Thursday, March 26, 2015

Games for Adults: Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President

Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President Review

                Regardless of your political views there’s no denying the campaign of current US President Barack Obama was an interesting spectacle to watch. From the sudden magnetism of the candidate to the marketability of the guy’s image (which could sometimes become downright bizarre), even a lot of the most politically apathetic at least took some notice of it all. Not surprisingly this was noticed internationally too and somehow this inspired Alcot to create Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President (called Osadai for short), released in Japan October 30, 2009 and later released officially in English (through the help of a fan translation group’s work) by JAST USA December 26, 2011. This game got the attention of the western VN community not only for its “moe” take on Obama (though that’s really just in the name) and Vladmir Putin (which with current world events context make this even funnier), but also for it’s odd but amusing (and somehow well English dubbed) trailer. All in all, this looked like the perfect bundle of Japanese weirdness that we otaku have come to love, but the question is whether it managed to pull it off well.

Pros: Laugh out loud funny comedy, main cast of characters are likable, excellent artwork and effects, very good music, great voice acting.
Cons: Remi, main villain should have been more over the top, Irina’s route is pretty weak.
WTF?!: This is our main villain, an alien modeled after former Pope Benedict XVI with a name similar to a very infamous German. Never has the phrase “Oh my God” been a more fitting reaction to the strange things I've come across in VNs.

                 You play as Junichiro Hondo who at first glance would be your typical laid back skirt chasing student with a devoted childhood friend who lives next door that you’d find in many an eroge. The thing is his childhood friend, Yukino… You know what, there’s no way I can give a summary that does this game’s wackiness justice so just check out the aforementioned trailer.

                As you can see Osadai is a game that revels in its silliness and for the most part succeeds in getting its readers to laugh. The jokes mainly range from your typical pervert protagonist antics to references to anime, games and movies. Thanks to good writing and presentation these jokes not only manage to be funny despite the cliché of the former and the potential dated-ness of the latter. That isn’t to say that’s all the jokes as there’s some laughs to be had from many of the character interactions and the humor of the random bizarre variety. Nothing best exemplifies that than the talking bespectacled space faring panda.

                Speaking of the characters (click here for profiles), Osadai does a good job giving us likable main characters to follow around.  Junichiro makes for good protagonist and each heroine has their own unique personality and fitting brand of humor to bring to the table whether as being the observer, target of or instigator of the many humorous scenes throughout the game. We also have good supporting characters in Junichiro’s friend Morita, Irina’s maid Kuon, and the (sadly unwinnable) wacky alien (and occasional fourth wall breaker) Qoo and not only do they provide some very  funny scenes  but each of them has at least a good character moment in one of the routes.
                Sadly not all of the characters in Osadai as enjoyable the aforementioned and this is where we get to what may be the game’s most glaring flaw: its villains kind of suck. First and foremost, remember the subject of the WTF?! for this game? Well I’m sorry to say that aside from the novelty of his appearance and name the game doesn’t do much beyond standard with this character in regards to villainy; he basically just acts like a standard foil when the story requires it which makes the character range from bland to annoying. If you’re going to make your main villain look like the (at the time) Pope and name him after a Nazi you’d better make the most of that and go so over the top with this character  you’d hit the moon. The VA should be hamming it up in almost every scene and the character should do stuff like fly around in Dr. Wiley style rendition of the Pope-mobile that fires spinning razor sharp crosses while he throws vials of holy water that’s actually acid (heck there you’d have the benefit of a Castlevania joke/reference). Basically in a good comedy your main villain should be at least as funny as all the other characters.

                 Unfortunately on the villain front Osadai doesn’t just suffer from a bland main villain, but also an extremely annoying sub-villain named Remi. What we get from this is a character whose main character trait is to show up and then insult and bother anyone who isn’t Yukino. That may not sound like much, but after seeing it in 90 percent (and I think I’m being generous there) of the scenes she’s in it gets old really fast, especially if the first route you play is Yukino’s. In that route Remi’s annoying traits get amplified as she’s essentially given a role that is one of my most hated tropes: the heroine’s annoying/interfering friend. Trust me I could go on a long rant about why I hate said trope with a passion but that’s for another day. Suffice to say one reason I hate it is because it’s just  a plot device to pad the story with essentially the same scene over and over until the author decides they’re ready for the plot concerning the hero and heroine’s relationship to advance and while in this case it thankfully doesn’t last long it certainly feels more than long enough. I know Remi’s supposed to be a villain and these scenes are probably supposed to make me dislike her, but a good writer should not make scenes with their villains a chore to sit through and especially not make me have to retreat into a mental “happy place” to get through the character’s scenes. And in case anyone’s curious in this case it was imagining Remi on the receiving end of what another mechanical villain gets.

                In regards to the routes here’s my rankings:
1)      Tie between Yukino and Ell
2)      Ran
3)      Irina

                The reason Yukino and Ell’s route tie is mainly because both heroines just really click with Junichiro in their own unique way. While Yukino does pretty much fall into a majority of the childhood friend type heroine tropes the game’s writing presents it in a way that keeps it from feeling stale or annoying and kind of shows why this trope has remained so prominent. I couldn’t help but find Junichiro’s interactions with Yukino cute as well as funny and considering it’s enough to cure the bad taste Remi’s role leaves once she’s kicked out of the plot is saying something. In Ell’s case not only do we have cute and funny scenes with her too, but also an interesting backstory that ties in well with the game’s story and also sets the ground for a good character arc. It also helps that in this route Remi takes the most abuse. The only reason it doesn’t beat Yukino’s route is the route is shorter by comparison and I admit the ending is a little predictable.

                Ran’s route I liked mainly not just because Ran herself proves to be a good character with some nice chemistry with Junichiro but also with how crazy it gets in bringing focus to the aforementioned panda and it only gets sillier from there. This makes for a good demonstration of how far the game can go in seemingly random humor and pull it off. The route even succeeds in giving Remi a good character moment late in the story which actually had me wanting to see more from her in the plot. That sadly brings me to the route’s fatal flaw: unlike Ell’s which while on the short side still felt like about the right length Ran’s route is on the short side and its noticeable. 

                Now we’ve reached Irina’s route and I am sorry I have to put it in last place. Having played Yukino’s route first I was really looking forward to what Irina’s would have in store seeing as how enjoyable a character she was in that route, not to mention a lot of the people who played the game either through import or a fan translation patch gave both the character and her route a ton of praise. Unfortunately this route left me bewildered at the praise instead in the end. Don’t get the wrong idea though, I won’t say Irina’s route is terrible just really weak. This route does have some good character moments and laughs with her plus she and Junichiro have good moments together too, but all that is offset by two major problems on the writing front.

                The first problem rears its head almost as soon as the route starts: an extremely slow first act. Basically the route goes in a direction that I’m sure was meant to build Irina some more as a character  while also building up the romance that’s supposed to occur between her and Junichiro. The problem is the writer seems to have forgotten you need to make scenes like these interesting in order to properly character build. Instead we get scenes that feel like filler at best to just plain boring at worst. The best example would be this one scene where we’re to learn about Irina’s hobby of Judo, but rather than anything interesting where learn about the character we instead get a boring presentation from her about the martial art. Just take a look at the picture below and you’ll see:

                Now I understand that might have been intentional considering the outcome of that particular part of the route’s story, but that actually brings us to the next problem this route has. The problem is out of all the routes in this game, Irina’s is the only one that seems to be taking things at least half seriously. Bear in mind I’m not faulting this route’s writing for trying to be different, I’m faulting it for trying to be different and failing. For example that bit with the Judo I was talking about, its attempt to be serious just results in awkwardness on the level of a bad episode of The Simpson where the writers decide to be serious about something. At the end you’re just glad it’s over and are hoping it’ll get back to being funny next time. That isn’t to say every serious scene in this route is bad; there are some quieter moments between Irina and Junichiro which do well on the drama end while feeling like a natural part of the story.  It just would have been a lot nicer if the other scenes had that kind of quality.

                In the area of presentation Osadai succeeds in every aspect. The artwork is excellent from the character designed to the many CG it uses, many of them for the more over the top comical scenes. There’s actually a manga inspired presentation for all of these with the character dialogue appearing in speech bubbles rather than the traditional text box (which is reserved for narration) and the aforementioned comical CG not only has a manga panel look to it, but some of them are even drawn to parody some specific series . There are even some effects for the character portraits that do a good job in conveying the characters’ reactions too. The music is good and the voice acting is excellent, a good example being from Ell’s VA Miru who does a voice different enough from her usual that one may not recognize her at first.
                As for the ero scenes, they’re all good but there’s a bit of an unfair balance where Yukino and Irina each get three while Ell and Ran only get two.

In Conclusion:
                Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President is an all-around entertaining game with hilarious comedy and a likable cast of core characters. While it does have some issues like not very well written villains and the second main heroine’s route is (to me) the weakest I still say it’s well worth your time and money if you want something light hearted and funny. You can find a copy here (this one is cheaper) or here.

Final Score: 7/10 Great
Author Recommendation: Buy it now.

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