This week, meet Rival in our latest scene! Commentary to follow.
I must apologize for posting this scene before the one where we actually meet Rival again for the first time since MC’s childhood. But given that we already posted “Coin Toss” before, this scene is probably a bit better at emphasizing Rival’s character and the gravity of the situation (than her introduction scene where she and MC barely interact).
The context for this scene: It was the first day of sophomore year, during the first homeroom class (before the lunchroom scene where Kea and Homeroom Teacher had their small spat). While Homeroom Teacher was chewing out Kea, Morn slipped out of the classroom and took a walk in the hallway, as he always did. He enjoys the moments of loneliness, but laments that he has gotten into the habit of “turning left”.
When he turns left near the foyer with the principal’s office, he accidentally bumps into a stranger who was hurrying and turned right without seeing around the corner. She falls, but quickly picks herself back up and lashes out briefly at Morn before running off. After Morn gets back to the classroom, taking a total of four turns in the hallways, he comes upon Homeroom Teacher introducing the new student through (unsuccessfully) trying to get the class into playing Two Truths, One Lie (WikiHow link for those unfamiliar). Morn figures it out immediately, and realizes that the transfer student (the same girl he had bumped into) is his childhood friend Collis Atlas, or “Collie”.
[Note concerning her name: Collis means “summit” or “mountain/hill”. Atlas is the Greek Titan who held the weight of the world upon his shoulder atop a mountain peak. Atlas is also the basis for the names “Atlantic” and “Atlantis”, just to add to the grandeur.
Her Chinese name is 崔遥峰 (Cui Yaofeng) which means “the high, faraway summit”. For those who don’t understand Chinese or aren’t familiar with the naming culture: This name is manly as hell. Like, wuxia-novel-protagonist-level manly. See image for reference.]
Then, after the lunchroom scene, MC has certain choices for what he does after school. In some of the paths, MC and Rival meet again that evening on the bridge, and… well, you can read the scene to find out.
The central conflicts of the relationship between MC and Rival are the acceptance of the passage of time and the realization of the cost of winning (or not losing). Rival was someone who MC desperately chased after in childhood, and her departure left him lost and confused. Her return brings his old feelings of abandonment back into the limelight, as he comes to terms with the fact that even after her return, her leaps-and-bounds progress since the last time they met made their hearts insurmountably far no matter how close they were in distance.
As a sort-of tsundere “hurrah” to their past rivalry (much of which contained Rival’s infamous challenges which MC could never beat), Rival starts provoking MC in math club and in class, potentially bringing back his spark for trying to climb the endlessly-growing mountain. If MC goes along with this new relationship of a tense cold war at school and numerous meetings on the bridge near their houses in the evenings, he will be forced to confront the uncomfortable truths that he has yet been able to admit.
Note that all this happens in the “Regret” branch, where the coin landed on tails after MC let the coin fall through the cracks. In the “Satisfaction” branch, unlocked after the completion of all four main girls’ routes, MC catches the coin at the last moment when he realizes that he would regret it forever if he let their friendship end like this. He barely catches it, and shows the result to Rival: heads.
The central conflict involving MC and Rival in the “Regret” branch is, therefore, not present in the “Satisfaction” branch. Although she is the most distant of the four girls to MC, barely showing up in any route except her own and still keeping her distance in that one, she ends up being the first of the four girls who MC makes peace with (despite it being almost completely due to luck and impulse). She has a critical role (as a fourth member of the Main Squad) in bringing the Main Five together.
I want to note, as a last point to digest: Left is often associated with the past, while the right is associated with the future. This is a common motif in the story of Fifth Love, especially concerning Rival and the situation surrounding the bridge. Perhaps his bumbling unawareness while turning left and Rival’s brash, stumbling race to turn right indicates something about the dynamic of their relationship? 😉
Rival is (hopefully) the next character who will receive concept art. Look forward to it; imagine a strong female character but with her own quirks which she flaunts shamelessly. Some character inspirations for her include Makise Kurisu (from Steins;Gate) and Seo Yuzuki (from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun).
The next excerpt will go back and show the scene (“Convergence”) where MC and Rival meet again. It would also mean that, after we post the Prologue, we will have an entire block spanning the very beginning of the game (the introduction and the events of the first day of school up to after the lunchroom scene, which all forms the “common route”; in addition to the branching scenes that go into the other routes).
We will also start giving notes on our writing style and creative vision (succinctly summarized with “The Square”), in order to explain some of the choices we made in terms of tone.
Specifically: why are Rival and Confidant so weird and why do they talk so strangely? On the other hand, how are Sister and Romance so normal?
You might not have this question yet, since we haven’t posted any samples with Sister or Confidant. But they are coming up 🙂
See you next time!