Karumaruka*Circle Review

Written by Aedes

Read the full review over on Amaenbou Dane~

I’m alive again! I haven’t been active lately because all the games I played lately sucked in one way or the other, including this one, so I couldn’t bring myself to write about them. But this time, there’ll be two people telling you how much this game sucked!

Aero here. Though I won’t say that this game was a COMPLETE failure, I will say that it was a chore to play through. 

Karumaruka Title Screen

Company: SAGA PLANETS
Game Site:  カルマルカ*サークル
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Links: Getchu, walkthrough, seiyuu listing

Our guy Kaito was casually strolling down the street when suddenly a girl with a curious pet turtle jumped out of nowhere and said to him “YOU ARE JESUS!”(very loose translation) then dragged him to a room where a bunch of weirdos await him. Which, understandably, got him just as confused as we are, especially considering the incomprehensible presence of a girl who appears to like him against her own will. And in some (not really) twisted turn of events, he joined their star club, and so begins the train wreck story involving stars, sins, and whatnot that hardly makes sense until the very end and may leave you wondering why did you bother with this in the beginning.

Opening Theme

At least the OP is decent.

Yep, the OP is one of the game’s more redeeming features. For some, you might find it even more worth it to just loop the OP for 20 hours instead of playing the game…funny how I’m not even joking about that >____>

Scenario

The introduction sets the stage for a nice, mysterious investigation into the seven deadly sins that each member of the star club possesses. The cardinal sins impart to their owners rather inconvenient traits, such as falling asleep anywhere for the sin of sloth, eating inhuman amounts of food for the sin of gluttony, and breaking things left and right for the sin of wrath. After a failed try of ridding themselves of the troublesome sins, they promptly sidetracked into doing their mundane star club activities….and doesn’t ever return to what they’re supposed to be doing all along until the true route, after the game forces you to play all the routes leaving the mystery more or less just hanging there. I completely understand that sex is of extreme importance that trumps all else and there’s no helping that you may get horny from just about any stimulus out there, but what about…. the mystery . Well, since the sins which are supposed to be one of the main theme are nothing more than annoyances that’ll supposedly pass away with time, we’ll just leave that for the true route while we brainstorm all the positions and places where we can have sex shall we?

Hey I have an idea for you, SAGA PLANETS. How about cutting out all the routes, release them as a fan disk, and attach the true route to the introduction or common route? With some cutting  and pasting and some tweaking, it’ll be perfect. Profit for you and a coherent story for us!

I generally agree with Aedes here. I personally feel that the introduction didn’t “introduce” things well enough. We’re told that those who access Karumaruka can freely explore and change the past, present and future. The “exorcism” of their curses seems to just be a side effect. So with the intention of getting rid of these curses, the group intends to access a force which could effectively change the world. Seriously?!?

Though we’re told and briefly shown how the characters are inconvenienced by these curses, it wasn’t really portray as a very serious issue to me. For example, Nicole’s curse causes girls in the area to become attracted to her. The thing is that the curses aren’t ALWAYS in effect. So say goodbye to the lesbian ending you were hoping to see because the effects of the curse are temporary. 

After failing to access “Karumaruka” the gang are told that their curses will probably fade in time. So basically the curses and the mystery of Karumaruka are thrown aside and everything up to now didn’t really set up for anything. Great, just great. The individual routes are pretty much a typical slice of life romance. I usually would LOVE this kinda thing. However the addition of lame twists and stupid minor characters made things very unpleasant. Some routes are overly serious, while others are just a bit too normal. FIND A GOOD BALANCE DAMN IT!

“Karumaruka” is really only looked at in the true route. I’ll admit that the true route wasn’t bad, and answered quite a few questions that were introduced. However after completing the game, I still have questions. Also the ending relationship between Kaito and Natsuki feels pretty forced and really had nothing to do with making the route a “true” route. I feel that they only added it in because they wanted Kaito to end up with someone. 

Characters

Amagase Natsuki

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Take a samurai from ancient times, infuse him with a love for stars and certain plush toys, and this is who you’ll get. Her story kind of reminded me of the story from Kara no Shoujo 2, but none of the good parts from it. No chopping off limbs or pushing people under incoming trains, just major family problems that have been going on forever. Also her sin of jealousy? Completely disappeared in the route. Sorry, no yanderes fighting to the death.

Asahina Shin

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Take a rebellious daughter of a rich family, infuse her with certain hobo-like qualities, and this is who you’ll get. You’ll never see a cuter hobo than this, I promise you. She may have some daddy issues, but that’s the useless father’s fault of not being honest with your kids. It’s no wonder the world’s governments are in the shape they’re in with politicians like these around. And I really should say more about my favorite character, but her charm of normalcy is something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Or go listen to her voice samples. They’re hypnotizing. And she’s probably the enemy of all woman on the planet for being able to clear out a buffet on her own and still retain that body…

Natsume Koyomi

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Take a silver haired loli, hang her up by her panties using a twig, and this is who you’ll get. When she isn’t sleeping or up on a tree, she is usually marveling at the mathematical wonders of the world. But excuse me if I can’t sympathize with a math nut who sees euclidean dimensions and prime numbers just eating ramen. Ramen is one of my favorite food too, but isn’t there something else you should be thinking about, like how delicious this thing is?

Otone Nicole

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Take a foreign exchange student who speaks better Japanese than any I’ve met, raise the pitch of her voice by an octave or two, and this is who you’ll get. Don’t even get me started on her route. It’s like trying to describe the US government shutdown that has been going on earlier this month. Those two bear way too much resemblance for my taste.

Kousaka Yukiha

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Take a good looking lazyass, blindfold her while making the image borderline NSFW, and this is who you’ll get. While this is a girl who should be seeking immediate professional psychological help for her dissociative identity disorder, none of that matters as there’s this ↑.

My character rankings: SHIN >>>>>>>>……

Since I found every route to be pretty average, including the true route, I’ll skip the route ranking and go for a character ranking instead. 

Character ranking: Shin>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Natsuki>Yukiha>Nicole>Koyomi

Miscellaneous

On the bright side, there may finally be a couple of characters who speak like normal people without weird, tacked on artificial anime speech, as I like to call it, that has long been a major gripe of mine regarding eroges. Shin and Kaito mostly talks like a typical Japanese youngster with loads of informal slang and contractions, which may be a bit exaggerated at times, that can be heard on Japanese drama or variety shows. I’ll admit I haven’t been up to date with Japanese shows since years ago, but I have the feeling it didn’t change that much. What a refreshing change from the usual overly polite or downright stupid ways of speech that usually signifies this person learned too much of his/her Japanese from anime (funny how that works).

To the dialogue writers: You know what typical youngsters talk like right? Write them that way please. And to the voice actresses: You know how typical youngsters talk right? Talk like that please. I’m aware that neither of them are in complete charge of their work, but this is merely a humble plea from a person who has had to endure far too much clichéd speech patterns.

And on an unrelated note, the game features better than average OP and ED by KOTOKO and WHITE-LIPS, respectively. I’m looking forward to its CD release in December. Though the BGM was nothing too remarkable.

Overall

This would be a forgettable title if not for SHIN and the writer’s sly use of Shakespearean tactic of making everything a godawful mess with seemingly no way out at some point in the story. But of course everything is resolved nicely, after going around in a circle of 5 routes. Play for Shimizu Ai’s fabulous voice acting for Shin. Or better yet, go watch some Japanese variety show or drama to remind ourselves that there’s a pretty large gap between voice acting and talking in real life. At least until the day when we can digitize ourselves into the 2D world.

Story: 6/10
Character: 11 FOR SHIN
Graphics: 8/10
Music: 7/10
(Relatively) Normal Speaking: 8/10
Sexy Voice: 9/10

Overall: 69/100 (totally made up)

Story: 5/10
Character: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Music: 7/10

Overall: 55/100 

The characters for this game are likable; it’s the story that’s the problem. The concept of Karumaruka is somewhat interesting, but there’s not enough set up for it. Looking at the true route, the individual routes seem to provide very little towards the mystery of Karumaruka. As Aedes mention earlier in this review, you could just as easily have isolated the true route into a different game and the experience would have been almost the same.  The heartbreak that I’ve come to know and yearn from playing Natsuyume and Hatsuyuki is no where to be found here. I feel I could go play go play Kisaragi Goldstar and find it GOOD after finishing this >________>. 

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↑ The game’s raison d’etre ↑

Read the full review over on Amaenbou Dane~

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Aedes

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