In which everyone’s favourite airhead effortlessly becomes a national idol, adored by all.
… Or not.
While I never ended up reviewing the highly acclaimed 2011 Frontwing title Grisaia no Kajitsu, I did enjoy it. The star of the spin-off which I’ll be discussing in a bit just happens to be my favourite character, the pseudo-tsundere Matsuhima Michiru. While I generally have an aversion towards tsundere characters, there was something incredibly endearing about the way she’d snarkily sound off about something only to paste in a tsuntsun line at the end leaving everyone (including Michiru herself) unconvinced. Due to her uncanny ability to not quite pick up on things as fast as others, she’s earned a name for herself among the Grisaia crew for not being the brightest crayon in the box. She’s a bottle blonde to the boot, and lives up her hair colour with almost everything she comes out with. However, as her route displays she does have her own reasons for this. Michiru is a much sharper (and complex) character than people give her credit for after all, iconic to the point that she has easily cemented herself as one of my favourite eroge heroines. While her route may have unfortunately been stuffed to the brim with pseudosciencey waffle, I still thoroughly enjoyed it (funnily enough, I’ve heard that all traces of her magical American personality have been discreetly retconned in the sequels).
Having gone from strength to strength in the western sphere (thanks to translator Koestl), Kajitsu itself has now received an official localization by Sekai Project. Once spin-off Idol Mahou Shoujo Chiruchiru ☆ Michiru (ChiruChiru) was announced on April Fools, many (including myself) believed that it was just that – an elaborate joke from Frontwing designed to sell a cute tapestry or two. Yet the twitter account stayed active, and updates were posted well beyond April. When the game was announced for real, in a way I still couldn’t believe it. But, here we are.
A charming sense of playfulness pervades the trial resulting in an enjoyable read from start to finish. It’s very much a parody of the obnoxiously popular magical girl and idol genres, but it’s sharp without being the least bit cynical and leaves you bemused through its winks and nudges towards the reader about age limits (applicants fourteen and under only, please) and show panties. The trial opens with a skit revolving around the latter, pseudo-maid Sachi and a disturbingly devoted fan (a character who appears in the sequels, I believe) cheerily commentating that they can see our heroine’s panties perfectly. As she continues to fret Yuuji’s ridiculously charismatic mentor Asako takes it all in her stride; with how short her skirt is and performing on a higher platform it’s kind of a given that people will see them. But Michiru knew that anyway, right? It’s what show panties are for! In the midst of this you’ve Sachi getting the wrong idea altogether, all knowledgeable about those pesky misepan things being short for Mrs. Panda etc (if I didn’t watch a few episodes of terribad Yamakan venture Wake Up, Girls! I would have been in the dark as Sachi here – and it would have been for the better).
Usually skits revolving around underwear have me reaching for the ctrl button with one hand and vomit bucket with the other, but this was genuinely funny. What contributed to this was no doubt its characters. Grisaia’s colourful cast are known for their banter and meshing together marvelously, so I expected as much with Michiru and Sachi. But the unprecedented variable thrown into the mix was Asako. Now, I have a confession to make – despite ChiruChiru being a spin-off, I have only read the first installment of the Grisaia trilogy. So while I have a working knowledge of Asako from what Yuuji and J.B. have said, I never never actually seen her before. While she’s long since dead by the time Kajitsu begins, here she’s alive and kicking (quite literally – Sachi has to hold her back from pummeling something later), and charmed me immediately through her snarky smile and commenting freely about warfare, very much an uninhibited Yuuji. When I spoke of her charms over twitter I was met with unanimous agreement. She also manages to fulfill the obligatory Kawashima Rino quota nicely.
Our ditzy little heroine Michiru is an idol, but in true Michiru fashion she’s a failed one. She has no original songs to her name, so sings others without their permission (in before the inevitable lawsuit). She doesn’t appear on TV like her beloved idol Kazuki; in fact, the only place where she performs is at the 9029 club on a weekend to not even a handful of ‘fans’. But she won’t be discouraged, for she has a dream! Someday she’ll become a magnificent idol on par with Kazuki and offer courage and hope to everyone. As she wistfully dreams of such obviously unattainable things (it’s Michiru here, c’mon), a shooting star falls. And another. And, another (running out of wishes here) – before yet another knocks her out entirely resulting in an amusing near-death experience. When the contract with magical familiar Nyanmal initially falls through (a world first!), she later sees a video of him running around town all ‘THE WORLD IS UNDER THREAT’ on a douga site. A message board segment follows where one of those ‘I EARN 100K IN ONE WEEK, CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW!’ comments appear. What does she do? Of course, she abandons Nyanmel’s plight and totally buys into it. Oh Michiru.
Her coming into contact with Nyanmel left me smiling the whole way through. The world needs her? He clearly wants to rope her into a dodgy video, and he’s saying ludicrous things anyway so lolno. It totally took the piss out of the obligatory magical girl contract scene: there is no chosen one, quite literally anyone will do and god forbid if he’ll go for Michiru when there are others who wield her ‘magic’ (phones). A fateful meeting? A mere whim? The first thing she does after such a meeting is not exclaim that ‘w-wow, he can talk!’ in girlish wonder, but get Sachi on the phone and tell her wow that there’s literally a talking cat in front of her. When she passes the phone over to Nyanmel, he engages in conversation with her. And her magical girl fuck-ups don’t stop there. Later she completely screws up the magical girl catchphrase and gets locked out of trying to henshin~ for the day. Why save the world or whatever when she has her idol business to attend to, anyway?
It’s just a spin-off, but it blows most SOLs out of the water by virtue of actually being funny. I am also more partial to parodies than anything else, and it does help that Michiru is my favourite heroine. But as I’ve mentioned already, I haven’t read those sequels so there is a high risk of getting spoiled here. Since I’ve already encountered cameos I’d no doubt be doing myself a disservice if I continued reading, so while I enjoyed the hell out of ChiruChiru’s trial I may hold back until the time comes where I do get around to them.
If I stop being sort of sensible and check it out anyway, we’ll witness the full extent of the ChiruChiru miracle once it’s released on August 15th.
The trial can be downloaded here.