Hello, this is Xarrias, and this is my fifth Tester’s Corner for MangaGamer. Tokyo Babel is our first release from Propeller, and I could tell right off the bat that this was going to be interesting. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Japanese takes on Christian mythology, from Evangelion to Shin Megami Tensei. Notably, this visual novel is written by Higashide Yuuichirou. Why is this name important? Well, after finishing this, he ended up collaborating with TYPE-MOON, writing such works as Fate/Apocrypha and collaborating on Fate/Grand Order. Fate/Stay Night is what got me into visual novels in the first place, so that just made me doubly excited for what lay ahead.
To make a long story short, the world is dying, and might as well be already dead. Heaven’s gates are locked, Hell’s been flooded, and the multiverse is tearing itself to pieces. The only ray of hope left is for the survivors of humanity to make a pilgrimage from Pandora, the last remaining bastion of safety. This involves travelling up the seven strata of Tokyo Babel, a tower where the inhabitants are ready to kill you, and if they don’t succeed, you’ll probably go mad and join them in their insanity. Higashide certainly paints a bleak picture for the audience, but it’s not just horror and action… in fact, some parts, especially in the first half, are quite funny.
It was hard to choose a screenshot here, simply because there were quite a few humourous scenes to pick from. The main heroines – Raziel, Sorami, and Lilith – are often the main perpetrators. Sorami and Lilith in particular play well off each other, with Raziel and the protagonist, Setsuna, often serving as the straight men, but even they sometimes get involved in these shenanigans. I thought they were all quite well done, both for entertainment as well as shedding some light on what these characters are like. After all, it’s hard to get to know someone if all they’re doing is fighting. This downtime interspersed over the course of the first half is great for relieving some of the tension of the prologue and setting you up later to care about these individuals.
I’d be remisce if I didn’t mention some of the supporting cast as well. While I’ll avoid spoilers, some of the plots involving them were even more touching than any of the romantic related stuff with the heroines. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that the romance with the heroines was quite rushed and contrived, like you might see in a generic harem anime. It didn’t detract from the main plot, however, and the side plots were more than enough to start making my eyes water. Tales of tragic love between angels and demons, crises of identity, the philosophy behind the concept of the future, one’s reason for existence, this has all of that, all wrapped up with some well-written fight scenes that’ll have you on the edge of your seat. Even the act of writing a book can being either spectacular or heart-wrenching depending on how it is presented, and Tokyo Babel delivers in spades.
This was probably the hardest beta test I’ve ever done for MangaGamer, and part of that is definitely because I really wanted to do it justice. There aren’t enough VNs like this, especially in English. Too many play it safe by just going with a simple and cute romance story with possibly some sex for your pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something like that – I really enjoyed Kindred Spirits and Princess Evangile, too. But sometimes you want to go on an adventure of biblical proportions, meet some angels and kill them, while making Monty Python jokes and having deep discussions about the nature of man. All with the literal Apocalypse as a backdrop, of course. This is the MegaTen of visual novels, no doubt about it, and if you’re hesitant to dive in, give the demo a try. You’ll know straight away from that if this is your thing or not.