When I first heard of Para-sol, I thought “CARNELIAN ART YESYESYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!” Then I heard the story synopsis like this (my thanks to vndb):
“Now”, let’s talk about the future for a little bit.
In an SF world where cyborgs and androids are near reality, for some reason rumors of fantastic creatures such as werewolf and dragons started to spread.
That time, one girl silently sent a mail to an unknown someone.
A mail that’s unknown to reach someone.
Written inside is only one sentence.
“Save Our Ship”
But, by a stroke of luck the mail definitely reached somewhere.
And, the girl received a reply.
Makes very little sense, doesn’t it? Basically, there’s a whole convoluted backstory with sci-fi and maybe even fantasy elements, and I say maybe because everything is very confusing. There might be a dragon involved, or it might be a metaphor for something else… Anyway, the basic story is that there are werewolves , giant corporations, terrorist groups, and other bad things around, and there are two ojou-samas. The ojou-samas are sisters, and our protagonist has been sent to their house to make their lives better.
That doesn’t help much, does it? But that’s the setting of the story.
Our dear protagonist has the name of Kojirou Fujita. But it’s not his real name anyway. His real name isn’t really a secret either, since it’s right there in the first minutes of the prologue and on the official site. He is basically pretty dokan, and completely filled with boke material. He loves his family, or at least, the people that he calls his family, and is considerate of people, but not in the right way (ie. he has no idea what romantic feelings mean and doesn’t understand how people could have a problem with incest). He can be pretty cool, but his awesome fighting skills are only really shown in the prologue, after that he’s kinda useless in the fighting front.He’s also completely useless in the cooking front but that’s a whole other matter.
Yatabe Noa is the elder sister of the Yatabe sisters, and as the granddaughter of one of the most powerful corporations of the world she’s grown up to be pretty sheltered. Generally speaking, she’s a nice person who’s aware of her naivete (but not her complete inability to cook), and while she’s not the most social person in the world, she is popular enough to be the school idol. Unfortunately for Kojirou, Noa is also extremely protective of her younger sister. I say unfortunately, because Kojirou tried to hug Miu the moment he saw her, and that led to this.
Due to the fact that Kojirou keeps falling into compromising positions with Miu again and again and again, Noa acts kind of like a classic tsundere for the first half of the game.
Yatabe Miu, the younger sister, is…well… quiet. She doesn’t talk much, she doesn’t do much, and she’s almost always wearing headphones to block out external noise. Miu’s really quite aggressive sexually though, wonder where she got that from…
Fujita Nodoka is Kojirou’s cousin, but since you know that Kojirou is a fake name you know that their relationship is a bit fishier. She’s a beautiful, sweet and adorable girl who’s wonderful with cooking, and shows up at the doorstep with a maid uniform, ready to serve her “family”.
Wait, no….. I’m missing something….
What am I missing?
Oh, right, now I remember.
She has a big ass sword and a VERY unstable personality so it’s not a good idea to get on her bad side……………….. But other than that she’s just sweet as a biscuit. Also, for some reason, she wears that maid outfit for that one scene, then it never shows up again. I wonder why… Anyway, she’s my favorite character in the game, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she’s similar to Kohaku from Tsukihime (but like the dude said, she’s nowhere as awesome as Kohaku).
There are other characters, such as class mates and para-sols, but I won’t go into detail here. Oh, before I forget, para-sol is short for parasitic soldier. Makes you look at the title in a different way, doesn’t it?
When I first finished the story, my basic reaction is : WHAT. THE. FUCK.
The story jumps all over the place, with tons of flash backs and jargon that are completely senseless when you first encounter it. The pacing is really jarring in the beginning, and I have no idea if it actually gets better or if I just got more used to the insanity. There are also a ton of unanswered questions, and one of the unlock-able scenes end with a gun shot which is never explained and makes me want to punch the writer. The main plot makes pretty much no sense until you go through the game multiple times, not because the plot is any different the second or third or fourth time (the plot is linear) but because you have to in order to access extra scenes which actually lets you figure out what just happened. Of course, they won’t just let you save and load the decisions either, and they break the fourth wall just to tell you that saving at a decision point and picking something different won’t get you a different result. The fact that all of the decisions occur in a dream world and are utterly nonsensical does not help. The effect of the whole hunting for clues thing makes me feel like its a mix of Kara no shoujo, flyable heart, and remember11 which may or may not be a good thing. There’s is also a LOT of slice of life and I don’t think the life to seriousness ratio is right. Overall, the story leaves a lot to be desired, and it really feels like they have this really grand setting, which just wasn’t used to its full potential. There are also quite a few scenes where you really feel that they’re trying a little TOO hard to tug at heart strings, and it fails completely and utterly to move me.
That said, despite nonsensical plot twists, out of the blue h-scenes, and emo-ness from the protagonist, the story is addictively entertaining. I admit, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m studying for finals right now and studying always make me procrastinate harder, but something about the story is just fun. I mean, I don’t even like the vast majority of the characters, but I just couldn’t stop reading. That’s gotta count for something.
. There are a ton of event CGs too. In fact, some times you see 6 CGs within the span of minutes, and you can see that with pretty any other company there would’ve just been one with some expression changes, so I felt really impressed. Although, I have to say that it would have been nice if they spent some of the event CG budget and made the fighting scenes better. Other than the very first fight scene in the prologue, where they easily spent 10 CGs to make a (very pretty) point, the rest of the fight scenes don’t have much in terms of graphics.
Also, the girls have teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny waists, and they cheated a little in some places and make stuff glowy instead of spending the proper time to draw a real background, but that’s just a minor issue.
eeh………. The problem with most VNs is the fact that while there MIGHT be a decent amount of tracks, the sheer length of the work can lead to the same 3 tracks playing OVER and OVER and OVER again until you are absolutely sick of it. Unfortunately Para-sol is pretty bad in that category. None of the music was really that good either, and they played slice-of-life music in the h-scenes. That’s just not right.
The opening song is pretty catchy though, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the voice acting.
Pretty basic, but slick and nice. There’s an extra system named Chronicle that Orbit has in a lot of their games where you just click on a button, and it takes you to a flow chart where you can see which scenes you missed and access any scene at any time. After you complete the ending in certain ways more scenes are unlocked, but they won’t tell you where the scenes are so you have to click on every part of the flow chart a few times to check and see which is quite annoying.
Total: 80/100 B+
This is one of those games which really shouldn’t be that good but for some reason once you start you can’t stop and once you finish you’re left feeling pretty good even though the ending shouldn’t be satisfying AT ALL. Try it if you like Carnelian.