Hmm… I really don’t click with titles that involve so many guns… Either that, or there’s something about propeller that just doesn’t click with me. Anyway, Ayakashibito is one of Propeller’s earliest works, being released in 2005. I decided to play the Chinese localization (despite it being a Taiwan company) because it was really well rated all around, and is within the top 100 at erogamescape. This kind of showed me how individual tastes can vary though. Like Kanon and Symphonic rain, even with so many people praising it, I just can’t bring myself to say that I feel the same.
This is an alternate world where certain people are “gifted” with powers, which range from being able to control countless guns to being able to distribute scents. They are called “ayakashibito” or demon people. Our protagonist is one of those people. After escaping a research facility with his one and only friend, a fox demon, they try to find a world in which they can exist and belong.
There’s a whole lot of them, and each one has their own interesting quirks. However, there’s just too many of them, so I’ll just write about the main ones.
Kisaragi Soushichi (fake name) is kind of like an average protag. Kind, caring, incredibly dense, doesn’t think highly of himself, tragic past that he pretends never happened, kick ass martial arts skills. Okay, so he’s more like a protagonist of a shounen manga than an eroge, but the whole feel of this story is more similar to a shounen manga anyway. Not a bad character, although his voice kind of annoys me (yes, he is voiced).
Kisaragi Suzu (fake name, kinda) is a fox demon who has been friends with Soushichi for over a decade, although he never realized that she was a demon. She really dislikes humans in general (besides Soushichi, anyway), and has quite a strong power due to her being one of the last 9 tailed foxes (although she’s too young to have 9 tails yet). She’s a bit spoiled and thinks Soushichi is too naive. Sometimes though, she’s really terrifying. To see her without Soushichi by her side is to see her without mercy, and she definitely crosses the line to become a yandere at one point.
Her route is the true end (although there are actually 3 different ending to it, and I’m not quite sure which is the canon end). To get to it, you must complete the endings of the 3 other heroines.
A member of the student council where Suzu and Soushichi ends up going to school at. Ichinotani Touko is one of those kind, caring, and responsible people who’s extremely popular with everyone (that leads to some problems later on). Except when she panics over ecchi things, gets angry, or starts fighting.
I didn’t like her path much though, it’s definitely the weakest of the bunch. Stories involving lesbian stalkers are rarely done right. yes.
Tonya is a Russian transfer student (or foreign exchange student, can’t remember). Also the obligatory tsundere (although I have to say that Suzu is pretty tsun too). She has a sharp tongue and is extremely good at making fun of/teasing other people. But her dere…
She doesn’t get along with Suzu at all, but I have to say that I liked her path the best out of the 4. It was really amusing and definitely the most touching.
Iizuka Kaoru is Soushichi’s other friend from childhood, although they got separated quite early on. She is now the head of Dominion (think ghost in the shell with weirder characters chasing down illegal Ayakashibito without the cute tanks). She’s a perfect police officer: calm, analytical, efficient, and really good with guns.
Her path was a bit different from the rest, because it didn’t have much of a “fun fun fluffy fluffy everyday school life” piece to it. I also thought that it had the most back story and explanations (besides Suzu’s path, of course).
Well, you can probably tell from the CGs already, but it’s really hot blooded. They spend a lot of time on action, and I’m not much of an action person unless there’s really nice animation involved. In this case, there is none, so my view of it went down quite a bit because of that. There’s also a lot of slice of life comedy, most of which didn’t sit well with me either. The transitions between scenes are weak. For instance, we have 1 scene where a character is lamenting over the fact that he just committed murder. He then gets a phone call and happily struts off to enjoy the school festival. Yeah, that’s definitely the best way to do things, I’m sure. The story also felt draggy at parts. There was more than 1 occasion where I asked myself: “is it over yet?” The excessive and somewhat random h-scenes doesn’t help (TWENTY-FOUR scenes, geez).
There’s one character within a student council who is somewhat of a zombie. He dies very easily, sometimes from small things such as holding hands. Turns out, his ability is something like a safety mechanism, letting him die when he feels pain so that he wouldn’t suffer much from wounds and healing quickly afterward. I thought that it was a very interesting concept and was disappointed that they didn’t touch on it further. With disappointment comes fridge horror, because I realized that aside from Suzu’s path, none of the endings are actually happy because of what’s going to happen in the future…
On the other hand, there were quite a few things that was done well. For instance, every character gets a chance to shine, particularly in Suzu’s path. I love the above scene, where the hot blooded sidekick character shouts in a way that reminded me of Gurren Lagann: “Believe in me! Believe in my technique! Believe in my bike!!!” By the way, the romantic partner of said character also changes depending on the path the protagonist takes, which is quite interesting and not often seen in eroge.
This is the greatest thing about this story: the characters. They are explored in the different paths, and the way that they interact and affect each other is very interesting, not to mention hilarious at times. The plot twists are well done, and I especially loved the true identity of the shouta god at the end. Hint: his love for Suzu isn’t what it seems~
Art: Again, there’s a good side and a bad side to this. On one hand, there’s a lot of CGs. On the other, almost half of that is h. On one hand, there’s a lot of character art and poses, on the other hand, some of the pose variations look odd and inconsistent.There was one instance where a character had a coat without pockets, then he put his hands into his previously non-existent pockets, which appeared seemingly out of nowhere, only to disappear with the next pose change.
I can’t call the coloring method anything besides generic, and the character designer doesn’t help things (especially not with what feels like an urge to choose the ugliest hair colors available). It felt like he had OCD or something, drawing excessive and stiff folds and creases in clothing. Speaking of which, he has an quite an awful fashion sense. Also, if you looked at the above image, you can see that they 2 girls are supposed to be sleeping. Just ignore the claws on the boobs (for something that sharp looking can’t be anything but claws), and the odd shape of the boobs themselves (no, a boob ISN’T a ball covered with fabric that you stick on a chest, the fabric won’t go under the boobs that way!). Let’s just focus on the girl’s head. It looks like her head is on the floor. No, it isn’t, it is on the girl’s boob. That’s perfectly fine, except for that angle which means her head can’t possibly be there unless some unseen force is defying gravity and stopping her head from slipping to the ground like it’s supposed to.
Uniforms look different on each person, I know, but this is a bit ridiculous. The style of the skirt is completely different, and the opening down the front is gong on the taller girl, not to mention the opening on the arm doesn’t look like an opening on the shorter girl (sorry for using the word “opening”, it’s been a while since I sewed and my memory isn’t that great when it comes to technical terms). It would hurt to fix the fact that the skirts look lopsided, or the fact that different line/shade colors were used on different characters, or change the shape of the skirt on the taller girl so that she doesn’t look she have a balloon for a butt. Don’t get me started on the bellybutton. Let me just say that every fiver of my being abhors it and leave it at that.
And the backgrounds… the generic, loveless backgrounds that are there just so characters aren’t standing in front of a white screen- Ah, oops, I’ve only been talking about the bad parts, haven’t I? Err… well… at least the action scenes look action-y! *Cough.
Sometimes, the littlest things can make all the difference. And in this case, I mean that I would have been a lot less annoyed at the music if I could skip the ending song, which was quite annoying to my ears.
There are 20 tracks the game, plus the opening and ending themes. The problem is that only 3 tracks are used for everyday scenes, and most of the tracks are battle music. This means that you get tired of some of the tracks very, VERY quickly.The battle music stays pretty good throughout though. The odd thing is that the recording quality wasn’t that good. In fact, it kind of reminded me of KID’s work (and nothing can be good about that).
I have no problems with most of the voice acting. The annoying characters sounded annoying (Ichina is… well, she’s one of the most annoying fictional characters I have ever heard, not to mention read about), the cool characters sounded cool. The protagonist sounded a bit TOO feminine at parts, but that was okay. I remember that I said Suzu’s voice was ear candy. I take that back. She only sounds good when the seiyuu is trying very hard to be serious. Otherwise, she sounds squeaky, and in the worst way possible. I couldn’t believe how cringe/bleed worthy it was, I mean, she sounded like she was still doing Kurihara Touko!
It’s simple, it works. That’s about all the good I can say about it. This is worsened by the fact that I had played the Taiwan version, which had an absolutely hideous font. There’s no attempt to make it GOOD, to add some flair to the presentation, when some small changes could have made it much better. Especially that eyecatch, oh, that eyecatch… There are few things that I want to obliterate from this world than that eyecatch! Just like the ending song, you can’t skip it by clicking or using the keyboard. Would it have KILLED them to add that function?
There aren’t a lot of effects, even in battle, and the interface is pretty hideous. I’m glad that they went on to fixing that in their later games though. Asairo was amazing, and even the Ayakashibito fandisc already shows a lot of improvement.
Speaking of which, there is also a fandisc available with system voices, wallpapers (not very good ones), and 2 extra scenarios. One story is a bit of a prequel, involving a spirit of sorts and her quest for love (kinda). The other is an after story to Touko’s ending, which is another way of saying another excuse for an h-scene.
Total: 63/100 C
It was enjoyable, but not great. You might like it better if you like action-y eroges though.