5 years ago, Suganuma Shoichi was given the opportunity of a lifetime; To join a world renowned orchestra in Germany as one of their violinists. Having learned and studied the violin since a young age, Shoichi jumped at the chance to climb up in the world of Classical music and reach new heights. During his stay in the orchestra, Shoichi became an idol to the Japanese and was frequently called a noble and the ‘Violin Prince’ of Classical. However, years later, an unknown scandal caused Shoichi to fall from grace and forced him to give up the limelight, classical music, and the violin that he had spent his entire life devoted to. Having had everything he had ever known torn from him, Shoichi returned to Japan and his hometown and began to live and work at a live house named 696, where amatuer rock bands frequemtly play.
While working at the live house, Shoichi meets a rude and arrogant regular by the name of Gonda Eiji. Unbeknownst to Shoichi, Eiji’s arrogant ways pull him into a series of events that thrust him back into the world of music. It is at this small live house where Shoichi is introduced to the world of rock and his life of emptiness begins to change through events involving strange friendships, rock, and a band involving the unlikeliest of members. Can DEARDROPS make it, or will it fall apart at the hands of its fickle and volatile band members?
One of Deardrops’ major pros is its music and songs. Sticking true to its music and band themed roots, there are several original actual songs featured in the game and are actual DEARDROPS songs; As in they are the songs that DEARDROPS and the characters create and perform during the game. There are a few songs that the band plays at their concerts, a different song for each characters ending (Played by the same band/musicians who did the concert songs. I’m not sure if Milktub made an actual band or just contracted musicians for the songs to play as DEARDROPS) and even a couple tracks featuring Kanade as the vocalist and a cover by another character who appears later on in the game. Each song fits perfectly with the band and/or singer of each track, and there are quite a few memorable and catchy songs among them; I was particularly fond of DEARDROPS’ “Noisy Sweet Home” and “My dear stardust”. For those of you who end up loving the vocal songs of the game, fear not, for DEARDROPS has two other albums out that can be streamed from youtube featuring original songs not found in the game. (There is even one where Kanade and Riho sing together)
You can also tell the evolution and progression of the band and characters through their songs, as they go from being grittier and darker to livelier and happier. In addition to the vocal tracks, the background music is equally impressive and has quite a few memorable tracks as well. Each track fits the mood for the scenes they are played in, and are equally well composed. The sheer amount of BGM tracks (Around 20, I didn’t do an exact count, but its pretty hefty) gives a variety of music for scenes and avoids your typical “same song for 50 scenes” scenario that plays out in most visual novels. Deardrops is a visual novel about music, and OVERDRIVE did an excellent job and exceeded my expectations on this front. While there are quite a few things I loved about this visual novel, I would have to say the music is probably the one thing I loved the most out of everything. It’s even more awesome that they made more albums and original songs past the original visual novel.
Suganuma Shoichi is the protagonist of Deardrops and one of the guitarist’s in the band DEARDROPS. His actual age is never told in the game, but from discussions in the game, I’ve deduced that Shoichi is probably in his early 20’s. Since childhood, Shoichi had fervently studied and dedicated his life to the violin. Near the end of his middle school years, Shoichi was given the opportunity of a lifetime; To go to Germany and join a famous orchestra. Thus, Shoichi dropped out of school and went abroad to follow his violin career. During his time in the orchestra, Shoichi became quite renowned, being frequently referred to as the ‘Violin Prince’ and one of the few Japanese Classical players to ever garner such renown. However, shortly before the events of the game (The game timelines that Shoichi left for Germany around 5 years prior), Shoichi became the cause of a scandal within his orchestra due to perpetrating a violent act against another member. This event is only vaguely spoken of through much of the story, and the actual details are not disclosed until near the end of Riho and Kanade’s routes; It is not touched in Rimu and Yayoi’s routes.
From my understanding, it’s never fully explained as to if Shoichi was kicked out of the orchestra due to the scandal, or left of his own volition. Either way, this scandal caused Shoichi to leave the orchestra and subsequently Germany, moving back to Japan and his hometown despite his father disowning him due to the incident. Shoichi felt such shame and disgrace over the incident that he vowed to never again touch the violin as punishment for his transgression. It is here that the games events and story begins, with Kanade’s, his childhood friend, family offering Shoichi a place to stay and a job at Live House 696. After being roped into one of Eiji’s problems caused by his personality, Shoichi begins to learn the guitar under the tutelage of Yayoi to help Eiji out, but due to a series of events, Shoichi ends up sticking with the guitar and decides to form a band. His unnamed band first starts out with just Eiji on bass and Yayoi on guitar, but through events he meets and convinces Rimu to join as his drummer, and eventually persuades Riho to become his vocalist. Finally having the whole gang together, the group decides on the name DEARDROPS due to the picks each one won from 696’s vending machine…All with the name DEARDROPS sharpied on.
Shoichi was a very interesting and memorable character. Having been born into a rich family and spent quite a few years in the limelight, Shoichi tends to speak and act differently from most of the other characters. However, he never came across as spoiled or privileged; In fact he came off to me as a very humble person, never viewing himself or acting as if he were above others, and putting his all into his work at 696 and the band. He is always pretty sincere about his feelings and perceptions of others, and constantly strove to better himself, not to be better than everyone else (although with the violin he admittedly wanted to be better than everyone else), but to be the best that he could be and not pull down others with his inabilities. His humble personality might also have to do with the fact that he is still haunted by the orchestra incident, frequently having nightmares and seemingly inflicting self-punishment on himself for what happened. He will also go out of his way to help his friends, especially in the case of Eiji’s conflict in Riho’s route.
Overall, despite his dark past and the ghosts that haunted him, Shoichi was a very kind and likable protagonist, and even after the details of his incident were revealed, my opinion of him did not change; While what he did was inherently bad, Shoichi obviously felt guilt and remorse for his actions, and he was in a very high stress and high pressure profession. I’ve seen a few documentaries, articles, and interviews about the professional world of orchestras (I used to play the violin myself and my “middle/high school” dream was to play in an orchestra) and despite the outer appearance of classical, it is covered in scandal and dog-eat-dog tactics below the surface where people would, and do, kill people and other heinous crimes in order to climb up the ladder and gain a more prestigious position. Anyway. He’s also a contender with Subaru from Sweet Fuse for my VN husbando…He plays the violin, and has glasses >:). The h-scenes were also pretty hot for the fact that in most of them he wears his glasses while getting it on with the route’s heroine…Hubba hubba! He definitely goes on my list of memorable and favorite VN protagonists though.
Gonda Eiji is the bands bassist, and also the oldest member of the group (Although like the others, his exact age is not said). Eiji is the foul mouthed, chain smoking, never giving a fuck member of DEARDROPS’ who is quick to get into fights and spout off profanity and at times, random objects. Because of his attitude, Eiji is extremely infamous among many musical circles and bands and most are adverse to having him play with them, but despite that he is venerated for his skills and talent with the bass. It is common knowledge early on that Eiji has band hopped frequently, either through quitting when the mood strikes him or being kicked out due to his attitude. He also has no desire to go pro, and so for the most part Eiji tends to play solo and stay away from others. Because of this, Riho and Eiji butt heads frequently due to Riho’s desire to take DEARDROPS’ pro. However, during Riho’s route you find out that Eiji has a dark past, which is one of the main reasons for his rude attitude and his aversion to bands and going pro. When his past comes back to haunt him, Eiji ends up going off the deep end and makes the group realize that deep down inside, Eiji is a very wounded man who cannot escape his past actions, much like how Shoichi’s incident haunts him.
|A mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.|
Eiji was the source of many laughs and wtf moments, and because of this I grew extremely fond of him. He added a whole new dynamic to the group and I feel like Deardrops would honestly have been less interesting without Eiji. (That and it basically would have been a harem band) Like Riho, he is extremely blunt, but the main difference between the two is that Eiji knows and is purposely being a giant asshole. Why? Probably because he likes being an asshole and dislikes being close to people. Theres a lot more about Eiji I could talk about, but I feel like this review is getting way too damn long for its own good and Eiji is a work that must be seen to be appreciated. So, I’ll leave you with this:
|Stay chain-smoking my friend!|
His voice actor was amazing and portrayed Eiji perfectly as well.
Kaguya Riho is DEARDROPS’ lead singer and also the main heroine of the game. She is also the last member to officially join the band. Out of everyone, Riho is the most dedicated to the band, as singing for her is her life, her dream, and her passion. For Riho, she will do anything within her power, and beyond, to go pro, and so she looks down on those who do not give music their all and strive to better themselves; She despises people who play music or are in a band just for ‘fun’, and those who become ‘ok’ with their musical talent, and is quick to tear into anyone over this, which causes some slight friction here and there within the band and group. Because of this, Riho is at her best and happiest when she’s singing and when the band is practicing and training. She is also very independent and hates being told what to do or feeling forced into something. At first, Riho brushes of Shoichi and his band, refusing to join his despite the fact that she ends up quitting her previous band. It is only through sheer stubborn persistence and a willingness to prove himself to Riho that Shoichi is finally able to convince her to join DEARDROPS. As the game progresses, Eiji begins to frequently refer to Riho as DEARDROPS’ ‘Princess’ due to her personality and determination to push the band to even bigger heights. While a good singer, Riho is terrible at writing lyrics.
|The conviction of dreams|
At first, I really, really did not like Riho. Her initial interaction and personality came off as your stereotypical tsundere character and my first thought was “Oh god, great, another jackass tsun-tsun character” and I just could not understand how she was so venerated as one of the best and most original characters of localized VNs. However, as the story progressed, and especially in Riho’s route, Riho ended up doing one thing to me no character has ever done to me in regards to visual novels; She completely and utterly surprised me so much she won me over. What started out as a typical tsundere character became so much more as events progressed and I began to learn Riho’s true personality, and in the end, I do have to agree that Riho is one of the most original and inspiring VN heroines I have come across. While Riho comes off as an asshole, she is in reality to the core simply an honest person. Due to her lack of ‘people skills’ she has zero tact for being subtle or nice about certain things and so it comes across as horrible, but the reality is she very rarely says things with horrible intent; She is merely being honest and true to her beliefs and perceptions. She is a woman who knows how she sees things, what she believes, and what she wants, and she is not afraid to be herself, say what she wants, and put herself out there. Among VN heroines, this is extremely rare.
My respect and love for Riho grew even more during her route. Her route simply put was extremely emotional and amazing overall. Her relationship with Shoichi becomes one of great, selfless sacrifice and a deep understanding and love that is rare and hard to do. When Riho confesses to Shoichi that she loves him, she tells him that while she loves him, she is ok with him not loving her back because she is content in her feelings for him and that her dream of becoming a pro vocalist is the most important thing to her right now, and Shoichi understands and respects that. Even when they become an official couple, he still respects that dream of hers and they have an extremely mature relationship full of respect and understanding because they love each other that much and both want the other to succeed in their dreams and become the best person they can be. Me, being the emotional cryball I am, cried my eyes out at the end because Riho made the greatest sacrifice of all for Shoichi’s sake, even at the cost of putting her own personal dream on hold. And despite that, she held strongly and gave her all because despite the bittersweet ending, to her it was a happy ending because she knew that while it was an end to that chapter in her and everyone elses lives, it was the beginning of a new one.
Sakurai Kanade is the childhood friend of Shoichi and the daughter of Sakurai Sadao, commonly referred to as ‘Master’, the owner of Live House 696. She is also what I consider a main heroine next to Riho, although Kanade’s route is not the canon route, and is around Shoichi’s age. While she is not a member of DEARDROPS, her singing ability is frequently praised throughout the game by everyone, even surprisingly by Riho, who clearly shows jealousy and rivalry towards Kanade for her singing ability. Kanade falls prey to some common childhood friend troupes; Been madly in love with the protag since they were kids but cannot confess to protag-kun, extremely shy, and rarely talks about her wants or desires. However, Kanade was given a level of depth and story development most childhood friend archetypes don’t get, and instead of being a dull cookie cutter character, she came out to be one of my favorite characters(It’s a close tie between her and Riho since I like and dislike aspects of each character and route)
|Yayoi is encouraging sexy time!|
What I disliked the most about Kanade was the parts of her personality that were the same common troupes of childhood friend archetypes. However, there were some slight differences that I really liked about her. Throughout Kanades route, she frequently struggles with her two dreams; To express herself through music and bring it to many people, and to help produce a well known, pro band from her live house. While she struggles with it slightly in the common route, these two dreams begin to conflict and clash with each other in her route. Kanades main reason for not being confident with her singing abilities is due to a lack of confidence, but at heart Kanade is a very strong woman. I came to feel that, overall, Kanade’s shyness was more due to the fact that Kanade is a very kind person who thinks and puts people before her than self-confidence overall; She cares very deeply for others, to the point she will put others before herself. (Thus her dream of wanting to produce a pro band rather than become a professional singer) However, because of her strong heart, Kanade will not hesitate to turn from mild mannered to rude and head-strong when she opposes something greatly. So while Kanade had your usual moe childhood friend framework, she surprised me in some aspects with just how passionate and hot headed she could get.
Kanade’s route felt the most natural to me, more so than Riho’s route, due to several events that happen during the common route, as well as the fact that from the beginning, Kanade’s actions subtly hint just how much she loves Shoichi. Kanade was the first route I did, and it blended together so well that I actually had no idea when the story split from the common route into hers until later on when Shoichi begins to question his feelings for Kanade. I also feel that Kanade was a perfect match for Shoichi, as both put their all into their dreams and desires despite their self issues. Kanade’s route tore at my heartstrings a bit, but I quite liked how Shoichi’s incident was handled and played out in her route. It was a bit overdramatic, but I found it more interesting than how it played out in Riho’s route, although both are pretty bittersweet for different reasons. I also liked the fact that Johann actually had a part in Kanade’s route while hes only vaguely mentioned in Riho’s, which I found odd. Unfortunately, Kanade’s route didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me as Riho’s did (Which left me in tears at the end), but it was still memorable and touching in it’s own way. Despite the precarious situation Kanade was put in against her friends (DEARDROPS), she still pushed herself and made sacrifices to follow her dream of singing.
|One of Barry Manilow’s baby makin’ songs|
On a side-note, Kanade’s h-scenes actually surprised me. Despite being the oldest out of the heroines, both of her sex scenes are an exhibitionists dream, which I totally didn’t expect out of Kanade’s route due to her age and her shy nature. (I actually thought Yayoi’s route would be an exhibitionist route) In her first h-scene, where you deflower her, you have sex in her room while her father and younger sister are sleeping in their rooms. Not only this, BUT KANADE WAKES HER FREAKING SISTER UP MOANING and she starts asking Kanade questions from outside her door. While her and Shoichi are naked. With Shoichi on top inside of her. And then her second h-scene is in a hospital room, and kids in a room next door overhear her because Shoichi decides to bang her brains out(Again with waking up children). Who practically break into the room while they’re naked. And believe that the noise was a ghost moaning. It would be one thing to just be exhibitionist h-scenes, it’s another to involve small children overhearing your moaning and freak them out. That’s like, a little bit too real life right there (If you have children and you’re getting down and dirty with them home)
Tamano Rimu is the bands drummer and presumably the youngest member of the band along with Riho. Rimu is the most peckish of the group, with her moods being spontaneous and completely random. If things arn’t going in a way Rimu approves of, or she begins to get bored, Rimu will quickly lose interest and run off. She is frequently compared to cats by Shoichi, and this comparison is pretty spot on to how Rimu’s random nature is. Because of her blunt and whimsical nature, her and Eiji are frequently two peas in a pod, agreeing with each other and usually being the ones to thrust any hard work that needs to be done on the others. Rimu also has a very large complex about her drumming, and despite her small stature, is able to pound out some amazing drumming. If she feels like she is being one-upped, she absolutely has to show them up and be the best. Her father was in a band when she was a little girl and learned drumming from him at an earlier age, due to this and her complex, she frequently compares people and their musical abilities to that of her fathers band, and she has never really been in a band or gotten along with others due to them not being able to live up to her expectations set by her fathers band; She ended up quickly getting bored playing with others and so quit very quickly.
|This is what happens when you feel up the boobs of a babbling child|
Shoichi and the gang meet Rimu when Shoichi helps out Rimu’s soon-to-be Stepfather Tamano. At first, Rimu utterly opposes the marriage, as she refuses to acknowledge another man besides her birth father as her dad despite the fact that he left Rimu and her mother when she was young. This probably attributed to Rimu’s carefree nature, as because her father left her as a little girl, she does not want to get close to others again and be left alone. I was not really fond of Rimu personally due to her immature and brutish nature; She actually annoyed the hell out of me 95% of the time, although her antics with Eiji had me chuckling. Deep down, I believe that Rimu is actually a somewhat mature and intelligent girl, but the personality she puts forth is one of annoyance and immaturity. She also comes across as being not very intelligent and not understanding basic meanings and innuendo (Although she says some innuendos herself).
Because of that, Rimu’s route was my least favorite. Not only was it extremely short (I’m sure shorter than Yayoi’s, or at least it seemed like it), but the main theme and events of her route were dull and boring; They focused almost exclusively on her wounded complex about her birth father and her fear Shoichi will leave her just like he did. While it had some cute moments, overall it was an unexciting route, and I found her ending to be one on-par with Starry Sky ~In Springs~ idiotic endings. She was also the least interesting character and I really didn’t feel any original angles to her personality and characteristics. I will admit though, I found Shoichi’s confession to Rimu insanely adorable. I mean, what girl doesn’t love public confessions of love, in a rock concert of all places?
Ohba Yayoi is the bands main/lead guitarist, and also Shoichi’s guitar teacher. Out of all of the female members of DEARDROPS, Yayoi is explained loosely to be the oldest. She is also frequently teased by the rest of the band as being the “plain one”, despite being lamented as a huge freak in the beginning portion of the visual novel, and is the only member of the band who is caught between two worlds; The band, and practicality for her future by studying and taking exams for college. Despite this, she is still very much dedicated to the band and her guitar, treating it as if it were her child. The face of her guitar has an image of her in chibi form with “I’M GUITAR PRINCESS” on it to solidify her claim of being one of the best guitarists, and that her guitar is hers and one of a kind. She originally meets Shoichi through Master, who asks her to be Shoichi’s guitar teacher on his behalf. Gladly accepting, she torments and abuses Shoichi through much of his training, and calls his guitar “shit” for a good portion of the visual novel more than the others (They all hound him for his skills). Despite this though, I’m not sure if I would consider Yayoi to be a tsundere character, as while she has her rough edges and mocks frequently, she very easily shows her softer and more vulnerable side to the band and even though she is the oldest out of the bands female members, is actually the “crybaby” of the group.
|So it can be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all those other fancy social sites.|
Obviously, Yayoi is also the most practical minded one out of the group most of the time. While Shoichi is mature in his ways, due to his growing up he is a bit quirky, it’s Yayoi who tends to think up schemes for the band the other members wouldn’t think of. While the band focuses all their energy into the band, once DEARDROPS begins to take off, Yayoi also begins to think about making money with merchandise and comes up with crackpot plans to sell thousands of shirts and band memorabilia to make a bunch of money. This leads to quite a few hilarious moments. Not only that, but from the get go she forbids inner-band relationships to try and prevent the band from breaking up due to a bad romance (No Lady Gaga reference intended). Out of all of the bands members, Yayoi would be hit the hardest I believe emotionally if the band ever broke up, as she considers everyone a close friend of hers, despite the many fights and arguments that breakout between her and the others.
I was actually pretty interested in Yayoi and her route, as I found her immensely adorable and I felt there was good potential for her route because she is perceived to be the “plain” one of the group; I also believed that her fetish for her guitar would be a big thing as well. I was pretty disappointed and angry with Yayoi’s route due to how it handled these things and the length of her route. While her route DOES touch on the subjects of her guitar love and her struggle between the band and school, I feel like it could have been better, and while it wasn’t boring, her route was not really interesting either. The band is barely seen or talked about, and Shoichi’s incident is all but ignored. She was super cute though (Yayoi-chan <3~) and her ending, while very short, was sweet. Her h-scenes surprised me though, as she turned out to be the very shy, stereotypical Japanese girl I tend to see in JP porn (The whole “Oh no, don’t look at me down there! *blush*” thing) and Shoichi turned into the dominant mocker (“You’re a dirty, dirty girl, look at you down there” etc, etc). I pegged her to be well…A little more mature about it. She was pretty hot though with her hair down though > : )
I thoroughly enjoyed Deardrops and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good visual novel. That being said, despite how highly I would recommend this game, I cannot call it a masterpiece or close to it. As I state in my cons, the story was good, but it was not great or amazing. The story, while interesting, was nothing awe inspiring and it was the characters that drove the game and my continual fascination with it. Nearly every character was memorable, and it was the character interaction and how fresh (most) of the characters and their personalities were. Riho in particular surprised me in how wrong I was in my original assessment of her characters troupe and personality. If not for its great cast of characters, I feel like Deardrops would have been lost in a sea of unmemorable, alright slice of life stories. The music also added greatly to the visual novels value, boasting what I consider to be one of the best OSTs I have come across so far, beating even Dengeki Stryker, which was at the top of my list beforehand. I’m really looking forward to Deardrops “somewhat sequel” D2B vs. DEARDROPS, which is set a few years after Rimu’s ending.
Final Score: 85%
Extremely memorable and varied characters. Side characters were good and added to the story and experience rather than simply being conversational filler. Shoichi. Glasses. Childhood friend heroine that was entertaining and likable rather than cookie cutter and boring. Excellent music, both vocal and BGM, with plenty of memorable tracks. Rock. Violins. Violins in rock music. Brief cover of Nirvana. Good, engaging story that didn’t lose my interest despite being a slice of life story. Handled h-scenes with care and romantic progression rather than ‘banging’. H-scenes also did not feel out of place or sudden with the exception of maybe Rimu’s.
The story, while good, was not great and for me I feel like the story itself is not one that will stick with me as time goes on. Rimu and Yayoi’s routes were ridiculously short. Yayoi’s route’s conflict/drama was a bit silly and I feel like there was more potential there. Rimu’s route was just downright retarded and uninteresting with the ending being more than a bit eye rolling. Yayoi’s “freakism” is also pretty downplayed through most of the game even though she’s explained as being a “huge freak”. Johann did not appear in Riho’s route and I feel like Shoichi’s conflict resolution would have been better if he had been included (As he was in Kanade’s route). Kanade’s conflict was a bit silly and left myself wanting a different resolution to it. Not enough violin >:(
Available for sale in English in both a digital and hardcopy format for PC
VN by OVERDRIVE, localization by Mangagamer
18+ Visual Novel