Title: Amairo Chocolate
Developer: Cabbage Soft
Release Date: December 22, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Sekai Project
Genre: Visual Novel
Romance visual novels just aren’t enough for me nowadays. However, throw in a few girls with animal ears, and you might convince me to sit through a 15-hour narrative to see that relationship through. With the Cabbage Soft-developed Amairo Chocolate now available in English, the doors are now open to this daily life visual novel complete with soft girls with animal qualities.
Amairo Chocolate introduces us to our faceless main protagonist Yuzuki as he arrives at Yunagi Village to begin his second year of school. While getting the lay of the land, he bumps into a girl handing out fliers named Chieri. One accident leads to another, to which Yuzuki lends a hand and then makes his way to the cafe because he doesn’t have anything else to do.
After meeting the Chieri’s coworkers, a shrine girl named Mikuri comes in and requests to work at the establishment. Until that point, Yuzuki felt something was off about these girls when he finally realized they all had ears and tails. It turns out these girls are beastfolk, and humans aren’t allowed to see them unless connected with them. So, instead of eating him, which crossed their mind, they let him work and live there.
This opening is actually nothing like the remainder of the game, as there are very few conflicts that arise that have to do with the girl’s secret or Yuzuki’s life on the line. Further, there is no real supporting cast in sight, with Mikuri and Chieri being the love interests and Nana and Ichika being possible love interests in a sequel. These low stakes leave very little to be excited about unless you really enjoy the two romanceable heroines.
Chieri didn’t warm up to Yuzuki’s presence as quickly as the others and decided to keep him at arm’s length. However, through the common route, she finds a way that he can help her with a few things that she struggles with, and they build a bond over that. This romance is very soft and innocent as we learn more about Chieri’s timid personality and see her come out of her shell. It’s nothing extreme, but it works if you’re a fan of these character types, tsundere being one of them.
Mikuri is a little more explosive and energetic. We get to see a calmer side of her during her route and how she approaches traditions and finds her path. She has a few hardships to overcome, but it’s exceptionally surface level. Her romance route parallels and Chieri’s is almost night and day as she is much more eager to embrace Yuzuki.
Amairo Chocolate is very much a daily life visual novel that takes it slow with its relationship building. Even after the couples decide to date, the story still focuses on its narrative and doesn’t force h-scenes for its sake. It makes the relationships feel a bit more real in that regard, but if you’re not a fan of slow story building, low stakes, and minimal conflict, then you’ll probably not care about wherever this plot is head, which isn’t anywhere exciting.
A big problem is how they set up this taboo setting of beastfolk versus humans but don’t capitalize on it. It’s a problem initially, but then they figure it out minutes later, and that’s it. A much better approach would have been to give Yuzuki a time frame where he had to prove he wouldn’t be the cause of a war between the two races or he dies. Instead, Yuzuki simply shows that he’s good at everything, and this is why the girls need to keep him around.
The illustrations are a huge plus for this story as everything about the character designs is adorable. There is plenty of backgrounds and CGs, but not too many costume changes throughout the story. The voiced audio is well-done, given that the girls are pretty expressive with their animal side during dialogue. I think the free adult patch is worth it for this release because some significant relationship scenes occur before and after the characters get down.
Although the visual novel doesn’t have any truly memorable moments, there’s a lot here for romantics. It’s rather vanilla, but then the harem route kicks in and shakes it all up. I think I found the best moments when they were just talking about different coffee, which is something I’m interested in, so I didn’t even care that these scenes may have been a little too long.
Amairo Chocolate doesn’t break the mold with daily life romance. It also doesn’t capitalize on its animal girl premise even after setting up a pretty good foundation for why they exist. It’s all just too surface level, and the slow pacing will turn anyone who is not completely in love with these characters. Still, they sure are cute, so that might be enough to ask them out for coffee.
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