I make my triumphant return to eroge blogging with a low-budget netorare nukige, Eroit’s Nee-san no Kareshi.
Tatsuhiko is in love with his older sister Iori. She’s aware of this but also aware that incest is a social taboo and totally not okay. Remember the fetish here is NTR not incest, so no convenient ignoring of stigma around sibling love. Tatsuhiko’s friend Seiji, who has also been close with Iori since childhood, proposes that he and Iori pretend to go out so Tatsuhiko will give up on his incestuous amorosity. Seiji’s a huge playboy and has been interested in Iori since childhood so he manages to convince her that part of pretending to date is having markedly non-pretend sex. Yes, a dumb NTR plot, but you develop a tolerance and acceptance for these things. No use fighting them.
Although the premise is, comparatively speaking, unique, if dumb, Iori actually also harbors incestuous feelings for Tatsuhiko, rendering the overall plot much like any other generic NTR story. It’s just that in this case the obligatory ridiculous reason for the heroine to have sex with the netori man involves incest.
All complaints aside Nee-san no Kareshi gets off to a surprisingly strong start. It opens with a legitimately poignant flashback (well technically it opens with a truncated in media res ero scene like most eromanga or certain nukige) and from there sketches out the basic scenario with a decent ear for the dramatic.
Unfortunately the story does not spend enough time developing the characters, their relationships, or the love-triangle-type situation before delving into the sex of things. Worse the sex becomes a real slog of some of the worst Japanese ero cliches: “training” and “ochiru.” These related concepts that I can’t really think of natural enough English analogues for so forgive me for the momentary weeabooness, involve a man “training” a woman in increasingly debauched sexual matters and the woman being corrupted into a sex-craved cumdump. Forgive the vulgarity but these plotlines are inherently vulgar.
Apparently the Japanese love these ero dynamics since they are so ubiquitous in the industry, but personally I am not a fan, though I’d perhaps like them more if they weren’t so overdone. So this part of the game becomes a real drag. I almost dropped it here, and only leftover goodwill earned by the beginning of the game kept me going. Choices during this section can lead to a couple of abrupt ends (calling them bad ends in a game like this does not seem quite accurate) which could potentially break up the monotony if you luck into them. I did not. But perhaps the worst thing that can be said about this part of the game is that there is hardly any netorare feeling, due to lack of story, drama, or general input from the protagonist.
Things begin to look up again as the story heads toward the main ends, of which there are two. Both bring in the dramatic tension again, and it’s as good as it was early in the game. It also starts to feel like something that is actually netorare, at least in theory. Due to this the ero also starts to get better, which helps a lot, so the game effectively becomes good and enjoyable again. There is also a point where the game pulls a neat, and by neat I mean infuriating, bait-and-switch that results in probably the best NTR feeling in the entire game. So things end on a high note, or whatever the equivalent for netorare nukige is, and it was possibly—possibly—worth sticking with Nee-san no Kareshi through the atrocious midgame.
Iori is your very typical nee-san character. Kind and maternal. Gently stern when called for. She even has the long, straight black hair that is near synonymous with the archetype. She is in no way remarkable or memorable, but she feels like an actual nee-san character and not just a thin representation of one.
Tatsuhiko and Seiji play their respective roles of Netorare Man and Netori Man. There is nothing about their personalities that cannot be described by a conjugation of the netoru verb, really. Tatsuhiko is pathetic and Seiji is an asshole. Can’t have respectable, upstanding men that exist outside the ridiculous sort of alpha-beta dichotomy pioneered and perpetuated by pickup artists (or did NTR nukige do it first?).
Damn this game has a good soundtrack for a cheap nukige. All the BGM is good, and there aren’t that many tracks but it’s such a short game that it’s got enough. Moreover it has an OP and an ED and they’re both good. Color me amazed. The overall tone of the BGM, as well as the OP, is rather electronic, with some piano flourishes. The ED sounds like a vocal song from an older nakige. Cool stuff.
Voice acting for the heroine is alright. I suppose you could say it’s better than what you would typically get from a budget nukige like this.
The eroge industry seems to have reached the point where coloring can go a long way in covering up poor lineart. Lineart being what the art actually is, and coloring being the veneer pasted over it to mask the flaws. I don’t know much about art but I guess some advances in digital art are responsible for the ever-increasing quality of eroge art. Well, regardless, Nee-san no Kareshi has some pretty awful art covered up by decent coloring. But for some CGs the lineart is so overwhelmingly poor that it’s obvious to even the casual observer. Bad perspectives, laughable anatomy abound.
I’ve got mixed feelings on the ero in this game, depending on the scene. The early scenes are really unerotic, for various reasons. Over reliance on played-out erotic concepts of training and ochiru, weak descriptions, and female POV with complete obliviousness on the part of the protagonist that the sex is even happening (the last by no means a deal-breaker but you better be doing a good job to foster the netorare atmosphere outside these scenes, which Nee-san no Kareshi does not do). Though there are the occasional lines of description or dialogue during these scenes that are pretty good. Later scenes where the protagonist is aware of the netorare and directly witnesses it are much better. They actually kind of feel like NTR, have despair/boner inducing introspection, and also seem to have better physical descriptions, perhaps because the sex is observed rather than experienced. The ero scenes are about 50/50 good/bad.
The very best ero scene in the game is one of the ones from the heroine’s perspective, but it comes after the bait-and-switch mentioned earlier, further speaking to my long-held belief that story or at least situational factors are a key player in the quality of ero in netorare games. On a last note the ero in this game, mostly in the scenes from the protagonist’s perspective but to an extent in the heroine-perspective scenes as well, places much more focus on descriptions of the heroine’s ass than usual. Thank you Japan—finally. Eroge never pay enough attention to the backside and I’m not sure why this is, I mean do Japanese men not like butts except for the few who have a fetish for them and make up the demographic for those extremely rare ass-centric games?
Pros: Half of the ero is quite good; decent dramatic trappings; great soundtrack and vocal tracks
Cons: Poor midgame; bad art; male characters are not even characters
In the past few years there has been a boom in netorare eroge, a boom which seems to be dying down, though this may be my wishful thinking. This boom has resulted in many companies trying, naturally, to exploit a trend for a quick buck. The result has been a sea of cheap, low-quality NTR nukige. They tend to ignore all the important elements of netorare. They misunderstand what netorare is and what draws people to it. They tend to play like eromanga jammed into an ADV system. They don’t spend any time building characters or relationships or creating situations that would bring in a human element to the sex. They don’t get that netorare is more than sex. It is the drama that exists in interpersonal relationships gone wrong, the complex conflicted feelings of the people caught in its tragic claws.
In a lot of ways Nee-san no Kareshi plays like one of those cheap netorare nukige. Yet it is not quite one. Perhaps the writer has some amount of skill—skill but not comprehension of or passion for netorare. But whatever the reason Nee-san no Kareshi ends up having enough quality moments to cast it as distinct from the rising tide of throwaway NTR games. A lot of the game ends up working. A lot of it doesn’t. On the whole I would say it was worth playing and worth not dropping when I very nearly did, but I definitely hesitated before making that statement.