In comedies, you’re almost guaranteed that any weird girls who show up will be of a particular type — quirky and strange, sure, but also bright and bubbly, outgoing, and perpetually smiling.
Or occasionally, just for variation, you might get a deadpan sarcastic girl who revels in being an outsider, or gothy one with an air of tragic romance around her. Even if these version aren’t quite as frothy and fun as the first version I mentioned, her weirdness is still alluring, a positive character trait.
The protagonist of Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, Ema Tachibana (or whatever you’d like her to be called), isn’t like any of those. She’s exhausted when she gets to class in the morning, sure, but it’s not because she was up late gluing glow-in-the-dark stars to her ceiling or writing forlorn poetry in a velvet notebook… it’s because she got caught up reading an endless chain of random wikipedia articles all night.
Her ‘Lonesome’-ness is about half on purpose, and half because she doesn’t know how to live any other way. Her parents give her all the money she could need for living expenses, but haven’t played a big enough emotional role in her life for Ema to really know how to relate to… well, anyone. Her one pleasure in her day is eating a junk-food lunch alone between classes. Throughout the game, depending on your choices, she assumes the worst of everyone but gets suckered in by all kinds of bad influences anyway.
She’s dark-haired, beautiful, sad, and looks great in fishnet… but she’s gloomy, grumpy, self-conscious, hates her face, and doesn’t know the first thing about presenting herself. In other words, she’s instantly endearing in a way that feels much more sincere than the affection a player might feel for a more traditionally likeable character.
And then there are the boys, Miki Hiraizumi and Saito Shinjou.
If you’re already familiar with Japanese romance games or slice-of-life comedy, you can probably already tell from Miki’s colouring that he’s the ‘quirky foreigner’, but from what I’ve already said about Ema you can probably also already guess that he’s not quite a typical example.
He’s not strange because of adorable misunderstandings about Japanese culture, but rather because… well, because he’s an eccentric guy, to put it kindly. When he and Ema attempt to navigate ordinary society with only each other for backup, they quickly make Gomez and Morticia Addams look like the most ordinary suburban couple in history.
Lucky for them (and for the emotional wellbeing of everyone they cross paths with) they have the most seemingly-normal member of the trio to keep them in check, Saito. He at least knows how to cook, hold down a job, and attract the appreciative gaze of the bitchy campus queen Sumire.
Just like the other two, though, Saito isn’t really what he seems. It’s not difficult to come across as ‘the normal one’ when your two closest friends are the biggest space cadets on earth. Being a bit of a sadist is one thing, but designing a life for yourself where you’re managing everything from your household’s meals to your job’s employees to every aspect of your new side hustle shows suggests that maybe your need to be the one in control goes a little deeper than just being your kink.
These are the three stars of a cast that’s just as unexpected and offbeat as they are, and the completely ridiculous situations they manage to get themselves into through the power of their own absurdity makes for a pretty spectacular gaming experience. Can they find love? Will their ambitions succeed? Can they manage to do a photoshoot in the woods without eating the suspect mushrooms growing there? Only one way to find out!
Pre-order Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome and save 20%! You can also pick it up on Steam when it releases on September 8th!