Heisei Pistol Show

released on Dec 31, 2008
by Parun

RPGmaker game by Parun.

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Yearned for and earned for, my ears and my tears. Also, Chicago was such a good choice for the overworld theme

as a straight, cisgender man i frequently find myself unable to resonate with a lot of queer media and resultantly assume it's simply not for me
that's reductive. heisei pistol show is a clear explanation and reminder that raw emotion is a universal language. even with how esoteric and intangible much of the narrative is, there's so much heart here that "heart" is literally the name of the goddamn protagonist
started sluggishly and initially had me rolling my eyes. but that turned around quickly enough and i'm eager to run it back to get a better grasp of the story really being told

Don't have much to offer in the way of unique insight in a macro sense, but on a personal note, whenever I decry or dump on "queer media" for being bland and tired and uninteresting all the time, this is like the exact thing I was visualizing in my mind's eye. Congrats to parun for being like one of the ten people that can truly express what it means to be a homosexual

what specifically makes heisei compelling to me is that the material it's working with is novel for video games and successfully mined for thematic depth with very little held back or obscured from a player. it presents gay desire and death in ways most contemporary queer games are too blinkered and personally involved to approach in the tone this takes. that isn't to demean working artists or to suggest that nothing like this has been made since; in terms of directly approaching queer sex work, something like taylor mccue's he fucked the girl out of me exists in obvious conversation, but functions as more directly memoiristic, rather than embracing the associative and surreal flights of fancy that parun's detachment from the material allows here (sans the punpun sprite in HFTGOM, which is also like a strategy i don't think is additive anyway). it takes the tragedy of its premise and, unlike many comparable stories, gives it some puckish vibrancy. much more new queer cinema. to point–the musical numbers coexist alongside narratives not so unlike jack king-spooner's side monologues from beeswing, here depicting the work of yoshiwara, of geishas and oirans, and contextualizes heart's gendered play and own sex work in a historical tradition that does not belong to him precisely, but nonetheless attaches a history, an oral tradition, from which parun develops meaning. nothing stays in monotone. everything is front-and-center but very little is interpreted for the audience. parun likes to flaunt his own cleverness; the ending where he describes audiences not getting it would be less funny in a more sober, realized medium, but in a medium that was still intellectually, academically, exists in an infancy, it's not totally unfair–doubly so for the time of its development. likewise, the intentional anachronisms and incoherence of the spaces you navigates is cute, referential play with the toolset; this was his second to last game, only succeeded by re:kinder, so his comfort with the engine is obvious, but so too was his desire to play with it. it's a lot of fun to me! very few devs let themselves loose like this in a way that doesn't come across as cynical or ironic, but parun's experimentation with rpgmaker, even as his tone warbles between thereabouts-maudlin-sincerity and dryly sardonic wit, never gives in to cheap shots. the sourced audio and sprite assets are as loving placed as anything. in this way it's a lot like higurashi; there's an earnest amateurishness to the production that belies how considered the thematic and narrative work is here. but this swaps out the "i'm selling this at comiket" fanservice hijinks and slice of life prose with the same kind of humor that would give us the salsa music queues of re:kinder. i'm not saying parun was a once in a life time talent but parun was a remarkably singular voice working with material largely unapproached in the medium at point of conception. he made work with real vitality and earnestness; to read this as autobiographical would be silly and disrespectful, and i don't want to rely on language like honest or real or sincere, but he was clearly a man with a plan, and the work i think speaks for itself. for the ways in which its crassness or vulgarity are not always conducive to the text, or the ways in which gameplay progression is sometimes a biiiit obtuse and perfunctory, i think what is here largely works and has the capacity to move and to provoke. it’s like scott pilgrim but good :3 kill all the evil coworkers/exs you know.

Wandering about dreams, or reality
the infamy of love’s double edged sword. exerted above and beneath a euphoric night sky filled with stars of incomprehensible emotion.
stars reach endlessly across the sea of night. though what they seek may only be fantasy.
of the stars that twinkle, bright and dim, there is purity and harmony inside each and every one.
the curtain closes behind his feet. in his shadow, behind the curtain, footsteps lay permanently embedded into a meadow of sentiment. the stars remain entranced.
If there’s no bright future without him gone, then I’ll descend into hell with him by my side.
there is heartbreak among the stars. they are unable to ascertain their dream and reality.
A farce of my own selfishness
simply beautiful.

Lovingly crafted and strongly directed. It's both confusing, weird, funny as much as it is heartbreaking, heart-on-sleeve honest and bleak. A game built on the juxtapositions between love and hate; life and death; and dream and reality, that also begs for one to understand the happiness that exists in the space between them despite it all