the film crew a little longer.
Yet another humorous tale, it plays very similarly to Umabe’s scenario, with many jokes based on identity mistakes and the antics of the eccentric film crew. Many technical words will be thrown around here, so the scenario can be a bit difficult to get at first. Still, it’s also fairly short, and I didn’t even see any bad endings (or maybe I’m just really good).
Yoshiko has a problem: she is just a bit overweight. Her boyfriend won’t stand for this, and after a particularly bad eating session, decides it’s over! … unless Yoshiko can lose 17 kilos in 5 days. The bet is on. So the poor girl tries all she can to lose as much weight as possible, such as exercising during work and relying on creepy beauticians, all while dealing with her constant hunger, despite her well-meaning attempts to eat less (that invariably fail and result in self-sabotage).
The only girl in the game, and she gets a scenario about losing weight. Depending on your point of view, this might feel a bit too dated for modern sensibilities. Nonetheless, it’s once again a humorous story (you probably should understand this is the basic trend by now), and even though it’s quite long, the jokes are genuinely funny.
Masashi has just come out of university and is about to start his job at a big company. Life couldn’t be better for him… until he’s contacted by the mysterious and beautiful Sunday, who reveals she has obtained dangerous photos that would jeopardize his future. He blackmails him into becoming Friday, a member of the organization known only as Shichiyokai, whose goal is “to conquer the days of the week”. And as a member of the organization, he has to blackmail other targets into joining as well. He discovers his own hidden talent, and meanwhile develops a thing for fellow member Wednesday. But what is the organization’s true goal? Nobody can say yet.
The real breakthrough scenario of Machi. The story starts out somber and serious, as if we were actually dealing with a thriller plot, Masashi forced to cooperate with an unknown woman who has the means to destroy his future! And then, the organization comes into play, and it all becomes silly again. The members of the organization are almost Sentai-ish, and Masashi’s tactics provide plenty of laughs. I have a feeling this will be one of the most important scenarios of the game.
After a few years in the french Foreign Legion, the time has come for Ryuji to come back home in Japan… but as a deserter. Why did he come back? He himself doesn’t seem to know. He’s haunted by his past, and a chance encounter with a group of teen hooligans just makes him all the more aware of his own violent nature. Perhaps he is looking for a chance at redemption, but what shape could it take? Only time will tell.
The first “serious” scenario of the game. Very few jokes, if any, and the whole thing takes a pretty emotional tone. As if to make it even clearer, this is one of only two scenarios narrated in first person. His first day is quite short, so you don’t get many chances to know Ryuji’s true personality yet, but what is there so far is intriguing.
If you were an award-winning writer, would you want to spend your life writing cliched plots for bad TV series aimed at bored housewives? Ichikawa certainly wouldn’t, and has grown extremely weary of life as a result. He takes sleeping pills, has terrible nightmares, and keeps seeing another manuscript next to the one he sends to the TV producer. A second manuscript that perhaps doesn’t even exist. He eventually takes the hard decision to tell his producer that he wants to write some real literature, and surprisingly, the producer agrees. Now he can finally write to his heart’s content… maybe.
The other serious scenario of the game, and accordingly, the only other one narrated in first person. Just like Ryuji’s scenario, his first day isn’t very long. It’s perhaps a bit less serious and more “bizarre” in nature. Some things are quite hard to understand so far, but I believe it will prove interesting, both as a change of pace and for the overall story (Ichikawa writes the plot for the drama series that Umabe is starring in). The first day ends abruptly, so we have to wait and see what happens.
He’s the school idol. Everyone adores him. He’s engaged to the most beautiful girl in school, who also just happens to be the daughter of the president of a big commerce company. And her father wants him to inherit the company once they marry. Perfect, isn’t it? Well, except when another girl suddenly tells him some grave news: she’s pregnant with his child. If that weren’t enough, his old first year sweet-heart also meets him after a long absence… and she’s already given birth to his son. Things don’t sound so good anymore.
The last scenario brings back the humour, if not quite in full force, at least in potential. There are perhaps fewer laugh-out-loud jokes compared to some other characters, but the whole thing is still obviously set up in a very humorous way. This guy seems exceptionally chill given the situation, though.
And everyone else
Another big win for the game is the strong supporting cast. From the omniscient kid who pops out at random, the policeman who’s actually just a random guy cosplaying as a cop, the beautician who laughs in the creepiest possible way, the entirety of the Shichiyokai… everyone is well-characterized and makes the story much more interesting.
Now, enough with the first day. Let’s put October 11th behind us. October 12th has started. And the city’s tale has only just begun.