Nekopara, Vol. 1

When you think of catgirls, do you think of them as humans with catlike features, or as humanoid cats? Because one of those options sounds infinitely stranger than the other. And less legal.

To start this off, I’m not normally someone who’s into cat/fox/etc-girls (besides short-haired Hanekawa), so I wasn’t too excited to start this. More than anything, I’m left with the impression that it was bothersome and boring.

"Milk" and "fresh cream"

“Milk” and “fresh cream”

Let’s make this very clear – there are two versions of this visual novel. There’s the all-ages version available on Steam, then there’s the very much not all-ages version available elsewhere, which is the version I read (because why not). And because the gods of the internet decided to take a dump on my free time by giving it to me.

The story begins with our generic protagonist opening up a pastry shop after leaving home for mostly unexplained reasons. While prepared to take on such a daunting task on his own, he discovers two mysterious boxes in the shop, boxes that he doesn’t recognize. Boxes with catgirls in them. Protagonist-kun’s solo flight quickly turns into a kinky threesome, and the story takes off. Rather slowly, but it gets moving, as aimless as it is.

The majority of the story is just lame interactions between protagonist-kun and the catgirls as they run the pastry shop and yada yada. Eventually, there is the unsurprising development that they all have sex, but what makes it really weird is that it’s brought on by the catgirls being in heat. You know, like real cats. Because they are real cats. Which is really fricking weird.

13260414499380264960_2015-01-16_00039

The popsicle was there originally, I promise

They make a huge deal out of how these catgirls are not cat-eared humans, but literally humanoid cats, as stupid as that sounds. In Japanese, the word they use to refer to them is neko, which simply means “cat.” Weird, right? PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supposedly claimed that this VN supported animal abuse. What they should have said is that it supports bestiality and classism.

In this VN, catgirls are a normal part of society. The term “catpanions” is also a common way to say that a person and their pet catgirl are F-buddies. But there are no catboys, so what would you expect? Trying to add logic to something overwhelmingly illogical only leaves a lot of openings for… people of questionable morality. And this is my absolute biggest gripe with this visual novel.

13260414499380264960_2015-01-16_00015

She’s an American Curl. In case you were wondering.

As I said before, they make a big deal out of how catgirls are supposed to be more cat than human, but even disregarding their primarily human appearance, they don’t just lay around all day, beg for attention, and hack up furballs – they act just like humans for the most part. Taking that into account, you’d think that they’re treated like humans more than cats, right? You’d be wrong.

Catgirls have owners by default, and those who don’t are “strays.” Catgirls are not normally allowed to go out on their own. Catgirls need to pass a certification to be able to leave home without supervision, work, or have any semblance of human rights. But boning catgirls is totally okay and very common, even if they’re less than a year old! That’s how society works here.

Not clever enough to be treated as more than pets though.

Not clever enough to be treated as more than pets though.

I know a lot of people are going to read this and think, “Wow, he’s totally overthinking this!” No, I’m not. People will write essays on this topic, I guarantee it.

On a more positive note, this visual novel does have quite a bit going for it besides fetishists’ desires. On a technical level, this is easily the best visual novel I’ve ever seen.

Rather than using static sprites, the characters actually move and react naturally during conversations, which is super cool. They’ll blink, sway, move around, etc. The lip-syncing is also surprisingly accurate, which is a very nice touch. Then, there’s a fair amount of jiggling, especially during lewd scenes. So even ignoring that last bit, the character movement is not nearly as half-assed as it is in the VN scenes of games such as Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 and Conception 2, where the only purpose was the jiggling. Which brings me to my next point –

13260414499380264960_2015-01-15_00004

There is a jiggle slider in the settings. This didn’t seem to make a huge difference at first, but then the other catgirls came into the story. The better-endowed ones. Ludicrously so. I’m not surprised that there’s a setting like this, but it’s nice to allow the reader to pick the extent of the jiggling, letting them choose a more modest option if they don’t want constant jello action on all the catgirls’ chests.

The music is fairly typical, but there’s at least enough of a variety to keep it from getting stale during the story’s run. The voice-acting is also fine, even if Chocola’s excessively bubbly voice and the constant “nya~s” do get tiring very quickly. A lot of the sound effects don’t line up with the actions well at all, which is a bit odd in a VN that’s otherwise fine-tuned effectively.

I know I’m always saying “hurr durr pretty young anime girls 4 laif 2D > 3D” but this is not my cup of tea. This is more like a cup of okra. I can understand why people enjoy it, but I have absolutely no interest. If it was a bit more casual with how catgirls fit into society by just saying “Catgirls exist, the end,” this would be far more tolerable. But when it’s presented as “Catgirls exist for sex and eye candy, are treated like lesser beings, and everybody thinks things are perfect that way,” I have an issue. And I’ve always been more of a dog person.

13260414499380264960_2015-01-17_00007

+ A lot of people like catgirls
+ On the technical side, the best visual novel I’ve seen
+ Jiggle slider
+ Clean, colorful visuals

± Catgirls?

− They’re cats
− Very boring story and characters, lame attempts at humor
− Catgirls’ role in society
− Not enough food porn

Read time – About 6 hours

Price – $10 (US) on Steam for the all-ages version. Elsewhere for the other version.

Recommendation – If you like catgirls, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you don’t like catgirls, don’t waste your time. Either way, petition the developers to change the name of the series to “Catgirl Conquest” (and give them my info so I get royalties).

I’m not going to read any more of this series. Unless the sequel is “Rise of the Planet of the Cats.”

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Nekopara, Vol. 1

  1. I completed the Steam version the other day and was very impressed. Yeah there isn’t much to the story, but I just treated it as a series of cute skits. The production values are amazing. Fully voiced, well drawn and even animated. It looks far better than other more expensive visual novels on the market. Also as far as animal humanoids go…

    Cow Girls > Dog Girls > Cat Girls

  2. Rai says:

    I find myself with the sudden interest to mess around with visual novels again. Haven’t done so since Katawa Shoujo was released a few years back.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s