Today on the blog, we have an editor’s corner from Gare!
Hi there, I’m Gare, the editor for The Most Forbidden Love in the World. If you don’t mind, I’ll continue referring to the game using its Japanese nickname – Damekoi – because frankly, that’s way less of a mouthful, and the nigh-impossible to pronounce English abbreviation, “TMFLitW,” looks more like an elaborate declaration of war against the human tongue than a proper sequence of letters. So yeah. Let’s stick to Damekoi.
Anyway. At first, I felt a little out of my element working on this title, because romantic comedies aren’t exactly my cup of tea most of the time. Of course, I can very much enjoy a VN if the whole romance aspect is backed by interesting twists and turns, as well as thought-provoking themes (see: Himawari – The Sunflower, another title I worked on for MangaGamer), but generally speaking, the genre isn’t my first choice when it comes to picking out what to read.
While I still can’t say I’ve been fully converted, Damekoi was nonetheless a pleasant surprise. You may be wondering why that is, and the answer is actually really simple: I just found the characters to be really fun and interesting.
Let’s start with Osamu, the protagonist of Damekoi, who’s actually close to hitting 30 at the start of the visual novel – something that’s almost a bit of a trauma for the poor guy, as he keeps insisting that he’s still in his 20s. Which is technically true, but… you know. Acceptance is always the first step, as they say. In any case, it was refreshing to see a visual novel come forward with a main character like Osamu – breaking with “eroge tradition,” so to speak, he’s not a spunky teenager experiencing the springtime of his life, but a 28-year-old guy with a number of adult problems to deal with both in his personal and professional life.
The first of these problems is the fact that he just got fired from his job; the other characters, starting with the main heroine, Mitoko, soon begin referring to him as Mr. Laid-off, a nickname that ends up sticking to him for the remainder of the storyline. In the original Japanese, Osamu’s nickname is Risutora-san (リストラ/risutora being the word for corporate downsizing), and if I remember correctly, we spent a bit of time thinking about how to translate this. But then we came upon a particular line in the VN where Mitoko is surprised by Osamu’s unemployment, and exclaims “Mr. Laid-off got laid off?!” and that’s when we knew the nickname “Mr. Laid-off” would be perfect.
But since this is a visual novel, we must also talk about What’s Really Important™.
That’s right. The girls.
So, I have a feeling everyone will find their favorites in the game and indeed, all of the four main heroines have a certain charm to them in their own way, but for me personally, the two standout characters were Kaya and Himeo.
The latter will probably come as no surprise, at least to those familiar with her route. Initially, Himeo might come off as the haughty ojou-sama character who’s actually introduced as a bit of a villainess. However – once again, to probably no one’s surprise – she ultimately turns out to be a really cute and caring girl whose route I probably even prefer to the true ending, mostly because I just think she makes a really good couple with Osamu. As for my other pick… well, that might necessitate a bit of an explanation. Or I dunno. In terms of the overall plot, Kaya is probably the least important of the bunch, but that didn’t stop me from being completely fascinated by Damekoi’s portrayal of her character. She’s the most open about her feelings for Osamu, and while some may find her too pushy for comfort, I thought her attempts at seduction were sort of endearing in their own way. I, uh, also have a thing for assertive oneesans, so there’s that, too… Anyway, the bottom line is that Kaya is underappreciated and Cute with a capital C and this is the hill I will die on.
Some of the trickier localization head-scratchers can also be attributed to her, by the way. For example, there’s a scene where she tells Osamu how, when she was younger, she used to be bullied by the other kids who’d chant the phrase “kaya no soto” (蚊帳の外), which literally means “outside the mosquito net” but refers to a person being treated as an outcast of sorts – someone who’s left out of a certain activity.
The pun here is the parallel between the word kaya and Kaya’s own name, and how the two sound the same. Obviously, doing a “Translator’s note: keikaku means plan” type of thing would’ve been both ridiculous and highly unprofessional, so we instead tried to go for a completely liberal take to somehow bring this pun to life in English. And, uh… read the VN to find out what we did! C’mon, don’t look at me like that. I don’t wanna spoil everything.
Anyway, that’s just a tiny little taste of what you can expect from the VN – there are plenty of quirky characters and situations to like, alongside a generous helping of both comedy and drama, so I’m sure everyone will find their own favorite bits. And on that note, I hope you have fun with Damekoi!