So, do I strike anyone who can enjoy a dumb, guilty pleasure for what it is?
Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Look, I’m not going to go full Snob and say there is no place for that type of entertainment (trust me, there is). It would shock people to find what lurks in the back of my movie collection (yes Michael Bay has a home there). Guilty pleasures are a release valve for the human mind, allowing it to shut down and just enjoy something that appeals to the basics instincts. Without it, we’d be in a world full of neurotic intellectuals; although Christopher Nolan would’ve won an Oscar by now in that world…okay that world of neurotics doesn’t sound too bad after all.
That said, The Reject Demon: Toko is yet another installment in EVN guilty pleasures. But, even with that, it has to fit into the lines it set for itself in order for the reader to fully enjoy the absurdity of it all. So the question isn’t whether or not this game is good by my definition of ‘good’, but rather by its definition of good. What are those definitions? ‘Are the characters fun and entertaining?’, ‘Can we fully enjoy the absurdity of the story?’, and the most important one, ‘Is the relationship between Toko and Nadia appealing?’
Well, these are interesting questions to answer. So, let’s do our best to answer them together!
After several millennia of refusing to capture human souls, a succubus named Toko is finally banished to Earth and condemned to become human. However, there was one specific soul she had been contracted to capture; a young woman named Nadia whom she also runs into the minute she touches down in the human realm. For Nadia it is infatuation at first sight, but not all is well with our demon girl. With Toko out of the game, other demons are about to make their own moves against the Nadia; leaving Toko no choice but to fight back. At least, that’s the underlying current of the game. At its core, this game is a lesbian version of popular shounen works. However, to get to that core you have to pile-drive through slice-of-life…well…’romance’ isn’t the proper term for it. ‘Awkward teenage groping’ is a much better term as Nadia is the aggressor and spends most of her time feeling up Toko. It would be comedic if it was handled better, but what we get is an awkward attempt to show interest rather than, you know, building to it.
This is ridiculous because of all the advantages being an episodic game gave The Reject Demon; the biggest one was time to invest its audience in the romance between Toko and Nadia. Instead we are rushed through this attraction so fast Nadia comes off like every lecherous shounen stereotype you can think of. Sorry, but it’s kind of hard to want to see this two admit to loving one another when Nadia used every opportunity she could to cop a feel. Toko herself doesn’t help matters as she as written as the ‘hotheaded, dimwitted protagonist’, but comes off more like a total brat/idiot. When she’s not getting into unnecessary fights, she stands around with a blank stare with a comment here or there on the need for clothing and human food. Considering she just got booted from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, this is both understandable and frustrating.
It’s understandable because there are certain aspects of human life a demon wouldn’t understand. But while half the fun of stories like these is watching them get acclimated to their new life, it is frustrating because at no time does Toko accept her humanity or question her circumstances. She literally just exists for two-thirds of the game while staring straight at the screen as Nadia drools over her. This flawed conga line of characterization reached its peak when Toko and Nadia crossed paths with another demon in a food court, Toko loses her shit because of reasons and subsequently gets her ass handed to her because SHE IS NOT A DEMON ANYMORE.
Which means, of course, she’s the most important demon EVAH~!!!! We’ll get to it, of course, but
Once we get through the phase, we are thrown head-first into lesbian shounen action and, honestly, it is acceptable. At least here when things don’t make sense it advances the plot and a demonic stuffed bunny with a faux English accent (that I imagined) fighting the demonic rock and roll powers of a hard-headed succubus is impossible to make boring. For the briefest of moments, the game hit a great stride where it’s absurdity just became freaking awesome and I was had a good laugh along with it.
Then, the ending happened.
I’m not sure what it is with the games I’ve played recently, but it may be time for a coaching session on knowing when to let something end. Detective Butler, The Dolls’ Story and now The Reject Demon all suffer the same fate of taking what little good will I had for them and burn them. Here, all of the absurdity and awkwardness leads to the revelation of the major storyline of this series: a tournament. Apparently, to win this tournament, they needed to unleash the power within Toko so that she can front their demonic band. So, in order to accomplish that they kicked her to Earth, stripped her of her powers, trust that she’d fall in love with a girl she barely remembered so that it would give her the internal fortitude to unleash her hidden abilities…for a tournament…
I’m sorry, but no. This isn’t the sign of a brilliant mastermind staying one step ahead of the little pawns on her chess board. This is convoluted bullshit straight out of left field for no reason at all. The idea of Toko regaining her demonic powers via the Power of Love and using them to protect herself and Nadia from demonic attacks on Earth is admittedly weak and rushed, but given future installments it can be pulled together and made into an entertaining guilty pleasure. This?
This is just dumb.
Despite my nit-picking, there is entertainment here. But it is stuck in some bad ideas that don’t allow the reader to fully enjoy how insane it gets or the oddball cast that tries to pull it along. If another episode is being made, some focus on character building and pacing would go a long way…as well as rethinking that tournament deal, but that could just be a flashback to my RWBY reviews.
PRESENTATION & GAMEPLAY
The Presentation is…well. I’m sure there are people who like this style because that damn Las Lindas comic is still around. I’m not against curvy women in fiction, but the only two characters without medicine balls stapled to their chests are Toko and Ginxhou. This is, presumably, because androgyny is all kinds of hot. And before you comment on this, don’t. I have many a punching bag at my disposal and you don’t want to get hung up on this one when there are fifty more I can go to. Does everyone remember what I said about Shuuki from BCM, Mimi in Hate Plus and my current jokes about Mattie Midnight in Backstage Pass? So, we’re all clear? Good.
Anyway, back to the tits. While they are distinct and you can tell them all apart, it doesn’t help the fact that the entire cast looks a little off. The color scheme not only makes it difficult to look at after a time, but also limits the character’s expression range because you can’t SEE their full range of expressions. This makes them, ironically enough, forgettable and the only thing you can really take away from the bulk of the cast is the sneaking suspicion their backs should’ve given out a long time ago. Apparently, this style is supposed to appeal to the ecchi fandom: yes the same fandom that brought us anime classics like Highschool DxD, Ikki Tousen and…God even the title makes me feel dirty…Queen’s Blade. So apparently that’s something I’m going to have to deal with in EVNs I review now!
Bottom line: I didn’t like the art style. The soundtrack was okay and grew on me after a while, but I just couldn’t enjoy the art. Maybe it’ll grow on me in future installments, but I’m not holding my breath.
Being a kinetic novel, your best option is just hit the Auto button and enjoy. I didn’t run into any glitches or bugs on my end, so cheers for that.
You can knock out The Reject Demon in a little over an hour: an hour and a half if you take your time. It is also Pay-to-Play; an increasingly popular choice for groups that want to build capital for future works. Personally, I had no issue kicking them a few bucks because I do believe it’ll go to much better work in the future, but I would keep that in mind when laying down the coin. Unless you are REALLY into the yuri fandom or the ecchi fandom, you’re making an investment more than purchasing a game.
Well, this will go down as more of a disappointment than anything. With a bit more focus and patience, The Reject Demon could have been a fun ride. It may not have changed the face of the EVN community, but it would’ve been fun. And to be fair it isn’t a terrible story, just a severely flawed one. The few entertaining moments we get at the end manages to stop the downward spiral, but it can’t gloss over the rushed plot points and characters tied to an ending I am still baffled by. Hopefully Lupiesoft will learn and do much better next time around.