霧上のエラスムス – The Erasmus two-faced stories
Mujou no Erasmus – The Erasmus two-faced stories
Happy Halloween! What a great time to start off with a spooky thriller game.
Mujou no Erasmus – The Erasmus two-faced stories is a side game by Novectacle made after Fata Morgana no Yakata. The game was released in May of 2011 and became free to play on Valentine’s Day of 2014. Although Mujou no Erasmus is not related to Fata Morgana no Yakata, just like Seventh Coat, it uses the same characters, but in a different story and setting. It can be played as a separate game, but it’s recommended to play Fata Morgana before Erasmus, same goes with all the other side games. There are two sides of the story, the first with Mell as the protagonist, the second with Michel.
Story 1 – Once awoken, we lost our memories
We begin the game with the protagonist, Mell, a British student attending Erasmus University in Strasbourg, France. He spaces out during a ride to the airport as Nellie, Mell’s younger sister, grudges as she sits next to the Girl with White Hair. They meet up with their good friends Nein (The Man), Pauline, and Jacopo at the Strasbourg airport, while Maria couldn’t make it to the meeting spot. All of the characters attend Erasmus and share a dorm, except Nellie who applied to the school later on. They all received a letter from the “Witch of Fog” ordering them to gather and journey to an unfamiliar spot. Separating cars by gender, they parted and made their way into the outskirts of Strasbourg to the witch. During the car ride with Mell, Nein, and Jacopo inside, an accident occurred, and once they have regained consciousness, they found themselves in an old mansion. They realize they have lost their memories and face great anxiety and despair, but not only that, they are stuck in a room with a fireplace. The next day, one of the locked doors open and Maria appear along with the rest of the girls. From then on, it was the beginning to a situation they never knew.
I didn’t know what was going to happen, but once I saw the word witch and mansion, I can already foresee a tragedy. What I couldn’t foresee was the twist and science fiction setting that led to more despair. I didn’t expect a sci-fi setting at all since the series usually blame sudden events on magic, so it’s definitely a change. As the story continues, they try to find the witch, but because of the guys’ amnesia, they begin to distrust each other. The group loses coordination and teamwork with no clue what to do next. Other events happen with unexpected deaths and genetic engineering. The events happened all too fast and I’m left wondering how are they going to get out of the mansion and find the witch, and even if they do, what is going to happen. The mystery was rather quick and entertaining, but I feel like it could’ve been a bit more impressive.
The characters’ personalities are the same as Fata Morgana, but their relationships are a bit different. Mell and the Girl with White Hair are now lovers, and Nellie does not approve of their relationship. Well, Nellie never really liked her in the other games either way, so it’s expected. Also as expected, Nein and Pauline are together, but surprisingly, Jacopo and Maria are lovers.
The character that really ticked me off throughout the entire first story is Nellie. Nellie’s childish behavior is more prevalent in Erasmus compared to the other games. After Erasmus, I couldn’t stand her, but luckily she’s not as bad in Seventh Coat. Ok, who am I kidding? She’s a useless character in general. I wasn’t too fond of Nellie in Fata Morgana, but I ignored her whines, because she was a cute little prepubescent girl, but in Erasmus, she isn’t a teenager anymore—she’s a grown adult. Even so, she still acts like a kid and a crybaby yelling out onii-sama all the time. I thought once Mell lost his memories and other shit happens, she would support him because he’s her beloved brother, but that isn’t the case. All she does is cry, and demand Mell to give her onii-sama back. Surely she cherishes Mell, but come on, she has to take into consideration what’s happening to him. He just lost all, if not most, of his memories, is stuck in a mansion with no clue how he got in, is in despair, and also have to deal with a whining sister who doesn’t accept him for who he is. Nellie does not help at all, and I can’t help but dislike her even more so after Fata Morgana. Even during the end of the story when something horrible is happening, she just stands there and cries. Come on, grow up and fucking do something, Nellie. I don’t mind sisters with a brother complex, but she’s worthless in all of the games she was present in. One scene I liked is when Mell slapped some senses into a crying and rambling Nellie. Mell first slapped Nellie in Fata Morgana, but I didn’t expect him to slap her again in Erasmus. I hope this isn’t how he resolves problems, but what can I say? She was whining too much.
Beside Nellie, all of the characters are decent and had their own little story and flashbacks. I’d like it if some characters had more development since some of their scenes were abrupt and cut short. What surprised me were the death scenes, which are the opposite of what happened in Fata Morgana. The story and setting is not related, but seeing the characters in opposite roles is amusing.
I may be biased toward the Girl with White Hair as she is a very likable character and I enjoy her every moment in all the games. Even so, the Girl with White Hair is the best character and had the best development in Story 1. She’s audacious and does whatever it takes to save Mell even if she has to knock out enemies and jump into fires. She stays calm and continues to comfort and support an amnesic Mell, unlike Nellie. Mell is an average protagonist who assimilated and stayed positive in most of the situations. Struggling with amnesia, Mell was basically confused the entire game until close to the end of the story. Even if he doesn’t do much until the end, he is rather calm and active. I would have preferred more development on his part, but his “development” was pretty much linked to the Girl with White Hair.
At the end of Story 1, a summary was provided and detailed the characters’ past and the events that occurred in the mansion. I appreciate the summary, because I was pretty confused after all the crazy events. I still questioned the letter and the “Witch of Fog” which do get explained later in the story, but more is revealed in Story 2.
Story 2 – The day after tomorrow at Prague
Story 2 is the truth of Mujou no Erasmus and is the other side’s perspective. Michel is a French college student living in Paris, France. Late one night, he receives a sudden e-mail from a female mail friend from a suicide community he’s in. She asks him if he exists in this world to which Michel replies back, she could have called him through his phone if she wanted to know if he existed. Suddenly, she calls him out and says she’s going to Prague in Czech the day after tomorrow, and will be waiting at the Charles Bridge with a dark umbrella. He’s baffled for they both live in France and they can meet up in the same country rather than elsewhere. She usually mails him messages of her daily life which are rather girly and if she had anything to discuss, she could have called him instead. He thinks her asking him to go to Prague so suddenly is stupid and planned on ignoring her, until she left a postscript. Finding her desperation suspicious, he decided to visit her at Prague. During the ride to Prague, we see a flashback of his past. Michel isn’t suicidal, but when he was a kid, he wanted to die. During elementary school, his parents criticized and compared him to others, which made him angry and often bad-tempered. Because of that, he is pessimistic and believes there should be a man more lonely than him.
Once he arrives at the Charles Bridge, he spots an albino girl (the Girl with White Hair) holding a dark umbrella who introduces herself as Neige. Michel figures out that isn’t her real name even if it suits her, but she refuses to give out her name since she dislikes it for some reason. Neige prefers his angelic name instead, and knowing Michel, someone calling him an angel or angelic is a pet peeve of his. Their meeting was awkward and wasn’t like a usual meeting where a boy meets girl. They visit a basilica and critique a stained-glass window designed by Alphonse Mucha followed by a stroll in the Petrin Hill Park. Michel doesn’t know what she expects of him and has no clue why they’re in Prague. He has a hard time striking up a conversation since she’s quite silent and when he talks jokingly, his expression is like a Noh mask. As the night sets in, they go to a hotel where Neige begins to tell Michel why she went to Prague. Soon, he realizes there is a girl with more pain and burden than him. He wonders why won’t the world accept him, why is the world hurting Neige. During that night at Prague in the gentle bathtub, she had one more wish for him. Agonizing, Michel tries to find a way to save Neige.
Story 2 is a deep and darker side of Mujou no Erasmus and is a prequel that also showed what happened behind the scenes in Story 1, and what led to the letter by the “Witch of Fog.” Story 2 brings us back 10 years ago where Neige is 13 years old while Michel is 21. Their meeting was certainly strange since it wasn’t romantic, they weren’t really friends, just mail buddies for two months, and it was sudden. Even though I was puzzled as to why Neige called Michel out to Prague, I did enjoy their short trip to tourist spots. After I found out the reason, I should have known—I should never expect good things to happen or a happy ending in this series.
Michel is a college student who didn’t really care about school and had all the time in the world. At first, he was a careless guy who hated everything about life and wanted others to understand the feeling of pain and suffering as much as he did. Little did he know, the girl in front of him had suffered more than him, and he realize how reckless he was. After meeting Neige, he finally has a goal in life and develops feelings of love. Michel’s priority changes and he aspires to save her even if he becomes hated. He still has a negative view throughout the game, but even so, he drastically changes his lifestyle and dedicate years to save Neige. He suffers and despairs as he walks an undesired path to find the truth.
I’m surprised Michel was able to make Neige into a dislikable character within some mere scenes. In Story 1, I thought she was amazing, but in Story 2, I was slightly aggravated, possibly because of the way Michel was narrating her. We are drawn into his negative thoughts with stubborn and rash thinking. He goes mad when she doesn’t seem to understand him, and he feels like his efforts are one-sided and are put to waste. I guess that’s when he starts calling her treacherous, leaving me, the player, to believe she’s evil. Congratulations, Michel, you almost turned me against one of my favorite characters. Since Story 1 and 2 are somewhat interlinked, we see the reason why Michel is deluded and Neige, innocent. Once the post-credits scene appeared, I regained my compassion toward her and she is not as evil as Michel claims her to be. Both of them were trying to escape reality and seek existence, so both of them are misunderstood.
I’ve always liked the relationship between Michel and Neige even if they are rarely placed together. They are quite similar and are the only characters that face the most and worst tragedies. Ever since Fata Morgana no Yakata, I liked the way the two bonded even if it was artificial, so I definitely appreciated this segment that mainly focused on just the two. The game presents a prevalent phrase that says their meeting is like a garden of rotten water not even sunlight can enter. Whenever Michel thinks of Neige, that phrase usually appears, especially when he’s about to give up hope. Although the two characters may figuratively be submerged in a garden of rotten water, I still like the tragedies they experiences for the character that has the most tragedies are the most developed.
Mujou no Erasmus game options are a bit different from Fata Morgana no Yakata, but the gameplay is the same. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there is no option to make the game full screen. The entire game is around 3-5 hours long with only 4 or so CGs. I thought a new illustrator drew the CGs for the characters looked more child-like compared to the usual serious and gloomy art, but the illustrator is still Moyataro. I found it quite weird since the promotional art looks well done but the actual CGs looked like it had less effort put into it. I’m glad Novectacle has new tracks for all of their side games. There are several new tracks mainly composed by Takaki Moriya, with a few tracks by Mellok’n, and Gao sings the songs. Takaki Moriya’s tracks are moving and blends in with the scenes very well, and I particularly enjoyed the track Orgel and On Fire. There are also a few tracks composed by Ongaku no Tamago. I’m not sure what to say since I noticed some of their music is used in other doujin games too. Even if they are, their tracks certainly had a different tone, but were still pleasing to listen to.
Mujou no Erasmus is one of the more serious side games to the series and I highly recommend this game to those who love a fast-paced thriller with a dark atmosphere and chilling suspense. Story 2 is a great conclusion to the overall game and slowly answers the questions and events present in Story 1. I liked how Erasmus transitioned the story into two parts rather than one whole package. Novectacle did well ending Story 1 with a mystery, leading to Story 2. The plot is wild and characters are decent in Story 1, but I prefer Story 2 for it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Michel is a great protagonist and I would like to applaud him for always dealing with others’ dirty work and making things right despite all the pain and distress. Neige is a very sweet girl as usual and I can’t help but forgive her in the end after what Michel did for her. I would like to see them together more, but this series only has so much to give.