I first heard about Mazjojo in 2009, I believe. Back then, he was just an artist with some potential, an interesting style and a lot of fandoms. He started just as the Indonesian market for original manga and visual novels got on its legs. Now, I can’t speak for their manga. But Indonesia, and the larger Pacific region, has become one of the hottest markets for visual novels in the world; led by the fantastic folks at Kidalang (An Octave Higher, One Small Fire at a Time). However, Mazjojo certainly is owed his due as being one of the first through the wall. The reason he often doesn’t concerns the content of his works over the past five years.
See, Mazjojo really, REALLY likes his gay porn. He has gone full tilt over the past few years into producing BL manga, games, etc. There is usually something of a stigma around an artist that dives full bore into pornography after gaining some attention don’t usually make it out of the pit: see Masamune Shirow for further evidence. My point is that Full Service should be a total crap shoot with no guarantee it won’t completely fall off the rails, leading to me tap dancing on its bloody remains…and yet…
Okay, let’s not go too far here and talk about the setup. Our protagonist for the hour is Tomoki Nakamoto: a salaryman busting his ass to make ends meet. His high-stress desk job tends to leave the old boy bent out of shape. After a particularly stressful day, Tomoki goes to a massage parlor that he passed by on the way to work…that openly advertise an illegal prostitution business, but we’ll get to that. There he meets Thara, who I’m going to go on a limb is say is going to be the only female in the game…I think, and the four potential love interests who all work there.
I have gained a reputation for curb-stomping fanservice, and it is well-earned. When an entire story grinds to a halt because the developers want to flash a character’s skin to ensure the audience is still paying attention, that is unacceptable form. Most games, especially visual novels, that rely on fanservice to mask its lack of depth or any real story to tell. To be fair, that’s not to say that Full Service won’t have the same problem. After all, if there is any way to hook an audience for a Kickstarter campaign, giving the people ‘want they want’ is a sure-fire way to do it right?
Well, color me surprised on this one, because to quote an established VNs Now rule: if I have to say it, that means it didn’t happen.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but there is a logic to this: the one thing most ecchi/fanservice/romance games openly mock. Tomoki is stressed out, so he goes someplace to relax: logical. From there, he meets a bunch of potential love interest…who aren’t immediately interested in him. Again, this is logical. They’re doing a job and Tomoki is a client. We do get some fanservice at this point in the game as whatever masseuse you chose strips down…because they’re advertising a service. An illegal service, mind you, which makes them prostitutes in a certain, legal sense…the right legal sense. However, undressing is far as the scene goes…yeah. Whoever is trying to tempt him immediately stops when they realize he can’t afford to go any further which is, again, perfectly, logically sound. Not just for how the scene ends: having fanservice at that exact point makes…sense.
…Did I hit my head on something? Am I hallucinating this demo feature?
I need to stress this point, because I can’t believe we’re here in the first damn place. I’m not saying Full Service isn’t sleazy. If the gaudy GUI and double entendre title wasn’t a hint, it is. But guys, this is just as much of an ecchi game as it is a dating game. It’s going to be sleazy. Just because a plot is trashy or targeted to a baser desire in an audience doesn’t give a developer the okay to get lax. You still have to put together a cohesive narrative, because anyone looking at your bad work can get something better easily and possibly for free. I’ve been banging this drum for a while know…I just can’t believe this is the game that actually seems to be getting it done.
If there is a negative in this demo is that you’ve seen the romantic options beaten into the dirt well before now. In fact, if you’ve watched anime regularly over the past five years, these four will not surprise you in the personality department. It will be up to how the full game is executed to see if their backstories are worth the trouble. It does seem to be as grounded as everything else however, with the hope to mix charm and aesthetic appeal for the individual routes. It’s not terribly complicated, but again it doesn’t have to be that. It just has to be structured well enough for the character work to win over the audience.
It’s a bold plan Cotton. We’ll see how it works out for him.
Your honor, I’ve got nothing else. The demo is refreshingly short and only used to established the protagonist and the romantic interests with the latter fanservice used as a sendoff. I must be clear and say that Full Service can still fall off the rails once the full game is released. But for now, the demo was an effective sell and I am left to find something else to stomp on. The Defendant is free to go.
If you want to check out Full Service for yourselves, head on over to the Tumblr page here. JP3: OUT.