[Visual Novel Review]: Majikoi (Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai)

Majikoi2

Developer – Minato Soft

Translator – Maji Translations & Yandere Translations

Length – >50 Hours

I think Majikoi was “in translation” for just about as long as I’ve been playing visual novels, so when a friend told me about the fantastic experience he’d had with it I was more than keen to jump in and give it a shot. Right from the get-go I could tell that a ton of effort had been put into the VN’s production and that it had all the makings of a fantastic tale…though that feeling didn’t last long. While there were certainly some positive points I found that the humor and action – major focuses of the story – simply weren’t my cup of tea. It may not be bad but Majikoi is very much one of those novels that will either hit or miss for a number of reasons, and for me its shot went way wide.

The Kazama Family is the closest bunch of friends around. Led by the adventurous Kazama Shouichi, they’ve been together for just about as long as any of them can remember. There’s Kawakami Momoyo, the vicious and extremely gifted martial artist, Kawakami Kazuko, the determined and doggedly earnest younger sister, Shiina Miyako, the girl who was saved from bullying and is now firmly attached to Naoe Yamato, the tactician of the group. Of course, there’s also Gakuto the musclehead and the gamer, Moro. Filled with unique individuals of varying age and personality, the Kazama Family is known for their hilarious antics, as well as their ability to overcome any challenge with the strength of their bonds to each other. With all of the fun they have it’s only natural that they would attract all sorts of attention.

Majikoi1

I’d like to get the good stuff out of the way first, because I have a lot of complaints to get through and only so much time in which to do so. Majikoi absolutely nails the “group of childhood friends” atmosphere perfectly, rivalling even Little Busters on that account. The characters’ interactions with one another feel comfortable and natural to an impressive degree. On that same note, the characters themselves are all very likeable; it’s difficult to not feel some sort of connection with them as the story progresses. The logical follow-on from that would be to say that the romance between characters is also very satisfying. Regrettably, barring technical details, that’s where my praise for Majikoi ends.

In addition to that atmosphere I’ve just mentioned, the visual novel focuses on two main genres, those being comedy and action. Unfortunately I would say that those are also its most poorly written aspects. As far as humor goes, my chief complaint stems from the fact that Majikoi relies on the same ten or so jokes over and over again throughout its course. Though I’ve already said that the characters are very likeable each individual plays exactly one role and contributes exactly one type of joke to the story, and that gets old pretty quickly. And when it comes to combat Majikoi exhibits the type of lazy writing that I hate the most. Characters don’t menacingly stare each other down before a conflict, or fortuitously see through a stealthy attack in the nick of time, or skilfully knock aside an otherwise lethal strike – instead they clash “auras”, or sense “presences” of potential aggressors, or harden their “aura” at the point of impact. Those sorts of plot devices take all of the skill out of writing action and make it difficult to take such combat scenes seriously when they are placed in an otherwise realistic setting. Additionally, it’s always obvious who’s going to win each fight because of the “power levels” that have been displayed previously.

Majikoi3

Speaking of the obvious, Majikoi may be the worst poker player I’ve ever encountered. Rather than playing its plot points close to its chest, it spreads them out on the table for everyone to see and still gleefully looks to check who was surprised when they turn up in the story. Every single setup for a future plot device or “twist” is painfully transparent. Heck, the entire final or “true” route is practically laid out in advance by careful foreshadowing spoilers. On top of that, because Momoyo has such a stupidly strong “aura” and can sense “presences” so well, anything involving her is pretty much instantly spoiled. I guess I should mention the quality of the plot before I move on, so I’ll just say that, for the most part, the routes are all fairly average and how much you enjoy them will depend almost entirely on how much you like the heroine involved.

Alright. If you’ve read a few of my visual novel reviews you’ll notice that I don’t really mention H-scenes unless they’re detrimental to the visual novel as a whole, usually because they aren’t justified in the context of the narrative – even Muv Luv’s hugely controversial scene didn’t make it into its review because I felt that it fit the story fantastically. Long story short, one of Majikoi’s routes implies that rape is a great way to get your girlfriend to stay with you (completely flying in the face of all previous efforts at characterization) and at least two routes all but state outright that semen makes women stronger. I’m not saying that visual novels can’t say that stuff (freedom of speech and all that) but those particular messages do not fit with Majikoi’s larger picture. There are also a lot of low-brow sex jokes involving frustrated teenage males. Take that how you will.

Majikoi4

To finish on a positive, Majikoi’s production value is enormously high. From the voice acting at the menu to the use of sprites and other visual effects, to the inclusion of short skits whenever you close the game, a lot of care has been put into making this production technically superb which is something I always love to see. The art quality isn’t the absolute best I’ve encountered but it’s still very good and, above all, consistent. My one complaint would be that Momoyo’s sprites all look a little odd compared to the rest of the characters, though that could just be me. The background music is impeccably matched to the feeling Majikoi portrays, with some fantastic heart-pumping, edge-of-your-seat tracks as well as tasteful inclusion of insert songs. While not the fault of the original developer, I do have to note that some of the translation is a little clumsy, and I wonder how many of the myriad references made throughout the visual novel have been lost due to the localization.

Summary – Majikoi treads a fine line between ridiculous but enjoyable fun and over the top stupidity, and trips itself up to fall on the wrong side of that line far too often (I haven’t even mentioned that one of the heroines’ parents just -decides- to become younger and succeeds through sheer willpower yet, have I?). Despite all that, I did find the characters and the overall atmosphere of the tale pleasant to spend time with, even if they were all incredibly shallow in retrospect.

The Bottom Line here is that if you enjoy Majikoi’s attempts at comedy and action then you will have fantastic fun with it that few other VN’s will be able to compare to. However, if you share my sentiments then your experience will hinge on how much you resonate with the characters and the fun-loving, friendship-saturated atmosphere that I managed to enjoy.

Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable

Majikoi

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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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18 Responses to [Visual Novel Review]: Majikoi (Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai)

  1. Lambda says:

    even Muv Luv’s hugely controversial scene (link here)
    Doesn’t have a link, fyi.

    Ultimately, I enjoyed Majikoi. I found each route was rather successful at what it was trying to do… kinda…. okay, I didn’t like parts of Chris or Miyako’s routes or Agave and the romance on Yukie’s route fell majorly flat (when she was even my favourite character!) but… Wanko and Momoyo’s routes, man. They did everything they set out to do (I think). I liked the humour partially cause I started reading it in high school and it sounded like I could imagine people in my high school saying it (because I had great experiences in high school, where boys talked loudly in public about how much sex they can get out of women~), so that impression stuck with me even into my re-read. Was that different from how you were in high school by a long shot, then? And Gen-san the tsundere was adorable. C’mon, admit it, you wanted a Gen-san route. And a Kazama romance route. And a side route for Moro x Gakuto.

    [SPOILERS]
    Chris’ route was definitely ruined the instant there was that rape scene. But it also felt really bland for me, too… I dunno why… Miyako’s route I had a problem with the drama and its inconsistency and messages that just weren’t good (“Don’t depend on others! That’s when I’ll take you back as my woman” What… doesn’t that mean she’s just depending on you and that promise…).
    I felt like Momoyo’s route, though, made major headway with the issue of her being so OP. It worked to make the War more exciting, I feel, and there was a great amount of tactics involved in that. Do you remember something way worse about it than I do re:the predictability?
    And Wanko’s… just made me cry. The ending was predictable, but the journey was so good….

    [SPOILER END]

    • Lambda says:

      And by “Gen-san the tsundere is adorable” I mean “wouldn’t you wanna eat a bento from him every third day, between Shuugen and Major Walken?” Let’s be honest here. You know it to be true. He’d make an awesome husband, if his significant other finds tsunderes cute.

    • Silvachief says:

      Thanks for that! My editor has always said I was going to forget to do it at some point >.<

      There were definitely some good parts of Majikoi (the ranking is "Enjoyable", after all). As I say in the review, the general atmosphere and character interactions are done well. The humor was 50-50 hit-and-miss for me the first time around but I felt that many of the jokes were re-used to the point where they started to lose meaning. High School for me wasn't really anything like Majikoi; people either went off and played sports or cards or just walked around aimlessly (and people who did make a fuss were the ones I avoided anyway, because it was never benign like in Majikoi).

      As for Gen-san and those alternative routes, I can't really say I-
      *Hit By BL Ray*
      Why, yes, of course. I would love those routes.

      [SPOILERS]
      Chris' route was just weird, and Miyako's dependence wasn't handled as well as it could have been.
      I did really enjoy the tactics portion of Momoyo's route, though I didn't feel that she was made out to be any less overpowered (I mean, Naoe -is- the tactician of the group, right?).
      Regarding predictability, I just felt like I always knew what was going to happen long before it did, which I can't say about a lot of visual novels.
      And Wanko was a very likeable character ^_^
      [/SPOILERS]

      Do you plan on picking up Majikoi S? I haven't decided yet.

      • Lambda says:

        Yeah, I guess I came out of it with a better impression of it, partially cause I didn’t look back… But it’s also something I’d recommend, although maybe I’d also recommend getting a 100% save file and not doing this route, or that route…. I didn’t even notice some of the jokes were repeating! ….Slow me…. Some were major misses, though. The side character story in Chris’ route, for example.
        See! You’ve seen the light! Hail, hail BL!
        [SPOILERS]
        Yeah, I feel like both of those routes were kinda misses in retrospect, cause I appear to have enjoyed them enough on twitter – I don’t know why….
        Yeah, but I also think it’s a route where Yamato shone because he was able to deal with Momoyo. Although I think his only actually equal relationship was with Wanko, so I liked him with her the best….
        About the predictability stuff, that’s true. I think our different experiences might be coming in to play here – I’m spoiled on stuff so often I don’t mind predictability too much anymore…. It definitely works to the VN’s benefit if it’s unpredictable, but it doesn’t work to its detriment if it’s not. (Not including Storm Lover or Apollo Justice – which I was a little spoiled for – going back to the beginning of summer I was spoiled for 4/8 of the ones I started so… yeah… that’s about my normal rate….)
        Wanko best girl??
        [/SPOILERS]

        I’m putting it at the very bottom of my reading pile. So if nothing interesting comes up between Symphonic Rain, Lamento, Gakthun, (maybe Cho Dengeki Stryker? I enjoy shounen plots so it kinda sounds like My Thing. I’m debating about whether to get it in the Steam Sale now) and Sharin (while Aselia is currently in my games backlog…), then I guess I’ll be picking it up! But from what I heard it’s a lot worse than the first game, sex-scene filled and the plot’s not really there except for like 3 routes one involving a loli and another which had factors people weren’t really happy with, too. So it’s a very low priority for me. No matter how much people love Benkei. I think the humour’s still there, though? The characters and the humour, if you ignore the non-plot routes. However, I also think general consensus is Yamato is 10x worse is S, so…

        • Silvachief says:

          Best Girl…? That’s tough! I think I may have to side with Yukie for this one, though Wanko is a close second!

          If you like shounen + comedy then Dengeki Stryker is absolutely the right visual novel for you, so go buy it and let me know what you think! The info i’ve heard regarding Majikoi S seems similar to yours so I think that’s cemented the decision for me, which is a shame because with I few tweaks I could have really liked the series. I hadn’t heard anything about Yamato though; in what way is he worse?

          • Lambda says:

            I’m the exact opposite there. I guess the Yukie romance brought her down and Wanko up for me.
            I bought it. I’ll blame you if I hate it. It’ll be alll on you! ….Kidding, but I’ll let you know what I think when I finally get around to reading it. In like the next year? Haha… haha….
            I heard Yamato takes less action himself in S and doesn’t seem like much of a tactician anymore. He’s kinda a slightly-better-than-average eroge protagonist instead of a definitely-better-than-average one.

            • Silvachief says:

              Yamato never really stood out to me in the first place so seeing less of him doesn’t really worry me XD It’s hard to see most protagonists as not being generic nowadays =/

  2. FabledHunter says:

    I think I’m slowly starting to figure out exactly how to compare myself to you in terms of visual novel preferences. I think in general we have pretty similar interests (aside from the examples where one of us just flat out ends up disliking something). But the main difference I can tell is that my overall impressions seem to be more rounded (okay that’s some terrible phrasing but I’ll give some examples so hopefully it actually makes sense).

    Anyway, for the stuff you hold in really high regard it seems that I generally like them a lot, but maybe not as much as you do. (I’m not to sure about this part yet since I’m only basing it on one or two examples. Also it doesn’t help that as much as I enjoy visual novels, there has only been a handful of titles that have really resonated with me so far.) Regardless though, If you think highly of something, there’s quite a high chance that I will enjoy it too.

    And for stuff you enjoyed but had issues with (e.g Majikoi) it often turns out I had exactly the same issues with it but it didn’t bother me nearly as much. When I read the first few paragraphs of your review I was thinking ‘Maybe he disliked it a lot more than I thought’, but when I actually read your complaints it turned out that most of that stuff also bothered me albeit not as much.

    Of course there are often times where I either really dislike certain parts or even dislike the visual novel as a whole and it really shows in the score I give it (my average on vndb is currently 5.32 after all). But anyway, this stuff I just what I was thinking recently and thought it might be interesting to share.

    Also, I can’t really recommend Majikoi S very much. There isn’t anywhere near as much actual story as there was in the original, and well over half the content is essentially just extended versions of the ‘afterstorys’ from the original. Some of the new characters are pretty cool though, and Momoyo actually has trouble against opponents as there are a few characters who show up who claim to be able to beat her.
    I should get to my review on Majikoi S sometime during December if all goes to plan so maybe that will help you decide whether or not you’re interested in reading it.

    • Silvachief says:

      Comparisons between people is really tough. I’ll often think i’ve got the right idea and then suddenly a surprised hit will come from left field and throw me completely off guard. Having said that, though, I can see what you’re saying. I recently asked Froggy whether his academic work has influenced his taste in media and I wouldn’t be surprised if my reviewing has made me more critical for productions I don’t enjoy while allowing me to savour those that I do like. There are still a good number of VNs and anime that fall into the “didn’t really care either way” slot, so who knows?

      I couldn’t turn up your VNDB after a quick search, so would you be able to throw me a link? My average is actually 6.75, so you might be the harsher of us!

      I think that in many of my reviews my disappointment for what a visual novel could have been (in my opinion) comes across as dislike. I mean, 7/10 is a pretty decent review in my system, so it’s not like I disliked Majikoi or anything…but I don’t really plan to go back to it either.

      It’s a shame to hear that about Majikoi S though I am grateful for it as I don’t think I could handle a Majikoi with any less story.

      • FabledHunter says:

        Yeah it’d be tough to find my vndb account since the name is different. Here’s the link. Just a disclaimer though, I really need to go through and adjust some of the scores, especially for stuff I played ages ago when I didn’t have much to compare to. I think I also need to add decimal ratings to scores because there can be a big difference between say for example a low 5/10 and a high 5/10. (Pretty much just keep in mind I’m not completely happy with the scores and only use it as a rough guideline.)

      • FabledHunter says:

        Also from my vndb account you can see exactly how far behind I am in reviews. I’ll get through them all eventually I swear. (It really doesn’t help me catch up when I usually finish more than 1 visual novel between reviews.)

        Also if you hadn’t noticed the patch for ‘Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate’ got released yesterday(?) so it might be worth reading soon. At the very least the art looks pretty good. Unfortunately I already started a new visual novel before I noticed so I won’t be able to get to it straight away 😦

        • Silvachief says:

          I probably need to review some of my scores as well but in general i’m currently happy with them. As for reviews, I pretty good with writing mine the weekend after I finish a particular visual novel; VNs always get reviews but anime don’t, and if I haven’t written something within a few weeks of viewing it’s just not happening XD

          I saw that as well and I figure i’ll pick it up eventually. I’ve just started Clannad (since I wasn’t reviewing when I first encountered it) and i’ve been really busy at the hospital lately, so it’ll be a while before I start anything new at all =/

  3. lifesongsoa says:

    I have a confession to make… I actually enjoyed the anime a good deal and I was surprised to find many of my friends did too. I’m usually not that big on the type of dumb comedy it presents, but what can I say, it worked for me. I tend to have fun considering creative extremes and absolutes. Majikoi’s anime is full of those things.

    I assume the VN does everything the anime does better. It’s been on my need to read list since I first discovered the translation project. I need to finish Grisaia first… Probably Clannad after that… And I still need to go back for Sharin no Kuni. Too many things to read is a good problem to have at least… /sigh

    If you don’t mind me asking… What is the context for the rape comment? If that was in the anime I guess I’ve forgotten it.

    The Majikoi I remember was all about making awful situations play out in hilarious fashion. It’s predictable, but the whole story revolves around Yamato’s deterministic perspective so it made sense to me when it everything was super obvious. I liked the anime for the way it goes above and beyond to take the dumbest things possible seriously and makes the serious things dumb. I’m usually not big on crude comedy, but I loved the presentation for the ridiculous games it plays with logic.

    I know I should avoid defending Majikoi’s predictable nature until I read the actual visual novel. I will say that it was the literal extremeness of the anime that I enjoyed it for. I have a hard time imagining that as anything other than predictable by design. I’m not sure if that is really a point in it’s defense or not, but it did strike me as having other things going for it because of it’s predictable nature.

    • Silvachief says:

      I haven’t seen the anime though I would probably watch it before I went back to the novel. I also haven’t seen any comparisons between the anime and the VN (not that i’ve looked for them) so I can’t really comment on that front >.< I'm actually pretty curious about the anime now given your description so I may be checking it out sooner rather than later.

      Dumb comedy is hit-and-miss for me; rarely I find that I love it (Muv Luv Extra being the major example) but most of the time I feel that I would prefer the story without it (or at least with it toned down) so i'm a little wary nowadays. Rather than enjoying the chaos of serious issues being mixed with ridiculous logic, I find that the particular mix used in Majikoi lessens my enjoyment of both of those aspects.

      [SPOILERS]
      I'll be interested to hear what you think when you get around to the VN. The rape comment was about Chris' route (don't read on if you would rather wait till you read the novel), where Chris is about to go back to Germany or something like that. In order to make Chris want to stay with him Naoe decides the best course of action is to tie her up and rape her to show her what she would be missing out on. Of course, after initially being very angry she discovers that the pleasure is worth abandoning her initial reasoning (and that she didn't mind being raped, I suppose?), which is a thought pattern I don't think can ever be used legitimately outside of nukige.
      [/SPOILERS]

      • Lambda says:

        The anime’s first episode is reminiscent of Momoyo’s route’s finale. The rest of the anime is unrelated.

        • Lambda says:

          Reading through wiki, there also appears to be a few bits of the common route sprinkled in, but the main plot isn’t related to any route, and the majority is of a harem show, which isn’t really Majikoi. Other characters from it show up, though.

      • lifesongsoa says:

        Ahhh, that kind of situation is uncomfortable to the extreme… And sure, I’ll let you know what I think of it when I get around to it.

        The anime IS pretty dumb. I have a weakness for stupid presented in a logical way. I’m always a bit surprised when I find out someone enjoys the Majikoi anime as much as I did. It’s mostly dumb antics with a story about what it means to form and lead a community buried somewhere underneath the silliness. Take my endorsement of sorts with a grain of salt.

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