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Academic Stars! Review of [120127]Gaku☆Ou

Foreword: Before I get into the review, let me first apologize for being late with the review. I’ve been playing MMOs and nukige a bit more recently, and summer classes are being really hindering as well.

It also really doesn’t help that NINE (9) new games were selected TODAY to be of a worthwhile series, so I can’t see myself getting into the older games for a while… (Oh my gosh, how I wish for more time)

Anyway… Gaku Ou, which I chose over all the other Lump of Sugar games because of its “relations” to Magical Charming, was also a very disappointing title. I’m guessing that Lump of Sugar’s Tayutama series was just THAT good, and being the first LoS game for me, that title essentially set the standards.

Title: 学☆王 -THE ROYAL SEVEN STARS- (Gaku☆Ou) [Translates into “School King”]
Producers: Lump of Sugar
Release Date: January 27, 2012
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v7772
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=718586
Game Type: School life romance Novel with slight elements of fantasy

Summary: Hiroto is a prince from Eleutheria, who came to Earth in order to learn more about this world. While technically being an alien, Hiroto looks and behaves like a normal human; except he may have knowledge missing that a normal person might have. His trip was a disaster as he arrived near the Earth’s surface, and he manages to abandon his ship just as it trailed across the sky like a shooting star.

Along with some trouble with Akari, who is a girl he will now live with, Hiroto soon finds out that the school he imagined isn’t what he thought to be; there are only seven students including himself, and the only teacher present is a freaky hologram.

The students are soon oppressed with “Master Exams” by Jyunesis that threaten their school. In order to protect their school and environment, the seven students form an allegiance called “Royal Seven Stars”!

Story Length: Slightly Short (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: There are very little choices to be made, and most of the interactions by the player involves the “spacebar” (or the enter key, because haters gonna hate) to choose continue the story or in the later portion of the story, choose between heroines. Make sure to choose Akari if your target heroine is not available, as the story will sidetrack into each respective heroine once you choose her. Since you can’t really “save” at the choice making portion of the game, I recommend saving at the part where Hiroto meets Shou at the yakisoba stand during the School Festival.

Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: Again another inferior game by Lump of Sugar. As always, character design is very nicely done, but the story is lacking in SOME department. Of course, I’ll try to explain this in detail further below. I really appreciate that the introduction of “side characters” like Shou or Ero-ken (LOL) add quality humor to the story; this caused character design to rise in points. However, each heroine’s “conflict” seemed unrelated and insignificant to the overall theme of the story, so the story rating went down.

Character Summary:

Right onto character summary, starting with Akari, who is arguably the main central heroine. Akari is your typical tsundere character, and even has an appropriate CV to perform that task for her. Akari’s first encounter with Hiroto wasn’t a really pleasant one; Hiroto was unconscious in the bathtub when Akari walks in naked, and Hiroto accidentally pushes her down and lands on top of her. This first impression made Akari act a bit cold towards Hiroto.

Akari is very intelligent. She has been eyed by Jyunesis for a long time because Jyunesis wants her on their side. It is originally Akari’s existence that causes the Master Exams in the first place, and Akari feels great responsibility for this.

Akari, despite being extremely talented, is very indecisive. Unable to make proper decisions even when she is most involved, much of the beginning scenes involve Hiroto making bold suggestions in lieu of her. This decisiveness, along with Hiroto’s cheerful personality captures the heart of this girl, who soon fall head-over-heels in love with the prince after his determined promise to “protect her”. After that, Akari realizes how much of an impact Hiroto had on everyone, and realize that she wants to become like him.

From a long time ago, Akari’s motivation was Suruga-sensei, whose existence is currently unknown. However, Akari explains that he was a great teacher who was extremely intelligent and was great at teaching. Suruga-sensei’s actual identity is Mr. King himself, and it is implied within Akari’s route. In addition, it also seems that Mr. King is the biological father of Hiroto, which seems to answer why Akari felt that the two were so similar.

Akari’s route presents a conflict, where a particular individual named Saya comes to challenge her to a mock GAT  (Generalist Aptitude Test), which is similar to the real world’s SAT (Generalist is a title given to a particular individual who masters all the topics of academy that Jyunesis has to offer). Akari falls short at 97 points, while Saya gets a perfect score. What’s horrifying is that Saya is actually “Master One”, and if this was a master exam, he would be able to do anything he wanted with these students. Saya leaves, mocking the crew, and even while destroyed, Akari sees that Hiroto, despite the large difference in ability, works hard himself to fight Master One in this GAT exam, and gains confidence as well. The route ends with Akari confessing to Hiroto that her “role model” has switched from Suruga-sensei to Hiroto.

Akari refuses to become a Generalist, and instead works at a daycare center, and receive support from Hiroto, who is now a Generalist-candidate at the same school he studied in, few years ago.

Uzuki is next. Excelling in athletic abilities, it is rather unfortunate that this beautiful girl is quite lacking in the academic fields. However, she takes pride in her abilities to move her body swiftly, and is arguably greater than Akari in this aspect.

The irony of Uzuki is that she is actually the daughter of a very wealthy and influential group, the Tenguji Corporation. With buildings over 60 stories high, it is arguable to describe this tomboy as an “ojousama”. Uzuki doesn’t like such a title, however, and prefer to keep her personal stories private.

Uzuki’s story involve her being hesitant about accepting Hiroto’s feelings when he confesses to her. This is because she seems to be afraid of restricting Hiroto from doing what he wants to do, and along with the sudden announcement of arranged marriage, Uzuki becomes very frightened and uncertain.

However, Hiroto refuses to give up, and continuously pursues Uzuki, by training himself physically, as an effort to make Uzuki look at him more. Of course, readers will realize that there’s really no need to do this (because Uzuki is already in love with him), but such actions soon convince Uzuki that Hiroto is someone “who will make things work out somehow”, according to Akari.

After Hiroto’s announcement of engagement to Uzuki in front of the marriage party, Jyunesis kidnaps Uzuki and confines her in a room. To save her, Hiroto must play a game with an unknown opponent and win; just like how he did with the Master Exams.

However, as Fate would have it, his opponent is none other than Uzuki herself, who is also promised freedom if she wins against an unknown opponent of her own. Soon realizing that the tactics her opponent displayed was similar to Hiroto’s actions during the Master Exams, Uzuki continuously send signs to him, using numbers 2, 1, 7 (February 17 is Uzuki’s birthday) and the number 7 (for Seven Royal Stars).

Hiroto immediately notices these signs, and realizes that his opponent is Uzuki. Analyzing the situation carefully, he and Uzuki finally achieve a draw, where Mr. King admits defeat from the fact that the two were able to beat him at his own game.

Uzuki’s route ends with the couple becoming even more closer than ever, and Hiroto soon being dragged away to training, to become Uzuki’s husband and the successor to the Tenguji corporation.

The youngest of the seven students and a native-Swiss student, Annamarie (often affectionately shortened to Maruru), is a cheerful girl who loves culinary arts. Like Uzuki, she is slightly lacking in the academic department, but her innocence and desire to be of assistance to all the other members (as well as her huge bust size) is enough to compensate for her flaws.

Maruru’s story begins with the sickness of Hiroto, where Maruru and Akari nurse him back to health. However, when Akari leaves the room to make something for Hiroto to eat, Maruru gives Hiroto a paizuri (emulation of sexual intercourse with the female breasts), thinking it was necessary to help Hiroto become healthy again. Hiroto, despite enjoying this act, soon finds out that it was Maruru’s misunderstanding of Hinayu’s instructions, also realize his own feelings that he admired this young girl who always tried to be of assistance to people around her.

Maruru, on the other hand, become so embarrassed about what she did, and continuously avoids Hiroto. However, with the help of his friends, Hiroto soon gets a chance to talk with Maruru, and solve any misunderstandings. At this point, Maruru requests Hiroto to teach her about various topics that she doesn’t understand in class, but it can be implied that Maruru simply wanted to spend more time with Hiroto.

Hiroto readily agrees, and while he struggles with how to confess his love to Maruru, time passes by. Just as it seems as if his confession would work out, Hiroto accidentally confesses to the wrong girl. This girl, whose name is “Erika” is a new “Master” and has a huge crush on Hiroto. She first takes out Maruru using dirty tactics, then challenges the rest of the group to an online game battle. The students each practice, and again, it is Hiroto that takes out Erika and passes the exam. It is after this that Maruru and Hiroto become lovers.

Maruru’s story involves an ultimate test, where Shinobu (the manager at Curio) assigns a Master Exam for the group, to have a representative to create food for the six “Masters”, who would then need to give their approval to pass. Naturally, Maruru is selected for the representative, and each member come up with their own plans on how to tackle this problem. Soon, they decide that it is most effective to create various kinds of dishes, than creating just one.

The exam is a success, and Maruru gets a chance to ask Shinobu for essentially anything. However, even as she is offered culinary education in France, Maruru refuses and instead requests personal tutoring of culinary arts from Shinobu herself, because Maruru remembers that Shinobu could create Eleutheria food. Her desire, as revealed at the end of her story, is to go to Hiroto’s home country and become a chef there.

The route ends with the two making final preparations for this long trip.

Hinayu, who is the loli character of this game, is ironically also the most intelligent in the entire crew. While being on par of knowledge as Akari herself, Hinayu is very weak in other fields, including athletics (which she’s the weakest out of the seven students). Despite this weakness in physical attributes, Hinayu always carries around a scalpel, which she uses without hesitation to attack Ero-ken when he makes a perverted comment.

Despite all her features, Hinayu is actually certified as a doctor, and work in the hospital of Geo-Universe (the underground). Hinayu is intelligent enough to become the students’ teacher for various topics such as chemistry and math, and unknowing to everyone except herself; Hinayu is also Master Seven. It is her master exam that the students come in contact with first, which sets the background for other “Masters” to challenge these students.

Hinayu’s story mostly revolves around a background history, where a medical accident caused her mother to fall in a coma. This event took place in the hospital she worked in, and to this very day, Hinayu blames Jyunesis for this accident.

However, it is revealed in her route that the accident was actually caused by herself, and her desire to gain revenge only stems from her uncertainty to do what’s right–simply put, Hinayu is confused about what to do, now that her mother is in a state of critical condition. It is also revealed that Hinayu joined the ranks of the Eleven Masters because of her desire to take revenge.

The majority of Hinayu’s conflict is resolved during one of the times when Hinayu and Hiroto are returning from school, where Hiroto immediately jumps into the river, after a child who fell into it. While Hiroto saves the child, he barely makes it alive himself, and is ultimately rescued by Hinayu, who nurses him afterwards. This event is very significant, because in this event, Hinayu acts similarly to the time when her mother was in a critical condition; panicking, unsure, and afraid. Hiroto soon confesses to Hinayu, and skipping a bit of conflict in between events, the two finally become lovers.

Hinayu’s growth is tested when the couple as well as a pregnant patient is trapped in the elevator. Hinayu panics as always, but with Hiroto calming her (and also bringing her the tools she needs), Hinayu successfully helps the mother deliver her baby in the trapped elevator.

The alpaca also makes an appearance in Magical Charming.

Sexual Content: High

Comments: Most of Lump of Sugar’s games receive a low score solely because of one reason; unexplained factors. Presented above is essentially the entirety of the game, and there is very little interaction between many of the subcharacters, including Ero-ken, Shou, Ms. Butterfly/Mr. King, and many more. It is also shown that despite being called “Eleven Masters”, there are only 8 or 9 that ultimately make an appearance.

This doesn’t include the fact that there is no explanation about Sorano (Hiroto’s younger sister, and the direct heir to the throne), or Geo-Universe, which is the underground research facilities. Because of many of these “factors”, I expected a true route, but not only did the game not have one, its fandisk wasn’t too great either.

Affection for the Characters: Low

Hard to believe this girl is a tomboy… O_O;

CG Quality: Moderate
Music Quality: Moderate

Addictiveness: Low

Conclusion: A highly inferior Lump of Sugar game, that has many unexplained elements. However, its character design is on the more superior side, so for a Lump of Sugar fanatic, this game should be on their list to play.