A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

Tsukiyori is arguably one of the better Navel titles in my opinion (the other one being Oretsuba), and it’s for a good reason; it’s why I’ve played the entire series multiple times, though I did pass on the two latest titles for the Tsukiyori 2 fandiscs involving two heroines each since the sequel was considerably inferior to its predecessor. Despite this all the titles in the series are very well written games with lots of moral aspects and sociology, and even if you don’t care for those aspects, simply reading how the characters interact is sufficient enough reason to re-visit these titles like I have

That being said, my previous reviews for this series is pretty cringe due to it being written way back in the day. As I did with the Nines series, I plan on doing a full review, though at least for this one I went through the entire series to refresh my memory/gain a better understanding of the scenario

This might make the post a bit longer though, and spoilery, but this is technically an older game so most people should’ve already played it.

Tsukiyori

The title that started it all, Tsukiyori is well known even outside of Japan and can be considered Navel’s second big success. Unlike Oretsuba (which was back during the 4:3 resolution days) Tsukiyori was considerably superior to the first success that Navel had due to its attention to detail, lighter atmosphere contrasted by the dramatic conflicts created by creative dialogue, and highly dynamic characters. While it does have much less number of subcharacters than the mentioned predecessor, they make up for this lower quantity by giving each of the subcharacters in Tsukiyori/Otome Riron a very important role, whether that’s through supporting the main characters or providing additional humor, or both. As someone who really likes seeing proper designs of subcharacters this was a big plus for me.

Despite the all-girls academy + cross-dressing feature being a common trait from companies like ensemble who botch them up and create inferior games, Tsukiyori takes this factor seriously, consistently reminding players about this trait being a threat to the protagonist even after conflicts within a heroine route is resolved, and actually manages to use it as part of the scenario and humor–not some cheap gimmick to increase interactions between characters.

As one of my favorite titles, while there are weaker aspects of the series it admittedly has some of the best humor (in various ways like wordplay, character bullying, and dramatic irony) as well as storytelling since you become so immersed in the descriptive conflicts and drama.

Kokura Asahi/Ookura Yuusei

The protagonist who we all can appreciate, the fact that he’s had a very rough background and has always been hungry for family love is contrasted by his obedient personality with a very pure mindset, almost being unable to suspect evil in others (and at least in the Otome Riron title, he vomits when he forces himself to do so). Despite being faced with conflicts and corruption since his childhood days, Yuusei is bright and cheerful most of the time thanks to his friend “Jean” who taught him to enjoy life when he was at his lowest.

Due to his lifesaver (quite literally) being involved in clothesmaking and setting up schools, Yuusei tries to attend the school cross-dressed as the school only allows women. He does so with his sister’s help being hired into the house of Sakurakouji, but develops additional relationships there that lasts for the rest of his life.

Generally speaking, I found Yuusei to be highly favorable. This pure mindset in other’s eyes can be seen as ignorance, but it’s the thing that really separates him from literally all other characters in game (especially in the Otome Riron series) plus the game did well to place him with characters who points adversity towards him which he resolves with that same pure mindset. There exists a saying in Korean that says “One cannot spit on a smiling face” which is quite true; even if you somehow hated Yuusei (which is unlikely to happen in the first place), chances are one would become good friends with him considering his personality of being caring, knowledgeable, but humble.

Being voiced was also a great trait I really want to commend Navel for doing, and quite ironically Oretsuba is the only other series from Navel that also has voiced protagonists. I think this is because Navel does a really good job portraying the protagonist as one of the characters in the story and not some cheap self-insert other companies create for shallow hentai. In that viewpoint it only makes sense to voice the protagonist, especially in this particular Tsukiyori series where his voice would need to actually change to reflect his boyish real voice versus his fake one as Asahi.

One thing I found to be a con for Yuusei is arguably the romance. Despite being superior to even my all time favorites like Damekoi in terms of narrative or story presentation, the romance between Yuusei and heroines IN THE ENTIRE SERIES were very shallow, with the sole exception of Luna. This trait is unfortunately carried over to Tsukiyori 2 with Saika and the heroines over there, and is frankly one of the prime reasons why I can’t give this game the kamige categorization despite liking it so much.

Luna

The overwhelmingly prominent heroine, it’s pretty funny because her presence becomes centerpoint even in other titles like Otome Riron where Yuusei would start the narrative as if writing a letter to her or comparing basically everything that happens around him in this spin-off to her within all context (much to the disdain of Resona).

Displayed as basically a genius who also puts in the effort into designing, she strangely has an aggressive way of speaking in addition to her unique looks (pale skin/white hair/red eyes) which originally separates all the other applicants and Asahi when applying for the position of the Maid, since Asahi genuinely thinks such an appearance is beautiful compared to others who were more put off by it. This works in favor for Asahi as Luna takes a liking to his honest personality as well.

Luna’s route revolves around how the heroine is lonely, but a past experience has caused her to close her heart to everyone despite how this made her lonely. Even in public locations like the classroom she’s seen as a loner which our protagonist takes into his own hands to change, especially since he admires the heroine’s designing abilities.

The game makes very subtle but definite transitions within the heroine that suggests she was slowly opening up to Asahi. As the Philia Christmas Collection approaches she entrusts an imperative and near-impossible task for the protagonist, who willingly accepts and gains even more of the heroine’s respect, affection, and trust. These traits all combine towards a climax when an event happens that causes the scars within Luna to open up again during a festival, which afterwards help solidify the relationship between Asahi and Luna to the point when later on (in the After After Story) Yuusei admits to “stop being Asahi”, the super-proud and haughty heroine breaks down practically begging Yuusei to reconsider.

Luna’s route superiority comes from highly descriptive and thorough dialogue. It comes with the design that Asahi is generally more skilled at telling the readers what other characters (like Luna) are thinking, thus during smaller conflicts between the two characters the reader is given both sides of the story (Asahi and Luna) of that conflict that makes the interactions much more immersive and easy to understand. How the entire transition of Luna opening up to Asahi/Yuusei has proper “milestones”, if you will, by properly giving credit to the protagonist’s mindset, humility, integrity, or his skill as a patterner allowed much more fluid transitions not to mention just the presence of such milestones alone strengthened the “validity” of the two character’s romance that’s missing in so many titles recently.

Because of Luna’s well written scenario (plus her afterstory), it became a “standard” that every other route in the entire series and even the sequel got compared with. The inferior aspects in said other routes became more apparent and visible due to how good Luna’s route was, which was really unfortunate because even Mizuho/Minato’s routes in the original game weren’t all that bad like some trashy games I’ve played. They each have really good narrative and character interaction, but it’s no doubt these routes are considerably inferior compared to this main heroine and this comparison causes these inferior routes to look even worse than they normally are.

Luna as a character is also favorable due to a lot of contrasts the game presents–being this high-class ojousama yet bullies both Asahi and Ursule, being very proud yet when it comes to Asahi she throws all that pride out the window. Even just her quotes originally denying her affection for Asahi (due to the taboo on homosexuality) was well written to sufficiently imply that affection and present the dilemma the heroine had for loving another girl.

Follow ups with these designs including the Luna After After (not a typo) Story in Tsukiyori 2’s Append disk in an effort to connect the two titles plus Otome Riron was very nice, though it’s done rather forcibly and at that point I would’ve just preferred if the writers just left it ambiguous.

Ursule

The other route that was “decent” in the original Tsukiyori game, it’s quickly shown that Ursule has a rivalry with Luna and despises Asahi originally due to being a maid for her rival. However, as she realizes the integrity and skill in the protagonist she quickly changes her mind and instead tries to convince the protagonist to join her back in Switzerland.

Due to her being a foreigner (and the game emphasizing such), Ursule’s Japanese is quite faulty and makes her a target for Luna’s pranks. From having her pets named after inappropriate words or being taught incorrect/suggestive phrases, these pranks make Asahi question why she would still associate with Luna.

Ursule’s route begins with Asahi accidentally finding out this proud ojousama actually lacks talent, and must make up for it with countless hours of effort. Ursule however, wants to hide these efforts to create a facade that she’s naturally talented, and demands that Asahi share a secret about her so she’ll be comfortable that Asahi won’t spread this fact to others. Yuusei contemplates revealing his gender, but after he realizes that Sasha, the crossdressing “maid” for Ursule, has already known about his secret from day 1, he finally admits his secret to Ursule and ends up working together with her to improve her designing skills.

Ursule’s route goes deeper into that very concept that this character was always second to Luna in all aspects, and displays this trait with various scenarios which make the heroine lose confidence in herself. This additional conflict which related to her overall design was a great addition for her route, and while not as perfect as Luna’s route, Ursule’s route does have explanations to how she was able to gain an upper hand on Luna at one point, which was due to the protagonist, which is always a good way to write a story.

Mizuho

An ojousama based in Japan, Mizuho is quickly shown to be afraid of males (androphobia) yet steps in bravely to stop a guy from hitting on Asahi in the beginning of the game. Generally speaking, her character design was okay, but her route is very filler-y and doesn’t go into sufficient detail regarding the taboo of Yuusei’s crossdressing as I’ve wanted. While it does create that one conflict at the end with this trait it’s at the veeerrrry end of her route and the other parts of it is simply not worth reading as it involves more pointless interactions, though even as I say that the fillers aren’t as bad as other games might be (most are humorous).

Her character as a whole completely infatuated with “Asahi” (and not Yuusei) had both good and bad effects. Good because it allowed for additional humor within games like Otome Riron where when she finds out about Asahi’s identity she faints but immediately says she wants to meet Asahi and feels sorry that she is “trapped in a male’s body”, greatly suggesting her affection for the fake identity that Yuusei creates. The bad is obviously the fact that there’s really not much conflict with the reveal, plus her after story is additional fillers which is frankly not fun to read.

Mizuho’s route is frankly the worst route in the original Tsukiyori, with the character herself really only good for humorous intermissions where she gets “jealous” of Asahi’s friendship with others, plus she doesn’t really contribute much towards the story of tailoring or in the family feud in any scenario.

Minato

The childhood friend of Yuusei and Resona, this heroine was a tomboy when she was young, but started to feel affection for Yuusei after he complemented her feminine traits and saved her from falling off a tree at one point. As someone who returned to Japan exclusively to learn tailoring to impress her crush, she ironically meets Asahi and Resona instead and is told Yuusei is overseas.

However unfortunate accidents brings the heroine and the protagonist together as Minato finds out about Asahi’s identity early in the game, and despite her embarrassment (of having confessed to him indirectly; she doesn’t react as severely to having Yuusei seen her naked), Minato agrees to keep quiet about Yuusei’s identity and supports him instead.

I actually liked Minato as a character and her overall design. The unrequited love factor is there in other routes which make her romance a lot more solid in her own route (even without much interactions being present), and her role as a secret supporter helps with meaningful interactions with the protagonist in the entire game regardless of if it’s in her route or not. Her route starting off being bullied in her class due to being a lower “rank” also made for a realistic scenario as well.

It’s just that this “problem” isn’t resolved properly and more involves the two taking up on another path instead which wasn’t to my liking. It “makes sense” because of Minato’s design of being inferior in tailoring and is more similar to Paruko in Tsukiyori 2 with abstract designs, but at this point it might have been easier simply to remove her route completely, keep her as a subcharacter, and instead put in a smaller “mini-route” or something regarding a “what-if” scenario of Yuusei hooking up with her instead. As it stands the character receives too much spotlight NOT to be a heroine, while her route itself only has the “pros” of being realistic while in another light it seems more like a cop-out.

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Otome Riron (+ Sonogo)

Otome Riron is a “spinoff” for the Tsukiyori series that takes place after the bad ending of Tsukiyori where Yuusei’s identity as a male is discovered by Yachiyo and ends up being expelled from the Sakurakouji household. After being kicked out Yuusei wanders around the city helplessly until he is discovered by Ion, who takes him in which is the ending for that particular title; Otome Riron continues that story of how Ion brings Yuusei back to Japan to Resona and Resona suggests that the two of them escape to Paris and attend the Philia Girl’s Academy there, since it’s a school built by Yuusei’s friend Jean and Ion would be more unlikely to find them there.

This “spinoff” title introduces many different characters and focuses greatly on the family history of the Ookura family and the fierce family feud that exists within. It also introduces an interesting aspect of all words spoken by characters automatically translated into Japanese by Asahi/Yuusei (so basically everyone normally speaks French but it’s translated into Japanese so we can read/understand it), but sometimes this might change into German, Russian, or back to Japanese depending on the characters and context.

This title was fairly ambitious in the sense it tackled both the Ookura Household Conflict as well as the Tailoring aspect that was prevalent in the first game. In that sense the game had great value especially since it answers to the history and background of Ion, who is considered to be the antagonist of the previous title.

Resona

As the hikkikomori bracon heroine voiced by Matayoshi Ai (she’s also known for voicing Kobato from Oretsuba as well as other mainstream heroines), Resona is the center of the scenario in Otome Riron, much to my delight since I thought it was a waste to have such a design be limited to a subcharacter in the main title, since she’s one of the earliest characters to appear and highly favorable as a heroine to boot. Generally with low self-esteem due to being pampered but strictly taught, the only thing Resona “values” if you will is ironically Yuusei himself, as she fell in love with him when they were children and finds favorable his pure mindset as I’ve described above (contrary to how everyone in her family otherwise was “two-faced”).

Resona originally has no interest in clothesmaking or designing–her only reason for taking up on this risky plot is only because she values Yuusei’s happiness more than her own, so she makes no effort in class nor originally has the talent for doing so like Luna.

However, in an effort to encourage Resona to develop an interest in designing, Yuusei takes one of her own designs and tailors a coat for the heroine, who deeply moved by such a gesture decides to seriously take up designing. It’s just that the two siblings are not necessarily welcomed in the school while their family is still breathing down their backs that they have no one to trust but themselves.

Probably on par with even Luna’s route in the main game, Otome Riron has some superiorities to the main game with additional symbolism such as comparing Resona to a butterfly who is struggling to hatch and Yuusei as a bird that escaped its cage helping the butterfly morph (cough Foreshadowing cough). Contrary to Luna in the main title whose dynamics aren’t too obvious, Resona’s change in personality and mindset in Otome Riron is much more drastic which made for a better heroine design, not to mention the presentation for this change done much better, like with flashes of Resona’s standing CG along with other sprites, implying that she was slowly gaining allies from when she was literally alone.

Plus it’s nice that Yuusei actually participates in the show, unlike the original

The sibling taboo was mentioned but unfortunately not sufficiently, and the reason(s) why Resona’s route can’t be superior to Luna’s (despite having a lot of superior aspects) is the mere fact that Luna herself was the key to resolving all the conflicts in Resona’s route. While both Resona and Yuusei do make efforts of their own trying to resolve the family feud with both Ion and Suruga trying to kidnap them, they’re able to do so purely because these heroines from the previous game are there to protect them in the process. Luna’s “sudden” introduction within these scenes were also glorified quite a bit so this may have also made an impact as well. This along with the more shallow romance especially with Yuusei only finding his blood-related sister “cute” being the only transition was a big step down from the more dramatic and bittersweet romance that Luna and Asahi had.

As it stands Resona is my favorite heroine in the entire series even if I don’t consider her route to be the best within the series. It’s nice to see she doesn’t simply disappear even in the Tsukiyori 2 game where she’s referenced multiple times, so I kinda wish Navel at least brought her in as a cameo appearance at certain points.

Meryl

The ignorant country girl who is the servant for Bluette, Meryl is very similar to Asahi in the sense her mind is also very pure and innocent, not seeming to understand various sexual jokes or having no knowledge on formal etiquette or even just tailoring skills. Despite all these deficiencies she has the natural talent along with the expertise in tailoring (similar to Luna) from the sheer amount she practiced while in the mountains where there was nothing else to do, and this comes as a major surprise to all the other characters.

It’s even shown that she’s likely better in this clothesmaking field than Luna herself, as Luna while being highly proficient in designing has very poor tailoring skills–this is not the case of Meryl who is skilled in both and producing high-quality clothes that she sells at the Flea Market at giveaway prices that gets sold out extremely quickly (much to the dismay of Asahi who wanted a certain blouse she made).

Meryl’s route is moreorless similar to Mizuho’s in the original title as the heroine finds Asahi favorable due to the thoughtfulness and patience allowing her designing/tailoring skills to sharpen in the beginning of the game. This comes to the dismay of Bluette, who has romantic affection for her own servant which causes some humorous love triangles.

Meryl is actually of Ookura family’s blood. While both of her parents are deceased, her father is the son of the head of the Ookura family making her cousins with every other Ookura family members that appear. Her route delves into explaining mysterious individuals who send her money or check up on her regularly, along with the warning to not leave the mountains, and it’s later revealed that this is both Ion and Suruga who sought after her to gain an ally within the family feud that was going on.

Outside of this Meryl’s scenario isn’t too interesting, and comes with the major flaw that Tsukiyori 2’s Append “Luna After After Story” mentions only one line (I checked thoroughly) only implying her being of Ookura family. It also begs the question why Ion and Suruga didn’t approach her directly when they found out about her in the first place and resorted to merely observing her up until that point.

Bluette

Frankly her route in the original Otome Riron game sucks. It follows the exact path of Resona’s route but instead of meeting Luna and buying time Yuusei takes a dramatic approach of harming himself to meet the Family Head and explain that Ion and Suruga are hunting him for their own good. It offers no form of conflict besides this, no additional input from said Ion/Suruga, and is more of a bad route in the sense nothing is resolved and even the “plan” that Yuusei sets up is faulty and cheap. Even the gender reveal to Bluette is forceful and unnatural so it’s only fair that she get a more renewed route in the Sonogo Shuhen sequel, which also gives some spotlight on characters like Anthony as well.

Sonogo Shuhen

Bluette’s Alternative (the game calls it “Another”) route involves similar events for the siblings as in the main game, except the siblings plan a trip to Reims on a whim and plan on having a “date”, completely neglecting Yuusei’s disguise. Unfortunately while there they run into Bluette who just happened to be running away from home, and while Yuusei does make all efforts to hide his identity he’s busted sooner or later by the heroine who pursues him from curiosity.

However, this eventually turns out to be a great move as Bluette agrees to help the siblings with their family feud problems, and this is a route that takes a very different and almost realistic method filled with dynamic characters (which includes Yuusei), drama, and a satisfying conclusion at the end.

Really like this scene because previous to it the two characters confess that they’ll be thinking of each other and the CG makes it feel like they’re connected somehow

What I like about this route is that despite the two characters not being related at all, it can effectively be called “Bluette and Anthony’s Route”. Bluette takes up on a supportive role, while Anthony almost becomes a second protagonist with much of the dialogue revealing some of the darker secrets about this bright and cheerful character–how he was literally birthed as an additional head count in the family feud and despite how much he tried he couldn’t overcome his older brother and was instead instructed to simply follow all his directions without a thought. This kind of design allows Yuusei and Anthony to develop a very good friendship which eventually turn into a partnership with Resona to combat the conflict in their family.

The route is more realistic because it doesn’t have much of the series’ tendencies to resolve everything with just the boring “Winning the Grand Prix” of the designing contest; in this route the sibling rivalry still exists and is only flimsily maintained with the cooperation between Resona, Yuusei, Anthony, and Bluette–basically the “underdogs who combined their powers to fight”. It also most extensively answers to the love triangle that’s created between Yuusei, Resona, and Bluette so it felt more complete as a route as well.

Romance-wise this alternative route becomes a lot less desirable due to shallow interactions between Yuusei and Bluette (and this is because of how Bluette was more of a side-character), but the storytelling in this alternative route was frankly superior to even Luna’s route in the original game with highly climactic scenarios, great transitioning of characters, plenty of monologue and dialogue for characters like Anthony, and the clear-cut separation of Ion being treated as an antagonist unlike Resona’s route where he becomes an ally through various other events.

Tsukiyori 2

So instead of going through the entire cast of Tsukiyori 2, I’ll just go ahead and only explain some of the major key features which made it less favorable compared to the prequel or the spinoff, since I’m not too fond of replaying this sequel due to its inferiorities to the main games.

Saika: Not a bad protagonist at all, but the fact that the protagonist’s attitude is given this extremely unrealistic, narcissistic trait that just happens to only apply to him doesn’t make sense. The game tries to come off as him enjoying his unique and beautiful appearance which is fine and “loving everything”, but the whole point of a narcissist is that the person belittles everyone around them thus Saika’s general personality definitely feels artificial and fake. Not to mention most of his thought processes aren’t as clearly defined as Asahi did in the original Tsukiyori title. His drastic contrast to his more timid and reserved father is even more amplified by how the game explains he doesn’t have a good relationship with him for some reason (and the game fails to even go into detail about this too), and the game even provides TMIs like how Saika’s sexuality was traumatized when he fell in love with his own father’s crossdressed figure when he and Luna were getting it on in the bedroom ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) which is also kinda unnecessary.

While more refreshing when it comes to his relationship with Est, this relationship felt more of a step down of the relationship between Luna and Ursule in the previous game with Saika making efforts to make Est more “lady-like” (which is deceptively similar to how Luna bullies Ursule) while soaking up all the attention around him. Unlike Luna and Yuusei in the previous title, the relationship between Est and Saika is also very poorly transitioned as well without anything similar to those “milestones” I mentioned

He was good as a protagonist–though a good protagonist doesn’t always equal a good game

Overall Environment: The original game was praised because both the protagonist and the central heroine were both “lonely”. While Yuusei had his sister while Luna had Yamabuki, each supporting character is seen more as a family member than a partner with romantic relationships. Contrast this to Tsukiyori 2 where Saika has his supporters while Est has her friends in the classroom and you basically have no reason for the two characters to depend explicitly to each other as Luna/Yuusei did in the first title.

The entire premise of “Sakura no En” also annoyed me, since while it’s nice to present Ion the sequel the entire introduction with all these luxuries felt like it was catering to these characters excessively, giving them all the resources and environment they needed to succeed. This concept of a “Gold Spoon” is a big controversy in East Asian media (especially in Korea) because it challenges the media (or at least this title’s) incentives to correlate the character’s success to talent/effort when it could’ve just been power of money instead, and this is kinda what happened here.

And this is objective too, since the game basically admits that Saika is pampered from literally the beginning scenes; whether that be the underground tunnel to the school or how he’s allowed not from going in the swimming pool due to his fragile skin or being clamored over by other girls + his sister + even his cousins was just all very unnecessary to the overall scenario of his rivalry with Est.

Repetitiveness: The original Tsukiyori was good, and it’s actually an insult to the original game that Tsukiyori 2 tries to copy the entire introduction. Yuusei crossdresses to attend the school built by his good friend, while Saika does so since it’s the alma mater of his mother. This may be my own biased opinion, but Saika’s motives are rather weak when comparing them with Yuusei’s; his father did so because he also wanted to learn about clothesmaking but Saika could’ve just as well attended any other school to do the same, and simply have visited the school to fulfill his purpose. How the game makes these poor excuses to have the protagonist of the sequel follow in his parents footsteps was a bad design, and we’ve seen Navel do this with Shuffle Episode 2 so I guess I can’t be too surprised.

How Luna and Yuusei both completely neglect their son/daughter simply with the excuse that they’re “busy” just seemed like another cheap way to create this similar environment that Yuusei was in without parents, and while they do give advice to the boy it’s through simple texts which is far from my hopes that they would at least voice a couple lines.

Weak/Incoherent Heroines: It’s not just Est who is unfortunately not up to the standards of being a heroine fit for the Tsukiyori series; the rest of the heroines whether that’s Lumine, Paruko, or Sakuri all lack a proper follow up to their gimmicks. It doesn’t help that two of them are completely unrelated to clothesmaking while the third one throws out all the normal tailoring process out the window so you might has well have made a game about something completely different, but all of these do have that trait of being subjective in nature (and I’ll get to this in a little bit)

I should remind people that most of the routes were “good” with narrative satisfactory for the most part, but the problem is that the tailoring aspect was just unnecessary.

Lumine having a rather mismatched speech pattern (“judgment, punishment”) compared to her background in piano. Sakuri’s “acting” career causing her to have strange quotes at times, and even Paruko’s sudden revealing to have a frail body all point to poorer character designs and incompetent writing. As it stands only Est as a heroine was even comparable to the prequel since doing so for other characters would be like comparing apples to bananas.

Lack of Quality in Subcharacters: One of Tsukiyori’s strengths was its very well designed subcharacters who play an important role in the story or at least provide some detailed humor, but this game literally did away with all of them. I mean it–all of them.

This is the biggest difference I saw originally and found it really unfortunate since  it gives characters like Yamabuki or Ion’s some form of “place” within this entire story and places value in the actions they take or the dialogue they say (whether that be for comedy or drama), and it makes their humorous running gag much more memorable such as how Ion is given additional traits like having an immense brother complex like Resona.

Subcharacters in Tsukiyori 2 is, to put it bluntly, disgusting. Starting from the younger sister who is more cringe than anything else, the classmate subcharacters are literally trashy bitches that annoyed the crap out of me and offered nothing to the overall scenario and contrasted by how even Dietilende or the grumpy store owner in the Otome Riron series plays a large part in the clothesmaking for the Yuusei/Resona siblings.

Like seriously; the subcharacters offer nothing and if at all they’re the supposed antagonists in the entire game (like Ion was for the original Tsukiyori)


Because of all of this, Tsukiyori 2 simply can’t be better than its original regardless of however well it’s written, and even while I thought the narrative and storytelling is good (along with the humor appropriate and memorable), the original design of most things in the sequel (whether that’s the protagonist’s mindset, the environment, or even how the sequel forcefully tries to copy the original) are less than ideal. It’s why I say the only good portions of this sequel is the append disc that adds in a super hilarious side story about Yuusei losing his memory (and apparently this is canon too), the other being Luna’s After After Story (again not a typo) which also explains the chronology into the sequel accounting for the events that happen in Otome Riron.

I personally really liked this “sibling rivalry”, since it involved some battle of wits to a certain extent

There’s one thing I really wanted to discuss about the Tsukiyori series, and it’s really what separates the opinions of people who thought it was a good game, versus those who didn’t. The primary (and probably most controversial) reason is that the game tackles the subjective nature of designing. As everyone knows, designing and clothesmaking in general is categorized into Fine Arts, which is a very touchy field since a good portion of the field doesn’t apply logic as math or sciences do; as such when characters talk about how good a design is, it’s all subjective and the game only has a few scenes where characters actually “show” their designs, which are more comparable to concept art instead.

I thought it was quite an interesting topic for Navel to pursue, and they did do it correctly; immediately placing people like Ion, Yamabuki, and Jean at the top of the authority to give some form of objective basis for character progress since readers won’t be able to see it otherwise. It’s just that there is a con for this as well–when it comes to drawing CGs for characters posing on the walkway, some of these “clothes and dresses” seem really cheap or simply unsophisticated–contrary to what the game suggests otherwise, which can be an area for critique.

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Like for example this dress that Luna wears basically wipes the field during the first year of Philia Christmas Collection, yet even just the lady in the background there has some tastes, and she might have bought that from a local department store

Part of the reason for the success for the Tsukiyori series and the “downfall” of the sequel is definitely the subcharacters, and the game’s extensive focus on them. Running gag for the most part adds a lot whether that be Yamabuki’s quote of “I’m still in my 20s!” or Ion’s obsession with Tonkatsu (which is actually another form of irony, since tonkatsu is generally considered food for the commoners). Each of these subcharacters participate in humor in some way or another while also playing a big role in some way or another. Suruga/Anthony act as antagonists and the latter as a support character, Ion as both an antagonist in the original title but an ally in the spinoff, Lilianne the hidden antagonist of the Otome Riron series yet the game gives sufficient reasoning/background for her madness and follows up with additional appearances from Kaka explaining a lot of subjective topics like how Resona was able to be superior to Lilianne’s in the parade… Good fucking stuff.

Also helps that there are heartwarming moments too

The family feud is also explained very well and the reader is able to acknowledge the “rules” of the Ookura family because it makes sense, adding additional immersion. While the “feud” can definitely seem a bit more superficial at times, the game does a good job trying to relate the character’s viewpoints to the readers and the dilemma they face

Nice family they have there to be honest

I generally have mixed opinions on the external parts of this series–having been a fan of Aoi Nishimata in my early weeaboo days, I can admit that her artwork definitely has room for improvement and this includes Suzuhira Hiro with the “same face syndrome”. Both artists tend to be less competent when drawing hands or various body proportions, to the point I kinda wish Navel would hire some new artists on pixiv or something who are actually really talented.

Music on the other hand is amazing, with various tracks along with Sonogo Shuuhen adding four amazing BGMs that I can’t find any complaints for, and even Tsukiyori 2’s soundtracks are very well made, varying in theme, and overall a great reason to go back to even if I’m not too fond of the story itself.

So in the end, I think my ratings for the entire series would be as follows:

  • Luna: 10/10
  • Ursule: 6/10
  • Minato/Mizuho: 1/10
  • Resona: 8/10
  • Meryl: 3/10
  • Bluette: 6/10
  • Tsukiyori 2: 4/10

Navel has made some okay titles so far, like Hatsune’s route of Kimimeza, though on the other hand their more recent works like Spiral and Shuffle Episode 2 have been very lackluster. Still, I can appreciate their attention to music, elaborate humor, and general proficiency in narrative, presentation, and storytelling (even if the design is bad) so I’ll be following them for a while.

 

Comments on: "Let’s Talk about Tsukiyori" (3)

  1. Trap games… I just don’t like the concept, I never have, but as one of the novels most widely recognized as the best in the genre I still did give Tsuki ni Yorisou Otome no Sahou a try (don’t think I’ve seen it shorthanded as Tsukiyori before). Also pushing me towards this game was Ui voicing the main heroine, I happen to like her particular voice and this seems to be one if not her biggest role. Unfortunately I didn’t go very far, for reasons I’ll expand on below.

    First off, the whole concept of trap games just doesn’t sit well with me. The way I see it, they fall into either one of two patterns : either the secret is revealed early, or the secret is kept for a majority of the game. I can somewhat tolerate the first one (see Achi Muite Koi) but as I don’t like cross-dressing themes in general these make for some cringe moments regardless. The second pattern is where things get bad, as the protagonist will spend more than half of the game lying and deceiving everyone around him. This, to me, is about as far remote from pure and innocent as you can possibly get, even if the protagonist feels bad about it. Adding to that, it creates a ticking time-bomb that only grows stronger the longer the secret is kept, threatening some huge drama explosion when the reveal does happen. Sometimes the bomb is a dud, but there’s no way to know, and I heavily dislike having this constant pressure, making me completely unable to enjoy slide-of-life comedy scenes and even normal bonding as they only add further fuel to the eventual fire.

    The reason behind it all makes it all the worst : in this game, it’s to attend a class from his savior/idol. Talk about selfish. I could maybe have gone along if he was doing it to help someone in need, or if it was a life threatening situation, but there nothing like that. He just cross-dresses because he wants something and can’t bother going through the right channels. How about working hard to get recognized by his savior? Or even try to contact him? Nope, he just hops and chooses the earliest, easiest opportunity. I don’t remember how pushed he is into this by his surroundings, but the very fact that he agrees to it made him earn a ton of negative points in my book.

    The contrast between the rather heavy prologue and the subsequent beginning of the common route is also something that quickly made the game lose its grip on my interest. It’s like a reverse of the standard nakige formulae : first show us how miserable the protagonist was, make us pity him, and then hope we wish for him to be happy. While the standard nakige formulae does work with me (start light, then lay down the hammer), this one doesn’t. I really didn’t feel any particular sympathy for the protagonist after the prologue, if anything this blatant attempt at emotional manipulation made me more suspect than I would have been otherwise.

    So after the first few events with Luna I quit the game because it just felt bad deceiving the girls and especially Luna and it looked like the secret was going to be kept for a long time. I really didn’t want to spend a ton of time developing relationship, just to read the outcome of the inevitable reveal : see relationships shattered, watch heroines hurt when they find out someone who they considered their treasured friend has been lying constantly to them, from the get-go, on a very fundamental level. Even if they eventually (slowly or quickly, doesn’t matter) make up and end up happy together, I just don’t find it worth going through the emotional roller-coaster.

    Anyway, at least the few hours I spent with the game made me confirm that I really can’t genuinely enjoy trap games, and serves as a good reminder whenever I see one floating around piquing my interest that if even the best couldn’t swing me, it’s not even worth the try. I can’t say fashion is something that particularly interests me, and you say the romance isn’t spectacular either, so I don’t regret my decision.

    • It’s completely understandable to have a distaste for trap protagonists; heck I have one because of ensemble myself.

      I do, however, need to call you out on something; just because it’s a trap protagonist doesn’t necessarily force a specific scenario regarding that protagonist. Even if the ultimate result of trap protagonists is that gender reveal in the end there’s basically limitless possibilities the writers can go about doing that and that’s where I think Tsukiyori separates from the shitty ensemble games that made me take literally every “trap protagonist” games with a grain of salt.

      You absolutely have a point that his decision to crossdress and lie is more selfish, but the game “challenges” this analysis by explicitly saying that the protagonist puts in the effort in many ways as a maid and as a student in the academy, sacrificing sleep until the point of exhaustion. It’s one thing to lie and be content with the current situation, but another for the protagonist to push himself to really make the most out of his situation because of his own desires–I can at least give credit where it’s due for the writers as they proficiently displayed this to the readers.

      The problem with the quick conclusion that “lying + crossdressing = selfish protagonist” is because there are plenty of situations where the context is really important. Someone committing a crime? It’s easy to assume they’re just a bad person but there are some accidental manslaughter during self-defense or in retaliation for another crime. Not trying to justify criminal activity, but I’m trying to say it’s necessary to see the motives and aftermaths in all characters which is what I analyze as that “difference” Tsukiyori went differently with its trap protagonist aspect.

      The gender reveal is actually not that dramatic as you imagine, considering the entire Luna’s route Yuusei hides his gender and the two even have a physical contact, she still addresses the protagonist as the fake name afterwards and even just the fact that there’s an “after after story” which deals with this crossdressing aspect squeezed into the append disc of the sequel suggests people really liked the character + her interaction with the protagonist.

      Your reply does make me more curious to what you thought of Otome Domain if you’ve played it. It features another trap protagonist and is the only other title with it that I’ve enjoyed, and the gender reveal factor is made to be a bit more comical instead.

    • I had typed one long reply but it seems it got eaten by the spam filter or moderation or whatever. I’m going to try and repost it after this but the TLDR is:

      -Trap games implies reveal and until it happens I can’t enjoy the other stuff
      -You can be selfish and still work hard, depends on why you do it.
      -Having secrets don’t automatically equal selfish, but can depending on why you lie
      -I haven’t played Otome Domain

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