Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle is a comedy drama which continues the story of a trio of unemployed teenage girls Arue Marisugawa, Koiro Hachisuka, and Arara Fujisaki set in a dystopian Japanese setting. Arue continued to practice hard in her manga as an aspiring manga creator and managed to secure a booth at a doujin exhibition called Big Site to showcase her manga works. Her close friends and fellow Chuusotsu (People without any authorization seal which renders them unable to hold any permanent stable employment) Koiro and Arara, decide to accompany and support Arue as her inseparable friends and apartment mates. Along the way, they would encounter two different manga authors and a few minor characters.
Having played the prequel Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time, The Moving Castle continues to feature equally cute artwork, and the same background music as the prequel Time After Time. Although The Moving Castle is a much shorter kinetic visual novel where it takes around a couple of hours to read and listen to all the text and voiced dialogue, this title dives immediately into the lives of the three Chuusotsu with plenty of satire and humour about manga and otaku culture, and doesn't explain very much about the first game of how the girls became to be friends. Hence, reading Time After Time is advised before reading this visual novel. It is still possible to grasp most parts of this visual novel and enjoy it without playing Time After Time, although it would be nice if there was background information at the beginning of the game, or a glossary on specific terms this visual novel uses.
This kinetic visual novel is also short where it takes around a couple of hours to read the text and listen to the voiced dialogue, and has only one CG. Although the game description mentions it is a side story that continues the story of the first game, the game feels more like a DLC that immediately continues after the events in Time After Time by having a very limited amount of new artwork and relatively short playtime compared to its predecessor. I was also a bit disappointed that one of the supporting characters in this visual novel is no longer voiced as she was in Time After Time as I feel this character could have brought out the humour more if voiced dialogue for her was present.
Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle may be a very short side-story compared to Time After Time, yet this visual novel has more humour. It has plenty of jokes that carry from the beginning all the way through the end of the visual novel, avoiding unnecessary introductions and background information in the process. As a satire on manga and otaku culture, this visual novel offers humorous dialogue with voice acting, cute and comical artwork, and some interesting take-home messages for readers who like doujin works. At the same time, the price for this visual novel may be a bit high even after discount at 15-20% since the game has a short playing time, limited number of CG and character outfit artwork, and there are no theme songs being featured this time around.
Overall, Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle is a cute and funny comedy drama with an interesting storyline. This game as a side-story continues with the appeal from Time After Time, and explores a different theme with a few new characters, yet it doesn't expand significantly further on the dystopian futuristic setting, any of the main character's background, or the ending in Time After Time. Hence, I would recommend this game when it is in an attractive bundle offer with Time After Time, or for those who have played Time After Time and enjoyed it.
Initial gameplay video with author narration and commentary on YouTube by TheBlueShifting