[Visual Novel Review]: G-Senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String

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Developer – Akabei Soft2

Translator – Sekai Project

Length – 10-30 Hours

[Review copy kindly provided by Sekai Project]

[Sekai Project has had no input into the content of this review]

Since first reading it nearly three years ago G-Senjou no Maou has continued to be one of my favorite visual novels (pipped out only by Muv Luv Alternative). The first time around it floored me with its compelling narrative that redefined my expectations of fiction as a whole, so seeing it receive an official localization is absolutely fantastic and I would even go so far as to say that it’s a privilege to finally be able to review it. While my second reading didn’t quite have the same impact as my first for reasons I’ll explain, the emotion and excitement imparted by G-Senjou no Maou have remained just as potent over time, and I think that’s pretty special.

Azai Kyousuke leads the very definition of a double life. Due to his connection to the yakuza through his adopted father, Azai Gonzou, his actions and words have the potential to make or break lives on a daily basis. In order to survive the deadly game his real father’s debt forced him into, he has no choice. Conversely, school is where he goes to relax and forget about his cutthroat dealings. When a strange girl by the name of Usami Haru enters his class, however, the line between his two lives becomes thinner than ever. A devil has reared its head in Tomanbetsu City with its eyes focused on the newcomer; Maou would rather betray the world than let it betray him, and his schemes are second to none.

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G-Senjou no Maou is utterly fantastic. I’d really like to stop the review here so you can all run off and read it, but I’m told that’s not how it works, so here we go:

It’s actually quite difficult to put into words exactly what makes G-Senjou no Maou what it is because all of its pieces fit together perfectly. No, really, I’m not just saying that. Perhaps the most obvious draw would be the complex battle of minds it presents, with amazing displays of cunning and misdirection setting the tone for most of its climaxes. The sheer level of heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat excitement it evokes is unmatched in my experience; the twists and turns taken by the plot set its readers’ expectations and predictions on end over and over again without even stopping for breath and even though I remembered each and every detail of what was going to happen even after three years I couldn’t help but get caught up in the events racing by on my screen. The writing style employed facilitates a sense of involvement that complements the setting of a relatively normal town with relatively normal people beautifully, allowing the reader to join in on the surreal (but possible) experiences that turn average into extraordinary. To clarify: The quality of writing in this visual novel is impressive.

Featuring some of the deepest characterization I’ve ever encountered, G-Senjou no Maou’s cast is similarly excellent. There’s a focus on how different life experiences have led to the development of the personalities involved that further establishes the “real-worldness” of the situation at hand. That is to say that the characters, their motivations, their thoughts, and how their pasts led them to where they are today are all explored and believable. Even those that may seem to represent the usual archetypes at first are developed and justified as the novel progresses. Each individual is easy to empathize with in one or more ways, making it easy to become emotionally invested in their experiences. The protagonist, especially, is a novel character to follow, successfully moving beyond the normal and bland male lead role to become someone that is just as interesting to follow as the heroines. Because I don’t want to spoil too much, I’ll just say that his inner conflict is very interesting.

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I think it’s worth mentioning that I’ve heard others complain that the VN takes a while to get to its good stuff but in my experience, especially compared to other popular titles like Grisaia no Kajitsu, that’s not really the case. In my opinion the pacing, that is the balance between plot-heavy and relatively superfluous scenes, is handled well. The one point of weakness I want to highlight is related to this being my second reading. G-Senjou no Maou relies heavily on its twists, as I’ve alluded to already, and without them it loses some of its impact. I didn’t lie when I said I got caught up in the excitement and emotion just as much as my first playthrough but I can’t deny that the replay value here is limited by how much you can remember. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything to new readers, so you can ignore that sentence. Because I don’t want to include a purely negative paragraph (and definitely not because I need to make it look bigger), I’ll say here that G-Senjou no Maou has one of the best endings in the medium. It’s difficult to end a story in a way that satisfies fans but Akabei Soft2 has done incredibly well here, crafting a conclusion that is emotionally powerful, consistent with the tone of the preceding visual novel and satisfying.

Alright, because this is one of the few officially localized titles I’ve played before I find myself in the rare position of being able to fully evaluate Sekai Project’s localization effort. To begin with, I want to say unambiguously that I am happy overall with how G-Senjou no Maou has been brought to the English audience. The translation flows well for the vast majority of the time, feeling like a novel written by a native speaker, though there were some rare odd and unnecessary word choices (like the use of the pet name “baby” when it didn’t really suit the characters and there was no need for it in the Japanese). It’s also worth noting that portions of the CGs were cut away to alter their aspect ratio and allow for HD/widescreen release; I’ve included an example to demonstrate this and it looks pretty dramatic but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t notice any detrimental effect while playing so in the end I’m not taking away any points for it. As this is a Steam release R18 CGs have been removed, though the cutting around them does seem a little clumsy when compared to other such titles (like Aselia the Eternal, which I didn’t even realize had H-scenes until I was told). Having said that, however, I can’t imagine an ideal method of removing those scenes in a novel like this that wouldn’t require some scene re-writing or outright scenario-changing, so once again this is not an aspect that will affect my score.

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When it comes to artwork and soundtrack, G-Senjou no Maou wins some major points. With reference to musical instrumentation in the title, it’s not surprising that BGM and music make up important aspects of the visual novel as a whole. Many of the tracks take the form of altered or remixed pieces of famous classical music that accompany their respective scenes wonderfully. G-Senjou knows exactly which songs need to go where to complement the excitement or emotion a particular scene is trying to convey. On this reading I was forced to admit that while the art is very enjoyable and portrays events and characters well, it’s not quite at the level of today’s HD artwork (which is fair enough for a 2007 release). Character and costume designs have fantastic attention to detail and the general choreography of the CGs is skilfully done, but the critic in me can’t help but point out that some (and only some, mind) of the facial expressions and poses don’t quite fit as well as they could.

Summary – G-Senjou no Maou is my second favorite visual novel of all time and on a second playthrough it has defended its title admirably. A twisting and turning narrative with a focus on great minds in conflict will keep any reader on both their toes and the edge of their seat (impressive, huh?). It’s not often you find such an enjoyable cast defined by intriguing and well-explored backgrounds that justify their diverse personalities, and it’s difficult not to be caught up in their emotion. Additionally, the classically-themed soundtrack is a joy to listen to alongside character sprites, CGs and backgrounds bringing the story to life despite their age. Despite some minor concerns, Sekai Project has done a great job of localizing this visual novel classic.

1st Playthrough Score: 10/10 – Excellent

2nd Playthrough Score: 9/10 – Great

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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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13 Responses to [Visual Novel Review]: G-Senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String

  1. Lazarinth says:

    G-senjou no Maou suffers the same in it’s replay value as a lot of films that rely too heavily on their twists. You may have enjoyed the sixth sense or fight club and even picking up on the little hints that point to the twists on the second watch, but the thrill of wondering just isn’t there anymore. It really made me appreciate the idea of spoilers but that one major upside to visual novels is that very little people have played them so they’re a lot less likely to be spoiled in conversation with others. I mean if the ending wasn’t as epic as it was I might have found myself less interested after the big reveal but the way they wrote it in just made you character about the ending more.

    • Silvachief says:

      Actually I haven’t seen either of those films XD

      You’re absolutely right, though. G-Senjou relies on its twists more than most VNs (or other media) so, as you say, the suspense simply isn’t there the second time round. I was actually surprised by how much that affected the experience. It’s be tough to spoil G-Senjou for someone accidentally, though…there are just too many reveals and losing one or two wouldn’t matter all that much.

      • Lazarinth says:

        Wow they are classic twist heavy films, if you haven’t had them spoiled for you yet please watch them before someone or some youtube video does because they are fantastic. Also Momento, a puzzle film that places scene by scene in reverse XD.

        I don’t know, I think I’ve spoiled it for a few people when trying to explain the plot to those I’m trying to sell it to. There are a lot but there is one in particular I think matters to the plot as a whole.

  2. FabledHunter says:

    Very glad to hear that it is just as enjoyable the second time round. G-Senjou no Maou was one of the first visual novels I read (probably over 3 years ago now), and like you, it remained a favourite for me for quite some time. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to support the official release yet but I did convince someone who hasn’t read it yet to buy it.

    Noticed you’ve been getting a lot of review copies for games recently. I bet you’re happy to finally be able to review a game that was originally in Japanese rather than all those OELVNs, even more so since its a game you think so highly of.

    • Silvachief says:

      G-Senjou no Maou will always be a classic in my eyes though I was a little sad about the degree to which I remembered the plot twists XD Still, given the experience of had reviewing novels since my first reading it was nice to be able to put my initial reaction do to it being a legitimately well-written VN rather than nostalgia. Congrats on the support-by-proxy! I’m pretty happy whenever I manage to convince someone to try something.

      Yeah, Sekai’s had a bunch of launches lately and they seem to have the strongest PR department; no word from Mangagamer or JAST about anything. I generally don’t mind trying out OELVNs though I do turn aside some offers (depending on how busy I am outside of blogging)…but as you say, it -is- nice to be able to officially review previously read novels and I hope i’m able to continue doing so.

  3. Frog-kun says:

    Good review! The altered CGs and awkward editing of the sex scenes in the Sekai Project release are issues but not deal breakers for me. I can see how it would bother other people though.

    A question, though. Does the Steam release offer the choice to play the game in Japanese? I checked out the Steam page and from what I could see the Japanese option isn’t available. Again, not a deal breaker, but the Planetarian release had this option and I thought it was a nice touch.

    • Silvachief says:

      Glad you liked it! Even as someone who has enjoyed the game immensely already and has complained about censorship before, the localization hiccups didn’t cause me any trouble this time around, so hopefully they won’t stand out too much for you.

      Having the option to read in Japanese is not included in this release. It’s a rarity in the localization scene at the moment and I could only name a handful of VNs that do it (Planetarian being the sole major release I can think of >.<). I agree that it would be a nice addition though!

  4. Kai says:

    I definitely agree that G-Senjou’s ending is great, perfect even for me; sad, but perfect :p Although other characters’ endings are so irrelevant in comparison, but I guess that happens when the routes are branched out like the way G-Senjou does (like how each heroine’s routes are branched out in totally different parts of the story). Not sure if I want to re-read this VN (already got too much on my plate atm), but yeah, probably the experience wouldn’t be as best as my first one since I already know some of the twists.

    • Silvachief says:

      Well, a whole bunch of stuff would lose when compared to G-Senjou’s true ending XD I enjoyed the character development during the other routes, though, since I found the way the backgrounds of each characters affected their personality in the VN. If I had to name a weaker one it would be Shiratori’s, but I still enjoyed it.

      Leave it for another five years so you can forget everything =P

  5. Zach says:

    There were some things that really bugged me about the ending twist. I’ll try to be vague to avoid spoilers, but one example that comes to mind is the part where Maou outsmarts Haru in Tsubaki’s chapter and Kyousuke mentions feeling happy/proud about it and not understanding why. While, based upon what we learn by the end of the game, we know a bunch of stuff was meant to be purposely misleading, stuff like what I just mentioned simply ends up making zero sense.

    Still a great VN, but I was looking forward to some seemingly inevitable emotionally complex situation where Kyousuke realizes he’s Maou and how in the fuck Haru would end up in love with him in light of this and was kind of disappointed that it never happened.

    • Silvachief says:

      While I remember enjoying the twist the first time around, I can definitely appreciate your feelings about your experience. I was surprised to see just how much they push that particular assumption in your face throughout the story on my second reading; twists are better when misconceptions are left to the reader to create rather than being forced on them. I can also understand the disappointment caused by having your expectations betrayed, since i’ve definitely felt that before and the ending you described would have been pretty interesting.

      If I remember correctly, however, whenever those efforts at misdirection pop up they can be explained without too much trouble. For instance, when Kyousuke is happy about Maou outsmarting Haru it’s because he takes pleasure in seeing her confidence shaken even though it wasn’t via his actions that it happened. Because she managed to see through his schemes at school, Kyousuke feels threatened by her ability of deduction, so seeing that she can indeed be beaten means that he has a chance of doing so in the future if she ever interferes with his yakuza efforts.

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