Hello, being the one who can’t seem to escape the wrath of All-ages Bishoujo game, I am here today to ponder about fairys’s debut game, いますぐお兄ちゃんに妹だっていいたい！(Ima Sugu Onii-chan ni Imouto datte Iitai! which will be referred to as Imaimo for the rest of this report) in the shoes of someone who bears an unjustified prejudice against imoutos. This will be a report of my futile efforts.
Imaimo is a 15+ Highschool Romance Adventure visual novel released in December 2012. The company, fairys, or rather their sister company sprite, is well known for their work in “Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate” for its excellence in watercolour style art works by Akinashi Yuu and Katagi Kou’s intriguing foundations for the settings on top of his sweet/sour depictions of romance.
This time, with the very same staff behind the production, the addition of famous seiyuus such as Itou Kanae, Minori Chihaya, Taketatsu Ayana (you might remember her from OreImo :p), and Elements Garden in charge of the music, the lineup can only be described as “All-stars”.
Background information aside, like always, I’m just drawn to the pretty art.
“I wanna say I’m not your brother right now!!”, the official English translation(?) of the title, while is off from the Japanese title (doesn’t have the imouto! impact) encapsulates the theme of the story quite well.
The protagonist, Mitani Rikuto, is a single child with a single parent, his father. The remarriage of his father brought his step-mom, and her child, into his world. Moreover, the child, who the parents say is his younger brother, is actually a girl! The story revolves around Rikuto’s new daily life at his newly admitted highschool, interaction with his new family, and living with his new cross-dressing sister (in the same room)!
Mitani Rikuto, our protagonist of the story, is more or less a typical healthy young high-schooler: polite, kind, well-tempered and capable. Our story starts out with him getting admitted to a prestigious private highschool with a difficult entrance exam, Asaoka Gakuen: a school located in Arai-ba, the designated spot for resorts as they have amusement parks and malls, known for the school’s strange policy of having several student oriented events.
He stumbled upon our heroine, Tsunoda Ayumu, though at this time he still doesn’t know about the remarriage. He, unfortunately, fell captive for her perfect smile (Aha~)and couldn’t take his mind of her.
When Rikuto was told that he was going to have new family, Rikuto couldn’t accept fully at first: he only had one mother, and she passed away. When Ayumu and Ryouko was first introduced to Rikuto,
he was QUITE confused. But if there is one thing I would rank Rikuto above other male leads, it would be him being able to put complete trust in people. He has a strong distaste for lies, and he trusts everyone he deems trustworthy with 100% belief.
Having various circumstances, the two new family member moves in for a temporary stay (until the new mansion they were planning to move in finishes its construction), will Rikuto be able to come to terms with his new family? Will Ayumu’s crossdressing be exposed? Most importantly, what is the role of Chisato in Imaimo?! Find out as Rikuto slowly grows from his daily life experiences, through school, through sweets, and perhaps…lov-
I’m sorry! I wont spoil anymore! Just don’t…look at me…with…those…eyes…(；´Д｀).
Unlike KoiChoco, Imaimo has all routes available to you from the start. I personally went with Ayumu’s route first (no bias! trust me!), but having gone through all the routes I’d say all the routes can standalone (though Ayumu’s route will be the most detailed and clear out most of the problems surrounding Rikuto).
Here are some of the other characters
|Haida Kimika||Shigemori Mao||Nanase Matsuri|
|Kanzaki Miku||Kobayashi Ryougo||Yokoshima Shousuke|
Haida Kimika – The class rep, and also student rep of first years. Haida is a very shy, reclusive girl that is on a journey to try to change herself. Dislikes being called her first name.
Haida was the black horse for me in Imaimo. At first not standing out a whole bunch from the others, but in her route she turns to slowly develop into a solid character. Has an unexpected connection with Rikuto, but more over is insanely cute! Hauu. Her soft voice, that reclined posture, the wavy mouths, the sweat that comes from nervousness! It’s like the traditional book girl! Without the book! HNNNGH
She’s a really good girl.
Shigemori Mao – Likes cute objects, but ashamed to admit to it, Mao is thebushido/samurai girl of the group.
Armed with martial arts and possessing a strong sense of justice, she can be abit stubborn when it comes to “living as a male student”. But her love for bathing and cute things usually forgoes that image.
I found Mao’s character settings to be a little too constricted for development. And this is reflected in her route, making her character rather flat (to make a comparison, think Katsura Hinagiku without the tsundere, crush on protagonist, and acrophobia). She is a good supporting character though, mainly to contrast with Kimika.
Nanase Mastsuri – Osananajimi…not quite, Matsuri has been with Rikuto since middle school first year, and has been in the same class with him ever since. Probably knows Rikuto better than anyone, and claims to be his “Allegiance friend”. For some reason hates chocolat children. Her family runs a sushi place.
Matsuri is the energetic moodmaker of the group. Often she teases Rikuto but her target is not limited to one. She loves to create a ruckus, but always from the shadow.
If anything, Itou Kanae’s performance from Tokyo Babel has already made me a fan of her voice, and Matsuri is the super mood reader/sharp type which makes her even more charming.
Kanzaki Miku – Neighbour of the Mitani household, has been with Rikuto as long as Matsuri. Calls Rikuto “Onii-chan” and her wish is to become “Onii-chan’s bride”. Turns into a middle schooler during the time of Imaimo. Not capturable.
KTKR. Taketatsu Ayano’s imouto character should be a world wonder by now. But being a side character, she really doesn’t play a big role in any of the routes.
Kobayashi Ryougo – Soccer and bike loving senpai, Ryougo is the enigmatic handsome ace ‘STRYKER’ (ha) of the soccer team in Asaoka.
Yep, it’s him! You can’t mistake that unique high pitched but short breath speech style. Yume (of Yaoi-bou) from KoiChoco. I was so proud having actually recognized him >_<.
Yokoshima Shousuke – Self-proclaimed “gentleman”, classmate of Rikuto. His specialty is in collecting information through his electronic gadgets. Somehow there is a running gag of him being fat.
Shousuke is actually quite the character. I love his antics as a “gentleman” (YOU ALRIGHTZ?) and his ever so subtle caring of his friends (takes the long transit etc.) Someone I admire to be one day… ( ｀・ω・´)b
Haida, Mao, and Matsuri all have individual routes that allow you to further investigate their problems and help them resolve it.
Aside from all the great characters, there are several elements that make Imaimo standout from the average school love comedy.
1) Asaoka Gakuen
Being surrounded by water (hey Dracurio- *shot*), Rikuto and co commute daily through electric trains cross towns, the descriptions of each trip, whether fully occupied train or not, and switching backgrounds to indicate change of trains, all these details are addressed to convey the feeling of commuting to school: adding the extra layer of authenticity to the school life around our protagonist. Not to mention them HAPPENINGS (We at Tomato Conspiracy would like to remind everyone that molesting is a crime, and will be punished if done in real life).
2) Ouka-sai (Sakura Festival)
The major event, and is common for all the individual routes, Ouka-sai is the April event that is an intense 4-day competition between classes of the same grade in the areas of sports, wit, and unity. Lots of action, plenty of hot blooded ones, hardships and drama. But the feeling you get from completing the event is that shared by all the participants: achievement. Sigh, I wish I could do “Arai-ba quest”, it sounds sooo fun.
3) CATCH-PHRASES YEAH!
We have an all star seiyuu lineup, so ofcourse this is part of the charm points! Having amazing voice is one thing, having amazing voice saying catch phrases will net you heart attacks.
Here’s some of what I thought was very memorable, see if you can find them in game:
-Ayumu’s “Ittekimasu~” So energetic, so cute, AHHHHHH.
Don’t forget that the protagonist is also (partially) voiced!
4) Cameo Appearances
While not a major part of Imaimo, there are characters and settings from their previous work, Koichoco, including (but not limited to) Shinonome Satsuki and Sumiyoshi Chisato, both in their two years younger self. (Also Takafuji Gakuen is still the most prestigious school around, along with their great school uniform design). So fans of the previous can enjoy this somewhat prequel-like spinoff.
Ok, that isn’t really a con as opposed to personal opinion. The 15+ opens the product to a wider audience, and doesn’t really change the meat of the story. But..
2) Routes are too similar.
Going through all the routes, I’ve realized that they all go through Ouka-sai in more or less the same fashion, just different events you peak into. Due to having 1 or 2 different lines said by different heroines, for some reason, the whole part is marked as unread even though the text are exactly the same. The problem is that this also seem to detract away from the actual route length, which leads to a feeling of redundancy.
3) Disparity in the quality of routes
On one hand you have Ayumu’s route, which seems to be full of surprises, drama, and happy resolutions leading to very pink, embarrassing icharabu (which are good). But on the other hand, Mao’s and Matsuri’s route just feels too weak. Mao’s route has Mao toggling between male and female, making a very artificial antagonist of her grandpa (and I do not need a Noble Works reminder). Matsuri’s route also had a bit of character discongruity, but mainly I found that the events regarding Matsuri’s relation with her mother, and her attitude towards this “hating” of children was hard to relate together. I’ve joked about the chocolate, but it is surprisingly similar in the way the trauma was handled: almost no explanation given, the answer just came out in the end, there wasn’t any slow recovery process, just end results.
As with most of my “critiques”, these are just opinions I formed as I went through Imaimo and could be seen very differently from another person’s view.
As with KoiChoco, whether liking Ayumu or not is a major determinant in your enjoyment of Imaimo.
The (main) story is also about family values, and if you are like me (a sucker for these), it becomes a real tear jerker.
High quality artwork: character designs/watercolouring as well as amazing details to background art.
Compared to KoiChoco, I felt the overall mood wasn’t as melodramatic, and some of the resolutions hit quite well with me.
I haven’t mentioned it before, but the music is another level higher than that of KoiChoco (probably because of the action-oriented tracks w).
Good character interactions, felt natural and interesting (as per previous work).
Lastly, I don’t think I am an imouto lover, but after Imaimo, I’m not so certain anymore.