Foreword: I hope to have done all the apologies and notifications on the previous post that I’ve made, and bring you the most recent title I finished, Koikake. At this point, I’d like to introduce you to some humor as I did NOT know where the “kake” came from (since the words read out loud is “Koi Shin Ai Kanojo”), then realized the “x” in between and took literally 5 minutes to realize that Japanese call the x-symbol “Kakeru”.
Man, I felt like an idiot.
Well, with me being an idiot and an asshole (?) aside, let’s get to the review! For the most part, I thought this game was pretty plain, boring even to an extent… but only partially. The thing that really kept me going was the absolutely gorgeous music and cute characters, but I finished several hours of the game’s worth in a single sitting because it had so much impact, which I’ll explain a bit further down below.
Furthermore, I warn readers early in advance that this game will contain HEAVY and MAJOR spoilers! PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW if you do not want to be spoiled!
And without further ado, let’s get into the review in quite a while! Here’s Koikake!
(…Shit. I was hoping I could get another review for a 2016 title and this one’s from 2015 T_T)
Title: 恋ｘシンアイ彼女 (Koi “kakeru” shinai kanojo) [Lit Trans: Romance “cross” New Love Girlfriend]
Release Date: October 30, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v17516
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=857308
Game Type: Slice of Life Romance Novel
Summary: Koutarou is a very introverted guy. Instead of playing sports or actively seeking new relationships, he would rather write his novels and stay inside. Naturally, he loves reading books and is actually quite fluent with writing novels, which even won him prizes when he was younger.
Koutarou has a dark past, however, since he still drags on his first love, which ended pretty bitterly in his opinion, when he gave a letter to the girl, who transferred the next day without telling him. Because of this, he often has humorous “allergies” to cheesy things such as romance or love.
But enough about his past; what matters is now, right? Because the past only makes up our memories; the present and future is what we make of it.
Carpe Diem, amiright?
Story Length: Moderately Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: The story has four routes in total, but seem to separate into two “splits” consisting of Ayane + Sena in one split and Yui + Rinka in another. I personally didn’t really like how these splits were pretty conspicuous, but did appreciate that across routes within a split, there was something similar between the heroines (e.g. Love Triangle for the former and the Destruction of the Old School Facilities in the latter).
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 7/10
Protagonist Rating: 7/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 7/10
Rating Comments: As much as it seems that I’m half-assing these scores, I guarantee that I’m not. It’s just that within each category (protagonist, character, story), everything is splendid and deserving of scores of 8 or 9, but something HUGE cuts down on that score severely and brings it down. Obviously, this will need a more thorough explanation.
Let’s start with Koutarou, our protagonist. Overall, I thought he was pretty boring. He does that have that special talent of being good with novel writing, but not only is said novel only introduced one piece at a time throughout the game (and thus being choppy or readers may even forget the contents of said novel), but it’s literally the only one that defines his “talent”. Basically, for his “talent in story-writing” to be of relevance, I wish he had written at least more than one and have people actually knowing he’s good at writing said novels.
So he’s one of the dynamic protagonists whose design improved due to the Last Route
On the other hand, Koutarou regains much of his points in the “Final Route” due to the reason he becomes MUCH more protagonist-like and becomes a highly dynamic character. There are other reasons as well, but I’d like to keep this spoiler until the right moment.
Characters are very cute (love the artwork!), and colorful. HOWEVER, there is this one character that annoyed the living SHIT out of me and those who played the game probably know who it is. Let’s just keep it at that for now since I’ll be doing most of my ranting of this character in the “Summary” section
Story is kinda bland, me thinks. It’s pretty much the same icha-icha that I expect from the same school-life genre galge, but it wasn’t annoying as I thought it would be. More like, due to how adorable and lovable the characters were in the first place (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THAT ONE CHARACTER AHEM), I found myself enjoying the various interactions between the heroines and the protagonist. There are several foreshadows and plot-twists that make this game more than just a typical charage, and even some climactic drama scenes, which is why despite the obvious effort placed into selling the characters, I give this game credit for its storyline as well.
Character Summary: Alright. Let’s save the best for last, shall we? How about a reverse order? Yeah! I like reverse order!
So Rinka’s first, right? As the character introduced as the Student Council President voiced none other than Aoyama Yukari (I really wish CVs would keep their names consistent…), she first interacts with Koutarou when she informs that he would need to find other members to avoid being kicked out of the room that he uses as the club. This time, though, no faking names; he would need to find actual members.
The story really starts when Rinka pushes her limits as president a bit too far and receives too much complaints from the general student population who demand a “re-election”. While this doesn’t seem to bother anyone at first, it’s shown that if Rinka loses, there will be a plan to destroy the old school buildings, which houses not only Koutarou’s Reading Club, but also the Garden that Yui was taking care of.
Quite unfortunately, Rinka does lose out in this re-election in both Yui’s route and her own route. Within Rinka’s route, this forces them to find outside assistance to protect the old school buildings and the garden, and also involves Rinka’s self-realization that contrary to her beliefs, she is lonely and powerless.
Remember that even the people you think might be perfect are still a frail human being.
I said this before and I’ll say it again: Aoyama Yukari isn’t exactly my favorite CVs, and I feel like there were more appropriate Seiyuus for Rinka’s character. However, to give her some credit, Aoyama Yukari did do a very good job portraying Rinka’s emotions in various scenes. Other than that, at least Rinka wasn’t a bitch LIKE THAT ONE CHARACTER HINT HINT
Yui is the adorable loli that I found with joy to be voiced none other than Soyogi Tono, and was designed perfectly to be that “awww” character who always tries her best. Shown first when she was literally talking to the tulips planted outside the old school facilities, Yui actually doesn’t attend this school (she’s too young) but still comes to tend to the flowers every day. This form of dedication I thought was quite admirable.
Yui is quickly shown to have a crush on Koutarou. Reading further down into the story and seeing their past, it wasn’t really that significant, but hey at least it’s something. This leads the poor girl to act flustered with him around and do things that she wouldn’t normally do, such as buying the entire set of books of a random author just to have an excuse to walk with Koutarou. Basically, Yui’s charm points was all over the place.
Like seriously. This character was like MADE for me
Her story admittedly became a bit more sentimental for me, as it’s about Yui’s mother, who passed away. Yui takes great pride in the children picture books that her mother created, and it’s even shown that her dedication to the tulips in the school she doesn’t even attend comes from the fact that it’s none other than her own mother who planted them.
However, in her own route, the plan to destroy this garden is confirmed. Yui and Koutarou work very hard to collect signatures to prevent the removing of this piece of memory and what Yui calls is her “mother’s tomb”, but all their efforts are neglected as the authorities plow through with the plan.
Yui’s route hit me pretty hard with some feels because of this, but do not end here (thankfully). It seems that Yui’s mother was quite the wise person, and left one last piece of glimmering hope for the girl who always did her best.
Personally my favorite character, I found Ayane to be rather attractive despite being the typical tsundere character due to her obvious affection for Koutarou from the get-go. Unlike Yui (who makes up the lack of background with her charm), Ayane’s background story is a bit more thorough and holds much more validity to why she came to fall in love with Koutarou, which added to her design. In fact, even after finishing the entire game, I would probably rate Ayane’s route to be highest of all the other storylines (including the Last Route), merely because its background was so solid and touching.
Ayane’s story starts when the two characters were classmates in middle school. Ayane at this point actually found Koutarou to be more of an eyesore than anything else, since he always seemed to have a very passive and half-assed attitude towards everything. However, Ayane being the headstrong class rep, speaks out of her way during a class recital practice and gathers the contempt of her classmates. This is when Koutarou starts to sing very loudly to the surprise of everyone and then faints, and Ayane later learns that the reason why Koutarou seemed to be so passive was because he had a frail body. From this moment, Ayane’s viewpoint on the protagonist changes 180 degrees, to going heads-over-heels in love to the point she changes schools just to be with him.
So if you had to ask, I’d probably say that Ayane was the best match for Koutarou, not Sena
Despite me liking Ayane’s route the most, I didn’t really find anything else special outside of the aforementioned element when I looked at it in retrospect as a critic. Ayane does participate in the love-triangle with Sena, but this is actually relatively quickly disregarded, much to my disdain. In addition to this, Ayane herself as a character is sometimes less important than even some of the subheroines like Nako (protagonist’s younger sister). I personally think the writers could have done more than what they presented with Ayane
Sena is that girl who Koutarou fell in love with and gave the letter to, only to have her transfer the next day and pretty much leave Koutarou devastated and unable to associate himself with anything regarding romance.
—–WARNING: RANT IMMINENT—–
So the heroine supposedly the center of the entire game and considered to be the central heroine actually annoyed the SHIT out of me the most, and was also the least colorful in terms of personality. In reality, the writers made very painstakingly obvious efforts to “hide” the past of this character as much as possible and even after you get into her route, I was literally thinking aloud “Hmm, it seems that she (Sena) doesn’t really love him (Koutarou)“.
BAM!!! FUCKING CALLED IT!!!
And really, this is what the game goes to show. Sena never really loves Koutarou as Koutarou comes to love her in return, and everything just becomes this shitty-ass Korean drama style story where the heroine chooses something else over the protagonist NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT THREE FUCKING TIMES.
I was so done with this game when the game displayed her relationship with the girl-band called “Glorious Days”, because that only confirmed my original suspicions that this character had something shady. There was literally nothing that was pointing towards why she didn’t reply to the letter or got in contact with him sooner than “she simply didn’t love him”.
Okay fine, so she loves something else; that doesn’t make her a bitch.
YES IT DOES
This is because the very reason why she comes back to this place is FOR that very thing she loves more than Koutarou; basically, she was using Koutarou for her own inspiration for making music, purely because she herself found that she was having slumps and lacking ideas when she was creating music herself. In other words, when she was lonely, she would use Koutarou and when she was done, she would throw him away like a piece of trash.
NOT SURPRISINGLY, I found myself absolutely disgusted that Sena even existed and even found myself being disgusted that Mai Goto’s voice for the same reason even though she had nothing to do with the character. Fuck you Sena. Girls like you in real life are half the reason for bad relationships. The other half? Guys who do the same thing.
Outside of her route, Sena doesn’t seem to stand out much, which is quite obvious because of her design to be that mysterious character who betrays the protagonist at the end.
Even this Love-triangle was neglected in Ayane’s route for the same reasons
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So fuck the central heroine because she’s seriously an asshole. Her story doesn’t end on a happy note, either. The last route essentially shows how fucked up society can be, and how corrupt adult minds are. The game ends with the saying that we can only “try our best” which the other heroines (Ayane, Yui, Rinka) show, but that’s a real shitty way to display the moral, though I’ll definitely admit that it was a very effective method full of impact. It’s within this Last Route where Koutarou is voiced and subcharacters play a pretty big role, and while it’s not exactly a satisfying conclusion, it really gave me the impression that Us:track was trying to achieve something that wasn’t a normal school-life galge and be a bit more realistic (I’ll get to this in a bit, further down below).
So basically, while I think highly of the game in general, I still hate Sena for the choices she made, evenmoreso because of her mindset through all of her betrayals. It really plastered shit on the good designs of the other heroines, too, and as a cynic myself, I was already aware of all this before it was revealed; I’m pretty sure it was BECAUSE of my personality and mindset that I was able to see something was suspicious with Sena’s design and predict that something like this would happen.
And that’s pretty much the jist of the game; the game makes you go through four routes to experience what’s more of a happy-go-lucky galge, then hit you hard with a much darker (though this is debatable) story involving Sena literally betraying Koutarou the third time and him STILL “loving her” for almost no reason. (Because I’m pretty sure he came to love her because she was pretty when they were kids). SNAP OUT OF IT, YOU IDIOT.
Or… Or I’m going to cry!
But let’s actually be serious here: the writers probably meant to do something with this. I mean, they created a lighthearted plot for the other three heroines that’s actually decent; there must be a reason for the Last Route to go into the gutter like this. The main problem I really have is that the game gives off the vibe that Sena is indeed the antagonist and I’m very certain the writers had no intention of doing this. This is because there is literally no monologue with Sena; by completely lacking a monologue and the reader not being given Sena’s point of view, it’s very hard to sympathize with her choices when she was split between her band and Koutarou. Simply put, the game needed to EXPLICITLY show that the girl was also suffering from a dilemma, not just have her act a certain way and expect the readers to understand 0 to 100 of the girl’s emotions or thoughts. Since this was not presented, it’s not surprising to result in players like me (and I’m sure other players too) ranting at this character for being a bitch, quite literally.
Though on the other hand, said Last Route where shit gets serious is also probably one of the more better routes with a solid theme and Koutarou becoming more protagonist-like. It specifically displays the moral that this story was trying to convey, to “Always Try Your Best“, to always live honestly and such… so that was a good trait. I just wish the authors really took a second look at their work because they could have improved Sena’s design from very simple tweaks or additions to the story which would have essentially made this game a kamige level quality. In reality, all the other characters were pretty lovable and had a decent story attached with them as well, so it’s very unfortunate that at the end it’s all ruined.
Affection for the Characters: High for other heroines, and
don’tgetwithinmyreachSenabecauseIwillliterallystrangleyoutodeath. I mean, Low for Sena.
CG Score: 8/10. Beautiful CGs. The soft outlines on the sprites and CGs along with blurring of background on some areas allowed more focus on the characters and gave depth to the visuals.
CGs are pretty amazing, me thinks. Then again there are four artists so…
Music Score: 9/10. Wow, Yuiko sings the ending called “The World that Begins in the Eastern Skies”. I personally love her songs and albums (you should consider searching Youtube or other places for her songs!), and even the Insert Song is sung by her!
Ending (東の空から始まる世界 sung by Yuiko)
Conclusion: Sorry if I was a bit exaggerating with the above review with my hate for Sena. However, please understand that as someone who was essentially in Koutarou’s position at one point (I’m not joking; I’ve had a girl literally betray me three times for someone else), all I felt was more pain and anger, which kinda went two ways: Hatred for Sena and Respect for Koutarou. I’m honestly not sure what the writers hoped to accomplish by adding such a poorly planned element for Sena, but at least the other characters weren’t so cringeworthy. Even if this review repels from playing the game, at least play it for the music and the pretty decent artwork, and perhaps the three routes that isn’t so infuriating.
I might go through Yui’s route again just to recover from the trauma
Addition on 4/13/2016: So it seems that I’ve made a mistake on the body of my review; it’s true that Sena did “betray” Koutarou three times throughout the entire game, but the third time is not because of her band, but because more due to her own guilt and stubbornness. Regardless, it’s still a betrayal and just as bad, regardless of her own intentions/mindset.