1. Subarashiki Hibi is the best work of art I’ve ever laid my hands upon.
1.1. This includes the books I’ve read, the films I’ve watched, the paintings I admired, the music I’ve listened to, the poetry I’ve recited, the plays I’ve loved, and everything else that can be seen as art.
1.11. Not to mention it has defeated works that have stayed in my top works of art lists for years (Muv-Luv Alternative, Jude the Obscure, If On a Winter’s Night to name a few)
1.111. SubaHibi is larger than any of those mentioned.
1.12. It may be years for SubaHibi to lose its seat (for me at least) as the #1 artwork of all time.
1.2. And there are many reasons — reasons that are best written in the form of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.
1.21. However, it is not to be pretentious. It is to condense multitudes of thoughts (that, if written like an essay will be more than 3,000 words) into a readable, simple tract.
1.3. The whole sense of this review might be summed up the following words: Subarashiki Hibi is the kind of work that should be part of academic literature.
2. SubaHibi is a Visual Novel. Emphasis on the words intended.
2.1 While SubaHibi might feel daunting, the plot is rather simple.
2.2. One can follow through the VN because SCA-JI’s writing guides you through the narrative.
2.222. Yet, he hides certain details from the reader and entices him or her with a special blend of red herrings and curious incident of the dog-type clues.
2.223. For the most part, the visual novel takes place in the same setting and time.
2.2231. But we see important events through different character perspectives.
2.224. Because of the change in vantage points, these scenes are seen in a different light.
2.2241. There’s a rooftop fight scene in the game where we see it in three different perspectives, each of them vital to the scene and the bigger picture.
2.23. These perspectives visualize the characters’ unique take on the “world”.
2.231. For example, one of the characters see something and the reader believes it’s just “A”. But when we switch perspectives, we see a fragment of the whole truth. It’s not just “A”; it’s also “B” and maybe “C”.
2.232. In fact, the narrative structure hinges on the different perspectives. They all come together like a string of melodies to make up a tune.
2.24. Most chapters are narrated by a different character.
2.241. The narration, in accordance to the unique perspectives, take a different style.
2.242. For example, Yuki sees her world in a playful, light-hearted way. Takuji is more melancholic. Zakuro as naive. And so on.
2.243. We also have the added benefit of hearing some of the narration voiced.
2.244. Because we see the world in their eyes, we get to understand the characters more. By the time you finish the chapter, you will feel like you understand the narrator.
2.2441. And obviously, the mysteries surrounding the narrator.
2.3. Despite the intricate nature that ties characterization, perspectives, and narrative together, you will not need to use a pen and paper to jot down notes.
2.31. Because you see these events in different light, you will be able to memorize the structure. Okay, so at Day X in A’s perspective, it goes like this etc. and B’s perspective, it goes like that etc. and C’s perspective, it goes like this etc.
2.32. You won’t be confused by the chronology. Not only do you have the date, you will see repeated dialog and CGs.
2.4. SubaHibi also has CGs that help picture the action in this complex yet simple narrative.
2.41. The joke with CGs in moeges is that you get to see a girl eat cake and drink tea, but never the important moments.
2.42. With SubaHibi, CGs tell a story. There is no unnecessary CG.
2.421. Even with ero, they make “sense”.
2.43. The lighting in SubaHibi’s CGs are fantastic. They’re vibrant and shine brightly in the computer screen. The final CG in Jabberwocky II uses strong warm colors to illustrate the dusk and envelops the heartwarming ending in the chapter.
2.5. Music in SubaHibi is not just memorable; its placement has made them into themes that drive certain scenes forward.
2.51. Yoru no Himawari, probably the most iconic track from the soundtrack, is a sentimental piano piece and starts off the beginning for Subarashiki Hibi. Atmospheric and inviting, it draws the reader into this contemplative mood as he or she reads quotes from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.
2.52. upsidedowncity, one of the more upbeat tracks that plays throughout the denpa-filled Invention chapter, is a playful, mellifluous song that puts you into this dreamy state where you accept everything is true.
2.53. Hito yo, Koufuku ni! is a slow yet tense track that is used in the famous rooftop fight scene. Its deep beats echo and give me chills whenever I hear the track.
2.6. Not many works can be on SubaHibi’s level when it comes to making everything connect to the narrative.
2.61. In fact, I don’t think anything has neared the pedestal SubaHibi now rests on.
3. SubaHibi is steeped with intriguing insights into life (i.e. philosophy).
3.1. Albert Camus wrote, “A novel is never anything but a philosophy put into images.”
3.11. “And in a good novel, the whole of the philosophy has passed into the images.”
3.2. SubaHibi is exactly that: it condenses SCA-JI’s philosophy of life into a 2MB visual novel.
3.21. His philosophies are a mix of Wittgenstein, Socrates, and more.
3.22. A certain translator claimed SubaHibi has “almost no philosophy whatsoever in the entirety of the story.”
3.221. In which case I wonder if he understood Subarashiki Hibi.
3.23. But he is right in that you don’t need to read the works referenced. SCA-JI spells it out for you.
3.231. With a bibliography ranging from Cyrano de Bergerac to Nicholas da Cusa to Lovecraft to One Hundred Years of Solitude to Kirkegaard, SubaHibi is not just trying to make the reader consider what he or she reads; it’s educating them.
3.332. These literary references encourage people to pick up these books and explore the concepts that made SubaHibi possible.
3.34. The philosophies discussed engage readers to follow up. It seems that SCA-JI has left some plot threads open for the readers to discuss among themselves about the worlds.
3.341. All of this to promote healthy discussion with the work and other readers.
4. Yet, Camus warns, “But if once the philosophy overflows the characters and action, and therefore looks like a label stuck on the work, the plot loses its authenticity and the novel its life.”
4.1. It may not be a surprise that SubaHibi’s weakness is its philo infodumps.
4.2. The Subarashiki Hibi ending particularly suffers because while it’s interesting, it is also a long-winded monologue about various philosophies.
4.21. Understandably, the ending is meant to explore the themes. But it breaks the illusion of combining narration and philosophy together.
4.22. Which is disappointing when one considers scenes like the Invention’s “Cows” scene and Tsui no Sora 2 where SCA-JI masterfully weaves philosophy into the narrative.
4.3. Camus: “Nevertheless, a work that is to last cannot dispense with profound ideas. And this secret fusion between experiences and ideas, between life and reflection on the meaning of life, is what makes the great novelist.”
5.1. What is art’s ultimate goal? The simple answer: to express. The longer answer: to struggle to find a clear answer in the chaotic dialog between the artist and the world. The correct answer: none because it’s useless.
5.11. The reason art appeals to us is that we put value into the work. (Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray preface)
5.2. Subarashiki Hibi is a complex, multilayered work that marries philosophy and narrative structure together.
5.21. While the plot is simple, there are many interpretations one can make.
5.211. One can make statements about SCA-JI’s philosophies. Another can figure out the narrative structure. Some will investigate the unresolved questions (for there are many) and offer up explanations. Lastly, one can contribute more value to the art by discussing these interpretations and expressing them in different forms like music.
5.22. SubaHibi encourages active reading. One cannot passively read it.
5.23. Therefore, it will have enormous amounts of value.
5.231. And yet, SubaHibi’s various themes (or its general “aboutness”), its plot is simple and everyone can interact to it without any dose of philosophy.
5.232. In fact, it encourages people to read the works that influenced it.
5.24. Only Subahibi and a few others stand out from the works that are steeped with literary references and dense philosophy.
5.241. For it’s one of the few ones that can fuse the joy of reading with a capital R and the joy of conversing with the work.
6. SubaHibi can be summarized into simple statements.
6.1. One can use a wonderful in-game quote from Cyrano de Bergerac that speaks for most, if not all, interpretations:
6.11. “Sweep with doffed casque the heavens’ threshold blue,
6.12. “One thing is left, that, void of stain or smutch,
6.13. “I bear away despite you:
6.14. “Mon panache.”
7. Or one can use one line and be done with it like a certain witty philosopher:
7.1. “It seems one can’t say anything more than: Live happily!”