Hello everyone, StromIV here to bring you a Tester’s Corner for Harukoi Otome.
This is my first time testing for MangaGamer, and it has been one hell of a ride. There is nothing quite like jumping into testing a VN (visual novel) of this length for the first time. I am glad for the experience, but I just hope some people don’t kill me for asking too many questions during my testing phase…
Anyways, this title is by BaseSon, who also did the title Koihime Musou. You will notice similar art styles between the different titles while you play, just please watch out for that nose.
Now, I am not a big fan of school themed titles, but this one drew me in with the fun and excitable characters you run into. I will get more into those later on. I liked this title for its ability to play on many emotions over the course of its completion. From sadness, to anger, to annoyance, to happiness… Expect to feel those all in the same route, or spread out in a manner that leaves you wanting to find out just what is coming next.
Now, you start off the VN with the Prologue, which is basically just a big introduction for you, the different heroines there are routes for, the school background, and of course, the place you will be living for the next few years.
I enjoyed the Prologue, as it gave me a small, but significant, insight into the pretty much all (but still missing some) of the characters that will have a role in the later heroine’s routes. Don’t expect anything significant to happen, just enjoy the humor that occurs.
To start off with, your name is Hayasaka Akihito. You are now a student of the previously all-girls school, St. Francesca. You get to enjoy all the wonders of peepi… I mean studying with a bunch of females (side-kick male included). What isn’t there to enjoy about such a situation? I don’t know about you, but I would be happy in that situation. St. Francesca is a rather large school (this will be mentioned multiple times) that seems to have it all. They have a church, a park, a kendo hall, an indoor swimming pool. They even have their own cafe, also known as the Daybreak Cafe. Everyone loves to visit the cafe, for the ‘good food, deserts, and drinks’ they say. But, I think they might be there for something else entirely…
Now, with all the excitement that comes with joining a previously all-girls school, there also comes the point in a man (or woman’s) life where they want that little extra. Mainly, they want someone to love. So here we get to the introduction of the females that you have a chance to woe with your general thick-headedness. Hey, a smart character would pick up a girlfriend too fast, we can’t have that now. So, I’m gonna do a quick run-through of the females you will encounter that you can romance. They are all interesting, and each has hidden secrets waiting for you to uncover. I won’t be giving away any of those though. Have to leave that up to you.
First we will start with Umi, the sister of the protag. She is a fun-loving and excitable character. She also hates when her ‘big-brother’ actually acts like a brother. She gets embarrassed easily, and then things turn violent. So except to get punched… a lot. I will say that her route drew me in the most over the course of play. So many things happen, and while some might be predictable, some things you will learn about the background surrounding her will leave you wanting to keep going. It is a very touching story that unfolds, and I am actually glad this is the first route I tested.
Next we move onto Riru. She is… interesting to say the least. She is a lesbian, but for how long… that is up to you. You and she have very interesting interactions together (even if you aren’t playing her route, and no it isn’t naughty). Her routes has its ups and its downs. Remember those emotions that I talked about at the beginning? Expect them to come into play on this route. While I enjoyed the story surrounding Umi, I enjoyed the Riru’s character the most. She has slightly less compelling story, but when you really start to get into the meat of her story it is her character that will keep you reading.
Next we have the cute and adorable Sonya. She is the nun-in-training for the school. She is also a classmate of Umi’s, which is how you get introduced to her. She is soft spoken, and I find that she also comes off as the ‘shy-quiet’ type. Sonya’s route was so enjoyable just because of her innocence. She is also so cute that I didn’t want to let her go. I was glad to find out more about her because you really don’t learn a lot about her by playing the other routes. It is sort of like leaving you in suspense on what exactly is going to happen next. That and the nun outfit…
Then we have a girl who you find out doesn’t live in the girls dorm like everyone else, Ayaka. I found that she was actually a hard character to pin down, and she also has a rather sad background. She seems cheery, but what lurks underneath is a different matter. It was sad to learn about her past, but the conclusion to the matter had me happy. I can’t really go into further details about her without spoiling her route, but she is a rather enjoyable character to learn about.
Then we have your childhood friend, Yuika. She is the typical airhead (or is she?) that takes no real notice of the conversation around, or involving, her. She is a hard character to pin down at first. You learn a little more about her background when playing Umi’s route (which is required to complete to play Yuika’s route), but I uncovered just why it is she acts the way she does. It is not for the reasons you might think, but it was suspenseful in finding out. I will say that her actions throughout the route left me rather annoyed at her, but as always, there is a reason for the way she acts (even if I can’t readily agree with them). At the end, it really only left me confused as to what I should feel about her, but I will leave the final judgment up to you capable people.
Lastly, we have the Ojou-sama of the school, Kisaya. She is the leader of the kendo club, rich, and she speaks in an older fashion of English. So, when you see thee’s and thou’s flying, you know you are on the right track. Kisaya is the female that everyone looks up to in the school, and she is mainly called ‘Onee-sama’. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed how her route played out, but a few parts of it did surprise me. I believe it was just her actions and character in specific, but don’t hold my word as a negative. She might not have been that enjoyable to play, but it did give me a further insight into the male protag’s past. And as it progressed, I came to understand just why she acts the way she does. Give her a chance and you will uncover just why it is she acts the way she does (and be ready for a surprise or 2 at the end of it all).
Now that the heroines are done, let us do a short introduction for a few side-characters that pop up (the ones I enjoy the most). You run into 3 characters that you interact with the most. Oikawa, Natsuko, and Fuyuko. Some very interesting things occur whenever they appear, so look forward to seeing them.
Oikawa is the one you will see the most, since he lives right next to you. Surprisingly I found that Oikawa actually plays a role unlike the general comedy filler. While comedy is the role he fills the most, I find that the significant role he plays in one of the routes as one of the most enlightening sneak-peeks behind his character. Expect to be surprised when you learn the real depth to his character. On to another subject about Oikawa, how many of you remember where Oikawa is from? And also, can you spot which Oikawa is from which VN?
Then you have the Natsufuyu duo (so sad they weren’t in a route). These 2 girls appear at what seems random, but I liked the comedy they brought to the table. Out of all the side characters, the interactions and comedy these 2 brought to the table was the most enjoyable. I started to anticipate seeing them pop up just for it. Also, cute girls beware, your chastity is at risk being near them. For those you have seen, or read, Maria-sama ga Miteru, I am sure these lovely ladies would jump at the chance of being a grande s?ur to all the cute girls. Don’t believe me?
Overall, I did enjoy this title. Though there were many hardships faced, this title is a good one to pick up if you like a school setting romance VN.
After the completion of all the routes you will see a very nice ‘ALL CLEAR’ back ground image, as well as the title screen image changing. I think clearing the VN and seeing those screens was the best thing to ever happen to me. I might just be a little biased because of what females they show, but that’s just me.
Well, I think I have rambled on enough. I hope everyone can enjoy this VN when it is released. I will continue to do my best as a beta-tester along with all of the other beta-testers.
And for those who want to know, the order I listed the heroines in is the order I liked them the most.
(No bear from me, Nurio claimed it already.)