|Artist||マニャ子, 暁杯あきら（Mima design）|
Managed to finish the 2nd release in the all-age series by propeller, this time in a totally different art style starring a female protagonist? It’s a brand new experience for my inner propeller fan-thusiasm, I just hope nothing within me awakes this time.
Let’s start with the story. If I were to summarize the setting and plot in a crude fashion, it is “the battle of girls and dolls”.
There are humanoid ‘puppets’ in the world who blend into society and manipulate history. However, no one knows where they come from nor who controls them. Mina is a normal first-year schoolgirl who often visits the doll museum to view a beautiful doll Ruka. One day, her world changed when she gained the ability to see the ‘puppets’ that mingled among humans. She gained it from an agreement with Ruka, a ‘mima’ who actually controlled the future of the world, along with the power to destroy the ‘puppets’.
Mina was conscripted into the assassin team tasked to destroy the hidden ‘puppets’. She didn’t want such outrageous things to interfere with her normal school life, but soon the ‘puppets’ made their appearance in her life. The other members of the group were the genius grade schooler Jessica, the bewitching Chinese beauty Yang Leilin, and fellow high school student Riko. The bonds between the members deepened as they fought together against the ‘puppets’. After the mysterious Sayo appears and Mina’s best friend Makoto was dragged in as well, the situation takes a sudden turn. Has this become a battle between the puppets and humans? Mina wonders about her fate as she continues to battle them.
The story makes some interesting twists and turns, but stay overall true to the theme of “I don’t want to fight unnecessary battles, but friendship calls for me.” Friendship as in yuri possibly-romantic-undertones-but-healthy relationships.
I found the common route of the story to be akin to the general propeller 燃えstyle, very action-y and great buildups leading up to the scene. You have intrigue between both sides: the “puppet’s” world where they seem to act as agents in best interest of the planet, or the assassin team who insists the preservation of human free will. Mina serves as a pretty good protagonist: she’s the rising star and center of attention, lots of expectations; lots of angst, and she has the pheromone that seems to attract everyone. And lastly propeller’s fight scenes are always a treat to play through, this time with very flashy effects! (enough to make me turn it on every time, even though it seems to crash the engine ;_; ).
Where I find Agreement differs from other propeller action ADVs is most notable in the individual routes/endings. There are four routes in all, and I’ll spoil that none of them had the characters living happily ever after.
(I’m going to spoil the ends in the next section as to bring forth some discussions/thoughts, feel free to skip over if you don’t want to be spoiled)
So what do I mean by that? Jessica’s route consisted of Mina, Riko and Jessica uniting their powers to defeat the mima(s), but ended with them becoming dolls. Riko’s route have Mina and Riko fight (Jessica resigned her seat and became a doll) but the fight was left undetermined. Yang’s route have them all escape the world of mima, but Mina disappeared shortly after (with Madam Meifong saying that is the only world she can exist in).
We can draw the conclusion that a) mimas in their world are too powerful to be defeated or it wouldn’t matter because they are bound to the mimas b) Mina’s fate is resigned.
I think for a propeller game this has been a pretty dark message that says “effort matters not to inevitable destiny” (especially with the aforementioned theme of I don’t want to fight unnecessary battles), and well, with Makoto’s segment, the overall mood has been well… depressing. Which I find contrary to their previous works, especially the action ADVs, where it’s been more about empowerment to facing struggles. Not to say I dislike it at all, in fact I find endings where it leaves you to ponder even after finishing are quite powerful, and I enjoy them.
When I finished the last route (Mina’s route), I feel that I can see where the writers wanted to go with the game. Even in her own route, Mina doesn’t get to, in the technical sense, achieve happiness for herself. But it was an ending that was filled with abit more hope. I’m guessing the writers wanted to portray “beauty”: Whether it be beauty in friendship, beauty in romance or family, beauty in fighting for a cause, and even…beauty in sacrifice. They say you don’t realise something’s worth until you lose it, I’m guessing this is why propeller chose for a tragedy. I don’t dislike tragic endings, but it still pains me to see one.
Character-wise, being a shorter game there wasn’t that much characters around to choose a favourite. But I found Jay, the guy with the sunglasses, to be a really impressive male figure for male characters in general. He’s a support character in a “yuri game” so he wasn’t in the spotlight that often, but the times he was he swept me away with the hard boiled but calm and cool guy that he is (voice actor did a great job). So cool that at many points in the story I feared for the death flags he’s been setting. His final moments with Yang had so few words but conveyed much emotions, can’t help but respect and applaud the great CGs and voice they’ve done for him.
System has been improved from Tokyo Babel. First I believe it has bigger resolution (my memory could fail me but Tokyo Babel was 800×480 I think, and this is around 1040×580), which meant more visuals on screen! The effects has been improved and transitions from screens are fancier (such as cut-ins), but this came at a cost of potential crashing of the engine. (Perhaps just my computer not being able to handle all the awesome effects ;_; ). There were some hiccups in the script (there was one repeating voice for different lines w), but mostly minor.
Music, loving the music as usual. Propeller knows how to bring up the tension, and with the theme this time, how to mellow it out as well.
All in all, a great pickup for propeller fans and action enthusiasts. High quality visuals, interesting world with secrets, a bit of Zoroastrianism analogy that I will probably not forget in awhile, big name voice line-up, and unforgettable endings… ;__;