Title: Secret Kiss is Sweet and Tender
Release Date: March 10, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Visual Novel
Once in a while, enjoying some lighthearted fluff is just good for the soul. That’s what I believe, at any rate; not every piece of media we consume has to be something we engage on a deeply profound level. ‘Secret Kiss is Sweet and Tender’, a yuri visual novel from Rosetta, seems exactly like the sort of thing that’s perfect for when you’re eager for some enjoyable, uncomplicated fluff.
Konami Izuho is a teacher in training at a new school where she encounters Ema Serizawa alone in a classroom. Ema asks Konami, “What does it feel like to be in love?” and proceeds to kiss the trainee teacher.
The concept of a relationship between a teacher and a student will probably be a sticking point for some people and might prevent them from enjoying ‘Secret Kiss.’ Because as sweet as it is, that element is definitely a little sketchy. It’s all treated with saccharine sweetness, though, and there are never any moments that come across as creepy, so long as you’re prepared to leave your brain at the door.
The story itself definitely doesn’t take many risks or attempt towards depth: There are no huge twists and turns; while likable enough, Konami and Ema don’t develop much on an individual level beyond learning to accept their feelings for one another.
There were many times I thought that further character depth or deeper plotlines would be explored; Ema’s closed-off nature towards her classmates seemed ideal for introducing some melancholy backstory, for example. However, ‘Secret Kiss’ simply resolves these plot threads quickly and neatly without much fuss. It’s not interested in-depth; it’s all about that soft, sapphic sweetness.
But Konami and Ema’s blossoming romance is entertaining and still frequently instilled within me the sort of warm giddiness that I’m sure was intended by the creators. The narrative is decently paced as scenes don’t linger for too long, and they give the key moments sufficient time for the mood to develop nicely. There are a few perspective shifts, too, to keep things fresh; typically, the focus is from Konami’s point of view, but occasionally we get to see things from Ema’s side as well, to give her own thoughts a chance to develop or see particular moments from her side.
Of course, there are sex scenes too, although they don’t dominate the proceedings. Rather than feel particularly raunchy, they feel appropriately intimate and loving. ‘Secret Kiss’ is just as likely to focus on the more basic pleasures of a growing relationship, as well as these moments of passion too.
Each romantic scene, of course, is accompanied by a CG, which is pretty and does its job of enhancing the sense of passion of each scene. The talk sprites for Konami and Ema are adorable and have some nice animations that add further personality. Along with the backgrounds, the visuals are clean and eye-pleasing, ideal for the story’s content.
Even the UI is well thought out and provides the usual options. For example, you can save any of the voice lines for later listening, should you find a voiceover that you particularly enjoy. The quality of the voice work is good, too; Konami’s VA provides an enjoyably emotional and excitable quality to her character, while Ema’s is calmer but has its moments of playful sweetness to it. In addition, while there are only a few songs, the soundtrack is serviceable for each scene. I wish there were more songs, but it’s also understandable for the length of the story being told.
While we’re on the topic of length, it is worth noting that the whole novel clocks in at around three to four hours. Being a purely linear experience, with no choices or deviating paths, this means Secret Kiss is the sort of VN that feels a bit throwaway. However, once you’ve finished it, there’s not much need to go back for a second read unless you’re again in the mood for the same fluff. While the price seems alright initially, the lack of interaction makes it less justifiable.
While I have been quick to praise Secret Kiss for being a simple but endearing romance VN, even despite its premise, the translation work tends to distract from it all. While I was enjoying my time reading through Secret Kiss, the occasional spelling errors and grammar mistakes really brought me out of the mood of some scenes. I hoped that it would just be a single instance, but unfortunately, after one, they kept springing up one by one.
Some of the dialogue feels awkward due to the translation, which has a knock-on effect of taking you out of the more passionate and romantic moments. With the story’s simplicity, it felt easy enough to slip back into the intended mood, but it would be remiss of me to ignore those minor slip-ups. It detracts from the overall package and makes it difficult to say it’s worthy of any discerning yuri fan’s time.
Secret Kiss is Sweet and Tender is not going to be for everyone. The premise is going to turn some VN fans away at the door, plus the simplicity and lack of overall narrative depth aren’t going to win any awards. On top of that, the price and the slightly middling translation don’t do it any favors. Still, this could be a sweet and fluffy experience for yuri fans, but it might be better to look elsewhere first for your escapism fix.
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