Why are romances always so bad?
I’ll be honest here. I am still a girl. When I’m reading a well-written story, I do ship characters, and I get pretty amped up when they’re going to kiss.
When it comes to bona fide romance novels, I always end up irritated.
I tried a dating simulator last night. Apparently that’s like, a normal thing in Japan. I had to know.
The game I picked (thanks to https://otakuandshit.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/top-5-best-free-mobile-otome/ who reviewed them and is a much nicer person and more receptive audience to this kind of thing than I am) was a phone app called Samurai Love Ballad: PARTY. Great name so far. Samurais are awesome, love is wonderful, and who doesn’t like a party?
Well I played the damn thing for an hour and there was no party.
Everything was pink or white, with sparkly things and butterflies and flowers and elegant script, which was fun. I’ll tell you what, when the Japanese market towards women, they don’t pull any punches. I actually enjoy the insane levels of over-the-top girliness when it comes to visuals. This makes me feel a combination of amused and proud. We should all embrace pink with such outrageous, steamroll-your-eyeballs pride.
(“Sent to War by one lord… Love before death demands another… your own heart.” I believe they’re trying to express the same sentiment as Eddie Izzard when he said, “Cake or death?”)
I just looked it up and the gameplay style is called a visual novel. Essentially this was an illustrated choose-your-own adventure story. It shows an image, usually of a beautiful anime guy, and displays text below. Sometimes his face will change depending on what he’s saying, but it’s all very static. This was fun, I enjoyed this format because I’m old and it reminded me of the old PC games like Might and Magic. It was more a novel than a game.
(Samurai Love Ballad PARTY: one of your potential beaux)
(Old-ass RPG: one of your potential murderers)
Here is the part I didn’t like.
The characters. Blarrgh. So I get to be a cute girl in the Edo era, which is fun. But for some reason, I’m an absolute dipshit. If I’m not making terrible decisions which get me in hot water, then some ugly asshole is trying to either hit me, or fondle me. My life is a kind of bad decision hell.
Enter about fourteen handsome men, who all save my ass, repeatedly. I have never felt more useless. This is too close to period accuracy. I really don’t want to go back to those days… O_O
Every one of them has a character flaw, which is interesting. But most of them have the same character flaw, in that they’re dicks. In Japan they call being a dick “tsundere.” This translates to something like, “cold outside, soft inside.” Tsunderes are deeply insecure and express their insecurities to their significant others through verbal abuse and/or angry outbursts. Every human on the planet except me finds this behavior extraordinarily charming.
Every guy is equally beautiful so I pick the one who seems to be the least cruel and dumb. The one I picked came with a competitor, so the rest of the story is watching them save my ass and squabble with each other over who’s taking better care of me. It’s all very primal.
Every time something interesting happens, I have no power and watch myself choose the stupid thing. The only choices I get to make from here on out are subtle conversational cues about which guy’s side I’ll take in the conversation. The whole plot that I ended up with is, I dressed up as a boy and joined the army as some noble’s food taster, in order to save my kid brother from having to join the army as some noble’s food taster. I still haven’t figured out why I didn’t just let my kid brother join the army; isn’t it kind of disrespecting him to steal his place in war? He wasn’t even going to the front lines. It actually saved my ass more than it saved his, because it got me out of a hotbed of sexual harassment at the restaurant where I worked. And it left him in a precarious position to deal with at home.
I finally got frustrated with the damn thing and turned it off because:
- I was just tapping through a mediocre novel sentence-by-sentence. As a game, it wasn’t very interactive. As a novel, it was constantly being interrupted and slowing down my reading. When it comes to the written word I CONSUME voraciously. This put me on a word diet. I had to chew my food twenty times before swallowing, ugh!
- Every twenty screens or so it’d take you to a menu and try to convince you it was a game by giving you “love passes” meaning you could read the next chapter. Apparently after 48 hours the love passes stopped being free? Or else they’re released 5 a day. This felt pandering and markety and irritating and pointless to me.
- As much fun as it is to have two beautiful anime men fight over the right to protect me from a scary old-fashioned world, it’s just not fun if I don’t respect who I am. I spent most of my life tripping over stuff. My only evident skill is making delicious fake sweet potatoes out of chestnuts. I have to admit this is impressive, but it’s not enough.
Now I understand the Japanese have different sensibilities than us, and that’s fine. But this isn’t just a Japanese thing; many American romance novels are like this too. Am I the only girl who doesn’t want to be stalked by a beautiful rich asshole?
After googling screenshots, I’m kind of intrigued again. There seems to be death/reincarnation,
and a lot of throwing up that I’m missing out on.
Also I may not have been playing right. There is also a castle section? I’m not sure it’s worth it to go back.
Anyway, people LOVE this game. It’s very pretty. I’m alone in these feelings. It must be that I’m 100% more evolved than every other woman ever… it must be that. Everyone’s crazy but me. Right.
I have another app to try called “Burn Your Fat With Me.” This is a dating simulator combined with workout app. Apparently a beautiful anime tsundere boy heckles you for being fat and shames you into doing sit-ups. I’m really looking forward to it.