Yeah, exactly that.
Title: オトミミ∞インフィニティー (Otomimi ∞ Infinity)
Developer: Applique -Sister-
Genre: Social Fiction
website (overseas IP's are currently blocked because Akabei Soft3 are a bunch of faggots)
Despite being a very popular trope in japanese pop culture, mimikkos don't appear that often in visual novels. Sure - they aren't uncommon as side characters or a single addition to the game's cast, but that's pretty much where it ends in most cases. Games focusing on these are a rarity and it's ever harder to find one that tries to be more accurate and ambitious, rather than focusing on their moe and fetish aspects. I wanted to play one of such games for longer while, so when @Clephas mentioned Otomimi Infinity around a year ago, I couldn't restrain myself from elevating this visual novel to the top of my backlog. And in all honesty, I couldn't chose any better, as the game prove to be far more interesting than I expected at first.
This is literally what you're greeted with within the first minute of the game and it doesn't look that cheerful, contrary to the game's cover.
The story is based on an alternate near-future setting, where vast scientific achievements lead to creation of artificially engineered hybrids, which are half-people, half-animals. The reasons for this are more or less left unknown, but the beast-people (as being referred to within the story) live now amongst humans for a longer while, resulting in at least one or two generations co-existing with each other to a better or worse degree. Sadly - due to many different factors - the relationships between humans and beast-people have been gradually getting more awful as of late, mostly because humans consider them to be inferior and as such, try to limit their presence and rights as citizens. One of the major problems is that humans can actually reproduce with beast-people and many are worried about potential future implications this might bring. As such, relationships between both races are shunned and having a beast-girl or a beast-man as a partner or love interest is considered immoral and perverted.
Our protagonist - Yamato Sagawa - lives on a remote island (which basically consists of two small islands connected through a large bridge), located somewhere south of Japan, where racial conflicts increase to such point, where a prominent politician figure and the island's currently residing governor - Touchiji Iwahara - manages to successfully and easily pass down a law (which is more or less a martial law, involving the island's peace keeping forces), encouraging actual segregation of beast-people from humans, all for the well-being of two races. Our protagonist, being an actual beast-people lover isn't obviously happy with such turn of events (actually, he's incredibly pissed). Needless, to say he has more fitting problems at the moment, which include constant love attacks from his older sister with a severely-developed brother complex. During one of such events, while he was trying to get away from Chizuru, he is run over by a yankee beast-girl, Ryouko - and somehow, ends up at the shipping company she's the owner of. There's a bunch of other beast-gals living there, each of them with different circumstances. Thankful for rescue and tired of both his sister and family, but without livelihood, he decides to agree with Ryouko's offer and begins working at the company. As it soon turns out, he's a really capable worker, who's genuinely interested in company's well-being, much more than Ryouko herself, which instantly grabs attention of some of the girls working in the company - mainly Kon and Mayoi - and slowly takes over the responsibilities of actual manager. Meanwhile, statute enforced by Iwahara is increasing in power to the point where government decides to slowly enforce it; the only reason it doesn't affect them directly is because they are located within the middle part, which has been considered a "neutral zone" between both races doing business for a long time. Needless to say, Ryouko suddenly disappears one day without a trace, leaving both the company and girls living on it's premises in Yamato's hands. At this point, Yamato decides to stay, take care of both the company and girls and with their help, oppose Iwahara and his government's plan to segregate beast-people from humans.
Yamato Sagawa - The game's protagonist. He comes from an affluent family that had a major saying in many aspects of island's life, which he himself considers more of a burden, than a blessing. He is generally an independent, kind albeit cautious, hard-working person (supposedly after his father, whom he actually despises as a politician) with enough common sense to see through people and situations far better than most of his peers and as such, capable to work out solutions in circumstances, others typically fail at. He often complains about his family and how intrusive his older sister is, wishing for a more average, normal life. He is also a huge beast-girl lover (they are his fetish) and unlike many other people, doesn't see them any different or more ridiculous than humans, wishing for humans and beast-people to co-exist in peace.
Chachako Koya - The dog-girl heroine, Chachako is a rather clumsy and airheaded, hyperactive ball of fluff to the point you'd love to hug her for the rest of your life. She wants to be as helpful as possible within the company, but because she often acts ahead before thinking, her efforts utterly end up in disasters, others have to usually clean up after her. Even though she's a bit of a birdbrain and her puppy-like lack of common sense can be staggering at times, her kindness and near child-like trust and acceptance towards others, including humans allow Chachako to easily form bonds with new people she meets, including Yamato. Despite her seemingly flawed personality and childish behaviour, she can be surprisingly sharp at times - even more so than Kon.
Hanemi Kusahara - The pink haired bunny-girl, Hanemi is shy, timid and similarly to Yamato - a hard-working person that often puts the well-being of others above her own. Due to events from her past, she gets lonely very easily, often to the point of suffering from anxiety attacks and feels uncomfortable, when left alone for extended periods of time. Likewise, she's probably also the most reliable girl from the whole bunch and often helps Yamato to run the entire business, including dealing with clients and company's accountancy. Hanemi is also very close to Ryouko, almost to the point they consider themselves sisters. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHE SHOULD BE EVER ALLOWED TO CONTROL ANY VEHICLES, unless you're ready to face the consequences.
Kon Miyama - A true "kitsune" in every sense, Kon is a sly and intelligent, mature girl with a good grasp of human psychology and a gift of speech unlike any other, allowing her to easily smooth-talk through most of the problems arising throughout the story and often to company's benefit. Within the Otomimi Transportation, she acts mostly as an elderly sister figure and it's not rare to see other characters holding her opinions in high regard. Unfortunately, Kon has a weak constitution and suffers from illness, which causes her to vomit blood in stressful situations. Due to difference in opinions, she often argues with Tetora and takes great enjoyment from teasing others, especially Yamato.
Tetora Byoubu - The resident tiger-girl of the group, Tetora is a genetically enhanced, hot-blooded baby boomer. She was born with an outstanding intellect making her a tech junkie genius, but also made it more difficult for her to admit to mistakes through pride and as such, resulting in her being very insecure and vulnerable to teasing which she responds to in a typical tsun fashion... and boy, oh boy is she cute when that happens. When she doesn't work or play with her gadgets, you can find her constantly bickering with Kon to the point where people in the company don't use alarm clocks anymore, because these two are typically the first to wake up, haha. In all honesty, I consider herself the hottest female character in the whole story.
Chizuru Sagawa - Yamato's older sister, who currently manages the whole Sagawa household. She's both reliable and shrewd, but also unforgiving and strict when it comes to business, making her a prominent character in terms of island's political scape and definitely a person not to be trifled with. As adult-like and mature she acts, everything about her changes with Yamato around. Chizuru is an insane brocon, to the point where she's capable to order her family's security forces to stalk Yamato, controlling various aspects of his life through deceit and even waiting for him half-naked in his bed, when he goes back home from school. It's pretty obvious her feelings for Yamato extend far beyond those of siblings.
Mayoi Suzune - The game's true heroine. Mayoi is a rather solitary and lazy (leisurely would be more fitting) cat-girl with an incredibly foul mouth who dislikes working, gets vexed easily and doesn't care that much for humans, or anyone else in particular aside from those really close to her heart. She's also an avid otaku with a particular fondness for jrpgs and chuuni stuff, as well as cute (moe) anime girls. Completely indifferent and rather reluctant towards Yamato at start, she gradually opens up to him throughout the events of the game, revealing her different, warm side. Her past is tied with events, which ultimately lead to current situation on the island. Personally, she's my favourite heroine, perhaps because I found her the easiest to relate with.
Ryouko Nagumo - Originally Otomimi Transportation's first manager, Ryouko is a cool-headed and laid back tanuki chick with a troubled past, who's efforts to increase her own well-being lead her to creation of the company and bringing in the other girls with similar life problems. As much as she acts very mature at times (she understands there are circumstances people have no control over and have to live with), she ends up being a completely irresponsible and lazy klutz most of the remaining time, much to Yamato's disappointment. Her past ties many of the characters together; my only gripe is that she didn't got a route of her own she really deserved, not to mention she's definitely the second most sexy character after Tetora, which is a big loss for the game.
Ryouzou Daikoku - One of the school's teachers, Ryouzou himself is a powerful elephant beast-man and the home room teacher of Yamato's class. He's very much a fatherly figure - both as helpful, as unforgiving and a peculiar example of a beast-person, who doesn't wish bad to humans and understands the circumstances of the entire conflict, which pretty much earned himself both admiration and respect amongst his human peers and students. When not busy with teaching, he's typically found patrolling the school premises bringing swift demise to all sorts of delinquents and troublesome students (including Yamato, who's notorious for entering school through the gate reserved for beast-people, for obvious reasons), fiery temper and bamboo sword included.
Dr. Foresto, aka prof. Hakumi / Hakumi Sensei - The ultimate scientific genius, also being one of the youngest characters within the story. Dr. Foresto is a cute, quirky and cunning (or at least that's what she thinks) owl-girl, balancing between something akin to an evil scientist delivering cheesy one-liners, intellectual recluse and insecure child. Much like an ancient troll, she lives somewhere under the great bridge and ordered her robotic creation - Mio to not let anyone carrying meat through, unless they hand it over, which obviously includes Otomimi Transportation (actually, it pretty much only involves their transports as of late). Considering her intellect and figure, I wouldn't find her gluttonous attitude surprising.
Mio (also known as F-30) - Dr. Foresto's creation, Mio is an android driven by high-grade AI prototype, capable of self-thought and learning, as well - as shown within the story - genuine emotions. Despite that, she still falls under the very same pitfalls of all applied AI mechanics, including pre-programmed routines and need to follow orders in a straight fashion (more commonly know as "watch what you ask for"), much to her guardian's annoyance. Her main job is to steal meat from Otomimi Transportation company's shipments, which she always fails in one way or another because both Yamato and Kon find it really easy to trick her, whilst Tetora would love to take her apart to learn how she functions. Despite being rivals, Mio is often found helping Yamato at school, especially whenever Sango's involved. She also self-destructs in a large detonation, when left in severely unfavourable conditions.
Sango Tomajiri - The shark-girl that also attends the same school as Yamato and rest of characters. A typical girl by day, leader of a notorious gang of shark pirates otherwise - her actions definitely shape a large portion of the story, as she tries to subdue Otomimi Transportation's speed boat, which carries goods between island and mainland. Those events, which almost always end up in spectacular failures for Sango and her gang, led her to treat Yamato both with admiration as the company's manager, as much as hatred to the point of them becoming ultimate rivals. When she's not busy with pirating, she typically stalks Yamato at school, trying to slash him with her sword or shouting how she'll never forgive Yamato, barging inside even in the middle of a class, much to Ryouzou's annoyance.
Touchiji Iwahara - The game's main antagonist, Iwahara is a prominent politician figure and current governor of the island our characters live on. His decisions more or less shape the political and social landscape of the entire region. From a personal standpoint, he is a typical representation of japanese politics, including bluntness and far-reaching arrogance (an actual jab from the dev team towards real life Japan politics, in fact). As the story moves on, players will learn there's actually far more behind his decisions to segregate the island's residents than human well-being and aversion towards beast-people... including some, which are both really personal and tied to his past, when he was still a young man.
Akutaa - An applied AI module once made by Tetora, found in warehouse trash and stuffed inside a large hamster plushie. He unintentionally becomes the company's mascot. Akutaa (his name is indeed written with kanji, meaning trash/garbage) is the sole character, which brings hilarity and sexual humour into this game not found in anything I've previously played. A hardcore masochist and pervert the Earth hasn't seen so far, Akutaa's sole reason of existence boils down to either fluster and embarass all the female workers of Otomimi Transportation, or make them step on him with a various degree of success. While his dirty jokes remain super effective against Hanemi and Mayoi, both Tetora and Mayoi retaliate with passion, which nearly always ends up with him being thrown outside the window, stomped, punched or flushed down the toilet. Even so, it's noteworthy to say that despite his constant antics, he's really caring for everyone in the company and an actually reliable AI partner in business. He wins the award for best voice acting in the game.
There's a lot of things I could talk about, which raise this game above the crowd of many, similar titles and overall sea of mediocrity in visual novels.
One of them is definitely how writer handled the game's main themes - racism and prejudice against different species. Similar to Bloomkamp's District 9 alien race, beast-people are often portrayed in a very unfavourable position, ranging from being called a burden of society, "dutch wives" in regards to females (this is actually quite relevant in regards with game's premise) to plain subhuman trash. Younger beast-people are often bullied at schools by their human classmates (Mayoi being a prime example and it happens literally in the beginning of the story). They can't feel comfortably outside the streets and it's not uncommon for them to be treated with disdain or contempt. Obviously, not everyone behaves like that, but with time it became somewhat of a publicly accepted behaviour for humans to treat them in such way. Likewise, beast-people aren't without their share of negative traits - by being mostly hot-blooded, they often get easily provoked by humans, which only turns things worse in the process, making them spiral down into sort of situations, where they can be easily jailed. The overall situation on the island is definitely not the best, but certain fragments indicate, there are actually places in the world, where things became much worse, with beast-people being devoid of their most basic human rights. Regardless, the islanders are faced with many problems and their future is left uncertain. Kon even states at certain part of the game that if the segregation law gets enforced, it will become nearly impossible for many of them to find jobs or homes and as such, sustain themselves which might prompt the government to take further measures and it's not hard to imagine what might happen. It's a rather bleak, if not nearly dystopian portrayal of future, which also goes perfectly along with modern day issues we're currently facing in real life as societies, especially in Europe and United States. Thank gods Mayoi's route concludes everything on a rather positive, if not slightly bittersweet note.
There's something really warm and fuzzy in the way how game managed to portray work at Otomimi Carrying Company, with Yamato and girls struggling hard everyday not only for their own benefit, but also well-being of the whole island they live on. After all, they are not only doing this for themselves, but recalling Yamato's words "The well-being of many companies and people on the island depends on our ability to deliver goods in perfect shape to right places and on time". Who wouldn't want to work in such a nice shipping company, being surrounded by so many cute female co-workers? I presume this sort of idealised image of working environment ca be treated equally to otaku's idealization of youth, prevalent within school settings. In the same way school setting-based visual novels let us relive those most cherished and nostalgic moments of our lives (at least, for most of us), games like Otomimi Infinity with their intricate portrayal of adult labour lets us - older players, who actually became a part of actual society - self-indulge in those dreams of a perfect workplace, while our real life jobs are often rarely as beautiful and fulfilling. I found this particular side of the game really enjoyable, knowing there's this part probably only we - older players - will be able to truly understand.
This game has a lot of great, enjoyable moments, plenty of laughs as well as plenty of situations, where you will sit on the edge of your seat, which is quite surprising for a game - which despite it's themes - is still being kept in a rather bright tone for most of the time. Some of the fragments made me genuinely feel for the characters and the way the game is made - despite my overall dislike towards ladder-structured scenarios - easily keeps exploring the different angles through each of character routes. I was distraught after Chizuru's route, which can be definitely considered the worst possible ending in the game, while both Chachako's and Hanemi's endings were particularly bittersweet. Tetora's and Kon's endings are more light-hearted, whilst Mayoi's route leads to the penultimate ending - both extremely bittersweet and charming in itself - that will definitely both surprise and leave everyone satisfied.
Otomimi Infinity presents a particularly high level for a game from the modern eroge period of 2011; It's probably one of the last games, that were presented in an SD format, although the game's assets were already HD. The game's graphics are beautiful - particularly character sprites themselves, backgrounds look very nice and there's lot of panning and additional effects that enhance the visual experience. The soundscape is thick and works well to build atmosphere - everything from small details like characters leaving rooms, closing/opening the car doors (repeated properly by number of characters) to various silly anime sfx are all present and add a lot to the game. The soundtrack is very good - and even if a bit generic to an extent in a typical, anime fashion (lots of instrumental tunes, a bit of electro/trance and even some rock) - provides an extremely good background for all the in-game scenes. The OP song "Megumira -Megumira-", sung by Marie's bright voice will probably become one of the very few OPs I will actually remember and I found myself already whistling the tune a couple times. Speaking of scenes, the game's direction deserves a particular praise, with proper character placing on screen (there's so many different character sprite variations!), movement and animations - it all creates an unique feeling, not to mention there's so many things going on at the screen in certain moments, you feel the characters might even pop out of your monitor at any moment.
In overall, this is a great game that shouldn't be omitted by anyone, least by fans of mimikkos or animal anthropomorphism.
Impressive / Highly recommended
- Mimikkos galore!
- Protagonist, who's not a donkan dumbass or incompetent hetare crybaby
- Cast of diverse, colourful characters
- Enjoyable story, being a well-balanced mix of drama, comedy and action with surprisingly good twist at the end
- Mayoi's route, which also serves as the true ending of the whole story
- Great art (character designs!) and soundtrack, good direction and use of sound all deserve praise as well
- excellent voice acting brings characters to life
- Akutaa; Seriously, his antics lead to some really hilarious moments
- Plenty of the h-scenes are hot as damn
- Ladder-based scenario structure with large portions of the story being either repeated or shared throughout character routes detracts from the overall experience
- Chizuru's obsessive behaviour towards Yamato can get annoying after a while
- Some of the work and slice of life portions tend to drag on a bit too much
- As much as Dr. Foresto's and Sango's fragments are fun in the beginning, they get stale after a while
- The romance part of the game is mostly neglected; coupled with such lovely characters it leaves you with sense of unfulfilled expectations
- Love scenes are rather shallow for the most part and there's little to no emotional development. Yes, it's the kind of porn even Yuzusoft wouldn't be embarrassed about
- People having issues with willing suspension of disbelief will probably get annoyed by plenty of small details, like characters driving vehicles despite still being students or maintaining a difficult business at such a young age
- Game has one of the longest and most unrealistic orgasm scenes I've seen in my entire life