I have now spent some time on Perfect Cherry Blossom easy and there are several things I want to say about the category:
When I started out, I jokingly said I wanted a score of 1.8 billion. I didn't know what that score needed, how well I'd need to play and just went by percentages of the world record. My personal best at the time of that announcement was 1.1 billion, I believe and so naturally, I was justly told that my standards are too high. And I have to agree. 1.8 billion is too high of a score considering the time I am willing to spend on this category. The reason that I am not willing to spend that much time on the category is that it's far too technical for me. I am not the kind of player that is able to plan out a route that maximizes score as well as your knowledge of the game would allow. I am not the kind of player that is able to accurately calculate how much a certain graze would give, whether that one border would be worth more than two smaller ones that are farther apart and whatnot. I am the kind of player that watches a planned out replay and practices what the replay shows. If the things the replay does are intuitive, then I have fewer problems copying it than most people would have. However, a lot of things in PCB are not intuitive. What I mean are not the grazes; most of those are natural motions to me, but parts of Cherry+ control is not. I will take stage two as an example here:
When I started out to play PCB, I looked at the world record like I always do and saw it gets five borders in stage two. When I tried to copy what the world record did, I was left flabbergasting at what the hell was happening. I was short Cherry+ here and there and I didn't know why or how the fucking bomb worked. It took me the longest time to fix my stage two to what it roughly should be. I had similar issues in stage four and I worked those out too. What I did not manage to work out were stage three and five. The world record gets a border more on each stage. In stage three I don't even know how he gets the sufficient Cherry+ so I am forced to assume it's black magic. And while I know why in stage five, I absolutely can't replicate that. I tried to, but I did not manage once, and came to the conclusion that the extra border was not worth it and since it was a small border, so I didn't care much.
But on the other hand there were very few grazes I struggled to learn. The ones I found really difficult were Letty's "Flower Wither Away" spellcard and the "Funeral Concert" spell from the Prismrivers. Those are the things I thought were really hard to get down. Everything else I learned relatively quickly, because those tricks are, for the most part, intuitive grazes. Now, I'm not claiming to be doing any of them optimally. I realize myself while playing that I am missing a lot of graze everywhere, but that is something that comes with more practice on those attacks.
I know I am complaining, whining even, and I do realize that part of it is that I have absolutely no experience with PCB prior to starting this category. However, it doesn't change my dislike for purely technical techniques in this game. PCB is a fantastic game to play for score, mesmerizing even (particular the very optimized runs are), but unfortunately not entirely my cup of tea. I like the grazing - Reflowering for example is a lot of fun - I enjoy the bosses, but I do not enjoy the management of your Cherry+.
Now, I have talked about bad things in Perfect Cherry Blossom. Let me also mention the good things. I mentioned that I enjoy the grazing, which I do. There is a large variety of different types. There are of course your typical streaming grazes, which is not surprising, but there are many beautiful attacks in the game too: "Funeral Concert" is a great attack. It's a special type of circle grazing, which is always fun. I like it so much it fact, that I played the Prismrivers many times and am fairly consistent on all their attacks at this point (while hopelessly inconsistent in some other parts of the game, most notably stage two). Stage four is probably my most played stage in the game. I also greatly enjoy post Lily white, although I can't exactly explain why. "Ghost Butterfly" on easy mode is a thing of absolute beauty. The motion itself, to go back into the spawnpoint of the butterflies, is not very difficult (hug the bottom, time it right and voilà), but that doesn't take away any of its beauty. Playing around with it in practice mode, trying to maximize the graze is just a ton of fun. And then there is of course the spell I already mentioned. Reflowering has to be my favorite spellcard in the game and is probably also one of my favorite spells in the series at this point. I have always liked "Saigyouji Flawless Nirvana" in Imperishable Night, but being able to graze Reflowering just makes it that much better. What I really enjoy about this spell - as well as the others I have mentioned - is that they are very active. You don't just tap in a single direction or bomb for the graze like you would in Subterranean Animism. Instead, you are forced to work for your graze and the increased spellvalue and potential CherryMax. For the whole duration of the spells, you will be working for your score and that, my good fellows, is beautiful.
After all this, I would like to add my new, actual goal for this category, roughly anyway. 1.8 billion was a much too big time investment and I am actually not sure if I could reach that score with my route as it currently is. What I do know is, however, that my route can reach 1.7 billion, which is also what I would like to have at this point. I won't scoff at a high 1.6 run, but I would really like to get a clean run with 1.7 as the end result. So in the very end, this run is going to be so very much like many other runs of mine. Decent, but nothing stellar, unfortunately.