Visual Novels You Might Wanna Check Out: Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! (Majikoi)

Majikoi is an eroge visual novel released by Minatosoft back in 2009. It takes place in Kawakami City, a place deeply rooted in its samurai ancestry and strong respect for its code. The main protagonist, Naoe Yamato is a second year at Kawakami Academy, where conflicts (or just whims really) are settle in arranged duels, much like the more recent Shokugeki no Souma. 

Yamato is part of a group of tight knit friends whose members have grown up together known as the "Kazama Family". A large part of the story centers around the group itself and how they go through their daily lives, hanging out and generally having a great time in whatever they do. There is some real solid writing behind their interactions and their camaraderie feels genuine in the way that they are always comfortable and natural around one another. 

As far as visual novels go, Majikoi would be considered very light-hearted and light on the melodrama, focusing instead on its strong characters, ridiculous scenarios they find themselves in and lots and lots of comedy. Comedy is a mainstay in much of the game itself, be it from the huge array of quirky by lovable side characters, all-out school wars, rifle-toting Prime-Ministers, German army invasions, and even the huge amount of short clips played everytime you exit the game. Much of the comedy is not of the laugh out loud variety, but more of the type of silly tongue-in-cheek humor typical between friends, and for the most part works pretty well, fleshing out the characters while keeping the reader entertained throughout.

The story start off with the very lengthy common-route, which introduces the setting, the huge roster of generally excellent side characters, and of course the Kazama family and their backstory, establishing their tight-knit relationships and how they integrate (with some trepidation and difficulty) the newly-added members. The story then splits up into individual routes, one for each of the five main heroines, shorter ones for the side characters, and a final one for when you complete the others. The plot and tone vary massively (they literally share no plot elements) between individual routes, from dramas to wacky all-out battle royales to some genuinely touching coming of age stories. Personally some of them were excellent while others were abit hit and miss, but all of them are very good entertainment and readers will always have something different to look forwards to. The weakest part of the writing is probably the romance in some of the routes, as they feel a little tacked-on with little time to develope. Otherwise, the writing is solid, if not super impactful with strong comedic beats.

One of the greatest strengths of Majikoi is its sheer production value, as far as visual novels are concerned. Character are well-designed and very distinct, with a surprising number of individual sprites available for major characters (minors don't get the same love till the sequels). Backgrounds, special effects, and CGs are surprisingly numerous, crisp and pleasant to look at. The menus, options, galleries and interface are super slick, precise and usable with an ease you never would have imagined in any Visual novel prior to it. The care and attention put into it shows in its production value which can still shame many titles today, impressive considering Minatosoft isn't an especially noteworthy studio.

Given its an eroge, the inclusion of 18+ scenes are a given, and Majikoi isn't stingy when it comes to them. Mostly limited near the ending of routes, each usually has 1-3 scenes where Yamato gets to do the naughty. There is again a surprisingly large number of CGs available to these scenes, tend to be quite lengthy, and are fully-voiced (a rarity in many eroges). As far as H-scenes go these are far batter made than many of its peers, but if you're not comfortable with them they can be easily skippable as they tend to happen after the end of a plot.

I really did enjoy spending my time going through Majikoi. Its one of those oddball titles akin to Nichijou is more about having a great, fun time rather than any serious plot. The game is no Fate/Stay Night, G Senjo no Maou, or Steins;Gate, but for what its meant to do it does admirably, and I had a blast throughout most of it. It also helps that it is one of the easiest visual novels for beginners to get into and has an excellent English fan translation. Anyone looking for a nice, relaxing title to pick up and play should definitely give this consideration.


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