I don’t know what to feel about this route at all. It’s not terrible, but it’s not spectacular either.
When I first played the common route, it was hard to like Akane’s character. She seemed to me a true witch, cunning, cruel, and sickeningly depressing to reason with. She was my least favorite character in the game for quite a while. Now…I still think she’s my least favorite character, but I do respect her a tad more than I used to.
I can see why everyone wanted me to choose this route last. Out of all the routes, this one feels the most epic, and by the end of it, many things change drastically. This route definitely handles the transition from micro to macro very well. In fact, if there’s anything this route reminds me of, it’s Log Horizon. Political agendas are everywhere, there’s a good deal of fighting, and Akane is quite the strategist (even if her decisions aren’t always the best). She really knows her way with words, but she puts herself down quite a bit. She was born mentally handicapped, and even after undergoing the process of transcription, she exhibits a lot of anti-social behavior and low self-esteem, which explains why she’s always so pessimistic and calculating. When Gaia starts crumbling after the Key’s supposed death, Akane’s resolve also crumbles to dust. She only finds hope in ‘Salvation’ and refuses to move on, which even Koutarou finds appalling. She ends up causing more long-term damage to herself in the end, and probably would have committed suicide if it weren’t for Koutarou.
If this route was trying to get me to understand what Gaia does and why it chooses to value the Earth over humanity, it didn’t really convince me all that much. By this time, I had seen the full face of Guardian through Chihaya, Lucia and Shizuru, but didn’t know much about Gaia until now. Akane’s semi-biased explanation of how the two groups think still leads me to believe that Guardian is the more honorable group. My reasoning for it comes straight out of my notes while reading this route.
[quote]A summoner’s power comes from the inner mind, working from desire. (Houjutsu?) The reason and intent used can affect the summoning process. A dissatisfaction with the world but being unable to change it becomes a dark feeling, a terrifying monster called a familiar. It can be strong enough to consume a person.
People who encounter a problem they cannot solve can instead improve themselves until they can solve it. The only person they can trust is themselves, and strengthen themselves until they conquer their problem. These people are superhumans.
But if that’s true…Koutarou has no business being in Gaia. Since familiars can’t change the world, Gaia’s cause is hopeless, but Akane also says that Guardian’s cause is also misplaced because ideals are unrealistic and are just a way of avoiding solving the problem altogether. It is a solid argument, but it isn’t one that exactly puts Gaia in a better position. Koutarou is the kind of character, in my eyes, that is more of an idealist and optimist that always does what is necessary to achieve what he wants. He works so well with people like Lucia and Shizuru because they aren’t willing to just let what people call ‘reality’ stop them, even if that cause seems hopeless. [/quote]
I wrote all that during the explanation in the first third of the route. Over the course of the route, Koutarou himself begins to doubt Gaia’s teachings, but blindly sticks to them until the bitter end, which in part assists in the destruction of the world through a forced ‘Salvation’. To quote my notes again,
[quote]Gaia’s summoners believe that since the world has rejected them, they decide to change the world to fit their own desires, which is just as unrealistic as trying to achieve ideals. Akane knows this, but she can’t do a thing about it because she’s in a similar position. She’s anti-social, [and Kashima Sakura’s memories make her depressed to the point where she intends to carry out Salvation herself.]
[Guardian wants] to destroy the Key because they would rather ensure that humanity lives on rather than let the Earth decide that.
So Gaia believes that becoming a wiser, more righteous people will help sway the Earth’s favor? I can respect that, but you’re doing a terrible job at it.[/quote]
In the end, Gaia is just another corrupt religion, and Akane is just the corrupt leader/final boss.
Since I’m around the topic, let me talk about ‘The Question’ from the common route. Looking at this from a different angle than what the novel presents us with, neither choice is bad. Choosing to change the world rather than oneself puts a lot of responsibility, but having the skill and dedication to do so can benefit many lives. Lucia’s recycling ideal is one example that, unfortunately, never gets touched upon in her route. However, choosing to change oneself is usually the first step to changing others. If you hate yourself and what you’ve done, how can you love or help others? How can you accept the love of other people if you don’t feel like loving back? Akane goes through this dilemma in the latter third of the route, where she has to learn to accept and atone for what she’s done before she can fully love others, especially Koutarou.
If I were to choose, personally, I would choose changing myself. Many terrible and frightening things have happened to me over the past three years: life-changing traumas, serious sins I had to atone for, and the growing responsibility that comes with adulthood. How could I stomach all this without changing myself? So, that’s what I did. I decided to learn to come out of my autistic shell, started working on non-sedentary activities (even though much of what I do every day is sit in front of a computer), and changed my outlook on life. Before I met you guys, trying to engage in conversation with others was a struggle (and it still kind of is to this day). I lost many friends through trial and error, and had to start from scratch every time I messed up. Perhaps my efforts ended up working out in the end…But I digress.
As for other problems I had with this route, I felt it was a tad too long for its own good. By the final third of the route, I was beginning to wonder when this route was going to end. The long period where there’s a huge focus on Koutarou’s actions and Akane is nowhere to be found is probably the worst part of this route, and probably would have been irredeemable if it weren’t the fight with Takasago. There’s a few other things I could nitpick about, but this post’s too long already, so I’ll spare you guys the details.
In the end, Akane’s route is a decent-enough bookend that helps set up for what else is to come. With all the character routes complete now, it’s time to move on to Moon.
If Rewrite were an RPG, would Akane be the final boss?