Let's not beat around the bush: CxM
's beaus majorly suck. Some of them are slightly less douchey than others; but when all is said and done, they're all big douchey douches. However, I have to give them credit for straying from anime tropes and subverting expectations to some extent. What I cannot commend them for, on the other hand, are their improbable and ridiculously messy haircuts. I know we're dealing with a crisis quarantine situation there, but surely there must be some hairdressers left in Shinjuku. And what's with the improbable hair colours? Those five guys suffer from a serious case of bad hair day, and that certainly doesn't help their overall case as far as I'm concerned. (Hoshino herself is no better, mind you; it's like she couldn't decide between a bob and long hair and settled on a sloppy mix of both.) Having said that, on with the show! (SPOILERS
: The resident nutcase—with a feline twist. Although Shiraishi pleasantly strays from your usual otome psychopath by boasting strikingly good sun-kissed looks and a charming and playful personality, he's actually a really derivative character. Take Enomoto's chirpiness, mix it with Sasazuka's bluntness and brains, throw in a couple of cat-themed accessories for good measure, and voilà!
That's Shiraishi for you. The poor guy's troubled past and his love story with Hoshino are just as unconvincing as his sense of style: I cannot believe for a second that a couple of hours spent with Hoshino over a two-week period are enough to overcome years of hardcore mental conditioning. Either Adonis' conditioning programs are utter crap, or Hoshino has some superhuman hypnosis abilities. The ending, on top of being depressing, is just ridiculously improbable. You want me to swallow that young and beautiful Hoshino is going to pull off a Penelope and wait patienly and lovingly for her terrorist boyfriend to be released from jail? Yeah, like heck she will. More like she'll find a nice normal guy to warm her up during those cold, lonely nights away from Shiraishi, and that'll be the end of it. All in all, Shiraishi's route is by far the most frustrating, implausible and unfullfilling of all the CxM
: Right of the bat, I couldn't help but see the would-be samourai as a mix of Impey Barbicane from Code:Realize
and Sha Gojyo from Saiyuki
. Add to this his ridiculous eye patch, and you get a character that I couldn't take seriously for the life of me. Mind you, Enomoto's backstory was intense enough and could perfectly have redeemed his route and his character; but then he had to ruin it all by fretting every time Hoshino was kind to him, by fussing about indirect kisses and using first names, and by being generally way too impulsive and immature. And he's a crappy investigator to boot. Why am I even working with this guy, exactly? Not only does he do virtually nothing to help me, but I'm
the one who has to drag him out of his procrastination misery and kick his butt so that he'll come to terms with his past. Yeah, sure! I have nothing more pressing to do after all, right? It's not like I have a collar choke-full of poison around my neck or something. In the end, Enomoto is not a bad character, but having to pamper and reassure him constantly just got on my nerves on the long run.
: Dreamy-eyed Okazaki is a really slippery character, a character I couldn't quite figure out despite spending hours on his route. His ulterior motive is too far-fetched to be convincing, and his sloppy looks and anarchic sleeping patterns just don't square with his steely determination and bewildering physical abilities. He's also overbearing and a bit of a stalker, and yet he peppers his SMS with cute smileys. I get the feeling that the writers just threw together a couple of conflicting features in the hope of obtaining a paradoxical and fascinating beau—and in my opinion, they kinda missed the mark. Okazaki is a very inconsistent character, and ends up being painfully forgettable. On the other hand, he's by far the gentler and most affectionate of the guys, and the sweet atmosphere he manages to create by sheer virtue of his mellow demeanour and adorable smiles redeems his route quite a fair bit. That's how I'm ultimately able to claim Okazaki's route as my second favourite route in CxM
despite the fact that I can hardly remember what transpired in it.
: I thought I would be grappling with the resident tsundere here, but Otomate pleasantly subverted my expectations. Sasazuka is no tsundere indeed, but rather a very blunt and laconic character who doesn't mince his words and doesn't bother with subtleties such as politeness and putting himself in one's shoes. That tactless attitude is justified by the fact that Sasazuka spent years in the USA and was somehow contaminated by our famed barbaric Western rudeness. Hum, I wonder if the Otomate writers realize that Sasazuka is very
brusque and brash even by Western standards? Oh well, nevermind. Sasazuka's bluntness and snarky comments aside, his route is actually my favourite in CxM
. I dig the fact that he doesn't bother hiding his feelings, be they positive or negative; and I dig even more his boldness when it comes to carnal matters. Where the other guys hardly dare to brush against Hoshino and agonize endlessly over kissing her or not, Sasazuka just act upon his instincts. His relationship with Hoshino is pleasantly physical
: he hugs her, kisses her and lays with her—and let's be honest, that's the last thing I expected from him given his ice queen demeanour in the prologue and the other routes. And since I'm a huge sucker for the 'Quiet Character That Turns Out To Be A Horny Pony' trope, I lapped the whole thing up. Oh, and the guy loves doughnuts—and anybody who loves doughnuts gets an instant pass as far as I'm concerned.
: Sheesh, what a giant snoozefest. I hoped that the game's poster boy and true route tenant would pack some punch behind his nondescript looks and low-key behaviour; but alas, Yanagi is every bit as boring in his own dedicated route as he is in the prologue and the other routes. There is not a shred of chemistry between him and Hoshino: they don't ever seem to feel comfortable in each other's presence, let alone attracted to each other. Then there is the massive issue of their common past: when Yanagi mentioned that he and Hoshino were "perpetrator and victim", I immediately pictured a situation in which Hoshino would have to choose either to get her revenge on Yanagi, thus subscribing to Adonis' ideals, or to forgive him and break the insane and potentially endless vicious circle of crime&revenge instigated by Adonis. That would have been the most intense and perfect outcome, wouldn't it? But NOPE! It turns out that Yanagi actually rescued Hoshino from a random abductor back in the days, after which the matter is prompty ousted and never referred to again. I seriously suspect that this event was shoehorned into Yanagi's route to create a connection of sorts between him and Hoshino. Like: "Suuuure, there's no spark at all between those two—but hey, they met in the past
!!! That has to count for something, right?" Well, I'm afraid not. Yanagi's route could have been redeemed by the fact that it let me flex my investigative muscle at long last—but infortunately, that was too little, too late. And I'm still pissed off that the game required me to input a certain character's full name without giving me the opportunity to save or check my files first. I sure knew all the character's last names, but their first names
? Are you kidding me, Otomate? I had to reload my last save to retrieve the first name in question, and I was none too pleased by that interruption.
|Nope, you can't have them.|
On top of offering nothing but douchey beaux, CxM
keeps the best guys tantalizingly out of your woiing reach. You sadly cannot get into Minegishi's, Morioka's, Mochida's or Saeki's pants, which is a huge pity given that they all have nicely normal haircuts and behave ten times more decently than Yanagi&co. (Morioka in particular is a real sexy b*tch, and I'm sure many a CxM
player would have killed for some steamy lovin' between him and Hoshino.) I'm not sure I'll ever bother getting up close and personal with the CxM
crew again—but then again, only time will tell. And after that lukewarm experience with CxM
, I'll take a nice, long break from otome games. I won't take a break from visual novels yet, though: I have one more VN from that January PSN sale to put to the test, and I'll do it without delay. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!