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Review of Hinatabokko
ohnonottome on 2023-11-19
|Review||HinataBokko is, in two words, very dry. It's a slice of life game that's less about interacting with moe girls and more about discussing banal topics. Topics that are often repeated. Here's a glimpse:|
"Did you notice the name of sensei's coffee shop?"
"Yeah I was a little surprised."
"Oh so you noticed. I didn't think you did."
"Why would I forget to notice when I was the one that said we should look at it."
"Oh yeah that's right."
And repeat this a thousand more times. It's not riveting, it doesn't add depth to the world, and it's not even funny... it's all just dry, cordial text for the sake padding prose. I think the music and art goes a long way to endearing you to the characters here (Koori's theme rules), although the latter is inconsistent with the time frame of the game. In HinataBokko you play as a college student pining for your highschool teacher, but both the teacher and your friends look like they fit into early high school, if not late middle school. And any characters younger than you look like actual children, making all of their paths feel icky by default (why have a naked bath cg of Nanase in a game so wholesome? Why?!?!?!?!?) It's a decent art style that can be lively at times, but struggles to fit the collegiate atmosphere, especially when the main heroine is supposed to be in her late 20s/early 30s.
If the slice of life is dull, then what about the romance? Well to call it "fast developing" is an understatement; it's as instantaneous as a flashbang across all of the routes. Characters that show no interest in you will confess and lose their virginity in minutes, with barely any change in their behavior after the act. There's no room for the relationships to grow, develop, or even breathe. Part of this is that the game's "conflicts" are solved in the scenes in which they're introduced, with the most pressing matter of "the protagonist finding a place to stay" getting solved during the first half of the common route. Then you spend the rest of the game dryly talking about nothing until the heroine of whatever random route you're on decides to confess out of the blue. At that point most of the other characters vanish (a cardinal sin for a slice of life) and soon the next H-scene pops up and abruptly wraps up the story. You don't discuss your dreams together, talk about the future of the relationship, or even reminisce on how the two of you first met. Romance comes and goes like the wind.
For me, the greatest disappointment lies in the premise. Some good spicy elements are here: a traumatic event, forbidden love for an older woman, living under the same roof, and an adult perspective (non-highschool.) But outside of a few sentences, the protagonist rarely pines for his teacher. Actually he rarely pines for anyone until he gets confessed to. It's such a bummer because this kind of scenario is ripe for melodrama, even if it's not nakige levels of despair and soul-searching. But there's no drama, conflict, or depth to the protagonist's feelings towards his teacher, nor any from her toward him. In fact she just disappears from the story on every other route, and the protagonist goes on as if he never liked her in the first place!
So yeah, don't expect an enthralling student/teacher romance. HinataBokko has a cozy atmosphere, but like an arid summer, its scorching dryness deprives the story of any kind of life it could've grown.