Hourglass of Summer (Tomomi’s Route)

So here we are at the 3rd route in the lineup. Tomomi sensei. And yep, this the teacher. Is this the best route? Nah, nah it isn’t. but it’s still and incredibly solid story. Shall we begin? Oh please. Let’s.

Once again, if you didn’t read my last two posts on this game “Hourglass of Summer” I will rehash the plot for you once again. Because I’m awesome like that. You are Kotaro, a student in high school who is in love with a girl named Kaho. On the last day of school before summer vacation you ride your bike home and get covered in weird powder. You wake September 1st to find out that you and Kaho were together. But she died the day before. That’s when you start time hopping back and forth between the two month time span.

During this time, you think to yourself that you’re starting to go crazy. so you have to tell somebody. (You haven’t met Ligene for real yet). So you decide the best person to tell would be your sci-fi obsessed teacher Tomomi.

That time travel thing is nice and all, but your book report's still due tomorrow

That time travel thing is nice and all, but your book report’s still due tomorrow

At first she’s a little hesitant to believe you, but she eventually does, giving you whatever advice she can, and also not telling you about events that you haven’t come across yet in your time travel journey. She’s basically the only person who knows what’s going on besides you and Ligene the time cop.

If you decide you want to romance her she begins to have a problem with her stalker ex-boyfriend and you have to basically team up with her to stop him.

Remember kids, consent three years ago is not consent now. Also don't be a stalker.

Remember kids, consent three years ago is not consent now. Also don’t be a stalker.

Eventually after you end up saving her, you decide to go on a date with her. The date goes very well and Tomomi lets you know about how when she was little she had some kind of precognition that she would one day meet the perfect guy in which she’d be happy forever. But she waited through high school and college and the guy never showed up. She begins to get sad as she realizes that you’re that guy and she’s mad at herself for not waiting a bit longer. (aka being in a relationship with her crazy stalker ex-boyfriend).

You see she went to the Princess Diaries school of

You see she went to the Princess Diaries school of “Taking off your glasses and fixing your hair and you look totally different”

This is when Ligene comes and informs you of something. and to me, this is the most depressing part in the entire game. Ligene informs you (in this route only) that the only way to save Kaho is to do a hard reset of the timeline. Kaho will be saved…. but everyone will lose their memories of the events of this summer, including you and Tomomi. You and Tomo agree it’s the only way and you both lose all the memories of the time you spent together, but not before she kisses you on the forehead.

Thanks, you tugged at my heartstrings so much they snapped. thanks jackass.

Thanks, you tugged at my heartstrings so much they snapped. thanks jackass.

However, before you get out the hankies, I’ll tell you this.

After the timeline resets, you start having the same conversations you did in the beginning of the game with her, but for some reason, the two of you get extreme feelings of deja vu, and you’re not exactly sure why.

This route’s epilogue is cutting to a few years later with you in college in a relationship with Tomomi, and you couldn’t be happier.

I love this ending...but thanks for the man butt angle...

I love this ending…but thanks for the man butt angle…

Now i’m sure you noticed, this had a lot longer plot recap than Ligene’s. The reason is, there’s a LOT MORE PLOT than her route. The majority of this route is you gaining her trust, but also has that strange stalker mystery substory going on. It feels a LITTLE out of place, but, the tone, music, and voice acting carry it over well.

Tomomi is a bit….I’d guess the word you’d use is…eccentric.

And also apparently doesn't care what she looks like in public

And also apparently doesn’t care what she looks like in public

However, what saves it, is that once Tomomi lets you in, she is ADORABLE. Without her glasses and her hair down she looks like totally different person, and she lets her guard down, dropping her defenses, and shows you who she really is.

Here’s the funny thing about this route. When you start the game, the VERY FIRST CHOICE you have is your friend Takeshi saying “Boy, Tomomi-sensei isn’t very attractive.” your choices are “yeah, i bet she doesn’t have a boyfriend” and ” i don’t know, I think she might look cute without those glasses.”. If you do not pick the second option, her route will not open up and you CANNOT get her. Yes, you read that right. You can screw up her romance BEFORE THE OPENING THEME SONG.

As Zuko would saythatsrought

This is s a tough route. it’s definitely the darkest of the five, but at the same time, it’s also filled with hope. Tomomi is a hilarious, vibrant, yet soft personality. She’s trusting (shown as she’s the first one to believe your crazy story about time travel) but she’s also cynical. It’s an odd mixture to be sure, but the writers of this game knew exactly what they were doing. For some reason, it just works. The ending is bittersweet, but still good, and I enjoy the time I spend with Tomomi. she’s…fun to be around in the game. The only negative I’d give to this route is the stalker thing seems a bit..out of place from the other routes in the game. But still, incredibly enjoyable and i’d still recommend it to people.

Tomomi’s route? 8/10

Now come here and give daddy some sugar.

tomoko 9

Awwww yeeaaahhhhh

Hideki

Hourglass Of Summer (Ligene’s Route)

Well hello again everyone! What? What’s that? You’re surprised to see me back with another post about Hourglass of Summer? You thought i was done after posting one route? Oh. oh no. Far from it. We’re doing this. This game’s sat in obscurity for far too long! So let’s do this! What do you say Ligene?

ligene 9Oh… oh my.

So if you read my last post (if you didn’t for shame) you know the general idea of the story. If you don’t then here’s the basic premise in a nutshell. You get covered in weird magical dust by a person in a trenchcoat, you begin to travel in time randomly in a 2 month time period. You’re trying to save a girl from dying by doing so. There you go. If you want a detailed plot, read my previous post.

Have you ever played a game with a dating aspect where you can tell they just threw in an additional romance? Like, you can tell it was additional. It doesn’t have nearly as much development as the rest but it’s there. (cough persona 4 Yumi cough)

Which brings us to anothhherrrrr class with Hideki!

(Class cheers)

Class three harem showsLong story short, this romance kinda feels like that. it almost feels like that romance that they don’t think anyone’s going to pick, so they make it a bit quicker, and a little less overall polished. Which is sad, because by itself, this is a pretty good romance.

Here’s something you may not know. Hourglass of Summer actually got a 2 episode OVA called “Natsuiro no Sunadokei”. In it, they changed the art and they had to compress a 30 hour game into 2 episodes so…yeah.. it didn’t turn out fantastic. However, one thing they DID do that really upset me was they turned Ligene into a Tsundere. She is NOT a Tsundere. I guess with their limitations on time to expand upon her character they had to give her a quirk instead. But it was a bad quirk. She’s not a tsundere, she’s not a jerk. She just has trouble knowing how to act around people because she was born and raised as a time cop. (for god’s sake she has a parfait for the first time and it looks like she’s going to have an orgasm)

You. Me. 6 of these parfaits. Your room. NOW.

You. Me. 6 of these parfaits. Your room. NOW.

So as you travel along with her to help her save Kaho,and by association all the other girls’ lives, not because you love any of them, but because it’s the right thing to do. Even the girl Kaho that your originally loved you realize that it was more of a fascination than actual love. Towards the end of the game, you ask Ligene for a favor, and it’s obvious her affection for you has grown over the weeks you’ve spent together, so she asks you to take her on a date in return. You agree and if you haven’t picked any of the other girls yet (and made the right choices) you can go on this date with her. It’s amusing because apparently she’s so beautiful in this world that people think they’re shooting a movie when you’re on your date

Haha. I love that guy in the background's face. He's like DA FUUUCCKKK?

Haha. I love that guy in the background’s face. He’s like DA FUUUCCKKK?

Eventually you make it back to your room. She thanks you for the date but also wants to try kissing for the first time. So you oblige.

Yeah. because if that chick said

Yeah. because if that chick said “I want to kiss you” you’re going to go, “NOPE! FUCK YOU BITCH!”

In the adult version she wants to try *cough*other things…but…..this is the clean version.

It’s then that she tells you how much she enjoyed her time with you and how she wishes she could stay and gives you a teary goodbye.

Well at least they got to have parfaits together....unlike Nephrite and Molly

Well at least they got to have parfaits together….unlike Nephrite and Molly

It’s at this point in the game, you get one more choice. You can decide to either let her go, or tell her that you basically need her and don’t want her to leave. If you choose THIS option, something sweet, yet also hilarious happens. She leaves, but comes back and informs you that….and I kid you not, she pulled some strings, and you are now her time traveling cop assistant. It’s adorable as it is hilarious.

Weekend shift at McDonalds eat your heart out!

Weekend shift at McDonalds eat your heart out!

The game then ends with you going off on a wacky adventure with Ligene in time.

How should I put it about this route? This route is very cute. If you don’t want to have heavy handed romance with Mana, Kaho, Ai, or the teacher, this is the one i recommend. There is not a lot of drama in this one. Ligene has this energy about her that’s contagious. She’s funny, clever, yet also scared and innocent. That’s one of the reasons i was so mad they made her into a tsundere in the anime. Because they tried to oversimplify her into a stereotype that she wasn’t even in the first place.

While this route may feel a tad bit rushed at the end, it’s still a solid route. Really, the only issue I have with this route is that I wish there was a little MORE romance. For something so cute and adorable, they sure slapped it on at the end.

What's that Ligene? You want your score girl?

What’s that Ligene? You want your score girl?

Even all that said, I really do enjoy this route. It’s cute, fun, and goddamn it….now I really want a parfait…..

Where the hell can I get a parfait at 10:45pm on a Monday? (grabs car keys)

Oh, right. a score. Yeah. Ligene’s route gets a 9/10. So go play it! (runs out the door to look for an all night Parfait place)

……..

………….

Gah fuck you guys, I’m seriously not showing you the porn!

Hideki

Hourglass Of Summer (Mana’s Route)


Have you ever seen one of those movies where someone will say something so epic that after they finish there will be a dead silence for a few seconds, followed by one person clapping slowly,until the whole room starts to clap and then there’s a thunderous applause? That’s the way I feel about this dating sim. I love to complain. Dear god how I love to complain. But with this game, Hourglass of Summer, I’m almost pissed because there’s nothing to complain ABOUT. The music is phenomenal, the story is original, and the characters are all amazing (even the self insert dude). There are 5 love options and EVERY ONE of their stories is fantastic. Anyone who knows anything about me will tell you. 9/10 times I HATE the main love interest.

In fact, it’s time for class kiddies!

(kids cheer)

Class two harem shows

Whether it be an anime, a game, or whatever, if it’s a harem show, and i know who the main character’s going to end up with in episode 1, I drop the show like it’s made of lard…and Will Ferrell (i do not like Will Ferrel). In my opinion, if this condition is met, there is NO POINT of the show being a harem show, if they basically broadcast to you in the first episode who the main girl is, and who he’s going to pick, there is no point as it could be a simple romance show with no other girls necessary as they will never be love interests no matter how many fanservice situations they are put in. (I’m looking at YOU Brynhildr) And what’s even worse, is when it comes to games, a good majority of them make you feel as if you got the “consolation prize ending” if you don’t pick the main girl they want YOU to pick. As if because you don’t like the main girl, somehow you’re wrong and you should get a “not so perfect” ending.

If i tell you to pick Neko in Bryhildr, you're going to fucking PICK Neko you bitch!

If i tell you to pick Neko in Bryhildr, you’re going to fucking PICK Neko you bitch!

However, Hourglass of summer doesn’t do that. Every one of the endings feels great. In fact,There’s 2 of the endings that sort of intertwine and by the time you have to pick one of the girls, you feel bad no matter which one you pick as they’re both amazing. I NEVER like the main girl, but for this game, damn it they knew what they were doing.

Now before you ask, yes this dating sim is available in English, and you actually don’t even need a computer to play it. all you need is a DVD player. This was released a few years ago in English by a company called “Hirameki”. They are sadly out of business now, but they released a few good games. you can get this online on amazon for about $10 bucks with shipping. But hell, i’d buy it again for $40. It’s that good.

Enough of me brown nosing this game. (trust me, me loving something this much does NOT happen very often as you can ask either Midnight or Oki) What is the general premise? Well you’re a high school student who’s in love with this girl named Kaho. However, she’s really popular and she’s way out of your league. Feeling dejected, on the last day of school before summer break, you decide soon you’re going to try to ask her out, but tonight, you head home. However as you do, you come across a strange person in a trenchcoat. you get into a struggle and you end up being covered in a strange powder.

Bitch, yo fat ass best not have messed up my ride!

Bitch, yo fat ass best not have messed up my ride!

You wake up to find yourself on September 1st, the first day of class. you then discover that not only during that time have you become Kaho’s boyfriend, but on August 31st, she was killed. you fall unconscious to find yourself in a random summer’s day back in the past. It is then revealed that you are actually jumping through a two month period in time back and forth, never knowing where you’re going to end up. you meet the person in the trenchcoat who is really a Time cop named Li Gene and she informs you that her (and therefore your) mission is to save Kaho from dying. and that’s basically when the game picks up.

Here’s the thing that i absolutely love. Normally in one of these games, they’d make it so if you didn’t pick the main girl, she would die. However, in Hourglass of Summer, out of the 5 girls, no matter who you pick, Kaho lives. as long as you get one of them, she’s fine. so it isn’t one of those “oh you picked someone else so she dies.” There’s no guilt attached with the romance and i love it.

So, who should we pick…..the main shy popular girl Kaho…the spunky next door neighbor Ai, the sci-fi obsessed teacher, the emotionless shy swimmer Mana, or the time cop? Hmmmmm…know what? let’s go with my absolute favorite, Mana. the Swimmer girl. Why? Cause this ain’t no democracy!

Mana water

H2 ohhhh yeahhhhhh

Here’s the scoop. you find out that Kaho will die because a girl gets her wheelchair stuck on the train tracks so they have to shut down the train.

Remember kids, don't drink and wheelchair.

Remember kids, don’t drink and wheelchair.

Kaho then takes a bus, which as she steps out of, she gets hit by a car and dies. so you figure that the best way to handle this is to stop the girl from getting in the accident that puts her in a wheelchair, therefore not stopping the train and Kaho’ll be fine. Over the next jumping back and forth you have to gain this shy, quiet girl’s trust.

Her whole goal is to be the best swimmer. She has a crush on her coach and wants to be the best. The sad thing is, if you want her romance there is no way to stop her from breaking her leg and ending up in the wheelchair. In fact, one of your most touching scenes is when she gets so depressed you have to STOP HER FROM COMMITTING SUICIDE.

Let me jump! Life's not worth living now that Michael Phelps will no longer love me!

Let me jump! Life’s not worth living now that Michael Phelps Senpai will no longer notice me!

She eventually realizes she loves you and becomes your girlfriend. You save Kaho and the timeline is restored.

At least we won't have to worry about expensive medical bills. I love you Japanese healthcare

At least we won’t have to worry about expensive medical bills. I love you Japanese healthcare

This game. Holy crap this game. If this abstract concept of this game were a woman, i would make love to it. that is how strongly i feel about this game. Are there a few problems with some of the routes in this game? Okay, yeah for a few of them i could ask they tweak a couple of things. However, for this route? No. this route is perfect. I love everything about it, and like I said before, you will NEVER read those words on one of my posts again. Well, okay, there’s a very unlikely possibility you will. Now you may have noticed that i skipped over a LOT. the reasoning behind this is, i want you play this route. If you play ANY route in this game, play this one. I hardly want to spoil anything. it’s just that fantastic.

Now the question. Why is it good? Well that’s hard to pinpoint. First of all, Mana starts out very cold. She doesn’t really want anything to do with you and wants you to leave her alone. She’s so focused on pleasing her coach that she won’t give you the time of day. It’s then you see her floating in the water and you in your dumbassery thinks she drowning and try to save her.

Well....to be fair, i'd think she was drowning too.

Well….to be fair, I’d think she was drowning too.

Of course, she’s not drowning, but as she has to save YOU from your own stupidity as YOU begin to drown, she begins to feel closer to you and begins to warm up to you.

MELT

She’s not mean, she’s not a Tsundere. she’s just…sad. She’s sad and lonely. And the fact that you find your way into her life is so heartwarming and amazing and iwanttomakeoutwiththisgame!

Okay, now i bet you’re wondering something. “Hideki, (of which I’m sure you’re asking me with a top hat and monocle in a British accent) this is a dating sim. Where’s the porn?” And here’s the thing. At first this game was released on the PS2 in Japan as a “Clean” dating sim. A hentai PC version was released later. the version Hirameki did was the clean one. And this may sound weird, but i prefer the clean one. This is the kind of story that actually SUFFERS when there’s porn in it. You get so absorbed in the story and the characters that hentai actually DETRACTS from it. I know, crazy right?

Oh baby, come here for some PG lovin'

Oh baby, come here for some PG lovin’

Being all that said, Mana’s route, Hourglass of Summer gets a 10/10. … don’t get used to that score.

Mana end

….

……………..

………………………

You guys still want to see the hentai don’t you? Well too bad, it’s all mine!

….

…….and it’s actually kind of hot

SHUT UP!

Hideki

Finally in Love Again [Aki Fujishima Route]

I have been waiiiiting for this game from the moment I heard it was announced. A strong woman but get this, a strong woman with a love for her job as a pastry chef. There is nothing worse than an otome game where the main character has a job you can’t connect to and feels passion for it. I could still connect to Office Secrets but some of the routes left me going “really…?” …I took three years of Culinary Education. I think I’ll be into this one!

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Let me start off by saying I JUST HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS GAME! Playing this game gave me a heart attack at a few stages because unlike most other Voltage games until the very end, you very early on sleep with Aki. And it’s awesome. I MEAN. No I meant it, it’s awesome, the weird nature of navigating a relationship with a man who is your boss who you mutually find yourself attracted to and EVEN SLEEP WITH is just…instant interest in the game.

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Most of the conflict in this game kind of revolves around the fact that you’re much younger than most of your love interests, and getting up there. It’s fun to see how different the Japanese culture tends to view marriage. Both communities are guilty of settling but to Americans settling is the utmost disgraceful thing you can do. Deciding to marry someone you don’t love is considered desperate, but we also know many people do it. To admit you don’t love the person you married is…an oddity. In Japan it’s weird to consider it an oddity. Then again, we are a self based community in America. Your actions have to be for you or you aren’t a true adult, even if your actions are selfish or selfless. I couldn’t sleep with someone I didn’t love, though, and in America it’s common to sleep with someone you don’t love. RELATIONSHIPS ARE WEIRD

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At one point, the writers use the comparison ‘He’d be 30 when you’re 38’, you know what’s funny? My dad was that young! Hah. In America it’d be more like “He was only 10 when you were 18!” to scare someone off with age, we tend not to care about age gaps once you hit 20 years old. Most of the time I wanted to go ‘if you marry someone you don’t care about then that’s more dumb then trying to love someone who feels the same way’. I was so drawn to Aki’s devilishly cute personality, and how laid back he could be. It was fun seeing him go “oh…nope, gonna be genuinely dominant right now” hehehe. . .

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All this game did was make me want more routes!!! I’m sitting here trying to click the other character’s routes. I want to date Momoi soooo badly, if Aki was this passionate what’s next?! My only real problems with the route were the need for an even more romantic climax. “I’m not ready to be married yet but the thought of losing you drives me crazy, I almost considered it, and that terrified me. I just want the chance to be with you!” Would have been a perfect dialogue here. Why is the main character always rich? Not that I’m complaining. . . please buy me a house Aki. . . please and thank you.

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I have to say I want the other routes too because it is kind of awkwardin this route at times. . .it was awkward to once again reject another man who just happened to come too late to the party. The 10 years of not being loved party. I also didn’t like Miho at all, as she seemed less to care about MC (who I named Kinoue in this one) and more about making her join her in her misery. She seems like one of those women who is just like, well I am doing it and it’s hard so it’s obviously the right choice. Having children and being married aren’t a freakin requirement! A woman is entitled to love whoever she wants! And good on Finally in Love again for letting the MC have that and do what she wants to do with her own life.

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Final opinion? Dat ass Aki. . .dat ass.

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Oki

Dangan Ronpa 2 ~ Goodbye Despair

Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Danganronpa2characters

As a huge fan of the first game I have been waiting for Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to come out for months. So when I got the text from gamestop telling me that my pre-order came in I rushed over on the release date and bought it. Now some of you here might be like “Midnight, the fack is a Dangan Ronpa!?” so I will be more than happy to tell you what it is. Dangan Ronpa is a Murder Mystery, Psychological, Urban Fantasy, Action Adventure game. The premise of the second game starts with you on an Island having a “Love-Dovey School Trip.” Where the goal is to collect Hope Fragments by getting closer to your classmates.

Monomi

This peace and quiet lasts all of about twenty minutes into the game. Then the real plot begins, where the evil Monokuma or Mono Bear takes over the School trip and turns it into the “Killing School Trip.”, the gameplay is pretty similar to the first game with some small things added.

Monokuma

The first thing I noticed that really stood out was the addition of a digital pet you could take care of that grew depending on how much your character walked. It had a hope and despair meter that helps decide what it will grow into. Despair is gained by ignoring it and letting its home get messy and hope is obtained by giving it gifts. I’m not entirely sure what comes from maxing out the despair vs maxing out the hope but I thought it was a neat little feature and doing it helps you get skills, items and coins to buy items.

Most of the other new feature take place during the class trails and I’ll talk about them later. Let’s look at characters and plot. The cast of both games is a set of students from a high school known as Hopes Peak Academy. The requirements to attend Hopes Peak are that you’re already in High School and that the school itself scouts you out for being the very best at what you do. The cast of characters in this game include Hajime Hinata, this is the players avatar for a majority of the game his ultimate talent is unknown.

Nagito Komeada, the Ultimate Lucky Student. Byakuya Togami? The Ultimate Affluent progeny. Gundham Tanaka, the Ultimate Breeder. Kazuichi Soda, the Ultimate Mechanic. TeruTeru Hanamura, the Ultimate Cook. Nekomaru Midai, the Ultimate Team Manager. Fukuhiro Kuzuryu, the Ultimate Yakuza. Akane Owari, the Ultimate Gymnast. Chiaki Nanami the Ultimate Gamer. Sonia Nevermind, the Ultimate Princess. Hiyoko Saionji, the Ultimate Traditional Dancer. Mahiru Koizumi, the Ultimate photographer. Mikan Tsumiki, the Ultimate Nurse. Ibuki Mioda, the Ultimate Musician and Peko Pekoyama, the Ultimate swordswoman. Each character is fun and interesting, though since this is a murder mystery game you don’t get as much time to appreciate some as much as the others. That’s the benefit of the post-game island mode. In which you can take time to get to know all the characters that may have died too soon in the main story for you really to connect with.

Super_Dangan_Ronpa_2_full_1210365

There are two more things you can access from the main menu after you play a bit of the main story. One of these being the mini-game called Magical Miracle Girl Monomi. The other thing is the novel mode, which presents a ‘What-If’ story based off the first game. The story focuses solidly on Mukuro, the Ultimate Solider and sister of Junko Enoshima. It’s just something to read, though I think it would be a nice game mode. The Magical Girl Minigame is sort of boring, kind of repetitive with little difference in levels, attack or anything. You get items to upgrade Monomi but I think it would be a lot more fun if it actually changed her appearance in the mini-game. It’s good to pass some time mindlessly and does get you a trophy but that’s about all it’s good for.

As for the story and how it stacks up against the story of the first game. THIS WAS FANTASTIC! I was really big into the first game and played it to the point I actually got all the PSN trophies so I was a little nervous that the second game wouldn’t stack up to it. I was wrong. In particular the last chapter of the game was so intense with its plot twists and additions of facts that made everything else in the game come together. It had to be some of the most intense storytelling in a game I’ve seen in a very long time. The final trial of the game also has some of the characters from the first game in it for a brief time, so it was a real treat for someone who enjoyed the first game as much as I did to see those characters return even if it was for a short period of time. The class trials themselves run very similar to the way they did in the first game. However, they added certain aspects that make them slightly harder. The first big change I want to talk about is the change they made to Hangmans Gambit. I HATE this update, they made this FAR harder than it was in the first game, It’ll make an achievement like “Go through a trial without taking any damage” almost impossible. I don’t really know how to describe how they changed it in words but it was a bad choice and makes the Hangmans Gambit really fucking hard. The next added feature is the Logic Dive. This mini-game features Hajime skateboarding along a virtual sort of cylinder and moving to the correct paths of logic by skateboarding to the correct answers. This is actually a lot of fun and a wonderful addition to the gameplay. The very last new gameplay aspect is the truth blade, in which you cut through other peoples rebuttals and then cut through it with evidence. This is fun but can be a pain in the ass at times.

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My major issue is that maybe it’s just my Vita, or maybe my copy of the game but I experienced MULTIPLE game crashes. At one point I didn’t save through the entire chapter, so when the game glitched I lost an entire chapters worth of progress. I don’t know if this happened to anyone else but if it did, this was a major flaw to the game.

Anything from this point on will be spoilers so if you want to play the game yourself, please stop reading here. Here’s a picture of Monokuma to look at so you don’t see anything.

Monobear

The story itself, in detail is absolutely amazing. It follows a lot of patrons from the first game but manages to do them without making it seem like it’s copying the first game even stopping to take shots at itself when things get to similar. Monokuma reveals the memory loss plot quickly and says that it’s a tired old trope and isn’t interesting anymore. The reveal of a ‘Serial Killer’ amongst the group in the second case is slept through and mumbled “This again?” by Monokuma. The game is more than willing to take a few shots at itself when needed. Of course, just because it pokes fun at them or passes them off as things that aren’t a big deal doesn’t mean they don’t have something to do with the plot. For example the memory loss plot drives a lot of the games conflict, all building up to the most epic reveal I could imagine in Chapter 6. Something so mind blowing, that it made everything in the game suddenly make sense.

You’re basically playing as the series villains.

From the very beginning of the game, up until the very end the entire thing seems strange. It becomes very apparent at one point that you’re in a game of sorts. A virtual world that your avatar has been uploaded into. Why you may ask were these High-School kids locked away in a virtual world? Well as we all know from the end of the first game, the world is basically destroyed by the biggest, baddest, most tragic event in human history. These kids, in this virtual world are remints of the despair left behind by Junko Enoshima. This virtual world, was created so they could gain back hope and then their avatars could be uploaded into their real bodies. Their real bodies may not even look like the ones in the virtual world anymore, in chapter zero, we see the character Nagito with his arm cut off and replaced with Junko’s arm.

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Apparently this is only the tip of the ice burg of things people did to parts of Junko after she died at the end of the first game. I really don’t want to say what the game mentions, I can barely think about it without feeling sick to my stomach but I will say they don’t hold anything back. This blew my mind, and when you look back on it from chapter 6 everything that you may have questioned or wondered about. Every motive that may have seemed suspicious to you, suddenly falls into place. The reason the program changed from a world that was supposed to help inspire these kids with hope to the ‘Killing School Trip’ of despair was a virus planted in the game by….

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You. Yes, you, the main character. Hajime Hinata. You are the one who planted the virus in the world, the reason everyone is dying is because of you. Of course, outside of the virtual world the person known as Hajime Hinata doesn’t actually exist anymore. In his place is a manufactured personality that Hopes Peak created known as Izuru Kamukura. Originally he was a reserve course student, someone who paid their way into the school. Then he was manufactured into an Ultimate…everything. This school is sick, like seriously sick. They cut open his head and changed who he was. I can’t even with this school. No wonder the Ultimate despair started there.

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DID I MENTION THIS GAME IS FULL OF PLOT TWIST? The entire last chapter left me in a pile of feelings. At one point the whole thing gets so depressing I felt like I was drowning in despair myself. The addition of characters from the first game, including my favorite Byakuya Togami was wonderful for nostalgia value. Speaking of Byakuya, the obese one that shows up in this game is a….decent imposter, but I think for the Ultimate Imposter he could have done a better job. I grinded the hell out of Byakuyas events in the first game so I could find all the flaws in the imposter.

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The feelings this game left me with were rather intense, I flickered between despair and hope and in the end of everything I know that this isn’t really a happy ending. The ending makes it rather clear despite the fact this was a virtual world, the avatars of the people who died were deleted and there is little to no chance of them being brought back. It’s a rather down note to end on but overall, the ending still has a glimmer of hope with it.

I LOVED this game, I adored everything about it from how the deaths played out to the class trails. Even with the problems, I cried at, at least two of the executions and one of the deaths. Now excuse me. I have some final trophies to get. Stupid hidden Monokumas…. *picks up Vita*

~Midnight

Kissed By the Baddest Bidder [ Eisuke Ichinomiya Route ]

Periodically I tend to spend some of my time doing things that means I have to sit still for a few hours. Normally this entails a steady amount of boredom, but recently my iPhone has been restored and I got the chance to return to one of my favorite activities: Playing Voltage Inc games was pretty much the reason I got an iPhone, as I’ve always felt the otome industry was incredibly under represented in America. As soon as I heard the premise of ‘being sold’ to a guy in this game I knew the darker premise would be well handled. Voltage has a reputation for having genuine types of romances that appeal to girls, and I was extremely excited. Of course at the time, who was available but only the main options? So, I chose the one I found to be. . . okay, I won’t lie, I picked the hottest one. EISUKE ICHINOMIYA EVERYBODY!

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I think the reason I’m drawn to Eisuke, other than his looks, is the same thing that originally drew me to Keith in Be My Princess. There’s something alluring about a total douchebag who seems to be completely disinterested in me as a woman. Hah, I’ll show you Eisuke! Just watch, I give it five chapters before small aspects of my life seem to make you drawn to me. Don’t mind me, I’m definitely not toiling my hands like the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz!

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His main shtick is, get this, very much in the style of My Forged Wedding. He needs you to be his pretend girlfriend to casually trepse along an issue of an italian mafiosos business. One of my favorite parts of this story HANDS DOWN is that Eisuke isn’t ashamed of all of this. He has his reasons but he doesn’t mind the money or the people that he is associated with! He looks at you and gives you an ‘i dont give a fuck if you approve’ look and does what he wants. Probably more than any other Vantage guy Eisuke does NOT change for you, he falls in love with you. If you’re looking for a sexy bad boy guy who falls for you without a single change in his behavior, you won’t find better than Voltage Incs Eisuke Ichinomiya.

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The Mafiosa’s daughter is in love with Eisuke, and at first she’s your typical trash talking love interest. The difference is one major factor- Carolina is incredibly hilarious. I was donating blood platelets and had people looking over at me awkwardly as I laughed my ass off at how stupid she is. She’s rich, a daddy’s girl, and has a buxom and overweight figure that just simply SUGGESTS she is beyond italian. The writers of Voltage need to keep in mind that traditionally Italian women have dark hair, not the blonde blue eyed look popular in America, and are proud of their Italian heritage. You won’t hear me complain however, because Carolina is hard to take seriously as a villain when her entire shtick is her flighty affections and her absurdly out there speech patterns. SHE CALLS YOU A BITCH IN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES OF KNOWING YOU!

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But once that whole Mafioso business is settled, you realize you aren’t sure if you want to be away from Eisuke. He hasn’t done more than inconvenience you and even though there is someone else interested in you in this route, you think about him a lot. Eisuke has a lot of chances to pass that border of creepy and bad boy with a jerk attitude, and he never does. But the best part of this route is when he pushes you away. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. . .I love angst so much. When he says he’s done with you ….my heart fluttered. MY PHONE STARTED DYING AND I WENT “NO, NO, I WILL SEE MY CHARACTER BE A TSUNDERE AND REACT TO THIS AS IF IT DOESNT MATTER TO HER” I LOVE these types of plot elements. I KNOW YOU THINK YOU CAN REJECT ME EISUKE BUT YOU LURVE MEEEEEEE!!!!!

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Before hand, you do find out Eisuke is kind of a nice guy. Kind of. He has his own motives but he is willing to do what it takes without regret. One of his motivations is to find his sister who has disappeared after they were separated as kids, and to find the people who ruined his parent’s corporation. What ends up happening? When you’re separated you end up being taken captive because – get this – someone claims to have seen his sister. You kind of mention a detail he didn’t and it’s a derp moment for the main character, but it’s forgiveable. Eisuke comes to save you, in his typical ‘I dont care about you fashion’ and along with his buddies takes down his top competitor and becomes even more powerful. SWOON. You be a jerk that pretends not to care about me!

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My biggest problem with the game is more than likely that I feel the reveal, even in the ‘good’ end, isn’t as climactic. Namely because they took the emphasis off of Eisuke and showed this guy you’ve kinda had feelings for? I feel like that was a weak line. He’s kind of shown as the ‘normal’ and ‘safe’ option…hey fuck you game! The normal guy is really sweet and I would’ve dated him too. MAKE TAKAHIRO A ROUTE! But. . .I have no complaints about the saucy ending of him ‘educating’ you on how to be his actual girlfriend . . . hehe…he’s hot. . .

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So my thoughts? Eisuke is incredibly interesting. He is who he is and that is a guy who loves you, is high and mighty, and really cool. his smile is entrancing and this route actually made me most fond of. . .Mamoru the smartass detective?! all his friends are interesting! I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing. So. . .I bought the Epilogue! I found it funny you don’t start living with him since he declares you can’t leave the bedroom without asking LOL. Even the main character is a little lonely you aren’t sleeping there anymore. You end up promoted to the Penthouse cleaning and well…okay with me, though I’m sure Eisuke will ride you hard about it. . .wait that’s a double meaning. .

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…douche…but when he says the misleading quote of the opening, he then turns into a sexy boyfriend type who makes out with me. DAMMIT EISUKE, I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO QUIT YOU!!!! The game brings to attention that he never said he loved you, so I’m hoping he’ll do that? Hnghghghghhh. . . The best part now is when people hit on Eisuke and insult you he gets pissed and leaves, and tells them to fuck off. AW HE LOVES ME now have sex with me. I mean what?

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..RIGHT AS I SAID THAT I GOT COCKBLOCKED! I SHIT YOU NOT, THIS GAME THEN WENT “NAH I GOTTA BE RESPONSIBLE AND SHIT” AND GO TO WORK. FUCK. WORK? THE FUCK. I JUST WANTED TO GET IT ON WITH MY IMAGINARY BOYFRIEND SON OF A on a sidenote I kind of ship Chisato and Baba. ..

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The game deals a lot with MC (who I named Michiru, by the way) feeling she might not be his only girl because he won’t admit he loves her. GIVE IT TO ME EISUKE. GIVE ME YOUR LOVE!!!!!

your sexy...sexy love

your sexy…sexy love

My wishes got granted in the end as Eisuke dragged me to my room, confessed, and then we totally did it. EXCELLENT. Perfect ending. If you buy the main route BUY THE EPILOGUE. IT’S PERFECT.

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On a final note, there was an art contest. I was so busy with school starting I had no time to draw, but now I have! I figured in tribute to the games Flash Sale, I’d make a nice fanart for Eisuke.

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If Voltage games are too expensive for you, this weekend’s got a great deal. I’d recommend trying Eisuke for 50% off (until Monday 9/15) or Ota…or Mamoru…so many great choices. Personally I’m not really interested in Baba, but I will step in and defend the prices since a normal manga takes me thirty minutes to read, and is twice the cost, but a Voltage sim takes me usually two hours to read. For an under represented market, I think it’s important we otome fans take advantage of sales to represent ourselves and let the market know we’re here, so we can enjoy more fun games like this. Go for the sales, go go go! (and if you can’t, let me know your favorite route here so I can make sure you keep up with your favorite until you have money) If we’re lucky we might see a major spike in games and get to see even more varieties. But for now. . .this sexy guy and his tsundere ways pleases me. . . even if he can be a douche . . . douche.

yeah...yeah...a sexy....sexy douche...

yeah…yeah…a sexy….sexy douche…

Oki

Corpse Party [So many damn Bad Endings!]


SPOILERS AHEAD:

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So in a total fit of curiosity a few days before my birthday I didn’t figure that credit card info for my Ps3 would transfer over to my PS Vita. Well I was wrong, so I ended up downloading myself Corpse Party. Well it would be rude to accidently download myself a 20 dollar game and not play it. So I set off to the journey of Corpse Party.

Game play is fairly simple, you move around as the sprite characters and explore the haunted school. What is not fairly simple is figuring out what’s going to kill you, what isn’t, what’s going to lead you to a bad end or what’s going to complete the plot. The worst part about this is sometimes you can make the wrong choice and not know for twenty minutes or more that you’ve messed up and you can even save after a bad choice and screw yourself up completely. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if there was a way to skip dialogue you’ve read before, but there isn’t!
Seriously! HOW was I supposed to know I wasn’t supposed to give them the student I.D. back before finding the baby statue!?

The plot itself it really solid, you start off the game with one of your class mates leaving to move away from the school. So your class rep and resident occult leader suggests a charm she read on the internet. You go to perform it and it messes up, throwing you all into different closed spaces in this haunted school. From here, you split up into different groups for each chapter.

Chapter 1 you play and Naomi and Seiko

Chapter 2 as Kishinuma and Ayumi

Chapter 3 as Satoshi and Yuka

After that it switches between the people who are still alive. Chapter 5 giving you the most playable characters of all the chapters. Each chapter plays out the story, you can either make it through the chapter safely and move on to the next one or hit one of the very murmurous bad endings.
Chapter 2 I think I was buried alive like 7 times before i figured out what to do. I love alternate endings as much as the next guy but as I stated above, there needed to be some sort of way to skip text. It was really annoying to clear some of these parts multiple times.

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You don’t come out with everyone you come in with. No matter how hard you try, this might be the other part of the game that rubbed me the wrong way. It had a set thing of students it wanted to live and if you let any of them die, it was a bad ending. However, if you let other ones die, it continues you on to the regular ending.
I wish there was some kind of ‘Good End’ where everyone lived, or perhaps you had more choice in who lived and who died. One of the deceased was one of my favorite characters and even from beyond the grave she continued to be amazing and a real trooper.

Chapter 1 is alright, it’s not the best chapter of the game by any means. Perhaps it’s because I liked Seiko more then Naomi and in the end of the chapter Seiko dies. This best friend group, or girl who is straight [Naomi] and the lesbian that loves her[Seiko]. Begin exploring the haunted school they are in. Though Naomi has a broken ankle that is almost never talked about again in the later chapters when she’s with Satoshi even though the splint that Seiko makes her breaks, huh, didn’t even think about that part until now. It was the first chapter so I don’t remember the details to it too well, the part that screwed me up the most was trying to escape the nurses office when the black mist is chasing after you. You have to look around the room and find some oil to throw on the hair barring the door and then use the lighter on it. Though this only triggers after you try to burn the door down twice. I’m not ashamed to admit I had to look up a guide during this part because honestly I’m not sure how you’re supposed to figure out some of these things on your own.
Naomi, being thrown to the brink of insanity by this place yells at Seiko and causes a huge fight between them. The group breaks apart and you play briefly as both of them. Seiko hears a voice and goes to follow it, the next time we see her is hung in the bathroom stall in the girls bathroom on the third floor. This is not a death you can stop, either option you pick leads to her dying. I was not pleased with this at all, I honestly really liked Seiko and was rather angry this was how the chapter had to end.

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Chapter 2 was a lot more interesting of a chapter but where I had probably one of the hardest times. You start off the chapter with three characters actually, Kishinuma, the school bad boy. Ayumi the class rep and resident occult leader and Ms. Yui the homeroom teacher. You loose her rather early on in the chapter unfortunately and that leaves you with the two students to go looking for her. The game will often have ‘earthquakes’ which is actually the school shifting around. After a ‘earthquake’ things that were open to explore before might be closed off and other places that weren’t open before might be open now. In this case, the class room that the teacher got injured in so you won’t be finding or saving her for the remainder to the chapter, don’t even try.
You wander around a bit until you walk into the room where you find the child ghost. This little guy might look cute at first but he is the bane of your existence! You’re told not to look him in the eyes, which is pretty easy in the room itself when you get the item you need, but then you move on with the plot and the blasted kid invades the hallway and follows you and if you don’t walk carefully and trick him into getting caught up on the holes in the hallway. You’ll get moved to a cut scene of Kishinuma getting buried alive. You have NO idea how long i took me to figure out the path to get past him or what I was supposed to do next, I was so sick of reading the part where you get buried it was maddening.
This chapter contains probably one of the more brutal deaths of the game, the girl who was going to be transfered at the start of the game. Mayu, is flung by two of the ghosts into a wall at high speeds and well. Let me tell you, the result does not look pretty at all. I pride myself on a high constitution and if this game was in any higher resolution then it is, I probably would of thrown up. Thank goodness for low graphics. No, there is no way you can save her by the way. This chapter also has a fantastic fake out as well, but i’ll talk about that in chapter four.

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Chapter 3 is a pretty good one if you care about Yuka and her quest to go to the bathroom, I’ll rant about my feelings on that one later. This chapters best moment is when you discover the second building to the school. You move across the walk way and Yuka and Satoshi figure that the woods outside would be a good place to go to the bathroom. So Yuka heads back out and you encounter the ghost with an eye missing. She’s really freaky and if you don’t run away from her right away, there is a really freaky scene of her scooping out Yuka’s eyes with scissors. Yeah, as you can tell I failed to run away in time once.
Once Yuka gets inside from that scene, her brother is missing. She begins searching for him and runs into someone she thinks at first is her big brother but it’s another human that’s been trapped in the school. His name is Kizami Yuuya, and my initial reaction to him was “Oh DAMN, he’s SMOKING!” He says that he’s lost his little sister as well and offers to go with you to find your brother and his sister. We find out between here and chapter five, everything with Kizami isn’t exactly on the up and up.

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Chapters four and five are super spoiler heavy, if you don’t want to know critical parts of the plot please stop reading the review here!

I’ll sum them up in a few words: This stuff is fucked up. The real core of the plot shows itself to the characters through a serious of flashbacks but not before they appease some of the ghosts by returning the tongues that had been cut out of their mouths at the time they’ve been murdered.

Chapter 4, we find that Kishinuma, who at the end of chapter two was dead is not actually dead. It was a fantastic fake out, I was sitting through all of chapter three being mad that both of my favorite characters from chapters one and two were dead and then bam, he’s not dead. Good fake out game. Kishinuma and Ayumi gather slowly the three tongues of the children. One of which is out by the pool in which Ayumi almost drowns, this is another case of “HOW COULD I OF GUESSED THAT?” you pick up the key to the pump room, you see waves in the pool. My first assumption is to drain the pool, well that brings you to a bad ending. What you need to do, is run to the locker room, see Ayumi isn’t there, then go into the water. (which if you read the dialogue of Kishinuma saying he can’t swim makes no sense at all) Then you have to find the exact place the ripples were, dive down and get her before the timer runs out! Another one of the tongues is under the floor boards, and so on and so forth. Once you return the tongues to the kids, one of the kids lets the two characters back to their own world. However, that’s when the plot twist hits like a two ton truck. The murderer is not the teacher like we once thought, but one of the supposed victims ‘Sachiko’ and the reason everyone ended up where they did was the charm was flubbed and they angered Sachiko.

Now we come to Chapter 5, this one is much longer then any of the others and has the most bad endings that you can encounter of all of the chapters. You play as everyone left alive at this point, meaning Satoshi, Naomi, Yuka, Ayumi and Kishinuma. Ayumi and Kishinuma after finding out the truth head back to the school to help their other friends escape. That is, if you make that choice, the first choice for a bad ending comes very early on where you can make it so Kishinuma decides not to go with her, this is a horrible choice and is a round about way to a bad ending you’ll get in about twenty minutes so if you don’t want to waste your time on that, chose to go back with Ayumi. On another play through, I say it’s worth it if only for his love confession to her but do it when you’re trying to collect all the bad endings. You have to be pretty careful about everything during this chapter, something as simple as meeting the two groups up too early can spell a bad ending for you or leave you angry and frustrated trying to figure out what to do next. The story takes an even more messed up turn when you learn about the Principal and Sachiko’s mom who used to be the school nurse before her untimely death at the hands of the principal. Reading the nurses diary is pretty erie. Oh though not as erie as something earlier in the chapter. When we first start up with Yuka again, she discovers that Kizami has murdered his friend Kurosaki and desires her to be next. Maybe she should of played the cute little sister card, it might of pacified his crazy. Any which way it leads to a chase scene with the creepy sounds of him calling out for you before his demise in the nurses office.
If you play this chapter correctly you can appease Sachiko and begin running out of the school, though there is no real run function in this game. If you are luck enough to make it outside before the 7th bell, you’ll be fine. If you’re not, the school creates a new malicious spirit or a new Sachiko and you’re trapped there forever.

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The characters are well for the most part fairly enjoyable. Everyone likes different types of characters and I can see where some people would come from in liking characters that I didn’t…

Except for Yuka, how can ANYONE like Yuka? She’s really REALLY annoying! I mean, she plays no real part in the story other then being Satoshi’s little sister and thus if you let her die it’s the trigger to a bad end. Other then that, it’s Yuka and the great quest to go to the bathroom. Seriously!? There are holes all over this hell hole, just pee in one of them! Oh god, what are you going to hit, someone’s corpse!? Big whole barring you from the bathroom stalls, pee in it! Stop complaining, stop whining for me, I DON’T CARE! The only good thing to come out of her story line is Yuuya Kizami and I use the term “Good Thing” lightly considering he’s a deranged psycho who murders people….he’s REALLY hot though, what is it with hot guys being psycho?

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She’s 14 for crying out loud and she acts like she’s four! Also, the part where she pees herself, takes off her panties and then talks about the wind on her…well um, game, game no. Game stop, Pedo Bear is coming and it doesn’t look good for you.

Sorry, that rant was rather unprofessional of me. Let’s look at the overall.

Overall: Corpse Party was a good horror game with some generally creepy and interesting moments, the puzzles were a bit complicated at times and I had to resort to a guide more then once but that wasn’t such a big deal. The biggest short coming of this game is the inability to skip scenes you’ve seen before it would of made the game a lot more fun for me. If you like horror games, I would totally recommend this game but just don’t get too frustrated by having to go through the same thing over and over again.

I give Corpse Party for the PSP a solid 7/10.

~Midnight

Manga Mondays: LAST GAME

LAST GAME

Title: LAST GAME [ ?????? ]
Author: Amano Shinobu (Story & Art)
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
Published: Aug 24, 2011
Chapters: 18 (On-Going)
Serialization: LALA Magazine

LAST GAME is a manga I have come across about a little more than a year ago, and I quickly fell in love with it. As of the late I have been meaning to write up a recommendation post and on Saturday boom, I finally got down to it. Keep in mind this isn’t a review, it is a recommendation post.

At first glance (or more accurately right off the bat with the first page), to those who are familiar or have read Special A (S.A.) might feel or jump to the conclusion that it’s the exactly same as S.A, only with reversed genders- but it’s not. In fact it is FAR from it. That isn’t what the story is about at all.

The “Last Game” is all about a challenge that Yanagi had proposed to Kujou in hopes to help her recognize his romantic feelings towards her, thus once she does Yanagi wins and already has plans to get engaged with her. It’s a very sweet, because Kujou’s world is only starting to open up now- but you have to feel for Yanagi as Kujou accidentally and repetitively drops the “Friend-Zone” bombs onto him since she is so happy now that she can fully embrace life and identifies Yanagi as her good friend.

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In the beginning, the story heavily focuses on Yanagi’s perspective, but now as Kujou is now gradually becoming more aware about Love and her feelings towards Yanagi, the focus as shifted to her. Either way it is balanced out between the two of them starting from Chapter 4. They are really two precious idiots, and you will absolutely love them.

LAST GAME covers their Primary School, Middle School, and High School before jumping to their University life- which is great because there aren’t enough shoujo stories taking place at a time when the characters are more mature than they would be in high school.

Yanagi Hisato starts off as a real stuck up kid who is very proud of his family’s success, being top of the class and athletics and even gets scouted by talent scouts. He identified himself as King of the World.
However everything changed when Kujou Mikoto transferred to his class. He was quickly dethroned by Kujou who proven to be a formidable rival who could care less about his rivalry. Yanagi quickly learns that Kujou works hard at what she does because she wants to become independent as soon as possible for her mother’s sake. Having learned that Kujou doesn’t have any tutors nor does she attend cram school Yanagi decided to try winning with his own strength. Then when it came to choosing which middle school to attend, after having heard Kujou is going to a public, Yanagi goes to the same instead of the private one he was initially going to enter. However despite his efforts, even without being in the same class- Kujou continued to keep him in second place. With that said, one could say that Yanagi either had an unhealthy obsession with trying to defeat her, or is really dedicated and attached to her. I have always felt it was more of the latter simply because Yanagi will NOT put up with people saying crap about Kujou.

Soon enough Love is pulled into play when Yanagi overheard some boys talking about how “The one who falls in love first is the loser”, and decides to switch up his tactics to trying to make Kujou fall in love/develop a crush on him- which proves to be far more difficult than he had anticipated since Love and relationships never once have ever crossed Kujou’s mind. But what makes Yanagi fall for Kujou in the first place is because she could care less about his family status, it doesn’t faze her- instead she sees him for who he is, something that he relishes since its his family title and good looks are really what makes him popular.
It’s in high school when the two of them really starts getting to know each other. Yanagi was there when Kujou received a call that her mother was in the hospital and saw a whole different side of her and continued to stick by her side as a friend ever since.

Despite only having been three chapters, because Yanagi had debuted at a young age, over the course of the ten years you can see Yanagi’s growth and maturity. The only thing that hasn’t changed is his stuck-up personality. He can’t help it, that’s just who he is- and in a ways rightfully so (excluding his good-looks) ever since he cast aside his tutors and stopped going to cram school and took upon the challenge itself to get where he is today.

Chapter 3 is when things finally kicks off by jumping straight to University and we finally get to see things in Kujou’s perspective where as we learn more about her mindset and what she had thought of Yanagi’s ten years of persistence.

I really felt for Kujou during this particular chapter because after all of these years, since childhood Kujou has always put her mother first, and only now- when she is in University her mother tells her “Don’t think too much about me, I hope you can chase your own happiness” like, woman- she devoted her entire childhood for your sake and you are only telling her this now? Kujou understandably is stunned because she doesn’t know what else to do. She doesn’t have anything. She never got to experience that. Or rather, she never had a childhood. Yanagi is all she has who have been by her side for ten years.

Now that Kujou is ready to embrace life and is looking to expand her social circle by joining clubs, she also drawing attention to herself. Yanagi quickly finds out that there is competition brewing, as likewise to Kujou who eventually encounters a girl who is quite determined to make Yanagi’s hers. Unfortunately for both opposing characters their love is one-sided, but it’s thanks to them that Kujou starts to becomes more aware of her feelings towards Yanagi because up to this point, she was oblivious to these emotions nor has she ever experienced it.

When I first started reading the LAST GAME, it was simply the short-stories, I thought that was the end of it-a done deal. So when I learned that it was being made into a series (and was picked up by fan-translaters), I was ecstatic. I sincerely hope that Kodansha or VizMedia (since I DOUBT that YenPress would ever license this title since it’s not really their thing) that will license this title one day- I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED TO HAVE IT IN MY COLLECTION (I own the Japanese copy of Vol 1 and 2 though- not that I can read them yet…). It is really sweet, the characters are refreshing and adorable and you know what I love best about this story? It is one hell of a slow love story and Yanagi and Kujou love each other for who they are. While it is taking it’s sweet time it also manages to have a great pace which is one of the key things that keep my sanity when it come down to slower developments. On top of that, this isn’t dealing with the same old repetition and “demand for challenge” like Special A, which was something I absolutely loathed because I quickly grew tired of it and stopped collecting the series at Vol 10. (I mean it’s not entirely bad, but overtime it gets really annoying).

So if you like… or rather have the patience for slow, but gradually developing shoujo romance, this is definitely a title you should start reading or add to your ‘to-read’ list.

Manga Mondays: Mars

Today we review Mars, one of the most definitive manga of the Josei genre, by Fuyumi Soryu.

It would be a lie to say Mars isn’t one of the original culprits of the bad boy good girl cliche. Fortunately for all of you, this manga is not promoting the idea of complete self inversion for the sake of lurve. No, what makes Mars so special is the opposite. In Mars you have two characters damaged by well, life, and they don’t make a miraculous change in their personalities once they find each other. The point of Mars instead is that they find love together and achieve happiness through accepting themselves and each other.

That’s one of the reasons why to this day, Mars has remained a favorite of mine. Accidentally purchased by my mother for me when I wanted the shounen manga Mar (unknown to me, it was scanlated and my friends were all reading it offline, not buying it) I have not regretted the purchase since. The manga starts with extremely shy Kira Aso giving directions to Rei Kashino. This might have been a normal situation, but she just so happened to draw directions on a sketch of a mother and child. This prompted Rei to take an interest in Kira who remained shy. It takes literal hair pulling and threatening of a pervert teacher to eventually draw them together, and Rei becomes Kira’s model and eventually graduates to full time protector (and then boyfriend) status.

Rei is a pervert. As such he well…has slept with a lot of women. Many who are out either to warn Kira or seduce Rei, but thankfully that plot element is a back up to the actual story. The only actual jealous other girls we see are a soon to be ex of his and Harumi. Harumi is your token female friend, but she’s a little more twisted than most female friends. Harumi is actually in love with Rei in the beginning. The reason for this is that they slept together in freshman year… but well. Rei is a playboy. If he loved all the women he had sex with this manga would probably be a lot worse. Or about polygamy. He does not return her feelings but she wants Kira to screw off anyway, and even threatens to break her hands if she refuses. Kira then confesses that she’d even learn to draw with her feet or even her mouth if it meant she could still be with Rei. Their odd friendship begins when Harumi can’t bring herself to injure Kira. And the token male friend? Well he’s not that creative. Tatsuya is just in love with Kira and best friends with Rei. The other potential love interest is meant to show you that Rei is sincerely interested in Kira, as he explains he wants to be around Kira because they actually talk. So thankfully, that’s all we really see of that.

What makes this manga a definite recommendation from me is several things. First off, everything cliche is either done tastefully or with enough of a flavor to it to make it bearable. Luckily there’s not that much of it, but there are some pretty foreshadowed events of their lives that are kind of overplayed. Again, I give it a break because the manga is from a long time ago back when the cliche wasn’t used as much. Second off, and the biggest reason, is what I mentioned in the beginning. This is a real person romance. This, for the most part, involves two people who are dealing with their own issues and trying to figure life out. I can buy almost everything they throw at me. Hell, Rei is rich but he isn’t like all other delinquent children of rich people, his father flat out cut him off and he has to work to support himself. And well

THE ROMANCE IS BADASS.

What else can I say for a shoujo? I mean seriously. Several of the events between Kira and Rei seem believable and endearing too. They fight, they fail at things, they are forced to give things up to be together, they have to work their asses off to be together- and they’re still together in the end. It’s like a real relationship! They both have needs and deal breakers and have to clash based on them. Kira’s poor because she’s with Rei and can’t afford to go to art school. And when the magical power of money fixes this it’s because Rei had to give up motorcycles. My only real critique in the end is that everything does get solved in the story through means the real world might not offer, but there’s definitely issues in the relationship that need to be fixed and that can’t be changed. Kira’s shy and can’t stick up for herself against strangers- Rei is a pervert who can’t compromise on sex even if he can be monogamous and at the end of the day he takes on a dangerous career that could kill him.

It’s hard for me to scream at you about this manga because I’ve had it for so long that all my thoughts on it have become a well thought out recommendation. But despite that I can really tell you, read this MOTHER ^$%&ING MANGA. It’s magical. Also it’s HAWT. It’s so hawt man, volume ten I mean DAAAAAAAAAAMN. WHEN THEY GET IT ON THEY GET IT ON I MEAN YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

…….Go read it.

Oki

Manga Mondays: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Oh boy am I excited for this one! Read on to find out more about Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun!

I had a bit of a hard time choosing which manga to review first (since there are a lot of good ones out there that deserve more attention than they get) but with the anime adaption coming up in October, I though it would probably be best to start with this one. It also doesn’t help that this is one of my favorite mangas that’s currently being serialized.

Title: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (The Monster Seated Next to Me)
Author: Robiko0
Japanese Publisher: Dessert, October 2008
English Publisher: None (?)
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School Stuff, Shoujo
Total Volumes: 9+ On-Going

Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun, which I’m just going to shorten down to Tonari from here on out, sets up a storyline that is possibly as old as the sun: a simple tale of Girl meets Boy. She’s a good student, but a bit of a loner because of it and he’s a wild child delinquent, who is always getting into fights. By some chance they meet and start to develop feelings for each other while attracting friends blah, blah, blah, etc etc etc. We’ve all read this story a million times, right? Well, that’s were Tonari takes your expectations of that old story, slaps them, and then turns them on their heads.

Haru Yoshida, the hero of our tale

Our main heroine is Shizuku Mizutani, a high school girl obsessed with studying so that she can make 10 million yen a year once she graduates. She’s a very cold, distant person, who doesn’t interact with other people and or have any friends. She’s also incredibly honest and straightforward. One day, her teacher manages to bribe her (with text books!) into taking some class notes to a student who’s been absent since the first day of class.

Enter Haru Yoshida, who, because of his inablity to interact with people, has been suspended from school for fighting. They meet, and Haru, after deducing that people only bring their “Friends” notes when they are absent, decides that Shizuku must be his friend. It’s at around this time that Shizuku realizes that Haru 1. clearly understands social norms less than she does and 2. that he’s a naive fool. It turns out that Haru wants to come back to school but is afraid to do so because everyone wants to fight him (in reality, everyone is scared of him.) With some straight talk and a bit of coaxing, Shizuku (reluctantly) gets Haru to come back to school.

The story evolves from there, mostly focusing on how Shizuku and Haru grow and mature mentally as they make friends and start their off-beat courtship. We’re introduced to characters like Natsume Asako, a pretty girl who lives her life online and desperately wants to make real life friends but is hampered by her good looks that make boys confess to her all the time and girls to hate her because of it, Souhei Sasahara, an absolutely normal baseball player who’s really the only one who seems to understand how real people function, and Kenji “Yamaken” Yamaguchi, a smart rich kid who is Haru’s “love rival”.

Sounds like a totally normal Shoujo manga up till now, right? But there two things that make this a “MUST READ” in my mind and not something to be missed because it sounds like something we’ve all read before.

Kenji “Yamaken” Yamaguchi, love rival and professional cabbage holder

1. The characters actually MATURE. Shizuku, Haru, and Natsume ALL have serious problems interacting in a social setting at the start of the manga. But they learn from their mistakes and start to actually GROW AS PEOPLE. They aren’t just reduced down to their quirks and doomed to play to those stereotypical rolls until two chapters before the end when they suddenly become a whole other person (if they change at all!)

Take Shizuku for example. At the start of the story she can’t fathom basic human emotions like sadness at a class pet dying or wanting to feel close to other people because those emotions would distract her from her studies (and side note: she actually has a legitimate and sort of heart-breaking reason to want to earn so much money other than wanting to be rich.) But she doesn’t STAY an emotionless robot. In just 33 chapters she actually gets to the point where she can understand and comfort Natsume when she’s upset.

Does she have a long way to go still? Yes. Does she make mistakes along the way? Oh yes. But that’s what makes her (and all the other characters) so great; they’re all flawed but working to better themselves and that’s what makes them so likable and human. And because of that, this becomes one of those rare mangas where you like ALL the characters, even the “rivals” (I part of me loves the idea of Shizuku and Yamaken together, even though a bigger part of me loves Shizuku and Haru)

Plus, it’s just nice to read a shoujo manga where the characters actually notice and acknowledge their feelings, talk about them in a (semi)normal manner, and where the main girl character doesn’t spend 20 chapters wondering “Why is my heart going doki-doki all the time around Boy X?” before she finally realizes she’s in love.

Shizuku Mizutani, looking adorable and like I want to squish her face

2. The art. This might not seem like a very good reason but trust me, it is. Tonari is drawn in a style that is sooooo not a typical shoujo style. There are no blooming flowers in the background everywhere, no dramatic two page spreads (I can only think of about 3 full page spreads in all the volumes up till now), no super long flowing hair all over the place. I mean, 95% of the time Shizuku’s eyes are just simple black orbs as opposed to the huge, flashy eyes that are typical of the genre. Very, very, rarely are any eyes shown with a clear iris and pupil. When’s the last time you saw that in a shoujo manga? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s wrong that most shoujo manga is super flowery and sparkly like a Twilight vampire in the sunlight, but it’s just so refreshing to see something done differently.

I could keep going about this manga for another 1,000 (or more) words, and I still wouldn’t do it justice. What it boils down to is this: this is a great, if slightly underrated, manga, with stellar characters, one-of-a-kind art, heart palpitation inducing romance (HARU AND SHIZUKU ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER IT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO VOMIT RAINBOWS), good humor, and is just generally something off the beaten path. I can highly recommend it to you (even if you don’t typically like shoujo), especially at a time like now, right before the new anime starts (which I’m hoping will be good and stay faithful to the spirit of the manga.) I’m not totally sure if this manga has been licensed yet (some sources say yes, some say no. I can’t find any printed copies on any website or a release date for any of the volumes) so look it up online, and hopefully, it and the anime will both get proper releases soon!

Stray thoughts that didn’t fit anywhere else:

  • Speaking of refreshing, it’s nice that Shizuku doesn’t cry every three chapters like a typical shoujo heroine. (Actually, Haru is really the one who cries. And only twice and once was because he was happy. As far as I can remember.)
  • Finally, a manga where misunderstandings are cleared up as soon as they happen and aren’t dragged on and on and on for chapter after chapter! (I’m looking at you Kimi ni Todoke…)
  • Did I mention that the love confession happens in chapter one? ‘Cause it does. That’s how good this manga is.
  • As if you need yet another reason to read this: There’s no “evil” girl (or group of girls) who picks on the heroine for no reason other than she’s evil and jealous! Seriously, that’s one thing I usually hate in high school based shoujo.