In an attempt to provide more options for voiced Japanese visual novels, I started playing through older titles. Is Amaranto worth your time?
Length: Medium (10 – 30 hours)
1/3 (Mild Kisses and That’s All, Folks)
Price: free since the official site is dead?!
Summary: Set in a post-apocalyptic world where people reside in districts that are called Sects, Mio and her best friend, Shizuku, attempt to uncover the truth behind several murders which seem to be connected to a girl who is draped in white.
Review: While the visual novel reveals its age through its dated UI and lackluster CG, Amaranto is rather enjoyable despite its average storytelling. The different routes all bring something unique to the table and the OST is actually rather good.
First of all, just ignore the opening lines which attempt to explain the setting. All the player needs to know (at first, at least) is that there were plenty of wars which caused the world to be split up into Sects. Furthermore, the Sect in which this story takes place has been taken over by someone called Queen, who tries to kill any and all men whenever she enters a new Sect. As a result, the shortage of humans with y chromosomes in Amaranto are thusly explained if not justified.
With that in mind, the rest of the story provides a plethora of twists and turns. Plenty of reveals were to be had, but some characters were unfortunately kept underdeveloped. The action scenes are largely not exciting, however, due to how it’s written – characters don’t really do anything impressive besides teleporting due to sheer speed, which makes for boring battles since they’re just waving around swords. There’s no explanation given for mana, qi, etc, which is almost mandatory for action series (in my opinion).
I also believe that the writing and/or the translation could have been polished a bit more considering how often the phrase “__________ is reflected in ___________’s eyes” popped up. Perhaps this was the thing that all the writers felt compelled to throw in so there was some degree of cohesion across all the different routes.
I felt like Mio, the main character, is your typical action protagonist. While she isn’t afraid to throw down with others if need be, which is cool, Mio is just a nice girl you can find anywhere as long as you’re not killing others or if you’re not trying to end the world or if you’re not trying to pick a fight with her. It just so happens she walks around with a sword – and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong – being a nice person obviously isn’t bad, but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily interesting despite what several of her love interests seemed to believe. The fact that she’s headstrong and sincere is probably what wins the ladies over, I suppose.
As for her love interests, goody goody two-shoes Shizuku got on my nerves and is the reason why I was unhappy with the game. Several reveals and events later helped me realize she’s got it rough so I can’t hate on her too much, but I still believe the way she snaps at Mio in the game is overly dramatic and uncalled for. Azoth, the mysterious vampire loli, is also a love interest and I’ll keep it at that to avoid throwing around excessive spoilers. I personally really, really like Ayaka and Ria even though their individual routes seem a bit rushed since they both become drawn to Mio rather instantaneously. Love doesn’t listen to rhyme or reason nor care for time or season, though, so I should stop nitpicking and just appreciate these cool ladies of action.
Hard to say which girl is best girl, by the way. Shizuku’s route plays a unique song during the credits, but Ria’s can only be played after the other three routes are completed and comes with an unique movie after the credits. In other words, the jury is out on the OTP! You can’t expect anything but mild kisses in regards to yuri, however. I doubt tongue was ever involved, too. On the plus side, almost every character is implied to be gay.
There’s an expansive, non-stand-alone patch floating around called Amaranto -Fine- that introduces a new love interest, but it’s also not translated. Very interesting timing considering how the patch came out in 2013 when the game originally came out in 2008.
Not a bad game if you don’t hate idealistic girls or girls who aren’t all that special yet are called special by everyone and everything. To see all that the game has to offer you have to invest at least 10 hours (give or take), however, and I’m left thinking that there could be better ways to spend your time as a yuri fan. I mean, you’ll be spending almost half a day on a game where the girls only get to first base. That’s a low return, in my opinion. Even if you count how the story is kind of cool despite the boring action scenes.
I recommend playing through a route and seeing if you’re willing to tolerate several more hours for a few chaste kisses and more information shed on your mysterious love interests. Might save yourself some time doing things this way (especially if you find the game boring after that one route). Maybe things will change if the patch is ever translated, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.