If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. ~Pearl Buck
Foreword: Apocalypse angel story is enough to bait me as long as there aren't more intriguing candidates, but in July 2003 there weren't any.
Title: Kono Sora ga Tsuieru Toki ni
Developer: Digital Monkey
Synopsis: Main character lives happily with his lover and friends around him. But one day the world comes to an end. Protagonist's brother is looking for a leader in this crumbling post-apocalypse world and he finds the leader in protagonist's lover Sena who undergoes transformation suitable to call her God's child... The two people keep on living happily. However, the fate is not smiling at them.
Game type: Eschatological human experiments drama
Character Design rating: 5/10
Protagonist rating: 6/10
Story rating: 5/10
Game quality: 5/10
Overall rating: 5/10
Rating comments: Game itself is of mediocre quality, but plot loopholes do not leave it any chance to be treated like a proper game.
Protagonist: Itsuki has a face and he's quite a decent protagonist who does not chase after each skirt. But for that we have his older brother Reiji who insults every girl in the game.
Characters: There are two routes reserved for other heroines than Sena, but Sena is the main heroine, so I needed to see her route first. And after seeing it there was no room for going on with this game, ever again. All heroines in this game are pretty much alike - they behave normally in presence of Itsuki and have even some emotional moment before H-event - that in-between of the multiple insult scenes with Reiji.
Story: Story is divided into three structural elements. Common route prologue prior to the disaster, main part at the time of disaster and epilogue after the disaster. Prologue is just about funny school life and birth of love with Sena, quite nicely done, actually. But main part messes everything. First, we get to choose one of two protagonists at least 10 times in the game. And selection Reiji scenes shows us insult scenes with his lab worker or one of three female test subjects each time. Selecting Reiji scenes also forbids us from reaching True ending rendering friendship ending instead. As for the main story... nothing is really known. The facts are that Itsuki awakens after a month of coma and finds the world totally changed - almost all the buildings are damaged, people starve and live outdoors. At the same time some mysterious organization appears that concentrates power in its hands and develops a weapon to oppose some external forces. We're not told anything about those external forces, and autocratic organization calls everyone to join forces to protect their homeland. As just one incident, organization sends 120 air crafts to bomb the mainland. At the same time organization makes experiments over girls to grow them wings and - surprise - use them to kill pilots in the pilot cabins of air fighters. And what kind of experiments are used? I think you know yourself - it's an eroge, after all. No answers are really given - how demilitarized Japan managed to afford and build 120 air-crafts in one month, how organization managed to usurp power, what kind of disaster happened - nothing at all. There's no use to describe main part any further, since there's no sense in this half-baked setting. We're not even explained how it ends - something happens, be happy about it. We get some explanation, but it's just usual deus ex machina thing.
This game is what happens when story is neglected at all. We're basically told that what you read holds no sense. How is it possible to try and read other heroines routes after that? I reached both normal and True end for main heroine Sena. But these are absolutely the same stories save for just several different scenes and endings. Game's a shame, really.
Overall comments: What we get is ero-centered end-of-the-world adventure about nothing, not even about knowing other heroines better, so there is no repeat-ability. Let's just treat it like an experience an move on.
Foreword: Girl with a huge sword was a decisive factor for me, but game is quite mysterious and curious looking. It's created for the 10th anniversary of Cat's Pro/Panda House. So, is it as enjoyable as D.U.O.?
Developer: Panda House
Synopsis: People always die in this world upon getting 20 years old. Only 19-year old people are left in this world as new children stopped being born. Main character lives among this last generation of humans, has his part of joy and sorrow and accepts fate peacefully. Can you say your farewells with a smile?
Structure: Four seasons = four episodes ; plus extra episode
Length: About 10 hours.
Game type: Melancholy eschatological human drama
Character Design rating: 7/10
Protagonist rating: 6/10
Story rating: 8/10
Game quality: 6/10
Overall rating: 7/10
Rating comments: Protagonist and game quality were really disappointing, but some of heroines and the story itself were surprisingly decent.
Protagonist: Touji is pretty normal and kind, but he constantly has delusions where his shadow urges him to insult each girl he meets. I just don't feel any sympathy towards him.
Characters: There are five heroines - four regular ones and one additional. Did not see Nagano twins in the main story, they probably participate in one of branches leading to bad endings. Each of four main heroines are met in a different season. Game starts with pretty normal romantic story of feminine Ouka in spring - just normal. Then there is a story of Mishio with her huge greatsword. She's the total opposite of Ouka as she becomes a reliable strong person that's difficult to approach. Her personality is pretty difficult, but overall story is nice. Third story with Koharu in Autumn is pretty shocking as it deals with the pretty negative character traits. It was pretty shocking overall. And finally Fuyu story in winter is the real masterpiece. Great genki heroine, great action scenes. And Fuyu story naturally flows into the final one with a special heroine Chitose that is featured throughout all the game.
Story: Story is surprisingly the most interesting feature of the game. First of all, there are no routes in the game. There is just one linear story with bad ending branches upon being seduced by Touji shadow. Secondly, and it's featured in the title, all heroines are bound to die. In the beginning of the game all Touji childhood friends die and he turns 19 which leaves him one year till his death. He lives alone, but from time to time he meets girls that are just weeks or months from their 20th birthday. There's little point living alone, so Touji tries to invite each girl to live together - and in some time each girl passes away under more or less emotional circumstances. But game also has a good ending, so it's not all about nakige or utsuge. I won't reveal the contents of the good ending, naturally.
1) Each girl advances her own main theme with own though. Each girl has her own thoughts on approaching death. And that's depicted really well - each story actually remains memorable. One girl wants to die while seeing beautiful scenery, the other wants to have her revenge. Third one wishes to commit double suicide the most. Fourth one wants to fulfill her destiny.
2) Despite all the sadness, game still remains optimistic. Touji as well as most heroines are determined to "live to the very last day allowed". And it's really great that there is one good ending that more or less mends things.
Technical difficulties: Game does not have auto-reading mode. HOW? That's unheard of in 2003. The second problem is BGM. My tablet constantly triggered noise in BGM, and by the end of the game totally lost BGM despite it being turned on all the time. Last minutes of the game and ending in dead silence were pretty weird.
Overall comments: Game is a masterpiece, because it managed to turn a nostalgic charage into a very interesting concept with short emotional stories and epic ending.
Lolicon becomes the main trend of 2003, so there are less and less unblocked games. Sayonara is VN of the month, but whether it's a masterpiece or not will get clear from review.
Foreword: May had zero interesting releases without review for me, so I chose one with the English review already (1). My hope in nakige is crippled, so I wonder if it can be restored with this game, just as it affected this review's author.
Title: Ashita Deatta Shoujo
VNDB link: https://vndb.org/v464
Synopsis: "It's summer. The place is a crater lake near the naturally ambient, rural village "Takachiho". The protagonist is standing still, blankly looking at the far-away sky.
His memories of the past have been lost.
It's a strange thought, but to him on that day, the sky seems tailored to both dusk and sunrise, a mysterious color..."
The protagonist, Tachibana Takashi was a freeloader in a house, living there with four beautiful sisters. Until suddenly, one day, a sad incident occurred...
Game type: Rural crime mystery with memory loss
Character Design rating: 6/10
Protagonist rating: 6/10
Story rating: 9/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Rating comments: Wow, it's a very good score from me to a nakige/utsuge. Basically only relatively weak characters and two lolis downgraded the overall impression. There is also lack of CG, and many important scenes conveyed by text alone.
Protagonist: Ryuu is our typical guy, representation of reader. Game shifts from present to past very frequently, but protagonist does not have memory in any of periods. Typical good-for-nothing lad.
Characters: I played just two routes, as usual. Both Sanae and Fuyuka are our older sisters. But if they wore the same clothes it would be impossible to distinguish between them - the only difference is that one has straight hair and the other one wavy one. The same, actually, may be told for younger sisters Rin and Misato - only hair and clothes makes them look different. The biggest flaw with the heroines is that they hardly really communicate with each other, it's just so wrong for blood-related sisters living together for all their lives. And it's pretty weird how side-character girls are better fleshed out.
Story: Reader is hooked right from the start with time shifts and mysterious diary reading. Whenever I thought that game finally entered SOL state with eating tarts and such, I was corrected over and over as there were always dialogue lines with ambiguous context or sudden change of atmosphere and music. I don't think this game has filler scenes, it really punishes for the lack of attention. There are different mysteries hinted all the time.
The directorship is really cool as time shifts are presented in really confusing manner, like in present they go home, then time shifts to past and they also just arrive home.
The biggest problem is the ending. There is that a-ha moment when suspense cover yields, but the shift between the main game flow and the revelation is huge which can easily alienate some readers.
Overall comments: Game resembles Kizuato from Leaf in many ways, but deliberately takes a turn towards ambiguity and suspense over action. I liked both approaches. Ashita Deatta Shoujo demands more attention and imagination from the reader and gives less in the field of visuals and characters. But curious mind will find a lot to like in this metaphysical approach to the mystery.
Oh, come on, just go read this other review (1), it's so much better.
Foreword: I know game is a nakige, but it has universally high scores. KID visual novels made for PlayStation look very generic and boring to me. Is this the one that finally puts me to shame?
Title: My Merry Maybe
VNDB link: https://vndb.org/v3697
Synopsis: A university student, Kishimori Hiroto enrolls in an education internship as a teacher in a middle school of a countryside harbor town, Seitenchou. On the way to his temporary residence, a replis - an artificial being constructed to help humans -with the name of "Reu" appears lying in the middle of the road. After a variety of circumstances, Reu is put under the care of Kishimori until her master is found. That is, until a mysterious organization appears...
Structure: Did no notice any
Length: Some 50 hours.
Game type: Android research love adventure
Difficulty: Again, followed walkthrough, but looks pretty difficult
Character Design rating: 7/10
Protagonist rating: 6/10
Story rating: 6/10
Game quality: 7/10
Overall rating: 7/10
Rating comments: I'm utterly disappointed with this game and I'll try to present my reasoning. Still it might be just me since so many Japanese rate this game highly. I'll leave it a girigiri masterpiece status just for that. Maybe I just chose the wrong heroines.
Protagonist: Hiroto comes to this forgotten town for a teaching practice. He's very passive, indecisive and overall just invisible. He's one of the sources for my bashing of the game.
Characters: I played just two routes, as usual, so I do not feel worthy to present other heroines.
Reu is our main heroine robot. She's the main heroine of the first game My Merry May as well. She's a very early prototype, so she is both superior to modern robots and totally obscure by her structure. We find her as we hit her one-handed by car. As she awakens, she's looking for her master onii-chan Watarase, protagonist of first game. Her condition grows worse with each day despite her positive attitude. It's fun to look at the remote duel of two protagonists - Hiroto and Watarase - over Reu.
Kyou is chosen by me for her cynic attitude and drinking habit. I expected a grown-up route to be more serious and cool. But as a result the whole route we only see research of Reu-Lease interaction as robots. It has virtually zero romance or events. The ending is very disappointing for me as I get to consider Kyou a bad person. Nothing but disgust remains.
Story: In the both routes that I played (took me over 13 hours for each route!) absolutely nothing happens. We speak with pretty much the same people at times triggering semi-romantic events with the girl of choice. Then situation starts deteriorating. For roughly half of the game it keeps on deteriorating. There's some weak resemblance of culmination followed by teary resolution. The end.
1) First of all, I really hate nakige qualities of the game. Let's take Reu as her story is the most straightforward. The whole game situation gets worse and worse. Reu can spend less and less time awake. She says her farewells with a weakening voice every day. Noone knows how to cure her. Robot association members want to take her away to the headquarters, but Reu refuses to go and just fades. And such situation repeats for many-many days with increasingly teary situation. As situation reaches lowest point, researchers undertake crisis hacking measures. Hiroto finds Reu somewhere and makes a SINGLE decision in his totally worthless indecisive life. Everyone cries. The end. Nakige is very cheap here and is produced by showing over and over deteriorating condition. Ending scene effect is achieved not by some actions, but just by showing everyone crying. Apply just a bit of criticism to the whole route concept and there's nothing left but a fluke.
2) In both routes that I played player gets to make a SINGLE decision in the final part of the game. The matters of decisions are different, but the approach is very similar. No one does nothing during the course of the game just observing how things go. Then for some absolutely unknown reason all the researchers start to treat Hiroto specially and eventually allow him to make the ultimate decision determining the fates of everyone involved. For what reason worthless green teacher is given that attitude and responsibility? Utter nonsense.
3) Unlike My Merry May, My Merry Maybe is not a comedy. The 13-hour long route gets really boring without any fun moments. So developers introduce "One-Tsu-Don!!!" TV show to fill in humor part. It's short TV show that Reu watches, and the content of the show is absolutely absurdist variety with the quality of humor akin to Japanese stupid variety shows. It's not even humor, just some posing, weird sounds and some violence. It can only look funny on the background of very boring everyday that we're shown.
Overall comments: What do we have in the dry outcome? 25 hours of life wasted with no good heroines shown, no good story told. Hell, there are even no decent CG! Game is as plain as dozens of KID PlayStation galge. But what's described as game's main advantage by players who liked it? This game made them all cry! But is it a good thing? If this effect is reached not by the beauty of the story or the depth of the characters, but by the false manipulative repeating mechanisms of creating deteriorating conditions, then I don't need such nakige.
Zanmataisei Demonbane is still VN of the month for me even though I see zero point in the game, it's pure entertainment with predetermined ending and no story in-between. The reason is that other masterpieces of the month - My Merry Maybe and Yumeria - are even weaker. I'll give my stance on My Merry Maybe in review.
Foreword: I played Aya route six years ago, but was left quite confused for the lack of understanding. Anime put its dots, but it deliberately changed the ending. I'm over-enjoyed to finally read all the routes in all the complexity.
Synopsis: For a close-knit foursome of high school friends, life is all about sleeping in class, strawberry milk, and after-class karaoke. However, our unnamed main protagonist is troubled by nightmares of death and disaster. Only when he begins to realize that his memories of people and events are different from those of Tamaki Maiko (named "Tama-chan" by her friends, "Mai-chan" by herself), Chimu and Harusa, his three female friends, does he begin to wonder. Later, when the waking dreams start.... a short moment of him seeing something that noone else sees....an attractive young lady, who stares back at him in amazement from an empty subway station, does he begin to wonder about his sanity. That evening, the four encounter and follow a shadow with no person, only to encounter a gang of stumbling zombies. And then he wakes up that morning from yet another bad dream, but the threads of reality have become a bit too frayed, and he begins to see a way in which he can travel over to the reality of his nightmares.
Length: 20 hours
Game type: Parallel universe piercing real world mystery
Difficulty: Relatively easy. Avoid Tama and get one of two heroines. Mutsuki is more tricky.
Character Design rating: 10/10
Protagonist rating: 8/10
Story rating: 10/10
Game quality: 10/10
Overall rating: 10/10
Rating comments: I love absolutely everything about this game. Well, apart of protagonist.
Protagonist: Keichiro is very kind and reliable. He manages to find the right words to support each heroine in the time of need. We get to see his face, but not his eyes. He's easy to sympathize with as any reader can feel in his shoes. We don't get to see his eyes though, so he does not feel like a fleshed out character.
Characters: There are four heroines.
Tama is our genki childhood friend, and it's easy to get in her friendship root if she is paid a bit of attention during anyone else's route. Her love route is pretty much the same save for kisses as results of right choices helping Tama to start studying. Route is very easy-going yet ordinary. We get to see some strange things, but just ignore them. This route is quite ordinary, but it still is of masterpiece level due to great warm drawing and funny atmosphere.
Izumi is our OL here, but she's pretty cute in hiding her breast that's impossible to hide all the time. Her route starts pretty much normally as we just tag along her at pubs etc serving as her bodyguard and helping her find her prince. In this route alternative world finally pierces real world with dreadful consequences. We also get to know a lot about this parallel world since Izumi work deals with it directly. But what this route really shines for is very colorful side-characters we stumble upon. Ending is very intense here.
Aya is hands off the main heroine of the game. She is featured at the covers, and she's in the center of attention in every route but Tama. She has become everything I love in visual novels - cynical anti-social beauty with difficult fate and mysterious weapon. Of course, her route is the most powerful.
Mutsuki route branches off Aya route and repeats it almost completely. We get to know not only fate of this suicide girl, but also the creation of the parallel world, so route is pretty important for the overall structure.
Story: It starts normally, but we get to see abnormal signs with time. It's pretty much up to us and the route to decide whether we start to investigate them.
1) Game tells us the basic things, but a lot of stuff remains unclear and subject to further theorizing. What's the role of this organization? What's their main plan and backup plan? What happens to main characters? Who is actually the Councillor?
2) I like it a lot as after each ending we only get a very short ending filled with anxiety. Only after seeing all the endings we get a full great ending.
Overall comments: Interlude was one of my first untranslated visual novels, and it determined my entire visual novel experience. My love for the moon and warrior serious beauties also originate from here. Game atmosphere is quite close to luv wave. Anime made the right steps in rationalizing the game and underlining the things that may have the biggest impact, but original remains the paragon of a great mystery game for me.
Interlude is the only masterpiece of the month. This month blocked novels surpassed normal ones over four times which is very scary considered that it's not a Comiket month.
Foreword: With Fuwa and vndbreview votes combined One 2 ~Eien no Yakusoku~ got 5 poll votes which is two votes more than closest competitor Masaru: Ashita no Yukinojou 2 has. I already mentioned that One 2 is a masterpiece, so it's time to present my reasoning. As usual, I only picked two heroines to capture while remaining four remain untouched (except for common route cameo).
Title: One 2 ~Eien no Yakusoku~
Synopsis: I was away from home during the summer vacation, when I returned I found out that my father has moved away. No one in the school knew my name, not even my classmates. I started my new life like that.
I never expected those things, to miss the everyday life, going to school... and to love...
Structure: Did no notice any
Length: Some 8 hours for initial playthrough, about 4 hours for consequent ones.
Game type: School love drama with eternal disappearing world theme
Difficulty: Not sure, followed walkthrough
Character Design rating: 8/10
Protagonist rating: 8/10
Story rating: 8/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Rating comments: Voice version is decent in every field
Protagonist: Kazuhiro gives away an aura of a reliable man in both routes that I played. With Ayame he's able to kindly disperse her antisocial attitude. With Haruka teacher he communicates as an equal from the very start, so their love story looks very natural.
Characters: There are five heroines in the original One2 game, but in voice version popular heroine was added to the cast. I played only two routes with most interesting personalities. Heroines with "Naive" personality are no good for me, and the rest of heroines are exactly like that.
Ayame is our short white hair mysterious anti-social beauty. She actually gets as many CG as presumable main heroine Nao, so I consider Ayame main heroine as well. Ayame is a great heroine, because she has such a difficult personality. She does not talk to strangers at all at start, then she just throws short cold phrases. The very first time Kazuhiro tags along her, she invites him to enter girl toilet, something that he does not dare to do. But as story goes on, she actually turns out to be friendly. She has a perfect reason to treat the rest of the world like that. Ayame had a kind and gentle twin-sister who spent a lot of time in the hospital. We get to see long flashback talks with sister talking to Kazuhiro which creates good mood. Then we get to know that sister ... just disappeared before Ayame one day, and everyone forgot about her. The only two persons who have recollections of sister are Ayame and Kazuhiro. This is the ground Ayame and Kazuhiro start to get closer. Ayame has a serious attitude most of the time, but she can also be emotional and somewhat even tsudere-ish, and her soft quiet "Baka" is just great.
Haruka is the teacher and the only grown-up heroine in the game. It would be pretty impossible to approach a normal formal teacher, but Haruka is no way like that. She loves talking to Kazuhiro about spies and laughs all the time. After Ayame route with zero humor in it, Haruka route looks very refreshing and funny. Her story of prodigy piano player is less impact-full than Ayame one, but decent enough.
Story: All six routes are united by the disappearing eternal world concept and the same school, but routes are written by two different writers and are very different. The absence of one formal main heroine puts an emphasis on diversity, and the eternal world concept is cleverly used to emphasize encounters, farewells, frustrations, forgetting and remembering. In original One it was the protagonist to travel to the eternal world and disappear, but here it's actually heroines that do that, so every heroine needs her special story and reason.
Overall comments: It's a strange nakige for it does not have gags or really impact-full heroines. Story is also bound to make ties to the eternal world concept, so it may look weird how so many heroines reached this point. But what game shines about is telling sincere beautiful memorable stories. Game has serious heroines, so even such nakige-hater as myself could enjoy it substantially.
Foreword: I made up mind not to read reviews about BM0 in order to preserve original experience, but I was surprised to see negative impressions of BM0 in other visual novel reviews of 2002! Wow, what could this game possibly do to piss so many people off? Can it really be worse than DoNoR with its blurry backgrounds?
Title: BM0 Zankoku na Yoru ni Kanojo no Sakebi wa Dare ni mo Kikoenai.
Synopsis: Main character grows up in an orphanage in a mafia sub-district of Tokyo together with several girls. The orphanage gets burned down, and children get to live in a private family. However, family members die, and protagonist urgently needs money to pay for girl Rina's surgery. He agrees to take up a job of district black market's sweeper. He is in charge of disposal of "products" which is a code word for human traffic. His reality is colored with invisible desires and dead bodies.
Length: 9 hours
Game type: Dark underground crime action drama
Difficulty: Very easy - each choice is either moving on or game over with branching only in the very end.
Character Design rating: 1/10
Protagonist rating: 1/10
Story rating: 1/10
Game quality: 1/10
Overall rating: 1/10
Should I even go on at this point? Well, of course I should, but the less I like the game - the less I can write about it - by this logic I should already stop here. Speaking seriously, I spent some time thinking whether game actually deserves a 2 for those few action CG, but my inner judge did not agree to this compromise. There's nothing to appreciate here. Heroines are absolutely detesting , protagonist is really evil , story is non-existing, pace is horrible in the way that story jumps somewhere all the time without explaining anything or caring to offer just human language dialogue. Heroes moan, weep, rave and just speak rubbish all the time.
But that's not enough to rate any game this low. The reason is that the only thing that stays in memory after the game is utter disgust. Game includes lolicon insult, eye gauging, piercing wounds including fatal ones, gay-ish scenes, corpse grinder, minced limbs, human torso on meat hooks, lots of rubber including gas-masks and just abundance of meat and juice. Is it enough to avert anyone from the game? I don't know, maybe I just have weak stomach, but I was close to throwing up couple times. I still am when I recollect some scenes, so please excuse me for not relying on concrete examples here. All those piercing cries still stay in my head. My main complaint is that story does not lead anywhere and does not bring anything to the reader. My second complaint is why such game is needed at all? It is awful in every aspect and just can't be liked by anyone. Is it self-esteem for making the most senseless and disgusting game of the time?
FlyingShine hit rock bottom with BM0. I am disappointed to such extent that I'm going to skip its two next ero-tilt games completely. I've no idea how company managed to exist until it was saved by Tanaka Romeo's Cross†Channel. And I just hope I recover enough by that time to overview Umi kara Kuru Mono that was issued in the same month as Cross†Channel. Game still has several nice CG, and I really hope to remember the game only by these CG one day.
Foreword: Why would KeroQ make a moege? This thought bothered me for a while. But what if KeroQ tricked everyone and made something entirely different under facade of moege?
Synopsis: An anarchistic country that is said to dominate the world exists on a vast island known as Moekko Island. This is where the final works of AC Company's android combat maids (resembling beautiful young girls) are done, also where these maids get there communication training. A new maid is to come to the island to be trained, Rinia, she is a young looking girl, who has lost her all of her memories, she tries very hard to impress the owner at Moekko island, but just ends up making a lot of trouble around the mansion. Takahiro, the owner of Moekko island, a depressive young man who has also lost his memories is seen as a very unhappy person who thinks Rinia will only be trouble around the mansion. As time passes, Takahiro slowly grows attached to Rinia's attempted ways of helping and so starts a beautiful relationship among the quiet island.
Structure: Roughly a month from November 25 to around December 25
Length: About 30 hours.
Game type: Alternative world moe maid adventure
Difficulty: Chioices are evident, but are numerous.
Character Design rating: 9/10
Protagonist rating: 8/10
Story rating: 8/10
Game quality: 9/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Rating comments: I found only one (1) English review of the game, and it claims that it's hard to see how someone could find real fault in this title. I took the challenge... and... failed to find anything irritating. The only vague reasons that I cling to decrease evaluation is the story that I do not consider overall interesting or curious. It does not mean it's bad - it's full of tricks, and resolution that takes 1/3 of the game is great. Still 2/3 of the game nothing but gags happen, and I can't approve it. Not after Tsui no Sora and Nijuuei.
Protagonist: Takahiro is pretty much the largest mystery of the game. We more or less know who he was and who he is now. But he has huge potential and background that can strike at any moment in any way. It's heroines that search a key to his inner self, not the other way. Basically, his story is the thing that keeps things moving.
Characters: I am true to my review system, so I played only two routes. First one is main heroine Rinia, naturally. As for second heroine, I chose Kirishima just because I got pretty tired of maids after Rinia route - Kirishima is assistant with boyish looks and pretty wild temper.
Rinia is more just main character - she's reincarnation of Sae from Nijuuei. Even I noticed that Sae is absolutely the best heroine of Nijuuei giving the game that special positive tilt. Rinia is also a maid and - moreover - she is voiced by the very same seiyu in the very same manner. That instantly rises moe level of a new game to the skies. Despite all the huge story layer built over Moekan, I will still treat it as a huge fan-disk of Nijuuei to finally give Sae her own huge route. And it really worked out great as we got 10 hours devoted almost exclusively to Rinia. We get to see her in happiness, in illness and during crisis, so it's a normal main heroine path. Oh, and the most important thing in Rinia route is that it does not have H events at all (one half-naked after bath scene does not count). There are three special training evil endings just for the sake of H events, but that does not spoil impression of good ending at all.
But then I played Kirishima route... It had some cute scenes and one H event by the end, but what absolutely shocked me was the ending. The ending is not really a good one - and that's the only ending we get for her. Giving one heroine a good ending and another one not so good one is absolutely genius. I did not have the strength to play the other two maids Fuyuha and Kazusa, as well as zashiki-warashiki type heroine Suzuki, but if their endings at least remotely same shocking, that'd be absolutely amazing.
Story: There's not much to say about the story. Takahiro is given difficult task and limited time. There are a lot of sharks waiting for him to make a mistake. Rinia route has two action scenes regarding assaults of enemy forces on Takahiro while Kirishima route only has one. And that's pretty much the whole story. But what makes the story shine is the amount of details in the well developed worldview. Just as in Nijuuei there's quite a lot of infodumping first about the present state of the world with huge organizations based on islands, then we are gradually accepted to see the past - the fake one and just a bit of the real one. Nothing is easy here - we don't have some enemies. We rather have some five groups of rivals, and we never know their intentions and which one is going to strike. Attention to details and world-building is what makes games masterpieces.
Humor: There's so many gags in the game. They are mostly presented by chibi CG. I just can not forget that hysterical laugh "ehehe" upon breaking that vacuum cleaner lever.
1) Moekan tricks us presenting action-packed charage instead of a promised maid moege.
2) Game's still more of a charage than a plotge - that's why I'm showing action CG to remember game for its action scenes.
Overall comments: Game of very high quality and care for detail. I was going to give it a 9/10 score, but over time impression got duller and I was able to rate it more rationally. Even with such top class heroines I still can't fully appreciate a charage. There's a huge difference with Nijuuei. In Nijuuei characters empasized the plot, but here plot emphasizes characters. And for that reason I do not really want to play Moekan fan-disks Moekasu and Moeten. There's enough time devoted to each character, so there's no wish to explore them further in any kind of side-stories. It's one of the best charage in visual novel history, but for me it's not as strong as other three KeroQ works.
Moekan is the only masterpiece of the month