I originally was going to skip reviewing this visual novel because I realize that these reviews are a constant thing, but I just can't hold back. This visual novel is almost required reading for any troper or lover of Japanese media. It's satire and a trope-fest of epic proportions on Japanese games.
Our story starts off with Junichiro, a normal Japanese teen, beginning his day as the Vice President of the United States of Nippon (Japan). What follows is a complex look at the politics of Japan in the context of modern society...
Screw it, watch this opening and get a feeling for how serious this thing is:
It's a story about Junichiro and his misadventures with a harem that includes the childhood friend President of Japan Ohama (yes, they did), the super-Tsundere President of Rusia (Who is totally not a reference to Putin despite being named Putina! Baka!), Chief-of-Staff Ran, and a spaceship.
One thing leads to another and Junichiro becomes the center of attention in a love triangle between the sweet cannot-spit-it-out Yukino and the closet-otaku Putina (who does not like you... baka). Oh yeah, and then there's Ran and the spaceship.
Hilarity Ensues and never stops.
This game is one, very long joke about Japan's storytelling conventions and the real-world. It pokes fun at everything from harems to Japan's real world political policy to loli aliens. I can't even describe how much I cracked up at some of the wit they crammed into this novel.
To make it even better, this is one of the most self-aware stories I've read or watched. It lampshades everything. Absolutely everything is pointed out and made fun of. The novel even tends to make fun of itself more often than not.
It also uses tropes and makes fun of them everywhere. There's exceptionally cheesy uses of Paper-Thin Disguise that would make comic books jealous, very blatant jokes about Moe and Japan's fixation on it, and literally everything in between. Magical girls, Red Shirt Armies, and everything gets pulled apart and made fun of in some capacity.
I spotted references to everything from Evangelion to Ghostbusters in this visual novel. It's absolutely filled to the brim with references to everything you can think of. I'm sure I missed many, even with my experience with media. I'm talking about gems like:
- "Singing is great. Singing enriches the soul. It's the crowning achievement of the culture that Lilim created."
- "YES, YOUR HIGHNESS"
- "Shenmue 3"
It's one of the most hilarious parts of the whole thing because it always feels like it's an inside joke. They're subtle, but never hidden.
Surprisingly Smart Comedy:
Overall, the whole novel sits pretty far above the usual romantic comedy when it comes to the comedy. This is mostly due to the previous two categories and just how aware it is of itself. It's one of the only romantic comedies in years that actually made me laugh. Not chuckle, laugh.
Let's just say that Yukino's route ended in the best way possible. It had me laughing in a way that I just didn't expect.
It's Still Eroge:
I'm not going to dwell on this one very long. The scenes, like most eroge, feel tacked on and unnecessary at the expense of time we could have spent making fun of more tropes.
My Girlfriend is the President is definitely up there with my favorite romantic comedies in a long time just because of how self aware it is. The fourth wall is basically nonexistent and everything is lampshaded by the characters.
It's chock-full of jokes about Japanese video games and common Japanese cultural quirks (like the harem genre). It even pokes some fun at Japanese social norms and political stances for the savvy player.
For that reason, I suggest that people somewhat versed in Japanese media should play it. You'll have fun with it if you aren't well versed, but you'll have a lot more appreciation for some of these jokes if you've got a good knowledge base on topics like harems, romantic comedies, and standard anime tropes. A good knowledge base on popular western shows and movies will help too, since the game loves to name-drop everything under the sun.
The primary enjoyment out of this game comes from being "in on the joke". When a character cracks a joke about harems, you are right there laughing with them at it. When a character lampshades the absurdity of what is happening in a scene, you're right there with them. If you aren't in on the joke, then you'll still like some of the humor, but it's the core of the game.
This is an eroge by the way, so the children in the room can back off now.
You can get a second opinion from Kotaku's Richard Eisenbeis here.
You can purchase My Girlfriend is the President through JAST USA.
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.