-or Getting Over My Fear of Rejection with Haru –

No Thank You!!! is a great visual novel most people will probably not want to play. If you’re not intimidated by the hardcore depiction of homosexuality, you might be scared off by the explicit descriptions of violence and the general uncomfortable subject matter of the practical aspect of criminal organizations.

That’s too bad. It’s quite well written and has one of the best interactive structures I’ve seen in these types of games. I was completely engrossed by it for the entire play-through and fully intend to replay it at some point.

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sooo much violence….

But of all the unexpected things I was able to take away from this, let’s face it, dubious sounding source, the most surprising may be a rather nice sense of perspective that’s allowed me to quiet down some of those louder demons that make me constantly doubt myself. I don’t exactly lack in confidence to begin with but there has always been a certain insecurity in me when I approach people on a more personal level. After all, fear of rejection has got to be one of the most common and most insidious dreads out there. Even those of us who never get turned down, still get that nagging panic. There’s a first time for everything, right?

I hope you didn’t sprain your eyes rolling them at my brilliant statement of the obvious there. Yeah, yeah, no one likes to get rejected. Big freakin revelation there. Well that seems a bit harsh… I may not be overflowing with the keenest of insights, but I did manage to turn basic human nature into an excuse to play a naughty yaoi game, so who’s the genius now?? Probably still you…

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at least I’m fun…ish…

I’ll spare you the gaudy details for now, maybe some day I’ll give this game a proper review. For now, let’s just say the main (player) character is quite a personality indeed. As Haru, I got to embody a young man who was refreshingly different from any other protagonist I’ve played and from my own persona. The experience was in some ways very educational. In others, it was liberating.

Haru is deceptively simple. Rather than being stupid, he is striving to survive a very difficult and complex situation by actively blocking out everything that could be considered irrelevant to the immediate situation. He is pruposefully limiting his vision to a pinhole. Haru is of the mindset that there are only two types of problems in the world. No point in worrying about those you can’t solve and why worry about those you can solve!

For many reasons that have to do with his background and are revealed throughout the story, Haru believes that he is living on borrowed time. He knows that he only has so long to do what he needs to accomplish, and he is adamant about getting everything he can from the experience. To him, the terror of being turned down, being embarrassed or feeling stupid is completely irrelevant when weighed against the much greater tragedy of missing his chance.

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hmmm, did you say something?

The fact of the matter is, we all have a certain amount of time, a limited number of chances. It’s something we tend to push to the back of our minds. We don’t like to think about it. I sure don’t. But by sectioning off his life, creating story arcs in his own adventure, Haru essentially makes the grand scheme manageable. It’s ok if my classmate thinks I’m a huge looser because I’ll graduate in a few years anyways. My coworker may think I’m a dork, but I’ll leave them behind when I get that promotion. At least I tried. I won’t be sitting at home all alone wondering if I should have. Besides, and trust me on this, humiliating memories make for the best party stories and first date ice breakers. They also make for the best people. Someone who had to learn to laugh at themselves along the way is always more interesting.

And so, as I ambled along the sunny streets of Japan and the seedy back alleys with Haru, I was entranced by his ability to turn restlessness into freedom. Deadlines, into inspiration. Haru understood that humiliation is temporary, but joy lingers. The best of us can grab onto happy moments and keep them close to our hearts forever. It’s worth the risk and the price. I found myself eagerly urging him to approach the object of his affections even knowing that our chances (mine and Haru’s – we are a team!) were slim. The simple act of asking was an experience onto itself, and one I wanted us to have. I really would have hated to make Haru miss out on anything.

Of course, we got rejected. A lot.

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I,m still waiting for that call…

You know how fears are always worst in your head. We see all those movies were the entire room bursts out in finger-pointing and laughter when we get shot down. We remember our heroic resolve to approach our crushes when we were fearless children only to be cruelly pushed aside (but we never remember how thoughtless and cruel we ourselves could be). We operate under the assumption that a negative answer will be the worst thing that could happen, so we avoid the possibility all together.

The thing is, as Haru and I repeatedly got spurned with varying degrees of harshness, I started to get use to it. What’s more, I started to realize that it wasn’t that bad at all. For the most part people are flattered, happy to be asked even if they aren’t interested. Unless you make a big deal out of it yourself, it simply isn’t. Most people will be kind and careful with your feelings. There’s a special bond that happens you see. As long as you’re not a total jerk about it.

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he told us to stop being an idiot

Haru is a very happy-go-lucky guy. As I said, he is supremely skilled at taking life as it comes. As such, he deals with rejection in a very healthy way. He acknowledges it and moves on. It’s as if he offered someone a bite of ice cream and they said they didn’t like that flavor. That’s it. It hardly affected him at all. But, it changed the other person. And not in the, we can no longer be friends way. Again, that really only happens when you can’t get over your hurt. For the other person, this show of interest was a huge compliment. The confidence boost is addictive and on some level people feel grateful for it. They don’t want to lead you on but since Haru is obviously not bothered by it, that worry becomes moot. Instead, people start paying just a bit more attention to you. Possibly they feel a tiny bit guilty as well but in any case, they were nicer to us.

Having been on the other end of that in real life, I can tell you it really does work that way for me. If someone expresses interest in me, even if I don’t share it for whatever reason, if they are not harassing me about it every chance they get or don’t get all moody, I’ll end up getting attached to them much more quickly than otherwise. I admire the honesty and confidence. I have occasionally grown to regret my initial reaction as well. For some reason though, I never remember this when I’m staring at that beautiful stranger, desperately trying to get some moisture back in my mouth and remember my name.

But after hours of watching Haru, shrug it off and happily move on to the next thing, it became a little easier for me to just ask what’s the worst that can happen? Both Haru and I have survived much harder things. If this bozo is actually the type of looser to make me feel bad about liking them then clearly, I should thank them. Because I obviously need to revisit what type of people I’m attracted to. And I dodged a bullet this time.

there’s always a festival to look forward to

Besides, Haru taught me to not take no for an answer, in the best possible way. Look, I won’t pretend that there aren’t some problematic scenes in the game. There most definitely are. And considering the brutal nature of the narrative, some are difficult to avoid. But generally speaking, Haru tends to understand No as not now. For him a rejection means he hasn’t earned the other person’s affections yet but that doesn’t mean he can’t ever do so.

No does mean no. You don’t force the issue, ever. You smile and move on and talk about your day. You go on with your life and you keep being a great friend, and a good person and the all-around rockstar that you are. They will see it eventually, and if YOU’re still interested, you can ask again. It’s fine, some people are a little slower on the uptake and may need a minute to process your greatness.In the meantime, allow yourself to meet someone smarter.

Haru and I expressed our interests fairly early on. It was just a general statement of fact. If we found someone attractive and enjoyed spending time with them, we said so. No deeper meaning behind it. Haru is pretty sex positive so he was a bit more forward than most people were used to, so they weren’t quite ready for us. It was fine. We backed off,  we continued to get to know each other. But the other person already understood that there was an attraction there. Something to work with. Sometimes it blossomed into more. Sometimes it didn’t go anywhere at all. Sometimes it was really lovely. Other times…bad ends…

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someday I will finally win Ren’s heart

I wish I could say I had learned from Haru. That I knew my pride is meaningless to anyone but me. That I can walk up to a complete stranger and just tell them, you are strikingly beautiful, and I would love to find out if your personality matches those spectacular looks. Let’s go have a drink! Most days I will just fumble and pretend to read something on my phone if they look my way. Most days I will sit back on my laurels and rest on the fact that I’m a girl and social expectations allow me to just wait for them to approach me, as everyone except the persone I’m actually interested in comes to talk (am I right???). But once in a while, I hear Haru telling me to go for it. Telling me it will be fun. Telling me that if it’s a disaster I can turn it into a hilarious tale to make the next one laugh.

And that’s how an X rated visual novel gave me some confidence….

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I wonder why Ren doesn’t like us…

26 thoughts

  1. I gained my confidence by doing mad things, and promptly lost all of it to a story I’ll share with you here. Been single since, stuck at square one, and it sucks 😛

    With the doom and gloom out of the way, I think that this is the precise magic of fiction, to be able to help us approach reality from a different angle, with a new perspective. By wrapping up real-world lessons in a context that we are drawn to, we learn, our world-view widens, and we strive to better ourselves. Any work that can do this for someone has done its job well. Of course, your screenshots and discussions might not be a good sample size, but No Thank You!!! is not violent by my standards. For that, look no further than the likes of DOOM or Wolfenstein!

    1. huh, it may be a question of sensibilities wolfenstein and doom all have those buckets of gore (like drifters) that I call cartoon violence and I find very funny. The detailed torture and medical experimentation scenes I thought were harder to stomach.

  2. I noticed somebody already talked about Katawa Shoujo affecting them as well, but an interesting note to point out about most of the VNs I like are all they are all western made. My issue with most Japanese VNs is how a lot of them are just power…….. no, not power, more like confidence fantasies about confronting the wahmen and have them madly fall in love with you on the spot. For this reason, I like KS and Clannad a lot because the protagonists and girls are actually distinct people, and the choices offered to you are all in-character for that character to make, given the situation.

    I might suggest this VN you played to a friend of mine though, she might be super into it 😀

    1. I really enjoyed Gathkuhn and Steins:Gate as far as their gender power dynamics go but neither are Harems which seems to be what you are talking about specifically.
      School Days had its moments as far as really dissecting that trope as well.

    1. It baffles me how anyone would go through 20 hours of Fate/Stay night for a 2 minute sexy scene and still think that’s the main component…

    1. well it depends on what you’re looking for really. There are as many genres and styles in VNs as there are in anime.
      If you’re a sci fi nerd like me you might really enjoy Steins:Gate, like I did or possibly Gathkun.
      If you like dark humour and some mysteries to solve then you could give Danganronpa a try or for something lighter and less gorey Phoenix Wright.
      If naughty Boys Love was of interest I would go with Dramatical Murders, it’s dumber than No Thank You but more lighthearted and sexy
      Katawa Shoujo and Doki Doki Literature club are both generally well received Western Visual Novels
      And if you want a more traditional harem type VN – I really liked Dot Kareshi. It’s funny, has fantastic production values and you can finish the entire game in a couple of hours.
      Hope some of this help…

  3. Such an awesome post because it’s true. Haru is just amazing in all ways. NTY was my first BL game and it holds a special place in my heart. It is hard to top it.

      1. Oh, I wish I could play Lamento but I have a mac and it doesn’t work on that. It sucks to have a mac when it comes to BL games… 😕

          1. A pc for only VNs is brilliant. I have an old pc in pieces at home but I am missing a screen for it. Maybe I should convince my hubby to assemble it to me. 🤔 I wonder if he would buy playing naughty VNs as a good enough reason for that. 😎

            1. I’m gonna tell him that. And maybe bribe him with a meat stew and something a little bit more naughty for dessert. 😎 That should do the trick. 😇

  4. Well, I do try to play the weirdest of games! And, to get a moral from it?? I think I’ll have to check this one out! Hopefully you grab life by its pointy horns and ride it after this!! (was that too much? I shouldn’t comment on things so early in the morning!)

  5. I had a similar experience to what you describe here with Katawa Shoujo; it helped me develop some confidence to communicate about things that were bothering me somewhat more than I had done in the past. I still kinda suck at it, but I can think of a number of visual novels I’ve experienced over the last 10 years or so that have had a genuinely helpful impact on me in this way.

    I’ve been interested to check out No, Thank You! at some point — I’ve never played a yaoi game and am curious to see how it compares to both bishoujo and otome games, both of which I do have experience with. Sounds like I’ll have to make some time for it at some point.

    1. The comparaison is actually really interesting – especially when you consider traditional gender biases in Japan and how it affects the way characters are written.
      I think Visual Novels still don’t get the respect they deserve as literary works, but hopefully that’s slowly changing

      1. The growth in Western visual novels has helped somewhat with that, though unfortunately there are a lot of shitty Western ones out there that have been put out for stupid reasons like to allow Steam Trading Card farming and suchlike. (There are a lot of shitty Japanese ones as well, but it’s a much more mature medium over there too, so they tend not to get much attention… or localisation!)

        A fairly major issue that the medium is still plagued with is the perception that it’s “porn”. While nukige do exist, even in those cases they make more of an effort with story than your average gonzo porn flick… and eroge are another matter entirely, being games that are story first, explicit content as part of that rather than the main point of it all. (But you know all this already, I’m sure!)

        Sex has been part of art since time immemorial, and it needs to be recognised in gaming and visual novels too. That’s why I’ve made an effort to cover stuff like Grisaia, Fate/stay night, Ne no Kami and Nekopara over the last few years — they all have stuff to say far beyond “look at the pretty girls” which unfortunately just doesn’t get talked about by the “professionals” out there!

        can you tell this is something I feel strongly about

        1. I can and I appreciate it. I’ve played a lot of Otomes which are pretty much always PG ( cause good girls don’t want explicit material…no way!) so I personally don’t associate VNs with porn but I get where that perception comes from.
          To me it’s a budding medium – lie comic books were a while back. But having a story intertwine and reconnect through several routes is incredibly complex narrative work and can create some truly compelling stories (and truly talented writers…)

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