AFTER SCHOOL AFFAIRS | Season 1 ~ Kenzo Yasukawa Review

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BACKGROUND:  When the all-boys school that you work at merges with an all-girls school, you’re suddenly forced to work with four new, handsome teachers – Shinichi Kagari, Kiyonori Taishi, Rikiya Mononobe, and Hidetaka Sera. However both students and teachers are absolutely and completely forbidden to fall in love! It’s lucky that you have your friend Kenzo with you, who you were colleagues with already before the merger. Kind and always ready to lend an ear to anyone, this laidback school nurse’s personality and gentle demeanour make him comfortable and approachable when it comes to work. But what happens when you find out that Kenzo might be dating a student?

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TROPES: Coworkers, Cheating

RATING AND REVIEW:  ❤❤❤❤❤ [5/10]

Kenzo’s route is one that seems to divide those who choose to play his game, as I’ve seen a range of both positive reviews and frustrated rants that follow the conclusion of his story. I personally found myself of the latter because of many weaknesses in terms of writing – such as the MC’s own career development and personality being foregone for bad plot and issues with Yasukawa as a character. That being said, however, the one situation I didn’t have really an issue with was knowing beforehand that Yasukawa had a relationship with a student in the school, which is neither a spoiler or a secret as it is mentioned in his character description. I believed in Koichi Natsukawa from In Your Arms Tonight and absolutely loved him, and so I was completely disappointed to see a route that had so much potential be executed in such a weak manner.

Kenzo’s character is actually very interesting and colourful, and is surprisingly one I feel hasn’t exactly been explored by Voltage before. He’s a school nurse who is completely addicted to gaming and also is unable to take care of himself, but he’s also very humble and he’s always ready to listen to and quietly care for others. He’s very passive even though he seems like he’s capable of speaking up for himself (he’s literally a huge people pleaser) and rather than doing the thing that he wants the most he constantly holds back his own feelings for others. This is juxtaposed with his illustrative past – Kenzo may now be a nurse at the school that you work with, but as you learn more about his backstory and who he is, you realize just how much power and influence that he really has. In this way he is similar to Satsuki Kitaoji from Seduced in the Sleepless City – both are very kind and gentle characters from significantly powerful backgrounds. The fact that they both listen well and pay attention to their surroundings can make it very difficult to truly understand them. One of the things this story did well was illustrating how the MC sees this part of Kenzo and attempts to help him stop putting aside his own feelings in favour for the desires of others – she constantly affirms to him that she wants to know what he likes, what he wants, and what he’s thinking. And that in turn makes the way that Kenzo falls in love with the MC very believable and even understandable, since she’s one of the first people to sincerely want to get to know his own thoughts and feelings.

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PROS [+] Yasukawa’s chicken. Seriously. Our friendly school nurse owns a chicken and hides it under his desk in office because he really likes to eat eggs. Aside from probably breaking a million health rules in terms of medical practise, Yasukawa is actually a very intriguing character and he has so many aspects that give him so much potential. If you like characters who are a little childish in the sense that they can’t take of themselves, but are also very gentlemanly and kind towards not just their love interest but to everyone in general, then Yasukawa definitely falls along these lines.

Additionally, while some may be turned off by the idea of cheating, the way the MC treats Tomoko (the student that Yasukawa is dating) is extremely admirable. She focuses on what Tomoko is dealing with first and her student’s personal struggles and feelings before she considers what exactly is going on with Yasukawa, as well as her own feelings for him. There are no catty female wars going on and the only person who usually begins any confrontations is Tomoko herself, and the MC’s understanding towards this situation genuinely displays how much tolerance and empathy that she truly has.

CONS [-]  This route does involve certain physical situations, such as when the MC and Yasukawa do have a (MINOR SPOILER) sexual encounter in this route (END MINOR SPOILER). Personally, I thought this event was executed tastelessly, and while I’m sure Voltage tried to use it in a way so as to show that Yasukawa loved the MC, it came across to me in a completely different way because of the location of the event and also because of how so many conflicts were unresolved when it occurred. Rather than showing me how passionate and in love Yasukawa was with our MC, it actually showed me more about just how indecisive he was – and how that was definitely something that I didn’t like about our main hero at all. I could definitely forgive this if I could see Yasukawa attempting to change his ways, such as addressing his relationship with Tomoko (yes, it is an actual relationship, while there are certain emotional circumstances concerning this issue, both parties consensually agreed to this and there are definitely feelings involved) but because he didn’t I couldn’t excuse his behaviour. This is the main difference I found in “cheating routes,” with one example being Koichi’s route from In Your Arms Tonight. Koichi wasn’t willing to start anything with the MC before he finished what was going on with his other partner, while Yasukawa on the other hand dealt with both women passively and as a result ended up hurting both people.

This then brings me to the main issue I have with this story – unlike many of the other Voltage heroes who I felt loved the MC with their entire heart, I actually felt that the MC deserved better in this one. Yasukawa is in no way malicious, but the way he deals with issues is definitely a problem. I think that it took him an unjustifiably long time to come to terms with his feelings for MC and being straightforward with Tomoko (and this potentially may be more of a writing issue than a character issue in itself.) Perhaps this is one of the issues with Yasukawa in general – because he’s so busy trying to make everyone happy, he ends up hurting everyone instead. Thus, while Yasukawa could have been a great character as a representation of this type of personality  – the failure of the story to show any personal growth or attempts to overcome this until the very last episode, as well as the way our MC and Tomoko were pulled into this situation because of Yasukawa’s hesistance to change – frustrates me the most as I feel this caused a lot of lost potential with what could have been a great story.

Additionally, a major problem I had with this route in general was that our MC doesn’t develop much as a heroine in this story. While she shows concern at trying to get along with the students in her class, she doesn’t actively do anything in order to try to get close because so much of her time is spent dealing with Tomoko and Yasukawa. Perhaps it’s because of story limits, but I felt that while Yasukawa was capable of changing because of the MC, he in no way helped or challenged or supported the MC at any moment throughout the entire route. This in turn led to my impression of the MC having very little self worth and respect for herself – I didn’t really understand why the MC fell for him and also how the MC could let someone like him detract her from her professionalism at work. While the idea of After School Affairs is built on the concept that there is forbidden romance in the workplace, I just couldn’t take seriously how we only spent a couple seconds in the game discussing the MC’s work and then placing all of the focus on Yasukawa and Tomoko, when the MC herself is adjusting to some major career changes in her life.

SIDE NOTES: All the other characters rarely show up in this route – they are completely irrelevant to this storyline and don’t really matter (I’m pretty sure Taishi doesn’t even show up in this arc) and so if you like that perhaps you might appreciate that aspect about this storyline.

ART & DESIGN: Because After School Affairs is one of Voltage’s newer games, they seemed to have taken great strides in the art direction of their games, but I was really disappointed at how I disliked the new styles of CGs even more. All of them feature Yasukawa by himself (there’s even one of him literally just sitting there and having a smoke!) and I hope this is different in the other routes. In terms of the sprite designs, however, they really are gorgeous, and the art style of the backgrounds are also quite nice as well. Yasukawa’s route has a good mix of backgrounds and there’s only one background that I’ve seen which has been reused from Be My Princess.

Yasukawa also has a few different outfits, with his white lab doctor’s coat, a white sweater with blue stripes and jeans, a baseball long-sleeved tee/sweater with forest green sleeves, and a purple hoodie with a striped shirt underneath. There is a really cute scene that I don’t want to spoil since I think it’s the only moment I really enjoyed myself out of the entire route, but the accessories he wears are really adorable in that chapter!

PURCHASE? NO. While there are some moments that made my heart pound and I did think that the first half of the storyline was definitely a lot stronger than the second half, I can’t really recommend spending money on his storyline. I will admit that I am very interested in the potential of a sequel despite not liking this story, as what is hinted at in Season 1 in regards to Yasukawa’s family background is very, very interesting and is clearly has had a huge impact on his career and his personal life. I think that this type of conflict would have been much more interesting, and if reviews are positive I may consider following his story and reading his sequels for this alone. Beyond that, however, I’d seriously not recommend buying this route unless you really like After School Affairs and are seeking to read all of the other stories and/or complete a collection of all of their routes. While this was definitely one of my least favourite of all of the Voltage games I’ve read, I do hope that the future stories I choose to read in ASA are much better, and while I do like the settings and the general design of ASA, I can’t say I’m impressed by Yasukawa’s route at all.

Also, as a final reminder, ASA isn’t like Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, Star-Crossed Myth or even My Last First Kiss, where a lot of the storylines are intertwined with one another or there’s an overarching story that encompasses all characters. From what I’ve understood while reading Yasukawa and Mononobe’s routes, most of the stories seem quite independent from each other, with the only connecting factor being how all the characters work at the same school and are subjected to the same dating ban. Just something to keep your mind on if you’re debating between purchasing the stories in ASA or in other Voltage games!

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MY LAST FIRST KISS | Season 1 ~ Ichiya Misono Review

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BACKGROUND:  Ichiya was always different from the other boys that lived in your apartment complex. Aloof and solitary, he didn’t get along well with you, Takamune, Riku, Ayato, or Makoto, and you have a very negative memory associated with him from when you were little. Having always tormented and bullied you during your childhood, you definitely don’t look forward to having to work with him as part of Kokonoka’s Hundredth Anniversary Project. However, as you collaborate together, you begin to realize that Ichiya’s prickly meticulousness is really just a facade, and you start to see how hardworking and sincere that he truly is when it comes to his work. And that’s when you begin to question why you’re suddenly not scared of him anymore, and why you even seek opportunities to get closer to him – could this mean – that you’ve fallen for him?

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TROPES: Coworkers, Contract/Fake Dating, Enemies to Lovers

RATING AND REVIEW:  ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ + 0.5 [9.5/10]

ICHIYA! What more can I say about my all-time favourite route from MLFK? Ichiya’s route is incredible because BOTH he and the MC grow together through their interactions with one another not only in their work but also in their personal lives. I was extremely impressed with this route because of how many events happened in Ichiya’s arc – not a single moment was wasted, and every episode was written with meaning and careful consideration as to its significance to the entire storyline in general. Even though every character in MLFK appeared in Ichiya’s route, it was done excellently  [as I write this, I’m thinking bitterly about Ayato’s route] and I can’t imagine a better way to have incorporated all of them after seeing how it was executed in his story.

From the start of the prologue, it’s evident that the MC and Ichiya don’t have a good relationship at all, and the only connection that you and your friends really have with Ichiya is that you’ve all lived in the same apartment complex. You didn’t go to school with each other, Ichiya’s mom wasn’t friends with your parents unlike the guardians of the other children, and because of what Ichiya did to you as a kid, you’ve been slightly scared of him ever since. It is here where I feel that while characters such as Hiroki seem kind and straightforward on the surface but are actually very intricate when one gets to know them, characters like Ichiya exude coldness and snark but on the inside are actually very simple and easy to read. By simple, I mean that Ichiya gets misunderstood very easily because of his walled exterior, but on the inside, he just wants the same things as everybody else. In this case, that would be the MC – it’s extremely obvious that ever since they were kids, Ichiya has liked the MC and wanted the same friendship the other boys had with her, but just hasn’t known how to express it in the right way. And since the MC in return fears Ichiya, Ichiya always holds himself back from her, as if that’s his own way of making sure that she’s happy.

Being the CEO of his own startup company called Air, Ichiya is very dedicated and serious when it comes to his work. He’s extremely intelligent and likes to rely on himself to get things done, and he also likes to think rationally even when it comes to irrational things, such as relationships and people. In the same way that he approaches people because his logic implies that such an action will help him achieve his goal, he also doesn’t like to engage with others unless he can provide some kind of return to them as well. He thinks using transactions and benefits, and that can often clash with the MC’s own personality – who constantly challenges him, points out his weaknesses, and chooses to work with and even like his limitations – all without any ulterior motive. One of the best parts of this route is how it focuses a lot on how human relationships work – as the MC in this route is very, very strong, and tries to show Ichiya that his way of thinking isn’t necessarily wrong, but that if he continued to think in such a way he would miss out on many of the amazing personal relationships that lead towards one’s happiness and a sense of togetherness with others.

So while Ichiya can be calculating and cruel at first – as his fondness for the MC develops due to the way she continues to approach, befriend, and protect him despite his solitary personality – it’s clearly evident how much he cares for her. Every moment with her, from the times that he pulls her close and the other times that he pushes her away, is obviously reflective of how much he considers and thinks about her. Essentially, when it comes to the MC, Ichiya loses the very sense of rationality that he uses as a moral principle when it comes to making decisions. He becomes possessive, he wants her attention, and he’s very passionate and seeks many opportunities to be physical with her, whether that be just being in her presence, helping her at work, or trying to sneak a kiss on her. Even every single sarcastic remark that Ichiya says to the MC is romantic – since he doesn’t like to waste time, the fact that he’d want to spend every single moment with her shows exactly how much love Ichiya has for her.

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PROS [+] As I have discussed in past reviews, I frequently feel as if many of Voltage’s games aren’t lengthy enough to provide proper growth for characters as well as a solid foundation for the romance between the MC and our main hero. Ichiya’s story, however, managed to deliver strongly on both of these aspects. I’d expected him from the beginning to grow as a person, but I was completely taken aback by how the story also extended to show him changing on a work-related level as well. Ichiya is a very prideful and fiercely independent character, and by taking away the things that essentially established that sense of pride, it beautifully emphasized how much Ichiya grew from who he was when we are first introduced to him in his story arc, to who he became after getting close to the MC and overcoming these obstacles together. I also loved how natural and gradual the MC’s relationship with Ichiya was – I particularly enjoyed how they became “bickering friends” at first before slowly realizing how important they were to each other. For while Ichiya has always had his eye on the MC, the MC has always been afraid and fearful of him, and I felt the story successfully gave the plot enough time to show believably and organically how the MC’s impression of Ichiya changes. Not to mention, while Ichiya is obviously very in love with the MC, he doesn’t change any of his sardonic attitude or his teasing towards her at all even when he realizes this. Rather, his teasing only becomes even more intense, and that only adds to the chemistry and the sparks that don’t just fly but explode in this storyline.

Additionally, even with all the development that Ichiya has a character, his story doesn’t fail to deliver on the MC’s side as she matches and complements him so well as both a work partner and as a romantic partner in life. She sees Ichiya’s weaknesses, and understands him beyond the front that he puts up when it comes to dealing with people. She shows him that “transactions” in relationships, just like how she encourages him to open up while he helps her complete projects at work, can be mutually beneficial and not done to reap rewards but rather out of the care and consideration of the other person. She also becomes the link that binds Ichiya to her and all of their childhood friends, and she tries hard to help Ichiya become more social and allow others to see how kind and loyal he is to the people he cares about in his life. In turn, Ichiya watches out for her, and his cunningness and wariness of people more often than not help protect our endlessly positive, hardworking, and very trusting heroine. I also enjoyed how this route focused a lot less on Hiroki – when this route started, it was as if our MC had already realized that she wasn’t in love with him but was rather infatuated with an image that she’d created of him, and so I appreciated how they put that problem aside in order to focus on Ichiya and the MC instead.

CONS [-] There have been some people that have commented about their dislike for how Ichiya can insinuate and be guilty of sexual harassment. This is a MINOR SPOILER here, one that you will likely see being mentioned in many other reviews, but Ichiya does make a physical advance on the MC at work by kissing her abruptly without her permission (END MINOR SPOILER). Ichiya never steps over the line beyond that although he does make another physical advance – with the intention of teasing the MC in the later episodes as well. Depending on what your feelings are with this type of “alpha male, aggressive behaviour,” then you may or may not like Ichiya’s route as much. This is the only part that popped up as a warning flag to me when considering the audience that may be interested in playing Ichiya’s story, and so I feel that it might just be important to mention if it may detract from your enjoyment of the game. I personally didn’t have an issue with it but in other games that I have played (Chiaki from Our Two Bedroom Story) I hated the extent that he went to and disliked all his manipulating shenanigans as well. So it’s definitely something to think about if you’re still considering whether or not you’ll enjoy Ichiya’s game and Ichiya as a character in general.

SIDE NOTES: I’ve heard of Ichiya being described in this way but I personally don’t really see Ichiya as a Tsundere – rather if there’s any T word that I’d use to describe him it would be Tease [with a capital letter and in size 160 pt. font.] Ichiya’s very consistent and no matter what the situation is, he continues to engage in that snappy, berating banter that he used from the first moment that he talked to the MC in this game to the very last moment in both the Happy and the Good Endings. He also doesn’t like to show his love in a straightforward manner to the MC – there’s a lot of moments where he’s very sweet to the MC when she’s either asleep or isn’t aware, but the rest of the time he goes back to teasing and bothering her for her attention instead. While Ichiya may be a sort of genius when it comes to the workforce, he definitely becomes childish when it comes to our MC, and that’s part of what makes him so endearing and adorable when he’s around her.

ART & DESIGN: Ichiya’s route has many office backgrounds as well, but rather than being solely the Kokonoka office (which is the case in Hiroki’s story), there’s a variation in the settings because the MC also spends time at Ichiya’s company as well. Like I said earlier, many things happen in this storyline and so you have a very good variety of backgrounds – such as the outdoors, lodges, places that you’re looking to have the Hundredth Anniversary Event at, and Ichiya’s apartment. I feel that Ichiya’s route has an excellent assortment of places and most importantly, they’re all used so effectively that I didn’t feel as if they were repetitive or unnecessary at all. It’s also very cute how location is even used as a theme within Ichiya’s storyline – the negative situation that happened between the MC and Ichiya when they were little occurred on the rooftop, meaning that the rooftop is often used as a continuous motif throughout this story.

Ichiya has three outfits in this Main Story – an off-white jacket with a light blue dress shirt which he wears to work, just the light blue dress shirt when he takes off the formal jacket, and a teal cardigan with a white button up shirt when he’s at home. As for Ichiya’s appearence, personally I find him and Riku’s to be the weakest in terms of visuals, not because they aren’t good looking but I find that the design wasn’t sketched out well enough. Sometimes Ichiya’s facial expressions look proportionally strange and he has a soft smile which is very nice, but his other smile and his smirk both look a little off. I also can’t really envision his personality with those bangs over his face – I’d seriously expected someone with Ichiya’s work-driven personality to have his hair conservatively pushed back like Hiroki’s, but I guess they decided to save that for the other characters instead.

PURCHASE? ABSOLUTELY! There are so many sweet moments in this route (the Happy Ending itself made my heart pound because there was so much fluff!) and in terms of characterization I really do believe this is one of Voltage’s best. So much happens in this storyline and it’s impossible to get bored, and there’s so much chemistry between the MC and Ichiya that it’s hard to believe after reading this storyline that they’re not the perfect couple. Not to mention, Ichiya doesn’t show up often except to perhaps say a couple sentences  or a few words in all of the other arcs. Partly due to the nature of his “friendship” with the other children and also because of his personality and temperament, it’s pretty hard to see him pop up in the other storylines, and so just based on that reason alone I’d go for this route if Ichiya is a character that you’re interested in.

MY LAST FIRST KISS | Season 1 ~ Ayato Hidaka Review

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BACKGROUND: As your childhood best friend, you and Ayato have always had a sibling-like relationship from since childhood until now. Despite the fact that you’ve always been close with Ichiya, Takamune, Makoto, and Riku, you and Ayato have a special relationship where it’s always been easy talking about anything together, and he’s always there to protect you whenever you need him. As his career in the entertainment industry grows and his popularity increases, one of his latest projects involve a short historical film celebrating the hundredth anniversary for the company that you work at. While you two spend more time together, Ayato promises to teach you the ways of love so that you can attract Hiroki, who has already rejected you twice – but what happens when the lines between childhood friends blur and you find yourself falling for your best friend instead?

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TROPES: Childhood Friends, Actor/Movie Star Romance, Ex-Girlfriends

RATING AND REVIEW:  ❤❤❤❤❤❤ [6/10]

I was slightly disappointed with Ayato’s route, despite the fact that I wasn’t interested in his storyline from the beginning and went into his game without any expectations. Ayato was the last character I chose to play in MLFK, and I would definitely say that for those who have high hopes for his route, particularly because of the important relationship he has with the MC, I would hope that his later stories are a lot better than his main route. I think the greatest problem with this arc was that Ayato’s entire story felt like an extension of the prologue, in which you end up spending significant amounts of time with EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in his main story. This wouldn’t be problematic if the involvement of the other characters actually were there to help the flow of the relationship between the MC and Ayato, but instead we have situations where Takamune is more open to the MC in this storyline than in his actual main story, and it’s obvious that both Makoto and Riku have romantic insinuations towards the MC as well. Not to mention, the story is also still focused on Hiroki, meaning that we have a lot of characters that take up the time that we have to go in depth with Ayato and the MC’s relationship.

Despite these factors, there’s no denying that I personally feel as if the MC and Ayato have the closest or most comfortable relationship with each other. While the MC has to really work hard in order to truly understand the other characters, she and Ayato already have known each other for a long time and are well-versed with each other’s likes and dislikes. Therefore, this story addresses how they change from a best friends relationship to that of lovers, while also going over the obstacles that the two will face together – particularly when it comes to Ayato’s rising fame.

While the story itself was lacking, Ayato himself is a good character. He’s not arrogant, he makes time for all of his old friends, and he’s unafraid to talk to the MC about his limitations, his fears, and his dreams. In terms of communication, I feel that out of all the characters in MLFK Ayato and the MC are the most capable of easily being honest with each other and being transparent about their feelings. He’s also extremely loyal and one of his greatest strengths is that while he’s serious about his work, he’s also unafraid to put the MC over his career and prioritize her into his schedule as well. You can also see how in this storyline, it’s evident that while the MC’s attraction for Ayato grows, Ayato himself falls for the MC first although it takes a while for him to realize that this feeling is truly romantic. Additionally, the MC also holds her own when it comes to respecting Ayato and trusting him – despite the fact that there are many instances in which she could have doubted Ayato or feel worried about his fame, she simply believes in him and knows that she’s the most important girl in Ayato’s life. She’s also willing to hold back when she recognizes that Ayato’s in a working situation – she puts her own desires to spend time with him or admit that she has a relationship with him to the side in order to protect him and his career. This could have been a disappointing trope, but instead, Ayato never hides her and is always honest about who she is to other people, and so it genuinely emphasized how much they love each other and consider each other in both their personal and career lives.

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PROS [+] Depending on what kinds of stories you like, Ayato’s story is emotionally the lightest. While there is a certain situation which in my opinion threw off the mood of this story [this will be addressed in the cons section] there’s nothing in his route I can think of which would be considered sad, unhappy, or tragic. He’s definitely not the cold, trust-issues type of character – Ayato is a confident, happy guy who is good looking, good at socializing with others, and in general good at pretty much everything. If you also like guys who are the same age, or a character who just like the MC is trying to get his career started and chase after his dreams, then Ayato will likely suit your tastes.

CONS [-] As described in the review, there is a lot of filler in this route. I feel as if Voltage was banking on everyone choosing Ayato as the first route, and so they took advantage of that prediction to introduce basically every single character once again and convince readers to purchase the other stories. Additionally, I didn’t feel as much chemistry from reading his route at all – I thought that Ayato and the MC were cute, but I wasn’t convinced about whether they had sparks or not. Were they truly the best pair of friends? Yes. But as lovers? I felt that the MC may have suited some of the other characters in MYLK more. The route is also very heavy on Ayato’s personal feelings, meaning that we get a much larger glimpse of him as a person through his route, but the MC herself doesn’t go through much personal growth. Therefore, we don’t really see much of her career life or her own dreams and desires, and since her job involves being the main line of contact between Kokonoka and Ayato, most of these moments usually end up focusing on Ayato instead. Ultimately I never really felt an independence with the MC that I got from the other routes, in which much of the focus was on her maturing in the workforce and showing her own talents and capabilities to complement those of her partner’s.

This is why Ayato’s story was very bittersweet for me, because his plot had a lot of potential and he’s a great guy, but I didn’t feel as if the route was capable of addressing that. I definitely didn’t enjoy the so-called “turning point” that made Ayato realize that he loved the MC – I felt it was completely out of place and it ruined how their relationship was moving at a natural pace to using a threatening situation to speed up the process. Furthermore, I didn’t feel as if the plot spent enough time focusing on the events that were important or interesting – for example, one of the conflicts this route brought up was the idea that before they were lovers, the MC and Ayato could talk about anything and everything, but when they become lovers, it feels as if there are certain things they cannot say or if they have to hide in order for the benefit of the other person. While I appreciated how straightforward Ayato was in terms of his feelings towards the MC, I really wished that there was more focus on the development of their relationship since that event in the middle of the route wasn’t enough for me to believe that they weren’t just platonic friends but actually in love with each other. I don’t feel that the story did that justice, and with the addition of so many other characters to the route, obviously they didn’t spend enough time convincing us as to why of all the moments that the MC and Ayato were together, they chose now to become lovers.

SIDE NOTES: I was on the fence about the role of Saori, the MC’s best friend and coworker, in this storyline. She’s very sweet and supportive in the other routes, but in this one there were some moments where she tries to incite doubt and worry in the MC. I recognize this may have been a way of helping the plot “move along,” but I didn’t enjoy the way that she was used in this route. Additionally, it’s probably obvious by now, but likely the main conflict that will continue on throughout Ayato’s routes is the idea of him being famous while the MC is just a regular girl. If you’re not a fan of this, particularly with seeing Ayato being swarmed with fans and beautiful movie stars, as well as his work environment always including filming and press conferences, then I definitely think you should avoid these types of routes in general.

ART & DESIGN: This route along with Takamune’s has some of the least office backgrounds, and there’s a lot of variation within the backgrounds themselves. I also really liked Ayatos’s CGs, because in most of them you can see the MC’s eyes (she’s so pretty!) Ayato also has four outfits: His historical period drama costume, his houndstooth suit, his white long sleeved henley, and his blue pinstripe suit. Out of all the character designs I feel that Ayato’s one of the most well-drawn in terms of visuals and his facial expressions are quite natural and nice (i.e. I find Ichiya’s smile a little weird sometimes because of the placement of his eyes and his smile are a bit awkward).

PURCHASE? No, because I’m positive that out of the many routes Voltage has, there are likely better childhood romance routes that you can get – and also I feel you have so many choices in MLFK that are better than Ayato’s. If you really do consider purchasing his route, I’d recommend reading his story first, because it does introduce you more to the other characters and you’ll also be able to enjoy it before your expectations rise from reading the other routes.

MY LAST FIRST KISS | Season 1 ~ Hiroki Eniwa Review

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BACKGROUND: While Hiroki grew up in the same apartment complex along with you, Ayato, Ichiya, Takamune, Makoto, and Riku, because of the age gap between you and the rest of your friends, you never had the same close relationship with Hiroki as you did with them. When you were younger he was sweet towards you, but he rejected your confession because he felt as if you were too young for him. Now that he’s become the assistant director of Kokonoka, which is the same company that you currently work at, you’ve decided to confess to him once more. However, now things have changed, and judging by the proposition you’ve received from him – it’s hard to figure out how the kind Hiroki you loved as a child became the unattached and uncaring man he is today.
 hirroki

TROPES: Office Romance, Boss & Subordinate, Friends with Benefits

RATING AND REVIEW:  ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ [8/10]

One of the last characters I chose to play in MLFK was Hiroki, and that was because he’s a central figure not just in the MC’s life, but also towards the entire story of MLFK as a whole. He shows up in every single story as a significant character and also as the creator of the situation that begins the game, and so I decided to save him to read for last as a means of “tying all the stories” together.

While the condition Hiroki brings up to the MC in the prologue is very different from anything Voltage has done with their routes and also may cause you to avoid or dislike his character, Hiroki never actually does anything cruel or mean to the MC. He isn’t manipulative, and he isn’t a bad person, but rather he doesn’t believe in the idea of love and is apathetic and reserved towards any romantic feelings towards him. Therefore, when the MC says that she loves him and has loved him for a long time, the simple fact isn’t that he dislikes her – but rather, it’s because he doesn’t believe her. He truly doesn’t think that the MC really likes him or really knows who he is, and that’s why this story emphasizes a lot of personal growth and communication between the MC and Hiroki – in that the MC herself learns how to grow in terms of her career and her own skills, while Hiroki learns to accept the MC’s honesty and her true feelings.

Hiroki can be a very frustrating character, because he’s polite and isn’t malicious, and yet at the same time he can be a little hateful since both he and the MC know that he is incapable of returning the affection that the MC has for him. The MC is strong – while one may think that she is a doormat and that she is rather pitiful for having loved someone for so long, even after how cruel he was in initiating such a proposition, I personally saw her ability to be so loyal to Hiroki as a strength and exactly the reason why he fell in love with her. Since the idea behind Hiroki’s inability to love can only be countered by someone who is willing to constantly take his rejection and be satisfied even knowing that he cannot fully love them, it further illustrates the lengths the MC takes in order to understand him and respond to his deflection with her kindness and patience instead. Additionally, I loved how the strides the MC takes in her own work reflect her personal growth, and I enjoyed watching how she matured and became stronger and more determined in this story. The MC has a lot of dedication and drive in this route, and I really admired her for putting her best into her work and trying not to let her emotions influence the effort she put into her career.

heu

PROS [+] The best part of this route is that BOTH the MC and Hiroki sacrifice something in order to show how much they love each other and to prove that their feelings are honest. The MC’s sacrifice of her own happiness by staying with Hiroki despite his rejection complements with how Hiroki must sacrifice the things that mean the most to him in order to show the MC that he’s serious about the relationship they have together. Not to mention, a smitten Hiroki is adorable and isn’t afraid to shower the MC with his true kindness, and both he and the MC truly shine the most when they’re together.

CONS [-] A downside I felt about this route is that I felt as if the transition from Hiroki’s physical relationship with the MC to a relationship based on love didn’t do justice to show how complex his character really is. I was confused because the entire time I was playing this route I was expecting some kind of confrontation between them, i.e. some feeling of anger to show exactly the kind of pain Hiroki went through to become like who he is today, as well as the MC standing up for herself and telling Hiroki the suffering she received by falling for someone who could never be genuine with her. Instead of this “confrontation,” the events that led to Hiroki realizing that he loved the MC were actually very passive. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I just felt that since Hiroki’s past had such a significant impact on him to the extent that it affected the way he deals with relationships, then obviously it should have been handled as the climax of the plot. I felt as if a plot choice such as an argument or fight between Hiroki and the MC would have extended the intricacy of Hiroki’s character, but because it didn’t, this change from a friends with benefits situation to romantic love fell rather flat in my opinion. The most important thing is that the MC recognizes that Hiroki isn’t a “fantasy,” or “perfect person” as she did before – but I feel that while she begins to understand this in this route, it wasn’t really addressed in the story since the plot didn’t touch too much on Hiroki’s weaknesses as a person. Ultimately I felt like the number of “episodes” wasn’t enough to really reach into the depths of who Hiroki is, and I didn’t feel satisfied with how Hiroki realized he loved the MC [although reading the HIS POV story really helped with adding more to understanding Hiroki as a character, as well as seeing his feelings change since it’s not really clear when he truly falls for the MC in the MC’s route.]

SIDE NOTES: The rest of the characters don’t show up much in this storyline. A lot of the focus is on the MC’s career and the way the MC and Hiroki grow together in their relationship, which I feel is a great thing since Hiroki’s character needs that kind of time for his readers to understand him, as well as allow the MC to prove that her feelings for him are serious.

ART & DESIGN: Some backgrounds are reused from other games in this episode (I’m looking at In Your Arms Tonight in particular, Voltage seems to really like reusing backgrounds for their games that have a contemporary or slice of life theme.) I personally love the modern feel that My Last First Kiss has, and I feel that the background music complements the route very well, although there aren’t many sound effects in general in this game. There are lots of office backgrounds in this set, given the nature of their work, but Hiroki has one of the nicest apartments out of all the routes in the story. He also has three outfits, his pinstriped suit with a purple tie, his black hoodie that he wears at home, and his blue leather jacket that he wears for outings. I think it’s really sweet and cute how when he’s at home you see him with his bangs down, and I really appreciate that they used that to show how the MC is slowly getting to know not only the person who he presents to everyone around him, but also who he is at home – as if to show how she’s becoming part of his personal life as well.

Also, how can you resist how handsome Hiroki is? The mole under left eye is so charming…

PURCHASE? Yes, but I’d recommend only if you’ve read the other routes or the route of a character you find yourself really leaning towards first. I feel Hiroki is a must-read if you like MLFK a lot, but it doesn’t feel right to read his story before you read the others, since he’s involved in all of the other routes to some extent (some routes more than the others.) Personally, I don’t think he’s the best route, with this honour going to Ichiya, but he’s definitely a lot better than some of the other routes that are available.