After suffering 2 months of Haruka3 I finally moved on to the last route in Taisho x Alice , and finished it in less than half a day. And now I have no will to live.
Taisho x Alice (TaiAli) was published by Primula, separated into 4 PC volumes then consolidated and ported to vita by Prototype. For those more in tune with the ins an outs of the otome game community will recall the first PC volume had a disastrous localisation by E2 gaming and hopefully that was the end of that because thsi game truly does not deserve any drama like that. But seeing as all mention of the English version has been removed from the official site, I’ll pray that Primula has cut all ties with E2.
TaiAli starts off with the heroine inside a dark space all alone and with no memory. In that space, she meets a sarcastic young man also with no memory except for the fact that he’s called Alis and he names her Alice. Together they then find a strange place full of mirror-like crystals, and in the reflection of those crystals, Alice sees the portraits of several other young men. Deciding those are actually doors, Alice travels through each one to see whats on the other side. Each ‘door’ then leads her into the role of “Arisu Yurika” and down a strange fantasy world full of fairy tale characters. Each story is seemingly separate until about the 3rd volume when everything starts piecing together to form the truth behind the world they exist in.
There’s no real distinction between “Alice” and “Arisu” so I’m gonna use Arisu for Yurika’s name.
Without spoiling, this is definitely a game you need to complete every volume to fully understand. And I swear those who do complete it, will not regret it. It’s written really craftily so that at first its kind of confusing and feels like a weird loose retelling of popular fairy tails (though I’d argue Princess Kaguya is an odd choice of fairy tale amongst a bunch of Western fairy tales).
Honestly the first volume (Akazukin- little red riding hood and Cinderella) doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the main story.
The story takes a few liberties on medicine and reality but overall its not something that’s noticeably wrong. It strikes a good balance between fantasy and reality. At times, there are a few lines that are appear harmless but if you read between the lines, are actually quite frightening. But this is not overdone nor done without reason, making it quite memorable.
Textually, it’s very simple and there’s not really much flowery language/weird euphemisms some games have. If I think back to it, it’s so bare bones ( ◡⁀◡ ). However that just speaks volumes about the ideas and story, since it manages to encapsulate the depth and gravity of the situation.
Story spoils start story spoils start
Each volume reveals a little bit of the truth out with the exception of probably volume 1. Because of this, volume 1 is the funniest and light-hearted volume of the entire series. Like they do reveal a little bit about Alis/tair but overall you’d be able to stop at this volume without being confused, unlike volume 2 and 3, and particularly the Epilogue (4).
Akazukin (little red riding hood):
Starts off like this
Then evolves into this:
It was the spiritual adaptation of the wolf fell in love with little red riding hood that we all didn’t know we needed but are glad to have.
Cinderella is slightly confusing (or has plot holes if you don’t play the other volumes) because it’s sort of like:
- Story: *presents impossible obstacle*
- Yurika: But I wanna be with you.
- *Good end*
It makes more sense when you realise it’s all a dream. But then that’s kind of a cliche on its own lol ( •́ฅ•̀ )……it’s how they then went on to expand it, that makes the game so fantastic in my eyes.
Gretel’s route was the biggest let-down in my opinion. His whole thing was like “I’m adopted so I need to play the role of the good son but I want to bang my step-sister but then we won’t be family anymore if I do it despite her wanting it” but then it was like….”Oh if I marry her we’ll still be family”…..???? Damn boi, you blind. Since the solution was kind of (incredibly) simple, it kind of grated me a little.
Kaguya’s route was. Very. Heavy. Like really. Heavy. Is this even the same game I was playing with Akazukin and Cinderella earlier? ( ☉_☉ ) Kaguya was abused and is suicidal + self harms, making his story very hard to read. Because I did him straight after Cinderella, at the time I was still expecting something fluffy and funny, but was smacked in the head with this. Truthfully I don’t really understand how Yurika fell for him in the first place nor do I get how Kaguya fell for her either and Yurika’s solution was kind of extreme. Basically she showed him that she was willing to die for him to make him believe her feelings for him. Let’s just leave it there.
Shirayuki (Snow White) makes the overarching story even more confusing. But it’s basically solved the same way as Cinderella’s and leaves more hints about the truth. His route wasn’t bad per se, but the whole “this is actually a dream so everything goes” solution was strange. It’s even weirder since his world was destroyed when Yurika found out the truth and there’s a weird inception moment where they’re in a dream in a dream but it still exists in Epilogue.
So in summary:
Mahoutsukai’s (magician) route is probably one of my least favourite in the game even though I was actually looking forward to his the most. But this is really due to him not really having a good end. As I mentioned before, everything in the game is a dream so the Arisu Yurika in the game is a dream copy of her, but Mahoutsukai actually likes the real her, so even in his good end he’s not interested in the Yurika who loves him. He’s the closest to a villain role in the game and doesn’t really change at all even by the end nor does he end up with Yurika. His entire being leaves a sort of sad after taste which is why I didn’t like it.
Epilogue is Alis/tair’s route. So by this point we realise it while the entire game may be a dream, all the characters are actually real people. All of the characters that Yurika has ended up with are actually split personalities of Alistair. Alis isn’t even the real Alistair to make it even more complicated ( ･ㅂ･). By this point, most of his route was just walking the player through everything that has happened so far and explaining what each personality was. While Kaguya was heavy, Alistair is a different kind of heavy. His story kind of drained me because of how unhappy it was ( ◡⁀◡ )…. And…I actually preferred Alis to Alistair……..
End spoils end spoils end spoils
In general the story flows well, makes sense, has a sense that everything can be explained. I could see how they were trying to tie up loose ends and whatnot in the story but it’s not really a feel good story, and just leaves you kind of sad for a while. Because of that, I think you’d need to be in a sort of state of mind where you can accept these things to enjoy it fully. Haruka3 kind of murdered my soul and then TaiAli Epilogue twisted the knife, so right now I don’t feel like it was as enjoyable as it was before.
The characters are definitely an outstanding part of the game. Especially the heroine, Arisu Yurika. The entire story is driven by her pro-activity, which is a nice change to other more reactive heroines. While I think Yurika would probably not be considered a good person if she really existed, I still really like her. All the other characters are interesting and different, which is really the basis of the plot, and having writers that could actually give life to the idea, is very impressive in my opinion. The only bad point here I’d want to add is that, the writers do end up falling into the trap of having Yurika’s parents being there only when it benefits the story and due to that, are not believable at all in any way lol (̿▀̿ ̿Ĺ̯̿̿▀̿ ̿)̄.
MERO ART. MERO ART IS FANTASTIC.
I forget how old it is, but I feel like they could’ve done a bit more with the game, visually? This is one of the only parts that Otomate seems to excel at, over other otome game companies, with moving backgrounds, blinking animations and mouth movements. It doesn’t make a huge difference to me, but for a game on the vita, it’s probably something they should’ve considered. Or maybe it’s just too expensive.
Yeah not gonna lie, the quality was quite bad for vita. I always play with the terrible vita speakers and in situations where I can barely hear shit so it didn’t bother me too much. It’s a bit of a waste for the fantastic cast though.
Special mention to Matsuoka Yoshitsugu though, this game really tests his ability to act. It’s quite rare to see something like this. He seems to have struggled with some types but overall I think he did a good job.
Another point about the shitty localization thing: they changed the OP and ED for the game. The OP and ED were written by the director. It has meaning to the game, but E2 shit on their art by not only ruining the game but also not even bringing their intentions over. Think about that.
The underlying story is romantic….in a way. I saw some Japanese reviews saying this wasn’t an otome game because it wasn’t sweet at all, but I beg to differ. After Haruka3, I think tree bark is sweet enough to be romantic. （❀◕‿◕) It’s all relative.
It is a story-driven, deep game. And because of that, outright fluffy romance between characters were sidelined. But if you consider intentions and overall meaning…yeah….it’s a romance story.
- Story has depth & direction
- Characters are interesting, fantastic heroine
- Some of the story was wrapped up quite half-heartedly due to the setting
Okay now for final thoughts:
Plot ranking of routes (best plot to lolwtf?):
However if I ranked chars alone…:
To be honest, I liked all the chars to some extent, so just because Shirayuki is at the bottom doesn’t mean I disliked him.
So in this case I’d recommend people play in the order: The vita game locks you to play the volumes in order, so for each vol;
- Cinderella, Akazukin
- Gretel, Kaguya
- Shirayuki (locked order)
- Mahoutsukai (locked order)
In summary fantastic game, definitely worth playing to the end.
Not sure what I wanna play next….but probably nothing heavy for a while.