(The following blog posts contains spoilers forThe Expression Amrilato and mentions of scenes in Distant Memoraĵo.)
Saluton! Hello, there! It’s Noto, editor of The Expression Amrilato, and now its sequel Distant Memoraĵo, which will be releasing later this month! If you enjoyed the first game, I can’t recommend the second enough: there’s more Rin, more Ruka, more Rei, and more rabbits, to boot.
Working on the Amrilato series has truly been a unique and exciting experience. It’s no secret that the language within the game, Juliamo, is based on Esperanto. The developer, SukeraSpero, put a great deal of research into ensuring that the in-game language is accurate and does justice to its basis. Not only that, but what floored me the first time I played was how effective even just playing the main story was as a teaching tool. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it works. The first game took you stumbling alongside Rin as you both worked to puzzle out the Juliamo surrounding her. I have warm memories of, like Rin, suddenly realizing that I could actually make sense of an entire Juliamo sentence without glancing at the translation.
Distant Memoraĵo takes a bit of a different focus compared to the first game. Where The Expression Amrilato revolved almost solely around Rin’s experience—her language acquisition, her homesickness, her growing relationship with her prizorganto, Ruka (that’s guardian in Juliamo, by the way!) Memoraĵo now pivots to give us a closer view of the characters that have surrounded her since the beginning.
As someone whose favorite character from the first game was the snarky and mysterious Rei Arboro, I was absolutely thrilled. We’ll get to her later, though.
The game is set up as both a sequel and a prequel. The sequel part takes place some time after the (spoilers!) ending where Rin has decided to stay in Ruka’s world. The Rin we see here is more confident in her language abilities and more stable, though she still has her moments of insecurity and overthinking.
Rin’s experience as a language learner in a new place likely will resonate anyone who’s been through the same thing (I myself had just moved to Japan as I was editing the first game, and felt her struggle keenly.) She’s much better at Juliamo now, but there are still entire conversations and situations where she’s hilariously lost. More than that, her questioning whether she should have stayed or gone back starts to bother her once she realizes that she’s more than a little jealous of Ruka’s life outside the home.
That’s where Kanako comes in: the bully from the first installment, who Rin had defended Ruka against. While Kanako and Ruka eventually made up in Amrilato, now they’ve suddenly grown close…and Rin decides that she needs to find out more. I recommend playing the game for yourself to find out what happens, but SukeraSpero has done a great job of fleshing Kanako’s character out. The interaction between her, Ruka, and Rin is both amusing and charming. Moreover, we’re watching Rin leave the nest and fly with her own wings, which, honestly, is just as important as finding a reliable helping hand.
Speaking of fleshing out characters: the prequel portion revolves entirely around how Rei and Ruka met one day, and how Rei, only barely having crossed the threshold of adulthood, became responsible for a spunky and somewhat troublesome eight-year-old.
Rei and Ruka were both Rin’s anchors from the first game. Rei was mature and reliable, Ruka was kind and caring. It’s a real treat to see the former figuring out what exactly a ‘functioning adult,’ let alone a ‘guardian’ is, and the latter being more stubborn and impulsive than her middle school self. You can see shades of the two women they’re going to grow into, but they’re a long way off from that now. We get to see how they ended up developing their close relationship, their growing comfort with each other, and how Rei influenced Ruka to become a guardian.
If Amrilato was about learning a language and finding one’s footing in a foreign world, Memoraĵo is about the connections made once we finally get the courage to take hold of our choices.
As an editor, I have to say that the most interesting thing about working on both games was the interplay between languages. There’s already plenty of juggling going on when editing between two: Japanese and English have nuances and structures that are completely different from each other. The presence of honorifics and lack of set pronouns in Japanese are just a few that come to mind, but there are plenty of finicky areas. This series, however, throws a third language into the mix; while Esperanto is a little closer to European languages such as German and Latin, which English also shares, it is a separate beast of its own. Very often, there was double- and triple-checking to see whether something needed to be changed in the Juliamo or the English translation.
Here’s a fun example: in Japanese, there are no plurals. Ringo can mean “apple” or “apples,” depending on context. Esperanto, similarly, has “pomo” for singular and “pomoj” for plural.
However! Unlike in English, where most of the time we use the plural to generalize (“Apples are fruits” or “Apples are fruit,”) in Juliamo the singular is more common: “Pomo estas frukto.” “La pomoj estas fruktoj” (apples are fruits) is also possible, but there’s no automatic generalization with the plural. It’s this kind of nuance that we had to watch out for! Sometimes we could figure out certain proper nuance (such as whether a word was singular or plural) by checking the Esperanto, but that could just as easily lead us astray.
Overall, I can’t recommend The Expression Amrilato and Distant Memoraĵo nearly enough. They’re games that were made with a lot of love: love towards language, love towards learning, love towards the things that change us as people. Give it a try!