19 12 / 2011
Although the visual novel market is quite expansive and profitable in Japan, rarely will a title be translated into English and marketed towards Western society. However, there are a handful of groups out there that have taken the time to officially translate Japanese freeware doujin visual novels. While they are not likely to be titles that you have heard of, that does not mean that they are not worth reading. “Moonshine” is a perfect example.
When I downloaded “Moonshine,” I had no clue what it was. In fact, the only reasons I had decided to play it at all were because it was free, translated into English, and wasn’t hentai. I had tried out a couple of visual novels previously, but none of them kept me interested enough to play past the first couple of minutes. This visual novel, however, was completely different.
“Moonshine” is about a friendship/developing romance between two outcasts of Japanese society. One, the nameless protagonist, has been forced to retire from his high-status job at a successful corporation due to health issues beyond his control. The other, Mai, is a transsexual/hermaphrodite/etc. (it is never clearly specified which particular category “she” falls into) who identifies as a woman, and has suffered the prejudice of others throughout her life.
The two grow to become very close, and fall in love with each other — a love that transcends the pressure of society’s standards. This is a love that does not rely on the body, but the spirit; truly loving someone for who they are on the inside.
Throughout the story, the reader will get to see their relationship grow and flourish, and learn much about the power of simply accepting somebody for who they are.
“Moonshine” is linear in its story, so you won’t be presented with plot-altering choices and multiple endings. However, despite what many might tell you about linear visual novels, this one in particular is not boring in the slightest. In fact, its story is highly engaging, and has an emotional impact similar to that of a Key/Visual Art’s production. “Moonshine” is also rated “all-ages,” the equivalent of “Rated E for Everyone.”
If you wish to read/experience “Moonshine,” it can be downloaded for free (don’t worry, it’s not illegal — it has been officially and legally translated and marketed as free) here: http://altogether.insani.org/2008/4.html
All credit goes to the “Al Together” translating group for translating this wonderful story.