Wakazuma Mangekyou is a netori nukige originally released by Yellow Pig in 2005, rereleased with animation (and bundled with another game, Otto no Mae de Okasarete) by elf in 2009. I played the rerelease so I guess that’s the version this review will be most relevant to. The game was written by the same guy who did Biniku no Kaori etc., 土天冥海 (Douten Meikai for those of you at home who care about romaji).
Shirozaki Takafumi is a security guard at a grocery store who uses his position to frame housewives and then blackmail them for sex. Apparently that works. Kogure Mayumi is his latest victim. On the pretense of her “stealing” a container of pepper Shirozaki begins to associate with her and eventually basically makes her his sex slave. Luckily this being 土天冥海 things aren’t as boring as that sounds. Shirozaki doesn’t even fuck her right away, except in a bad end. One thing you quickly learn in this game is that Shirozaki is a conniving bastard, and a sick bastard. His plots to entrap Mayumi (which get better than using pepper, I promise) into performing perverted acts offer enough twisted pleasure to get you from one ero scene to the next in an entertained state. Unfortunately near the end of the story these become less necessary and the story as such loses steam. Overall the plot of Wakazuma Mangekyou, in the sense of a series of events, is far from compelling, this is a nukige after all, much more so than the writer’s later elf games, but it offers its share of entertainment.
Even if this is more of a nukige this is still 土天冥海 so there’s a huge focus on the relationships between the characters. Or rather in this case it’s singular: relationship, since Shirozaki and Mayumi’s relationship is the only one that receives significant attention. This game is all about twisted, dark relationships that dysfunctional people (most likely fatefully) find themselves in. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I feel these sorts of relationships are the forte of 土天冥海 and Wakazuma Mangekyou reinforces this belief of mine. The development of the relationship between Shirozaki and Mayumi is what, more than anything, drives the non-sex of this game, although of course that relationship itself is intrinsically entangled with sex. It’s also what separates this eroge from countless other netori/training/rape nukige. While operating pretty squarely, if magnificently, within the standards of this genre of nukige 土天冥海 brings in complex, conflicted character dynamics and realistically human psychology.
On the system/organizational side of things Wakazuma Mangekyou has a ton of choices, like over 60, and a decent handful of bad ends. Basically you get to choose what to say at certain parts of conversations and be an asshole to Mayumi or, well, not quite nice but certainly less of an asshole, and if you’re too much of an asshole you’re headed for a bad end. I think there are a couple choices that instantly route you toward a bad end too. These bad ends are good (good bad ends, huh) and well worth seeing in how they flesh out the overall picture here, not in terms of story but rather feeling. It’s also worth choosing the “wrong” options because the stuff Shirozaki can say is so hilariously cruel that you simply can’t resist.
Kogure Mayumi: Too much of a bitch jesus christ. Mayumi is utterly unappealing in the beginning of the game, though I guess that makes the rape more satisfying, and stays that way for most of it. Toward the end she loosens up a little bit but even then she has only maybe the bare-minimum appeal I desire in a heroine. She’s got enough psychological development to keep her from being completely worthless as a character, and in fairness a character of her type is probably necessary for this role in this story, but that doesn’t mean I have to like her.
Shirozaki Takafumi: The single best thing about this game. Very different, for the most part, from the protagonists in Gaten-kei etc. He’s absolutely evil, a very sick man, but in the most glorious ways possible. Yet the way in which he isn’t so different from those other protagonists after all is he has the same brand of loser-charm, even if it’s buried under traits that would make any sane person despise him. I think at the core of his person Shirozaki is actually an innocent, lonely little boy, and this contrast with his brutish exterior makes for a very compelling, and oddly lovable, protagonist.
Very minimal BGM. There are like two or three atmospheric mood-setters, to create tension/panic/etc., which like all such tracks are poorly composed and get irritating quickly. Then there are another two or three piano tracks, which are decent enough other than I’ve heard them about a thousand times before. Like later elf games Wakazuma Mangekyou makes heavy use of silence and ambient sounds, and it still works nicely for creating atmosphere, but in this one there’s too little use of music, likely because of the limited number of tracks. On the upside one of the piano pieces used for emotional scenes hits the right notes when it needs to. Also there’s that fucking wind-chime (or whatever the fuck) track that is in all 土天冥海’s elf games too.
The only VA, Mayumi’s, gives an uninspired performance. Too stiff, just like her character.
If I were to speak objectively the art in this game is good, but I can’t appreciate the style. Especially Mayumi’s face, once again too much stiffness. However the overall visual presentation, including CG composition, helps with the atmosphere, giving it a similar feel to later elf games and therefore gaining some points through favor-by-association. elf’s animation is still good but I don’t know, for some reason it seemed like for this game if the animation hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have missed it.
Let’s all be honest here: netori isn’t as good as netorare. That’s just how it is. So the ero would be hard-pressed to surpass that of土天冥海’s NTR stuff, and it doesn’t. In many ways the ero here is more traditionally “good” than in his later works, but that’s because it’s written a lot more like your typical eroge, specifically nukige, scene so that’s not necessarily a plus. It’s still lighter on description and heavier on dialogue (real dialogue, beyond “nakadasaretekimochiii!”) and onomatopoeias but it’s not as idiosyncratic. You’ve also gotta be pretty into sadism and tormenting women to find the situations very appealing, and that ain’t me. Furthermore the ero gets repetitive in every way: situations, dialogue, description, which really hurts the fappability by the last phase of the game where the ero starts coming at you a lot more frequently.
Pros: Shirozaki, the glorious bastard; that decadent pleasure that comes from reading about sordid, dysfunctional relationships, especially when so captivatingly told; characteristic atmosphere from this maker
Cons: Aurally and visually unremarkable; both plot and ero get weak toward the endgame; Mayumi’s a bitch
If you’re going to play a netori nukige it should be this one. If you’re a fan of 土天冥海’s other games you should check this one out. It’s got all the stuff you expect from him, albeit not as finely-honed, which is to be expected from one of his first games (unless you believe that conspiracy theory that 土天冥海 is actually long-time elf writer 蛭田昌人, which is in all actuality probably true).