[Review] ‘Down the Voltage Rabbit Hole’ (fanfic) by @emilyplaysotome (Tumblr)

Voltage is such a popular romance mobage developer that it has its own fandom, which gobbles up its games faithfully with every release. Needless to say, the same fandom can’t help but regurgitate the characters and their stories as fanfiction, especially since the games have the player be the main character (MC) who is romanced by others in the reverse harem. As with other fandoms, most of the Voltage fanfic out there are not much more than a written expression of their writers’ fantasies. Still, there are many notable exceptions, created by writers who actually want to TELL A GOOD STORY about ‘every(wo)man’ (or in this case, ‘everyplayer’), and not just a self-gratifying one starring OC versions of themselves.

One stellar example of this that I read recently was ‘Down the Voltage Rabbit Hole’ by @emilyplaysotome on Tumblr. As the title suggests, we have a protagonist (Naomi) who mysteriously ends up in an otoge ‘Wonderland’ of sorts, and the story is all about her (mis)adventures in an ‘otomeville’ world that she has to outwit, outplay, and outlast (in a manner of speaking) so that she can get back to the ‘real’ world.

Just like RL players, Naomi (or rather, her 2D incarnation, ‘Ami Mizuno’) has her choice of ‘perfect’ otoge ikemen in her ‘bizarro’ Japan, except she’s with them ‘in pixelated flesh’. She spends 50 chapters vacillating between her sensible desire to go back to her world and the heady temptation of staying to find real love — and WHO — among a roster of lovers that she eventually narrows down to three. As if trying to find out how to return to 3D wasn’t crazy difficult (read: impossible) to begin with, there is a powerful persona who further complicates things for her.

Spoiled for choice ŠVoltage, Inc.

In the beginning, it was difficult for me to sympathize with Naomi. To me, she at first seemed full of herself — and not at all grateful for the fantastical chance that exists only in otoge players’ dreams (yes, the outrage). For the first time, I found myself reading a fanfic whose protagonist was someone I couldn’t really root for.

Yet this is exactly what’s remarkable about this Voltage fanfic. @emilyplaysotome turns the ‘genre’ on its head, using Naomi to challenge game developers’ (Voltage’s, in particular) concept of the otoge MC, ikemen, and romance stories. Her protagonist is a ballsy and successful career woman who doesn’t shirk from playing ball (or tangling horns) with men whose only perfection is their physique. (And while similar to Liar!‘s MC, she is not ditzy or shallow.)

Yes, just like real life and real people, none of the characters (least of all, ‘Ami’) are perfect (some have funky bodily odor, others suck at making love); neither can the choices they make be judged in black and white. Even the ending can be just like RL — happy, but not quite ever after.

@emilyplaysotome masterfully kept so many readers like myself glued to their smartphone/computer screens week after week, totally unaware (or uncaring) that 20 chapters had become 30… 40… and then 50, waiting for the next Voltage ikemen to appear or the next twist in the story. By the last few chapters, I was startled to recognize how much Naomi had grown up psychologically and emotionally… and that she was finally READY to give and receive the right kind of love.

DTVRH was a funny, sad, dramatic, fantastical, emotional rollercoaster ride full of our favorite Voltage ikemen, as well as surprising twists and turns. It takes a critical view of these games, reminding players (especially the younger ones) to be realistic and wholesome when it comes to RL relationships, and giving developers something to think about for future games.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and unorthodox read with a most satisfying end, and I encourage all of you to check it out on Emily’s Musings. if you haven’t already.

Advertisements