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?
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.
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!