The best romantic comedy in visual novel realm.
My favorite of Maruto’s works, Sekai de Ichiban Dame-na Koi (Sekai de Ichiban Dame-na Koi) follows a 28 year old man with a heart of gold, boundless talent, and the most rotten luck in the world.
After getting betrayed and fired by his employer he ends up living as a freeloader in a boarding house run by a diligent and hard-working but for most intents and purposes parentless teenage girl with whom he ends up forming a relationship of mutual trust.
It’s interesting how despite having a similar premise to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, this work takes an almost reverse approach to the story. The visual novel eventually turns out to be a heart-warming tale about family values, mutual respect, and love, which is so touching and tastefully told it makes you question the sense behind the age of consent.
Maruto’s flowing narration and charming characters are bound to suck any reader into their world pretty much right off the bat. In fact, the beginning of the story is so engrossing and full of little surprises, it’s hard to find a good place to put the visual novel down (or rather close it down, I guess). I remember starting to read Damekoi late at night, hoping to check how it flows for an hour or two just before sleep, but it ended up making me stay up until morning.
I have my fair share of problems with Maruto’s works, like overwritten angst that kills the pacing, or a lack of interesting plot to go along with the romance, but none of them are prevalent in Damekoi. While the complicated relationship between Osamu and Mitoko that’s constantly swaying between guardian-child, lodger-landlord, and potential lovers, is certainly the central and the most captivating part of the plot, Damekoi also allots a significant amount of time to the protagonist’s adult struggles as he tries to get his life back together, as well as Mitoko’s family issues and problems at school, not to mention all the good humor that always hits the mark just at the right moment.
It’s a bit unfortunate, however, that the plot seems to run out of steam in the latter half, with Osamu’s problems with his ex-wife mid-way (that’s the first I saw that in a visual novel) overshadowing the story’s actual final.
Another problem with Damekoi is that it’s so centered on Osamu and Mitoko’s relationship and the two have such fantastic chemistry that entering a route of any other heroine feels like a copout that’s forcefully tagged on just to follow visual novel conventions. The extra routes are still well-written, and I loved Himeo’s story as she was just such an endearing tsundere, but I can see them being a hassle to get through if you’re not into the particular heroine, especially since you HAVE to clear them all to get to the Mitoko’s true end.
It’s a saving grace that Maruto, somehow, managed to pace his work perfectly this time, with not a single scene feeling redundant or dragging on for too long (a thing that almost never happens in this medium).
While it’s not perfect, The Most Forbidden Love in the World is definitely among the best romantic comedies I had the pleasure to read. Not only does it offer touching romance and characters that can charm even the most jaded of readers, it has an actually relatively interesting plot and deals with both mature (divorce, work problems) and morally-questionable themes.
Maruto has really outdone himself with this one, and while I was mostly lukewarm with his other works (including White Album 2), Damekoi finally turned me into a real fan. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a good romance visual novel.
|Attractive character sprites||Awkward face deformation in HCGs|
|All right music||There could have been more challenges for Mitoko and Osamu to overcome|
|Pleasant, flowing narration||Kaya’s and Himeo’s routes feel tacked on (though are still surprisingly compelling)|
|Interesting, likable profound characters|
|Awesome, mature protagonist|
|Has one of my favorite ero scenes in a VN|