[Overview] Dangerous Seduction (Voltage, Inc.)

In a nutshell

The MC, a newbie freelance journalist following in her late father’s footsteps, nearly fails to even begin her career when she (almost!) gets run over by a car, shot at, and kidnapped! Thankfully, the team of fugitives hired by her father successfully save her life each time.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.voltage.g.yougi.en&hl=en

The Dangerous Seduction crew ©Voltage, Inc.

As if this wasn’t horrible enough, she then finds out that her father had actually been murdered and that the people responsible for it are now after her, too.

Your irises unlock a very important room.

~ The MC’s late father

She is forced to put her trust in this unlikely band of heroes to survive, only to discover that her heart is the one in danger!

The Bad-boy Bodyguards:

[Elite Sniper, Ex-CIA, aka Heartless Jerk]

MASAHARU RYUZAKI (Check out my review!)

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[Anti-social Genius Hacker]

YASUMI ARIMURA (Check out my review!)

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[Flirty Doctor to the Underground]

HARUMA FUJIOKA (To be released after Hino’s. Out now!)

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[Sneaky Spy with a Million Faces]

ASUKA HINO

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[Alpha Leader]

KENTARO INUI (Coming soon! Out now!)

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It took me a while to get on this train because it felt like a mash-up of great games that countless fans felt Voltage shouldn’t have dropped in the first place — My Sweet Bodyguard* x Love Letter From Thief X* x True Love Sweet Lies. *(To be fair, Voltage has given in to calls to revive these titles, at least.) Happily, the stories in DS are grittier and have a more mature feel to them — and this includes the MC! (Good job, Voltage!)

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‘Don’t matter how hot you are!’ Dangerous Seduction ©Voltage, Inc.

Also, I was really happy that the MC didn’t have to pick who would guard her because this is one of my biggest, longest-running beefs with otoge. In nearly all cases, it is so unnatural for the MC to do this IMO.

All the guys have these (supposedly?) sexy scowls on their faces, but there’s also a lot of comic relief to break the tension in between all that action and romance.

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The Contract, Dangerous Seduction ©Voltage, Inc.

Overall, DS is not much more than an updated version of MSB x LLFTX x TLSL, and I still really wish that Voltage had just kept those titles going. Still, a sassy MC and edgier characters, stories, and artwork are enough for me to take this ride all the way to the end.

Start playing Dangerous Seduction now!

Already playing? What do you think of Voltage’s latest paid app? Which bodyguard-on-the-run is your favorite?

[Overview] Butler Until Midnight (Voltage, Inc.)

In a nutshell

The MC moves to Tokyo to start her dream job with top lifestyle magazine First Lady and unwittingly ends up leasing an apartment that comes with FIVE (hot!) butlers, who were sent by her very rich and powerful estranged father to help her finally become part of his life.

Team Butler:

[Proud, Charismatic, and Ruthless]

YUMA AKAGI

[A Dangerous Gentleman]

AOI SHIRAFUJI

[The Harsh Traditionalist]

TOMOKI MATSUBA

[The Quiet Guy Always at Your Service]

KYO AIZAWA

[The Flirty Genius]

ITSUKI MATSUBA (review)

 

First off, I will say that I have NEVER been a fan of the butler theme. (It’s just me, sorry.) I held out for SO LONG on getting this game. Thankfully, the butlers and their stories were written well enough that I forgot all about their being butlers!

The MC was sweet, brave, compassionate, and determined like every other MC in most of the Voltage/otoge universe, but (again, thankfully) she was not this ditzy, cloying personality like a lot of them are (especially in the older games). She was also smart and outspoken (only in her head part of the time 😂), but without being borderline shallow B like the MC in Liar! Uncover the Truth.

All the butlers whose stories I’ve read so far (have only gotten through all the Season 1 stories, with the exception of Aoi — not really feeling him…) have been wonderful, difficult (makes it worth it? 😂), exciting men with whom to fall in love. Each of them has this potentially off-putting flaw, but it is such a great relief to be able to help him redeem himself on the road to either your Seductive or Soothing End.

Start playing Butler Until Midnight now!

[Review] Your ‘Butler Until Midnight’: Itsuki Matsuba (S1 Main Story)

The MC ends up choosing Itsuki, the younger Matsuba brother, because he seemed to be the most easygoing of the bunch. She soon regrets this as she constantly finds herself at the wrong end of his snarky mouth and cruel pranks. In spite of this, the MC finds herself strangely drawn to him. (Surprise, surprise.) And hating him at the same time.

One second he’s nice and the next he acts like a total jerk!

(I’d be somewhat disposed to liking you, but you make it hard with that mouth of yours.)

~ the MC (on Itsuki)

As if starting a new job under a very demanding boss wasn’t bad enough, she also has to deal with her new, hidden life as a daughter of the very wealthy and prominent Ichijo clan (training by butlers included). Having two of those very attractive butlers (brothers at that) fighting over her doesn’t help — and neither does her liking both of them back!

Pink tulips symbolize ‘the beginning of love’ and ‘sincere love’.

The words ‘beginning of love’ make me think of Itsuki and somehow the words ‘sincere love’ make me picture Tomoki’s face.

… No way. No way!

~ the MC (looking up the symbolism of pink tulips)

Pink Tulips, Butler Until Midnight ©Voltage, Inc.

Meanwhile, Itsuki leads a double life, just like the MC. He keeps serving as a butler to honor his and Tomoki’s father’s legacy, but he is also an incredibly talented fashion designer whose creations the MC herself adores. Unfortunately for the MC, she ends up working for Itsuki (the designer) as part of her job in First Lady and suffering under his ‘tutelage’.

It’s not what you think…, Butler Until Midnight ©Voltage, Inc.


What I think…

At the beginning, I almost regretted buying Itsuki’s main story because it really looked like he was going to be such a hateable character; I don’t like nasty leading men. However, to Voltage’s credit, the story was quick enough to tell us WHY he was such a ‘jerk’.

Itsuki’s Dilemma, Butler Until Midnight ©Voltage, Inc.

He was in a lot of pain over the impossibility of deciding between his passion and his family, and this is when I start falling for him myself 😂. The MC’s respect and support for his work as a designer slowly helps him make a decision; it changes him and teaches him to love.

As for Tomoki… I’m a terrible, terrible SUCKER for love triangles and Itsuki turns out to be such a darling, but I still really hated watching the MC friendzone sweet and sincere Tomoki (doubly painful because I played his route first) and go for the ‘jerk’ who made her heart go ba-dum ba-dum. Talk about SML Syndrome!

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 ‘Thank You’ always leads to the Friend Zone, Butler Until Midnight ©Voltage, Inc.

And this is why I am so impressed by Itsuki’s route. I went into it totally biased against him — he was this gorgeously blond and capricious (though talented) jerk, I had already fallen in love with his older brother long before I started his route, and I am (possibly genetically) predisposed to SML Syndrome.

… I love you. But I can’t put a smile on your face.

~ Tomoki

BUT. He still managed to sweep me off my feet when he finally grew up and became a man who knew what he wanted and fought for it. I had absolutely no doubt then that he had every right to get the girl, no matter how sweet or sincere his brother was till the very end.

 Stealing Her Heart, Butler Until Midnight ©Voltage, Inc.

[Review] ‘Splash Splash Love’: Nothing less than fluff, and not much more

♥This is just MY opinion. Don’t hate.♥

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Yoon Doo-Joon and Kim Seul-Gi in Splash Splash Love ©Naver TV Cast/MBC

If you’re looking for lighthearted drama fare that you can marathon without suffering health issues, then Splash Splash Love is exactly that. The ten-episode web drama is short as far as dramas go, especially since each episode lasts for only 15 minutes (on Naver TV Cast; broadcast as two longer episodes on MBC). Still, I think that it was able to deliver a great story and sympathetic characters, all things considered. What did suffer, IMHO, were the character relationships. (Who knows how much of that was due to format constraints and how much was bad acting … more on this later.)

The drama is about a senior high school student, Jang Dan-Bi (Kim Seul-Gi), who finds herself transported to Korea’s Joseon Period after jumping into a puddle to escape the SATs. There, she is mistaken for a rain spirit, and then a crazed (male!) eunuch. Nevertheless, King Lee Do (Yoon Doo-Joon), takes a shine to her because of her ‘modern-day’ math abilities and knowledge of science/history.

Whereas Dan-Bi achieved the pinnacle of underachievement in the present day, the little that she does know/can do is considered nothing short of miraculous/magical in Joseon, and earns her quite a few powerful enemies as well. Still, King Lee Do’s belief in her forces her to apply herself to the challenges put before her in a way she never had, and in her newfound perseverance, the king finds a kindred spirit amidst a court that could not fully understand nor support his progressive ideas. Needless to say, this kind of closeness eventually takes a more romantic turn, gender bending notwithstanding.

Time for some budget cosplay …

What I think…

I loved how, despite its length, the drama tried to show that no one knows everything, and that everyone — from scheming court officials to bratty teenagers — CAN DO and BE BETTER if they are willing and humble enough. However, the characters and their relationships could not (realistically) be fully developed in ten bite-sized episodes, least of all King Lee Do’s friendship-turned-romance with Dan-Bi. The attraction was believable enough since they provided exactly what the other needed in a friend and a romantic partner, but the way Lee Do would touch or hold Dan-Bi was just plain AWKWARD IMHO. Was it because Seul-Gi is so much shorter than Doo-Joon, or was it just bad acting on Doo-Joon’s part? I honestly don’t know. Don’t get me wrong; I became a fan of JDJ the Actor after Let’s Eat, but to my eyes it really did seem like King Lee Do was trying to romance a little boy. And the multiple (just-when-you-think-it’s-over) twists at the end were really cool, but the last scene felt like nothing more than an MV (maybe even an MV would have had more ‘feeling’ in it or been more believable).

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‘We meet again.’ Splash Splash Love ©#Dramania

Splash Splash Love has romance, action, suspense, and comedy all rolled into one cute and sweet two-and-a-half-hour bundle perfect for the modern drama addict needing to recover from the ill effects of binge watching. Just be ready to let a few things slide — JDJ and KSG looking weird while trying to be romantic, for one.

Broadcast on Naver TV Cast and MBC in December 2015.
Stars Yoon Doo-Joon, Kim Seul-Gi, Jin Ki-Joo, Ahn Hyo-Seop, and Kim Kap-Soo.
Now available on #Dramania, Viki, KissAsian, and MyAsianTV.

[Review] The Bad Boys of BBDIB: Ryoji Ryukai (Main Story)

Ryoji has a mean mouth and an equally mean — if not handsome — face to go with it. He acts like he doesn’t care about anything or anyone — least of all school (especially the vice-principal) or his own self, and he’s quick to let his mouth and fists tell everyone so. He’s unsociable, unapproachable, and notorious for getting into fights just for the heck of it, coming to class (when he does) all banged up. The MC (unsurprisingly) sees him as hell-bent on destruction and thinks he’s scary, even as she can’t shake the feeling that he’s not really as ‘bad’ as he makes himself out to be.

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‘Tsundere’, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

The MC actually meets him before she even sets foot in Shinran or the dorm when he saved her from a bunch of bullies who tried to pick her up. (As there is no shortage of ‘baddies’ in the aptly titled ‘BBDIB’, she is, in fact, grabbed by unsavory characters more than once, and Ryoji ends up saving her each time.) But even though they recognize each other from the bullies incident, Ryoji keeps alternately avoiding and antagonizing the MC, and she becomes confused by how different he seems to be from the tough-but-gentlemanly guy she met initially.

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‘Nothing but trouble’, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

UnfortunatelyFortunately, they end up being seatmates. The MC (of course) becomes intrigued by him, in spite of herself, and wonders when she’ll see the Ryoji she first met (and his smile). It doesn’t help that he (of course) doesn’t explain himself ever.

While working together on the neglected flower bed in school, the MC finds (more) proof of the ‘good guy’ underneath Ryoji’s mean persona — and she can’t help but be attracted to him. In fact, Ryoji’s tough and prickly outer shell hides his tender, steadfast heart; he is guileless, honorable, self-sacrificing, and capable of great things — if only he were better understood and properly guided. Also unbeknownst to the world at large (and even to some of those supposedly closest to him), he is the dorm’s resident blushing virgin and a closet plant lover.

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‘The Good Guy’, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

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‘Flower-boy Ryo’, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

He and the MC overcome many challenges together (and with the help of their dorm mates) — from suspensions and near-expulsions, to physically dangerous situations and powerful adults. The MC comes to rely on and believe in Ryoji, and this — as well as her unabashed acknowledgement of his good points (something he never experienced with his own family) — teaches him to face his real problems and to see his dreams through to the end.

What I think…

Ryoji and the MC’s affection for each other develop at just the right pace IMHO and this, in spite of puberty. They’re believably confused and swept along by the changes going on within and without themselves.

Thankfully, the extent and character of the MC’s cluelessness is just right for a high school girl who has never had a boyfriend. I love how she’s completely unaware that they’re falling in love with each other, and acting more and more like a couple in spite of themselves, especially towards the end of the route. I also actually found her kindness touching and believable — a first when it comes to MCs for me — and especially towards Ryoji, her dorm and school mates, her teachers, and even Kanzaki and Ryoji’s dad (the primary antagonists in the route, apart from the vice-principal).

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‘Clueless’, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

Speaking of which, I also love how Kanzaki and Ryoji’s dad weren’t all bad. In fact, ALL of the characters (especially after you’ve read the other routes) are very sympathetic, very human characters; even the ‘heroes’ (for instance, Ryoji) aren’t all good. Here, even Ryoji himself is partly to blame, while his dad and Kanzaki both also have redeeming qualities in turn. Undeniably, as an otoge route, it’s not as gritty as reality or stories in other media, but I do appreciate it tackling serious issues and presenting less-than-straightforward heroes and villains.

You are sure to fall in love with Ryoji and the MC — and the other ‘bad boys’ — in this route. There is enough ‘reality’ in the characters, the story, and their presentation to make the route both dramatic and believable, but there is also just the right dose of comic relief care of Akira, Yu, Nana, Mr. Saejima, and Ryoji himself to keep it from becoming a drama.

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Ryoji saves (and gets) the girl, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage, Inc.

Apologies.

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Some of you may notice the title and/or tagline of this blog changing from one moment to the next. It’s just me sounding out a better way of encapsulating what I’m trying to do here.

Please bear with me for a day or two. Comments and suggestions are welcome! 😂

[Overview] Bad Boys Do It Better (Voltage, Inc.)

In a nutshell

The MC is thrown into the midst of a pack of wolves (or, in this case, high school boys — which is practically the same thing) when her parents enroll her in Shinran High — an all-boys school that has recently opened its doors to girls. Unfortunately (or, fortunately — depending on whom you ask — especially if it’s the MC’s mom), she happens to be the ONLY girl to take the offer!

On top of that, since her parents are moving to Malaysia for her dad’s work and because their old home is far from her new school, the MC ends up boarding with a bunch of ‘bad boys’ in an all-boys dorm connected with the school.

(clockwise from L) Ryoji, Keiichiro, Rei, Akira, Yu

(clockwise from L) Ryoji, Keiichiro, Rei, Akira, Yu, Bad Boys Do It Better ©Voltage Inc.

Now surrounded by BOYS, BOYS, and even more BOYS both in school and at home, the MC cannot hope to escape your standard reverse-harem roster:

[Sarcastic x Mr. Confident]

RYOJI RYUKAI (Check out my review!)

The ‘king of bad boys’ who, for all his fighting and class-cutting abilities, turns into a hopeless bundle of blushing nerves when it comes to girls — especially the MC.

[Cool x Space Case]

REI TODO

His apparently cold and aloof demeanor belies just how deeply and passionately he can love the people and things he does care about — books, his dorm mates, and the MC.

[Stubborn but Sweet x Firecracker]

YU AGATSUMA

The class clown and resident jock. His single-minded devotion to basketball makes him think that there is no room in his life (or heart) for love — until the MC comes along.

[Mysterious x Playboy]

AKIRA SAKAKI

Notorious even among his dorm mates for being ‘a lover, not a fighter’. His ‘perverted’ tendencies are not lost on the MC, who does her best to avoid him — until she discovers a secret that reveals the hurting boy behind his smooth-talking player facade.

[Awkward x Manly]

KEIICHIRO MINASE

Quiet and gives off an older brother vibe. He is quick to support his dorm mates, restore order, and soothe ruffled feathers, but doesn’t hesitate to call things as they are — in a way that everyone can accept. Still, he is far from boring because his ‘maturity’ is also evident in his relationship with the MC — in more ways than one. Route COMING SOON! Main Story and Epilogue OUT NOW!

BBDIB had me seriously ROFL-ing from Prologue to Epilogue. This is Voltage’s FUNNIEST English-language game, IMHO (I’m not sure about the JP ones ‘coz I don’t play them). The new-fangled (LOL) moving graphics also helped make all the funny, romantic, and dramatic moments even more so.

I had my reservations about one or two ‘Bad Boys’, but all of the characters released so far — as well as the supporting cast and the MC — have managed to steal my heart (not to mention my credit card). I thank God that Voltage made the MC her own sassy person (FINALLY!!!) who could hold her own in a house and a school full of boys — without losing any of her teenage femininity. I loved how she didn’t go all boy crazy and fall head-over-heels in love into the lap of the first ‘Bad Boy’ she met (she could teach other, older MCs a thing or two). In fact, I think the boys and the MC were completely believable and sympathetic teenage characters — especially when it came to how unsure they were about what they wanted to do with their lives, and how to deal with love, authority figures, raging hormones, crises, and the opposite sex.

Individual route reviews to follow.