end sleep’s Trial: Sleep to Dream

There’s not a lot I could say about the below image, but just be thankful you didn’t get a Mean Girls reference.

Closed circles will never go out of fashion. Unfortunately for this, a plethora of talentless writers like to try their hand at the well worn setting. Lilac-soft’s end sleep fits into this dubious category all too snugly. I came across it while browsing Getchu earlier, and while the synopsis was nothing revolutionary, I was willing to give Lilac-soft (who I hadn’t even heard of until then) the benefit of the doubt. When these settings are crafted well, they’re magnificent. When not done so well, it kind of turns out like this. end sleep (es) opens with our protagonist, Kazuki, powering up a mountain, traveling to a mysterious destination.

A college student, he’s in need of money. He receives The Call telling him that if he takes on a job that’s certainly in no way suspicious (in the depths of a mountainous area, away from civilization) and becomes a live-in worker for a period of one week in an exceedingly luxurious manor, food and board will be provided to him gratis. What could possibly go wrong? Too bad it seems our Kazuki isn’t a particularly clever fellow so takes the job, and so steps into what feel like an entirely different world, compared to what he’s experienced.

It’s the kind of mystic place where he wouldn’t be at all surprised if a princess were to glide through or a valiant knight clad in armour would make an appearance. What he sees instead, is a girl who asks in a daze if he’ll become her older brother. In a place so plainly unlike the reality he’s used to, you’d think he’d hightail it out of there never looking back, howling while he speeds down the mountain back to civilization and normalcy. But if he did just that, we wouldn’t have a story now, would we? For better or worse. The situation doesn’t improve once he meets the other inhabitants, all who save for a butler are just like him. They wanted some spare cash, and were desperate. Or so we think, because of course in these situations everyone has some sort of connection to each other no matter how obscure (hello, Murder on the Orient Express!).

Save for one (out of four), the characters are so lazily introduced you’ve to wonder if the writer even cared about them. They gather in a room and give a line or two about who they are. That’s it. You still don’t know who they are? Too bad, this ‘plot’ waits for no one. Kazuki meets someone he used to know? No point thinking too deeply, let’s move on! He gets a sense of déjà vu from the lead heroine? A mere coincidence, surely. After roll call their introductions, they learn what they’re getting paid for – each of the six characters are given roles they must closely stick to for the next seven days. The circle has been completed.

I thought there was one semi-interesting idea es toyed with. All the characters are given roles to play, àla the set up in most classic mysteries. Instead of a group of students and freeters, you’ve the lord of the manor. The mild maid. The flashy fiancé /wife type. Who’s not to say one of them weren’t told to be the murderer, too? In Kazuki’s room there’s a series of rules which must be followed. Some of them are rather typical, such as not entering a super forbidden room (which of course doesn’t make our hero any less tempted to enter), but one may come as a surprise. Or not, giving the setting. And that is to murder another player.

It’s alarming, if you think about it. There are six people (that we’re aware of). Seven, if you include the butler. Here we have people who are in their late teens/early twenties. They just want money for whatever reason. They may think having to put on a mask and lounge around in dresses that are far too revealing is pathetic, but with a great deal of money at stake who’d honestly care? Murder would certainly be the further thing on any of their minds. Yet the rules state to not do just that, subconsciously implementing it on their brains. Another rule is not to deflect from their roles, or else they’ll be punished. Punishments aren’t specified. They probably, don’t even have to be. But there’s another thing. Since the characters are told explicitly through that guide to act out the roles they’ve been given, wouldn’t that make them more inclined to depart from who they’re supposed to be?

It’s a neat little aspect, at least. I’ll give Lilac-soft credit for that. It’s too bad es didn’t go as in depth as they could have with it. At the end of the trial, however, we do have an example of that. A character becomes a little closer to Kazuki than the others to the point where they comment on it, through side glances and frosty tones. On the second eve, she bashfully says when everything is finished they should go out for a bite to eat, when they’ve received their payment. Just the two of them. What happens several hours later? No slaps on the wrist here. Her body is found in a gruesome state in the foyer. How did ‘someone’ find out that she broke the rules? That little conversation was a very much private discussion between her and Kazuki, tucked away in his room.

es as a whole was deplorably predictable, a right stinker. I assumed the fist murder would happen during the second night, and it did. Regrettably, Lilac-soft have a CG of the first victim plastered all over their site (thanks guys!), but with how they were being treated you could easily assume who it was going to be very early on. You get no sense of life from any of the characters. They’re like cut outs, imitations. Inashiki’s grumbles come on too explosively, firing all over the place. Kazuki overhearing arguments doesn’t add any bit of tension. A character worrying about something shrouded in mystery doesn’t really make the reader question what they’re discussing. At the end of trials usually there would be at least one character the reader should have an interest in, but here there were none. The OP played at the very end of the trial, showing the manor going up in flames along any shred of interest I had left.

The writing was too hamfisted for my liking. The most obvious example of this was the butler, who I’d like to assume was a throwback to those highly knowledgeable butlers we see in other similar situations, but honestly? es‘ writers wouldn’t have it in them. Another extremely poor example was Inashiki’s character. She dressed gaudily, with flashy make-up and a silly hair style. Her style of speech intentionally as irritating as possible, reminiscent of a high school girl with a personality to match. Unsociable and argumentative, the writers tried to make her seem so thoroughly unlikable that she seemed cartoonish. Early on in the trial Kazuki and several other characters were getting on like a house on fire (not trying to drop a pun here) but when Inashiki drops by the temperature in the room noticeably cools. She’s being obnoxious, sure. But when Kazuki is making inconsiderate comments about how her perfume is overpowering you’ve to feel some degree of pity for her. The other attempts at humanizing her didn’t wow me either, but it’s more than I can say for everyone else who I can’t even devote a separate paragraph to.

It’s a sorry state of affairs when I can’t bring myself to say much about the person whose eyes were seeing events unfurl through, save for how dim he was. He sees a strange shed from his room window. Instead of heading straight down to investigate (he’s lord of the mansion, after all! …for the week), he questions the not at all shady butler. After a very pointed look and eerie music, said butler dissuades him saying it was a place of storage. What does Kazuki too? Thinks ‘oh gee, what a strange guy!’ and moves on with his life. He’s evidently going to take on the role of detective, but I don’t think he could solve the identity of the tooth fairy.

The greatest moment was when end sleep ended so I myself could fall into a sleep.

If you’re feeling M enough, it’s out on the 26th of April.

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