[VN] SeaBed

Seabed

SeaBed offers a fascinating and thought-provoking story about dealing with loss as well as lots of subtle mysteries that may not be apparent at first glance, but you’ve got to possess an iron stomach for extremely descriptive, dull, mechanical prose and ultra slow pace to truly enjoy it.

Release: 2016 (paleontology)
Writers: Akira & hide38
Japanese difficulty: Hard
English: Fruitbat Factory
Ratings: VNDB (7.93); EGS (7.81)

Seabed

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Having been written as a doujin by people with no prior credit in the business, SeaBed does not read or feel like your average visual novel. Rather, its heavy amount of descriptive prose and almost no anime-like antics make it feel like a paper novel with illustrations.

In other words, it’s probably not for those who dislike reading or are looking for some cute and light-hearted yuri action.

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The story of SeaBed follows a twenty-eight year old designer, Mizuno Sachiko, who realizes she’s been seeing hallucinations of her former girlfriend that had disappeared without a trace some time ago.

The plot jumps between flashbacks of the two’s past, from their kindergarten days to them working and traveling together as adults, and Sachiko’s attempts to get a grip of her life in the present day by visiting a psychiatrist’s office.

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Although there’s a mysterious atmosphere throughout the whole experience, and there are many actually very crafty, and even mind-blowing mysteries hidden all over the plot, about 90% of the novel’s content consists of mundane slice-of-life scenes that don’t really have any specific punchline… just like memories from your own life, I imagine.

They are also deliberately written in the most dry sounding prose ever that lacks any emotion and does little for evocation, instead opting to express the depressed mental state of its protagonist and hypnotizing the viewers with its monotone flow.

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It’s definitely not for everyone and at times I really struggled not to fall asleep when reading this work, and I might have even quit if not for all the little mysteries that intrigued me, but then… everything totally pays off in the end.

The flavorless prose and the overbearing amount of slice-of-life scenes from all over their life make you tune in with the characters to such an extent it seriously feels like they’ve become part of your own life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the feelings that’d been carefully bottled up for over 90% of the plot explode like a nuclear bomb in the end.

There’s this one scene that’s not even that dramatic when you look at it without context, but it totally destroyed me in its subtle way. It’s been a rough ride for me as I’m extremely prone to boredom, but even if that scene was the only thing I’d have liked in the work, it still would’ve made it all worth it.

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Reading SeaBed may test your patience, but if you can get past the dull prose and lack of things happening, you’ll find yourself with one of the most touching and thought-provoking stories about dealing with loss you’ve ever read.

And if you’re one for mysteries, while they’re never really in focus, there are lots of extremely crafty ones in the background details. I’d have never even suspected some of the stuff if the author hadn’t revealed it to me, so it’ll be interesting to see if English readers will be able to figure some of it out.

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Positive:
Negative:
Attractive character designs
Low quality, stock background artwork
A surprisingly large amount of CGs
Mechanical, flavorless, overly descriptive prose
Effective, beautiful soundtrack
Extremely slow pace
Mysterious, surreal atmosphere
Extremely realistic, profound, likable characters
The final part of the story plays your emotions like a piano
Thought-provoking on dealing with loss and life in general
Enlightening on a plethora of psychological subjects
Enlightening on a lot of random trivia
Lots of crafty mysteries in the details that will take a while to solve
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