Title: Animal Trail ☆ Girlish Square
Release Date: August 12, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Sekai Project Sekai Project
Genre: Visual Novel
Alone on a Friday night? Can’t decide between idols, magical girls, or animal features? If this highly specific situation applies to you, then Whirlpool’s latest visual novel release to be published by Sekai Project, Animal Trail * Girlish Square, might just be the one for you. It throws all three into a blender and spits out a chaotic, cacophonic mess for your viewing pleasure.
Nakamori Taiga is an idol otaku and our protagonist, a young man who followed the Idol group I/DOLLY55 religiously, specifically for their lead singer Shiratori Rena, until she mysteriously vanished. Despaired and distraught, Taiga eventually finds himself wandering aimlessly one day until he stumbles into an impromptu street performance by a new animal-themed idol group, Animal Trail * Girlish Square. (sidenote: Kemonomichi translates into Animal Trail, the group’s name is just the name of the VN)
Anyway, infatuated with the new group, Taiga declares it his new purpose in life and does his best to support the group, up to and including becoming their new manager and producer after one fateful night, after another show, on an evening stroll, Taiga spots the group rehearsing in the park and discovers their two main secrets.
One of the group’s members, Haneru, is actually the missing idol Shiratori, and the quartet’s idol outfits are actually magical girl outfits. Accompanied by four super deformed magical animals from the kingdom of hemdesmel, these idols have actually been using their performances to obtain ‘Pal’, a magical substance made from positive feelings that can be used to save the otherworldly land.
Animal Trail * Girlish Square has next to nothing for actual character depth. The game’s narrative is a series of ever-increasing attempts to gain a larger following and thus increase the pal the group obtains. They only had 50 followers at the beginning of the game. Someone was really bad at their social media job. You’ll follow the perspective of Taiga as he makes terrible decisions and engages in behavior that would get other people decked.
Well, I mean, he does still get decked, but like, by magical creatures? They make up the majority of the game’s comic relief, and they’re surprisingly funny. It turns out the secret to making mascot characters that aren’t terrible is to make multiples and then make sure they don’t overshadow the main characters.
The art is nice, but the character designs are full nukige. I mean, that’s what you’re here for anyway. This title doesn’t pretend it’s anything else.
It’s a one-route game, with Hanera taking center until she doesn’t, as surprisingly, Tetora (the one who gets cat ears in her magical girl form) joins her in it. The other two get left on the side for prime fandisc or sequel material. I don’t believe this is capitalized upon either, as there is one sequel/side story game of sorts, which also stars the same two characters.
The options menu for this game is clean and has all the standard expected VN options. However, it’s got a couple of extras you may not have anticipated, such as ‘fixed/variable window sizing,’ the ability to toggle whether or not it runs in the background, assignable options for the right and middle mouse buttons, and the ability to change your line break notifier (themed after a glowstick) to different colors.
Y’know, give it the full idol treatment. The magical girl stuff is more of a means to an end for the gimmicks, so don’t expect cheesy, power of friendship battle sequences or dark monstrosities.
Animal Trail * Girlish Square is a 4-hour-long VN, where what you see is what you get. It’s cute girl shenanigans, a self-insert protagonist, and some ‘extras,’ should you get the title’s patch from Denpasoft. As I opened this all with, best reserved for a Friday night.
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