Wagamama High Spec
First, despite the way moege fans fawn over the first two VNs by Madosoft, they are perfect examples of absolute mediocrity in charage. That isn't to say they didn't have good points... the visual aspects of this company's VNs are on the higher end of things in the charage part of the VN industry. However, they were basically slogs through WWI-style trenches full of mud made from ichaicha... and one of my pet peeves is writers who pump in endless ichaicha. I personally see them as kusoge, due to the fact that I dropped Namaiki after one path (didn't vote on it) and Yakimochi was a nightmare of a substance-free ball of cotton candy.
I was kind of exasperated that this VN had an anime come out beforehand, and to be honest, I avoided that anime like the plague specifically so it wouldn't color my attitude on this one. Considering how much the sexual aspect colors the relationships with the heroines in their paths, I am mildly curious as to how they handled the latter part of the series, though.
One thing all the paths in this VN have in common is that the protagonist falls apart completely at least once in all of them. I'll be perfectly straight with you... if it weren't for the fact that he was so obviously fragile mentally in the first place, I probably would have been a lot more pissed off about this aspect. That tendency toward tunnel vision when stressed is pretty common in charage protags, but it does get tiring at times.
The common route in this VN is fairly good... especially since the protagonist actually has a personality and a role other than as the donkan harem protagonist. I did think that it was insane to consider anyone other than Towa (the imouto) a heroine at all after a few hours (I love stories of twisted mutual dependence), but I went straight for Aashe first, simply because I'm too perverse to go for the heroine I most want from the beginning. On the other side, Kaoruko and Mihiro are both heroine types I really and sincerely am bored of... the immensely capable school council president who acts like an airhead (I hate airheads) and the osananajimi (sort-of) heroine. Understand, when I hear the words 'osananajimi heroine', I am almost instantly consumed by hatred and the heroine in question starts from a negative point.
Aashe's path was a good experience. While it did feel a bit obvious when it came to the drama (the foreshadowing was overly blatant), that wasn't so bad a stumble that the path didn't manage to recover... at least somewhat. This is a problem that was somewhat endemic to all the paths. I liked the ending, as well as the solution the protagonist settled on. However, I felt that the end didn't move far enough ahead in time (this VN seriously needs a story fandisc to round out the endings), and that was somewhat of a downer.
The little sister's path was pretty good in this one. In recent years, little sister paths have mostly been perfunctory, with none of the seriously twisted stuff you tend to see with the dependence that usually creates (consensual) incestuous relationships. I do feel that they should have included the parental issues into the main VN, rather than making them a background setting. However, the drama that comes up in the path is emotional enough to be satisfying. Towa is a great dependent imouto character, and I had to laugh at how easily they transitioned (seriously, it is pretty hilarious). The fact that they actually managed to take it from there to a really emotional piece of drama near the end was a demonstration of surprising skill. Again, the big downside was the fact that they really, seriously didn't focus on the issues the protagonist and his sister had with their parents, except in a ridiculously indirect and matter-of-fact fashion. This is a perfect example of 'failing to milk the setting', and it is a common flaw when it comes to charage-makers (most of them have a tendency to obsessively avoid introducing new or extra characters in heroine paths).
Kaoruko is the obvious 'main heroine' of the story, and accordingly, it was given the most love by the writer. The humor and ichaicha are both on a higher level than the other paths (which means it was given more love, given the specialty of charage writers is humor and ichaicha), to the point where I actually broke into real-life lol situations several times midway through. Unfortunately, the drama in this path is surprisingly... dull compared to the others (this is actually common with charage writers, who seem to like giving their main heroines smooth rides). I was made a bit sad by this... but the writer's love was shown fairly clearly again in the ending, which is based a pretty long time after the end of the main story and talks about a lot of the details about how they arrived there.
I'm going to be blunt. I don't have the energy to play Mihiro's path now or any time soon. She is a great friend character who is frequently amusing... but by that same tone, she is the type of character who makes a horrible transition to the 'heroine' role. I honestly can't see any non-awkward way in which they would move her into the heroine position, and I honestly don't want her as a heroine, so I'll leave it to someone else to bother with her.
Overall, this is by far the best of Madosoft's three VNs released so far... but it is no kamige. It does, however, manage to fulfill the requirements for a VN of the Month candidate, in that it both stimulates the emotions, the intellect, and my sense of humor... even if no two of them is strongly stimulated in any given path, lol. Unfortunately, it just barely puts its fingernails on the edge of candidacy, so anything even reasonably good could blow it out of the water with little trouble, lol.