[Visual Novel Review]: Kazoku Keikaku (Family Project)

Kazoku keikaku family project vn visual novel

Rating – R18

Developer – D.O.

Translator – G-Collections

Length – 10 – 30 Hours

Before I say anything else at all, I have to say this: Family Project has a beautiful idea behind it. Unfortunately that foundation idea becomes muddied and blurred by incredibly poor storytelling and even the plot itself, which isn’t something you’ll catch me saying often. Despite its flaws, however, Family Project did succeed in bringing a smile to my lips on multiple occasions with its strange amalgamation of (somewhat) serious scenarios and comedy.

At its heart, Family Project is the tale of a group of individuals coming together in an attempt to surpass life’s hardships. Whether homeless, disowned or simply incapable of living alone, the Family Project is born of a need for respite from the harsh reality of modern day living. But how can a group of complete strangers accomplish anything together? Is it worth building bonds with others when they will inevitably be smashed to pieces? These questions haunt Tsukasa Sawamura, a fiercely independent young man forced into the group by his inability to ignore those in need. Why should he care about family when his first one cast him out?

Kazoku keikaku family project vn visual novel

As I mentioned earlier, the idea of a group of downtrodden strangers coming together to work for a better life is one that appeals to me. Admittedly, Family Project gets things right on multiple occasions with scenes so heart-warming and charming that you will find yourself smiling without realizing. Some of the jokes will make you roll your eyes, but you’ll still laugh at them anyway. Unfortunately, that’s where the good features end. I don’t know if it’s the translation or the original script, but the writing lacks any sort of depth and does not make for an engaging read. Scene changes are abrupt, especially at the start of the novel, often leaving you feeling that something has been missed out.

Beyond the writing, the plot itself is rather lacking. As well as being poorly put together in general, random elements are thrown into the mix in an attempt to liven things up and instead only serve to distract from what should be the main focus of the story. There was never a point where I could say I was seriously invested in what was going on and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. There was also a problem with repetition; what may as well have been the exact same scenes were repeated over and over again to the point where I could probably recite them in my sleep. That’s okay if the scenes are funny and the quality of the humor grows with each repetition, but the majority of them were just more of the same tired slapstick routines and dull conversations.

Kazoku keikaku family project vn visual novel While there are five different heroines/routes to choose from the story splits quite late into the novel, making for a long (and somewhat tedious) common route followed by relatively short heroine-focused portions. To be completely honest I only finished two of them because I simply didn’t care about the other characters, and only one of those endings was in any way satisfying, with the other’s logic being nearly impossible to follow. While the members of the Family Project are well characterized there just isn’t anything that draws you to them; it’s like they were just there to fill in space while the important characters were off-screen. You may think that I was wrong in not giving those other routes a chance but by the time I had finished with the characters I actually liked I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through any more, which is actually a first in my Visual Novel reading experience.

Family Project is an older (2001) Visual Novel and the art style definitely reflects its age. Still, the visuals were mostly pleasant and weren’t one of the factors that hindered my enjoyment. While there’s actually an untranslated remake with all-new artwork, it looks so horrific that I much prefer the original. The BGM mostly didn’t register so I can’t go into whether that was good or bad (though I have vague memories of enjoying some of the tracks).

Kazoku keikaku family project vn visual novel

Summary – One of my favourite parts of Family Project was its ending song, which doesn’t say anything good about the rest of it. The concept is sound but its potential is clouded by an overall poor execution, while the older visuals and BGM don’t tip the balance either way. I don’t regret my time with Family Project as it wasn’t especially long and some of it was genuinely charming, though I don’t ever see myself going back for another attempt at finishing it.

SCORE: 4.5/10 – Bad

[If you’ve read the review and would like a second opinion, there’s a comment by Jake down below who enjoyed Kazoku Keikaku a great deal more than I did, so it may be worth a read for you.]

About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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19 Responses to [Visual Novel Review]: Kazoku Keikaku (Family Project)

  1. Kai says:

    Ahh, this VN. I do find the premise promising, though indeed, the way it present it’s storytelling is poor.

    “There was also a problem with repetition; what may as well have been the exact same scenes were repeated over and over again to the point where I could probably recite them in my sleep.”

    The issue is apparent even when you’re already midway through a heroine’s route. I remembered I had to fast forward a few of them due to it’s repetitive nature, even though I haven’t actually read them, lol.

  2. awesomecurry says:

    I haven’t played this, but seeing as how it has really good ratings on EGS but viewed with relative indifference in the English-speaking community, I guess the logical conclusion (other than differing tastes and nostalgia goggles because the game came out in 2001 and standards back then were very different) is that the localization sucks.

    I find that Tanaka Romeo’s works tend to shine in how they are written rather than what is being written (e.g. prose and stuff), which is why I didn’t like Cross Channel when I read it with the terrible translation, but I liked the parts of Rewrite that were written by him.

    • Silvachief says:

      The localization was pretty poor, admittedly. However, it was also that general course of the story meandered from one scene to the next without any real logic tying everything together. Important plot points were completely forgotten for hours and then randomly brought up out of nowhere.

      Being unable to read Japanese yet, I can’t comment on his writing style. However, of his work from Rewrite Akane’s route was good and Kotori’s had potential…but the common route was just bad in my opinion >.<

      • awesomecurry says:

        I find his comedy and SOL to be an acquired taste…one that I haven’t acquired.

        I like it better when he writes the serious “real deal” stuff like Akane’s route and the final routes of Rewrite, as well as the latter half of Cross Channel.

  3. lifesongsoa says:

    This is the VN I was reading back when my HD died and I only finished one route because of that(Jun’s route) but I very much enjoyed my time with it. I remember thinking parts of the localization were pretty bad, but I also found that an (official I think) patch had released for it. The few really bad parts that I checked were fixed. I think a big part of what sold me on the characters was actually the acting more so than the writing.

    I wonder if part of the reason you didn’t like this VN is simply because you really aren’t supposed to feel happy while playing it. The jokes are dark and the story indulges in misery. They have a bite to them and I am not really surprised when I find that not everyone likes it. I found it be a very draining experience myself, but I was still glad that I tried it out. I want to finish it at some point, but well… I’m not doing so good at finishing VNs lately. I still need to finish writing up Hoshizora no Memoria before I let myself move on. Ef is a similar type of experience and I’m more inclined to finish that first.

    • Silvachief says:

      I don’t think that sad visual novels are an issue for me. I usually find that I enjoy a story no matter which emotion it evokes. The problem in this case was that, beyond the writing issues, I felt indifferent to most of what was going on. I didn’t care about most of the characters either (which the exception of Matsuri and Chunhua), which didn’t help. I felt like the connections between what was going on just weren’t there…and while that could just be me being picky that’s not a complaint i’ve had before. Perhaps Jun’s route was just super awesome XD

      I’m pretty lacking in free time at the moment so although i’m still finishing visual novels it’s taking me a while to get through them. My Higurashi review is finished and i’m currently reading Umineko, so we’ll see where that goes. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on both Hoshizora and Ef, though there’s a good chance we’ll end up disagreeing on the latter title.

  4. Jake says:

    I just finished this VN a few hours ago (I binged on it over 2 days) and I have to say that I rate it much higher than the reviewer did. It may be a generational thing however since I suspect being nearly 40 I’m a fair bit older and may have a different perspective on the issue of family, relationships and particularly responsibility. Also, this VN makes heavy use of the feeling of nostalgia and fear of loss which may not resonate with everyone for various reasons… It’s hard to put into words, but loss and understanding the end of things is a big component of even some of the happier endings and depending on how familiar you are with it, may leave a more bittersweet flavor.

    That being said, the localization is definitely an issue with this VN – however it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of it very much (this was a patch released). I think also the enjoyment of it increases depending on how much of the different plots you can keep in your head as you do subsequent runs through on different routes, particularly because you know that other people in the house are going through different trials that aren’t being addressed in whatever route you are focusing on, but the ramifications of that are still felt and it deepens the understanding somewhat of the various characters as you see different perspectives on their behavior

    If I had to rank the varous routes I’d say

    Best Story – Aoba/Chunhua
    Just over all the best writing in all the story arcs. Aoba’s switch from tsuntsun to deredere is pretty cute. Chunhua’s ending was kind of predictable, but the story overall was good and really explained a lot of what’s going on over all in the plot of the game. Also both arcs are probably the only ones where Tsukasa isn’t a complete retard – he actually figures out important stuff on his own and manages to transcend the “wimpy bishojo hero” cliche a bit.

    Most Tragic Story – Jun
    I would say Aoba is second on this, but Jun hands down wins the prize for most tragic heroine. The reason why is very simple – She fell in love with Tsukasa once before, probably never stopped loving him, but knows she screwed it up badly. To top it all off, she thinks both that she’s not worthy of being loved and hates herself for wanting it anyway.

    Most Satisfactory Ending – Musumi
    This is a strange one because her arc is actually really weak and short and her character itself isn’t all that interesting. However, her ending after the credit roll is hands down the warmest and happiest one. Maybe this is fitting because of her character. Anyway, it’s the only one that actually made me outright smile.

    Best Girl – Jun
    This is of course, personal taste, but Jun felt like the deepest character to me and her relationship with Tsukasa is just downright sad because she’s the one who keeps saving him over and over again when she’s the one that actually needs saving. That being said, I felt like her post credit ending was pretty bad. Overall I think this is the arc that I wish they had put a bit more time into. I really wanted a pay off scene of her and Tsukasa clearing the air between them, but it felt like we were somewhat denied this even though she had a happy ending.

    I know a lot of people like Matsuri, but I didn’t feel like she rated very well. Her entire arc and conclusion felt pretty cliche to me, even more than Aoba’s tsundere arc (probably because the writing in that arc was better). She’s just basically typical imouto fodder for people who like being called onii-chan. If you like that kind of stuff then obviously you’ll be partial to her arc, but I didn’t find it very outstanding. Still better than Musumi’s however!

    Anyway, I just wanted to end this very long comment with an endorsement of this VN. I found the time put into it well worth it.

    • Silvachief says:

      Thanks for the comment!

      It’s great that you enjoyed Family Project; it’s always okay to have a second opinion here since it just means you got more out the experience than I did. Given how long it’s been since I played the VN, I may have some trouble conjuring up much to say but i’ll give it a go.

      I’m willing to give you that life experience can change your opinion of a story, though the idea behind Family Project is one that I could get very interested in. There’s definitely a lot of content that deals with tragic circumstances and I certainly wasn’t beyond empathizing with the characters and their situations. A lot of it comes down to personal preference and enjoyment, however, as you say. For me, compared to other visual novels I have read both before Family Project and since then, the quality of storytelling and linking between events wasn’t up to standard, with the repetition not helping things at all. I can agree to disagree on that, though, given your positive experience with the tale.

      You bring up an interesting point with your second paragraph and that’s something I often wonder with visual novels, especially those with an emotional impact. Is character X going through that horrible thing that I saw in her route right now without the protagonist by her side this time around? That sort of thing. It adds another layer of feeling to whatever route you’re currently reading and I agree that it would be easy for many readers to dismiss that extra aspect.

      Chunhua and Matsuri’s routes are the two that I played, so they’re really the only two I can discuss here. I have to completely disagree with you on Chunhua’s ending as I distinctly remember it being rushed and having some very shaky logic behind it. The epilogue was a happy and satisfying one, but didn’t make up for the ending in my eyes.

      As for Matsuri, while I can see the doting, onii-chan-calling imouto character being appealing to many people, I found her story to be one of the more interesting ones for other reasons. Imagine a child that young being forced to live homeless while every other child has at least some family to care for them, having to work tirelessly just to have enough money to eat and buy school equipment. Imagine not going to government agencies because the only family left to place you with is that much worse that the alternative. Imagine having to go through all of that without being able to let anyone know. I’ll admit that the idea of protecting a younger sister is one that I like, but there’s much to her route than that.

      I apologize for not being able to contribute any more, though i’d be very interested in hearing which other visual novels you’ve liked so I can get an idea of other options out there for people with similar tastes. Off of the top of my head, I would recommend Sharin no Kuni and G-Senjou no Maou as titles you might enjoy.

  5. Pingback: [Visual Novel Review]: Yume Miru Kusuri | The Geek Clinic

  6. Elvis says:

    This is a message for all that finished all the routes: YOU ARE ALL PERVERTS but you have my respect!!! I can never follow through with Matsuri’s route. And I never succeed to do it in other games too. To play the “small girl” route. It’s just to strange for me. Anyway RESPECT for all you perverts who finished all routes, I wish can be one of you too but I can’t!

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