Two moe sisters? Oh, which to choose!
Following Wahfuu’s run of Da Capo III, finally clearing all of the scenarios in Da Capo II made a certain someone’s presence in Da Capo III a lot more understandable.
Not surprising with visual novels: whereas I found no interest in continuing the mess of an anime that Da Capo II had, I enjoyed the pacing of the visual novel and what it had to offer. Many of its strong traits include the lighthearted comedy between the characters and its heartfelt climaxes toward the end of each route. Never having read the previous installment, Da Capo, I don’t have much of a comparison between Jun’ichi/Nemu and Yoshiyuki/his “sisters” as central leads, but I found them much more likable than fan impressions of the former pair, despite Yoshiyuki not being the brightest bulb in the room.
Without further ado, let the demonic rebirth of the otherwise miraculous tree commence!
Visual Novel Structure
Like every other visual novel, the “gameplay” consists of story-based text accompanied by visuals, with choices sporadically placed throughout. For Da Capo II, each route is divided into three different sections: the Christmas party, the winter holidays, and back-to-school New Years. The Christmas party is essentially the Common Route with choices of character interaction interspersed, and is relatively short. The winter holidays serve as an arc that solidifies your choice in which girl Yoshiyuki will go out with (the confession!). When the start of the new school year begins, from then on out it’s the story of Yoshiyuki and the character he’s chosen to romance with. It’s a cookie-cutter system, which Da Capo II essentially is, but it works and serves as a nice introduction to how bishoujo novels work.
The main character, Yoshiyuki Sakurai, has the standard powers of a Da Capo protagonist. Instead of dreaming his own dreams, he dreams the dreams of others, and he has the seemingly useless power of conjuring up Japanese seats in the palm of his hand.
To signify the start of an arc, an awesome opening sequence will play.
Now, onto the individual character routes!
Minatsu is your run-of-the-mill tsundere character (which isn’t a bad thing by any means), with a bit of a twist – she’s a robot! People who read the first Da Capo should find the robot concept familiar. She runs on “bananamin”, fuel provided by bananas, which Minatsu seems to hate with all her passion, though she seems to tolerate it (or even love it) when they’re coated in chocolate.
I found Minatsu to be a very cute character. Deep down she’s a nice girl, but she’s still not the brightest apple in the tree despite being a robot. No matter what, even if the skill has little relation to being a robot, she will proudly affirm that she is good at absolutely everything because he’s a top model robot. Clearly, she’s proud of the fact that she’s a robot, but is bitter to humans because they are known to discriminate against them. Think of the situation with the Persocoms in Chobits, but through a moral and close-minded standpoint rather than an emotional standpoint: People simply didn’t approve of the type of robot that Minatsu was. Why? In order to make them have a 100% human life, functions such as gentalia and the ability to experience the same pleasure as humans were built into these robots by their creator. With the human mind being naturally guided into the gutter, people saw this as the only purpose and marked their creator as a sexual deviant rather than a creator. Other than that, people see robots as inferior beings because they automatically assume that anything that resembled free-will was due to “programming” and was ultimately limited – robots are not capable of having genuine feelings, after all.
Because of this, at first Minatsu is adverse to Yoshiyuki because he was the one who awakens her into the world of humans once again, but they slowly develop a more friendly relationship towards each other, and if the reader chooses, fall in love with each other. Minatsu is certainly a healthy mix of a classic tsundere and modern tsundere, she starts out as a Type A modern tsundere and slowly edges more towards Type B as her route progresses.
Minatsu, rather than being tied to another female choice in terms of story, is tied to a non-choice fmeale character (pre-Plus Situation), the class president, Maya Sawai. After the reveal of Minatsu being a robot, there is adversity between the class president and our lovable banana-hating heroine. Why you ask? Well, it has something to do with her father. Hint: robot creator that was marked as a sexual deviant. What do people usually do when they’re now mocked by the entire world? Either become a murderer, commit suicide, or become a murderer and then commit suicide. It’s number two, by the way. I thought that, at least in terms of the original port translated by MangaGamer, it added more dimension to Maya’s character outside of being an otherwise forgettable and strict class president archetype. Her and many other students’ view of robots slowly change as Minatsu nearly risks her life saving Maya’s little brother. Possibly one of my favorite climaxes of the visual novel is in Minatsu’s route, where all the students had a “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” moment in order to stop Minatsu from being expelled for being a robot.
I thought the conclusion to her route was mostly satisfying. Though if I were Yoshiyuki, I would have been a bit more angry at Minatsu’s disappearance and then -poof- sudden reappearance after a long period of depression.
By the way, her cow hat makes me melt. ^^ All in all, one of my favorite girls in the game. Too bad her route has almost NOTHING to do with the Everlasting Sakura Tree though. Hm.
Nanaka was a great character – I liked her bright and energetic personality, and most importantly, HER TWINTAILS. TWINTAILS, MAN.
Unfortunately, Yuzu and her dad stole the route for me in terms of things getting real, though. The whole situation with Yuzu and her Key AIDs was what added the most drama and feels to Nanaka’s route, in my opinion, and all of the melodrama regarding Koko and Wataru took the backseat of my attention – all the way back to the “I DON’T CARE” part of my mind, most preferably the trash bin. And Yuzu’s dad was an extremely COOL dad, and the way he tried to look strong in front of his daughter despite being crippled on the inside really wreaked havoc on this reader’s heart.
I will say that Nanaka’s mind-reading powers granted by the Everlasting Sakura Tree was very well-written though – if you re-read earlier parts of any route, there are multiple instances of Chekhov’s gun where it hinted towards her “ESP upon touch”. And her mental breakdown upon the loss of her powers made for a very nice climax. Honestly, Nanaka’s type of character is one of my favorites in terms of fiction. Characters who hide their insecurities and real emotions behind the mask of jolliness and energy tend to be the most unpredictable and readers are often to be able to relate and sympathize with them. Which is why I’m rather sad that nanaka’s route kind of felt like wasted potential, but it’s a not a bad route by any means.
Especially if people view Nanaka as their waifu – there are plenty of dating scenes between Yoshiyuki and Nanaka. Mostly Yoshiyuki fawning over how hot of a girlfriend he has.
Nanaka certainly has one of the best moments during the ski trip though. The hot springs scene was priceless. Typical, but priceless.
I’ll go ahead and say this now: I did not like Koko’s character. At all. Well, that’s kind of an over-exaggeration. I didn’t find anything bad with her until both her and Nanaka’s routes. I usually don’t hate characters like Koko, who despite having a pretty vanilla personality, usually have other redeeming qualities that make them likable human beings. My view of Koko’s character was so badly damaged during Nanaka’s route that I couldn’t even stomach her during this route (same could be said for Wataru, who could have been the biggest bro in the world if it wasn’t for the fact that he punches Yoshiyuki in these routes for the most stupidest reasons possible), especially since you’re forced to do some pretty horrible things to Nanaka in order to clear her route. Not once, but twice.
Koko and Nanaka’s routes are the only two routes where you could jump from one to the other at different points of the story, and I almost found myself going back to Nanaka or treating Koko like I treat house roaches. To be honest, I had to go the babby method and Ctrl my way through Koko’s route in order to keep my mind intact. I just do not like this girl anymore. There really isn’t anything notably bad about her character during her own route, but I detested her in Nanaka’s route and I liked Nanaka too much to even enjoy Koko’s happiness in this route.
But I will say that Koko’s route served to turn Nanaka into a much more admirable character. Being able to smile even after losing love, her important haircut, etc. Even being a Yume fanboy, I will say that Nanaka is one of the coolest female characters in DCII. Koko? Uh…. best cook? Too bad Yoshiyuki already took that title. Yoshiyuki, you da man.
I still don’t know why the anime tried to put Koko into the spotlight by putting her into a relationship with Yoshiyuki right off the bat, as opposed to OTOME OR YUME. And apparently he only sees Nanaka, Anzu, Minatsu as friends. Maybe they were bad at decision making, I dunno.
Anzu is the ultimate deadpan loli character. She’s basically a female version of Jade from Tales of the Abyss, only she’s a loli and has silver hair. And of course, all of that means she’s AWESOME.
No matter the route, Anzu and her partner in crime, Akane, provides a substantial amount of humor in the game while trolling Yoshiyuki and other characters. Take this and apply it ten more times in her own route and you have a good amount of entertainment value, at least until things get real.
And in terms of providing feels, Anzu is easily the best out of all the characters that aren’t Yume and Otome. Being able to remember every single thing and “naturally” not being able to forget anything takes the fun and enjoyment out of the smaller things in life, such not being able to watch a movie more than once because everything is already stored in your head. These powers were granted to Anzu by the Everlasting Sakura Tree when she was young, after being constantly rejected by people due to her mental deficiency. After Yoshiyuki gets close to her and becomes her boyfriend, the Everlasting Sakura Tree dies, and of course, you can guess what happens next. It puts a really big strain on your heart. It’s really surprising how many problems Anzu kept bottled inside of her. Up until this point, she’s been a pretty lighthearted and devious character, but a lot of it is to keep others from ever worrying about her. At least, that was my impression. This is also why Yoshiyuki is the first one to ever visit her house, where even her best friend Akane has never been invited to, as to not have her family life questioned. Her family background is pretty sad.
What’s even more sad is when she starts to become mentally deficient again after the Everlasting Sakura Tree starts to wither, and her most precious memories of Yoshiyuki and her friends start to disappear. In retrospect, Yoshiyuki is in much more pain than Anzu, because even though Anzu is distraught by the fact that she’ll forget the one she loves, Yoshiyuki will still remember, and the hurt won’t go away. Everytime he sees Anzu, she won’t remember. Despite a very depressing climax, there is a happy ending to all of this. Remember, my fellow guys, always give your special girl a birthday gift that’s meaningful and from the heart. She will always remember your love when she sees it.
Mai waifu. The granddaughter of Jun’ichi, the protagonist of the first Da Capo, and a Nemu-lookalike.
Personally, I think she’s way more cute than her decrepit grandmother.
Yume is another tsundere character, so it’s natural that she’d become good friends with Minatsu. However, unlike Minatsu, she’s 100% modern Type-A tsundere. “It’s not like I waited out here because I wanted to see you, stupid Nii-san.”
Being an older brother myself, I found myself slightly uncomfortable with Yoshiyuki’s relationship with Yume, since they really did share a brother/sister dynamic on top of being raised as actual siblings, Regardless of that, I loved her route. The powers that Yume have, the power to see the future through her dreams, is appropriate given that her name, Yume (spelt with the two kanji characters 「由夢」), means “significant dream“. If you followed the recommended route order as I did, this is the first route where you will find out that Yoshiyuki will eventually disappear upon the death of the Everlasting Sakura Tree, because of Yume’s power to foresee the future in her dreams. And because you followed this order, this route is where you find out that Yoshiyuki isn’t a real person, he was an artifical creation of the Everlasting Sakura Tree – created by a wish.
When you think about it, there’s a gigantic reason why she’s dishonest with her feelings towards Yoshiyuki. Think about it. You know the person you love will eventually disappear and leave you all alone in the near future. You’re going to try your best to avoid getting into a relationship with that person to avoid further heartache, right? There’s a good reason for a character to be tsundere other than for moe purposes and I thought it was a nice change of pace. In fact, in flashbacks to their childhood, Yume was 0% tsundere and 100% sugar!
Of course, human love is a funny thing, and Yume decides to go ahead and pursue a relationship with Yoshiyuki anyway after Yoshiyuki decides to take their relationship further than “just siblings.” Ahhh, having a cute girl taking care of you when you’re sick. Despite the squickiness, their relationship is pretty loving, but for some reason Yoshiyuki is ten times the pervert he is than in other routes, which brings the squickiness back. See, one of the problems I had with this route was that the h-scenes were completely random and didn’t fit into the story as well as the other routes. They were just there just to be there because the writers couldn’t think of a better way to put them into the route. Fappable? Yes. Certainly. Necessary? Less than other girls. A Key-level of necessary, as in, not at all.
Anyways, the whole situation with Yoshiyuki disappearing and how Yume deals with it emotionally is really powerful, and since it was my first taste of Yoshiyuki disappearing it was especially so, but I thought the conclusion to the route was extremely lacking. All we got a “Welcome back, Nii-san!” and THE END. Really now? They could done a lot better than that. Show us an embrace! A conversation! Something!
Even though her route is inferior to Otome’s route, Yume still remains my favorite girl in this visual novel. <3
The sorceress of justice!
Otome’s route didn’t give me a squicky feeling like my waifu Yume’s route did. She was raised as siblings with Yoshiyuki as well, but they act more like a newly wed couple than actual brother/sister, unlike in Yume’s route. In this route, they show what exactly Otome has been up to in the later parts of the other routes, which is investigating the recent incidents on Hatsune Island that have put people in danger – which is revealed to be the subconscious wishes granted indiscriminately by the Everlasting Sakura Tree. Otome, like her grandfather Jun’ichi and her deceased mother Yuki, is a magician whose duty is to protect the lives of the people on the island with her magic.
The whole situation with Yoshiyuki’s existence being wiped out is more or less the same as Yume’s route in terms of emotion, but it hits harder here than it does there – mostly because Otome is the cause of it. Dealing with the choice between saving the lives of the people of the island and being with her otouto-kun (Yoshiyuki) forever, Yoshiyuki, with the desire to protect the home he loves, is forced to convince Otome to kill the Everlasting Sakura Tree. The next few days are pretty intense with Yoshiyuki coming ever so close to his end and dealing with the people he oncek new forgetting him. Man, if it weren’t for Koko and Nanaka’s route, Wataru would have been completely likable to me since he was pretty much a Sunohara-tier bro in this route. Welp. Knowing how much of a douchebag he could be kind of ruins things.
The conclusion to the route was a lot more satisfying than Yume’s. After Yoshiyuki comes back from his non-existence, we get ACTUAL character interactions and an h-scene (the only one) that isn’t awkwardly placed into the story.
All in all, Otome’s route is possibly the best route and most well-written in the entire visual novel, second only to Sakura’s D.C. route. Though Anzu’s route comes pretty close.
Speaking of Sakura’s route, which is coming up next in this review, they give us the first taste of it in Otome’s route where Yoshiyuki encounters her in a dream, where she reveals the truth behind his birth, the tree, and finally being called “mom” by Yoshiyuki after all this time. Pretty strong stuff.
Sakura Yoshino ~Da Capo~
Oh boy. THE CONCLUSION! Not a romance route, considering this loli-woman is basically the mother of the MC, which would make that pretty disgusting. Instead, the D.C. route, nicknamed the Sakura route, is more of a tool used to clarify the details of the plot. Mainly why the Everlasting Sakura Tree started blooming again even though it withered away in the first Da Capo. Oh yeah, Yoshiyuki gets a sprite and a voice in this route, which is extremely jarring considering the game was from a first-person point of view and the guy was unvoiced up until now.
Hailing from the original Da Capo, Sakura, tormented by loneliness after the (canon) Nemu route, is the one responsible for breeding the current Everlasting Sakura Tree. Unlike the tree from the first visual novel, which granted wishes from those with pure hearts, the current Sakura tree grants wishes indiscriminately. The whole reason being was so that she could create a family of her own like her onii-chan, Jun’ichi, and his wife, Nemu. And thus, Yoshiyuki, “her son”, was born. Of course, like the first tree, this tree also had a fatal flaw and eventually Sakura lost control of its power, leading to Sakura leaving Yoshiyuki in the Asakura household during his childhood so she could regulate the tree’s power. At least, to my understanding.
Flash forward to the present, and we take a look into Sakura’s thoughts and what she has been up to during the main routes. Even though she appeared very peppy and full of life while we were playing as Yoshiyuki, Sakura has been holding a lot of burden on her shoulders, and whenever she converses with Yoshiyuki, who has recently moved into her household as suggested by Jun’ichi, it’s clear that he is really the only thing keeping her smiling and going. It’s even sadder when you realize that the only times you’ve seen her in the other routes, the only reason why she’s so happy is because she’s spending time with her son. You’d think she was like that because it was in her character, but she wasn’t, she was holding back the tears the entire time.
The D.C. was certainly a roller coaster of emotions, from Sakura’s important haircut, Yoshiyuki calling her “mom”, and her basically giving her life to merge with the tree in order to keep everyone happy. Even though every conflict in the story has been her fault, you just can’t hate her for it. You sympathize with her loneliness and end up liking her character because her good intentions. In the end though, her subconsciousness comes back to life long enough for her to will her beloved son back into existence so he could be with his loved ones. Everyone except for her.
As it appears she has been transported to what appears to be London, holding a cutting of the Everlasting Sakura Tree, and appears to have amnesia while talking to a mysterious girl. You guessed it! This is a lead-in to Da Capo III! Will Sakura’s suffering finally be put to rest? Keep up with Wahfuu’s moonruning of Da Capo III to find out!
While at first glance, Da Capo II may seem like a cookie-cutter visual novel. However, when you dive into it, you’re treated to a cast of wonderful characters that may make you smile even if you’re in a bad mood, even though a small amount of them might get under your skin. Story? Hit or miss depending on the route, but the theme of loneliness remains consistent in all of them, and is presented especially well in the final two routes + Sakura’s epilogue. I think Circus outdid themselves there, despite claiming that this was merely a parody of Key visual novels (according to Wahfuu).
It’s always wonderful to see a parody stand on its own two feet and still manage to be a good piece of writing. I hoped you enjoyed my ramblings about a visual novel within a series of endless expansions and fandiscs.