VN of the Month, May 2018
First, VN of the Month, May 2018 is Shunkyoku no Tyrhia. While the game had some serious flaws, like all Liar Soft games, it was enjoyable enough that I felt it worth becoming a candidate for VN of the Month.
Maoten is the game I was looking forward to the most for June's releases... and I was not in any way disappointed. The game is classic Candy Soft in some ways (the over the top characters, looser sexual mores than the norm in non-nukige, etc), but it also stands out as its own story.
This game focuses on a small town where a large number of demons settled after giving up rather quickly on conquering the world. The protagonist, who is at first unaware of this, is forced to an awareness of their existence by the rather extreme occurrence of Carlen's emergence into the world. Carlene, who is essentially a hedonistic free spirit with a child's attention span, becomes a catalyst for an interesting central story.
The protagonist of the story, Rentarou is a fishing addict with a kind heart and an inordinate fondness for women with large breasts (I know... *smiles wryly and shrugs*). He can be be proactive when it is necessary, but, as is typical of many essentially introspective protagonists, he has a tendency to fail to ask for help when he needs it.
There are three heroines in this game (though there are several noteworthy side-characters with h-scenes as well). The heroines are Rita (the protagonist's psychotic osananajimi), Yuuri (the protagonist's adoptive elder sister who happens to be a battle angel), and Carlene (the demon lord who devoured Shiva when he came down to obliterate the demon world).
In Maoten's world, demons who disrupt the human world seriously are subject to obliteration (usually along with any geographical features and lifeforms in the area) by the Angels, who are 'guardians of order' (supposedly). As such, the demons who arrived twenty years before survived by making agreements with Earth's government to allow for their settlement there.
The common route varies between comedic and serious moments, with those same moments (typical of Candy Soft and its subsidiaries) often being mixed heavily. Generally speaking, most of it is comedic, with the more serious moments concentrated mostly in the beginning and at the end. A lot of this is simply because of the need to form a solid picture of Carlene's character, since she is the only one of the three heroines not to be living in immediate proximity to the protagonist.
I enjoyed the (rather long) common route and it had good pacing. However, it did leave a lot of things to your imagination int he worst way, so I felt myself wanting more even as I went into the heroine paths.
Naturally, Carlene's path is the one I chose first. The relationship formation in this path is... kind of weird. Oh, there is definitely love there, but the resulting relationship can't really be called romantic. Rather it ends up as a rather weird version of a Queen and consort relationship, mostly due to Carlene's beliefs and her own view of her feelings toward Rentarou. There were a lot of rofl moments in this path, not the least during the h-scenes (you know that you are enjoying it when the h-scenes make you laugh). The actual story was good... and though I disliked how they dealt with the protagonist's own major issue, I just shrugged and lived with it in the end. The ending is one that made me smile, and it was perhaps too convenient... but I've yet to encounter a good ending from this company or its subsidiary (Minato soft) that wasn't that way to one extent or another.
Yuuri is an adorable person. While she seems both strict and friendly in public, in private with the protagonist, she is very much the 'wannabe oneechan', and she values her relationship with Rentarou greatly. The relationship building in this path is ridiculously straightforward, but in exchange this path deals with the events of ten years before (which involve the protagonist).
Like Karin's path, this one starts mostly amusing but becomes more story-focused as the protagonist digs deeper into past events surrounding the decaying hospice and himself. It was enjoyable, and the ending is worthy of a few happy tears in itself.
Rita's first path is something of a bad/normal ending. The story itself is excellently-written (as should be expected, given my experience with the previous paths), and this story deals the most intimately with the protagonist's most dramatic past issue. That said, this path has a much darker turn than the other two, at least for a time, and there is one scene that is borderline guro, so anyone coming into this one should be prepared. The humor in this path is much like the humor in the rest of the VN (typical Minato-soft/Candy Soft style character typical humor).
To give you a better idea of Rita's personality, she is like Kagome from Comyu (if she wasn't killing people to survive) or Momoyo from Majikoi (if she wasn't a martial artist). She is actively mischievous, strongly attached to her small circle of closest friends, and extremely hedonistic and self-absorbed much of the time.
Rita 2 (Another Path)
This path is referred to as Rita's second ending, but it is actually a non-romantic ending that serves as a general conclusion (it also wraps up the biggest loose end from the first Rita ending) to the story as a whole. This path is equally dramatic to Rita's path, but it is also a lot more emotionally stressful for much of its length. That said, I can honestly say there are no more secrets to this game's setting once this path is done, so it left me with a definite sense of satisfaction with the game as a whole.
The omake scenes in this game are basically a series of post-Another Path story and h-scenes focused on side characters (including one yaoi scene with Ramu). They are mostly humorous and/or ecchi... and it was nice to get some h-scenes with the game's rather large set of interesting female side-characters.
A first-class game that I've already put on my list of VN of the Year candidates. If you like the Majikoi style, this is an excellent game for you, but if you don't like it, there is a good chance you'll hate it. This game is apparently based in the same world as the Majikoi series, based on a cameo of certain characters, but I honestly question that, since I can't see Momoyo failing to sense Carlene and come to 'visit', lol.