Just clearing off some blog backlogs. Sorry about the hiatus. Will still sporadically spout nonsense.
Ojou-sama wa Gokigen Naname
Game site: お嬢様はご機嫌ナナメ
Routes completed: Nanami
Summary: Think a certain combat butler with debt problems, now remove the comedy and add Finance. Hajime has been serving the Naname household ever since they took him and Hana in after their parents passed away. But after so long, people can only grow tired of one another. Naname Nanami, his lady, is a mysterious and erratic noble that possess no Common Sense: Defending her marriage rights via duels, intruding upon private times and lately, listening to her whims about becoming a Commoner. Enough is enough!
Your must decide whether to continue the [Naname Plutocrat] legacy, change and go become a manager of [Internet Idols] or become complete by exploring [Human Boundaries of Sexual Normalcy] (Shiaya route: advanced users only).
I don’t want to say I play eroges only for the seiyuus, but in this case the bias was there.
Kiritani Hana voices the mysterious, whimsical, entitled and prideful aristocrat Nanami…but with a twist: she’s ‘the’ weird one, and even does pretty bad puns that I tip my hat off to.
Hoshisaki Iria as the very active meido imouto, doing imouto-ish things.
And Aoba Ringo as twintailed blonde devil (not Sera)…diva.
I also liked the art. The lines are done very detailed (particularly with the hair) on top of very smooth coloring and this quality stayed very consistent throughout. Having a good volume of CGs (reaching 3 lines in library) for each heroine helps as well. SD art were adorable.
But when all is finished and reminisced…possibly the aggressive imouto-bodysoaping was the highlight for scenario writing(not what you think). Character personality were overall amicable, except for the protagonist Hajime as he was smart Alec/sly fox who seemed to know it all/scold much of the heroines.
Reading through the text took extra effort at times.
This boils down to particularly on the technical terms/economic jargons in Japanese. While most VN/eroge have their technobabble->explanation portions of the story, the ones in here were investment options/financial constituents such as CDS that (to me) all seemed to be forms of money. It is harder to picture what they are trying to convey (how it is a problem for Nanmi Plutocrats), not to mention the foreshadows were sandwiched between long intervals of slice of life activities. It just seemed to break reading momentums more than it amazed.
The development and resolution of economic spin felt ill-constructed, for how much emphasis they wanted to put on it.
If I got it correctly, the basic concept is that because the Naname Plutocrats are in trouble of collapsing, every single investor is jumping ship and the whole country is in turmoil because Naname Plutocrats control such a large portion of the finance of the country.
Naname Plutocrats are collapsing because there are not enough profit on the table. Tsurumi, who is a part of the Naname plutocrats, plans to buyout enough stocks to gain veto powers in the group, has several foreign investors backing her up.
However, Tsurumi messes up and loses 1 billion Yen due to unforeseen accident, suddenly the plan is in grave danger of failing.
Unless I am remembering wrong, but the 1 billion Yen was a really small portion of 10% of the largest financial group of a country. They made it so it seemed that Tsurumi was all out of resources and was getting into trouble with the foreign investors, but it seems farfetched that investors would be reconsidering on that amount of money… I bet the foreign investors were all kickstarter backers!
There’s also a big assumption that the country’s economic is going to get influenced by one single investment group. I don’t know much about economics, but I can tell you that GDP is made up of people’s daily consumption as well!
Don’t get me wrong, I love discussing economics, it got me most excited when they started touching on solving the crisis by printing more bills (Them Abenomics).
(It reminds me of ‘C’)
But unfortunately the story gradually stopped its brilliance and chose to dull out the route with Nanami’s unclear objectives of becoming a social class and uninteresting school life. It wasn’t until Tsurumi really shake things up that actually moved the story in a direction.
As far other routes…sigh. I was just too shaken by a certain show that starts with idol and rhymes with lackluster. Why idols? just why.
Company: Tigre Soft
Game site: レミニセンス
Routes completed: All
Comments: You guys. You guys you guys you guys. Say the title of this game. Now say it again. Re-mi-ni-scence. That’s right. It is not Akatsuki no Goei 4. So whyyyyyyyyy. WHY IS EVERYONE GAY OVER KYOUCHI. No, no need to answer that. This is why I hate double protagonists.
Summary: In a far away future, human have exhausted the Earth’s resources and polluted the air so much that they have to live in a geofront. There are two main towns: Hopetown, a town with blue holographic sky, parks and clean environment, and then there is Dreamtown, the rivalling town where people’s dream come true through riches of the casino. The two towns have their own law, their own government, and it was up to the 特務官 (Special Operations Officer, in charge of (business)relations between the two town (but are also seen as enforcers?) of both towns to tend to foreign affairs and business…negotiations.
Shimizu Hidetaka, the protagonist of Reminiscence, resides in Hopetown. The once prodigy superhuman Hidetaka suffered post traumatic stress from an incident and is now a substitute teacher at an all-girl school while taking therapeutic sessions with a psychologist. But when the representative of Hopetown came to ask him to help turn the tides in the current foreign affairs for Hopetown, he resumed his dream of becoming a 特務官, and in his journey he met a young girl who has been in coldsleep capsule in an underground laboratory. The encounter that would change his future.
I’m probably one of the few people that felt Hidetaka was a much more relatable protagonist than Kaito.
Not to dismiss his greatness in bringing a typical standstill to laughter by doing something insane like making strange noises and dancing, but part of me just wanted to see protagonist not being almighty and fail once in a while, you know, like I do all the time. So when I found out that Hidetaka actually has to work for his results, I couldn’t help but root for him. He fails, and then fails, gets called out by his co-workers, gets the disapproval look from his superiors, yet he sticks to his principles and gut feelings. Gotta look for the truth, that ray of hope in despair! Yeah!
But then Kaito comes and essentially steals all the thunder, the cake, the girl. This is like a riajuu (i.e. @zeroblade) doing twitter: he’ll tweet all the things you can tweet about, tweet about other real stuff, and get more replies you’ll ever hope for. (I’m just a side character okay ;_; )
But lets put personalcharacter rant aside, it’s easy to say Reminiscence was one of the bigger titles in May because it was done by the golden duo of Kinugasa Shougo and Tomose Shunsaku.
Tomose Shunsaku’s art is without a doubt in the top-tier category in terms of completeness (character design, color, and ofcourse the facial expressions), and Kinugasa’s quirky conversations and clever situation placements bring the characters to life. The rich character interactions with all its glorious and intricate relationships (them tensions of various kinds) are still present in Reminiscence as they were in AkaGoei.
Kinugasa was probably raised in the slums since he has once again written about a story between the huge wealth gap of the rich and poor. The sides are slightly different in labels but it is the hard worker struggling for life in the slums versus the more relaxed taken-care-of-life in the park. Competition for resources bring the two together, and it becomes harder for Hidetaka to judge which side is the “right” side with each mission that he does for Hopetown. Splash some comedy/slice of weird people in the police life, connect all the back stories of said people, and you have a very simplified overview of Reminiscence.
If there is any flaws in Reminiscence, I’d say the endings are good candidates. It a widely known fact that Kinugasa care more about the means than the end, as he leaves some pretty wide open resolutions in his stories.
In Reminiscence, each heroine gets a end, and each of them were pretty open-ended. You have Rin’s and Nozomi’s route which focused on resolving each heroine’s problems, which last about one fifth of the length of the common route. Doesn’t talk about any plot related issues, and Hidetaka’s progress comes to a halt. It’s like a bad end! Not to mention in the true route these two just become forgotten.
Kizuna’s route explores more into Kizuna’s past, which in turn brought the official confirmation of the connection between Reminiscence and AkaGoei: that Kizuna is the Kizuna that appeared in Akagoei:Shuumatsuron, among with few other surprises such as Kazuha being a descendant of Nae.
But what came with Kizuna’s past was a grim reminder: that they lived in fear of the Truth and were disgraced to live in these cages they called geofront. So Hidetaka and Kizuna dug through their connections, faced political intrigues, exposed Hopetown’s dark secret (but were left unaware of the looming conspiracy foreshadowing) and finally reached the tunnel that connected to the surface…then it ends abruptly without showing what is actually behind the gate, just like Danganronpa.
Kizuna is supposed to be the main heroine right? The capsule girl that changed Hidetaka’s life and all! Then why is her route just the “Pandora Box” ending! Her route comes close to what I would call the end of the plot of Reminiscence.
If Kizuna’s was the end of the plot, then Aki’s and Accella’s are side quests. Because they took longer than Kizuna’s route, developed the characters, but introduced new(somewhat foreshadowed) plot elements that doesn’t quite advance on the original(?) game plan to return to the surface.
Instead, we are introduced to the conflict of androids and humans. And the entirety of Accella’s route was Hidetaka determining whether they should be treated as humans or not.
This isn’t an extraordinarily unique theme as I’ve myself seen Time of Eve portraying the particular debate beautifully, but still one I think Japan of all countries would ponder the most, seeing they are the ones who came up with robopets. Should an android, who has all the characteristics of a human but extraordinary strength and other robotic efficiencies, be allowed to live freely? We definitely saw the potential of the military uses of androids in this route as it almost caused the destruction of both towns.
And Aki’s route, where the secret of Hidetaka/Aki’s past is out! Much deserved ichaicha and sweet ending for the end of a journey.
Aki’s and Accella’s route were done much better than the other routes and makes the locked routes worthwhile. Who doesn’t smile at the imouto who finally melts her tsun into delicious dere, even if excessive!
(http://twitpic.com/cvnwkm if resolution is too small)
They then have the nerves to make you sit through an extra chapter where you change your views to Kyouichi’s, filling the holes where action parts were fulfilled. How sneaky of them to fulfill both fan service and action and plot holes all at the same time.
Fitting of the title, Reminiscence is a game where the past is more lavish than what the future holds.
Company: Initial Resolution (InRe)
Game site: ChuSingura46＋1 -忠臣蔵46＋1-
Routes completed: All
Do you know the story of the 47 Ronin? No? Good, because that is what this eroge is trying to tell you about!
Chusinguras are fictionalized accounts on what happened to the 47 Ronin, and are often written for theatrical plays in 18th century Japan. Chapter 1 of the game covers the most popular interpretation:the Kanadehon Chūshingura (仮名手本忠臣蔵).
But the game doesn’t end there. Chusingura46+1 further builds derivative work, and takes many popular speculations of the story and turn them into interesting plotlines.
These are divided into chapters, which are cleverly disguised as timeloops where our protagonist, Fukami Suguha, who is trapped in this world act as our guide to these perspectives.
Chapter 1 Kanadehon Chūshingura:
As with the wikipedia summary, the story starts with the feudal lord of Akō, Asano Takunogami, forced to commit suicide for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka in court, which is considered sacrilege against the shogun. The loyal retainers of Asano did not believe their master was so foolish as to commit a sacrilege without circumstance (and we were shown Asano being harassed by Kira), so they plotted revenge against Kira, who only received minor scratches and (more importantly) no punishment from the shogun who was supposed to enforce the “no one benefits from fighting/punish all of those who do” rule.
Oishi Kuranosuke, the head of Akō’s economic and political affairs, takes it up to her plate to become the leader of Akō. She is nicknamed “the daytime lamp” as her weird antics and peculiar policies are often incomprehensible to the other samurais. I also can’t grasp how she can suddenly change her sprite between loli – full grown in a matter of lines. Definitely an unpredictable one.
The revenge starts with a reform of Akō. With the government sending troops on all sides to seize Akō, Oishi Kuranosuke made the quick decision to change currency and later on forfeit the town to their pursuers. The latter would later lead to the conflict between the Edō radical party and Kuranosuke’s conservative one.
It was a decision that very much angered the samurais in Akō, who believed in honour over death, and would split all of Akō’s retainers across prefectures. Kuranosuke took Suguha with her to Kyoto, Yamashina, where they would attempt to rebuild the Asano family honour through waiting for Takunogami’s distant relative to be freed of charges.
Where they would ensue normal life and encounter ronin’s who seeks to help out the cause.
To keep the ronins patient, they would also collect consent forms from the old retainers throughout Japan on a contract that “they will do something collectively” in the future.
The road of waiting would prove to be treacherous (pun intended!), as protest and threats of movement from the Edō party would constantly put Kuranosuke in difficult situations. Even going as far as to have Suguha, who is at this point a totally newbie samurai, dueling Yasube to quell/negotiate the terms of this wait period…thrice.
When the rumours of the release for Naganori’s relative being grim, on top of the deadline for an answer for the Edo party, on top of the ronins leaving the “collective” one by one, Kuranosuke would visit the HOST CLUB everyday.
However, Suguha told her that he will, if not try his hardest, understand the pain she bears. And they bond.
When the news of Takunogami’s relative was stripped off all possible honour to be able to rebuild the Asano clan, Kuranosuke made the decision to finally exact revenge on Kira. This would lead to the event we know for ChuSingura.
Except Kira was also possessed by a powerful snake.
And he can resurrect his retainers as zombies.
But through love, and the power of (loyalty) her daimyo’s sword, they were able to defeat him.
But even after defeating Kira, Suguha didn’t go back to his time. Turned out Kuranosuke, who was bitten by the snake, inherited the curse of Kira, meaning until she dies Suguha can’t go back. So Kuranosuke kicked Suguha out of the collective, as to protect him until he can go back.
Except he dies.
But he ends up looping the story again! With a twist! This time because his approach was different than the first time (too casual/intimate with Matsunojou), and ended up being rejected by Kuranosuke. He ends up having no where to go but to Edo.
We now look at the story of Edo Radical Side of things, how these ronins really have a rough time to earn a living in the waiting periods, and how tense the situation is in Edo where skirmishes leading to comrade injuries happen frequently and the sacrifices they make to scout out Kira’s estate.
Focuses on Horibe Yasubei who is probably the hardest working and strongest ronin. Yasubei established her fame through the duel at Takada Staples, where she slayed 3 fully grown man at her young age. She was then scouted for Asano clan and her loyalty and devotion to the daimyo remained as her Raison d’etre. Being the one who has seen the whole incident leading to Takunogami’s suicide, and her dying regrets, Yasubei wishes to clear Tauknogami’s name more than anyone.
Particularly in this route, there’s a great deal of emphasis on how Suguha has grown both in his swordsmanship and him being proactive about the fate of the ronins. It was a delight to see the protagonist change so positively, and definitely was a factor in making this chapter one of my favourites.
Trivia (or maybe not): Yasubei is voiced (again) by Kiritani Hana.
My other factor for liking this chapter so much would be Mori Koheita (voiced by Tamiyasu Tomoe), a energetic imouto-like character who has quit being a samurai (high status) to become a merchant (lowest status) in Edo to nurse her older sister, her only blood relative.
Opposite to Suguha, Koheita’s story is a tragic fall from grace, but done so humanly and understandable that makes it all the more painful to read ;_;. Her situation really made me feel for the Edo radicals, and at the end I (still) really miss her usual energetic yes-response of “Hey” you get in this route to cheer Suguha up from tough mistrusting ronins.
Lastly you have, according to the character poll, that-subheroine-that-doesn’t-have-a-route-yet-everyon-loves-her. Magodayu. Don’t have much to say except she is powered by plums where she changes her personality 180, and is a natural M. Definitely fun to watch her on/off mode.
Unfortunately the plan was foiled due to unforeseen circumstances where Suguha died, yet again, in the hands his loved one. He loops again, but despaired at the loss of memory for everyone else, at whether he’ll ever get back home, and having to kill again. He vowed to just not get involved with the Ako Ronins this time around.
Chikara (Matsunojou)’s route. While Suguha didn’t interact with anyone more than necessary, he accidently saved Matsunojou from being assaulted by wolves. This made Matsunojou start taking notice of him. And even though Suguha has then acted cold to Matsunojou, she has already fallen head over toes over him. Chapter 3 spends less time on the events of Chusingura, instead focuses on developing Suguha’s character and how Matsunojou can truly “save” him from his fate.
Oishi Matsunojou, later becomes Oishi Chikara when she is of age, is the daughter of Oishi Kuranosuke. Responsible, strong sense of justice, and hates losing, Chikara is of the haughty but meddling sometimes tsundere class-rep archetype characteristics you often see in other eroge main heroines (which leads me to believe she is the main heroine!).
In this route, there is a short segway into Suguha’s (midlife) identity crisis where he wonders aimlessly and meets Shipachi.
I agree she is really attractive and those side…skin doesn’t help at all with the cause.
But try to resist!
(Because, I don’t know, this happens…)
The battle is choreographed in great detail this particular fight. It was not just a simple sword effect slashing across the screen. All the while the two exchange great amounts of mind games since they’ve known each other. The best part is that you probably don’t even need words to understand what happened.
(I do think Shinpachi played a part in healing Suguha’s wounds as well, She’s definitely a mixed bag!)
The reason I say Matsunojou truly “saved” Suguha was not only because it is the route where Suguha finally returns to his times. Matsunojou was the one who literally had to come to the same level as Suguha to show she is there with Suguha at time of need.
She was the one that provided him with the pillar of support when he was most vulnerable.
Of all the routes, this route comes closest to what a traditional eroge entails: romance! And it was really touching too.
The story would be really well concluded if it ended here, but there are two more chapters that explore other speculations as well. Though for tl;dr sake, I’ll leave it up to those interested to find out themselves.
Comments: One of the great things for me about ChuSingura46+1 is the parallel experience of the game based on historical Chusinguras, and being in the visual novel/eroge norm.
While there might be other eroge adaptations, ChuSingura46+1 just does it very faithfully (unlike say, other Romance of the 3 Kingdom adaptions). You can tell from the picking of popular speculations (that you can find on wikipedia) and careful writing that the scenario writer, Hayama Coyote, really has a passion for Chusingura. In fact, the whole project started as a doujin work (and the whole first chapter is being distributed as trial)!
The characters have depth, and the routes just make them even more dynamic.
From the growth of Suguha, to the betrayal of Koheita, to even the development of subcharacters such as Saya and Shinroku (two of my favourite subcharacters). Even as an enemy, I can’t bring myself to hate on Shinpachi, Kira, and other main antagonists. (Except for the lolicon…maybe). Each character is given a surprising amount of development on top of the already intricate relation map they connect to the Ako Ronin as a whole. Just very well-thought out, and voices were not skimped!
Themes are solid throughout the chapter, bringing clear messages and easy to resonate with.
There is a certain barrier with the kanji names that might complicate reading. I still find it hard to recall them all, but it doesn’t deter the regular dialogues (though spoken in Edo period lingo, like fundoshi and other Edo style buildings, jobs etc). Story should be easy to follow with the actions.
If anything, it is really 燃え. Gets the spirits high and blood pumping with all the samurai action!
That’s it for now. Sorry again for the blank, I’ll see if I can work up some other reviews when I have the time.
Appendum: Kuranosuke’s voice actress, Arisugawa Miyabi’s (one of the many) notes on Kuranosuke. That dedication (emoticon).