Chuukoi ~Shojochuu wa Chuuko ni Koishiteru~ is a 2009 doujin eroge from, uh, the Chuukoi Seisaku Iinkai. It bears no relation to a certain recent popular anime with a similar abbreviation.
The protagonist of Chuukoi, Wataru, is a shojochuu (処女厨). For those readers who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s someone, usually an otaku, who thinks all girls (real or fictional) must be virgins and any non-virgins are sluts. A girl is only allowed to have sex with someone if she is faithful to that one person for the rest of her life. While this phenomenon is also prevalent among the English-speaking fanbase of otaku media I don’t know if there’s a direct English equivalent (I’ve seen the term ‘virginfag’ used to refer to such people but that word is sometimes also used to refer to virgins so it’s less than ideal). Anyways, our shojochuu Wataru meets, falls in love with, and begins dating an unvirgin slut, Yuna.
Obviously a great concept for an eroge, but sadly the game is less daring in its execution than in its conception. Or at least in my opinion. You see, Wataru doesn’t realize Yuna is an unvirgin. Obviously you don’t come out and ask someone if they’re a virgin before you decide to go out with them (actually in one route in this game Wataru does precisely that) but the issue is that Wataru doesn’t learn Yuna isn’t a virgin until late in the game, after it starts branching. There aren’t even any real hints that she might be used goods, except for the title, so even though it is in the title this element takes a long while to finally come into play.
The flow of this potentially unconventional eroge is very conventional. It has a comedic beginning, romantic middle, and dramatic endgame. Fortunately it executes all of these conventional factors solidly and with good pacing. The humor is centered around Wataru’s zealous advocacy of virginity and denunciation of sluts and players but there is also some standard eroge-style humor. There’s a large meta component to the humor, which I’m not usually a fan of, but in a game like this that is so obviously commentary on eroge it’s apropos. It helps that it’s handled without pretension. The romantic phase of the game is relatively short. It’s less saccharine than the ichaicha in contemporary eroge, instead it recalls the more wholesome, nutritious romance of old-school eroge. In fact the game in just about every way feels like it was made at least five years earlier than it actually was. Yuna hides from Wataru the fact that she’s a non-virgin and a slut, so the romantic aspect of the game is no different from any other eroge. If you were hoping for a story about a shojochuu coming to love an unvirgin and reevaluating his ideals as a result you’ll be disappointed.
The drama that must inevitably interrupt the romance of eroge makes up most of the game. The game branches into eight ends of varying lengths. The drama starts when Wataru finds out Yuna isn’t a virgin. This is treated as a shocking development, and while it certainly is for Wataru it’s blatantly spelt out in the title for the reader. The circumstances surrounding why Yuna is hiding her unvirgin status, on the other hand, are legitimately surprising. Unfortunately these revelations, surprising or otherwise, happen after the branching of most of the ends so you have to read through them over and over. Each time it’s presented somewhat differently, so it isn’t too tortuous, but they aren’t unique enough to justify the rereading multiple times. The ends cover a wide range of possible ways Wataru reacts to Yuna’s lack of a hymen and the corresponding succeeding events, and it’s interesting to read how each end plays out. There are also some ends that focus on Wataru’s childhood friend Tama. The drama can get intense and NTR-relevant and almost all of the ends are depressing. There’s only one end I would consider happy, though the game labels two as such.
Not surprisingly Chuukoi is a critique of the cult of the shojochuu, and I’d say this is its purpose above all else. How the writer feels about shojochuu and what he wants the reader to think about them is a bit ambiguous. In the first part of the game it seems the writer is satirizing shojochuu, since Wataru’s shojochuu tendencies are turned into a running joke and usually portrayed as overblown and ridiculous. In the dramatic portion of the game things get more nuanced. Wataru’s passion for virginity and esteeming of his own virginity are presented as mostly positive and at times outright admirable. Different events in the different ends force him to examine his values and sometimes he reevaluates or compromises on small details but his core beliefs remain unchanged because they are never truly challenged. Like I said, this isn’t a story of a shojochuu happening to fall for a girl who happens to have had sex before; Wataru is being deceived by a slut. Thus he is able to maintain his beliefs that demonize non-virgins as evil sluts. Even more convenient, Tama is a virgin and offers a ready potential escape into a storybook (or rather eroge) virgin-on-virgin love. Chuukoi toys with the idea of overturning the entire eroge worldview in favor of something realistic, or at least toys with trolling the hell out of the fanbase, but in the end retreats right back into the standard eroge world through a backdoor it made for itself. Maybe that’s the real troll.
Hosokawa Yuna: The used goods the title refers to. She’s a quiet shy girl. I usually dislike this archetype but Yuna actually feels like she has a personality and likes and dislikes, etc. In other words she feels like an actual character. Also she’s not a virgin so that further separates her from her archetype cohort.
Kouno Tamaki: Wataru’s childhood friend. She’s the tomboyish, slightly tsun subtype of childhood friend. I like that type of childhood friend characters. Who am I kidding, I like every type of childhood friend.
Makabe Wataru: The protagonist’s defining trait is, of course, that he’s a shojochuu. He’s often hot-blooded about this (mostly during internal monologues framed as lectures) but also gets pathetic because of it. In terms of his personality he’s similar to older-style protagonists as typified in Key games: he teases the heroines (or mostly Tama) and engages in eroge-protagonist gags like falling asleep while laughing. His humor makes him funny and his virginity fanaticism makes him interesting, though he pissed me off with his inflexibility around the whole shojochuu thing. I can get being a shojochuu, I guess, but his adherence to it in certain situations can be pretty repulsive.
Both of the heroines are quite typical, save of course for the obvious twist on Yuna’s character, but as with other aspects of this game the standard is executed with such ability that it reminds you why it became the standard in the first place. Wataru has a friend character Makoto who actually isn’t an idiot friend, but unfortunately doesn’t possess any notable character traits to make up for that. There’s also a playboy “yarichin” character, Toudou, who is actually a pretty cool guy. Chuukoi makes use of a neat narrative trick where Wataru has an eccentric character for a mother, a violent female bodybuilder, but she never directly appears and is only referenced by other characters. A good way to add color to the cast in a game that is relatively short and small in scope, and I suppose it has the side benefit of saving money on art and voices. This is a doujin game, after all.
There’s a sense of stability to Chuukoi’s background music. The tracks aren’t what I’d call good but they’re easy enough on the ears that you can leave them looping for a long time without them starting to grate. There are a few good hooks scattered throughout the songs, too. On the other hand the dramatic tracks are much too heavy-handed, to the point where they adversely affect the relevant scenes.
The ED (which also plays in the demo movie linked at the top; the game doesn’t technically have an OP) is decent enough, especially for a doujin work. It’s mildly catchy but I didn’t fully like the vocals. I think they were going for a vocoder effect but it only comes out pronounced enough in a few spots so instead the vocals sound unintentionally overproduced. There’s a “theme song” that doesn’t play in-game but is a lot of fun. It’s literally a shojochuu theme, in duet with an accompanying counterargument against shojochuu. Making it even more difficult to figure out what the game actually thinks about shojochuu. Musically it’s energetic and catchy, with strong vocals, though the instrumentation feels a bit cheap. Really good song.
Voicework is surprisingly great for a doujin release. Tama is voiced by Himari, who gives a stellar performance. Yuna’s seiyuu is also experienced and does a good job. Voicing for male characters doesn’t really matter too much, but for what it’s worth Makoto’s voice acting isn’t very good but Toudou’s is.
The art is horribly inconsistent. The sprites look consistently good, especially Tama’s, but the CGs are a mixed bag. Some verge on looking great while in others it looks like the artist has some fundamental misunderstandings about how the human body is put together. Late in the game I realized that the girls have tiny black dots in the center of their eyes, and if these are meant to be pupils then it’s creepy as fuck. Actually it’s creepy no matter why they’re there. They shouldn’t be there.
There are very few CGs. Each heroine gets literally two non-ero CGs. Surprisingly though I wasn’t bothered by this and didn’t realize just how few non-ero CGs there are until looking at the gallery after finishing the game. Maybe CGs aren’t all that important to an eroge. There aren’t very many ero CGs either, most scenes just get one, but it’s strange that the non-ero CGs are so outnumbered when the game doesn’t even have many ero scenes.
Like I just said there aren’t many ero scenes, which somewhat surprised me. There are a few NTR scenes, most of which are short and not very descriptive and exist mostly for plot purposes. They’re practically over before you can even get your dick out. There are a couple scenes where the fact that Wataru is having sex with a non-virgin (sometimes knowingly, sometimes not) adds a certain spice to the ero. There’s only a single vanilla, virgin-on-virgin sex scene. It might as well be ripped from any normal non-nukige. What I mean by that is that it’s rather generic first-time sex that doesn’t do much to make two people sharing their first time together seem the miracle-of-the-universe that Wataru makes it out to be. I feel the game really missed an opportunity there. Throughout the ero scenes the writing is the same simple but effective style seen throughout the game, and the scenes are a good short length. Oh, and Tama’s voice acting makes her scenes extra good, especially the chupa sounds.
Pros: Interesting premise; everything is executed with skill; shojochuu jokes
Cons: Insufficient as a critique of shojochuu
In a sense Chuukoi is why doujin eroge exist and are necessary. This is the kind of game a commercial maker could never put out. So it’s disappointing that this game mostly treads the same path as the games put out by commercial brands. The one benefit of this is that Chuukoi feels old-school in every way, like an homage to the eroge of old and a reminder of what made them great. But this game was supposed to be more than just a well-made romance-drama game. Its shojochuu elements are in the end half-baked. It attempts commentary on the phenomenon of radical virgin-worship in the industry and fanbase but fails to fully or fairly explore the subject, and even worse falls into the same traps it initially appears to warn against. Instead of doing anything fundamentally different from other eroge it uses shojochuu and meta commentary as a novelty twist on a familiar formula.
These concerns are themselves meta, other than those relating to thematic inconsistency. While judging a work in context is perfectly fair, I do think Chuukoi deserves credit for how well-crafted the game itself is. And honestly, it is quite enjoyable to play, and the shojochuu trappings manage to add a worthwhile dimension to the eroge even if they could’ve and should’ve done more. So despite how this review may make it sound I liked the game a lot. I recommend this eroge and begrudgingly commend it for at least doing more of what it does with the shojochuu commentary than any other eroge has tried to do.