By Chris Melchin / January 12th, 2017
Similar to the first game, the different routes have varying amounts of supernatural elements. Koko’s and Nanaka’s routes are the most straightforward, although Nanaka’s route does have several callbacks to Kotori Shirakawa’s route from the first game. These two routes in particular lean fairly heavily on common romance drama tropes, and although they’re generally well-executed, it does have the potential to make them somewhat predictable. However, it’s not an especially serious problem, and not the biggest problem with Da Capo II.
The biggest problem with Da Capo II is easily the generic harem protagonist at the helm of the story, Yoshiyuki Sakurai himself. While he does have more of a personality than Junichi Asakura – having real hobbies aside from standard anime boy hobbies and actual character traits beyond just being a nice guy – he’s also one of the most infuriating visual novel protagonists I have ever seen. Since he’s the protagonist and perspective character, the reader has a front-row seat to Yoshiyuki’s total obliviousness and lack of awareness of his own emotions and those of others. He’s not exactly inconsiderate towards others most of the time, but his lack of awareness is mainly concerning love, both his own and that of those around him. Even the other characters recognize him as being somewhat slow to catch on when things aren’t explicitly laid out in front of him, but even if it is a deliberate story choice that doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating.
The soundtrack is solid, with a few songs returning from the first game and a separate ending theme for each route, as well as a separate opening theme for each of the three parts. My favorite track on the OST is Nanaka’s ending theme “Mabushikute Mienai”, also used as an insert song throughout her route. As always with Japanese voice acting, it’s hard to say if it’s good or bad, but none of the voices sound really obviously bad to me. I particularly like Minatsu’s voice; it’s quite well-suited to her character.
The sex scenes are generally inoffensive, not bad enough to take away from the story but not seeming integral to the plot. Otome’s route has the same issue as the secret route in the first game, with the single sex scene happening as the final scene in the epilogue and coming across as an afterthought rather than being integrated into it like the other routes. The writing is somewhat questionable sometimes; I’m not sure if it’s meant to be funny or if the writers were just trying to mix up their euphemisms, but it’s hilarious and makes it somewhat difficult to take some of the sex scenes seriously (if they were supposed to be). There’s also an unusually large number of typos and other assorted errors, mostly grammatical problems like missing punctuation, improper word forms used such as incorrect forms of “it’s” and “your”, and engine formatting issues. Typos are more or less a fact of life when it comes to translated visual novels, but it seems like there were more here than one usually finds. There were also a number of save files from 2013 already present in the game’s files when I downloaded it from MangaGamer.com, along with a bunch of already-seen text, so if you do get the game from them you may need to go into its files and delete the existing BGI.gdb file to allow the game to create a fresh one.
Da Capo II is, overall, a good experience and an improvement over the original in most ways. Unfortunately there’s still no easy way to go back to the previous choice, which can be frustrating for those times when you accidentally hit the wrong choice since it automatically snaps the mouse cursor to one of them, but otherwise there are no major technical issues with the game. My problems are more artistic, mostly in that I absolutely hate Yoshiyuki Sakurai and the possible overuse of romance drama clichés in certain routes. However, entertaining writing, dynamic sprites and design, and endearing characters make it perfectly enjoyable if you can get past your frustration with Yoshiyuki. Da Capo II will run you over 30 hours to finish all the routes, and seeing the Sakura route is worth going through all the others if just for the context it provides. It’s a bit on the pricey side, available for $44.95 USD from MangaGamer, but if you liked the first, or thought the first had some issues that needed to be resolved, or even just want an entertaining and touching love story with something under its skin, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Da Capo II.
Review copy purchased by author
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