For Pete’s sake! There’s already a new GLace title? Even though it has been just a few months since their last game? Truth be told, this is not by the same team, so it was probably in development at the same time as Timepiece Ensemble, which means I can expect this new one to be much better, right? Wait! I already did an opening like that before, so it’s already obvious…In that case: No! It’s not better!
There is this school named Ichinose Academy, because it’s principal is called Ichinose…So, the plot has already something stupid from the get go. By that logic, if it was called Garcia Gakuen, the director would be Robert Garcia…This started to sound awesome all of a sudden! Huunm, do this mean the founder of the school in Akabanzu is someone named “Frontier”?Anyway! The school has now a new criteria to valuate it’s students: Romantic capabilities! And this is serious business! Every student was made to take a test, and those who fail will be sent to a special class to learn about love. But, what is the reason for this sudden turn of events? Apparently, the reason lies with a recent gossip about the students graduated in their school having great professional capabilities, but being terrible lovers. This was enough to make the principal go against all educational system and even threat to not let the student graduate because of some random BS!
So, right in the center of this class with those who failed the test is Aoyama Hiroki, and guess what? He is a very normal student…I am tired to describe those boring protagonists, so I will have Asian Kung-Fu Generation do it for me instead:
“Even with no special talents whatsoever, he will still be able to pierce through the darkness (within the heroines)” (Shindo Kaku)
As her name may suggest, Ichinose Himeno is the principal’s daughter. She is extremely self-centered and materialist. Since she thinks it’s only natural for her to be always on top of everything, she could not accept the idea of her getting 0 points in the test, specially being about love, because she believes anyone would happily give their souls to have a relationship with her. Also, since she is so “fantastic”, her future boyfriend would have to treat her like a goddess…OK! I know that the center heroine should represent the main theme of a Galge more than any other character, and Himeno certainly accomplishes that! There is no one more unlikely to have a good romantic life in this story than her. However, I think the writers were too focused on that and forgot to make her likeble!
Hikage Honoka is a very shy girl who usually goes unnoticed wherever she goes. Even so, she became president of the student council…somehow. She has a secret affection (actually, is pretty obvious) for Hiroki, but she has no courage to confess her feelings. She sees the special class as an opportunity to change herself, so she could be more popular.
Suzuka Aki is the obligatory energetic girl with endorphins in the place of a brain. In other words: She is dumb! She failed in the test because everything is a sportive challenge for her
Haneshiro Amane is a Saxophone player participating in the school’s music club. She is not very good but still popular among her juniors. She always has headphones on because of her hyper-sensible hearing. She fell in love for Hiroki because of his voice. It was “love at first hearing”…I will not apologize for this lame pun, because Amane herself does this very same joke!
Shinomiya Shinobu is a reverse-trap and (self-proclaimed) Hiroki’s best “male” friend. Her true gender is a secret to no one, but she is still the most popular with the girls on the whole school. She failed because she did the male version of the test, and it’s wrong to be gay! …And because, somehow, this test can read into her soul to find out she is not actually interested in girls, even though she scored full marks…
Routes & Themes
This game was one of the most awkward experiences I ever had playing Galges. This happened because one of its themes is “to change”, which means that the girls must adjust their ways to live a more fulfilling life. The problem is that this means much more than a cosmetic change…This is completely justified in Himeno’s case because she is a horrible human being, but I don’t think the other heroines needed to change that much, specially considering those changes are done during their routes, so the whole route feels like a “fake propaganda”.Honoka’s route is the most frustrating case, since her events turn out to be GLace’s take on “She Is All That”, as Honoka changes her appearance and way of speaking so she could look more like the perfect “seitokaichou” stereotype. To be honest, she didn’t get uglier or anything, she just became…normal! Generically normal…For me, she lost her charm, which was what made me interested in her to begin with. But, am I so superficial of a person to care so much about this? Yes, I am! Tch! Tch! Tch!But, leaving that aside, what really bothered me was how every character reacted to this, as they didn’t just get impressed and attracted to her, they started to get sick from overexcitement! The protagonist even starts to feel dizzy and gets a nosebleed just from talking with her! I am not even kidding! Do this mean that her outlook matters THAT MUCH? “Wait! I am sure there is a lesson to be learned here, then, she will go back to her old style!” This was what kept me going while I played hastily through her route, wishing there was some way to make my facial expression of disgust and boredom to reach the other side of the screen. However, I was wrong! Her whole life-style really changed for the better overnight, as everyone started to respect and trust her more while lustfully chasing after her, and she finally gets the courage to confess to Hiroki. All thanks to a superficial change! GREAT!It’s very risky to make this kind of change in a Chara-ge, since the characters are everything, and if they don’t please the player, it’s over! So, it would be wise not to change them halfway through, because it could change too much of their initial appeal, making the player ask: “Where did that heroine go?” or “Was I wrong for being interested in the way she was before?”. That’s why most of SMEE games actually let you choose what the protagonist thinks about the heroines’ new looks. After all, if the main character is your avatar, it’s important that he got the same opinion as you, at least at this kind of game…There is something else that made me feel very uncomfortable during my playthrough, and that was Shinobu and the “okama” teacher Ten-ouzu Elena. Not exactly the characters themselves, but the way they are treated. Every time Shinobu tries to hit one of the girls or even mentions something about dating a female in the past, everyone gets an unpleasant expression on their faces as they try to change the subject as fast as possible. This is even worst in Elena’s case. His whole existence is made as a recurring joke on how disgusting gay people could be. Therefore, his character design portraits one of the most stereotypical homosexual I’ve seen, and his voice actor doesn’t help much either!
A nice idea that was wasted here is that, other than the expected Harem route, there’s also two “threesome routes”. Like the name implies, this consist of an alternative route with Hiroki creating a special relationship with two of the heroines at the same time. Unfortunately, nearly every events of those routes are recycled from its heroines individual routes, just being played at a different time or with a different perspective. The recycled events also lose their CG, losing a lot of impact. There are some new events with both girls going “icha-icha with the protagonist, but since those routes are very short, there’s almost no new material.
The art is done by Saeki Nao and it’s not half-bad, but since his style is very simple and similar to many other Galge artists, it makes the already uncreative character design look even less original. This affects the visual so much, that there are some characters who are completely unrelated, but end up looking too much similar to each other.Something that also contributes to this is that the heroines have nearly the same body figure, meaning they got big-boobs! Just like with “12 no Tsuki no Eve” case, you can hardly notice any difference between their breast sizes. The school-uniforms have good designs, I specially like their color, but those clown-like giant bow ties really bother me!
The composers from Angel Note who worked in this game have much in common with the protagonist: Both are ordinary people with no special talents. The only difference is that neither Kamishiro Ami nor Inohara Satoru have a Harem full of cute high-school girls. At the very least, there’s nothing in the soundtrack that really hurt my ears.Ironically, the abruptly change in the characters personality makes you notice how skilled the voice actress are, since they need to practically play a completely different character out of nowhere.