I’ve had this muddied gem of a visual novel lying dormant in my hard drive for far too long now. A guilty pleasure of mine, Dustmania Grotesque ~Kaitai Sounyuu Shinsho~ is a sadistic and gory eroge that doesn’t do a whole lot, but what it manages to pull off, it does so with style. To me, Dustmania Grotesque is a game full of potential that just doesn’t quite reach its full potential. I admire it for what it attempts and it’s a crying shame there wasn’t more time put into it. If you’re interested in some grotesque mad science then Dustmania here might just procure your interest.
I’m reviewing the English version, which has been “Poorly translated by Necrosis”. The translation is fine though, so don’t be too hard on yourself Necro. This English version of the game is a standalone client and no patch exists for a Japanese copy. There are no differences from the original Japanese release outside the language and the English download being free, so I’ll leave it up to your own moral discretion as to how (or if) you wish to play this.
Dustmania Grotesque ~Kaitai Sounyuu Shinsho~, released by publisher/developer Belisama in 2009, is a short but sweet guro visual novel. You can finish it in around two hours and there’s only one decision that splits the story in two directions, with one containing the bulk of the content. You’re enjoying a violent visual novel vignette; which is a blessing and a curse here because at times, you’re more interested in what could have been. The story plays from the perspective of our unfortunate protagonist Yumiyama Chiharu, an attractive female scientist who found herself abducted by an old associate and now-professional mad scientist Oshamanbe Gonzou. Gonzou (referred to as Manbo by Chiharu) reveals to her that she’s been abducted and will be the recipient of his latest breakthrough: an immortality serum known as Tifareto.
The characters and story of this visual novel show great promise. Oshamanbe and his assistant Kowaki Kanae have a wonderful dynamic comparable to the Joker and Harley Quinn. Kanae, picked up by Gonzou to demo the drug, is energetic and wholly devoted as his assistant. Kanae also has a sister named Ako, who exists as a severed head in Kanae’s hollowed-out stomach; A cut runs down Kanae’s abdomen, which she can pull open to reveal her sister. Kanae houses her sister with ease, as both were previous test subjects for Tifareto, making pain no obstacle. Together, the two make up Manbo’s assistants. Gonzou, the villain of the story, has a deep seeded-hatred for Chiharu, seeing her as a cause for all the torment he suffered when he studied at the institute they both attended. Yumiyama Chiharu is smart and headstrong, which are quality features for a protagonist. Even when dire circumstances are revealed to her, she aims to keep level-headed, trying to find a way out using diplomacy and reason. It’s great seeing such a beautiful and intelligent woman destroyed in hilariously violent manners. Tifareto in the hands of Gonzou is an interesting concept; I love the idea of eternal youth being perverted into a life of endless torture. It’s so disappointing that this didn’t get expanded upon more.
A lot of the plot has some great potential for interesting scenarios, but exists only as a backdrop for the sexual violence. While that’s totally okay (I’m actually quite fond of the sex scenes), the VN is just so short that you’re left feeling like there could’ve been a bit more at play. There’s a mysterious island where this immortality has been studied but has fallen into ruin, with the insane Oshamanbe left to perfect his research. Chiharu recalls Manbo leaving the study they were both a part of a few months prior, linking him to the downfall of the island research facility. There are corpses hinted at and the existence of Kanae and Ako all point to many failed drug experiments. The branching plot can see the tables turn in Chiharu’s favour, the second option however has her succumb to the torture, forever living as a mutilated corpse and eventually severed head. Both of these options are interesting in their own way, but it’s clear from the amount of content of the latter route that the former route was a bigger priority.
To cover the art style and the audio/music design briefly, I’ll start with the character designs. It’s a little wonky in places but works overall, though the main issue is that it can feel rushed at times. Manbo looks appropriately like a goblin with his protruding crooked nose, eyes hidden behind glasses, and general hunched posture. Kanae looks like a sexy undead nurse; she has the twin tails, the cleavage on display, and the bloodstain around her gouged eye looks like goth makeup. Chiharu is pretty generic, with blue hair and eyes being her only defining feature style-wise. but her characterization pulls her through. At their best, the gore elements are pretty good, though it can be somewhat inconsistent. For example, there’s a scene with Chiharu’s exposed brain that looks a little too clean and blood-ridden to be a freshly opened head. Other issues like Kanae’s crossed arms looking too small and flat can pop up if you’ve got a keen eye, but the game’s art overall is more hit than miss. If you can get into the story and the guro, you will likely be able to look past this like I did as the bloodier elements are well done. The music and general audio is actually impressive, given the scope of Dustmania Grotesque; characters are all fully voiced and there’s a pretty good electronic soundtrack that’ great at building tension. The only major gripe I have with the soundtrack is that it can be a bit overpowering at times, drowning out the scene. The voice acting is surprisingly good quality: Chiharu is voiced by Kasuga An, while Kanae and Ako are voiced by Fujimoto Noriko, both of whom have been involved in the adult games industry for many years at this point.
As you can tell from the screenshots, most of this visual novel is gore, rape, and gory rape. This is first and foremost a nukige. The guro scenes themselves are pretty nice concepts, barring some artistic hiccups. The immortality of Chiharu makes for some amusing scenes; in once instance, Manbo literally skull fucks her and gives her brain damage in the process, showcasing that while Chiharu might not be able to die, she can still become retarded. Other situations like decapitating her and using her head as a living sex toy arise to macabre amusement. On the whole when Chiharu gives in we the reader are treated to an escalation of sadism as Manbo torments her, slowly destroying her physically and emotionally. Her spirit being torn apart is just as satisfying as her body being wrecked and ruined because she actually has an arc of confidence into hopelessness. The “good” ending path has an interesting twist of fate in that the serum has unexpected side effects on Chiharu. I’ll try not to spoil too much, but I will say that there’s certainly an indulgence of fetishes unique to this route. Unfortunately, it is noticeably shorter than the series of events leading up to the branching paths for the endings. It would’ve been nice to see this path expanded upon, as it does have an intriguing take on the plot and can circumvent the player’s expectations to some degree.
Overall, Dustmania Grotesque is a passable guro nukige. While the art style can occasionally look a tad rushed and the overall brevity may leave something to be desired, the scenarios and setting are intriguing enough to keep it in ones mind long after finishing it. If you’re into or are just interested in some grotesque sex, then it might be worth a try. It certainly didn’t let me down in that department.
Visit http://belisama.rhea.jp/ to check out Dustmania Grotesque ~Kaitai Sounyuu Shinsho~. Unfortunately, Necrosis has since closed his Necrosistranslations wordpress at the time of writing so you’ll have to use other alternatives or seek out a mirror if you want to read it in English.