Hey all, it’s been a wild weekend for VNs at this year’s AX. All three of the major VN publishers had announcements, and even the smaller newcomers managed to get in on the action. This year has something for everyone, with a huge breadth of genres announced. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
First up is an oft-rumored partnership with Chuablesoft, with their first title being If You Love Me, Then Say So! (vndb). People were suspecting this might happen ever since Chuablesoft’s CEO took to twitter last year to ask English-speaking fans about the possibility of translating their titles. This light-hearted moege with dating sim elements comes with a twist; the player gets to choose when they confess to the heroine of their choice. Waiting too long or doing it too soon could lead to alternate outcomes. This one will only be available on MangaGamer’s store as an 18+ release.
Next up is Dal Segno (vndb), the successor to the popular Da Capo series. From what I’m seeing and hearing about it, it seems very similar to the Da Capo series, except they’re changing the setting. Because you see, it takes place on a star-shaped island instead of a moon-shaped island! Those of you who enjoy the Da Capo series and want more of the same, look forward to this. There will be an adult version on MangaGamer’s store as well as an all-ages version on Steam.
Next is Maggot Baits (site not work OR mind safe) (vndb), a dark urban fantasy action title from Clock Up, the developers behind euphoria. And just like euphoria, this title is extreme. In fact, people say it’s even more extreme, with multiple guro scenes. You’ll have to steel yourself if you want to read this one. It will be 18+ only, obviously.
Whew, enough of that, time for some good, wholesome* fun, with MangaGamer’s next otome game, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome (vndb). *May not be as wholesome as you’d expect from an otome game. The elusive 18+ otome game, expect plenty of sexual humor and even sex scenes. This one ain’t for little girls. The protagonist is a gloomy, lonely girl who gets dragged into a scheme to make her a model by two classmates, a fashion designer and a photographer. Seems quite funny from what I’ve seen of it. There will be a censored Steam release as well as an 18+ release on MangaGamer.
And finally… oh no… Yes, that’s right, Hadaka Shitsuji (vndb)! For those hoping for a nice and sweet BL title, just turn around and walk away before you get hurt, as many have before you. The infamous Hadaka Shitsuji is known for its extreme content, and of course for its copious amount of naked butlers. It does this with an almost farcical tone, never taking itself too seriously. Just check out the splendid OP. Expect this to be 18+ only, obviously.
*Record scratch* Whazzat?? That’s right, it’s another surprise announcement just before AX closed doors! At Minori’s panel, they unveiled Trinoline, a project that is in active development which they’ve been teasing for a few months now. And they also confirmed that an English translation is already underway! This one is a little confusing because MangaGamer themselves haven’t reacted to this news or confirmed it, but words from the game’s director nbkz indicate that they are behind the translation. He also stated that they wish to release the English version at almost the same time or very shortly after the early 2017 Japanese release. Not much else is known, other than they want to try to combine what is popular in Japan and the West.
JAST has been sitting out cons all year long, but they’re a mainstay at Anime Expo and this year was no exception. They brought with them three announcements, the first of which is Katahane – An’ call Belle! Katahane is a unique and fun title that explores three relationships, one hetero and the other two lesbian, is set in two different time periods, and contains a fair amount of political intrigue to top it all off. This will be based on an upcoming HD remaster of Katahane, and will feature some all-new story content.
Next up is Princess X – My Fiancee is a Monster Girl. The monmusu craze is growing, and JAST wants a piece of that pie. This one seems a bit more monstrous than many of the others, with some pretty unorthodox heroines including one whose main body appears to be a featureless computer mainframe? Yeah, it’s weird.
And JAST’s final title is the 18+ PC version of Eiyuu*Senki. Released on consoles last year, JAST will be bringing over the original PC version with all content intact. Eiyuu*Senki is a strategy game/VN hybrid with world conquest as the goal, and features female versions of many historical male figures, from Napoleon to Billy the Kid. To help expedite the localization process, the translators behind the console version at Fruitbat Factory are helping out with this release. Expect this and all other JAST announcements in 2017, if all things go well.
Whodat?? Aksys Games often flies under the radar in this community. Maybe because they don’t do 18+ releases, or maybe because they primarily only do console releases. Nevertheless, they had a huge presence at this year’s AnimeExpo, and announced plenty of VNs, most of which are otome games. Otome fans rejoice! First up, is Collar x Malice, a crime drama/mystery that’s actually still in development at Otomate. The Japanese release will be in August, and the English release can be expected on the Vita some time next year.
Next up is Period Cube. This one started as a series of drama CDs, and eventually was turned into a VN. It’s a mystery where the protagonist is in search for her older brother, and the trail leads her to an online RPG named “Arcadia.” Most of the story seems to take place in this virtual fantasy world. This one is another Vita release for 2017.
But wait, there’s more! Bad Apple Wars is an action-adventure story starring a girl who was in an accident the first day of high school. Taking place in a sort of purgatory in the form of a school, the inhabitants are pitted against each other, with the winners promised a return to their lives. The player must pick sides in the conflict, going with either the disciplinary committee or “Team Bad Apples.” C’mon guys, isn’t that name a little on the nose? In any case, you can expect this one again on the Vita in 2017.
And the final otome announcement from Aksys: Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~, the fandisc to 2015’s popular Code: Realize! I honestly don’t know anything about this, but it’s a fandisc, and it’s still in development in Japan. If you liked Code: Realize, you probably want this. I don’t think a date was given for this, but it might not be unreasonable to expect it this year. It will be on Vita, like the rest.
But otome wasn’t all Aksys had up their sleeve! They also announced Steam versions of several of their titles, including the popular mystery/suspense thrillers 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward! That’s right, everyone who never had any handhelds can finally play these acclaimed games (although I’m pretty sure that’s just me, at this point) once they hit Steam later this year. They also announced a Steam version of XBlaze Lost: Memories. XBlaze is an ongoing series of VNs based in the BlazBlue world.
EDIT: I seemed to have missed Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs World Tour, an extended edition of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters with some sort of extra content. I honestly don’t know anything about the original game or this. There’s also word that Aksys are trying to get the translation rights for the Hakuouki Sweet School Life spin-off.
SP had one of the last panels in the show, but it did not disappoint. To lead things off, we have a title that will be familiar to many of you, Koi ga Saku Koro Sakura Doki (vndb). Sekai Project and the team over and Shinku Translations have joined forces and are officially bringing SakuSaku over to the west! SakuSaku is a moege with the basic premise that pretty much none of the characters are interested in love at all or have other psychological or emotional reasons to avoid it, but somehow still end up all falling in love with the protagonist, as these things tend to go. There’s also a loli
shinigami love fairy. There’s no date on this one, but I would still expect it sometime this year. Sekai Project is handling the final TLC pass, and there will be an all-ages version on Steam as well as an 18+ version on Denpasoft, already confirmed.
As usual, you can expect an EVN and a doujin title or two at any given Sekai Project panel, and AX was no exception. Technically announced earlier this year, this panel was Starnova’s (vndb) big public unveiling. An EVN developed by Love in Space, creators of Sunrider, Starnova seems to be an idol-themed game where the player plays the role of a struggling idol group’s producer. Also I think it’s in space or something. Will feature a cast of Japanese voice actresses and everyone is Japanese, just like my Japanese animes. There will be an 18+ version, and probably a censored Steam version, but I don’t think that has been confirmed yet.
And now things get naughty with Smile’s Boku to Koi Suru Ponkotsu Akuma (vndb). The protagonist is thrown into an unlikely harem situation with a gaggle of “defective demon girls” surrounding him, such as a succubus who’s shy about sex and a witch who wishes for world peace. The game notably features fantastic art from NekoPara‘s famed artist Sayori. I don’t think anyone expected Sekai Project to one-up MangaGamer in the nukige department, but here we are. This one is Sekai Project’s first nukige and will be available in 18+ form at Denpasoft. The game’s developer, Smile, says they want to do a Steam release, but nobody seems to know how that will work, not even SP. It does not yet have a date.
Badaa! That’s right, it’s finally happening. The coup de grace of the show, Baldr Sky (vndb) was announced by Sekai Project as being in translation and planned for a release on Steam. Aroduc, translator of Romanesque, Kamidori, and many other gameplay VNs, is working on this translation and is reportedly almost done. An absolutely epic two-part sci-fi mecha action series with each part clocking in at over 50 hours in length, Baldr Sky is one of those games that everyone has been pining for, and it’s been hyped to high heaven by some members of the community. They’re still working out the details of the agreement it seems, so the 18+ prospects are currently unknown.
This one isn’t a new announcement per se, but Sekai Project did talk a bit more about their in-house VN project Japanese School Life. Sekai Project set up a new brand for their in-house titles called “Code:JP.” Since moving things more internally, they’ve added the e-mote system, Japanese voice acting, and improved art. Furthermore, while they were originally going to Kickstart it, they decided against any sort of crowdfunding campaign for this one. Current release estimate is October 2016.
And we’re still not done yet! Frontwing announced at their booth an English localization of their recent hit VN Island! On an island cut off from the rest of the world and beset by internal strife, the protagonist Setsuna washes ashore naked and claims to be sent from the future to save the world. Except he can’t remember anything else. It’s written by Goo, the author of the acclaimed Himawari. Frontwing hasn’t provided a timeline for its release yet, but don’t expect it any time soon. It seems like they might not have even started on the translation yet. Hey, Frontwing peeps, if you’re reading this I know one translator who would literally kill a man for the opportunity. Useful if you want it translated well, or if you want anyone killed. Frontwing also announced the other two Grisaia sidestories, The Afterglow of Grisaia and The Melody of Grisaia. Like Leisure was, expect these to be very short and very cheap.
Degica, the company behind the Muv-Luv Kickstarter, also announced that they have picked up the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien translation for official release. This one was pretty much a gimme, but it’s nice to get confirmation on it. Kiminozo is a classic, highly dramatic epic-length romance story that weaves in some pretty mature elements into its storytelling, and is commonly hailed as one of the best romance VNs of all time. There’s no time table on this, but if you’ve been following the fan translation’s progress, you know that it’s still a long ways out. Don’t expect it this year. There was some odd news coming out of the Degica panel, too. They shared the stage with Sayori, the artist behind NekoPara, and there was talk of a potential Kiminozo remake with illustrations by Sayori. That would certainly be an “interesting” combination, but I’m not sure how seriously we should take that.
And that’s it for the announcements! This was a doozy of a show for sure. If there’s one other thing to talk about, there were some notable absences at this show. First, no Alicesoft. This doesn’t mean that MG is done with Alicesoft, however. Rance and Beat Blades Haruka translator Arunaru has stated that he’s working on a mystery gameplay VN that will pretty much fall in line with what we expect from him, and that there will be more announcements at next month’s Otakon, so make of that what you will. The other noteworthy absence was the 18+ news that Sekai Project has been teasing. We were supposed to hear some things about Maitetsu and other titles at AX, but Sekai Project ran out of time, says their owner dovac, and those announcements have been pushed to another convention. They really were scrambling quite a bit to get through everything in their panel as it was.
Me and several others plan to do a follow up podcast to discuss what we thought of the show and its announcements. If all goes well, you can expect that with next weekend’s VNTS post. Until then, let us know what you thought of the convention! What are your favorite announcements?