Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 052024

Its been over two years since we discussed 9-nine-, the thriller romance visual novel about a group of teenagers who awaken to special powers.

In the time since then, a fifth episode was released that contains after stories for the main game’s routes, which makes it a perfect choice for our romance celebration.

9-nine: New Episode begins by wrapping up the one branch that was left unresolved in the original, with a satisfactory conclusion, and then an after story is unlocked for each heroine.

Don’t expect these to be fandisc-length stories or have the same high stakes as the full game; rather, they are short epilogues that have a little plot resolution but mainly focus on telling a cute story between the protagonist and that route’s heroine.

They’re sweet, funny, and a pleasant way to follow up 9-nine- if you want to see the characters in a more peaceful situation.

While each after story is quite short and the whole thing only lasts a few hours, I was pleasantly surprised that they don’t all follow the same formula. Although they have the same starting structure (immediate aftermath of the route, followed by a short timeskip), they develop differently from there.

To be honest, you could get by just fine reading the original visual novel without ever seeing these epilogues, but if you enjoyed 9-nine- and want more of the romance side of things, 9-nine-: New Episode is enjoyable enough.

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Sep 292021

I picked up the visual novel 9-nine- in a Steam sale after seeing a lot of praise for it online, especially from people who enjoyed other visual novels I love.

It’s split into four episodes, each of which follows a different route.

While that structure seems a bit odd at first, there’s actually a reason for it. You can’t skip episodes, and you have to play them in order. Each advances the overarching plot, which becomes a greater focus with each episode. Explaining in any more detail would require spoilers, so I won’t.

9-nine begins with a town festival, at which an earthquake causes the town’s sacred relic to shatter. After the earthquake, people begin awakening to special powers, and a boy named Kakeru gets caught up in an investigation when a girl is found turned to stone.

The first episode in particular feels somewhat like a murder mystery, as the main characters search for the user of the “Evil Eye,” the name they give to the petrification power.

However, it’s much more of a thriller at its core, especially as the episodes continue. There’s also a fair amount of romance, with each episode featuring a different heroine (although all are part of the main cast), and a number of humurous slice-of-life scenes as well. Some parts really made me laugh.

An interesting thing about 9-nine- is that it just gets progressively better. Episode 1 is slow-paced, mainly focused on romance and setting up the premise. Episode 2 is surprisingly emotional and raises the stakes even higher. Episode 3 might be the funniest of them all, and really kicks the plot into high gear. Finally, Episode 4 brings everything together for a truly epic and intense conclusion.

(A fifth episode was released in Japan with epilogue stories for each heroine.)

In short, if you try the first episode and aren’t especially hooked yet, it’s worth continuing if you at least find the premise intriguing.

9-nine- has some neat ideas that it executes well, and the story is a great mix of humorous, romantic, and exciting. If the premise sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend checking it out.

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