Reika no Yakata (Reika’s Mansion, not to be confused with the seminal Reika’s Bitch Training) is a 2014 hypnosis nukige from doujin circle Sister Soft, who became a commercial company shortly after releasing this game, then recently merged with SherbertSoft.
Kayano Kyouichi and his younger sister Hime are on their way back from a snowboarding trip when a snowstorm forces them to take shelter in an isolated mansion. Turns out this mansion is a high-class brothel operated by two sisters, Hitomi and Reika. Kyouichi and his sister are poor and can’t afford the exorbitant fee for a night’s stay, but the sisters propose a solution: they will allow the siblings to stay in the mansion if Kyouichi is able to resist their sexual advances. If he succumbs they will charge the siblings not only lodging but for the use of their…services as well. This proves quite the challenge once it’s revealed that Reika is a practitioner of hypnosis.
The early stages of Reika no Yakata delve into an examination of human sexuality. This is not uncommon in nukige, where the theme is of course sex, but it is done on another level here. The game’s musings on sexuality, delivered primarily through Reika, are much more nuanced and mature than what you generally find in nukige that attempt to address sexuality: in Reika no Yakata it feels like a real reflection on sex and not just platitudes to lend importance to the sex. A major theme is sadomasochism, and how it isn’t a dichotomy, isn’t even quite a continuum, but is more of a state of flux inherent in anyone’s sexual proclivities. That willingness to engage in the ambiguity of things is a prime example of the sophistication that characterizes this game’s exploration of sex. Sadly this theme ends up taking a backseat for most of the story as the game becomes one long string of sex scenes, though it does make a return toward the end.
The other really impressive thing about Reika no Yakata is how it handles hypnotism. It’s much different than in other hypnosis nukige, perhaps because in this rare case the protagonist is the subject of the hypnosis rather than the user. The writing does an amazing job showing the mental changes as Kyouichi falls under hypnosis: namely that there aren’t any, at least not any that are immediately noticeable. The subtlety of the hypnosis is so extensive that even the reader begins to feel hypnotized. That is not a figurative statement. It’s really quite a feat for the game to pull that off. The game even has an option from the main menu that launches a short scene to allegedly release the reader from the game’s hypnosis, though as someone who doesn’t believe in pop-hypnosis I found this more of a novelty than something that’s actually necessary or has any effect whatsoever.
Perhaps the third selling point of the game story-wise is the mystery of the mansion. Early on the game sets a mysterious tone and the reader is given enough hints that something is vaguely going on. These are not really pursued, because as already mentioned the game soon shifts into an almost unbroken run of sex scenes. The few minutes between ero scenes doesn’t give much space to expand upon any hints or develop a deeper sense of mystery, so you’d be forgiven if any curiosity about what’s happening behind the scenes disappears over the course of the story. There are some twists and turns, especially at the end of the game, and they’re decent and would probably be quite good if the plot had a little more development. I feel depending on the person some twists will be predictable and some will be mildly surprising. That was my experience, and given this is a nukige it makes for a reasonable plot experience.
There are a few other plot elements that do their part to make the story feel a little more whole. There’s the drama of the Kayano family circumstances (Kyouichi and Hime’s parents died when they were younger, not surprisingly, so all they have is each other). There are Kyouichi’s attempts to escape the hell of having to have sex with two beautiful sisters and his own beautiful sister. All this is done well enough that it’s serviceable, with a few standout scenes here and there, and altogether it makes for a good story if you, once again, add the qualifier that this is a nukige.
Hime is a great imouto. Her mildly genki, mildly dere personality feels fairly familiar for a little sister character, but thanks to good writing she’s got lines that help define her as her own character. Reika is the sadist ojou and Hitomi the masochist ojou, but they both have enough uniqueness to their characters that they do not feel like stereotypes. Again, good writing differentiates them from various archetypal associations that would otherwise immediately come to mind and wash out their characters. All three heroines are very likable and unique enough that they would be a great, memorable cast with more development. Unfortunately, again the nukige nature of this game places sex before development. Toward the end of the game I felt a distinct desire to spend more time with these girls, which is a testament both to their power as heroines and their need for more time from the game for character development.
The protagonist Kyouichi is, unfortunately, not up to par with the female characters. His two defining characteristics are his somewhat brooding nature and his motivation to provide for and take care of his sister Hime. Other than that he is a completely average young man. Boring.
The soundtrack in the game has great production quality for a doujin release and helps create the sophisticated but mysterious atmosphere of the mansion. There are even some hypnotic overtones to some of the songs. However none of the individual tracks are particularly remarkable. The vocal OP for the game is surprisingly good, and again ties in well to the game and its atmosphere.
Voicework is great, but markedly nukige-oriented. The acting in ero scenes is over the top, exaggerated in a way that’s meant to increase the eroticism of the scene and ends up doing just that. Outside of the sex scenes the voices often leak lust in a way that would compromise the acting in any other circumstance, but since you’ve probably already got your dick out it works and is in fact welcome.
The art is so damn sexy and I’m not entirely sure why. It isn’t technically remarkable or stylistically unique, but there is an intangible erotic quality to it. Seriously all you really need to fap is the sprites. But then you get past the sprites and to the ero CGs and you realize that even if you only needed the sprites you thank God that this game has CGs. It’s glorious, a true realization of the soft perfection of anime girls. Yet there is also, seemingly, a consciousness that these anime girls are not real, and an acceptance that the plastic unreality of the anime girls is precisely what makes them appealing. The art is erotically contrived in the best ways.
Reika no Yakata has what is in all likelihood my favorite ero-scene writing. The sex scenes are a near-perfect balance of physical descriptions, psychological descriptions, and dialogue. The physical descriptions do not meticulously, almost clinically, describe every minor detail like other nukige so unsexily do. Instead the writer knows to describe things more generally and hit upon the highlights. The psychology and dialogue reflect a similar deep understanding of human sexuality that plays into the thematics of the game.
Another great part of the ero is the large range of situations. Obviously hypnosis is an overarching theme. Same with sadomasochism, which, again keeping with the themes of the story, is explored in nuanced depth, with the protagonist and different heroines switching roles frequently. Other fetishes covered include incest, group sex, a single NTR scene, and a variety of sexual acts are also covered. The sheer variety here benefits anyone who is willing to embrace their own nuanced, myriad sexuality.
Pros: Nuanced exploration of sexuality and sadomasochism; unique application of hypnosis; amazing artwork; variety of ero scenes with great writing; girls are all really likable
Cons: Story and characters need more development
Reika no Yakata is a model nukige. It achieves the feat of not only engaging with human sexuality as a theme even outside the ero, but of doing so in a legitimately sophisticated and intelligent way. While being hot and fappable and everything too, of course, that’s really fucking important too.
I feel that, with erotica, it is almost necessary to address sexuality, unless there is some thoughtful reason for separating the sex from the story. Many nukige seem to realize this on some level, perhaps subconsciously since I doubt thousand-yen fetish nukige writers are paying attention to theme, but their exploration of sexuality is shallow and doesn’t end up adding much if anything to the experience.
While I don’t want to overrate Reika no Yakata’s thematic component, it is by no means a philosophic work, it’s nice to play through a nukige that makes a decent attempt at this kind of substance. I’ve played many nukige that combine ero and plot but none that do ero and the sort of thoughtful meditation on human sexuality this game touches upon at times. Reika no Yakata is satisfying on multiple levels.