By Diego Hernandez / November 10th, 2021
|Title||Koikari: Love For Hire|
|Release Date||October 22, 2021|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Romance, Comedy|
Minutes after publishing my Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche review, I got my hands on Koikari. A new romantic comedy courtesy of both Asa Project and NekoNyan. To clarify, you may recognize the pairing from the release of Love Triangle Trouble. After being emotionally devastated by Kinkoi’s story, I was glad to see something like this release almost immediately afterwards. It’s a very colorful romantic comedy centering around one of the more ridiculous premises I’ve ever seen. Instead of crying from dramatics, I could potentially cry from laughter. This is the mentality that I had prior to launching this exciting read. In addition, I also have questions. Stuff like who will be the best girl, how ridiculous can things get, and so much more. All these will be answered along with the important one: How does it hold up?
The premise is as ridiculous as the synopsis makes it out to be. You play as a young, gloomy male who’s trying his best to work his butt off for the sake of his little sister’s future. With no parents to fall back on, you look towards every avenue possible to make money. This includes, and I kid you not, the most ridiculous job posting imaginable. A job that literally has you roleplay anything the client so desires. Oddly enough, with presentation that seems more like it’ll be a scam, it’s real. Thus our journey begins as you try to work your butt off for ridiculous clientele with even more ridiculous requests. However, this job will also serve as a gateway to a little emotion we call love as the game introduces our heroines and their dilemmas in quick succession.
If I could sum up the common route in this game with one word, it would probably be outrageous. No, not for the sheer unrealistic premise, I welcome that. Instead, it’s more for how funny each interaction with these characters tend to be. Whether it’s Emi’s struggles to get money to afford your services, or Chinatsu’s strong tsundere frame that immediately shatters with a head pat, I can’t stop myself from laughing. There’s so much going on with every conversation that when I inevitably hit a route crossroads, I’m shocked by how quickly I got here. While they say that time flies when you’re having fun, I really wish there was more time. Not just because it’s funny, but because they really benefit from using it to develop more intimacy. However, I’ll touch more on that in a bit.
A major area of concern is regarding the pace of the story, as without specifics it seems like things go a bit too fast. It felt like I just watched the main character fulfill a couple requests with every girl, I blink and he’s already ready to take the next step, somehow, following an impromptu confession. It’s insane, but considering how we even got here, I think it’s par for the course. However, readers that aren’t used to such chaotic methods of storytelling will have to exhibit some form of caution, because you might be a choice away from ending the common route and having to readjust. It’s uncanny in every sense of the word, but there’s also a charm to this madness.
It goes without saying that this is another one of these types of titles that really emphasize character interactions over storytelling. For you see, the reason you start working this suspicious job gets mentioned once and almost never again. Instead, as you read, you find out more about the main character’s gross infatuation with money in its place. As I said before, the heroines are a constant source of laughter throughout the entire read. There’s never a dull moment with them as they have several mannerisms, whether in facial expressions or voice. The main character, with the exception of his behavior in two routes, is inherently problematic and often a detriment for the romantic side of the story. At first, I felt like he was being a Chad, working with only his own agenda in mind. Sadly, even in a route, he remains obnoxious as hell.
The heroines of Koikari really put the game on another level as they not only carry the main character’s future in terms of funding, they also carry the whole story. With a gloomy man that expresses about as much emotion as an Easter Island head, it was very much needed. Even in routes, it was such a struggle for the main character to even admit his love for the girls. For the record, if it’s a one-time occurrence, I’ll let it slide and say it’s cute. However, and unfortunately, it’s every single time. He kills the good vibes more often than reinforcing them. He does have his moments so it’s not like he drags the entire experience down, but I would have wanted more out of him and he’s definitely capable of it.
So the girls are perfect as can be, the main character is mid-tier at best. What about everything else? Character sprites and backgrounds are colorful and lively to really bring out the good of each scene. Soundtrack is as charismatic and passionate as the heroines themselves. Lastly, the chibi art is astonishingly cute and the 18+ scenes are out of this world. Yes, this is a game that I will highly encourage you get the patch for. These girls go all out to really create some mystifying sex scenes. All within decent length so you don’t feel like you’re clicking through several moans and expletives. In addition to all that, the UI is very comfy and even includes its own screenshot button for cataloging those very special moments. All in all, it’s a very special project.
One thing I want to highlight in particular is the brilliant translation work and localization on the part of NekoNyan. I don’t think I’d spend the entire time laughing if the script wasn’t that funny. The references and jokes are so well done and easy to understand and, because of that, I never wanted to turn the game off. The 101 (!) screenshots that I have of this journey through Koikari will serve to remind me of how uniquely funny this entire experience really is. I really have to shout out their work because it’s phenomenal and I hope we see more of it.
Koikari is an exceptional romantic comedy with some of the best heroines I’ve ever seen. I laughed from beginning to end and only want more of it. Exceptional character design, charismatic soundtrack and so much more make for a very wonderful package. I just wish the main character wasn’t such a brick wall. The 22 hours I spent with this game were magical, and while I do recommend it, I think you should wait for a sale to get the full value. If you want to jump right in, the game is available on Steam for $29.99 with a free 18+ patch on the publisher’s website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. By the way: Tsubaki > Twins > Momoko > Emi > Hasumi > Saki.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
Asa ProjectJapanese Visual NovelJVNKoikariKoikari Love for HireNekoNyanReviewsvisual novelVN