By Chris Melchin / January 3rd, 2017
Author’s note: Links lead to 18+ websites and content, all review images and content are potentially NSFW
|Title||D.C. ~Da Capo~|
|Release Date||January 23, 2009|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Eroge, Romance, Comedy|
D.C. ~Da Capo~ is something I’ve been aware of for a while, although I knew very little about it. So, when MangaGamer’s Moe Day sale came around on October 10, I decided it was as good a time as any to pick up Da Capo and Da Capo II to give them a real look.
Da Capo initially released in 2002 from developer and publisher Circus. There was a fan-made translation patch for the game in 2007, followed by an official English version from visual novel localization company MangaGamer in 2009.
Da Capo follows protagonist Junichi Asakura, who lives on Hatsune Island where the cherry trees are in bloom year-round. He lives with his adopted younger twin sister and childhood friend Nemu Asakura, next door to his cousin and another childhood friend Sakura Yoshino. The story also features fellow heroines, the school idol of Kazami Academy Kotori Shirakawa; the class prefect Mako Mizukoshi; and Mako’s sleepy, vacant older sister Moe Mizukoshi. There’s also Nemu’s younger friend Miharu Amakase, Junichi’s homeroom teacher and Kotori’s older sister Koyomi Shirakawa, and Junichi’s annoying and troublemaking yet strangely intelligent friend Suginami.
As is the case with games of its type, Da Capo has several routes and a large number of choices, including twice every school day to choose somewhere to go on a map, once around the school for lunch and once with the whole island after school. I’m not sure if there’s much indication of which choices will lead to what encounters, but there are several lines of untranslated dialogue on each map screen, some of which seem to give locations of certain characters to players that understand Japanese. Most western players will be flying blind at these parts, along with evenings when you set your wake-up alarm time, which also triggers different encounters on different days, most of which are impossible to anticipate unless you have a walkthrough. Although, it seems to take a conscious effort to avoid getting into a route – I finished Mako’s route on my first try without a walkthrough – and most of the necessary choices are obvious enough when they come up. There’s no enforced play order, but Miharu’s route only becomes available after finishing the five main heroines’ routes, along with another secret character.
Each route is generally lighthearted, much lighter than most story-heavy eroge and school-life visual novels in general, like the Grisaia series or something you’d see from a company like Key. This is not a nakige, although there are serious moments in each route. Da Capo is generally a series of feel-good love stories in a simple yet entertaining slice-of-life setting, with some underlying magical elements that come to the forefront to varying degrees in each route.
The sex scenes are not particularly worth mentioning, since they don’t seem too forced or shoehorned and are generally not bad to read. Sometimes the transitions into them are a bit rough; the first sex scene in Mako’s route in particular comes very suddenly out of nowhere, and the one sex scene in the secret route is quite literally tacked on after the epilogue before the final credits, and seems like it was thrown in for the sake of not having any routes without any H-scenes.
As with other Japanese visual novels, there isn’t much I can say about the voice acting. The music is generally good but not on the same level as CLANNAD or Little Busters! The opening theme “Da Capo ~Dai 2 BUTTON no Chikai~” goes well with the game and the blurry, strangely-animated 2002 opening. The art style is always a matter of personal taste, but I prefer the general style in Key’s games to that in Da Capo, although it could be a product of its time. Based on what I’ve seen of the sequels, their style is more to my liking than this game’s.
Looking at the game and playing it, Da Capo’s engine definitely shows its age, mainly in that there is no way to go back to the previous choice. Another weird thing about it is that right-clicking hides the text box, instead of opening the menu which can only be done by clicking on the option at the edge of the text box. There are also some typos here and there, as there will likely always be in a game with as much text as Da Capo. My personal favorites are the ones where the translators seem to have directly used the search and replace function for “bro” and “sis”, turning “brows” into “oniichanws” and “sister” into “oneechanter”. Other typos are less hilarious, and are generally fairly excusable for a big visual novel when they’re as few and far between as they are here.
Even if it won’t exactly be pulling at a reader’s heartstrings the same way as some other games, Da Capo tells an entertaining and touching series of love stories, with endearing characters and a world that is deeper and more interesting than it may initially seem. The engine and art style may be somewhat dated, but when all is said and done the stories and characters are straightforward and enjoyable. The game is available for $29.95 USD from MangaGamer if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, not a bad price for the 30+ hours I took to get through all seven routes. It doesn’t have the weight and seriousness of some other visual novels, but if you want something relatively lighthearted and romantic while still having a good amount of substance to it, Da Capo has got you covered.
Review copy purchased by author
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