Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Import Games for Adults: Saishuu Chikan Densha 2

Saishuu Chikan Densha 2 Review

            Like when you read books, with VN type games you come across genres that aren’t really to your liking, especially if you explore the eroge side of it. One of those genres that I am not very fond of would be the chikan (follow the hyperlink I am NOT going to explain this) genre. My main reason for disliking it is similar to my dislike of the tentacle genre, it’s always the same kind of one dimensional story that is simply there to show one ero scene after another with no attempt to add any sort of story depth. I have found a few exceptions for the latter genre (yes, there do exist a few good entries into the tentacle genre, I’ll get to that another time) so when a friend of mine recommended Saishuu Chikan Desnha 2 (released December 19, 2003) to me as one of those exceptions (plus it was from Atelier Kaguya), I decided to give it a try. I’ll admit it is certainly better than your typical chikan game, but I also have to say that this is not the best of Atelier Kaguya’s library either. Fair warning there are spoilers for a few of the routes in this review.

Pros: Good artwork, interesting heroines, the day/location way of selecting which heroines to interact with is simple, the…gameplay is simple, good voice acting.

Cons: Our hero doesn’t have much depth, only some of the routes are good, getting the harem route is a monotonous task, a few semi-important characters don’t get any character profiles.

WTF!?:  Do the police even exist in this game’s universe?

            In Saishuu Chikan Densha 2, you play the role of Takumi Shindou, an assistant librarian at a university who ends up drawn into a secret criminally run organization called the Last Train Car. This group is run on the principal that any man who brings a woman into the last car of specifically designated train lines, can rape her without fear of any judicial reprisal, as those on board will do everything in their ability to provide counter testimony and security against wrongdoing in a court of law. Of course such generous privileges demands generous repayment: namely the regular provision of attractive females who willingly submit themselves to others in the brotherhood for sharing and enjoyment.

            Okay, after hearing this summary I myself was a bit wary of this title, but my playing of this game shows that while I was kind of right to worry, this game wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. In each of the routes, the heroines have a personal problem that Takumi ends up involved with somehow which leads to said heroine developing an attachment of sorts to him and it’s at that point that the player chooses whether Takumi accepts her feelings and abandons the Last Train Car or turns her over to the organization to get into its better graces.

            Now, I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about the story concept for all (but one) of these routes: that the heroines essentially fall for the guy who molested them…but I have to admit that in the routes that I found to be good the story was a good read and the events of the route were certainly plausible. These routes managed to present each heroine’s character really well and each story felt unique in its own way. In this review, I’ll talk a little bit about each route since as I mentioned before, this game is a pretty mixed bag for me. First we’ll start with my favorite of the bunch, the route for Maho and Mizuho: the reason I liked this route was because out of all the heroines these twins have the best written backstory and their route does a good job in showing how a series of traumatic events in their childhood have shaped their personalities growing up and how they relate to other people and each other. This is also the only route in which Takumi has anything close to character development, I’ll explain about that later, but to put it simply (so as to avoid major spoilers) the twins are actually able to make enough of an effect on him that when it comes time to make the good vs. evil choice the results of making the good choice don’t seem forced or like there’s a sudden shift in morality on Takumi’s part because over the course of the route his developing feelings for them seems very plausible. Kyoko’s route is almost as good as aside from being the only route where we don’t follow the victim to lover formula, the chemistry between Takumi and Kyoko is actually really well done and this route’s only real flaw is the ending seems a bit rushed. Mirei’s route turned out to be a nice surprise with how it managed to be a very good evil route with Takumi clashing with Mirei’s spoiled rich bitch personality and how it leads into a surprising twist that results in which the two end up forming what’s almost a partnership of sorts that’s so beneficial to both of them it kind of makes the decision to send Mirei to the train organization look like a pretty stupid one.

            Before moving on to what I didn’t like about the game’s story, I feel I should mention both Yuna and Maya’s routes because while I didn’t dislike their routes, I found the routes to be average for the following reasons. In Yuna’s case, the problem with her route is the fact that we don’t see anything develop between her and Takumi relationship wise until late in the route and shortly after that the route ends and the only thing we get is the post credits epilogue. While it doesn’t make for a bad ending, it leaves you wondering where the rest of the route went. In Maya’s case, the problem is that nothing really happens in her route besides the ero scenes. While the route avoids being boring, the fact that it has very little significant plot to it makes it forgettable.

            Having covered all the good points of the story, I have to say that one of the most obvious flaws in the story is Takumi himself. It’s not that he’s a bad character as he is kind of likable (despite some despicable acts), but rather it’s because the game doesn’t give him the same depth as the majority of the heroines get. As stated before, with the exception of the twin’s route, Takumi doesn’t go through any significant character development or exploration. There isn’t that much to explain why he’s become a chikan other than his life feeling empty and it’s the only way he can find any fulfillment. This would have been an interesting story element to explore, especially considering that in some of the endings he notes how the relationship he formed with the heroine he’s with has resolved that feeling of emptiness.

            Now it’s time to talk about the routes for Ayaka and Yuzuki, the two routes that I just didn’t like. In Ayaka’s case it’s your typical story of rapist MC enslaving housewife heroine so she’ll eventually leave her husband for him because she’s essentially become addicted to him, and like your typical dark eroge that has that story setup the route sucks due to its lack of depth for any of the characters and lack of any real story depth. In Yuzuki’s case, it’s mainly because there’s no attempt at giving her a good story, it’s just Takumi molesting her until he gives her to the Last Midnight Train and you have no choice in the matter this time. Another thing with her route that I never understood was why she didn’t just call the police considering her position; she had evidence and I think that would have been able to beat whatever the train organization offered as a cover for Takumi. It’s understandable why the police option wasn’t viable in the other routes, but in this case it doesn’t really make sense considering how dedicated she was to investigating and exposing the organization (unless I missed something in the translation).

            Finally, there’s the harem route and sadly this falls into the ever growing pile of harem routes I’ve read through that suck. I honestly wish I could say otherwise since at some points the route does have inklings of a good story in how it introduces an interesting conflict for Takumi and the setup does try to make it an overarching plot. One of the biggest problems I had with the route was getting to it. You basically have to get Takumi to send every heroine except Kyoko (and Yuzuki but that’s only because she isn’t in the route) to the Last Midnight Train. Now you might think the problem I have is it makes Takumi hard to root for or sympathize with, but that isn’t the case since that part I can let slide on the grounds of it being an evil route (though I will say that is perfectly understandable). The problem I have is that it turns the process of getting to the harem route into a real chore since you’re essentially just skimming through text with the skip function and plodding through the gameplay segments for each heroine, which you can’t skip. This just leaves you feeling burnt out by the time you reach the beginning of the route and while I admit the game does its best to try to reward for repeating all that you still wonder if it really was worth all that boredom you had to endure.

            The gameplay element for this game is kept simple, you essentially go to either train station the heroines use or the places that they frequent and in most cases that brings you to the main gameplay part in which you’re presented with a series of choices, some which will arouse your target and others she won’t like. Picking the former will result in a bar filling up that once full will get you to an ero scene, with the latter you fill up a different bar that will result in failure and no ero scene.

            In the area of presentation, SCD2 scores a good amount of points. Like most in Atelier Kaguya’s lineup, this game has very good artwork with the characters and background being well drawn and the abundance of well drawn CG to follow the ero scenes in detail. The music was fine but not particularly memorable. The only area that this game stumbles when it comes to presentation would be that some semi-important heroines (sort of) are not given any character portraits; they’re voiced and participate in a couple ero scenes (one even has her own scene) but they don’t have a character portrait. It seems a bit strange why the artist would do this unless the company decided to do this to save money, but in that case why even voice some of these characters at all?

            In regards to the ero scenes…I have to say they’re actually pretty good. They’re well drawn with the CG paying attention to the written details of the scene as I mentioned before, the voice actresses do a good job, and the writer did a good job in establishing the mood for each scene.



Yuna Naruse:

A popular and successful honor student, Yuna is a national rhythmic gymnastics champion renowned throughout academic sports and actively sought by Olympic recruiters. While she is appreciative of the encouraging attention she receives, Yuna occasionally wishes her life was not so rigid and scheduled. She harbors an unrequited sexual attracted to a certain university librarian.

Mirei Akizuki:

Mirei is the argumentative and self centered daughter of a powerful politician, flaunting her prestigious social status and exuberant wealth to demand an unreasonable level of respect she deems is her birthright. Mirei openly despises men for what she sees as barbaric mannerisms and hated by women for the overwhelming air of arrogance surrounding her. Above all else she despises weakness and uncertainty, taking the view that anyone not willing to standup for themselves does not deserve respect.

Maho Katase and Mizuho Katase:

The Katase sisters are identical twins with opposite personalities: Mizuho is full of cheer and easily befriended, whereas Maho is taciturn and reclusive. Despite their surprisingly differing views, the pair are inseparable and always in the company of each other, even going as so far as to aggressively prevent would be suitors from breaking them apart. Many have jokingly whispered that the sisters are incestuously in love with each other without even knowing it: sometimes fantasy is closer to reality than people are willing to accept.

Maya Kamijo:

The English instructor of a private extracurricular academy, Maya takes perverse pleasure in wearing tight or revealing attire in front of her teenage students. The overall situation brings a sense of sensual control and authority she absolutely savors. Ironically enough, Maya is not as confident about her sexual appearance around older and more experienced men, falling into a lull of submissiveness to the slightest arousing touch.

Ayaka Yanagi:

After Ayaka’s husband was transferred to America, she took employment at a local supermarket to pass idle time and earn extra income on the side. Such trips by her spouse are not uncommon, and since their recent marriage the pair have experienced constant separation from each other. Nevertheless, Ayaka has grown incredibly sexually frustrated at this predicament, and often questions the principals of matrimonial life.

Yuzuki Sena:

Yuzuki is a highly motivated conductor of the municipal railway company, and even volunteers unpaid off time to continue the strengthening of security. In her personal crusade to rid the Japan of lingering sex offenders, Yuzuki typically views all men as potential criminals. She has also begun to gather rumors about the elusive Last Train Car, and seeks to reveal its existence to the public and media.

Kyoko Sonoyama:

Kyoko is the chief librarian of Saint Anthurium University, and therefore the immediate supervisor of the protagonist. While she has a sisterly relationship with her subordinate, it occasionally reveals sexually teasing overtones, which are reflective of Kyoko’s true feelings. A kind and intellectually sharp woman who asks many questions about others, but keeps her own past tightly hidden.


In Conclusion:

Saishuu Chikan Densha 2 does manage to be a step above other games of its genre and I will admit it’s the best of said genre, a genre I don’t particularly like mind you, that I’ve come across. Its story concept is probably not for everyone and its mixed bag of good, okay, and bad routes certainly don’t make it a great game. However, the good stories it does tell plus the good artwork and voice acting do make it good enough that if you’re a fan of the chikan genre or have an open enough mind then I would recommend giving it a try.

Final Score: 6/10 Above Average

Author Recommendation: Try it out.

            On the subject of the OVA adaptation, I personally didn’t like it. Takumi just isn’t as likable as he is in the game and some of the heroines are just inserted in at the last minute. My main problem though is the animation quality; it just comes off as fuzzy at times which makes watching it feel a little weird to me. Another problem is that the story for the OVA doesn’t seem to match with any of the routes at all, not even the harem route.

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