Minazuki Kashou, the son of a long line of Japanese confection makers, one day decides to move out of his home in order to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a patisserie and opens up a western style bakery named “La Soleil”. Thinking he had shed his old life and family, Kashou one day comes upon two mysterious packages as he begins to prep his bakery for opening day. To his amazement, inside the boxes were two of his families catgirls, the twins Vanilla and Chocola, who had secretly stowed themselves away during his move. At first, Kashou tries to convince them to go back home, but eventually the pair breaks him down into allowing them to stay. Thus, our protagonist opens up his new bakery with Vanilla and Chocola as La Soleil’s poster catgirls.
Nekopara is a kinetic (Linear story with no routes) romantic slice of life comedy revolving around the hijinks of Vanilla and Chocola as they navigate through their duties as La Soleil’s resident catgirls. While the story is nothing particularly original or groundbreaking, it was fairly decent for a slice of life visual novel. Most of the games charm and focus is on our characters being cute, adorable, and cat-like, with the characters taking center stage. Nekopara handled character interaction extremely well, with every character having their own varied and distinct personality, with the exception of Kashou, who was pretty much your basic imprint protagonist. There were many humorous scenes that had me laughing out loud, as well as quite a few that made me feel like I had just eaten an entire bag of candy with how intensely cute they were. There are, of course, lots of gratuitous sexual innuendo jokes and proclamations that Kashou is a giant pervert to be found throughout the game.
Those of you who have ever scoured the internet for catgirl/neko images will probably find the characters and art style of Nekopara extremely familiar. This is because the talent behind Neko Works, Sayori, has been creating Chocola and Vanilla art long before the circle delved into the world of visual novels. With that said, Nekopara’s art does not disappoint; it is gorgeous, crisp, colorful, and detailed. Even the paper dolls are extremely well done. Despite the games short length, it also boasts a good bit of CG’s. The voice acting is superb, with every character VA bringing even more depth and life to the characters they voice, although the frequent repetitive conversations can begin to grate on you after a little bit. (Be prepared to hear goshuujin-sama pretty much every other sentence, sometimes several times in one go) The music for the game was fairly decent, featuring mostly cute, upbeat tracks that fit the game well as well as their intended scenes. The opening theme song was also well done.
One thing to note about this visual novel is that it utilizes a new animation software called E-mote/Emofuri, in where the paper dolls exhibit forms of movement that makes them more lively on screen; the characters “breathe” as they stand still, moving up and down in a way that mimics the way the human body moves while breathing. The characters arms and head move while they talk, and their tails swish slightly. Their boobs also jiggle to varying degrees depending on your chest bounciness setting in the options screen. This is set by a slider that goes from “solid rock” boobs to “will punch you in the face and give you a black eye at the slightest movement” boobs. While nothing revolutionary, this feature does make character interaction seem more alive, and characters seem almost 3D on the screen. (Check out the above youtube video to see the system in action)
Now, let’s get to the part that I’m sure you’ve all been waiting to hear about; the sex. First off, sex is not the main focus of Nekopara, so the h-scenes do not come into play until later on in the story. They are mainly utilized to initiate and further the relationship between Vanilla, Chocola, and Kashou, and so they are integral to the story and character progression. Because of this, sex scenes weave naturally into and with the game, as opposed to a lot of visual novels where they seem to come out of nowhere and feel slapped in just for the sake of having porn in the game. The sex scenes feature gorgeous CG’s and cut-ins, animated scenes, and great/erotic voice acting. The writing and sound effects, however, were not all that great. The sound effects were extremely distracting in a bad way. Licking, kissing, sucking, and fingering all utilized the same terrible sound effect that did not fit at all, and Kashou’s cum one sounded like an upset stomach (The kind that warns you that you better get your ass to the bathroom pronto) more than a good splurging. The thrusting sound effect was probably one of the better sounds but also fell a bit short.
The writing mostly consisted of extremely repetitive dirty talk, shaming, vocalizations, and your usual virgin fanfare. While the writing goes into a little bit of detailed description with Kashou, it mostly stuck to the bare bones explanation of what was happening on screen. This may be due to the fact that so much attention was paid to the graphics and animation of the scenes, but for those of you who like your sex scenes to have a bit of detail with them, you may find yourself slightly disappointed with the writing. One slight positive to the h-scene writing though was you do get to see a bit of a different temperament with the girls during their scenes. Some other things to note is that every sex scene involves a threesome due to the connection between Chocola and Vanilla and the polyamorous relationship that develops with them and Kashou; Needless to say, there are no sex scenes involving any of the other females you are introduced to in the game. Overall, the sex was handled decently well, and I rather enjoyed them, although their “fapability” may vary from reader to reader. H-scenes are also all censored due to the fact that the game was simultaneously released for English, Japanese, and Chinese instead of separate releases for each region.
Nekopara was by no means an amazing or particularly great game, but it did manage to do well in what it strived to be; A funny little rom-com with over the top cuteness, and for that it gets a thumbs up from me. If you’re looking for a fun little light-hearted comedy featuring catgirls and gorgeous artwork, I would highly recommend you give Nekopara a try. If you’re looking for a title with a little more substance and story, however, I would suggest you look elsewhere.