Earlier this week, it was announced that Sentimental Graffiti’s 20th anniversary special event was successfully funded by fans via Japanese crowdfunding platform Campfire. In a month, fans grouped together to crowdfund 34,701,700 yen, three times more than the initial goal of 10,000,000 yen. That said, what is Sentimental Graffiti, and what makes this 20th anniversary crowdfunding project so special?
Sentimental Graffiti came at a time when Konami’s Tokimeki Memorial series was hitting its all-time high. Sentimental Graffiti was created to follow along the trend, and arguably was the most successful out of its competition, although it never overtook TokiMemo.
The game features a boy named Ichiro Tanaka, who one day receives a letter that said, “I want to meet you…” In order to find who sent the letter, the protagonist goes on a journey across the country to meet twelve girls who he knew in the past.
Produced by NEC Interchannel and developed by Toshio Tabeta and staff from the Graduation series, the game was a hit. One of the factors that led to this was a large-scale media campaign to promote the staff behind the game, including the twelve female voice actresses, who formed a unit known as the SG Girls. Apart from ads, there was a radio show on TBS, an anime called Sentimental Journey, and more, and it paid off.
The SG Girls were comprised of six new voice actors affiliated with Seiji Productions, while six of them were found via the regular audition method. Least to say, the success of Sentimental Graffiti helped their careers quite a bit. They include Ai Maeda and Mariko Suzuki, who would later become the voice of Shion and KOS-MOS in Xenosaga respectively, Hiromi Konno who would voice Sae Nakata in Amagami, and so on.
Incidentally, Toshio Tabeta, the leading staff member behind the game, would go on to found Prototype, who would publish other companies’ visual novels for PS4, PSP, and other consoles, such as Flowers, Grisaia: Phantom Trigger, and VisualArts’ various games like Clannad, Rewrite, and more.
What makes the Campfire campaign so interesting is that this venture wasn’t mainly planned by Interchannel (which NEC Interchannel was dissolved into), nor any of the heads behind the game. The project was revealed by the members of the SG Girls who once voiced the heroines in this game, after receiving the blessing from the producer, character designer, music producer, and scenario writer of Sentimental Graffiti to go ahead and do so. They formed the Sentimental Graffiti 20th Anniversary Project with the help of Gungho, who acquired the rights to release the game on PlayStation Game Archives.
The idea is to hold a 20th Anniversary special event titled ‘Reunion’, featuring ten of the twelve SG Girls. They’ll be holding a talk show that will include reading out voice lines at Hitotsubashi Hall in Chiyoda on January 19, 2019, followed directly by a special music concert. While the initial goal of 10,000,000 yen was to cover event costs, now that they’ve funded over three times that, the extra money is going towards improving the quality of the event, commissioning the music director to produce a new song for the 20th Anniversary, as well as a new original audio drama to commemorate the special occassion.
It just goes to show that something as simple as a love sim visual novel can inspire so much love from both the fans, as well as the staff that made the visual novel happen.
Sentimental Graffiti was released for Sega Saturn, Windows 95, and PlayStation, but is also available on PlayStation Game Archives.