By Diego Hernandez / June 19th, 2019
|Title||Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!!|
|Release Date||March 14th, 2019|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Yuri, Slice of Life|
Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! is the very colorful all-ages yuri visual novel developed by PARTICLE. Originally releasing on April of 2016 in Japan, this debut title quickly became a noteworthy hit among fans of the yuri genre. MangaGamer realized this and, during their Anime Expo panel in 2018, they announced their plans to localize the title. Subsequently, Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! released for English-speaking audiences on March 14th, 2019. With the promise of several wholesome stories brought to life through brilliant voice acting and a vivid art style, it begs the question for those on the fence – how does it hold up?
Normally, this is the part of the review where I’d put you in the shoes of our protagonist and give you an overview of your prologue. However, I can’t really do that with this title. That is to say, the developer doesn’t want you to experience it that way. Upon starting up the game, you’re immediately introduced to all 15 girls, an overwhelming beginning. On the other hand, through distinct personality traits and clever interface design, you don’t get as lost as you’d think. The girls converse among themselves as they prepare for a huge picnic on a lovely day. For clarification, the conversations range from being reflective on days past to outright flirty, providing an idea on what to expect from every couple. When the prologue scene ends, you arrive at a scene selection screen in calendar form. Welcome to Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!!
There are a lot of options to take into consideration, so let’s meet the couples. Let’s start with the first option, Ayumi and Waka. Ayumi is the calm and collected senpai, lover of all things cute. Waka is the extremely energetic and cute kouhai that’s in love with Ayumi. Above all, ever since middle school they’ve been linked together, with the small interactions becoming something bigger, Ayumi might be getting serious about Waka!
Up next is the story of Ayane and Hina, two friends that are very close yet not quite there. Ayame is another energetic type, while Hina is a soft and delicate cinnamon roll. Moreover, they’ve been friends for as long as they can remember and are fortunate enough to be in the same class for the year! However, Hina is looking at Ayame a bit differently as of late. Is love in bloom alongside the sakura?
The next couple is Natsuki and Mio and they offer a differing pattern from the couples before. For instance, while they might be childhood friends since days of kindergarten, their personalities reflect a mother and daughter vibe. Natsuki is the lazy student council president who seems to be done with the world. In contrast, Mio is the honest type and keeps Natsuki going. Upon the arrival of the new year while she’s getting ready to give her speech, Natsuki realizes the state of her relationship with Mio. However, is that all she wants it to be?
If the previous options weren’t smoking hot, allow me to introduce you to Hare and Seira. For clarification, the kind of hot I’m talking about is in emotional tensions. You see, ever since they met in their first year of high school, these two have a rivalry going in their studies. You’ll be quick to see how bashful the two behave around one another. However, you’ll also notice Seira is a bit happy to have Hare around, creating the textbook definition of a tsundere. Can Seira get over her emotional bumps and relay what she really feels to her rival?
The next couple features love between master and maid, Alice and Ibuki. What started out as a friendship as tight as as you could imagine got even closer. In short, Ibuki was set to move away but an opportunity paved the way for this high school girl to become Alice’s maid, keeping her near. Ibuki’s affection for Alice is never-ending and sometimes shameless, and Alice knows this. However, while not as expressive as Ibuki, Alice might be feeling something strong for her student maid. What could that feeling be?
The couple that follows takes a peculiar direction, I’m talking about Mayu and Mai. Similarly, this one pairs a smart and bashful Mayu with a sporty and quite silly Mai. The only contrast between this one and the others is that Mayu and Mai are sisters. The two have been stuck like magnets since their earliest memory. Consequently, it means they’ve depended on each other for a lot of life scenarios. Thus, the development of unique feelings that crosses not just the line of perhaps love between two girls, but between sisters as well!
It seems odd that the number of girls doesn’t end on an even number, why is that? To answer that question, I bring forth the route between Yuno, Tamaki and Saeka. Yuno is a future idol in the making with tons of character to show, her best friend is the disciplinary committee member with an overly unique hairstyle, Saeka. In her time within the disciplinary committee, Saeka has made significant strides in her personality but perhaps is lacking in the compassion area. The two have been roommates since their first year of high school and are great friends. Enter Tamaki, Yuno’s adorable cousin, who is on her way to becoming a full-fledged teacher. The three girls meet, but how their story progresses is completely up to you, the reader.
This route presents the only set of choices within the game that matter. In short, you will decide what combination gets paired and who will play the role of the support. However, while it seems like it may be a tough decision to make, rest assured, whatever route you choose will bear a wonderful fruit.
If I could describe the cast of Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! with one word, it’d be colorful. While there might be a few girls that share personality traits, how they go about their corresponding routes is the difference maker. For instance, in the case of Mai, who is one of the more energetic characters, her tone seems to shift to a calmer approach when left alone with her sister Mayu. In contrast, Waka’s energy is what ultimately defines her with Ayumi.
In short, there are two sides to every character, and you’ll see both in the common episodes and route-specific episodes. While we’re on the subject, allowing the player to deviate from a linear playstyle via a calendar system isn’t exactly something new. In fact, it’s on display within another popular MangaGamer published yuri title, Kindred Spirits on the Roof. The freedom to experience the story however and whenever you want adds depth to the game. If I am to describe the situation, it’s like playing an open-world game. Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! offers so many wonderful routes to view that it became difficult to choose a starting point.
Returning to the matter of the two sides to each character, I must acknowledge the writing and voice acting. If I learned anything reading visual novels over the past few years, it’s that looks can often be deceiving. In this case, how the characters behave in and out of their route-specific stories is what captivates me. Love is an overwhelming feeling to the point where it messes with personalities. Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! shows that aspect of the emotion within every route beautifully and the professional voice acting enhances it to the point where it gives me chills.
When it comes to art, you really must give a standing ovation to Sakura Miwabe. The girls are beautiful and are well complimented in the utilized background arts. With all the well-meshed colors, it really does feel like I’m looking at a rainbow. Similarly, the sound team did a good job. While the soundtrack isn’t anything to write home about in the beginning, when you get to vital moments in the story, one particular track will jump out at you, out of nowhere, and leave you feeling mesmerized.
I have rightfully given praise to all major areas; however, this is not a perfect game. As stated earlier, the soundtrack, except for one track, is forgettable. Likewise, and this is the major con, the pacing is a major issue. The episodes are short and spread out, but perhaps too spread out and a bit too few. The endings to the routes I’ve seen were amazing but felt like I got there too quickly. Perhaps the development I seek lies within more common episodes, but I don’t think that’s the case and would be a poor design choice. Nonetheless, still very good short yuri stories that leave you wanting more.
Lilycle Rainbow Stage!!! is a must-own for fans new and old of soft yuri-themed literature. The colorful and expressive cast, while overwhelming at first, are as beautiful as the rainbow in both personality and looks. The writing is as wholesome as it gets, and the sounds give it life. The game sits at a $24.99 price, and this writer believes it’s worth every penny. I have 19.4 hours played and will likely come back to add more. Thank you MangaGamer for providing us with more yuri.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
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