Being no more than a week since its debut, I will have to say that I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with Princess Evangile, one of MangaGamer’s latest visual novel releases developed by Moonstone. After playing the developers past works (Angel Ring and Sukia), I was hoping to be smitten by this, and sure enough finding it to be quite the slice-of-life/comedy delight – especially considering the episodic anime format. Still takes some getting use to the weird religious connections and Maria-sama ga Miteru levels of French, though.
Aside from the protagonist being abandoned by his [insert colorful pejorative here] father and saddled with a massive amount of debt, salvation comes when Okonogi Masaya meets up with Rousenin Rise, a student from Vincennes Academy that extends room and board to this all-girls school in order to put forth a reform: the attendance of male students. However, Masaya new life won’t be so easygoing and requires winning the approval of the entire student body in order to allow this amendment come to pass. If it doesn’t by years end, he can bid school life farewell and greetings to that of a vagabond. Although Masaya’s livelihood at is at stake, so is the future Vincennes Academy continuing along its current trajectory.
Despite the dire straits, Princess Evangile is a befuddling mix of school life comedy and slice-of-life shenanigans where Masaya and Rise work to persuade the already rigid female base to accept the idea of co-ed life using Masaya ‘s behavior as the prime example. Of course, with opposition not only from individual students, but also many others affiliated with Vincennes, Masaya has a lot to prove in this literal uphill battle. Given all the characters, personalities, story dynamics, and situations – Princess Evangile does feel more like watching an anime than reading a visual novel. With the story progression divvied up into episodes – it also feels like a more accessible product and something beginners might can start without feeling too overwhelmed. From what I observed playing through 18 of the 26 episodes, most of them range between 45 minutes to an hour-long. As far as how the routes are structured, you basically just need to consistently choose the girl you wish to pursue when the decisions arise. Not doing so will only lead to a bad ending in a later chapter opposed to being pushed into an individual route. From there, depending on who you picked, the chapters will begin to vary.
With the setting of Princess Evangile centering around a very prim and proper venue, the use of aesthetics are inevitable. One those is the use of European style – mainly French naming conventions rendered to things such as titles or nicknames for students of high social caliber (Ex: Rise being called ”Soleil D’Ecole” meaning Sun of the School) or referencing to specific school functions. With an in-game encyclopedia thankfully included, you won’t need to know the language or go through any trouble to decipher the meaning. The second is the use of Catholic/Christian allusions and values that Vincennes Academy is founded on. Most of this uses Masaya has a focal point as he is analogous to both a serpent in a metaphorical Eden as well as being persecuted in a similar fashion to Christ as he tries to win the trust of the other students that want him gone. Of course, other characters do fall into similar roles of biblical repute such as: Judas, the Pharisees, and the Apostles of Jesus – or at least alluded. As non-intrusive and respectful as it is done, I still feel that isn’t all that necessarily or see in any point. On the other hand, since there is a lot of emphasis placed on (or hinted at) redemption and forgiveness later on in some of the heroine routes, it is an apt and nice element.
Even though I have limited my daily play sessions to 2 hours from when I first started, the moderate pacing does feel like I’m getting through more of the story than originally thought and my time being spent more efficiently in regards to storytelling compared to other visual novels. For an off-the-cuff purchase item (with the exception of press material I have posted in the past), it is one that I was glad to make and appreciate it for the comedy alone at this point. Sadly, while there is more I want to say and will save for the future review, I will mention that some of the other desirable heroines are fan disc material. So if you are warming up to characters like Ruriko (Mitsuki in my case) or any of the other supporting cast, maybe this might do well enough to get it licensed for release.