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Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle (PC) artwork

Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle (PC) review

"The spin off with a title so weird that I can't work out a way to make a pun about it."

Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle isnít a starting point for the uninitiated. If I only manage to educate you ungrateful lot on anything, I honestly hope that itís that. Dropping in on this title without having spent time on the previous Chuusotsu! (1st Graduation: Time After Time) is only going to leave you annoyed and confused. It unapologetically demands prior knowledge. God help me, I have that.

Back in 2018, I read through the tale of three societal rejects deemed unworthy of joining Japanís workforce (because of course Japan; this is a tale centring around nanomachine-powered seals that dictate your job for life, after all). Of the three, the main focus fell on Arue, an easily-overwhelmed girl who moved from a quiet backwater village to the big city in an attempt to qualify for a belated seal and win the chance of a normal life. Instead, her quest for normalcy is hijacked with whacky shenanigans, shared (and often blamed) on her new roommates: video game protagonist in her own mind, Aruru and soft-hearted moral compass, Koiro. The three share the same goal, but find increasingly unique ways to mess things up for themselves. Though happy to diverge into goofy anime hijinks, the story is ultimately about personal growth, and coming to a time in your life when you have the choice to either conquer your childish fears or drown in them. Arueís first life-changing adult decision? She wants to spend her life doodling cartoons.

But this is Japan, and thatís a viable living for a Manga artist so, one of the many threads of Time After Time is her decision to chase that dream, even with the near insurmountable obstacles working without a government approved seal would curtail. Itís also the main thrust behind Moving Castle, which is less a direct sequel and more of a single episode side story.

To that end, you should cap the novel off in under three hours, which was roughly the amount of time you would have needed to see through Time After Timeís prologue. It is a significantly shorter read, not delving into the myriad adventures of the slacker trio, so much as it is focusing hard on Arueís ongoing efforts to break into the world of Manga. With her hard work starting to pay off (highlighted by her new social media following of fourteen!), she finds herself invited to a convention where she can run a stall and try to sell her product. A convention housed in a massive flying castle for no reason at all. Because, again, Japan.

While it obviously doesnít have the scope to present a tale as evolved as Time After Time, it uses its limited stretch to appreciate doujin culture. Itís a real love letter of sorts, delving into Arueís deep-seeded adoration of the genre as well as exploring the motivations and hardships of both the struggling and flourishing writers that she encounters. It still makes time to poke fun at sweaty, obsessive otaku fanatics and provides a heartfelt, somewhat randomised, defence for hentai as an artform.

The convention itself is the taleís highlight, with Arue not only struggling to sell her manga without a seal (therefore being considered the rankest of rank amateurs), but having to deal with a hectic, untameable environment. She hardly thrives within the chaos, but shows a sense of determination weaned from her earlier adventures to try and see it through. Only thereís people out there producing otaku pheromones she simply canít compete with. And thereís a weird guy out there really working the foot fetish angle.

Lessons are learnt, bonds are formed and everythingís neatly concluded. It is what it is and, so long as prospective readers go in expecting a short(er) story designed to tide you over until the next core chapter rather than a main entry (highlighted by the 1.5 in the title rather than a 2, I suspect), then returning fans will find little to complain about. Just so long as you are a returning fan. Newcomers not welcome.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 17, 2020)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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bwv_639 posted February 28, 2020:

Thanks for the review, and also the humour in it. But why is the title "weird"? I hope you didn't expect a titular castle to lie still 😉.
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EmP posted March 01, 2020:

It's a really bad running joke. You see, when the first game came out, I couldn't think of a decent pun for Chuusotsu because it's a nonsense word and what am I supposed to do with that? So I used a cop-out tagline that I carried on for the 1.5 release you see before you. But I'll never give up the pun life; it chose me.

Thanks for reading!

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