otoge

{Otoge} Code: Realize – Impey Barbicane

In Code: Realize, Impey is the happy go lucky guy that never seems to let anything bother him. He plays the role of the engineer in the group and is another scientist much like Frankenstein. When you first meet him, he falls in love with you at first sight (for no reason) and seems like the kind of guy who would flirt with any woman who passes him. Impey holds the role of comic relief and is not letting anyone take that title away from him.

From here on there will be LOTS OF SPOILERS.


When I was first introduced to all the characters, I assumed Impey was an original character for the game. I should have assumed the opposite considering ALL the guys have had some source material. But tell me that you’ve heard of the name Impey Barbicane (try not saying barbecue) before Code: Realize and I will call you a liar. Turns out Impey’s souce material is a novel called “From the Earth to the Moon” and he is the president of a society formed after the American Civil War that is working on a launch to the moon… The more I read about this book, the more Impey’s story in Code: Realize makes a lot of sense. As you can guess, i’m geeking about the parallels.

Impey was just one big surprise to me. When I was starting his route I was playing with the mindset of just wanting to get it over with. I’m so sorry Impey. You deserved better from me. Not only was his nature such a breath of fresh air after the angst from Van Helsing and Frankenstein, but he definitely had a lot more going for him in terms of backstory than I expected. I’m not even going to mention all the stuff he was surprisingly competent at.

I don’t know how this happened, but it didn’t hit me until the big reveal that Impey, is in fact, a vampire. The game did a great job of dropping hints in the other routes about Impey’s heritage. He got punched hard enough by Dracula that he should have walked away with a few broken bones and then got hit with another projectile that should have done more damage than it actually did… ALL THE CLUES WERE THERE! All I remember thinking was, “Impey has to have something special about him. They keep bringing up that he should have been hurt.” But the fact that they had Dracula in the group, the leader of the vampires, completely overshadowed the idea of Impey also being a vampire. Two vampires in one group?! Impossible!

Going back to his source material, Impey’s whole goal in life in Code: Realize is to fulfill his mentor’s dream of landing on the moon. So this back story is not completely out of left field. At first I thought it was a super cute concept, but knowing that that is Impey’s actual story makes this so much cooler. In the game, his mentor, who is also a vampire and an engineer, dreams of putting man on the moon to prove that vampire’s are not just monsters and can contribute to society just like any other person. Impey calls them the “Cannon Club” which looks like a nod to the source material since he is the president of the “Baltimore Gun Club.” They’re working towards a noble cause that is quickly snatched away by the poison that wipes out most of the vampire population. Before he dies, his mentor is able to develop an anti-gravity device to help them reach the moon but is later stolen. This is what causes Impey to join Lupin’s gang. He’s trying to find the device.

I didn’t realize just how much I appreciated Impey until I got his bad end. This was probably one of the most heartbreaking for me and my eyes were definitely sweating. When the group is trying to reach the Nautilus in order to save Cardia amongst other things, things go sour and you have the opportunity to tell Impey that it’s hopeless and turn around. If you choose that, Van starts to deflate their balloon so they can descend. Turns out once that process is started you can’t undo it, forcing a landing and starting over. Everyone loses hope except for Impey who desperately tries to re-engage the balloon alone while the rest of the crew watches. Then you get a scene of Cardia dying in his arms as their laying in a field watching the moon. This sunshine boy deserved so much better! But the writing for this bad end got me good so I felt that it deserved a special mention.

Overall, I really enjoyed Impey’s route. It was hard to take him seriously at first because of his flirtatious aura, but he becomes more charming as his story continues. I found him the most surprising out of all the boys and all those twists just made his route so much fun. He’s not a route you wanna speed through just to get to the rest of them.

shoujo manga

{Manga} Please Love the Useless Me (Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai) – Final Thoughts

Please Love the Useless Me is about Michiko Shibata who is the “useless” one referred to in the title and her former supervisor, Ayumu Kurosawa. After their company declares bankruptcy, Michiko is left without a job (and no income) while she is constantly buying the affection of a younger guy. Having never had a real boyfriend before, Michiko is constantly falling for guys that end up scamming her. She ends up running into her hated supervisor, who has decided to leave the corporate scene and continue his grandmother’s cafe. Michiko ends up working at the cafe part time as she searches for a fulltime job while her boss helps guide her through her life.

I wanted to make sure that every manga that I reviewed on here was localized so that, if people wanted, they could support the english release. Unfortunately for this title, I couldn’t find an official release anywhere. So this one is only available through scanlations. However, when it does get localized (please someone pick this series up) I will definitely be getting this so I can re-read it whenever I want to.

Michiko is probably one of the most relatable and likable characters for me to date. She doesn’t do anything spectacular in this story. She’s just a normal 29 year old woman who’s been trying to figure out this whole adulting thing and getting distracted by “love” in the wrong places. She falls easily for attention and believes that the only way she can keep getting affection from the guy she’s seeing is giving him gifts. She’s also really invested in fandoms for series revolving around hot guys. So in her world she’s an OL (office lady) weeb who loves things like Touken Ranbu and Male Idol series. Do you understand why I find her so relatable? She’s basically me but with some bad decision making skills. Michiko errs on the outgoing, spunky heroine type as she really doesn’t give too much attention to her femininity and instead chooses to rage and poke fun at her boss which makes the banter between the two leads so much more fun. Also, watching her befriend every single lady in Ayumu’s life has been a treat. No awkward cat fights (even with the ex girlfriend), just mature lady friendships while Ayumu screams in the background.

Ayumu is just as fun a character. Obviously between the two of them, he’s the one that has his life together… At first sight… He’s the picture of stability on paper, but behind closed doors he’s harbored an unrequited love with a girl he’s known for years, dated a different girl for 8 years and leaves her so that he can open the shop. Despite the stuff he goes through, you can tell that deep down he really cares about the people around him. That includes Michiko, no matter how much they harass each other. Behind all the teasing, Ayumu is a true gentleman (do I spy a gap???) which is exactly how Michiko ends up falling for her tyrant boss.

One thing that I appreciated for a hidden theme was the gender role reversal here. They actually talk about how Ayumu has more of the wife roles in the relationship (I guess mostly cooking). Ayumu ends up being the one staying at home (since their home is above the cafe) while Michiko goes into the office every day for work.

Side note, every time I saw Ayumu all I could see was grown up Arima Kousei from Your Lie in April. I looked at a pic of Kousei afterwards to compare and it’s not exactly the same… but I couldn’t shake it anymore.

Overall, watching this couple go through life and watch out for each other is such a treat. The feelings that they develop for each other is pretty gradual (at least on Ayumu’s side). If you need a break from high school shoujo stories and need jousei for a change of pace (or if you’re old like me and need to see a character like you) this is a great one to pick up.

This series is complete at 40 chapters. A sequel (cleverly named Please Love the Useless Me Returns) has also started serialization in Japan. A live action drama (starring Dean Fujioka as Ayumu Kurosawa) was also made based on the manga. I’ve only gotten half way through the first episode, but it seems pretty decent so far.

otoge

{Otoge} Code: Realize – Victor Frankenstein

In the world of Code: Realize, Victor Frankenstein is a young genius alchemist who was pursuing the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone. Before the story even starts, he is falsely accused of being the mastermind behind a bombing and deemed a terrorist. When he meets Cardia and becomes a part of Lupin’s gang, he is in hiding from the Scotland Yard and promises Cardia to help her get rid of her poison so that people will no longer see her as a monster.

Going in line with my Code: Realize posts, Victor Frankenstein was the second route I unlocked… He wins the top spot as my favorite out of all 5 guys.

Now’s a great time to stop reading if you haven’t played the game. The following will have LOTS OF SPOILERS


When I first started the game I had actually mislabeled Victor as the sunshine boy/shota of the group until a friend pointed out that he’s taller than even Van Helsing and I realized Impey probably suits the sunshine boy title better. So where did that leave Victor? I don’t know why I felt compelled to place him in a proverbial box, but if I was to really sum up his character, he would be the pure one of the group (SO PURE!).

While chasing his dream of creating the Philosopher’s stone, he accidentally creates a deadly poison. Normally, this would just be failed experiment number 9837839 but royalty has different ideas for this poison and intends to use it as a biological weapon and incite war. The poison ends up being used for two things, it becomes the weapon England uses to kill off the rest of the Vampires that Van Helsing didn’t take care of and it becomes the basis for the Horologium – Cardia’s heart.

So basically Cardia is the embodiment of the poison that Victor accidentally created. Because of that, Cardia could also be considered Frankenstein’s monster. I’m such a geek for literary references so you best believe I was screaming about this when I made the connection.


He needed a hug and Cardia delivered!

One thing that I loved about Victor is despite all of his hardships and so many things working against him is that he didn’t fall into being the victim even though he had every right to be. He was always pushing forward to make amends and fix the things that resulted from his actions. For having such a pure heart, he could have easily fell into wallowing in his own circumstances. And even though he beat himself up over his actions from time to time, he always managed to pick himself up to keep going. This shows the most in Victor’s feelings of guilt over being responsible for Dora-chan’s people getting wiped out and Cardia’s poison. It takes Cardia to make him realize that if not for him, she wouldn’t be alive, poisonous or not. He also has a further purpose of helping Cardia become a normal girl. I think this helps Victor come to grips with his past and start to believe that he can be forgiven. That while the results of his experiments resulted in something tragic, it also brought something/someone very beautiful into the world.

When I played this route, I made sure to get the bad, normal, and good ends in order to unlock everything in one go. And man, that normal end was devastating. I understand why Cardia felt like it was necessary to off herself before her poison ended up killing everyone she loved, but to see Victor finally finish the antidote at the last second only to have that hope dashed when he sees Cardia die was heart breaking. As I’m thinking on this, I wonder if this means Victor had to live on with the idea that Cardia didn’t trust in him enough to save her…. Why did I just hurt myself like that?!

I had to do the good end immediately to make up for it. I was probably just as distraught as Victor. The good end was everything I DREAMED of. It had the right amount of angst for an edge-of-your-seat climax followed by a sweet (but not cheesy) resolution. Admittedly, I was a bit startled at the kiss in the underground lab because Victor had to put the poison in his mouth to feed it to Cardia. I actually screamed at the tv “You can’t do that! THAT’S POISON!” Thankfully, the game knows what it’s doing because Cardia asks the same question and Victor’s reasoning actually makes sense for this fictional poison being non lethal in a liquid form.

Victor also plays a huge part in helping Cardia with her identity and self image. Since Cardia associates herself mostly with her poisonous condition and the tragedy she’s responsible for, instead of being a normal girl, Victor is the one who always reassures her that she’s not a monster and is actively working to prove it. Being a scientist, he has the credibility to tell her what she is and what she isn’t with confidence. And I love this dynamic, because who doesn’t want to be built up and loved on by someone they care about and trust in. This ends up being a catalyst in Cardia being confident in herself, mostly seen in Future Blessings since her poison is pretty much gone there and she can live a domestic life.

Speaking of the Future Blessings, why did everyone else get cute, domestic life, after stories and then Victor gets the angsty “Join Idea or die!” option. Please just let him be peacefully happy instead of always having to defend this love and acceptance he fought for. This man deserves it! But on the bright side, I think Victor got the most kiss CGs out of all the guys. For being a pure boy, he got some surprisingly spicy moments.

Overall, please send Victor Frankenstein home so I can propose to him. I can’t express just how much I love how sweet he is to Cardia and how adorable he is when he gets flustered about it. This man is true husbando material.

shoujo manga

{Manga} Beauty Bunny – Final Thoughts

Beauty Bunny follows a transfer student from Hokkaido, Kohane Yuzuhara, who is portrayed as a plain girl compared to her beauty of a mother. When Iori Yashima, the heir to a cosmetics company and a renowned makeup artist, runs into her on her first day of school he labels her as ugly and wants nothing do with her. Which is all well and fine with Kohane since she’s, for most part, anti-makeup because of her mother’s obsession with the stuff. However, things change when Kohane has to apologize to her mother’s boss so that he can un-fire her. The boss goes a little too far and starts raging about how ugly Kohane is. He gets cut off when Iori’s supermodel twin sister, Himiko, intervenes and gets Iori to do Kohane’s makeup to put the boss in his place.

Iori and Kohane’s first meeting. Don’t worry, he kinda stops eventually

Word spreads the next day that Kohane had her makeup done by Iori which is, apparently, unheard of. Only special girls that he calls “Bunny’s” are worthy enough to have him do his makeup and ultimately hook up with him. The rumor says that being one of Iori’s bunnies means that he has rights to their body (which ends up not being true, but Iori doesn’t do anything to clear up this misconception). And this is how Kohane gets mixed up with the boy who keeps calling her ugly.

When I read the premise for this story, I was pretty much turned off by the fact that Iori calls her ugly (repeatedly… how rude). But since the art didn’t look bad and it was free to read under kindle unlimited during my free trial, I figured one volume couldn’t hurt and I’d drop it if it turned out to be dumb. I ended up bingeing the whole story in a day…. Thankfully, this series is complete at 8 volumes and is fully localized by Kodansha.

I have never read Mari Yoshino’s works, but i’m very curious to pick up another one of her series after finishing Beauty Bunny. This series had me on my toes. When you’ve read as much shoujo manga as I have and have seen all the tropes, it takes a bit to catch me off guard. I felt like every time I had a grasp on where this series was going, I would turn the page and get smacked in the face with something unexpected. That’s not to say that this story is random, it just ends up going in a different direction when it comes to tropes. Because of that, this series was pretty refreshing to me.

The main character, Kohane, is a down to earth and practical girl (the typical heroine). She was raised to be able to maintain the household due to her mother’s choice of lifestyle. For some reason her mother, Mika, is aiming to be the top hostess in Ginza and is a former model, so she is very passionate about beauty and bougie stuff. Kohane’s father is nowhere to be found and has never even been brought up in conversation. When it comes to her family, Kohane doesn’t really ask questions even though the whole backstory of her upbringing is pretty dubious (her mother’s parents didn’t even know about Kohane until they showed up at their doorstep when she was a toddler). This stems from her fear of not actually being related to her mother. In her past a lot of kids in her class point out that they look nothing alike and question if she’s really her daughter. Kohane loves her mother more than anything so the idea of the two of them not being blood related scares her. As a result, she never asks. I adored their mother-daughter relationship! In most stories I’ve seen, when the parent ends up being “useless” the child ends up detaching and losing all respect for their parent. The whole family aspect usually gets dismissed because of that. What Beauty Bunny does right is flesh out Mika’s character instead of keeping her as a flat and ditzy mother trope. Mika always puts Kohane and her needs first (with the exception of a few instances involving impulse purchases) and the manga does a great job of showing that through the choices she makes in the story.

Iori… I was very worried about Iori. His character is straight forward as the typical “ore-sama” lead guy but there were a few circumstances that worried me as I progressed through this series. Luckily, my worries were unfounded since I mentioned before this series has a good way of throwing you off. I will mention this though since this would be a theme that would keep people from reading this series. Iori has a twin sister and they are very close. A lot of flashbacks between them had me concerned that one or both would have feelings for each other. Incest is not on my list of things that I’d like to read and even though I know Kohane and Iori are endgame, I didn’t want to have to read through that kind of sibling drama. If this is something that concerns you, you are safe with this one. However, if you have a problem with forceful guys, please tread cautiously (nothing extreme, but still).

Despite hating the idea of Iori calling Kohane ugly throughout the story (couldn’t he have chosen a bitter term of endearment for her), I loved what his falling in love with her represented and his mentality behind beauty. It’s revealed early in the story that he believes that anyone can be beautiful if they take care of themselves. Kohane doesn’t pay attention to her own femininity mainly due to her self image compared to her mother. Not having the self confidence internally ended up manifesting in her outward image by not taking care of herself. And since Iori believes all girls can be beautiful (or be made to be beautiful I guess since makeup) what made Kohane stand out to him was her heart, not her looks.

Overall, this series was a good read. The twists that this series took without going overboard was well done. The underlying themes revolving around outer and inner beauty and different relationship dynamics brought out the depth of the story to make this manga stand out. I’ll probably be re-reading through my favorite moments over the next few days and pick up another Mari Yoshino series while i’m at it.

otoge

{Otoge} Destind: Mr. Almost Right – Ryogo Saikusa

You start this game out as a makeup developer on your lunch break with a friend who is raving about the trendy new dating app that’s taking Japan by storm. After forcing you to sign up and fill out your profile, you’re quickly matched with one Ryogo Saikusa with a crazy compatibility made of lucky number 7’s . When you finally meet Ryogo, both of you feel an instant connection which is quickly dashed when Ryogo’s marriage requirements are not met. Afterwards, they both end up assigned to the same project, forcing them to spend more time together and really consider the idea of a soul mate.

This man… This man is the cutest thing ever… When they advertised him as someone who was dating to find a wife , I got excited because we had a serious guy and not someone just dating casually. Definitely breaks away from the perceived motive of most guys on dating apps. But with Ryogo, he’s not really trying to find someone he clicks with too much and is instead trying to find a girl who checks off all the boxes. It’s heavily implied that this is because of a past failed relationship which they don’t really explore.

The route goes on to challenge the idea of applying logic to love and instead following your heart and who it calls out to. Ryogo fights his heart when it comes to MC… A LOT. And it especially shows through in his POV (which is the sweetest thing, I couldn’t stop screaming). He falls for her so completely without noticing it that he ends up throwing out his marriage requirements and leans on the confidence he has in the two of them having an amazing future together.

The more I thought about it, for this route the theme was destiny and soul mates. These two ran into each other so much that you’d think someone set them up or something. But nope! It’s just DESTINY and FATE working here. As cheesy as the concepts sound, the chemistry these two developed as a result made these moments so much sweeter (and not cringey). I love that after their run in at the cafe, they naturally fell into the habit of meeting up there at a regular time without ever discussing it. It was just the attraction that led them there.

The gap! If I get to talk about Ryogo, I have to talk about his gap. On the outside is a very serious and hard worker, but when we get to peek into his feelings in his POV story… He is such a big softy! Despite his logical way of approaching marriage, he might be an even bigger romantic than MC. It’s such a treat to see a man that seems so aloof embrace and accept his feelings.

This is my FAVORITE route of Destind so far! Because this route is a Love Choice on the Love365 app by Voltage, this is going to be a bit pricier than their normal stories. On the bright side, this story is longer than a typical non-Love Choice story and if you have the money to shell out, the Super Happy Ending for Ryogo is sooooo worth it. Let’s just say he gets farther than all the other guys by the end of the story with MC.

Other

{Other} Idolish7’s 5th Anniversary

Wow! Idolish7 turned 5 years old on August 20th!

After having to watch so many potentially good apps (whether rhythm or idol or similar concepts) go under in the span of months, i’m so incredibly excited that Idolish7 has made it a total of FIVE YEARS! Major kudos to all of the dedicated staff and fans for keeping the excitement for this series going! This series holds a special place in my heart and i’m looking forward to the way ahead.

As usual, the i7 staff had a lot to show for the 5th anniversary! Though we didn’t get a new spin off (like Mechanical Lullaby, Hoshimeguri, and Karatoga this year) probably because of COVID-19, that didn’t stop them from trying to make up for it!

We got new URs in the game! ILLUSTRATED BY ARINA TANEMURA!!! And they looked so beautiful!!!

After 5 years of illustrating these boys, Tanemura-sensei has continued to outdo herself every year! Sougo looks like a freaking king! Nagi looks like he’s just come out of Magical Kokona (probably on purpose) with all of the pink undertones! And my best red boy Riku is just… WHERE IS MY CRYING FACE EMOJI!?

And continuing with tradition, they also gifted us with 7 free pulls for a total of 77 FREE CARDS!!! I actually really enjoy recording my pulls, so if you’d like to amuse yourself with that please check out my audition video! It was so much fun!

We, of course, also have a special anniversary story! So far I have only read through the first chapter, but it looks like it takes place on New Years Eve after Black or White at the end of part 4. These stories are usually fully voiced, but this time around they don’t have audio. However, the producer letter already addressed that and said that they will be adding the voices later. I can only assume that they weren’t able to get it in time because of quarantine. Definitely willing to wait this time around. We also have a 5th anniversary story event which follows all of the boys participating in a cooking variety show! I believe I saw that translations blogs were going to be working on this, so i’m excited to read the full details of what’s happening!

Last, but definitely not least, we have our annual one hour seiyuu segment! Now, whether or not you like ZOOL, I hope every i7 fan gives this a watch through because ZOOL’s seiyuus are so cute and hilarious! The i7 staff even specifically tweeted to the western fandom that the stream would be accessible to us. This is suuuuuch a huge step for the i7 fandom! The staff doesn’t need to concern themselves with the western fandoms, but they do and that is so special. I think that says volumes about our community. Usually this stream ends up being region locked to Nico Nico but this time they went for youtube!

Anyway, we got to hear the seiyuu’s take on their characters, which is so different because they’re the (temp(=) villains of the series. They even talked about being involved in the live concert and wondering if they were going to be booed when they finally appeared. They mentioned that they had an idea of what to do if that actually happened. Thankfully it didn’t and they were able to enjoy performing. It was great that they were able to address their characters and their growth in the series. They even talked about Antagonist Quarter, which are side stories in the game that touch on the past of the ZOOL members and what ultimately led them to being the villains of part 3. If you’ve been holding off on reading these side stories, I will say you are missing out on some serious depth.

Mirroring the in game story, they were also able to do an advice section. I was kinda waiting for Kondou (Torao) to give terrible advice like Torao, but that never happened. The whole thing ended up just being so wholesome! Nishiyama (Minami) was able to play around with the nanakame, which is a feature they installed for the anniversary that is basically a VR camera. ZOOL’s first album was also announced! It’ll feature all of their songs, including two new songs that you can preview in the video below… Best believe I will keep up the streak and get the special edition one.

You see this art?! Why is everyone chilling and then Touma is about to prove his theory!?

And to no one’s surprise… We came to the last announcement – The return of Idolish7 Second Beat!!!!

I’m so happy! Tenn is finally going to get into the ainana dorms after the cliffhanger from episode 4!

I guess the fandom caught onto that so hard that a counting tumblr was actually started to monitor how many days Tenn spent waiting at their front door. That apparently was hyped so much that Bessho, the producer of the anime, made this funny little comic of Tenn camping outside of the dorms waiting to be let in

The fact that he paid attention to the fandom’s notice of this is amazing to me!

We also got a new PV with a special look at episode 5 which covers the infamous chaos of chapter 5 from part 2!!!

I’m not joking, seeing this made me emotional.
Hearing Discover The Future play made me like this song waaaaay more

Idolish7, once again, lives up to it’s hype for a great 5 years. From the story telling, characters, and obvious love put into the work by their creators, I couldn’t stop screaming as everything reminded me of why I love this series so much.

Uncategorized

{Manga} The Young Master’s Revenge

The Young Master’s Revenge is a light hearted manga following Leo, the titular young master, and his revenge on his childhood “friend,” Tenma after returning to Japan years later. Their friendship was formed mostly because of business relationships between their parents – Leo’s father wanting his son to make friends with Tenma’s more successful family so they could get their foot in the door in the business world.

As a result, Leo is seen as more of a side kick to Tenma, going through multiple moments of humiliation until it culminates in an unfortunate incident involving turtle bites on his butt in front of all the other kids. Leo and his family end up moving to America soon after, with no further communication with Tenma. He returns to Japan with the goal of winning Tenma’s heart so that he can dump and humiliate her to make up for his own trauma.

Back in high school I was a huge fan of Meka Tanaka’s work, Faster than a Kiss (Kisu Yori mo Hayaku) and was always asking friends in Japan to send me the Japanese releases since it was never localized. It was never localized here, so I was very surprised that another one of Tanaka-sensei’s works was brought over instead. The plot itself is very straightforward, filled with shoujo tropes and the inevitable turn around of Leo’s revenge. The manga is complete at 4 volumes and fully released in English through Viz’s Shoujo Beat.

Tenma, however, does break the trope of spoiled rich girl since she’s not bratty about it, but is on the opposite end of the spectrum where she’s innocent and extremely sheltered about everything. She never realized that most of her friends were force to be her friends due to her family’s wealth. But when this fact is finally made known to her, she still wants to be their friend because she actually likes them as a person. This removes a lot of potential drama from the story and helps the audience really just focus on Leo’s changing feelings towards Tenma. Like I said, the story is pretty straightforward and focuses on the task at hand. It’s set itself up so that it’s only focusing on one conflict.

So as a result, when it’s revealed to Tenma that Leo is only being nice to her and taking care of her so that he can dump her in the long run, Tenma is fully supportive and tells him she’ll try to fall in love with him as fast as she can… How helpful… That takes a lot of steam out of Leo’s plan. But I think this is what starts helping him reverse his own feelings of humiliation because he knows that Tenma was never malicious with anything she’d done and that everything that was haunting him was because of a poor self image.

Granted, he does come out of his struggle with a pretty significant turtle phobia. Which comes to a head when he realizes that his school, Genbu Academy, is named after a giant turtle god. It’s so bad that he ends up transferring to Suzuka High School with Tenma because he can’t get the image out of his head. Eventually he works to get over his fear by adopting a turtle to help relieve Tenma of her guilt since she played a part in his fear of turtles.

Overall, this story was cute, both visually and story wise. However, I didn’t think it was particularly special. It’ll definitely satisfy a quick craving for shoujo sweetness, but you probably won’t be thinking about it after the next few days.

otoge

{Otoge} Love’s Hella Punk – First Impressions

Where do I even start with this game?

I went into this game completely blind. I hadn’t watched the trailer. All I saw were some cute chibi comics on Love365’s twitter account for this game. I was intrigued from all the bright colors, especially since it wasn’t a Love Choice game. But when I first opened it up last night… I was thoroughly confused.

I don’t know if this is the point of the game, but I could only assume it was meant to be a parody of otome games in general. There was a lot of breaking of the 4th wall, which I typically find funny unless it’s Doki Doki Literature Club. You get a bad end 4 seconds into the game which is quickly wiped away by Tengoku, who is your first romantic interest in this game and would find a way to walk on water for you in the first few minutes of the game. He doesn’t let make any choices in this game, so just enjoy the ride for now.

This boy is basically Masumi from A3!, after he took an energy shot and joined the cast of Sengoku. Despite my confusion with anything that was going on, he’s a pretty cute character. He takes things very literally and is an adorable idiot. I’m guessing they made him the first one so that the reader understands that this game isn’t meant to be taken seriously.

If I could comment on the plot, I would. But i’m still at a loss for what to say. I have no idea where this one is heading. I was literally going “What’s happening?!” every 30 seconds.

That wouldn’t have been my first thought

I can only guess that there are more volumes of this story to come because one of the chapters was literally a preview of what was coming up despite the chapters being readily available. However, there were a few things that haven’t made an appearance, like these two guys.

Right now, Love’s Hella Punk is discounted at 300 coins on Love365 and there are only 7 really short chapters. I’ll leave it up to you if you wanna see what everyone’s talking about and also get a good amusingly confused laugh. I would probably wait until more is released and we get a better grasp on the value of this game before dropping the coins.

shoujo manga

{Manga} – QQ Sweeper

QQ Sweeper follows the story of Fumi Nishioka, a who has been called a cursed girl wherever she goes and Kyutarou Horikita, a boy who is really good at cleaning. He’s probably where the name QQ Sweeper comes from. After they meet, Fumi is quickly introduced to Kyutaro’s family business of cleaning up the evil thoughts that infect the general population and the malicious people who are purposefully spreading it.

One of the things that I love about QQ Sweeper is how intricate its world concept is. The easiest comparison that I can make is that it is a lot like Persona 5 in that the protagonists are going up against the darkness in the collective unconsciousness (i.e. Mementos from P5). Despite the comparisons, QQ Sweeper is very different from P5. Fumi and Kyutarou are tasked with confronting the dark thoughts that plague people. These are the kinda thoughts that spiral people down into depression and high anxiety. In the spiritual world, these thoughts take on the form of bugs and so it’s up to these two to clear away the messed up mental spaces of who they’re trying to help. They also do physically clean up because in this series they take the whole “Messy bed, messy head” saying very seriously.

I came into this series with very high expectations because so far Motomi Kyousuke has not let me down when it comes to her story telling. I fell in love with her art with Beast Master and then Dengeki Daisy took me for a very enjoyable ride. So when I heard she had released another series after, I was very excited to pick this up. And for real, this did not disappoint. I had originally read QQ Sweeper years ago, but after a recent second read, there were so many more themes that I hadn’t noticed during my first read.

To be clear, this post will only cover QQ Sweeper and not Queen’s Quality, the sequel of QQ Sweeper. Why it’s a sequel? I’m not sure. Queen’s Quality chapters literally started releasing a month after the last chapter of QQ Sweeper and is more of a continuation if anything. It just picks up where it left off. No time skips. No notable changes. Just a name change. QQ Sweeper is a total of 3 volumes. Queen’s Quality will be getting it’s own post later, but as of today 9 volumes have been published in English, and 12 in Japan and still ongoing.

Fumi is probably one of my favorite heroines ever. Motomi Kyousuke did a great job with building her character and helping the audience relate to her. At first you think she’s gonna have a Cinderella story, but then you find out she might actually just be an idiot, and then start to think “omg she’s a gold digger.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve had those gold digger thoughts maybe once or twice. But anyway, she’s not a typical damsel in distress heroine which is what I was trying to get at. I’m not sure i’m helping her with a first impression though. When I said she may be an idiot, it’s more because her bravery might be more attributed to not knowing any better. It’s just done so that it’s not annoying to the reader. However, she strives to be independent and lives by very strong morals and standards. She’s aware of when it’s appropriate to fight or flee and when it’s the right time to rely on those around her. She’s sensible!

Her partnership with Kyutarou is one of my favorite things. The two main characters are a fun balance to each other. While Fumi is happy go lucky, Kyutarou is more serious and socially awkward. However, their banter is one of the treats of the series as Kyutarou lets up significantly around Fumi. And even though Fumi is newer to the whole cleaner business, Kyutarou helps her focus on her strengths and treats her as an equal even though he’s teaching her. This mutual respect for each other is something i’m always looking for in a pair and it shines through very early on in this series. If you’re looking for a wholesome couple, you’ll definitely find one in Fumi and Kyutarou. And there are plenty of cute moments between them so you won’t be waiting for volumes at a time for even a hint of their relationship. This series will keep you very fed.

It’s not explicitly stated in the manga, but thinking about it big picture, these cleaners are in the market of mental health. Yes it’s portrayed in a supernatural setting, but a lot of the fixes are the same. In the manga we’re able to see depression and anxiety take a physical form.

The first time Fumi wanders into the void, she enters the mind vault of a class mate of hers that was struggling with being the fallen star of the baseball team. In the real world, he has been covering up his pain by running with a different (no good) circle of friends and wearing a happy go lucky mask. As a result of suppressing that pain, a huge bug has been growing in his mind vault and attacks Fumi. Kyutarou comes to the rescue quickly but not before the bug gets a small bite off him.

Though Fumi wants to help, Kyutarou warns her that if she touches it, the bug will infect her because she’s not prepared to take it on. I thought this was really analogous to what happens with negative thoughts and feelings in general. Negative thoughts are contagious and you can easily take on the negative thoughts of other people if you’re not aware. Most of the time it’s unintentional. Maybe you just want to help a friend feel better by listening to them, but because a lot of people are naturally empathetic it’s easy to adapt these feelings yourself. If you’re not ready to mentally separate yourself from it, it can easily become a hardship for you. This is depicted in the manga with Kyutarou running a fever because of the bite after they return to the real world.

One thing that I’ve learned through various leaders in my life is that you have to fight negative thoughts with positives. Thinking logically through negative thoughts isn’t always the most effective. This is shown pretty effectively during Fumi’s first test of cleaning a storage room. This particular room does have “bugs” infesting it from time to time due to lingering negativity in the room. Fumi tries to physically attack the task of cleaning the room only to find that the room never gets clean and the bugs keep coming back no matter how many times she whacks at them with a broom. The room doesn’t actually get clean until Kyutarou comes to her aid and guides her through the cleaning that they specialize in. He advises her to think heavily on positive experiences that she’s had and internalize those feelings. From there, she only needs to touch her surroundings and they become clean because the negative thoughts get chased away. Man, if only cleaning out the muck in your head were this tangible in real life.

Another thing that I love is that their profession encourages leaning on other people for support when going through rough times. They acknowledge how important it is to find people who will help you. This is pointed out when Fumi is dealing with her curse and the idea of cleaning. While talking to Kyutarou’s Grandmother, also known as Sendai, she’s reminded not to fight through it alone. It’s so important not to isolate yourself when you’re going through hard times and letting those feelings fester and spiral. These bugs actually want to keep you isolated so they can keep growing. So it’s best to seek help from someone who knows how to help.

That being said, I am by no means a professional when it comes to mental health, but I couldn’t help but draw comparisons while reading this manga. Regardless of whether or not this was intentional by Motomi-sensei, I think this sends a great message for anyone who is going through mental hardships.

I have thoroughly enjoyed QQ Sweeper and even after my fist read through it left a pretty deep impression on me. I was so excited to pick it up again! The premise of the story is different from most things that I’ve seen before. There are definitely shoujo manga tropes in here but they are executed in more subtle ways so that they play a part in the story instead of blatantly being like “here’s your shoujo manga trope! Enjoy!” While QQ Sweeper is short, it continues on into a deeper story in Queen’s Quality and I absolutely cannot wait to see how this story unfolds.

otoge

{Otoge} Code: Realize – Abraham Van Helsing

Our strongest Melee in the group

Now that Code: Realize has been released on the Nintendo Switch and the fire for this series has been reignited, what better way to start this series of Code: Realize posts than to start with the guy I accidentally started with first – Abraham Van Helsing. Affectionately referred to as Van by the rest of Lupin’s gang.

So who is this guy anyway? Other than the hot, glasses wearing date-able, Van Helsing remains pretty true to his source material as a vampire hunter who is considered Dracula’s arch enemy. In the world of Code: Realize Van is considered a war hero who was responsible for the eradication of the “vicious” vampire race. His role in Lupin’s gang would be the main fighter of the group and the main one responsible for teaching Cardia (the MC of the game) how to fight. He is also the only one that the rest of the group makes sure never enters the kitchen.

Note: This write up is NOT SPOILER FREE. Highly recommended that you play through Van’s route before reading on.


I’ll be honest… I had very LOW expectations coming into this game. Unfortunately, my first experience with the Code: Realize series was through the anime. As you could guess… I was not impressed. Even though I had lots of friends who loved this series, I was reluctant to finally pick up the game because I wasn’t too into the anime. Thankfully, friends who were also new to the series picked it up when it released on the Switch and would talk about nothing else… So I figured, why not finally start it? The game had actually been sitting on my shelf for years. I figured I’d give it a shot eventually.

So I said I accidentally ended up on Van’s route. I was actually aiming to get Impey so I could get him out of the way (that sounds really bad, but I wasn’t expecting his route to be so cute), but all my normal choices landed me on the vampire hunter route instead.

Can you guess how dark his backstory is just from this picture?

Out of the five main boys in Guardians of Rebirth, Van is probably my 4th favorite. I found myself more engrossed in the plot of his route than I was in a romance with him. But this was probably the point judging by how much this man tries to distance himself from you. Or his story was just so heavy that it was a little difficult for the feelings to set in.

After pursuing a career in the military to help support his sick mother and younger brother, Van is quickly groomed into a killing machine by his mentor, Aleister, and is assigned the task of infiltrating the vampire community so he can learn how to take them down. After developing a good relationship with the vampire king, he recommends that they leave them as is since they’re not a threat to humanity. So instead of listening to Van’s advice, upper management decides to threaten killing off his family if he doesn’t kill off the vampires. So when he does actually give in and kill off his new friends, he returns home to find out his family had been killed anyway. In the present day, he has a constant reminder of what he’s done hanging around him in the form of little kid Dracula who has vowed to take revenge on him. Van is so wrought by guilt that he agrees to die by Dracula’s hand after he accomplishes his last goal.

Dracula, or Dora-chan for short. He’ll kill you with cuteness.

I don’t wanna rehash all of his story, but this man needs a hug. He’s gone through so much, but unfortunately his character has gotten so lost in his pain that I, as the MC, didn’t really understand how I had developed feelings for him. I think my maternal instinct kicked in for him rather than a romantic one. So a lot of the time, whenever Cardia would reflect on her feelings for Van, I’d just sit and wonder “how did she fall in love with this guy, exactly?”

Thinking about it in hindsight, I have a feeling Van’s route was supposed to be more for backstory than anything else. After finishing the whole game, a lot of the plot points and history in Van’s story ended up answering and raising a lot more questions about Twilight and Finis. But because his route was so dark and story heavy, it doesn’t surprise me that the actual romance part of the route didn’t kick in until the last minute. Someone had pointed out to me after I had finish all of Guardians of Rebirth, Van is the only guy without a kiss CG. I think that this is fitting since their journey required the two of them to work through his past (which took up most of the story time) until they could truly be open and honest with each other.

That shift literally changed everything. Soft Van at the end of the story is everything. And you can tell just how much he wants to make up for all of the stuff he put her through in Future Blessings. From buying her clothes and dinner dates to spending every single second of his break time with her, this man communicates his feelings through action. It gets to the point that he dedicates everything he does to the sole purpose of making her happy. Which, on paper, sounds lovely. So it surprises me when Cardia points out that she feels lonely. I actually hadn’t thought about what was really happening here until she said that. Van is so focused on making her happy and telling her that her happiness is his happiness that it kinda robs Cardia of the opportunity to reciprocate. When the relationship is all take and you have no opportunity to give back, the relationship can end up feeling very one sided. I honestly wasn’t expecting this kind of depth in an otome game. Needless, to say I was impressed. After literally putting myself in as the MC, I would probably feel really happy at first, but then start feeling useless as the relationship went on.

Overall, the story for Van’s route was very well done. If you want something to twist at your heartstrings and you want to feel compassionate for someone, this is the one for you. If you want immediate gratification, you can use this route to help develop patience cuz it will take some working through to get to the sweet feels. If Van is your favorite, you’ll definitely want to delve into Future Blessings for more time with him.