Rewrite was the first Key VN that I’ve ever read. Before that, I only had watched the anime adaptations of Key’s works (which were generally more than enough for me to like them). That’s kind of ironic, since I began reading Rewrite knowing full well that it was departure from their style and that Maeda was not writing anything.
So, I’ll try to keep it short (already wrote a full review for a Brazillian site that I participate): To me, Rewrite was good, but not a “masterpiece” by any means.
You see, my main problem with the story is it’s lack of consistency. Even though the multiple writers format does pay off during the experience (to me, one of the best aspects of Rewrite was not knowing what was coming up next, since the routes were so different), it’s also it’s biggest weakness. The routes are just so different and the story gets so convoluted that somethings were simply “out of their place” in my opinion.
While the protagonist changing his ways through varying circunstances in the differing routes is a given in most visual novels, here I just couldn’t buy into all of Kotarou’s “mutations”, with the biggest drawback being Akane’s route, where I felt he was simply going with the script without any actual resolve or much character development until the very end. While in Terra route Kotarou struggled to find strength in his power for an example, in Chiahaya’s route he pretty much becomes a super-hero fairly easily with all the shounen tropes and such.
Lucia’s route was one of the best to me, but it’s just waaaay too unrelated to the bigger picture. She does virtually nothing in the rest of the story and her backstory and struggle, which I found to be the most engaging, is simply not even mentioned as an issue in the rest of the VN.
The salvation thing was also quite confusing to me, as it happens differently in two routes (three, if you count Terra) for no real reason. We just have to kind of assume that the Key had some sort of power as to how the whole shebang would take place, and she decided to it differently from time to time.
Also, characters that served purpose only on their respective routes to never be seen again, mostly the villains. Midou, Tenjin, Tenma, Brenda, Takasago (though he still makes a brief appearance in Terra) and, the ones that actually got me kind of pissed, Gil and Pani. I just loved those two, and they only have any sort of role in two routes. It’s like they don’t exist on all the other routes, and the reason they are not summoned by Kotarou in Moon to at least support the fight was just like a “screw you, they’re not my characters” by Tanaka Romeo to me. I kept hoping they would somehow appear in Terra, but nope. Midou’s group is also not an issue outside of Chihaya’s scenario. I guess Gaia deals with them offscreen in some unmentioned way every other time, even though they are stated to possess three of the strongest familiars in the whole organization.
Also, while Moon got me really pumped, I don’t think Terra offered a proper payoff to such a long visual novel. It had it’s fair share of really nice moments, but also a lot of scenes and arcs that I think dragged on for waaay too long (the middle east portion comes to mind…also, I think this whole portion was just bizarre and came out of left field). Terra was like a roller-coaster of quality to me, and I still have mixed feelings about the ending. While I think it made sense with the overall message of the story and had a nice bittersweet feeling, it also left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
All of those things might make it sound like I dislike Rewrite, but that’s far from the truth. I liked it overall, it was a very interesting read full of very good ideas and deep, emotional messages. It’s just that for every outstanding moment (every route has at least one), there were scenes that dragged too long, spriteless characters, consistency issues and the like.
Wow…that’s one long post…hope somebody reads it, hahaha.