Cocoro@Function!

Written by OriginalRen

Moege, a popular visual novel genre that focuses on cute love stories with slice-of-life elements, always seems to be a hit or miss for fans of Japanese PC games. It’s a genre that tends to be avoided by hardcore VN fans who enjoy rich story and edgy themes. With their stereotypical scenarios, repeating character archetypes, and forced drama, these games aren’t for everyone. Rarities do exist among the pile of cookie cutter stories, and in this particular review, Pulltop’s Cocoro@Function! happens to be one of those games.

Cocoro@Function! was the very first visual novel I ended up reading entirely in Japanese. While it initially began as a live translation stream with a friend of mine, I soon started to dive into this game and realized how much I actually enjoyed it. For me, it’s one of those rare gems that come along every so often in the moege world, a diamond in the rough if you will. I want to acknowledge Pulltop’s success by shedding light on this game’s unique story and fantastic use of visual novel elements that I believe many other games should adopt if they haven’t already. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and take a journey with me into the world of Cocoro@Function! One of the first points I want to address that makes this game a success in my eyes is the focus on the heroines in the story. You see, unlike a large majority of visual novels, Cocoro@Function! focuses less on the protagonist Taiyou and more on the girls surrounding him. One of the things I like most about this game is the fact that it uses a lot of “point of view” (POV) changes throughout the story. Whether you are reading the common route or an actual girl’s route, often times Taiyou is not featured in many of the scenes. Instead, we get to witness the internal struggles and monologues of the heroines. This is a good thing because it allows the reader to connect with the characters on a more personal level. Instead of trying to guess what a girl’s personal thoughts are regarding certain events and the drama surrounding them, you get the pleasure of being told directly in first person dialogue.

And this is also a good thing because often times, scenes revolve around the friendships of all the characters rather than just Taiyou himself. For example, there are many scenes in Hijiri’s route that focus on her roommate relationship with Mina. The conversations and dialogue were authentic and I didn’t feel like I was being shoved a character archetype down my throat. Instead of constantly reading scenes with Taiyou and focusing on how he falls in love with the girls, I got to see how all the characters interact with one another. In one particular scene of the game, Hijiri finishes having sex with Taiyou while Mina is away doing things. Mina comes back to the room later that evening and finds out what Hijiri was doing while she was away, to which she replies in truth – she has no problem with the fact they want to have sex, but she does want her to clean up after they are finished. While this particular scene isn’t the best example to use in this situation, it does help showcase the real relationship among the characters. Traditional moege wouldn’t do that and would instead “remove” the other characters from the game during a girl’s route. Which leads me to my next point as to why I feel this game is a success. Cocoro@Function! does an excellent job when it comes to making the characters feel like real human beings. Our protagonist, who finds himself in many perverted situations (as is typical for Japan), is not beaten up like most visual novel/anime characters. While the girls do find his perverted ways disgusting at times, even they realize that as teenagers, sex is funny and joking about a few sexual things is okay. Ibuki, the girl who is introduced as being the shy one, doesn’t get embarrassed about a stupid joke here and there. Mebae, my favorite character in the series (who sadly gets massively shafted in the fandisc) is a prime example of good character design. While she is the one who likes to tease Taiyou about sex the most, Pulltop doesn’t overdo it and make her the typical alpha female. She likes to tease, but at the same time she realizes her limits as well and backs down on occasion. All in all, no character in the game loses a sense of realism when it comes to this visual novel. In fact, this is one of the only visual novels I have ever played where the main heroine actually stops loving you. At the beginning of the game, you are introduced to Mina. She ends up telling Taiyou that she needs to leave town, but not before expressing her love to him. It turns out that she returns later in the game (who would have guessed), and they both confront each other about the incident from that particular evening. In the end, they decide to remain close friends instead. Honestly, this is the first time I have ever witnessed this happening in a visual novel. Games like Clover Day’s and other popular titles have the “childhood friend” love interest, but Cocoro@Function! thrusts you right into the action and skips all of the promise junk you made as kids. This really drives the point home that the characters in this game act about as real as they come.

Unlike popular titles in many moege visual novels, entering a route in Cocoro@Function! doesn’t lose track of the other heroines either. For me, this is extremely important when it comes to routes in any visual novel, and it directly relates to my first point I brought up in this review. The game focuses on the interactions among all of the characters, and not just Taiyou and the love interest. Even when you enter a route and establish a relationship with a character, you remain friends with the others and even go as far as announcing that you are dating. This leads to, again, realistic conversations among friends which makes this visual novel all the more enjoyable. Still, at the end of the day this is a moege and it still adheres to “otaku” pleasures. Panty shots, perverted comedy, and occasional forced drama drag this visual novel down. While the drama isn’t as bad as some other games out there, it does have the typical bumbling protagonist who acts like an idiot most of the time. Somehow, he ends up becoming a wizard of words and convinces the girls to fall in love with him and make the panties drop. This is a weakness of the novel, and while it doesn’t detract too much from the game, it can cause slow moments in reading.

At the end of the day, Cocoro@Function! is a moege that stands out from others on the market. It focuses a lot on the heroines of the story and uses fantastic moments with POV changes where we get to see the events of the game unfolding through the eyes of every character. The girls feel like real human beings and aren’t forced into a character archetype. While Taiyou himself isn’t anything special in terms of being an amazing protagonist, he does his job when it needs to be done. Still, even with all of these good points going for the game, it’s still a moege and falls short with its overall presentation as a whole. Pulltop had the right idea with this game. This is how visual novels should be done, but at the end of day it fails to deliver in some areas. Overall, I highly recommend this game and hope you give it a read someday.

Submission by OriginalRen, thank you!

Our Score:
  • OriginalRen's Score

Summary

Pros:

+ A moege that breaks the formula, ignoring character archetypes, stereotypical scenarios, and forced drama in many instances.

+ POV changes spice up the story, allowing readers to view events through the eyes of all characters rather than the protagonist alone. In addition, characters are not "lost" upon entering a route.

+ Extensive character interaction leaves the reader less confused when it comes to plot elements and allows for expanded story value.

Cons:

- While it has a lot of good points going for it, Cocoro@Function! falls short when it comes to delivering the pros listed above. At the end of the day, it is still a moege. No edgy themes here.

- Typical otaku pleasures are thrown into the mix of the story (i.e. = panty shots). While this might interest some readers, it drags down the story elements of the game in certain instances.

- Excessive H-scenes. Whether you enjoy this sort of thing or not, 5-6 per heroine is pushing it and often times feels like you aren't getting more of what matters in the game.

4

About the author

OriginalRen

1 Comment

  • It seems that you have liked Hijiri and Mebae’s route also. I do agree with you on many points regarding this (and indeed Mebae is such a beautiful character). I did feel that the characters are real.
    I would like to add that I don’t believe it was made like just to make more money. I believe that the 高嶋 栄二, なたけ, and 八璃 had an instructive object in there minds while making this game. I believe they directed this at the usual Otaku fans of these days because I think they thought that this kind of audience requires more guidance.

    You can infer this clearly in several events. For example, the scene when Taiyou finds the Shirakusa Shimai both sleeping at the bench; he said, ‘You can feel happiness that is different from the malicious [邪念] thoughts you get when thinking about panties or other dirty things.’ You can see how obviously they are trying to show the fans that there is more to beauty than just mere instinct.

    At the same time, I think they are trying to push the fans (especially the male youth) to be more open and accepting of their instincts. I believe this is an attempt to teach youth how to accept their natural instincts and the same time to talk about it with their female friends normally. This obvious in a scene in Hijiri route when she stands below the window of his room, and when he asks her to show him her panties, she closes and screams, ’You pervert!’ 「太陽のエッチ!」; he replies, ‘Yeah, I’m a pervert. Good night, Hijiri. See you tomorrow ^^’ 「おぉ、俺はエッチだぞ。お休み、聖。また明日な。」

    Nevertheless, I did dislike that they displayed the sex instinct to be something that completely masculine and not something that is humane and natural for both genders.

    Regarding the story, I liked it mostly, but–as you said–Taiyou just wraps up the case smoothly with a few, not so-convincing words. They should have worked on this a bit more. Besides, I did think that there were too many intercourse scenes, and they were kinda repetitive and actually boring.

    I thought the concept art, near-future, Eco-friendly city, in this game is literally astonishing, but I think they needed to include more art and focus on it more, especially the backgrounds–which were so fascinating but were almost completely neglected.

    The OST’s are appropriate to the theme, but were kinda few (in comparison with the huge length of the game). As for the Op & Ed themes, I believe they should have made it using vocaloid, or at least, employ an artist that would give it a techno, new-age-sounding feel; something that Yui and Hagumi failed to present in my opinion–while on the other hand, I believe that Ceui amazingly succeeded in incorporating in 「ミライサーキット」 in the fan disc.

    Overall, the game is worth the credit you gave, and it actually deserves a bit more. It was a very beautiful experience, it in my opinion. Very recommended for those who would like to experience distinguished beauty in the ErogeMoege world.

    I would rate it as 4.6 stars.

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