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Kimi to Mezameru Ikutsuka no Houhou

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First, I should apologize for taking so long (for me) to get around to finishing this game.  Despite the fact that Kazuki Fumi games are always high-priority for me, for some reason I stalled after finishing the first arc and two of the paths in the second arc.  The main reason is probably because the first arc pretty much satisfied me, and I didn't feel like the game needed much of a second arc or the third arc that comes after.

As indicated above, this game has three arcs.  The first arc is a dark and emotional story that focuses on the protagonist, an android programmer and mechanic, the people around him, and a legless abuse victim named Hatsune that is left on his doorstep.  The whole thing is emotionally powerful, has a Sharin no Kuni/G-senjou no Maou style battle of wits, and it generally left me completely satisfied with how things turned out....

Then came along the second arc (which will hereafter be named the romance arc).  The romance arc shows off the style Kazuki Fumi has put together in the last few years (to varied reactions from otakus, for whom his approach to romance tends to be hit and miss).  The romantic formation is abnormal, the romance is strange, and the end result is generally not what you would expect.  Is this a good thing?  If there hadn't been a third arc, it probably would have been. 

Now, let's get down to the third arc.  First, the third arc is a dramatic conclusion to the aftermath of the events that occurred in the first arc.  This was actually the biggest mistake made in this game's structure and the reason I expelled it from the running for VN of the Month.  The first thing you are asked to do upon starting this arc is pick which of the heroines you romanced in the second arc, which essentially just changes one or two scenes and the ending scene.  The arc's story as a whole doesn't change at all, and it is short enough that I was able to finish it all in under an hour. 

Now, why is this a problem?  The reason is fairly simple.  It completely screws up the pacing of the game.  For better or worse, the second arc's 'endings' feel like a conclusion, even though I knew from the walkthrough that they weren't.   They weren't a great conclusion, but if they'd been followed up with individual after-stories or completely customized versions of the third arc, this might have become a solid VN of the Year candidate.  Unfortunately, the third arc is what amounts to a 'one size fits all' affair that makes the whole romantic mess of the second arc feel mostly irrelevant.  Coming from someone who generally doesn't express a fondness for romance, I know this will sound strange... but this was a horrible way to handle things.  This game isn't a kusoge, but I honestly can't recommend it with the current conclusion (hope for a story FD to smooth things out, maybe). 

In conclusion, this is a game that shows signs of greatness throughout the first arc, falls back on romance in the second arc, and stumbles in the third arc.  It has great characters, a good story and theme... and falls far short of what I've grown to expect from this writer after Nanairo Reincarnation.

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