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I thought I’d do an analysis of my own game, as it sprung up so quickly I almost didn’t know what it meant.
I’ll say this right off the bat: I intended for your character to be dead on the train at the end, although I liked the ambiguity of his pose – he could be dead or sleeping behind his glasses!
Basically, a lot depends on your first dance. If you do well, the game will try to force you down the ‘Skill Path’ via persuasive dialogue, if you do horribly, the game will try to make you follow the ‘Strength Path’.
Nothing is set in stone, however, and the player can ignore the dialogue presented and choose either path, by talking more to either the Girl (Strength) or the Skinny Guy (Skill).
Our character is dying on a train. Quite possibly from overwork (or ‘Karoshi‘.) I like to think that he simply saw a Rockabilly opposite him, perhaps on the way to Yoyogi park, and began to imagine what his life might have been like if he’d stayed young and rebellious. Perhaps being a Rockabilly didn’t really mean being a Rockabilly at all … it meant pursuing a creative or artistic dream which he gave up to get married and have a sensible career (note the wedding ring on the final ‘note’ screen.)
Who Do The Characters Represent?
Well, now you know our protagonist is experiencing the point of death, we can then assume his life is flashing before his eyes, and therefore all the NPC’s are people he knows:
The ‘Annoying Guy’ – this represents his boss, his sense of duty, his conforming to the system. The whole idea of repeatedly doing pointless stuff just so the guy feels in control, is perhaps a commentary on blind loyalty shown by some Japanese employees, the ‘not wanting to rock the boat / lose face’. So did he stand up to him in the end? Well that depends on the ending.
The Girl - is definitely his wife. She always encouraged him to be tougher and stand up to his boss. Whether he did is sort of up to the player, and their choice of endings. Whether he ignored her, or gave up his hobbies to be with her also depends on the ending.
The ‘Air Guitar’ guy – represents his friend, and another ‘Rockabilly’ (ie a friend who shared the same creative hobby as our protagonist.) He was also perhaps something of a rival, and so the initial face-off determines whether our hero was truly talented a his hobby or not, and whether it was worth pursuing against the odds.
The ‘Skinny Guy’ - this guy represents the unattainable – true skill within his chosen hobby / creative field. A hero of his in real life, perhaps, someone he always tried to measure up to. Whether or not the protagonist actually did measure up, depends on your final dance!
However, as higlighted above, the endings I considered positive were Good Dancing + Skill and Bad Dancing + Strength.
What Do They Mean?
“Good Dancing + Skill Path” – the note says ‘I should have followed my dreams…’
In this ending, the player was truly talented at their creative pursuit. They never followed it, and only in the moment of death did they realise that it would have been attainable. Maybe in the next life?
“Bad Dancing + Skill Path” – the note says ‘I never really had it in me…’
In this ending, the player followed their creative pursuit. They never truly achieved greatness though, and realise that they should have wasted less time trying to achieve something that wasn’t truly in him.
“Good Dancing + Strength Path” – the note says ‘I should make more time for her…’
In this ending, I’m not totally sure if our guy is dead. It’s more ambiguous to me, as the note is in the present tense. However, what we do know is that he’s realised his hobby has come between him and his wife, and he should redress the balance. She is more important to him than his hobby, even though he is skilled at it.
“Bad Dancing + Strength Path” – the note says ‘I did the right thing…’
In this ending, I don’t think being a Rockabilly represents what it does in the other endings. If anything it means conforming to rigidly hierarchical structure of his workforce and not complaining when he was never allowed any time with his family. The fetch quests are more potent here as he finally stands up to them and actually refuses the dance with ‘Annoying Guy’. He chooses her over the system and stands up to his boss.