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CharaBration! ~Otome wa Koi shite Charabureru~

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Clephas

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Let's be clear... I have no reason to try to be fair to charage anymore.  This might sound like a terrible statement to make, but the fact is, I've been a lot nicer than I wanted to be for years when it came to charage.  I went out of my way to look for positive aspects, and when I found one, I deliberately put it in as positive a light I could without overdoing it.  This was because the sensation I got coming out of most charage was fatigue.  SOL, in small doses, is enjoyable and even relaxing... in the kind of doses I experienced over the last five years, it is downright toxic.

Now, down to the game... CharaBration is what is termed a 'thematic charage'.  This is a type of VN with a preset theme that all the heroines and possibly the protagonist all adhere to to one degree or another.  In this case, it is the duality of the heroines/protagonist's character types.  Each of the characters presents one face to the world and another in private... and in the case of this game, the gap between them is massive.  

The heroine who starts as the initial focus is Hai, the protagonist's cousin whom he thought was a sickly ojousama that he had to take care of... and is really the kind of tomboy who dominates all the males around her, with a coarse manner and foul language.  Yukia, who is pretending to be her sister Mirei, presents herself normally as an arrogant leader who always dominates the room, but in private, she is shy and has trouble talking at all.  Himeme is normally acts in a false male role, but she really prefers to act like the girl she really is.  All the heroines are like this to one degree or another, and Rikka (the protagonist) ends up splitting his life between pretending to be a maid and attending school in his male form.

Now... this is a game with a lot of potentially fun elements, and it would have been great if the 'hidden' character traits for Hai, who was presented as the main heroine at first, weren't so grating.  Starting out with a positive hatred for Hai that never really faded even after I got into the heroine routes (her ojousama act just made me more irritated, due to that fake cough) was a huge drag on the experience for me, and it is the reason why I took so long to finish even the paths I did.  Hai is annoying, to be straight about it.  While her presence is necessary to create the situation going in, her persona (both of them) drove me up the wall. 

The fact that I actually liked the other heroines only made it worse, because whenever she came onto the scene, I just wanted to delete her character.  I'm sure some will love her (there is someone for everyone, supposedly), but she isn't for me.

Common Route

Tbh, the common route spent so much time on Hai and stuff related to her that I'm tempted to erase it from my brain.  However, it needs to be said that it does a good job of introducing the heroines and creating their relationships with Yuki/Rikka.  Rikka is a standard 'I protest dressing up like a girl but I subconsciously am coming to love it' trap protagonist, and that creates a few moderately amusing scenes... However, I can't really said this did a good job of anything but introducing the heroines and creating those basic relationships.  It is a pretty short common route, and the heroine routes afterward aren't long either, so it feels like more time and effort could have been spent deepening the relationships before they headed off into the romantic wilds. 

Yukia

Yukia is easy to like, at least for me.  Her helpful, kind nature is prevalent throughout much of the VN, and her other persona is mostly amusing (some of the ways she strings together lines to hold a conversation together make me laugh).  Her relationship with her sister, Mirei, which comes out in her path, is amusing on several levels, and I like the way she grows as a character during the course of her path.  That said, her ending is somewhat disappointing, as I would have liked to see what she and Rikka were like after graduation.

Corona

I chose Corona as the second heroine mostly because she is Yukia's opposite in so many ways...  and because I rolled a pair of dice to decide which would be the second and final heroine I would play (I can't bring myself to play all the heroines in this type of game anymore).   Umm... I really like her character, if only because it makes me laugh (an easily-embarrassed prime personality and a secondary personality that strips without a hint of hesitation and is obsessed with other women's breasts... definitely worth a laugh).   In fact, this path is nicely weird, especially because of how those twin personalities interact with the romance.  If Yukia's path was par for the course (predictable and staid as trap protagonist and ojousama heroines go), Corona's went pretty far out there.  The epilogue and after story was also too close to the ending in chronology though, *sighs*.

 

Conclusions

Despite some high points, this game is pretty average as charage go.  Like a lot of thematic charage, it makes the mistake of assuming that the theme is all-powerful, and, as a result, it falls short on a lot of minor points.  I was particularly irritated at the way they handled the endings/epilogues, and I felt that the writer didn't really do Corona or Yukia justice, when it came down to it.  Given more detail and time spent deepening character relationships in a believable fashion, it would have been much easier to engross myself in the setting.  Unfortunately, that never happened here (the good parts of Yukia's and Corona's paths stand out so much precisely because they are the best parts of the VN by far).  It felt like the writer wrote his favorite scenes first then sort of created a bare-bones framework to support it using the theme.

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