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Random VN: Love Revenge (REVISED)

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Clephas

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Now, I know what you are wondering... 'Why did Clephas pick a charage for a random VN this time around?"  The answer is not as straightforward as usual....

This game is about as close to being the 'perfect' charage as I've ever encountered.  That's not to say it is exceptional in every way.  There are better written and better presented charage out there.  However, I've yet to encounter a charage that utilizes every single element included to the greatest degree possible like this one does.  First, the protagonist is not just the average guy, but neither is he super-exceptional.  He is just interesting enough to make a good viewpoint (his fear of women, his skill at martial arts, and the taste for cross-dressing he tries to deny) for a game like this without his personality dominating everything.  His issues are vital to all the paths, though in different ways due to the way they intertwine with the heroines' issues.

Second, the heroines are all fairly interesting... or at least funny, if they aren't intellectually interesting (Honoka's tendency to see everyone around her as food when she hasn't eaten in the last hour is one example).  The actual paths are split into three arcs... the Rielle Arc, the Honoka/Rin Arc, and the Renka/Senri Arc.  Each arc approaches the protagonist's own issues differently, ranging from a gradual healing (Rielle) to confronting the source (Honoka/Rin), to a wildly different approach (won't spoil it: Renka/Senri). 

This game is brilliantly executed and not dependent on H-content to support it as a whole (which is probably why the game got ported five times), which is a huge plus, since most charage tend to be reliant on dating and h-content to fill out the heroine paths. 

This game doesn't waste time.  While there is plenty of slice-of-life, much of it amusing, all of it moves the story - and not so incidentally, Yuuki's personal growth - forward.  There is not a single wasted element in this story, and that is a feat in and of itself... I once referred to this game as 'bare bones', but that was probably not the right expression.  This game is filled out nicely... it just doesn't waste time on stuff that has nothing to do with story advancement or character development.

Overall, if you want to know what the charage ideal looks like, this is a good choice.  While it isn't a kamige, it is a game that hits all the spots charage are meant to hit without seeming puerile or shallow to a reader like me, who is more than a little jaded.

Edit: It should be noted that the phenomenon of 'heroines devouring the protagonist', where the heroines' strength of character pretty much buries the protagonist, does not occur in this VN, which is a feat in and of itself.  For obvious reasons, most charage heroines are far more interesting than their protagonist, but that often results in a game that feels unbalanced and is vaguely unsatisfying, because many writers actually put down the protagonist to make the heroines shine more... thus leaving a vague feeling of dissatisfaction behind in the end.

Edit2: Adding heroine, character descriptions below.

Protagonist

Kusunoki Yuuki- Yuuki is a reasonably intelligent (slightly above average) young man who is well known for his good heart and ability to put others before himself.  When he tries to confess to his girlfriend, a young woman named Ran, she tells him she only went out with him as part of a penalty game and dumps him.  As a result, he becomes unable to trust females and instinctively rejects interpersonal contact, even with his own little sister Tatsuki and his childhood friend Honoka.  He quite naturally acts for the sake of others, despite this mental illness, and as a result he is a natural harem-builder.  However, he is also as dense as the containment for a fission reactor core, meaning that he never notices. This comes at least in part from his inability to trust the feelings of women.  He is a skilled martial-artist and very good at fighting one-on-one, but he has no talent for handling multiple opponents at once.

Heroines

Rielle Anderson- The CEO of the Anderson Corporation, an orphan girl who built her fortune from almost nothing in a matter of years.  She is behind the new city policy that encourages romance, as well as engineering the 'love-war events' that are being tested at Yuuki's school.  She is very blunt and expressive, as well as being highly aggressive when it comes to getting what she wants.  She has a ruthless side, but it is not something she indulges to excess (she is a CEO after all).  However, she, like Yuuki, tends to put others before herself when it comes to those she cares about, and she frequently indulges in philanthropy. 

Suzushiro Rin- One of Yuuki's classmates and a close friend of Honoka.  She is extremely distrustful of men due to her past experiences, and her reactions to men tend to range from dry and disinterested to outright malice.  The exception is Yuuki, with whom she finds herself forming a sort of rapport almost from the beginning, due to his affliction.  At her core, she is a kind-hearted and considerate young woman, but her experiences have rendered her with one of the most terrible of all afflictions... tsundere-ism.

Hiiragi Honoka- Yuuki's childhood friend and the person hurt the most by his inability to be close with women.  She is a sweet, somewhat airheaded young woman with an insanely protective side directed toward Yuuki.   She has been in love with him from childhood, but he never notices... and she is too much of a hetare to confess her love to him.  When she gets hungry (which is often) she goes into a state where those around her start looking tasty, and she begins fantasizing about how she would cook them... with utter seriousness.  She feels deeply and acts really directly in response to those feelings, especially when it comes to Yuuki.

Hazakura Renka- The vice-president of the student council.  Normally, she is a serious, somewhat uptight young woman with genius level intelligence, but when she sees Yuuki she becomes a prowling panther, panting after him as if he were a delicious-looking deer.  She is close with Senri and the only person who can jerk her up short... and vise-versa.  She is one of the very few people around Yuuki who don't set off his condition, and she is always very considerate about it, even going so far as to subtly lead him away from areas where females gather.

Asagiri Senri- Called 'the Prince' for her behavior that looks like it came straight out of a shoujo manga, Senri takes a certain pleasure in being surrounded by females and naturally hits on any female that crosses her path.  She takes a shine to Yuuki early on, after Renka becomes obsessed with him.  Almost no one knows she is a woman, because she arranged things that way.  She is a genius scientist who really doesn't need to attend school, but she does so for her own reasons, not the least of which her fondness for role-playing as the school's prince. 

Side Characters

Azami Taiga- Yuuki and Honoka's childhood friend.  He is a muscular guy who frequently gets treated like a delinquent, despite being about as far from one as it is possible to be.  He is extremely protective of Yuuki, similar to Honoka, but he is also better than her about respecting his desire to change and encouraging him to break out of the shell he is trapped in.  Unfortunately for him, almost everyone in the group that surrounds Yuuki and the class in general picks on him, and he ends up taking up the worst jobs in any given situation.

Chigaya Rei- A teacher at Yuuki's school who is infamous for his heavy smoking habit and fondness for not coming to his own classes.  His bad habit of getting off track during class makes him well-liked by the students, but most people wonder just how he manages to avoid getting fired.

Kusunoki Tatsuki- Yuuki's little sister, she is madly in love with her older brother.  When he begins rejecting all women, she discovers that she is a masochist and takes pleasure in the way he slaps her hand away and avoids her.  She is Tsukumo's owner, and everyone but her knows that her job in life is to keep that particular monster in its cage.

Kokonoei Tsukumo- A bisexual cosplayer and Tatsuki's closest friend.  She moves entirely on instinct and is utterly uncontrollable, frequently stealing looks at Tatsuki's panties and stealing the panties themselves.  She is incapable of forethought and has an unnatural instinct for knowing when and how to cause the most trouble.  If it weren't for Tatsuki's ability to control her to some extent, she probably would have been expelled long ago.

Rindou Anju- The school's banchou and the single most physically capable student at the school.  She also is the child of the dojo that Yuuki attended and treats him as her underling... she is also one of two women Yuuki can actually deal with at close range from the beginning.  Despite her attempts to act the lone wolf, Yuuki and the others inevitably manage to ruin her plans and make her seem likable, much to her consternation.

Kuga Erika- One of Rielle's two maid assistants.  She is a black-hearted young woman whose hobbies involve SM and writing down information in her 'blackmail diary' to use against others.  While she technically has more common sense than Yuzuha, few would willingly want to deal with her over her sister.

Kuga Yuzuha- A rude, violent young woman and one of Rielle's two maid assistants, primarily acting as a bodyguard and troubleshooter.  She is easygoing and friendly to those with the right attitude and combative when provoked.  When drunk, she reverts to a small child and tends to end up as a target for Erika's sadistic side.  She keeps slacking off on the job and getting her pay cut, but she never learns her lesson.

Tsubaki Koharu- Yuuki's homeroom teacher, a small woman in her late twenties who is obsessed over the fact that she still doesn't have a boyfriend.  Her tendency to spiral into depression after mentioning this fact in class has become a regular source of amusement for her students, and Taiga generally gets the job of breaking her out of it. 

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