Title: Maidens are Falling in Love With Me (Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru)
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Caramel Box
Release Date: Nov 23, 2012 (English)
With a title that translates into “Maidens are Falling in Love With Me,” you can pretty much tell whether you’ll like this visual novel or not at first glance.
Mizuho Miyanokouji is an effeminate boy (with an emphasis on the effeminate part) who is made to dress up as a girl and attend a private all-girls’ Catholic high school for well-mannered ladies as a part of his dead grandfather’s will. He ends up living in the school dorms and befriends several cute girls who adore him as a beautiful, elegant lady.
There is no actual driving plot to speak of in OtoBoku. It basically follows Mizuho’s life as a “girl” in an all-girls’ Catholic school (which is surprisingly accepting of romantic relationships between two girls, may I add) until his graduation date. It isn’t long, as he transfers into the school in the middle of his final school year.
The characters are your run-of-the-mill eroge cast. You have the main character’s teasing childhood friend who knows his true identity, an observant older girl who stayed back a year due to health issues, the serious (and somewhat tsundere) student council president, a hyper ghost girl, a cheerful kouhai and a shy kouhai. They’re pretty shallow the whole way through, so it’s the type of eroge where you only need to go for the character stereotype that you like. The interactions are also fairly unimaginative, and the common route basically consists of a bunch of typical school events such as the school play, the school dance, and Valentine’s Day. My favorite characters are two side characters who have no routes. I find them a great deal more entertaining than the main heroines, to be honest.
The key to enjoying OtoBoku is to not take it seriously at all (and not have expectations). You’ve got an all-girls’ Catholic school that doesn’t bat an eye at lesbian relationships, a guy who is so feminine that he still has long hair and sounds girly when he isn’t trying to pass off as girl, a hyperactive ghost who hangs around the dorm, a teacher who claims to be a nun yet doesn’t hesitate to do R-18 things to her student…the list goes on. It doesn’t try to portray anything seriously at all, which makes it all the more jarring when the writers attempt to add some drama into the plot.
Speaking of “drama,” OtoBoku is sure great at badly contrived drama. Normally, I like some drama with romance in eroge (like in ef), but OtoBoku doesn’t even try to make the reader care about the conflicts that surface. When things attempt to be dramatic, it turns into a snoozefest where you will find yourself thinking “oh man, not again,” or “just hurry up and get it over with.” The conflicts begin and end in the most dry and predictable way possible, and are generally uninteresting because the protagonist is rich and perfect and can solve everything easily. Caring for whatever “hardships” the characters go through in their relationships is difficult. The slice-of-life is much more enjoyable than the attempts at drama. Thankfully, the former outnumbers the latter in length. The common route is around 5 chapters long, whereas individual character routes (where things take a turn for the dramatic) are only around 2 chapters.
Music is average on a whole, with some annoying tracks and some decent tracks. It’s nothing notable, and definitely not something I’d bother listening to outside the eroge. The art is, by modern standards, rather poor. While certain CGs look decent, a lot have awkward anatomy. Large breasts are the most jarring, because they happen to be perfectly round and gravity-defying. The artist also doesn’t seem to be too good with the foreshortening of limbs either. The character designs are average, without anything that stands out to me. The backgrounds are typical school fare, and the shading and lighting on a whole doesn’t look that great. It’s not Kanon-level bad, but it surely does not help an eroge that only has cute girls going for it. The fact that OtoBoku is pretty old gives it some excuse in the art department.
Overall, I’d say that I liked Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru as a guilty pleasure, the same way that you may enjoy a typical harem anime for cute girls and fanservice. It doesn’t bring anything meaningful or complex to the table, and exists as pure fantasy. In fact, you should be able to tell that from the title alone and description alone. It fulfills its marketed purpose, and that’s it. It doesn’t do anything wrong on that level. The typical characters can be fun to watch, if you’re not jaded from playing too many slice-of-life eroge or watching too many slice-of-life harem anime. Character depth and moving stories are not its forte. Make sure you can tolerate a protagonist written purely on a wish fulfillment level, because Mizuho is rich and pretty and both the perfect elegant lady and the flawless chivalrous gentleman, as well as being instantly loved as a new transfer student.