Ototsuki is one of the few, in fact the only, Ensemble trap protagonist game I hadn't at least tried. There were a number of reasons for this, but the biggest one was that it came out after my burnout on SOL reached its peak. By that time, I had no energy for any kind of SOL VNs, even ones in genres I normally liked. In retrospect, I'm glad I waited until I recovered before playing this, because this is the game that proves that Ensemble still has potential as a company, despite the last five years of mediocrity.
Ototsuki focuses on a servant-ojousama pair, to be specific, Yuuki Touya (the protagonist and servant) and Shijou Ran (the ojousama). Ran is a genius in science and maths, as well as an extremely capable athlete. She is also extremely eccentric, walking her own path to a degree that would probably drive most of us crazy. Yuuki, who grew up beside her, is used to dealing with her eccentricities and acts as the ideal servant for her type, occasionally restraining her and at others merely assisting. However, one of Ran's bad habits becomes a central point of the game's story, when she goes to an all-girls school and forces Yuuki to cross-dress and come with her, and while they are there, Ran and Yuuki regularly switch places (they have mastered dressing up as one another) as needed to make Ran look good, lol.
The choice to create such an intimate situation for the main heroine and protagonist was, in my mind, the reason why this game stands out from the rest of Ensemble's games made in the last half-decade. Ran and Yuuki's synchronicity and odd couple dynamic make for an ideal situation for this type of game. There are downfalls to this approach (such as it being difficult to consider heroines other than Ran), but the benefits are rather obvious.
Still, this game is rather straight-out as a charage, albeit with a few minor twists to make it feel like it actually has an overarching plot (technically, there is something going on behind the scenes, but its relevance varies by path).
I knew that Ran was the main heroine of the game, but I couldn't stop myself from playing her path first. The intimacy of Ran and Yuuki's relationship and how it deepens into romance is the major draw of this path, though it probably doesn't happen the way you would think it would. Ran's tendency toward being straightforward to the point of bluntness and unapologetic about it (she isn't the type to be bothered by others' reactions to her) is one of her major draws as a heroine. The climax of this path has some nice drama, and I honestly liked how it concluded. However, typical of Ensemble and its endless fandisc-preparation, there was not a significant after-story/epilogue.
To elaborate on Ran's personality, since she is a relatively rare type of character, she technically falls into the 'arrogant genius' archetype. However, her character doesn't come across as being abrasive, most likely because there isn't even a scrap of contempt or prejudice on her part. Rather, she simply doesn't have a humble bone in her body... which, combined with the fact that she really is as capable as she says she is (for the most part), makes it hard to be offended by her personality.
Shizune is one of the ojousama heroines in this game, the daughter of the head of the school board of directors, and a member of the student council. Despite all these titles, she is fundamentally a humble, kind-hearted girl who always puts others first. Unfortunately, her family name and tendency to be strict with herself make her somewhat less than approachable for common students. She is paired with the game's 'other' servant, Iroha, who serves her with obvious affection and devotion. Shizune is pretty much the picture of the 'total innocent' when it comes to life outside of the wealthy old families of Japan, to the point where she honestly had never experienced such common things as shopping for herself or using a bus.
Shizune's path probably isn't what anybody would expect from this description, lol. I won't spoil it for you, but I appreciated the departure from tradition in this path, though in another way it uses a common trope (drawing a 'special status' character out of their usual life). The romance is fairly cute and relatively innocent for this type of game, and I appreciated the 'revelation drama' as being just right. It isn't at the top of my list for trap protagonist game paths, but it is pretty good. I did have to laugh at how she found out, though.
After completing Ran's and Shizune's paths, Iroha's side-story popped up, and I read it, curious about the details. This path is an H-scene free path that focuses mostly on what was going on behind the scenes of Ran's and Shizune's path, and it also has a pretty big revelation with some mild catharsis along the way. Honestly, it was nice to have the gaps filled in, though the game as a whole probably would have been better if these revelations could have been somehow integrated into the main paths instead of being told in a side-story.
Conclusion for now
I blasted through two paths of this game, but I'm pretty sure I'll come back to the other paths eventually, if only to experience the commoner heroines' stories. My current conclusions based off of what I have played are that this is one of Ensemble's more memorable games, taking third place overall behind Koi no Canvas and Gokigen Naname so far. While the story in this game is not spectacular, it provides enough variation from the usual norms of the niche trap protag genre without alienating the fanbase. I liked the heroines, and I felt their paths were well-designed. I am a bit annoyed, as I usually am, that it was made with fandiscs in mind, but the quality of the heroines I bothered with is such that I didn't mind as much as I usually would have.