So. I just went through every single character in Love 365 to find out whose story is being ‘sold’ for 0 coins.
I just hope it (at least) turns out that I had bought the story already, or I’m gonna be so [redacted] at missing it! 🤣
I had never been a fan of 10 Days With My Devil, even when it first came out in English, deciding against buying any of the routes after the free preview time and again. Yet, when Voltage offered one of the main stories as a free read on Love 365 for a limited time, I found myself finishing the entire thing in a matter of hours.
MC finds herself a step away from literally (yes, LITERALLY) being toast. Scheduled as she was for demise, she nevertheless successfully bargains for a ten-day reprieve, during which she hopes to settle her unfinished business — which is to confess to her office crush.
As per usual, MC is asked to choose a babysitter from among the hot (demon) romance options who had come to collect her soul. She decides on SHIKI, manly (if somewhat narcoleptic) megane, thinking he was a safe enough bet. And, of course, being constantly in each other’s company brings the two closer than intended. (Read: They fall in love.)
Shiki has a backstory that at first glance makes him seem awfully cold, uncaring, and weird. Because of this, MC is shocked to discover the reasons for him being the way he is, and that he is actually capable of great love, integrity, and self-sacrifice (for a demon, at that).
Unfortunately (and not surprisingly), fraternization between demons and humans is not allowed — especially not when it involves a human marked for death. In the end, the couple prove their love for each other through difficult choices that still lead to a happy enough end (with a little help from their friends, the other demons).
Why I Like It
Shiki was cold, but not cruel.
I hate sadists, especially those who seem to have been written for no other justification than to fill the trope roster. The reasons why he is the way he is also totally make sense, and doesn’t make it too difficult for you to believe he is capable of falling in love with MC.
MC had sass.
And enough of it to —
- Negotiate her death,
- Live with an entire household of (sexy) demons without being reduced to a puddle of estrogen, and
- Know when to stop flogging a dead horse (aka her unrequited feelings for her office crush).
The supporting characters were adorable.
They were quirky (and I’m not only talking about the demons here 😂), funny, and kind — just like any other person you may know from real life.
Overall, this was a feel-good story that contrasted with its premise and characters. To be honest, it kind of reminded me of Star-crossed Myth (mythical beings and fighting for your love against death itself), Dangerous Seduction (particularly, Arimura and his tracking device), and Love Letter From Thief X (the fascination with tiny toy collectibles) — only with clunkier, dated art and more low-key otherworldly powers.
The outcome wasn’t too rushed IMHO, even as it left out enough for you to want to check out the sequels.
’10 Days With My Devil’, ‘Star-crossed Myth’, ‘Dangerous Seduction’, and ‘Love Letter From Thief X’ are all available on Voltage’s Love 365 app.
I’ve generally viewed step-sibling romances askance, alongside teacher-student ones. (✋ Before the activist in you shoots me where I’m sitting typing this…. 👉) Granted, this is an awful, biased attitude of which I try to be more mindful. Still, it’s hard to avoid it when such hookups aren’t the norm.
MASAYA’s main story in Voltage‘s Diary of a Stepsister is one of those lovely, unexpected specimens that manages to disabuse you of your biases — in this case, the notion that this kind of romance is pervy by nature. In fact, I am so fracking giddy and pumped up over playing the route that I have now been compelled to write a full blog post about it — after being on hiatus for more than a year!
MC gains an entire household of stepbrothers (and convenient romance options) after her long-widowed mom remarries — and into a fabulously wealthy family, at that.
Masaya is the popular and sporty fourth Saionji brother, and twin to the cold and highly accomplished third brother, MASAKI. MC is the same age they are, and ends up attending their family-owned school with them. (LOL.)
True to formula, being seen with the ‘Saionji Princes’ brings grief to regular-chick MC, in all the J/Kdrama ways possible. Masaya to the rescue, with both fists —
And charming personality, winning the other students over to MC — and all with MC being none the wiser.
Things are going swimmingly, until the twins’ all-around rival appears to make a play for MC as well. And, you know it, this pushes the two leads to confront their feelings and find their happy ending.
Why I Like It
Masaya is totally likable, in spite of his temper.
Teases MC, but not offensively so.
And is 💯 dependable.
MC is equally embraceable.
None of the over-the-top squeamishness over marrying into mind-boggling wealth or dealing with first-time feelings. Nor was she annoying in asserting herself when dealing with mean schoolmates or a creepy suitor.
All the supporting characters are refreshingly agreeable.
The entire, newly-merged household are normal people, without any melodramatic hang-ups, eccentricities, or whatnot. Heck, even Rival Boy and Rival Girl are sympathetically portrayed.
MC and Masaya’s relationship also develops sooo naturally…
As they work together in the soccer club. By the time they wake up to their romantic regard for each other, it already makes perfect sense because they know and complement one another so well.
Overall, I found this route even better written than some of the ‘adult’ ones.
‘Diary of a Stepsister’ is available on Voltage’s Love 365 app.
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.
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.