To be a fully transparent reviewer you can’t simply review things you like. You also can’t simply like things that make you uncomfortable because they are reminiscent of other things you like. When I typically don’t enjoy a Voltage route it just becomes a chore to read: so much so that I usually stop reading any routes altogether. Originally when reviewing Our Private Homeroom I mentioned that the dialogue could get painfully awkward, and eventually in the other routes I hit my limit. I feel that if I am going to make reviews for games I have to be honest: I feel like Our Private Homeroom is an example of everything Voltage does wrong in games.
I’m not saying the game has no redeeming qualities: I’m a sucker for age differences and student-teacher relationships. The problem is that to make these kinds of stories work there needs to be a believable maturity to the protagonist or a believable immaturity to her love interest. As weird as it sounds, Ryota’s story worked better because he was secretly an immature older man who doesn’t clean up after himself and plays video games all the time. We also saw the protagonist work super hard to study math and reach goals she otherwise wouldn’t, so we saw her being mature.
So what is the major problem?
It feels so forced to read the story. Reading the teenage protagonist feels like I’m reading an internet meme page. I guess in an attempt to make the protagonist more like a typical American girl for the localization they made her curse a lot, say strange things, and generally spout teenage girl talk that makes the premise become way more squicky. Is there really a way for me to be fine with a girl who is immature enough to basically go ‘yaaaaaaaas’ and memes of that type dating someone who is her teacher? No! It feels like she’s too immature and going through a phase to really date someone who is probably more concerned with paying bills, lesson plans, and making sure he eats well. It’s not that girls like that are bad in general, it’s that girls like that shouldn’t be dating their teachers. So instead of it feeling ~romantic~ instead, I feel like I’m reading squicky content about an older man falling for a girl who is too immature to understand the real ramifications of her actions.
Here is an example of one line of dialogue:
“It’s such a blessing to have Shuya at [our school]!” and then, shortly after when she finds out there is a party being planned for Shuya, “I’m all about it.” One minute the protagonist is talking in mature english, “Forgive me!” instead of “I’m really sorry!” and “As much as I appreciate your gallantry, I’m fine, honest.” instead of “Hey thanks for thinking about me, but I’m fine!” One minute the protagonist talks like that, a girl who seems very traditionally Japanese and demure, and then she switches to something else. “Yuka, girl…I appreciate the concern, but why not, of all the times?!” and then she gets caught in an awkward situation and thinks “Kill me now.” This girl has a rotating personality and it is painful to read. I’d get into it one minute and then groan in awkward embarrassment the next.
I think Voltage tries very hard to relate to American audiences and this one fell. . . very flat. The trope is something I love intensely but it feels so wrong to read a girl who is barely 18 thinking “damn he’s hot” and many similar thoughts. Is that supposed to be appealing? I’m an adult now but even then I never thought that way or enjoyed romances that had that sort of dialogue. Instead of just having frustrated thoughts it’s more like every thought is a meme of frustration.
And all of these stories have a very awkward plotline where people suspect the teacher of being in an inappropriate relationship with students. How do you get over that they are actually in these relationships?! While the main character is 18 she is definitely in a position to be indebted to her love interest. It feels so wrong.
If you’re already wary of the teenage girl thing, the future versions of Our Private Homeroom are probably not going to get much better. I think I’m going to pass on the future iterations of this title. . . god, the dialogue is just so bad. Please return me to the comforting embrace of 90% of other voltage titles!