With almost 300k views on niconico and having won an award or something, it’s the smash-hit My Little Eldritch Abomination Can’t be this Cute!. Otherwise known as that crazy cricket/grasshopper dating sim. But actually known as Creature to Koi to Shiyou! – Kokonoe Kokoro – /Let’s be in love with Creatures! – Kokonoe Kokoro -.
Our grand tale of love and crickets begins with our protagonist, Ichitarou, being woken up one morning much like any other. The sweet voice rousing him out of his sleep is one that he’s all too familiar with, for it belongs to his childhood friend, the eponymous Kokoro. They rush to school in a frenzy, worrying about being late all the while they quibble about homework not being done, and is there any chance that Ichitarou can copy it from her, please? She’s initially reluctant, being the strict but kind sort, but eventually does agree. Meanwhile, we’re told about how Ichitarou’s parents are abroad leaving him with his younger, rather batty sister. We’re told how he and Kokoro have gone through their school days together never once leaving each others’ side, now having reached their final year of high school together. Upon entering the classroom the pair are greeted by their friend who jokingly says they got there just in time and shortly cracks a married couple joke after Kokoro offhandedly tells him that “(Ichitarou) just wouldn’t wake up”. Their exchange is cut short by their homeroom teacher walking in, telling them that class is about to begin.
After school, Kokoro returns to Ichitarou’s house and attempts to cook up a meal for him, only to have it end in disaster. It’s at this point his younger sister enters. She’s in her third year of middle school, and is on the track team. A premise that sounds all too familiar to you is conjured up, except with one major difference; none of the characters introduced (save for Ichitarou) are human. Masato is some bone-man monstrosity, the sister is a bat, and our leading lady is a cricket.
It’s not just the premise that will sound like you’ve already read this somewhere before, for all of Kokoro will instill the reader with that uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. There is literally nothing else worthy of note about this save for the whole ‘uh, you have a waifu, and she’s a cricket’ thing. And with that, such a seemingly surreal premise is all one needs for their attention to be drawn to it, much like mine was. Now, where doujin VNs are concerned I don’t review every one that I happen to come across for most of them end up being short or not post-worthy as such (in before inevitable joke about any post being worthy), but I have read titles in the same vein as Kokoro. I’m sure many of you have, for one involving pigeons got popular not too long ago. It’s one of those Things now, right? Someone desperate for page views brings it to the masses’ notice on an infamous site devoted to sensationalist otaku media, or it may quickly rise up the ranks on tumblr. While charming in its own way, Hatoful does have a bit of oomph to it and I look upon it fondly. Kokoro, however, is pure shit from start to finish.
With these type of games, it’s all about the hook. Just how absurd can you get? There’s a case of one upmanship afoot, with every subsequent title getting all the more ridiculous, with them not always being for the better. With Kokoro, you keep waiting for that hook, for it to live up to its premise. But as you continue to read you start to realize quickly that the twist is, that there is in fact no twist. There is no whiff of irony, no winks and nudges aimed towards the reader. It is played way too straight and would quite comfortably fit in with any bargain bin shounen romance anthology if it weren’t for the cricket thing. Quite honestly, after reading Kokoro I am fully convinced that this was originally written at a genuine attempt at making a pure love story with the writer thinking that no way people would be interested without something to draw ’em in, so threw some random creatures in to do just that. The creatures chosen don’t even have a pattern to them. I mean, a fucking bone-man! And their teacher is a blob of meat. Hilarious!!1111 XDDDDdddd
Kokoro being what she is is never alluded to, which should be the key aspect of Kokoro‘s hilarity given the supposedly surreal nature of it all. But it’s never utilized. She is by all respects the same as your everyday haremette; there are no puns, and there are no awkward situations she has gotten into by virtue of what she is. The most that’s ever said about her looks is that she looks ‘monstrous’, and it’s only once in passing. Nothing is done with the sister either, but of course some incest appeal has to be shoehorned in with her saying “even though you held me so closely while you were sleeping—!” in a put-out fashion, for absolutely no reason.
Disappointingly, everything you initially thought about this is probably incorrect for it’s a pure love story through and through. Kokoro is a smart kind of gal, and is aiming for Tokyo University. Despite being in their final year of high school Ichitarou has no idea what’s to become of him, so doesn’t really have a plan. Lucky his childhood friend is there to forcefully map out his life for him! She coaxes him into staying with her, so they start studying with the goal having altered; they will head to Tokyo University together. Shortly after making this decision they proceed to study everyday… That’s if Ichitarou can stop ogling her luscious curves of course! Tee hee! Our Yuuji everylead eventually gets tired of this shit and quits, leaving his darling quite upset before bone-man comes along and knocks some (non)sense into him. Can’t he see what a fool he’s being?! Can’t he see that Kokoro loves him?!?!?!?! With so much third, fourth, fifth-rate drama going on it’s easy to forget that you braced yourself for absurdity. You keep wondering when the hell something is going to happen, and it’s around here it sort of does.
Kokoro has three endings, all of which depend how you have Ichitarou answer how he feels about Kokoro. Say you hate her, and there’s a yandere TWEEEEST for all of five lines with her doing her only cricket-like behaviour throughout the entire thing, making furious cricket noises and subsequently stabbing him. With one of her arms. Hell hath no fury like a cricket scorned. Say you don’t feel any particular thing towards her, and bone-man chokes him. Say you love her, and bone-man says he’ll get with her instead of you. That there’s no doubt she’ll be popular because of how cute she is. The pair then have one of those youthful j-dramaish bust-ups culminating in bone-man heartily telling his best friend ‘good luck’.
As Ichitarou searches for the creature of his desire, he ponders about his feelings towards her. Does he really love her?! When he’s hesitating about whether he can actually say whatever he feels, you’re cheering him on not out of support, but because you know you’re getting real close to the end. But for what happens next, oh unsuspecting reader, you’ll never guess!
You’ll derive more entertainment with watching a fly buzz around; a spider spinning their web. At least their actions and patterns will be a touch unpredictable than this garbage was. But, how do I feel about it overall?
Having been released towards the end of September, it’s available for download on nostalgia’s site, and should take half an hour to complete, more or less depending on reading speed. If you want to read this thinking that it’ll be so-bad-it’s-good, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Later, if any of your hipster friends beg you to play this due to it having become A Thing and that somehow makes it hilarious, shut your browser for your friend is an asshat with atrocious taste.
Overall rating: 2/10 dusty cricket carcasses.