Call the FBI! Doki Doki Literature Club as Satire

Call the FBI! Doki Doki Literature Club as Satire



Doki Doki Literature Club is a visual novel and dating sim made almost single-handedly by one Dan Salvato It maintains its cutesy surface for about three hours before diving into psychological horror territory. A lot has been said about Doki Doki Literature Club already, especially about the game's horror elements, especially on YouTube, but I haven't really seen anyone talking about the satirical elements Doki Doki is free because it's literally not as advertised. So if you want to go play it instead of me just explaining the plot then I recommend that you go do that if you haven't already Like, nerd culture take spoiler warnings too seriously in general. Like, there's the whole Avengers Endgame thing and people were kind of burned out on that But I do think it's worth taking the time. It's a very short game. It's got various twists and turns that are best experienced firsthand Of course, there's the whole horror movie thing of "Oh, I can't wait for the Wikipedia summary to drop so that I can experience this in some way shape or form" So if you're here for that then I will quickly run down the plot and if you already know the plot then Bear with me or skip to this timestamp You play as a stereotypical dating sim protagonist – that is to say, an insensitive douche You're dragged into the new literature club in your high school and presented with three cute anime girls who you can flirt with Sayori is your sunny childhood best friend, Yuri is reserved and intense, and Natsuki insults you because she fancies you There's also Monika, the leader of the group who you can't flirt with or date. This plays out for a few hours. You write poems to impress them, you go down one of the narrative routes depending on how you write those poems, and so forth Things take a bit of a turn when childhood friends Sayori reveals that she's been depressed her whole life. As sombre as that is, the crucial midpoint of the whole game comes when you enter Sayori's room the next morning to find she's hanged herself Then the game glitches and seems to end and sends you back to the main menu, except of course, it's not over. When you start a new game everything plays out a little differently. The game itself seems to be falling apart at the seams Ultimately, club president Monika reveals that she knows she's a character in a video game and that she has special powers over the game code. The whole thing culminates with Monika deleting everyone in the game so that she's the only one left. What she wanted all this time was to have you to herself Not the in-game average. You, the player. To defeat her you have to go into the game's files and delete her character As that's the end Except for the part where everyone is restored only to be quickly deleted again. If you didn't follow all of that ending I assure you it makes more sense when it plays out slowly. This game is spoopy as all heck. It's very good I like it a lot Further to the point I think that an anime dating sim that turns into horror halfway through is probably trying to say something about anime dating sims Let's start with Sayori. The cheerful, clumsy best friend is a pretty common character trope in anime and dating sims Sayori starts as perfectly consistent with it: being late to school being loud and clumsy and kind of embarrassing, the pink hair with a bow. Later, It turns out that Sayori acts so sunny all the time because she's depressed As Sayori talks about her mental illness the player learns that she isn't just a cliche archetype She more closely resembles an actual person. What the game is trying to do here is take a dig at shallow cutesy anime girl characterisation by showing that surface level cutesiness as a consequence of mental illness. Another girl you can romance is Yuri. She's also clearly based on an anime character trope She's the reserves but intense type. She's a bookworm. She likes tea It takes a while to coax her out of her shell. Once you start to connect, her attraction to you becomes a little intense and obsessive. All around Yuri is the kind of girl for thoughtful sensitive guys who are attracted to intelligence (and big boobs) Yuri's deconstruction is even more pointed. In the second half of the game when everything is going horribly wrong You find out along the way that Yuri self-harms. Like Sayori, this is a dig at overly simple anime characterization It also adds a good deal to the atmosphere of unease, which at this point is dummy thicc. More than that It's a jab at anyone who founds Yuri's mannerisms to be attractive. Again, the surface level cuteness is a consequence of mental illness Self-loathing is only attractive when you're shown the cute side of it The game also gives you a bad time if you were smitten by Yuri's obsessiveness. As Monika meddles with the code Yuri's fixation on you escalates. It stops being framed as attractive and starts being framed as creepy. The culmination of this is when she confesses love for you and regardless of whether you accept the confession or not she bursts out laughing and stabs herself to death. During the final confrontation Monika talks at length about how she knows she's a video game character but she also talks about how it's inevitable that all the girls in the game will fall in love with you, the player The destination of the journey is baked into the game's code, she says. So when she makes her own confession of love and makes it clear that all of her alarming actions were taken so that she could be with you, it probably leaves the player feeling uncomfortable The creepiness doesn't just come from a fictional character apparently being madly obsessed with you although that helps No, the real root of the creepiness is that Monika is the most realistic in her characterization She's the one furthest from the cutesy anime tropes and yet, even she can't escape the coded-in, baked-in inevitability of falling in love with the protagonist. A lot of people in the Doki Doki fandom were really affected by this final showdown of sorts They got really attached to Monika because of it – and this makes sense as a reaction But it does raise questions about why we make and play games that Have cute anime girls inevitably fall in love with us I also want to touch on Natsuki, the tsundere girl. In the second half of the game, she receives a swift and brutal deconstruction. If you make choices that lead you down the Natsuki route, then the obsessive Yuri will drag you away After a while Natsuki jealous nature escalates because of Monika's meddling. She becomes so angry and obsessed that her head rotates 90 degrees on a horizontal axis, killing her instantly. She appears in the next scene entirely unharmed and nobody has any memory of the incident So does this mean that Dan Salvato hates- (laughs) That he hates visual novels so much that he made one? No, it doesn't, obviously. But it is what TV Tropes would call a decon-recon; that is, that it deconstructs dating sims and then it reconstructs them in a better way It's not meant to be a slap in the face. It's more of an elbow in the ribs It's also comparable to watch Elizabeth Sandifer calls Narrative substitution: where you think that you're seeing one story and then it turns out that it was actually another story all along, rejecting the first story usually on ideological grounds. By making the personalities of the girls more realistic, the game makes it easier for the player to get attached Of course you're going to be more attached to Sayori as a realistic person than you were to her at the start when she seems to be a complete cliche. The game pokes fun at you for being attracted to these anime archetypes But then it draws you in more and encourages you to be even more enamored with the girls The point is not to condemn all dating sims to the trash heap. Rather, it's to try to build something new and better It's reformist The games illustrations are also tongue-in-cheek in how they sexualize all the girls It's easy to miss because usually you only see them from the waist up, but they all have skirts So short it beggars belief. Each of the three routes has some moment of the protagonist and the girl stumbling into some innuendo and getting flustered For example, you can find a sequence where Natsuki stands up on a stool to reach a high shelf and you have to hold the stool and you accidentally see up her skirt Speaking of which… What age are these girls exactly? Okay, I know Dan Salvato said in a Discord AMA that they're all 18 So I should preface this by saying that nobody in the dedicated subreddit for Doki Doki Rule 34 is… They're not doing any CRIMES… But I do have a few small concerns. When Natsuki is introduced, the protagonist observes how short and slight she is and assumes she's in first year It's later strongly implied that Natsuki has an eating disorder and an abusive father who doesn't feed her consistently That would explain why she's short and slight. It's not that she's fifteen or sixteen It's that she's an 18 year old who hasn't physically developed properly due to malnutrition This is a clever writing move that is consistent with the trends of the girls surface level cuteness being caused by mental health problems but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to be the killjoy at this boner party because that doesn't totally check out as an excuse. Without diving into the full history of post-modernism I'll say that surfaces count for a lot in art. Natsuki is presented to us initially as a first-year. When we're showing a scene where the protagonist looks up her skirt We still have every reason to believe She's a first-year. Then we later find out that she's just malnourished and she was secretly eighteen all along. Does this underlying truth overrule the surface appearance? I mean, maybe. Questions like this have inspired all sorts of scholastic debates for decades. It's a gray area I'm not sure what Salvato's intent was here but either way I think this functions as part of the satire. Natsuki's age is a bit confusing and ambiguous in-game for reasons attached to her eating disorder and that draws attention to how all these characters are high school students. If the player hovers on this thought for even a few seconds, it probably becomes uncomfortable unless you're a teenager, I suppose. When a piece of media tries to satirize the male gaze like this It usually stumbles over the line into just doing the male gaze Blade Runner 2049 is a great example of this. Cult classic game No More Heroes has some satirical intent but also just likes pointing the camera at nice butts The Jennifer Lawrence movie Red Sparrow fumbles this often, proving all too eager for J-Law to get her goodies out. In this context Doki Doki has a clumsy moment but pulls off the trick better than most. So was it gross? I mean Dan Salvato's gender politics in the rest of this game are pretty on point He did say all of the girls are over 18. So was it gross? It is kind of questionable to satirize the sexualization of teenage anime girls by sexualizing what appears to be a teenage anime girl as then saying she's eighteen in an AMA outside of the game So is it gross? Dude, I dunno, leave me alone. Why do I have to be the first mouse on this? Why isn't anyone else talking about this? Everyone loves Doki Doki Literature Club. Everyone was talking about it a whole bunch… a fucking year ago. I'm very late to this But everyone, like I said, has been talking about the horror and stuff and not so much about the themes and stuff and why is that? Doki Doki Literature Club is in part about representation of women in video games and there's literally a small industry of men on the internet complaining about critics who say anything about representation of women in video games. So, you'd think that When Doki Doki Literature Club came out and did pretty well, that you would get a load of people complaining about it for a job – like what happened with Black Panther and Captain Marvel and Ghostbusters There's a lot of these. Instead you've seen almost no uproar at all and I don't think it's because everyone is suddenly leftist now. I think it's mainly because It kind of went over people's heads or at least over the heads of the people who usually get angry about this sort of thing For example, One of the most popular mods for the game is A Brand New Day, which changes the plot so that everyone gets a happy ending. The impulse to write this kind of fanfiction is understandable. Fix-fics have been a thing for years and years and years. It doesn't even inherently contradict the game's viewpoint since it's trying to reconstruct dating sims by offering psychological realism But this mod does essentially remove the satire and replaces it with a sincere harem ending – that is to say, you get to date all the girls at once Hey-rem? Hah-rem? (MatPat, reading) "These girls are just too cute" "Gotta be careful, I might… become a Mormon because of them?" (Stephanie) Ohhh… it's a polygamy joke (MatPat) OH NOOO! I'm not trying to pull the fuckin "oh, you just don't get it," because that's inherently patronizing and it positions me as the smart one here in my chair with my legs crossed This is just my dad's attic. What I mean is that I think Doki Doki Literature Club, as popular as it has been, is largely misunderstood and that if people got it then you would be more angry about it even though it's fucking awesome. Thanks for watching. I'm holding this book and I know that makes me seem like a snob but it's literally just to hide this microphone. If you liked this video give it a thumbs up. If you hated this video, give it a thumbs up Be sure to click the subscribe button wherever this this year and leave your thoughts in the comments above Thanks to my patrons on Patreon. Thank you very much If you also want to throw some money in my hat, then you can do that on patreon.com slash loafers. Thanks I'll see y'all around

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