This post will focus on Mask of Truth and Deception, but most of this can be applied to the original as well.
It is claimed that a person’s significance, to you, is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with them. while there’s definite truth to that, the causation is inverted. You spend a lot of time with them cause they are significant. Assuming that significance is created through interest, then significance can be artificially manufactured. While I am not going to talk how a person could social engineer their way into someone’s life, such a thing is possible especially if you condition the person of interest to act in specific ways which will make your job easier.
In a story, where most variables are controlled, it’s possible to achieve “artificial significance” through the use of a self insert. By creating shared experiences, through dependence and reliance, Utawarerumono manages to make its daily life significant.
In Utawarerumono the significance lies in the daily routine rather than just the time spent with the cast. As is to be expected, the cast of Utawarerumono varies in terms of quality. I wouldn’t go so far as to say some characters were badly written – Nekone-, but it should not be a surprise that you wouldn’t have an interest in the whole cast. Thus comes the difference made by having the significance in the routines and motions rather than the time spent with each character. Moreover, by tying the reader’s relationship to the routine the story can get away with a huge tone shift between the two masks.
Essentially, Uta will cause a shift to the routine with each major event. This affects the routine, changing it even if slightly, and creates a fear of losing the comfort of the known. The Idea might not sound convincing at first as it completely relies on how much the reader is buying into the routine. The story goes far to make the daily life earned rather than just something that’s happening.
Utawarerumono -specifically Deception- makes use of RPG party introduction cliches to make your relationships feel earned. This is done to create a feel of “journey”, where you meet your companions along the way. This allows the integration of the cast into the routine one at a time whilst giving time for the routine to change without the change being too sudden. Moreover, this allows the relationships to feel earned rather than forced on the reader. However, the later is a result of execution rather than the methodology itself. Introducing the character one at a time does nothing to strengthen your bonds with them, making sure that these bonds feel earned.
usually, the harder to get something is the more earned getting it feels. However, applying that to relationships wouldn’t feel right let alone relationships that are supposedly a part of something significant. Therefore, a different concept must be applied here and simple as it may be, using time as a factor does a lot to how honest a relationship feels. In addition, the fact that the ladies don’t immediately want Haku’s light saber adds a needed layer of depth to the relationships. In actuality, the fact that romantic developments are tied to Haku’s development as a person works well with the game’s themes of self-betterment and redemption. The importance of this only grows further as a result of the story taking convenience over rationale.
In Utawererumono, many- if not most- things happen as a result of their convenience to the story. It’s safe to say that sometimes things are too convenient, and yet they feel natural or even earned. These coincidences, let’s say, are necessary to what Utawarerumono is trying to do. Nontheless, they remain as a consistent problem within the series despite their limited use as a “positive” element. I am saying this to get across how most of your meetings with the cast are purely chance meetings. As a result, the part where the relationships are explored and built over a long period becomes far more crucial to the story. Therefore, it becomes easy to see why taking things over a longer period of time may mitigate the effects the format has on the significance of the story. This, however, leads to a certain conflict between how things should go and how the story will make things go.
In Deception, things, for a while will, go in a “too fast and too convenient” direction. While the story attempts to make sure that things are later explained as “intentional”. This doesn’t help the fact that as a reader you will have to deal with how this makes quite a few things feel flat. This all comes down to the conflict between things being convenient and things being earned. All of this is intentional.
Uta takes a huge gamble with Deception. It’s not just how things are taken slowly and how invested in the routine the reader can be, it’s the fact that you don’t want to lose what you already have. Uta builds with convenience, Haku doesn’t really earn most of what he’s getting. You either wake up to a simple task or find things falling in your lap. This by no means is awful, it’s just your normal Moege writing in fact. Deception, however, uses that to its advantage. The reader will never think about how things could go badly or how they might lose something, that’s why once this idea is properly challenged the reader wakes up to everything they don’t want to lose and try to save it all.
Why and how did it become significant? it become the significant the moment any possibility of losing it showed itself. To protect the thing that’s keeping everything together must protected, your daily life has to be protected.