Tenshi No Inai 12-Gatsu review

WARNING: This game contains 18+ material.

天使のいない12月, which translates into December when there is no angel in English, is a game developed by Leaf (to heart, comic party, Utawarerumono, and a few others) and released in 2003. Unlike most of that company’s games, which are generally light-hearted with some seriousness involved, this game is very dark, with heavy themes of sexuality and depression. There’s an ongoing translation for it, and from the looks of things the translation is going pretty well.

Characters:

Kida Tokinori: The main character. He’s bored and tired of life, choosing to waste time by smoking cigarettes. He also has a bit of a temper, but he is kind to people when it counts the most.

Kurihara Touko: A slow and simple minded girl with probably the highest and most akward voice I have ever heard in a girl. she tries her best but fails at the simplest things and always tags behind her best friend, Shinobu.

Sakaki Shinobu: Touko’s protective best friend. She’s sharp tongued and tries to punish anyone who she thinks has hurt Touko. Also, she’s the class representative and gets very good grades.

Asou Asuna: An older co-worker at the cake shop where Kida has his part time job, she’s generally a happy, kind, and flirty person. However, she tenses up whenever her past is brought up.

Sumadera Yukio: A smart and beautiful girl whom Kida meets when he saw her standing on the edge of the roof, almost falling down. She is greatly respected by the girls in the school, who sees her as a kind senpai, even though she herself had decided to not form any relationships with other people.

Hazuki Maho: The girlfriend of Kida’s best friend, she’s a bubbly and energetic member of the lacrosse team and treats Kida like an older brother.

Graphics: 9/10

Let’s face it, you can’t really go wrong with graphics when Mitsumi Misato and Nakamura Takeshi are involved (and this is still back in 2003! The latest game that they worked on, toheart2 another days, has absolutely gorgeous art that’s good enough to make you just forget about the story and stare at an event cg for a few minutes when they come up). The event cgs are quite numerous and very beautiful. The backgrounds look great, they are mostly devoid of any background characters give a sense of emptiness to the game. However, I’ve docked a point as quite a few scgs look awkward and the male characters look awful.

Music:10/10

The music is beautiful, with a very refreshing opening song (as opposed to a lot of bright and fast paced jpop that we usually get). There’s a lot of guitar and piano in this soundtrack, and they add to the atmosphere beautifully.

voice acting: 7/10

The voice acting is also very well done, and the voice actresses suit the characters well. However, Touko’s voice is very annoying to me, and there isn’t a piece of voice acting that was good enough for me to feel “WOW”, so I gave it a lower mark.

System: 9/10

The interface is one of the most stylish ones I’ve ever seen, and you get all the basic options along with the ability to review all event cgs, music, h-scenes, and endings. There is even a message from all the voice actresses. There are 40 save slots, which is more than you need for this game. You can also change your name. There is only 1 effect used in the game other than the scene translations, and that is the use of snow; it looks good, but the size of the snow doesn’t really match with the situation, as we sometimes have a big flake that looks really close going behind the back of a faraway character. It all works well, but I’m disappointed that Leaf didn’t go a step further and adding a scg viewer or something else that can promote it to a 10.

Story: 7/10

“It’s not eternal, nor is it real, only a piece of feeling that used to exist.”

This is the sentence that shows up at the end of every story, and it reflects the state of the story well. The main character wrestles with the feelings that he has, the state of the world that he lives in, and the way that the girls he meets lives. Everyone has problems, and none of them are really “normal”, rejecting the things around them and giving up. A lot of the relationships in the story is really twisted, and none of the endings are truly happy. Sex is heavily featured in this game, as characters use it for their own reasons; either to atone, to protect, or even to feel alive. There are also some pretty disturbing scenes involving things like self injury and suicide. Kida’s way of thinking is very twisted and there is a lot of swearing.

All the stories are short, and I think that a person can finish this game in a single day. However, the endings are kind of left open, as not much of the problems are solved, but everyone has to live on. I happen to be a sucker for happy endings, so this didn’t really work for me, but I do think that this way of ending things is more real that what most games portray, as there really isn’t a convenient way to end all the problems.

Gut feelings:

I found it very hard to give an opinion for this game, as it is radically different from most visual novels out there. However, I definitely do not regret playing this game, even if I won’t recommend it to everyone.

Total score: 42/50

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4 thoughts on “Tenshi No Inai 12-Gatsu review

  1. I tried this a year ago, but after I found it goes into the direction it goes in I dropped it. I might come back to it when my Japanese gets better, but I’ve heard people that have gotten depressed over this game.

  2. I’ve been a fan of leaf since the days of To Heart, so this game was admitedly a bit of a shock to me. Despite that, the general atmosphere of the game goes very much against the grain when it comes to connotations that have to do with Christmas (and have a stronger inpact on anyone who was raised under the Christian traditions). This alone makes it worthwhile, in my opinion.

    The fact that the stories don’t resolve much near the end give the game a slice-of-life feel, which is fine. I still wish leaf would have animated this to some capacity, if only to see where it would go.

  3. To my knowledge, Amadayu Tatsuki didn’t actually contribute to this game–only Nakamura Takeshi and Misato Mitsumi did, which is a relief since whenever there’s only one of Leaf’s top three artists on hand for a game, the game gets stuck with a severe case of the “cloning blues”–in other words many of the characters have the exact same face other than eye and hair colour.

    I wonder why Leaf hasn’t put out more games like this, where the ero-content can’t really be taken out without destroying the narrative. There needs to be more stuff like this, stuff that is unabashed unafraid to confront issues like these head on in the genre.

    There’s a touch of that in the White Album remake, but sadly due to its all-ages trappings you won’t see any of it. Yayoi’s path in the anime and the original game raises quite a lot of issues that I think would have been much better had they not been censored in this latest entry.

    Oh, and sadly enough, Sakaki Shinobu from TenInailooked far better than Touma Kazusa did, despite Nakamura Takeshi’s great deal of practice drawing young girls with long black hair in a “hime cut.” Touma Kazusa, Kusakabe Yuuki, Sakaki Shinobu, etc.

    • Oops, don’t know how his name got there (maybe it’s because I’ve been looking at TH2 back then). Fixed.

      I personally don’t mind cloning blues much, with the way things are if you really get bugged by it you’ll have a stroke in a hour when you’re surfing. What bugs me more is when you have a really good artist working alongside a comparatively awful artist and I wonder what the hell they were thinking when the company chose them.

      I agree with you that Nakamura Takeshi shouldn’t have gone at White album 2 though, especially not alone. Those hideous CGs…guh… Touma deserves better! I can only half-agree with you when you say that you wish Touma sang though. Yes, I want to listen to her sing, but not if she’s one of those people whose singing voice is 300 times worse than their speaking voice.

      The 2 WA girls were in the hot springs mostly because they were drunk (I wonder what the drinking age in Japan is).

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