Boku no Kanojo wa Gaten-kei/ Kanojo ga Shita Koto, Ore ga Sareta Koto/ Kyonyuu Tsuma Kanzen Hokaku Keikaku/ Boku no Tsuma ga Aitsu ni Netoraremashita, also known as the game where I start regretting using romaji for game titles on this blog, is the latest elf game, released late in 2011. It’s from the same writer as Biniku no Kaori and Ningen Debris.
Boku no Kanojo wa Gaten-kei etc. (by the way this is a single story; the different titles refer to different sections of it) is a story of love over the years. It starts with our couple, Masashi and Misaki, meeting as 19 year olds at a construction site where they work. Romance blossoms and the two eventually begin dating. Fast forward six years and they’re enjoying married life. Fast forward another six and they’re enjoying family life with their son Masaki. Boku no Kanojo is a chronicle of a couple’s life together, a timeline of love. That, and NTR.
The first part of the game (Boku no Kanojo) is entirely devoted to the relationship between Masashi and Misaki. The writer is extremely skilled at depicting relationships. There are some glimpses of this genius in Biniku no Kaori and Ningen Debris, but here, in a game that is fully a relationship drama, his brilliance in this area is on parade. The way he builds Masashi and Misaki’s relationship puts most pure love eroge to shame and gives even the best a run for their money. After the couple has gotten together we also get to see sections of their life after they’re married and after they’ve had a kid. These parts are just as skillfully written, which is a good thing since the majority of the game concerns Masashi and Misaki while they’re in a relationship.
Eventually the NTR kicks in (Kyonyuu Tsuma). I was dreading it. Yeah I like NTR, but the writer did such as good a good job with Masashi and Misaki that I just wanted to see them be happy together forever. Alas, I knew that this was an NTR game and that even if what I wanted from the game changed after the first section I was still going to get NTR whether I liked it or not. So anyways, for the NTR section the game switches perspectives to the main guy doing the netoru-ing. A dubious decision but it mostly works. The downside is that it doesn’t make the NTR feel as much like NTR. First it’s being told by the NTR guy (and thus really it might technically be netori). Second you kind of start to like the guy. No, maybe it’s not that exactly, maybe it’s pity, but either way you sympathize with him some and that takes some of your sympathy away from Masashi. Yet the NTR guy is an interesting and humorous character and thus this part of the story is enjoyable to read.
After walking in the villain’s shoes for awhile we are transferred back to Masashi’s POV for the remainder of the story (Boku no Tsuma) before it reaches any one of a rather large number of ends. That makes it sound like this part is the endgame, and maybe it is, but it still feels like this is the main course and the other two sections have just been preparation for it. This is where the plot, drama, and suspense are concentrated and reach their climax. There’s also plenty more NTR, and this time it actually feels like NTR and it’s pretty great.
Boku no Kanojo has a dozen endings and almost all of them are great. They’re each great for different reasons but I think those reasons can mostly be grouped into two categories: twisted relationships and depression. Like I said the writer is great at writing relationships. He’s great at writing normal, healthy, romantic relationships but he’s also great at writing warped, unnatural, dysfunctional relationships. The latter might be where his true ability lies. There is a depraved deliciousness in reading these fucked up endings where everyone is fucked up and broken. Other endings are simply sad (of course the aforementioned endings are also depressing). The endings cover many different types of sadness ranging from despair to solemn melancholy to nostalgic regret.
Not counting the short insubstantial bad ends my least favorite ending was actually the true end, which is surprisingly and unfortunately disappointing. After entering into the true route/end the story appeared to be going in a surprising direction. At first it angered me but then I started to see brilliance in it. But just when I felt I could accept where I thought the story was going it threw me for a couple more loops and ended in another unexpected way. One that I found rather disappointing. There were two completely different types of endings I could have accepted for Boku no Kanojo: the way I expected it would end before I even started playing it and the aforementioned type of ending that was rage-inducingly brilliant. Instead the story landed in a dissatisfying space about halfway between those two. Normally I frown on disliking a story for not ending how you wanted it to, but I think beyond my kneejerk reaction there’s a legitimate reason for disliking the end (more on that in the next paragraph).
The main flaw in this otherwise excellent story is a general lack of direction. At some points I wasn’t sure where the story was going or if it was going anywhere. There are also some plot elements that feel random and disjointed from the main story. Most of these are eventually tied into the central plot but never very satisfyingly; they still feel disjointed. Some never really feel like they fit. There’s also thematic lack of direction. For most of the story I wasn’t sure if there was any point to Boku no Kanojo beyond showing some NTR of a married woman getting banged by guys other than her husband. I didn’t think there was much in terms of a clear message. In the true end I started to see a theme emerge. A theme that would tie up the game very nicely and make me certain that this game understood NTR better than any other, that it contained the very soul of NTR. Vexingly, the end shied away from that and the thematic suffered as a result. Even in the end the theme is still present enough that I can declare that this game contains more of the soul of NTR than any other I’ve played, but I can’t help but feel regret over what could have been.
I feel I haven’t talked enough about the NTR given that this is an NTR game. I must say that the NTR follows one of the most overused and cliché plot lines in the genre. Said storyline was never good and certainly didn’t get better after a thousand cheap NTR manga/games trying to cash in on the boom without understanding the genre used it as their framework. Yet somehow the writer manages to make it good. He tweaks the formula enough to make it feel fresh and interesting, especially with how it plays out toward the end, and the execution is good enough that even the straightforward parts are better than in other NTR works. The excellent writing also makes for some emotionally destructive scenes and Boku no Kanojo challenges Uchi no Imouto for most depressing NTR I’ve seen.
A few other random thoughts: I said that Boku no Kanojo is thoroughly a relationship drama, but it does have elements of mystery and some twists, similar to the writer’s previous games. The mystery is mostly around who is going to NTR the protagonist and the identities of these men are either unsurprising or completely out of the blue. There are also a large number of minor twists and they’re actually really well done; they’re small but effective. Another minor flaw of Boku no Kanojo is that it doesn’t have the quality of atmosphere found in Biniku no Kaori or even Ningen Debris. There’s some of it in the very first part of the game but after that there are only infrequent moments where the atmosphere is tangible.
Kaitou Misaki is the gaten-kei kanojo. The whole time I was playing the game I thought gaten-kei was some female character archetype I was unaware of. Afterwards I realized I should just look it up, and it turns out it more or less means blue-collar. Which makes sense since Misaki works at a construction site. Accordingly she starts off really tomboyish and not particularly feminine. It’s interesting to see how her character is different after the first time skip, but also how key parts of her personality remain the same. We don’t get to see the character development connecting these two Misakis (she does get some character development near the end of the game) but it was still cool to see the difference. Of course the most important question regarding a heroine’s personality is if it’s attractive, and Misaki is most definitely likeable. Loveable, more accurately.
Tanaka Masashi is the protagonist. He’s like other protagonists from this writer in that he’s weak but strong in some spots. Even the third time around I enjoy the character type. Like Misaki he changes after the first time skip but remains the same in core aspects of his personality. Also like Misaki he gets some visible character development near the end of the game.
There’s another girl in Boku no Kanojo, Mei, who isn’t a full blown heroine but does receive a large amount of focus and a share of the ero scenes. She’s really bland and I feel the game shoehorned her into the plot just so there would be more than one female character in the game and particularly the ero. All the other side characters are males and they’re pretty much just caricatures. Even the main antagonist feels like one until we get to read some of his narration. That expands on his character a lot but sadly when we go back to Masashi the villain once again loses any depth. They feel like two different characters.
Boku no Kanojo has a really generic soundtrack for the most part. I swear I’ve heard half the tracks somewhere else. There’s a handful of nice piano tracks and a classy vocal ED. Those are enough to make the soundtrack decent.
Misaki’s voice actress is terrific. Both her regular and ero voice acting are superb. Mei is the only other voiced character and her voice acting is passable.
One thing I was most looking forward to from Boku no Kanojo was more awesome art. Sadly elf was crazy enough to change artists. The art this time around is still good but it can’t compare to the art in Biniku no Kaori or Ningen Debris, and it’s got a much more standard anime style. There are still some stylistic similarities in the art so I’m guessing some of the other art staff is the same, like the colorists. There are also fewer CGs but the number only seems insufficient when compared to the abundance in previous elf games. Once again all the ero scenes are animated and elf continues to improve in this area.
When it comes to NTR story and ero are intrinsically connected. Unlike with many fetishes, how arousing an NTR situation is depends on both story and characters. As mentioned the NTR story in Boku no Kanojo is finely crafted. The heroine Misaki is impossible not to develop affection for. Simply by virtue of those factors it would be impossible for the ero in Boku no Kanojo to fail. The scenes themselves are also quality and live up to the other aspects of the game. The writer still knows how to set up an ero scene and he’s gotten better at writing the actual text in them. The scenes are well paced and balanced with the story. There’s a lot of exposure/humiliation play, something I’m not into at all, but other than that I loved the ero in this game.
Pros: Relationships both sweet and toxic; NTR soul; Gaten-kei kanojo; ero
Cons: Dissatisfying true end; plot disorganization
Boku no Kanojo wa Gaten-kei is a masterpiece of the NTR genre. If I keep changing my favorite NTR game people are going to think I have low standards or that I’m easily impressed, but it would be a disservice to elf’s work to not declare that this is the best NTR eroge I’ve ever played. I knew this writer had great potential and after three games I feel that I’ve been rewarded for sticking with him.
The downside is that unlike Biniku no Kaori or Ningen Debris this is thoroughly an NTR game and as such anyone who doesn’t like NTR won’t be able to appreciate it. There’s a strong plot here, it isn’t a nukige, and some aspects of the game, such as the relationship drama, would work just as well in a non-NTR game, but the NTR is such an integral part of this game that you really need to be a fan to enjoy it to its full potential.
Christ these posts are getting too long. But I really enjoyed this game and writing about it so it can’t be helped.