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2017-05-28

Taimanin Murasaki Review

Title: Taimanin Murasaki ~Kunoichi Kugutsu Dorei ni Otsu~
Original title: 対魔忍ムラサキ~くノ一傀儡奴隷に堕つ~
Alias: Taimanin Murasaki: Corrupting into a Female Ninja Dummy Slave
Release date: 2008-10-24
English release date: 2015-04-15
Developer: Black Lilith
Publisher: Rattan Man Translations (as a fan-patch)

"Taimanin Murasaki" is one of the famous visual novels from Black Lilith Taimanin series. In fact, not counting the side stories, it is the third entry in the series, which centers around the demon hunting ninjas. Actually, the first title in the series "Taimanin Asagi" is also known under the alias "Anti-Demon Ninja Asagi".

The first two Taimanin titles, which focused on ninja Asagi, were translated by Nephrinn, better known under his Dark Translations pseudonym. DT is now long dead and buried due to a C&D and Black Lilith even released a few of their games officially in English through MangaGamer, but recently the fan-translations of the Lilith games experienced a sort of revival. Despite the fate of DT serving as a warning, quite a few games received English patches within the last few years.
Mortal Kombat, ninja style!
One thing Lilith fans have always had to deal with, was quite frankly horrible English translation quality, both in unofficial and official capacity. Nephrinn was definitely quite a sucky translator, but that's understandable, as he was only learning Japanese at the same time as he was translating, and if you think MangaGamer did any better, you will be unpleasantly surprised. While I still haven't checked "Space Pirate Sara" and "Armored Warrior Iris" was actually translated competently and had no major problems, "Valkyrie Svia" received a translation that was nigh unreadable. And that was at the time when MG was already supposedly out of the business of providing shitty translations.

Now, the gold value question is this - how does "Taimanin Murasaki" fare against all the other Lilith works available in English. Well, don't get your hopes up - it sucks hairy arse balls. Actually, the translator "Rattan Man" uses translation techniques that are almost completely identical to those used by Nephrinn, to the point that I have a very high suspicion that he IS a re-branded Nephrinn. Basically, he completely ignores English language rules for sentence construction and almost religiously adheres to the Japanese structure, which is not only completely incorrect, but nigh impossible to decipher most of the time. A competent editor working full time would be able to turn that mess into proper readable English, but Rattan Man is but a single person, which, again, reminds me of how Nephrinn used to operate.
I won't even pretend to understand what that is supposed to mean.
The bad translation is quite a mood dampener, especially because Rattan Man has also translated "Ochiru Hitozuma" and I really wanted to read that VN in the future. *sigh* Lilith fans just cannot get a break.

Anyway, onto the game itself. "Taimanin Murasaki" (TM from now on) spends quite a lot of time to establish the backstory for a nukige - it takes about two solid hours of reading, before we even encounter the first sex scene. We step in the shoes of a certain villain protagonist Kiryuu Sabato - a demonical doctor with a grudge against the eponymous Yatsu Murasaki. Okay, "step into the shoes" is quite misleading in this case, as TH uses third person narration and we never actually see things directly from Kiryuu's perspective. In a very unusual move for the developers, he also has a character sprite and is not just another faceless name. Moreover, the game frequently switches to Murasaki or Asagi's sister Sakura, so that we might even call them co-protagonists.
Into the lair of evil.
The fact that we don't metaphorically step into Kiryuu's shoes is actually a blessing, as he is one of the more unlikable Lilith villains. It's a rare nukige, where I don't root for the villain protagonist. I like cunning villains with long term plans (i.e. Bohgan from "Kangoku Senkan"), I even like brutish villains, who just rape all their opposition into submission (i.e. Gagoze from "Captive Market"), but Kiryuu is a sleazy stupid coward and this game was the first, where I sincerely rooted for the ninjas.

Kiryuu has apparently been killed by Murasaki some time before the start of the game and he survived only by merging with a low level demon. The problem is, the demon will eventually take over his body, thus Kiryuu needs and emergency solution to the problem - he needs to possess a healthy body, and what body is more healthy than that of a ninja? Thus, he purposefully lures Murasaki into a trap, inadvertently also catching Sakura for the price of one. What follows is Kiryuu trying to break Murasaki mentally (as only a broken mind would be able to accept his possession), while using Sakura as a hostage to ensure Murasaki's obedience. I kinda felt that this particular line of events was poorly explored. The game could have showed in much greater detail how the doctor uses Murasaki in order to keep Sakura complacent and uses Sakura to do the same to Murasaki. Instead, it's kinda rushed and Sakura is really underemployed as a character.
It's hilarious seeing orcs using something akin to fly swatters for spanking.
The funny thing is how pathetic Kiryuu actually is. Every plan he devices explodes in his face, he fails every endeavour he undertakes and has to be pulled out of shit by the scruff of his neck by someone else, usually Ingrid, the Hell Knight, or Edwin Black himself. If that wasn't enough, he actively works against his superiors during the critical phase of his operation to transfer bodies, and that doesn't come to bite him in the ass at all... oh, who am I kidding. Kiryuu does manage to reach his goals in one of the endings, but that is more due to "plot armour" rather than his own achievements. In a way I pity Kiryuu, as his situational myopia and chronic backstabbing disorder hampers him at every turn.

Unlike majority of the Lilith nukiges, TM has some of the most convoluted, counterintuitive choices to navigate through, in order to obtain the true ending. While many other games are very simplistic in the navigation department, "Taimanin Murasaki" requires you to follow a very strict unwavering path, with no room for mistakes. In every situation that gives you a choice, you must choose the stupidest, most counterintuitive one, in order to proceed. If you act like you have even a little bit more brain than Homer Simpson, you will eventually arrive to the bad end... bad end for Kiryuu, that is. In other words, the game enforces Kiryuu acting like a moron, otherwise punishing him with bad ends. That's surely a... novel concept, but I don't think I appreciated it much, because it's pretty much impossible to finish the game 100% without employing a walkthrough.
Her customers know what to use her long and lustrous hair for.
The visual novel itself lasted exactly 10 hours for me, but upon finishing it you may unlock four side stories, that all together take 2 more hours to read through. I said "may unlock", because one of the side stories, the Ingrid one to be precise, is a hidden one, and requires a specific combination of choices, that do not necessarily result in a new ending, to unlock.

Now that I mentioned Ingrid, I should also point out that one of the main complaints online regarding TM, is the lack of content with Ingrid in it. She is such an awesome character - proud, haughty and delightfully evil - and there are no sex scenes with her at all in the game proper, though the aforementioned side story does include one as a bonus. Nevertheless, I didn't find the lack of Ingrid H-scenes to be disturbing. On the contrary - the game is all about Murasaki and I think it would have been hard to insert such content without it bloating the game size, and Lilith does specialize in smaller shorter nukiges most of the time. Ingrid fully deserves her own game, rather than just being a guest in someone else's one.
Orc genocide.
Now, I did play the first two Asagi games (and the Chaos Arena side game) a long time ago, and I remember not liking them very much, mainly due to the grating personality of Asagi herself. Murasaki is a much more pleasing female character to read about. While she is somewhat arrogant and haughty, she also knows her limitations and realizes when she is beaten. Once captured by the mad doctor, she tries to do anything in her power to help Sakura and tries to work within the situation to look for a way out. Additionally, Murasaki has a huge crush on Asagi, but that story line was completely unexplored and sadly resulted in some cringeworthy scenes in the beginning of the game.

Just like all the Lilith games, Murasaki has very nice sex scenes and Kagami is one of their best artists, hence "Taimanin Murasaki" is a pleasure to watch, even if the graphics are somewhat inconvenienced by the relatively low resolution of 800x600. Thankfully, majority of the scenes show Murasaki and Sakura pleasuring humans and monstrous humanoids. The few tentacle scenes that exist within the game are very well done and do not fall into the same trap as those existing in other Lilith games. Not that I dislike tentacles in general, but Lilith somehow always got them wrong and that was the second reason why I disliked Asagi games - the tentacle scenes in those were quite boring at best and cringeworthy at worst. If I have to select my favourites among the TM H-scenes, they would be Murasaki's prostitution, Sakura's orc rape and Sakura's train molestation from the side story. Frankly, I felt that the sex was better in the first part of the game and the side stories, and got somewhat stale near the end, but it's not that big of a deal.
Fresh egg injection.
The voice acting is competent, even though not particularly remarkable and the soundtrack is bland and forgettable like in all Lilith games. "Taimanin Murasaki" also suffers from disappointingly short and inconclusive endings. Sadly, the last point is a bane of all Lilith games, as I have yet to find any of their games with an ending that would satisfy me. TM has three (not four, like some walkthroughs would say) endings, with two abrupt non-endings and the true end, which is just as abrupt and ends on a cliffhanger. The side stories provide a sort of conclusion to the story, but that's not nearly enough.

Nonetheless, all in all, I liked "Taimanin Murasaki" much more than I liked the Asagi games. It does have it's share of problems and ultimately promises more than it delivers, but I did enjoy playing it, despite the honestly distracting translation.

Many Lilith games are eventually adapted into anime OVA or even live action movies and TM is not an exception. It does have a live porn adaptation from Ziz Entertainment, though I haven't watched it yet. I do know that Ziz create a high quality product and TM might not be an exception in that regard.
Kiryuu knows his biochemistry.
On the other hand, the anime adaptation is a very strange beast. It doesn't adapt the game to the screen verbatim, but rather chooses to focus on the fan-favourite secondary character - Ingrid. Ingrid might not have her own game yet, but she does get to be a star of her own 4 episode OVA, which is only loosely based on the game. The anime takes the key events from the game and reworks them into a somewhat different if still familiar plot. Murasaki does also appear, but only as a secondary character to complement Ingrid. What I liked the best, though, was the portrayal of the Big Bad Edwin Black, who gets a chance to be legitimately badass, while most of the games just cocktease us with this particular character. Honestly, I have yet to see a Taimanin game, where Mr. Black does anything of significance. All in all, the anime doesn't replace the game, but nicely complements it, hence I really encourage everyone who played and liked the game to finish it off by viewing the OVA

Links of Interest

Visual Novel Database
Official Japanese site
Purchase the digital edition on DLsite Japan / DLsite English
Search for a physical edition on Mandarake
English translation blog
Walkthrough for Taimanin Murasaki
Live adaptation link (JAV)
My Anime List link for anime adaptation (Makai Kishi Ingrid)

Final Verdict: 68%

1 comment:

  1. Space Pirate Sara was translated by same person that did Iris. I like it.

    ReplyDelete