Wednesday, September 16, 2009

KimiKiss vol. 1 Impression

KimiKiss volume 1 from Tokyopop is just what US dating-sim gamers have been craving … in a manner. A long running gaming franchise in Japan, KimiKiss is being released as a manga here in the States by Tokyopop. Why should gamers even lift an eyelash to KimiKiss? Let’s take a look.

Its high school time for Kouichi Aihara and he has more objectives than just good grades. Kouichi wants to become popular with the ladies and to score his first kiss. Enter childhood friend Mao, his soon-to-be coach on becoming popular and so much more. The Mao which Kouichi remembers is far removed from this very free spirit and attractive young lady who helps him now. As Kouichi progresses through Mao’s lessons something else happens, something unexpected by both but very welcome. Will Kouichi reach his goal, become the ladies man he wants or will he follow his feelings and grow in his lessons? The journey is the joy for both Kouichi and Mao.

So story wise, a quick snippet. Readers are introduced to the basis of dating sims, boy working with one or more attractive ladies to become more popular and score with the ladies. There are scenes which feel pulled out of any number of dating simulation, those face to face conversation boxes. While gamers may want to drive these conversations what is presented in KimiKiss is that sideline view of watching someone else play a game and make the choices, so it’s not a bad tradeoff. It does not hurt that in Japan the KimiKiss franchise has seen release on PS2 as well as a series of manga and other media, even an anime. The art is fantastic. Each character is well designed and the clothing hugs and hangs just right to cause butterflies as readers follow Kouichi on his journey. With most dating sims it’s the ladies look that drive the desire to play and in this sense KimiKiss loses zero steam not just for Mao but the other characters in the book. The situations, at the pool, at home and school are all helped along by well drawn and detailed backgrounds. Overall the well told story and situations are brought to life with excellent art and the investment is minimal. This first volume is the whole story for Kouichi as volume 2 will kick in with another story, another character type.

Back to the main point, why should gamers care? Excellent art, design by Taro Shinonome highlights every butterfly creating encounter in the true to dating simulation story weaved by Enterbrain, Inc. A combination gamers just cannot get localized in the states on any major console. KimiKiss hits on all cylinders and should not be missed by manga or dating sim fans, period.

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