Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: h-game
Every once in a while something strikes you like a bolt of lightning and elicits an emotional response that immediately compels you share the experience with others. Thank goodness we have the internet to release these kinds of urges expediently.
I started playing Katawa Shoujo a couple weeks ago and I’ve been very impressed with it so far (more on that some other time). Having completed Emi’s arc recently I decided to go again and pursue a different girl. This time I’m playing Shizune’s arc and this jab at the Republican party had me laughing so hard my sides hurt by the end of it. Looking back it probably shouldn’t have been that funny, but it really is just absolutely priceless. If you haven’t expanded the screenshot on this post go ahead and do so now before you continue reading. Think about it a little bit, too—especially if you haven’t played Katawa Shoujo.
It’s been said that good jokes shouldn’t need to be explained, but I don’t hold to common wisdom all the time. This will probably give away my political leanings but won’t contain any major spoilers for the game, so don’t worry about that if you’re thinking of playing it sometime.
Basically, Misha (the girl on the left) is your stereotypical ADD / airhead character that has a hard time understanding people (much like the Bush presidency). The saddest thing is that this comment by Hisao (Katawa Shoujo‘s protagonist) is really kind of an insult to Misha because her character is at least portrayed as being smarter than George and more kindhearted than Dick. Truthfully, I’d rather have had her bubbly, bouncy if sometimes thickheaded personality running the American government instead of dumb and dumber. We’d probably have gotten just as much done in those eight years and we could have had an anime character running the White House. =P
Is it really just a coincidence that Misha and Shizune are members of the student government…or am I stretching this analogy too far? What do you think of this buried joke about 2000s politics in the middle of a dating game? Is it too late for this kind of humor to be effectual or did Four Leaf Studios manage to get the punchline in just before the expiration date?
Final impression – prone to hyperbole, but respectably expressive (8/10)
Autumn 2010 (12 episodes + 3 OVAs) (title literal translation – My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute)
Kyousuke Kousaka finds an anime DVD case lying around the house one day and is surprised to find an h-game disc inside. Nobody in his family matches the image of the sort of person who would own this item. Intent on discovering its owner, Kousaka brings up the topic of anime during dinner where his parents firmly rebuke the idea of anyone in their household watching anime. But this elicits a very different reaction from his little sister Kirino whose shocked expression is enough to set off alarm bells for his suspicions. Later that night, she confronts him and reveals her secret that she’s a closet otaku (and a pretty hardcore one at that). Surprised at this frank honesty, Kousaka doesn’t try to belittle his sister for her unusual tastes. Instead, he begins to encourage her to be more honest and to pursue a happiness she had been unable to attain by hiding her true self.
Ore no Imouto tries to be a social discourse about the acceptance of otaku in today’s culture, but ultimately does a poor job by representing otaku as their stereotypes rather than real people. Not all otaku play h-games. Not all otaku cosplay on a daily basis in full view of the general public. Not all otaku dress like creepy shut-ins who fear light and fresh air. It probably wouldn’t have made for a good story, but most people who watch anime are not as passionate as Kirino, Kuroneko or Saori. The fact that Oreimo depicts otaku coming from a variety of very unassuming backgrounds (including fashion models, ordinary high school students and upper-class) does do some good in legitimizing the culture and showing that it’s not limited to just one particular unsocial group. What’s most telling about this anime is not the kinds of people otaku might be, but how the self-loathing of some can lead to the idea that it’s impossible for friends and loved ones to accept them for who they really are. But none of this should be taken to mean that Oreimo is a failure—far from it. It may have a few issues, but it’s funny, ironic and deals with the problems that some otaku face when their hobby is discovered by people they didn’t want finding out.
Final impression – atmospheric and smooth (7/10)
Autumn 2010 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Fortune Arterial – Red Promise)
Kouhei was always transferring schools throughout his childhood as his family moved from place to place. But now that he’s a high school student and he’s been accepted to a prestigious private school, he’s decided to make some real, lasting friendships for the first time in his life. But now that he’s made up his mind to finally enjoy his youth without worrying about having to leave it all behind again, he discovers that Erika, the beautiful student council vice president, is actually a vampire. Her older brother, who happens to be the president, gives him an ultimatum. He can either join the student council so they can make sure he doesn’t divulge any secrets, or Erika will erase his memories—ruining any chance he might have of recollecting his past relationships with the other students at his school.
The splendid symphony of Lia’s music for the opening and ending themes is the most wonderful aspect of Fortune Arterial. Also, the story is deeper and twistier than most anime based on h-games. Overall it gives me the impression of a Twilight rewrite with gender roles reversed and no werewolves or pretty boys—making it a version of Twilight with a male audience in mind and fewer plot devices stolen from Underworld. However, for as much good as it does to fix the vampire-romance subgenre, Fortune Arterial’s greatest failing is how poorly it treats its side characters. Those girls not important for the main plot get about one badly written episode if they’re lucky enough to not have any siblings. Basically, it just sticks with the main girl all the way, which provides a steady pace for some good character development. The ending is a bit wishy-washy, but impactful enough to not detract from the overall story. And while this anime ultimately falls short of excellence, it is still very respectable.
Initial impression – a quiet little drama
Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Pure White Symphony) (more info)
Mashiro-iro Symphony is this season’s h-game turned anime and early indications are good. The art style mirrors Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka (the two anime have the same character designer) while the writing style goes with an Ai Yori Aoshi atmosphere that glows with a kind of innocent sincerity. The setting then takes inspiration from the premise for Kaichou wa Maid-sama except with a gender role reversal; having young men integrating into an all-girls school—rather than the other way around. It’s not a bad flavor and I’m interested in seeing how it develops. The plot doesn’t seem to be rushing anything, which is either a sign of future stagnation or good pacing—only time will tell how that turns out. Another point Mashiro has going in its favor is how it introduces the lead heroine without being too in-your-face about it. If Mashiro continues with this trend in future episodes, I see potential for a decent series.
Final impression – emotional, but not tear-jerking 7/10
Following the death of their parents, Haru and Sora move out of their spacious apartment in the city and head back to their family’s house in the countryside. Beset by money woes and the loss of their family, they have to readjust to the small life and begin by rediscovering their childhood friends. The girls Haru played with as a kid have grown into young women, and they haven’t forgotten the nice boy who was always there when they needed a friend. Beset by troubles from seemingly every direction, Haru constantly must balance his love life with taking care of his antisocial twin sister, Sora. In doing so, they shed the innocence of their childhood and begin to grow into adults.
It really baffles me how it was possible this anime was able to be aired. I’ve watched hentai with fewer sex scenes than Yosuga no Sora (admittedly you never get to see too much, but it’s darned explicit compared to the usual fare I deal with from h-games turned anime). The development of the plot follows the formulaic standard that was set by Amagami SS just a season earlier; Yosuga no Sora separates the story arcs of the different girls into distinct “plot universes,” with each path following to its eventual conclusion of having that girl become Haru’s lover. This is opposed to the traditional way of having the story meander from girl to girl, ending each indistinct arc with a “let down” / “lets be friends” ending before the conclusion with the main girl he was destined to hook up with anyways. The music is really nice and the drawing style is very pretty. But given its very open portrayal of sexuality, Yosuga no Sora isn’t for everyone.
Final impression – decent enough 6/10
Spring 2011 (Alternate title – A Bridge to the Starry Skies)
Kazuma Hoshino and his family are moving back to the countryside from the city. His parents send him and his little brother ahead so they can start the new school term. As he begins to get settled, he starts renewing old friendships from his childhood, such as the fun but ditzy Ui and the cute but serious Madoka. New relationships form as Kazuma settles in, like the tomboy Ibuki, the reserved Hina and the gentle Tsumugi. High school is fun times with club activities, study sessions and town festivals. As a former city kid, Kazuma is encouraged to participate in everything, which serves to raise his popularity. In the midst of these events, the girls surrounding Kazuma have realized that he’s pretty cool. But who’s going to get Kazuma to fall in love with them may require a committee decision.
Yeah, so I’m one of those weirdoes who likes h-games that have been turned into non-h animes. Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi isn’t a very good example of this type of transformation done well, but it’s somewhat respectable. There’s a decent balance between all the girls and their stories flow nicely to create a cohesive story. The art style and music are nothing to write home about, but I’ll forgive Hoshizora because it has some fun moments that exemplify how h-game anime can be clever. A good example is when one of the girls points out that there’s nothing strange or embarrassing about bloomers being part of the girls’ gym uniform because women wear far less clothing in public when they go to the beach. The ending is quite dramatic as well and gives a nice feeling of completion that a lot of anime seem to be lacking lately. While the story is a little corny at times and predictable, the satisfaction of Hoshizora’s completeness makes it a small success.