CLoM » Yume Nikki, Part I -- Cast of Characters

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Yume Nikki, Part I -- Cast of Characters
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I have been trying to work out a good way of approaching the world of Yume Nikki in a logical order, and I have decided it is impossible. Pretty much any way I do it, it is going to seem random and out of order. But I have come to realize that this is a pretty accurate way of describing the Yume Nikki experience, and so I am now OK with it. I have decided to start with a list of the central, most notable characters, since that will give you a sense of the most important things in Madotsuki's dreams, which I think is a good way of establishing the context of my future posts.

None of these characters do anything except stand perfectly still, or in some cases, walk around a little bit. No one says anything. No one reacts to your presence at all. All the names come from fans. Pretty much all personalities are guessed at... but when you're talking about a mutilated monochrome humanoid hundreds of feet tall, personality is not very relevant.

There are inevitable lapses in this list. Since everyone in the game (and there are lots of “people” here) is essentially functionless, what counts as a notable character is very subjective. My list (which is pretty short) covers only the most popularly known characters, along with one which is less popular but makes up for it by being fucking terrifying. All the things in this list are landmarks as much as characters, so they should give you a good idea of the conceptual shape of the game world, if nothing else.


01. PONIKO

Poniko is a blonde girl who lives in a very normal bedroom which is hidden at the end of a long trek through a pink and purple mountainous world. Like everyone in the game, she does not react to you at all. She just walks around in her room and looks kinda bored. There are about three places in Yume Nikki that feel “happy” somehow, and Poniko’s home is one of them. In this place, you can hear actual music, rather than a four second loop that will make you feel like there is a cold tap dripping on your neck. If you walked in while someone was playing Yume Nikki, and they were in this room, it might seem like a pretty normal RPG. The music actually sounds a bit like Pokemon, to me. It has that happy innocent feel.
Somewhat concerningly, Poniko is the only character in the game apart from Madotsuki who looks like a human being. Everyone else is either deformed or plain wrong. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to wrap your head around that.


02. SECCOM MASADA

A monochrome guy who plays the piano on a spaceship [1]. The Yume Nikki fandom has transformed this tiny character into some kind of elegant gothic mentor character, like Tim Burton cubed. I’m really not seeing this. The sprite itself is very basic compared to more developed characters like Poniko and the Toriningen, and it looks like it was meant to be self-evidently unattractive. He has eyes that point in different directions, his clothes are very minimal, and his hair is unkempt. Fanart makes him look like Trent Reznor, and turns his googly eyes into an expression of hapless cuteness, which is actually kinda fun.
However, there are a couple of things pretty much everyone has failed to notice about Masada.
  1. He and his home are entirely black and white, which means they are part of the White Desert - the worst and most disturbing part of Madotsuki’s head. The White Desert looks like it was drawn by a child, and seems to be mainly made out of dismembered people and oozing white things. So yeah. I can’t really get my head around the idea that something in this area of the dreamworld is supposed to be positive.
  2. Masada’s “6___9” eyes motif is actually used in lots of other places in Yume Nikki... as a shorthand for “pain”. There is a frozen screaming face in Eyeball World which has its eyes in this position. There are strange creatures that cough blood, in an area covered in footprints, which also have their eyes in this position. There is also a completely different type of frozen screaming face in Eyeball World which has a similar expression. If nothing else, Yume Nikki will open your eyes to the potential variation in frozen screaming faces.
Basically, I can’t see how Masada could be a pleasant memory for Madotsuki. Everything about the White Desert screams “these people are dead”.


03. THE AZTEC GODS

It's not a real party till the Aztec Gods get involved. :3
I hardly ever see this commented on. It’s a shame, because it’s one of the most used themes in Yume Nikki. You will see Aztec Gods almost as much as you will see blood and staring eyes. If you count the Aztec Gods which are bleeding and staring at you with their eyes, the number is even greater. They are also one of the more interesting themes to me, because they make no sense at all. Seriously, why would Madotsuki have such a deeply internalized awareness of Aztec-esque imagery? Anyone can hazard a guess as to what the butchered corpses in the White Desert are supposed to be, but the Aztec Gods are just inexplicable. Since they all have a strange “watching” theme to them, I would suggest that they come from paranoia, but Yume Nikki already has loads of imagery that effectively covers that theme.
Aztec Gods are most often found in the backgrounds of areas, usually scrolling automatically, so they appear to float past you slowly. They never move. You can also find them on carved stones in many of the “fantasy” themed worlds. The TV in Madotsuki’s room has a random event attached to it in its dream incarnation, which causes your entire screen to be covered in scrolling images of an Aztec God vomiting a zig zag. I already knew about this, and it’s not really a surprising event, or even at all graphic, but for some reason it made my skin crawl. I mean... it’s on TV. How the hell is this supposed to be happening? The normal event for the dream-TV is bad enough (an eye that is so big it fills the small screen and doesn’t even look like an eye until you’ve been looking at it for several long seconds) but this one is horrible.
There is also a stone box in the middle of the “wilderness” that contains a similar event, but with a huge image of a staring monkey god whose colors flash like your computer is dying [2]. Just like the TV event, this one creeps me out mainly because of the context and implications. Is the monkey god supposed to be inside the box? How would that work? You can’t see him from outside, and he fills the whole sceen, so did Madotsuki have to put her head inside the box to see him? Oh god.


04. UBOA

Everybody knows Uboa! Uboa is like the mascot for Yume Nikki. Or the ambassador, even — because I’m guessing about 90% of Yume Nikki fans found the game through a video of the Uboa event on youtube. Probably this one [3] because it rocks. Go on, watch it.
Uboa is supposedly the scariest thing in the game. It isn’t really, but it’s still pretty creepy. Basically it’s a random event — there is a lightswitch in Poniko’s house, and if you turn the lights off, there is a 1/64 chance that...
  1. The colors will invert and go weird.
  2. Random eyes and faces will appear at the window and on appliances.
  3. The music is cut, and replaced by a panicky air rushing sound.
  4. Poniko will be replaced by a bizarre, indescribable face, as big as she was, and entirely black and white.
All of this happens instantly. If you don’t know about it in advance it could probably give you a modest heart attack. Luckily, everyone knows about it in advance... but it still creeps us out, because it’s just so full-on, random and plain weird. I have yet to see any convincing interpretation of the expression on Uboa’s face. It’s like a detached sneer on the face of someone experimenting with severe muscle relaxants. Furthermore, it doesn’t have a body, but it does appear to have a sort of “hood” shape around the bottom of the head. What. The fuck.
When Uboa appears, you can no longer leave Poniko’s room. If you interact with Uboa, things only get worse...


05. COLOSSAL BLEEDING GOD

Interacting with Uboa will warp you to an entirely new scene. Madotsuki now stands on top of a Uboa, whose face is mangled, in an endless sea of white fluid, while in the background, filling the entire screen, is Colossal Bleeding God.
I must admit, I named this guy right now, because no one has given him a name before. I think the name is pretty self-explanatory.
Uboa doesn’t scare me at all, but Colossal Bleeding God does. For me, this is the worst part of the game. The scene here is impossible to leave unless you pinch yourself and wake up. You can walk sideways over the waves of white stuff, but the ground will just loop forever, while Colossal Bleeding God floats serenely past in the background.
It’s difficult to describe what CBG looks like, because the whole thing just doesn’t correspond to anything that exists in reality. It looks vaguely like a humanoid figure, but it has a hands where one of its feet should be, a whole extra arm for good measure, and weird holes in its back which spray out blood like a waterfall. None of it moves at all. It seems to be “standing” on its four arms and one foot, and its hands seem to be gripping the white stuff underneath it, but it also looks like the white stuff is coming up to meet it, even though the whole thing is frozen. Basically, you can stare at this thing for hours and you will still have no clue what you’re looking at. But whatever it is, it’s horrible.
This is also part of the White Desert. The only colors are black white and blood, and the music is the White Desert theme, which is mostly silence, except for these weird intermittent dissonant hisses. This might be the creepiest ambient track I’ve ever heard. It’s like the audio equivalent of staring at a bloody crime scene. But that might just be because of what I associate with it.
Yuck.


06. TORININGEN

Toriningen are still scary, but much less scary than anything in the White Desert. Toriningen are bird people — they are teenage girls with beaks, who appear quite happy and friendly. They move around like normal people, and wear nice trendy clothes. However, unlike pretty much every other character in the game, if you stab them they will not die. Instead, their eyes turn purple, their tongue lolls from their mouth, and they chase after you [4]. An angry Toriningen can actually harm you, which makes them unlike anything else in the game. They don’t actually hurt you — they just teleport you to an inescapable area, so that you have to pinch yourself and wake up.
The worst part is, some of them are already angry when they meet you, for reasons that will never be explained. NO ONE TOLD ME THIS.
I didn’t actually realize anything could attack me in Yume Nikki. I had gotten used to wandering around looking at the scenery, and consoling myself with the thought that, however horrifying and evil something looked, it was never actually interested in me, and was probably frozen in place. My first encounter with an angry Toriningen went something like this.
MEI: Ooh, a new door.
SFX: ~Door~
SFX: Creepy evil music.
MEI: OK. I don’t like it here.
MEI: Hello, who’s this? I am mildly interested.
MEI: She’s actually walking towards me. That’s stran— HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK
SFX: ~~THUMP~~
MEI: What? Where am I? No fair. ;_____________;
Why are they angry when they meet you? What the hell? It kind of made sense to me that there could be a character who would react realistically to Madotsuki’s knife. Most things just disappear, and they all make the same screaming sound, which seems to me to be a pretty blatant hint that Madotsuki doesn’t actually have any memories of stabbing things. However, it seems like she might have attacked someone like a Toriningen at some point, and it didn’t help her at all. This all makes sense. What does not make sense is that they would be angry to start with. What’s happening? It’s like some parts of the dream world have different pasts associated with them — like by traveling to the creepy “face plaza” (where I met my evil Toriningen) you enter a memory that takes place after Madotsuki has already attacked a Toriningen.
I don’t like this idea. When I started playing Yume Nikki I decided I wouldn’t use the knife on anything. I don’t think you need to kill things to complete the game, and my reasoning was that Madotsuki’s dreams are bad enough already without me going around killing things indiscriminately. I thought this would protect me somehow. I mean, Yume Nikki isn’t real, and it can’t change anything in reality if I behave one way or another, but my own dreams aren’t real either, and I would never kill anything in my dreams. A thing doesn’t have to be “real” for you to relate to it, or treat it with respect. Madotsuki isn’t real, but I feel sorry for her anyway, and I’m not going to stab her memories. But if some of them are pre-stabbed, where does that leave me? If I can make Madotsuki’s memories worst just by travelling, then I’ve already done some pretty terrible things, even though I thought I was completely innocent.
This is quite worrying, but it’s still heaps better than talking about Colossal Bleeding God. Let's not talk about Colossal Bleeding God.


IN CONCLUSION

I’m feeling kinda spooked and weird now, so I am going to use this video [5] as an antidote. I recommend you do as well. It will be fun.

--Mei (talk) 03:22, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

--Edited, Mei (talk) 03:28, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

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Talk


Huh. Sounds weird but interesting. I imagine there is some symbolic significance to everything, as it sounds like one of those games that is "art"-like, but having never played I don't know what the message is. So I will attempt to interpret your interpretations of it. Tetronian you're clueless 23:19, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
It is quite arty, but it is also very straightforward and simple. There might be a message, but we will probably never know. But it doesn't matter, because trying to work out meanings is fun! ^______^ Mei (talk) 23:26, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
For example I have decided that Poniko is a heroin addict, because she looks so tired. This is canon now. Mei (talk) 23:26, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I like your edit comment: 'Huh.' :3 Mei (talk) 23:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm guessing the creators did put some symbolic significance into it because it seems awfully detailed yet seems to lack a clear, linear plot, if that makes sense. Tetronian you're clueless 23:43, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
There is a whole subculture of Yume Nikki fans who deny all kinds of symbolism and get angry if people talk about it. They are known as 'jerks'. I'm pretty sure there is symbolism/significance, but it's very difficult to be sure of anything. It is the vagueness which is interesting sometimes. Mei (talk) 23:55, 12 April 2010 (UTC)