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Hajimete no Okaa-san - a misunderstood gem

Ramaladni

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https://vndb.org/v11009

Disclaimer: I played the recent fan translation and from my (limited) knowledge of Japanese, I found it to be quite accurate. I was actually surprised by how the translator made certain sentences work and I can't recall an instance where I thought the translation looked strange. 

 

When Hajimete no Okaa-san's fan translation came out, it caused a tiny yet significant uproar on certain visual novel related communities. The English idiom that spans over a century - don't judge a book by its cover - could possibly have been created for this very moment. I hope that by writing this review, I can clear up any misconceptions about this novel, teach you to not judge a work by its outward appearance and give you the courage to read a truly touching story. 

Dealing with the loss of a loved isn't easy, no matter if you're an adult or a child, and even more so if the person in question is an irreplaceable person that you've vowed eternity to or that defines your complete existence. 

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When our unnamed protagonist, who I will refer to as "Papa", loses his beloved wife to a traffic accident, he is left with the troublesome task of single parenting. Confronting the sorrows of one who has been turned into pure white ash, he finds solace in the one and only person who could understand him and also the one who might be suffering the most - his one and only daughter Chiyori (Chii).

Hajimete no Okaa-san is a very special Visual Novel. Unlike the disappointing standard of recent releases, it treats both its audience and characters with the respect they deserve. The most significant difference between this novel and the many others is the fact that its willing to portray the characters as real human beings. Please allow me to mention that there exist only eight translated visual novels with the "Widower Protagonist" and likely no other that focuses as deeply on the theme of single parenting.

The rather simplistic approach to emotions is surprisingly expressive, although one could argue about the emotional depth of a 6-year old, I was able to completely grasp both the personality of Chii through the brilliant performance of seiyuu Amakawa Milk (a respectable veteran in her own right with a wide palette of roles) and the internal monologues of Papa.

The beginning is rather surprising. The amount of effort that the creators have put into this work is nearly palpable, often leaving one surprised at how nicely written and how well the narrative flows. Starting with ordinary slice-of-life scenes, we're thrown into the daily life of Papa and her daughter Chii. Starting with the smallest things like learning how to write hiragana and her own name in Kanji, the basics of arithmetic, giving up one's fork and knife and mastering the use of chopsticks - they are all endearing moments that help us connect with Chii as a character and reminding us of times long past of our childhood when everything was much simpler. It is this genuine and pure simplicity that initially made this novel stand out.

In contrast to this feeling, enter "Chii wa kodomo janai!" - Chii is no longer a child. Her own desire to find a way to deal with her own sorrows, all the while supporting the one person she loves most in her world, one of the most satisfying factors of reading through this novel is observing Chii's maturity as a character.

Despite the more lighthearted scenes, the novel is plentiful with well-timed drama which never for a moment felt excessive or artificial. Papa is stuck in a constant internal moral debate which at times stops him from realising the suffering of those who are right in front of his eyes.

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As far as storytelling goes, one of the biggest attributes ishow the reader has the freedom to change the course of the story (albeit into premature ends). As for this aspect, I would like to divide the story in three or four parts (I will just say that the forth part is a Web Omake, essentially a short epilogue that portrays the life of our two, now three characters after the events of the main game).

The first being the first two hours where we accompany the characters until the inevitable H-scene. Here, the reader is given the choice to not go through it at all and completely avoid the H-scene, ending the game prematurely. To not give in to his dark desires and not abandoning one's morals, is too a possible answer that Papa can find. 

The second part and probably the longest, accompanies our two characters as their relationship develops. The most important aspect that I'd like to bring up is that the whole theme of pregnancy is treated. In many eroge, pregnancy is either completely ignored, allowing our most likely 16-year old protagonist to let out his seed without any worries in the world, or treated as an afterthought, perhaps featured in one last H-scene before the game ends. In this novel, not only do we see their relationship flourish but the passage of time, told by the growth of Chii's belly and change of hairstyle (over five different character sprites!), shows us that this is aspect that is willing to be embraced, often being the case for worry for our protagonist.

At the end of the second part, the reader is given another important choice: to go beyond mere carnal desires and a parent's desire to protect his child and thus taking their relationship to the next level, or to once again fall into self-hatred and not take responsibility for one's actions. Thus begins the third part: "I want Papa to always be by my side". While perhaps as long as the first part, it's perhaps the one with the most emotional impact. Vowing to combat loneliness, Papa and Chii realise that being surrounded by the people you love is far more important than having a peaceful life. Chii does not become a replacement - she is her own person and the most important thing in the world to our protagonist. As long as two people can love each other, that is more than enough.

And as long as there is love, there is warmth. A new family is born. The two become three, the warmth keeps rising and it spreads to others around. When I finished reading Hajimete no Okaa-san, I felt a warmth deep inside of me because I realised I had just been through a really special experience. With this review, I hope that I convinced you to read this beautiful story and too come to have warmth in your heart. Thank you for reading.

https://imgur.com/a/FpPkAxp (This might be a little of a spoiler so I won't post it as an image, but it's the last and most impactful scene of the novel)

 

 

 

I am open to criticism and would be happy if you could help me improve as a reviewer. 



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Okay... Suddenly Musumaker doesn't look that bad an- okay, yeah, it kinda does.

Let me ask you, Ramaladni, about the first end where Papa refuses to give in to his dark desires, is this considered a "bad end"? How is it handled?

Nice review!

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1 hour ago, Zander said:

Okay... Suddenly Musumaker doesn't look that bad an- okay, yeah, it kinda does.

Let me ask you, Ramaladni, about the first end where Papa refuses to give in to his dark desires, is this considered a "bad end"? How is it handled?

Nice review!

Spoiler

Papa refuses Chii's advances and his own desires, deciding that it's in her best interests that she goes live with her grandparents. 

You could consider it a bad end or a normal end, depending on your perspective. 

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2 hours ago, sanahtlig said:

I might give this game a shot then, thanks.

Maybe Sekai Project will help bring this game to Steam!

Thank you for the support! If they do, I hope they keep the fan translation. If not, I'm still happy that people exist who still care about these games and take the initiative to translate them on their own.

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12 minutes ago, Ramaladni said:
  Reveal hidden contents

Papa refuses Chii's advances and his own desires, deciding that it's in her best interests that she goes live with her grandparents. 

You could consider it a bad end or a normal end, depending on your perspective. 

Now, this is very interesting to me. I've never played lolige before because it is not within my interests; I usually shy away from most VNs with a lot of adult content anyway. I assume you have played VNs similar to this one? Is being able to refuse sexual interaction a common choice? 

I suppose I am mostly wondering if this game is trying to have any sort of social commentary on single parenting, incestuous relationships (or the even more taboo father-daughter relationship, I suppose), or if the majority of the focus is on the H content. You mentioned that the reader gets to witness Papa's internal monologues, for example; how far is this delved into? 

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30 minutes ago, Zander said:

Now, this is very interesting to me. I've never played lolige before because it is not within my interests; I usually shy away from most VNs with a lot of adult content anyway. I assume you have played VNs similar to this one? Is being able to refuse sexual interaction a common choice? 

I suppose I am mostly wondering if this game is trying to have any sort of social commentary on single parenting, incestuous relationships (or the even more taboo father-daughter relationship, I suppose), or if the majority of the focus is on the H content. You mentioned that the reader gets to witness Papa's internal monologues, for example; how far is this delved into? 

Hey, I'm happy that you're showing this much interest. I've played a couple loli eroge, mostly from Tanuki Soft, but those are closer to the standard eroge with vanilla/happy sex, although in one of them I was surprised by how the route progressed. Unfortunately I can't exactly call myself an expert, although this wouldn't be the first eroge I've playedwhere a choice to reject sexual advances results into a premature/bad end. The main difference is how this novel tries to take itself seriously with believable drama, and tries to approach certain topics outside the scope of the norm.

Yeah, I can agree about the game trying to seriously portray the consequences of incestuous relationships (and well, paedophilia). As time went by and Chii's pregnancy became harder and harder to hide, the fears of being found out by the school, the neighbours, their family and the public in general. The protagonist was often debating over what was the right thing to do and what would make her the happiest, but in reality he too was being afraid of his crime being exposed. He fully well realises that what he's doing is morally or ethically wrong (and the game doesn't forget to tell you this a couple times).

The second premature/bad end ends in a similar fashion to the first:

Spoiler

Papa's parents reproach him for his actions and forcefully take Chii from him. Believing that he would only bring her harm, he couldn't bring himself to pursue her.

 

There is a lot of H-content but I wasn't really in it for that. Often it did help advance the narrative, but I was happy that it didn't elect to simply fix issues through sex, something common in eroge. 

Edited by Ramaladni

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I read the whole review without realising that she has sex with her dad. Then I went to vndb and read that summary.

-----

Hey, Papa... let's make a baby..."

One year after the death of his wife, he is suddenly tempted.
He can't resist that sweet voice, so he violates his daughter.
Even though he felt so guilty, he did the forbidden act again every night.
Before long, his daughter became pregnant.

-----

I can see why people avoid it.
 

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12 minutes ago, Akshay said:

I can see why people avoid it.

Yeah, the game is a pure loli incest nukige. I'd be suprised if there was anything actually interesting about it. 

This review, on the other hand, might just be the troll post of the century. I've seen people discussing this game on Discord and claiming they'll try it out, like if it was some kind of legitimate topic.

GG Ramaladni, you confused the shit out of pretty much everyone around here.

 :thumbsup:

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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On 11.6.2018 at 11:46 PM, Plk_Lesiak said:

Yeah, the game is a pure loli incest nukige. I'd be suprised if there was anything actually interesting about it. 

This review, on the other hand, might just be the troll post of the century. I've seen people discussing this game on Discord and claiming they'll try it out, like if it was some kind of legitimate topic.

GG Ramaladni, you confused the shit out of pretty much everyone around here.

 :thumbsup:

You don't sound like you played it.

All what OP said about the story makes it sound like there is more than "fockmadauda: the game"
I might not like lolige or incest, but from expericne I can say that this might really be legit. Why don't you try it yourself? If it is a good game and OP was right, you played a good game, if it really sucks, well, now you have proof.

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20 minutes ago, Prinny said:

You don't sound like you played it.

All what OP said about the story makes it sound like there is more than "fockmadauda: the game"
I might not like lolige or incest, but from expericne I can say that this might really be legit. Why don't you try it yourself? If it is a good game and OP was right, you played a good game, if it really sucks, well, now you have proof.

Giving it way more benefit of the doubt that it deserves, it's still a violent/messed up loli nukige made by a company doing solely violent/messed up loli nukiges. Any kind of good writing exploring pedophilia or incest (because, if you look closely, that's all that the OP's claims point to, a romanticized vision of pedophilic relationship between a father and his [teen? Pre-teen?] daughter) will just be a flavour on top of tons of the pedo porn. I would not touch this for a million dollars and I'm ok with the 0,2% chance that I'm missing on something of value that way. 

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But it's still messed up....It's gonna be hard for me to give it a try 

I just don't think people should be okay with this kind of stuff. 

Edited by proxygames

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On 11/06/2018 at 10:36 PM, Akshay said:

I read the whole review without realising that she has sex with her dad. Then I went to vndb and read that summary.

-----

Hey, Papa... let's make a baby..."

One year after the death of his wife, he is suddenly tempted.
He can't resist that sweet voice, so he violates his daughter.
Even though he felt so guilty, he did the forbidden act again every night.
Before long, his daughter became pregnant.

-----

I can see why people avoid it.
 

Since you brought up that synopsis, I took the liberty to analyze the original japanese synopsis and translate it with the great help of my friends.

Quote

One year after the death of his wife, a sudden temptation. Unable to endure that sweet voice, the protagonist lays his hands on his daughter.  Despite his guilt over not being able to hold back, those acts persisted. Before long, his daughter is pregnant...

The current translation is too literal, fails to grasp certain nuances and wishes to deceive the reader. Biggest offenders are "violate" which assumes a onesided and violent relationship and "every evening" when "毎夜" has the role of emphasizing the next word and should not be taken literally. The other aspect is that the guilt he feels is not from doing that act, but feeling guilty "against himself", against his inability to hold back.

Not to mention that the original synopsis only focuses on the sexual theme of the novel, but I won't bother argue it.

On 11/06/2018 at 10:46 PM, Plk_Lesiak said:

Yeah, the game is a pure loli incest nukige. I'd be suprised if there was anything actually interesting about it. 

This review, on the other hand, might just be the troll post of the century. I've seen people discussing this game on Discord and claiming they'll try it out, like if it was some kind of legitimate topic.

GG Ramaladni, you confused the shit out of pretty much everyone around here.

 

 

The game having a meaningful, impactful and worthwhile story focused on family drama and something beyond its H-content is what I tried my hardest to convey. If it was my inability as a reviwer that made me unable to do that, that is something that I'd be willing to accept but your second sentence makes me think you might not even have read it. 

This review was written with the ambition of changing people's perceptions of this game and it makes me happy to know that it might have happened to some extent. It's unbecoming to make wild assumptions of something you never tried before , so it is my hope that you too read it and grow to like it. 

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At the end of the day, it's still a game about a father falling in love and impregnating his daughter. Even if the story is good, there are a lot of moral questions about what they are doing. I'm sorry, but even if it's something that might have an impactful message, it's not right. Would you think this would be okay in real life?

Edited by proxygames

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4 minutes ago, proxygames said:

At the end of the day, it's still a game about a father falling in love and impregnating his daughter. Even if the story is good, there are a lot of moral questions about what they are doing. I'm sorry, but even if it's something that might have an impactful message, it's not right. Would you think this would be okay in real life?

Would you think it's okay to be a moege protagonist in real life? Almost all of them would either end up sued or beaten up in a dark alley, if not worse. Bringing realism into games is like bringing a flyswatter to an all-out war...

I started playing it (yeah, call the cops...) and the immorality of it is in fact one of the, if not the core of the story.

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There's a huge difference between a moege protagonist and a dad being in love kid. The latter exists in real life. It's not often I see many people acting like a protagonist from a visual novel. Even if it's telling a good story, it doesn't always mean that's a good thing. Maybe if the game didn't have h scenes with a little girl, I could believe it was focusing more on the story, but I'm sorry I just can't. And no, I'm not saying adult content is bad. It can further the story. But in this case, it's will a character that looks barely over the age of 13. 

Edited by proxygames

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12 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Giving it way more benefit of the doubt that it deserves, it's still a violent/messed up loli nukige made by a company doing solely violent/messed up loli nukiges. Any kind of good writing exploring pedophilia or incest (because, if you look closely, that's all that the OP's claims point to, a romanticized vision of pedophilic relationship between a father and his [teen? Pre-teen?] daughter) will just be a flavour on top of tons of the pedo porn. I would not touch this for a million dollars and I'm ok with the 0,2% chance that I'm missing on something of value that way. 

Once again, to determine that this is a violent nukige without any basis is a completely erroneous thing to do and to judge it based on their past or future releases isn't adequate. You may even look at the CG gallery or look at some scene excerpts posted on the game's official page and come to the conclusion that nearly all scenes are the typical happy, consensual sexual interactions that are so common. But you're right, the real reason why I started reading this was because of a boat-loving man who lured me into playing a dice game. After plenty of storms, I felt pretty confident and in hindsight, overoptimistic. Something incredibly silly happened - one of the three dice fell out of the bowl the moment I threw them in, which made me lose all of my earnings. You can guess what was my punishment. Either way. what might have started as a joke or mere curiosity ended up in a wholesome experience, I am glad I didn't misjudge this VN either and read it till the end.

11 hours ago, proxygames said:

At the end of the day, it's still a game about a father falling in love and impregnating his daughter. Even if the story is good, there are a lot of moral questions about what they are doing. I'm sorry, but even if it's something that might have an impactful message, it's not right. Would you think this would be okay in real life?

Morally, I can't understand what's the problem with it. It's fictional characters in a fictional setting - I can perfectly distinguish between fiction and reality. If you're the type of person who's going to play this game and self-insert into a pedophile, well, that's with you. Many non-offending pedophiles use these type of games to stem their desires and avoid becoming child molesters. The two are very different, mind you. Even though this game was made in 2009, the writer was still able to produce something unconventional and outside the box. Obviously I wouldn't compare it to the other serious child raising focused novels because...are there any others translated in english? Topics like friendship are often discussed but familial relationships seems something that most writers tend to shy away from, what, with most protagonists nowadays either not having parents, not living with them or those type of characters hardly having any presence or impact on the novel.

10 hours ago, proxygames said:

There's a huge difference between a moege protagonist and a dad being in love kid. The latter exists in real life. It's not often I see many people acting like a protagonist from a visual novel. Even if it's telling a good story, it doesn't always mean that's a good thing. Maybe if the game didn't have h scenes with a little girl, I could believe it was focusing more on the story, but I'm sorry I just can't. And no, I'm not saying adult content is bad. It can further the story. But in this case, it's will a character that looks barely over the age of 13. 

One could argue that personality-less 16 year old high schoolers are dime a dozen, but they are indeed fictional characters who live in a fictional world. Parents loving their child aren't uncommon either, I would too like to believe that my own parents liked me at least a tiny bit, but the thing is that this story isn't relating real-life events and it's not trying to. It can have both sex scenes and a story but perhaps that's something you're not used to because of recent trends - it's either a high focus on the story with excisable or unimportant H scenes on the side, or a complete focus on the H scenes with no regards for building an interesting story, setting and characters. This is a sexually-drived eroge with a pretty solid story, it's also the kind of story that could never be told without approaching sexual themes. Not only that, but it approaches certain aspects in a different fashion. Other father-daughter incest stories either have the heroine be a mindless deredere moeblob who unconditionally loves her Papa (quickly growing boring) or it's a rape game where the daughter eventually grows to like it without the story caring for proper character progression (which ends up falling flat). This game is neither.

I agree that Chii is perhaps more mature than kids her age even though she keeps dropping her karage (chopsticks are more difficult to use than they look!) but I'm not a delusional person who sees her as a real life character. Another aspect of the drama is how Chii might claim to love Papa but it's not accepted without him first questioning if she understands what love is to begin with. Perhaps this story could have been told with an older heroine, but it would be something different.

I've probably used the terms VN, game and novel interchangeably even though they're not the same, so please excuse me.

Edited by Ramaladni

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Sorry, but I can't agree with you. At the end of the day, it's a game about a dad sleeping with his kid and in my and many other opinions that is morally wrong. As for people self inserting themselves on a character like this, you cannot prove they won't go after kids. Games like this can stimulate them more and make them do a horrible mistake. I know there's arguments about how, for example, violent games like GTA won't cause someone to suddenly shoot someone in real life, but can't be sure of that. The girl here is young and kids are easily influenced. In a way, the dad is taking advantage of his naive daughter and that is wrong. He's using her to fuel his sexual desire. 

As for why it's morally wrong in my eyes, stories can have a strong impact on someone and can influence them to do something wrong or right, depending on how one sees this. Just because it's fiction, doesn't mean it can't impact someone to do something. 

As for the whole loli argument, I won't get into that. It's far better then incest. To be honest, I do wonder if someone wrote a similar blog to this, but was instead backing a story about racism being okay and that the story can't do harm because it's just fiction. Like I said, even with it being fiction, it can do harm depending on who the person is. 

Also sorry, but there's a difference between a dad/mom loving you as their child, then them loving you in a romantic way. There is a big difference. 

And yes, telling the story with an older girl would be different. She would at least have some experience when it came to guys and how to feel. This girl is a child. And it seems she hasn't experienced things like romance or liking someone. It's clear the dad is taking advantage of her, maybe even knowing she won't say no. After all, in a kids eyes parents usually are the ones who know best and they look up to them. I read your post, and if you mentioned it I do apologize, but it doesn't seem the story shows how the father is abusing his daughter in this way and that she's too young to understand And even if they do, that just shows he's a jerk for letting his desire take over. And I've seen this company's other games. They clearly make the games to stimulate their readers.. And I do believe this game didn't need h content. The premise is creepy enough, they didn't need to add h scenes. Again, if they didn't, I'd maybe have some slight more respect for the story. But it's not like that. 

Edited by proxygames

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On 6/13/2018 at 4:23 PM, proxygames said:

As for people self inserting themselves on a character like this, you cannot prove they won't go after kids. Games like this can stimulate them more and make them do a horrible mistake.  I know there's arguments about how, for example, violent games like GTA won't cause someone to suddenly shoot someone in real life, but can't be sure of that.

And you can't prove that some Japanese people don't actually have mosaiced genitals.  Go ahead.  Prove it.

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