3-AR Studios recently released their first visual novel, titled OTChi Kocchi (a questionable name choice considering how similar it is to the anime Acchi Kocchi, which might cause confusion), and after spending a reasonable amount of time with it and its four heroines, I’m ready to share some of my thoughts on it.
The basic premise of OTChi Kocchi revolves around a guy named Shirou who, after a failed relationship with his girlfriend, starts working at a hospital to make himself feel less pathetic and maybe win her back. Or something. It’s a paper thin premise, so there’s really no need to dwell on it much. At the hospital, he meets his new co-workers -the four main heroines-, and this is pretty much where the story begins.
After playing the routes of each heroine, I felt like OTChi Kocchi was trying to be two games at the same time. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you. If anything, it creates a nice contrast and the feeling of reading something completely different in each route. One side of it is traditional slice of life/romance, while the other is generic shounen/superhero story – neither of which genres I am especially fond of, but still. Well, let me correct that: slice of life I am fine with, if it’s done very well (see: Aria The Animation and its sequels). Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. But more of that later.
Probably the first thing that will stand out (in a way) is the game’s visual presentation. I can’t really put this any other way, so I’ll be blunt – yes, the art is bad. It reaches “acceptable” levels here and there (see above), but for the most part, is mostly amateur work, accompanied by coloring that almost seems like it could’ve been done in MS Paint. I’m not one to complain too much about art, but when the quality is this low, I have to make a mention of it, as the visual appeal of a game like this plays a fairly decent role in establishing the mood and a certain level of immersion.
But enough about that. What makes or breaks a visual novel is its story and quality of writing. Thankfully, the writing of OTChi Kocchi is solid for the most part, with its own style and sense of humor. Some characters are reasonably fleshed out, and their dialogue, while not award-winning stuff, was decent enough to make me appreciate them to a certain extent. There are a few scenes where I felt the writing was losing a bit of its quality, accompanied by a number of typos here and there, but overall it did its job just fine. No major complaints on this front, I suppose.
The plot, on the other hand, fluctuates between mediocre romance with nothing very interesting happening, and unimaginative shounen romp. While Rimu was my first choice of heroine, as she seemed to be the most pleasant one at first glance, her route ended up being painfully dull and uneventful.
Now, I can’t exactly condemn a slice of life route for not coming forth with a torrent of mind-blowing twists, since the genre isn’t about that. However, there is a way to portray mostly uneventful days while still telling a meaningful story with a powerful finale. Again, I have to point towards Aria, one of my all-time favorite anime series and a genuine masterpiece of the slice of life genre. OTChi Kocchi doesn’t quite do any of that: it tries, it definitely does, but many of its scenes end up being boring, and any semblance of drama (Rimu’s father and cousin) is quickly swept under the rug and resolved in a matter of seconds, only to conclude in an overly-convenient happy end that comes out of nowhere, to the point of making me wonder if it was all just a dream. By no means am I picking on romantic happy endings -hell, the finale of Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi filled me with an immense feeling of joy and satisfaction-, but as far as execution is concerned, OTChi Kocchi falls short: the Rimu route in particular is completely run-of-the-mill and predictably simple. Well, let me rephrase that: its simplicity is not the most important issue, as simple stories can still be executed well. But the side characters lack charm, and the ending is without any sense of accomplishment. Simply put, it didn’t have much of an impact on me.
Although things take a fairly more interesting turn in Aoi’s and Aris’s routes, and I can sort of see the outlines of a larger story the making, the game didn’t quite convince me that I want to see more. I will mention, though, that aside from Rimu, Aoi was another character whose dialogue I had fun reading, and I’m for giving props when props are due. Additionally, the supernatural twist came as a pleasant surprise, and had my attention for a while. I was wondering where the narrative would go with it, as it had some level of potential.
In the end, however, it didn’t quite evolve into anything that would really blow me away, or even want me to pursue the story any further in potential future installments. In all honesty, Aoi’s route felt like a gender-swapped version of Twilight with bland Average Joe falling madly in love with Supergirl for superfluous reasons, and while Aoi’s playful personality was refreshing, the plot just couldn’t hold my interest, unfortunately. I had similar feelings about Aris’ route, its basic plot seemingly snatched straight out of a shounen manga, abruptly ending with an Epilogue that felt more like a Prologue for things to come. But much like in the case of the Aoi route (or even Atti’s path, dealing with a more serious subject matter compared to Rimu’s route), I didn’t find the story and its presentation gripping enough for me to really care about most of these characters.
While I see faint sparkles of ambition in OTChi Kocchi, it is sadly all overshadowed by its sheer mediocrity. With two exceptions, I simply did not care about the characters, and the plot did nothing to convince me otherwise. All in all, this is a competently written, but ultimately forgettable title that I could only (mildly) recommend to diehard fans of either romance or shounen/superpower – and even then, there are better options out there, both in visual novels and anime.