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Docchi no i ga Suki Desu ka?

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Clephas

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First, I should state that I went into this game with a specific heroine in mind from the beginning.  I might go back later and play one of the other heroine routes, but I played this game specifically because I thought the concept was interesting and I liked Hanna's character description. 

This game is by Hook Soft, a company primarily known for its combination of lovey-dovey relationships, mild comedy, and surprisingly long paths.  This company generally produces high-quality charage, but I always found it hard to play their games because of the sheer amount of ichaicha involved (it is probably more than you are imagining).  Their protagonists are usually reasonably capable (so far, none of the ones I've played has had an average or stupid protagonist), and their heroines tend to have their own strong moe-characterizations (this company is a bit heavy-handed on the moe sometimes). 

This game is no exception.  The protagonist, while having the usual 'light and joking' qualities of a charage protagonist, is mostly an honor student who lives alone, works part-time to  pay for his living expenses, and keeps his grades up for the sake of his scholarship.  As such, it immediately passed the first 'charage hurdle' without a problem (charage hurdles being stupid tropes that ruin everything but are endemic to the genre). 

This game's theme is also its gimmick.  As the title hints, you have a choice after the heroine is locked in as to whether the protagonist will take the lead in the relationship or the heroine will.  This results in differing outcomes and h-scenes, which provide some extra depth to the experiences with the heroine in general.

The heroine I focused on, Hanna, is technically a foreign transfer (not exchange) student, having moved to Japan with her parents and little sister Lisa some time before the game begins (relatively recently).  She attends a rich girls' (ojousama) school in the area and is an object of admiration for her grace and beauty both in and outside the school.  She is a gentle-mannered girl from beginning to end, meaning you'll only rarely see her angry... but she does get jealous (in an adorable fashion).  I liked how the path and common route both hand the protagonist learning what kind of person she was, her circumstances, and filling in the gaps between his initial perceptions and the reality as it went.

I really want to praise this company for the smooth transition from the common route to the heroine route.  It felt so natural that I wouldn't have even noticed if it weren't for the choice as to who was to take the lead in the relationship.  In fact, I've rarely encountered VNs that were this smooth and well-paced, which reminds me of why I kept trying to play this company's games despite the fact that the huge amounts of ichaicha could wear on me at times. 

Hanna- Protagonist Lead

The path where the protagonist leads is pretty straightforward.  As they spend time together, Hanna gradually changes, losing some of her hesitance to rely on others, and she gradually comes to rely on the protagonist deeply.  This is generally a path where an already adorable Hanna becomes even more adorable and reveals more facets to her personality and her relationship to her family.  There is a ton of ichaicha, as is common for Hook soft games, and the 'small drama' common to charage heroine paths is fairly easily resolved in a way that provides a neat conclusion to the path.  The epilogue is fairly cute, and it made me smile.

Hanna- Heroine Lead

The first thing I noticed was that the confession scene was completely different.  Where the protagonist was the one desperately pushing himself to confess to her in the previous route, in this route, it was her trying to find a way around her hangups to confess to him.  The interesting thing is the difference in how the initial hangups are resolved between the paths, and I thought it was a clever gimmick. 

While some key parts and details are echoed between the path, they are presented differently, and in this path, Hanna is far more aggressive about the relationship, whereas the protagonist is slightly more passive (this route actually feels more like a standard charage route, given how most charage protags only have fake personalities).  From a visual perspective, Hanna's everyday-wear outfit is changed in this path from the other and the common route (indicating that you were meant, at least in her case, to play the other one first - yay me! - most likely). 

In addition, this path has short scenes from Hanna's perspective, something the other path lacked, probably because it was a path focused on the protagonist leading the relationship. 

What is most marked about this path in comparison to the other is Hanna's personal growth.  She quickly goes from your standard 'passive ojousama' to a strong personality that dominates the relationship without crushing the protagonist's personality or pride.  I liked that they changed up how Hana acts in every way while not ruining her basic characterization, and I had to appreciate how carefully thought out it must have been in advance.  Indeed, there are facets of Hanna that come out only in this path, which makes it worth playing on its own.

 Conclusion

A Hooksoft charage with an interesting gimmick/concept, some good comedy, and a lot of heavy ichaicha.  If you want the 'gold standard' for charage, Hooksoft is one of the companies to look to.


 

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