Deardrops is a music romance visual novel developed by Overdrive that follows the protagonist Suganuma Shouichi. Once a world renowned violin prodigy, circumstances have forced him to give up the instrument, leading him back to his hometown.
There's two basic arcs to this visual novel. The first part of the novel is the common route, which is the same for every route in the visual novel. It's very much like you'd see in any music-centric story and it centers around the formation of the titular band "Deardrops". The second part is where the story branches off into each route. With the exception of Riho's route, all them shift focus away from Deardrops and more onto some other element.
That all aside, the usual "yeah, this is an eroge" warning needs to be said. Adults only, etc.
If you've seen a music anime like this season's Your Lie in April and said "man, I wonder if there's a show out there based on Rock", well you get close with this. While the production values aren't nearly as high as an anime, it's all about forming a rock and roll band made up of a bunch of eccentrics.
I played this visual novel in the following order: Rimu, Yayoi, Kanade, Riho. That's probably the ideal order in the grand scheme of things since Riho's arc is the longest and best of them. On that note, it's best to play Kanade's before Riho's due to the nature of the two's rivalry.
Riho's arc was a strong ending due to how it wraps up all the disparate elements of the other arcs in a nice bow. In that way, it ended very strongly and it did make much of the previous play time worth it.
Naturally, since it's in the music genre, the songs in the VN are nothing to scoff at. It's pretty good on average, though it can be inconsistent and they only rarely let us hear the headlining songs like Kibou no Uta (not the FLOW one, the Deardrops one), Be loud!, and more. The background music is pretty good in variety as well.
It's not the greatest opening I've ever heard, but there's something to be said for the unique direction and animation of the opening. Its stop-motion qualities are somewhat odd, but very interesting compared to the usual opening fanfare. More importantly, Kibou no Uta (the name of the opening number) features a particularly good accompanying violin that works well with the main character's past.
Being a person that hasn't played Overdrive's previous rock/punk visual novel KiraKira, I couldn't help but feel like the continuity nods near the end of Riho's route were flying straight over my head at Mach 2. It's not a deal breaker and the story still works, it's just poking fun at something I know nothing about.
Generally, all the stories are pretty good, with the two headlining heroines Riho and Kanade being the strongest, but that doesn't stop the writing from being a bit off sometimes. The writing can get really, really long-winded and overly descriptive sometimes. This can get particularly bad during some of the songs, where the developer locks the advancement of the text to sync it with the song. It can get really overly-embellished describing to you just how powerful this moment is man. I mean, have you ever seen something this powerful man?
It's been a few years Mangagamer, could we fix some of the typos? I mean, I hate to bring this up, but my inner self was crying when "their" was used instead of the "there".
This VN, particularly in Riho's route, has the tendency to build up to a conclusion and then suddenly extend the story on you. Every time I thought the ending was almost upon me, it kept going. And going.
And going. It's not so bad that I'd rag on it like I did Grisaia, but it's there. The saving grace here is that it lengthens it with a new goal each time, but it's still stringing things out.
Deardrops definitely does a lot more right than it does wrong. While I had some reservations about the pacing in particular, it was outshined by the strength of Kanade and Riho's routes in the end. It's a good visual novel that, while it tends to meander about, still manages to shine through as a good story that explores Suganuma's classic music past and his exploration of rock and roll in the present.
I'm still surprised that there hasn't been an attempt to adapt at least the common route into an anime. If you've ever watched a show like Kids on the Slope or Your Lie in April, it's a lot like them, just with rock and roll. It's a music story through-and-through and the common route and Riho's arc make sure you remember it.
For maximum enjoyment, I suggest playing the routes in the order that I did, since I think that's the best order all around: Rimu -> Yayoi -> Kanade -> Riho. If nothing else, play Riho's last. It's basically a requirement.
You can purchase Deardrops for the PC through Mangagamer. Adults only as Mangagamer will remind you.
This review was created with Talk Amongst Yourselves' official review format.
This review is part of my video game review series. I will be running it parallel to my Anime Marathon series. You'll be able to find all my video game reviews on Dex's Corner using the tag "Game Review". You can also find visual novel related material under the tag "Visual Novel".
You can find all my posts on Dex's Corner.