By Benny Carrillo / August 4th, 2017
Building A Narrative, One Route at a Time ~ Story
Princess Evangile follows Masaya Okonogi, a young man whose father runs off and leaves him in debt to the mob. As Masaya wanders the streets contemplating how to spend the last of his pocket change, he comes across a young girl who seems to be under assault by some guards. This girl, Rise Rousenin, is the granddaughter of the chairwoman of Vincennes Private Girls’ Academy, a famous all-girls Catholic Missionary school that was established in 1910. In fact, the girls from the academy are rarely seen off campus due to its strict rules. However, Rise is on a mission to save Vincennes.
Turns out that the school is starting to run into a bit of a funding problem. One of the ways that could save the school is by going coed. However, many of the girls at the school have never even seen a male outside of close family. Since the school has programs from kindergarten to high school, many of these ladies never interact with the “lower world” until they graduate and leave. Thus, Rise willingly searched for a single male student that could be introduced to the student body as a sample.
Masaya’s task is to dwell amongst the maidens of Vincennes’ for a year. During which, he’s to live as an example of what boys are. At the end of the year, the student body will vote as to whether to proceed with the idea of integration. However, there are numerous obstacles in the way. Vincennes is a proud school built on tradition and is averse to change. And it’s here where a lot of genuine issues with the school come to light.
While on the surface Princess Evangile seems to have a very cliché premise, what makes the game superb is how it plays with those clichés. In addition, the game touches upon quite a few themes. Vincennes is essentially a black hole. Those maidens who attend its classes rarely seem truly leave the school, either becoming faculty or donators. It’s probably better to consider the school a gilded cage of sorts. Which led me to do a lot of contemplation of the games various themes as I played it.
These range from the whether the school itself has become stagnant or is righteously protecting its values, to gender stereotypes, arranged marriages, religion, prejudice, social status, the sins of one’s parents, and of course love and sexuality, Princess Evangile covers quite a few subjects and actually does them quite well. Each route in the game seems tailor made with a goal in mind and does it well.
For example, I found Chiho’s route to be the weakest when it came to the overall plot regarding the school. However, it had the best development when it came to building a sexual relationship. Chiho and Masaya actually go to a store, buy a book, and study it together to prepare for their first time. Something that really should happen more in real life I’d argue. That’s not to say though the other routes lack good romantic development. It’s just that they do other things even better.
Rise’s route was the last I did. However, hers can be seen as a primer to Ayaka and Ritsuko’s routes or a conclusion to the mysteries regarding the school. It’s well balanced though and Rise feels like your classic main heroine. Ritsuko and Ayaka, however, are where I think the game really shines.
Ritsuko’s route was the first I did and has one hell of a climax in Chapter 25. While a lot of her route can seem like a cliché romance, it’s a romance done well. Both Masaya and Ritsuko know they have an uphill battle. Ritsuko’s is the leader of the Red Rose Society and her mother is the Headmistress. But neither betrays their values and each draws strength from the other. This was the route that had me crying and I am not ashamed to admit that. However, the best route narratively, I think, goes to Ayaka.
Ayaka’s route is probably the most complex when it comes to its overall plot. What starts off as the story of a girl who just goes at her own pace and is eager to leave Vincennes, becomes a tale of self-discovery and a lesson we could all use in forgiveness. To put it simply, Ayaka has not had an easy life. When you finally learn just what that entails you’ll probably be just as surprised as I was as to how quick she is to turn the other cheek. A great portion of the real problems with Vincennes come to light in her route and it is stunning. So what brought about her changes as well as the other girls? Their interaction with Masaya of course.
A Supportive Hero and Schemeing Headmistress ~ Characterization
Masaya’s character is unique when it comes to Eroge protagonists. While many would expect him to be perverted and trying to peep on the girls at every chance he gets he doesn’t. Instead, the game does address the obvious. Yes, he is a male. Yes, he will notice how attractive the other girls are. And yes, he does get aroused. However, these are handled in a way that makes Masaya seem more like an average everyday person than a perv. He’s self-conscious, respectful, noble, and more than anything else just wants a family of some sort.
Masaya grew up with his deadbeat father and always being either on the run or working. He’s ecstatic just for the fact he has a roof over his head and food in his belly, which ties into his character quite a bit. Masaya is a survivor, he’s willing to work hard, to get along with others, and is just generally a good guy. When he screws up he apologizes, but when he needs to defend his friends he will take a stand. Even if it means standing up to the Headmistress. That said, Masaya doesn’t steal the spotlight. Instead, he’s a just the catalyst for change.
Princess Evangile is very good about making sure Masaya is supportive towards the heroines instead of turning them into damsels for him to rescue. His job is to be a variable after all. He’s there to serve as an example, not forcefully bring about change. It’s because he doesn’t try to impose his views or force change that the others are open to him being around and to the idea of integration. However, the students of Vincennes are of a more open mind. The Headmistress meanwhile is firmly set in her ways and sees Masaya as a threat to the school.
If Princess Evangile can be said to have an antagonist, then that would be the Headmistress in my book. She does her job well and tries every trick in the book to get Masaya tossed out of Vincennes. As far as she’s concerned the old traditions should be protected at all costs. In short, she is the perfect example of what Vincennes alumni can become… and she is just as much a victim of the school as well.
Like I mentioned, I played Ritsuko’s route first. While the common route has her merely interpreting the rules in her favor, she always tried to be fair and would back down if a valid point was made. Ritsuko’s route made me absolutely despise this woman in a “Love to Hate” kind of way like Monokuma from Danganronpa. In fact, I was jokingly wondering if she was secretly a “Remnant of Despair” based on some of her actions. Then came Ayaka’s route.
I won’t spoil what occurs, but to put it simply, Ayaka’s route explains a lot. While Ritsuko’s route shows how far the Headmistress will go for her ideals, Ayaka’s route explains why. It fleshes out the character and gives believable reasons as to what could cause a person to develop such a twisted way of thinking. She went from outright villain to sympathetic. And it all worked, I was enthralled with her character arc from beginning to end. Really I’d recommend picking this game up if only just for her. However, there’s still one other reason some of you are interested in this title and that’s for the Eroge. So let’s talk about that before closing this out on page 3.
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