Production values matter in Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku

The Nintendo Switch is only just beginning to establish itself as a platform for otome games. More than a few companies have prepared ports of mobile titles, which allow people to pay a set fee and access all storylines on their systems. Idea Factory is beginning its Otomate invasion. This means you see games of varying degrees of quality on the console. Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit-, from Digimerce and OperaHouse is one of them. While it definitely has a very large and very noticeable flaw, it also has some elements that are of a higher quality than others.

Before I start talking about some things that Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit- does right, it is important to note something it does wrong that could be a reason for many people in certain regions to not immediately add this to their library. The current English localization ranges from bad to terrible. It reads like it was translated by a machine. The dialogue segments are slightly better and easier to understand, but the narrative segments are not good. This is only a problem with the English language version of the game, as the original Japanese is of course fine and makes total sense. It also seems Digimerce might eventually be planning an update, so it is something to keep an eye on.

But if someone can understand written or spoken Japanese, there are some good parts to Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit-. A big part of this has to do with the talent behind the game. OperaHouse and Digimerce have some huge voice actors starring as the main characters, and this voice acting is available in each region. Mamoru Miyano plays Akito, the “main” character. This is a man who is an actor, voice actor, and singer. Some of his biggest and most notable video game roles are Riku in Kingdom Hearts, Flynn in Tales of Vesperia, Rintaro in Steins;Gate, Killia in Disgaea 5 and Ryuji in Persona 5.

Miyano is only one of five, though. The other actors on call for Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit- are equally well established, though most of them are known more for their otome roles.Ryohei Kimura is Akito’s brother, Kasumi, but he was also Itsuki in Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Kageyuki in Collar x Malice, Kou in Diabolik Lovers and Kaito in Danganronpa V3. Shinnosuke Tachibana, Kousei here, was also White Mask in Bad Apple Wars, Seiji in Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 3rd Story, and Ramza in Dissidia Final Fantasy. Daisuke Hirakawa may be K-Suke here, but he was Code: Realize’s Saint Germain, Period Cube’s Zain and Diabolik Lovers’s Laito. Finally, Natsuki Hanae is U/ki here, but was Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia’s Alm, NieR: Automata’s 9S and Collar x Malice’s Akito. Every one of these people has a background you would not expect.

In addition to the voice acting, Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit- does a pretty good job of nailing the theme. This is an supernatural otome that also involves the music industry. To be more specific, it involves the Visual Key movement where the singers may look androgynous, have elaborate outfits, colorful outfits with a punk edge, tend to be very showy and might focus on performing various sorts of rock music. Basically, it is a perfect way for a group of men who are also fox spirits to look like themselves, but also be accepted by society. Our heroine is the descendant of an onmyoji, which we will consider a sort of priestess for the sake of this discussion, who was forced to seal a fox spirit she fell in love with. Our avatar possesses her magatama, which each of the members of the Fox Spirit Visual Kei group want. Her cousin is their manager and, as a ploy to get closer to her and perhaps get the stone, the men in the group convince her to become the assistant manager. Romantic moments ensue.

While the English translation in Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit- is bad, as I mentioned before, the story does balance the supernatural side of understanding what these otherworldly fox people are while showing the different kinds of tasks our heroine has to accomplish as a manager for a rock group. It also means seeing some rather elaborate CGs where the bachelors are performing or decked out in their Visual Kei finest. The result is a visual novel that is very good about catching someone’s eye.

Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku -Forbidden Romance with Mysterious Spirit-, like many games, has its moments when it does a lot of things right and wrong. If someone can play it in Japanese or weather the English translation, they will find a game that embraces some Visual Kei tendencies to offer interesting character art and CGs and has an established cast who does a great job of bringing members of the cast to life.

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