Nekopara Volume 3 continues and improves upon, the adventures of the Minazuki household as the story involving the final catgirl pair unfolds.
The long awaited Nekopara Volume 3 focuses on the final catgirl pair in the series — Maple and Cinnamon. In volume 3, our protagonist Kashou is living a blessed life with four catpanions. His bakery, La Soleil, has become even more famous since the last volume thanks to his delectable treats, Shigure’s blog, and his infamous all-catgirl staff. Everything seems to be going great for Kashou and all of his catgirls, but events transpire during these happy days that stir up old dreams, memories, and desires within Maple and Cinnamon. Will these two best friends stay strong together, or will their friendship be swept away in the tides of change?
The newest volume, which focuses around Maple and Cinnamon, follows its usual formula of romance, comedy, and over-the-top cuteness. However, volume 3 added in some much-needed zest to its usual formula that improved upon some of the writing and story shortfalls that vol. 1 and vol. 2 suffered from. Maple is a no-nonsense catgirl with a serious personality that comes off as cold to many around her, while Cinnamon is a sweet hearted carefree pervert who frequently falls into lewd daydreams in the most mundane of situations.
The two couldn’t be more opposite in terms of personality, yet Maple and Cinnamon have quite possibly the deepest, equal connection with each other out of all of the catgirl pairs, with each other referring to the other as their best friend. While every pair was fairly close to their counterpart, Maple and Cinnamon’s equal footing relationship stood out among Chocola and Vanilla’s seemingly one-sided incestual love undertones and Azuki and Coconut’s older/younger sister relationship. While all of the girls get some screen time, these two take center stage in this particular volume, and their relationship and personalities shape the events and drama that unfold in the title.
While the Nekopara series has never really striven to be anything close to a masterpiece, the series has nonetheless been a major game-changer in the Western market with its blend of animation, gorgeous artwork, and endearing characters. Despite being a title within a relative niche market and genre, the Nekopara series has had absolutely amazing success in terms of sales. Every subsequent title since the first volume has managed to improve in some aspect without sacrificing the basic underlying portions that have made the series immensely popular.
Volume 0 improved on its already stellar animation and art by adding more depth with 3D modeling, and volume 2 added in a decent dramatic plot thread between Azuki and Coconut that improved upon the titles overall character interactions and development, as well as preventing it from feeling too much like “volume 1 with different girls.” Volume 3 continues this trend by adding a decently engaging, dramatic plot revolving around Maple admitting to a dream she’s long held, chasing after it, and the rift it causes between the two friends as Cinnamon tries to support her from the shadows.
While this plot arc was nothing groundbreaking, it nonetheless added a very human-like component to the girls, and enhanced their character development far past that of “just catgirls.” The plot also served to flesh out Kashou far more than he had been in the previous volumes. While he still is somewhat of a blank slate and wet blanket, he actually became fairly engaged in Maple and Cinnamon’s development to the point the development of the connection between the three felt very natural and not forced like it had with the other two catgirl pairs.
On the technical aspects, volume 3 is pretty much on par quality wise as its predecessors. The voice acting is absolutely spot on, with every voice actress playing their respective catgirl persona perfectly, down to the purrs and fun dialogue. The voice acting can get a bit crazy during sex scenes with the girls moaning, screaming, and yelping loudly constantly. This can get a bit grating on the ears if you’re not into it, but that, I think, is less of a VA problem and more of how the sex scene dialogue was written. Surprisingly, Cinnamon’s sex noises turned out to be the quietest and calm out of all the girls.
The art is just as beautiful as always, with lots of gorgeously drawn and colored CGs. Volume 3 boasts 46 new CGs, which is nine more than the total CGs that volume 2 had. As is staple of the Nekopara series, every sex scene is animated as well as paper dolls, with the animations appearing to have been slightly tweaked to make them even more animated than the last one. One neat little addition that I don’t remember seeing in the last one is the addition of small emotes with the girls, such as animated hearts and musical notes over their heads.
The music and not so appealing sound effects are basically the same that were used in the prior volumes, with only two new tracks having been added. Because of this, my view on the music and sound effects is pretty much the same exact as it was in my review for volume 2. The music is decent, but it’s still just as dull as it was beforehand after having to sit through yet another installment with the same music playing 95% of the time. However, one of the two new tracks was a vocal track used in the game for a certain event that was perfectly fitting and beautiful, which was definitely a step up for the soundtrack that made it stand out.
The sex scenes were also pretty standard and on-par with how the series has handled them. The newest installment in the series contains a total of five different animated sex scenes, with three featuring Maple and Cinnamon and the other two featuring Azuki/Coconut and Vanilla/Chocola. For those of you who enjoy the threesome model of Nekopara, you’ll be pleased to know that of the sex scenes with the exception of one are 3P scenarios. For those of you who have been wishing the series would throw a one-on-one scene and/or yuri, the one exception to the 3P model is, surprisingly, a yuri scene.
The inclusion of a yuri scene was a welcome addition to the title and served to help give a little new and fresh sexual content to the games predictable pattern of threesomes. Not only that, but the scene also served as a good character development segment, as it explained the reason for one of the characters personality traits and underscore the deep relationship and feelings they have with the other girl. Cinnamon and Maples sex scenes were also extremely well done and the lead-up to them went exactly as I had hoped, with the pair approaching Kashou of their own free will and desire to become his catpanions. This was a nice contrast and departure from the prior two volumes, where it felt like Kashou and some of the other girls were basically coerced into having sex for the first time.
In conclusion, Nekopara Volume 3 managed to once again improve on various fronts without compromising the essence of the Nekopara series, creating an installment that was even better than its predecessors. Maple and Cinnamon’s character arc, Kashou’s character development, and the addition of a yuri scene, natural sexual lead-in, and various new sexual acts helped keep the volume from feeling like “same thing, different girls” and also served to prop it up above the rest. For those of you who enjoyed the series’ previous volumes, you absolutely have to experience volume 3.