Straight to a Bishoujo's Heart

by Staci Corder

I am rather skeptical of purchasing an interactive DVD, especially a dating simulator. My trepidation stems from horror stories regarding hentai-esque games, though they are more rampant in Japan than elsewhere. Being the oft-naive and innocent member of Animefringe Staff-Dom, I thought that such commodities were more toward Janet's -- or even that naughty boy Adam's -- expertise.

After several arduous trips to Suncoast, my hubby's puppy-like eyes melted whatever willpower I had left. Monies exchanged, items bagged, and we skipped (at least Ben did) back to the car and pushed on towards home.

He did not leave unscathed, however... Benjamin's ever-scheming wife had plans. Oh yes, the diabolical plans of an otaku- and gamer-chick who yearns for sweet, tasty revenge.

I challenged him to a duel to the death, Kung Fu Nerds-Eating Style. (Nerds meaning the candy, not the actual dork, you bunch of weirdoes.) Sadly, my dearest one knows my forte in eating highly compacted sugar and he politely declined the offer. Dejected, I smack-talked my way into a contest of who can pick up the best girl from Hourglass of Summer. He accepted the offer and we shook hands.

Hourglass of Summer image.

Either way, it was a win-win situation for me, because if I won, I could gloat about it on the Internet. If I lost, I could use my journalistic slant to make it appear as if Ben cheated.

Let the games begin!

Hourglass of Summer plays like a "Choose Your Own Adventure"; you watch the story progress and make decisions when prompted. You are -- obviously -- the main character who daydreams of two things: summer vacation and the most gorgeous girl in school, Kaho Serizawa. Fortunately, your childhood chum Ai Senou is a close friend of your Venus and may put in a good word. Unfortunately, your face is so average even an elephant would forget it. Le sigh, is there any hope for the commonplace teenage boy?

There is hope, yes, and yet there is also despair.

After a late-evening ruckus against one strangely clad woman --who is obsessed with neon-green bath products, which spill all over you-- you go home, take a shower, play racing games with Ai, and crawl into bed. You awaken the following morning and dash off to school, late as usual. When you make it to the grounds, you notice no one is around. Confused, you go indoors anyway and head toward your usual classroom; it's empty.

Your best friend, Takeshi, comes in and informs you everyone is in the auditorium for opening ceremonies. Opening ceremonies? How can you have opening ceremonies when school hasn't even ended? Not only that, but Takeshi acts enigmatically toward you, making sure you are okay and whatnot. Why would a jock show any interest in emotions? Very strange...

Come to find out, you have "time slipped". It is now September 1st and the entire summer has vanished. The one you pine for died tragically on August 31st. Additionally, the buzz is you and Kaho became boyfriend/girlfriend over the vacation.

The average guy who had the chance to hook up with their crush would not forget it. Ever.

Hourglass of Summer image.

What went wrong? Who is responsible? Can you regain the summer and the memories that go with it? Most importantly, are you able to save the girl of your dreams? A mental and emotional rollercoaster rears its ugly head with decisions abound. Only you can set the wrongs right.

To make a ten-plus hour story short --and to not spoil anything for those readers interested in playing Hourglass of Summer-- I failed miserably. Terribly. Atrociously. How bad did I do? I didn't even end up with one girl! I supposedly sacrificed so much time between three females that they were led to believe that I was not forward about who I liked.

Hold on a sec and lemme think... I saved one chick, Mana, from suffering a major broken leg and long-term hospitalization. The next young lady, Ai, I aided and kept her father from passing on by way of a heart attack. The last animated beauty --Kaho, current object of my on-screen desires-- I managed to keep from croaking in a horrific accident and I did not get anything except a lecture about indecisiveness?

If this were the real world I should have gotten a kiss or something. Furthermore, if this were the real animated world, I would have received 13.7 panty-shots, 2 slaps on the back, a one-on-one study date for Human Anatomy and Physiology 101, and the girl of my dreams. I got totally gypped. Yeesh.

Ben, on the other hand, managed to hook up with a cutie from another era, the time patroller Lee Jane. Unfortunately, I cannot elaborate further (story-wise) because we decided to play the game separately until this article was complete.

What does this little experiment prove? Perhaps it shows why I married my husband to begin with; his sweet-hearted words and willingness to help me out (though I am not so selfish that he can't assist anyone else). Maybe it means I need to focus more on those who are truly special in my life instead of everyone else.

However, it does illustrate one glaring point: even women don't know what other women want.

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