Most stories tend to use traumatic experiences or sudden forgetfulness to explain why these tales unfold the way they do. Of course, while games like Key's Kanon played off the forgotten memories of the cast in this way, not every tale can rely on trauma and shock to move along. In such cases, additional factors must be brought in to support the use of this plot element.
FrontWing decided to bring in the seldom-used concept of magic to their take on this particular type of tale. While not terribly obvious, its presence not only influences the characters' memories, but also the respective fates of everyone involved. As such, today's title will be FrontWing's Boy Meets Girl.
Game: Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl (BMG for short) was released on February 24, 2006 by FrontWing. This is one FW's less-known titles, despite the fact that it featured a decent voice cast and managed to get two novels based on the game released in Japan.
The player takes the role of Inoue Yuuta, a boy who returns to the town of Tokimori after ten years of living elsewhere. Seeing that his parents had gone out of the country on job assignments, Yuuta found himself sent to live with his aunt and uncle. Of course, things do not go as planned, since his own aunt and uncle had also gone on a business trip to Brazil, leaving his cousin Chizuru in charge of the house until they returned.
Yuuta's return to Tokimori is filled with numerous reunions. Aside from his former-tomboy cousin, he meets again with Kasugano Haruna, a girl that he used to know ten years ago. The sudden arrival of a girl named Tsubasa Miu sets the story in motion as Yuuta gets reacquainted with his past, the memories of his childhood, feelings of forgotten love, and the mystery associated with the town's local attraction, the stone spire known as the "Spire of Memories".
|Tsubasa Miu C.V.: Isshiki Hikaru|
Miu is a girl that met Yuuta ten years before the story begins, as the daughter of a family that had just moved into the town of Tokimori.
Miu's entrance into the story already suggests her importance, since she materializes near the stone spire in the outskirts of town that is known as the Spire of Memories (Omoide no tou). After she finally sees Yuuta once more, we realize that she doesn't remember much aside from the fact that she at one point was living in Tokimori, and knew both Yuuta and Haruna back then.
Much to our protagonist's surprise, Chizuru decides to allow Miu to live with them, on the condition that she help around the house and lend a hand with the Kumotani family's coffeehouse. This seems to work out, since Miu and Chizuru get along extremely well and compliment each other through their naturally playful personalities.
In general, Miu can be thought of as a simple person, finding joy and fun in things that the other members of the cast shrug off. At the same time, she is very insightful and likes to stay under the radar when it comes to what she knows. Her lack of understanding when it comes to certain things lead to comic situations that put our protagonist on the spot, as well.
Highlight for spoiler: Late in her route, Miu begins to remember her past and why she returned to Tokimori after ten years. In truth, Miu is the last survivor of a civilization of magic users that lost their world to an encroaching darkness called "The Nothingness". Miu (unknowingly) was entrusted with her civilization's legacy when she was sent back to the realm of humans. When she returned, her memories were lost (mainly as an after-effect explained in Haruna's spoiler section), including her feelings for Yuuta.
After remembering that she can use magic, Miu is bored with her power because she has nothing to protect, and no real reason to use it. This all changes when "The Nothingness" follows her into the human realm through the gateway between both worlds: The Spire of Memories.
On a side note, while the game never openly calls her one, Miu has a tendency to laugh like a stereotypical witch.
|Kasugano Haruna C.V.: Kimura Shouko|
Haruna is one of the two girls Yuuta used to know from ten years before BMG begins. Unlike Miu, Haruna has always been shy and reserved.
Haruna used to play with Yuuta and Miu back when they were kids, and got along quite well with both. Still, she always felt as the odd man in their trio, since the chemistry between our protagonist and Miu was very strong. Her feelings for Yuuta are so strong that she has managed to remember many things about him from ten years ago, hoping to one day meet with him again and tell him how she feels.
As a second year high school student, Haruna is president of the school's Magical Club. Contrary to its name, the club actually focuses on doing volunteer work and helping out when called upon (all while wearing proper attire). Much to her chagrin, the Science Club's president constantly tries to instigate competition between the two clubs, convinced that the idea of magic is silly compared to the tangible results gained through scientific research.
Her shyness aside, Haruna is easily led on for the most part. She's not a complete pushover, though, as going too far (like Mao's constant attempts to seduce her) will get some sort of physical reaction. She's also notably jealous, and her demeanor can easily change if her buttons are pushed too much.
Highlight for spoiler: Haruna's memories are a complete mess as we get near the end of her route. By this I mean that the "memories" she has of her childhood with Yuuta are in part mixed in with memories from both our protagonist and Miu. The reason is not clearly given until the very end, where we discover that Haruna was hit by a car when she was little. In a panic, Miu pulled out a magical book that according to her "uses the memories of the holder to turn it into magic". With the book in their hands, they gave up their memories together to save Haruna's life.
A side-effect of this is that Yuuta and Miu's childhood memories were transferred into Haruna. After our protagonist and Miu met again, Haruna's "memories" began to leave her to return to their respective owners. Of course, she is distraught at realizing this, fearing that her memories and love for Yuuta may all be fake, or even worse, memories that are not hers.
|Shingyouji Mao C.V.: Kusayanagi Junko|
Mao is introduced as an underclassman that is also the vice-president of the Magical Club.
At the beginning of the story, Mao acts like the jealous first year girl that is set on protecting Haruna from Yuuta. She can tell that her senpai has feelings for our protagonist, so she at first tries to keep him from joining the Magical Club. Of course, this fails since Haruna insists on letting him join them, feeling that they would benefit from having a guy around.
Despite initial antagonism and her attempts to make Yuuta look bad in front of Haruna, Mao realizes that Haruna's happiness is more important, and later decides to turn our protagonist into the "ideal guy" for her beloved senpai. Unsurprisingly, some her ideas on how a guy should be like tend to be outlandish, but at times does give worthwhile advice. The focus shifts to getting to know our protagonist when she realizes he won't be transforming into an ikemen ("cool guy") any time soon. Predictably, Mao falls into the same trap that characters of her type have since the dawn of eroge: Despite her initial dislike for the protagonist, she falls in love with him after getting to know him better.
Personality-wise, Mao is generally cheerful, if extremely protective of Haruna. She willingly does anything Haruna asks her to, which at one point leads Yuuta to compare Mao to a puppy. She also has a very perverse imagination that manifests whenever she thinks about herself and Yuuta, and accuses him several times of trying to ravage her (when in reality its her imagining a scene involving Yuuta ravaging her, and her enjoying it...).
|Kumotani Chizuru C.V.: Yoshida Satsuki|
Chizuru is Yuuta's older cousin, and is in charge of the house she shares with our protagonist while her parents are away on business.
At a first glance, Chizuru is a very non-serious character, preferring to joke around and do the occasional odd thing. At heart, however, she is a very responsible girl who feels a little overwhelmed by having to run her family's coffeehouse, "The Mysterious Spire" (Fushigi no tou). Her playfulness aside, Chizuru is actually very strict when it comes to the rules of the house, and often penalizes those that break curfew or fail to do as they're told with "fines" that must be paid by dropping money into her piggy bank.
A constant running gag with Chizuru is that despite making a living brewing coffee and baking snacks, she's actually a terrible cook (making any such comments in front of her is usually worthy of a fine and/or a chop to the head). This "trait" goes from gag to plot point when we discover that the reason her cooking is so questionable is because she lost her sense of taste a couple of years before BMG began. The cause is left unknown for the most part, but Chizuru has the feeling that it might be connected to the Spire of Memories.
As the older sister of the group (even if she's only a year older than Yuuta, Haruna and Miu), Chizuru is held in high regard by the other members of the cast. She'll preffer to be cute and playful (her "wake up skits" being proof of this), but can very easily put Yuuta in his place. At times her sense of humor gets the better of her, causing her to do more harm than good when it comes to some of the predicaments Yuuta gets into. Still, she greatly cares about him, and is in part attracted to him "that way".
|Souma Nanami C.V.: Nogami Nana|
Nanami is a girl that lives next door to the Kumotani family, and is good friends with Chizuru.
Being at least two years younger than Yuuta (the story hints that she is a second year junior high school student), Nanami still has many things to learn and understand ahead of her. As she is something of a slow learner, Chizuru at one point was tutoring her in Math and English. Sadly, after Chizuru's parents went away, there was no one to help her keep up in school until Yuuta came along.
Thus, Nanami starts off looking up to Yuuta as an older brother, not fully understanding things like romance and attraction. As she spends time around him and slowly picks up on the ideas fit for a teenage girl, Nanami starts looking at Yuuta with new eyes, and realizes that she likes him. This leads to a change in her appearance, amongst other things (she's one of the few characters out there that change their speech pattern mid-story).
Highlight for spoiler: Nanami does have issues that our protagonist must learn about and deal with. The reason she is so dependant on tutoring is because she received a head injury when she was a child, and thereafter had a lot of trouble remembering simple things. As the story progresses, Nanami's memory worsens to the point that she begins to forget people and recent events. Our protagonist is unsure of how to go about things, while Nanami grows fearful that she'll completely forget about Yuuta. Love wins in the end, but the path is fraught with peril.
The story takes places over a couple of months. There is no real in-game calendar, and story progression skips ahead when needed. Since Yamaguchi Noboru had a hand in writing the game's script, there are preset interactions used throughout the majority of the story. These interactions all take place when Yuuta gets up in the morning, to find that Chizuru and Miu are doing some odd thing to try to wake him up (this ranges from playing word games to one of them pretending to be a "Wake up robot" reciting standard eroge stereotypical wake-up lines).
Miu's own presence is part of the underlying theme of magic that envelops the game's setting. The spire itself has a magical nature, and is the element that ties the fates of the heroines together. Aside from that, you have other things like Haruna's belief in magic and artifacts that are of magical nature (a book of memories, a piece of the spire itself, a magical music box).
That being said, the game's true focus is Miu and Haruna's story. Their routes are actually a lot longer than those of the other heroines, and deal directly with the game's use of magic (whereas Mao and Chizuru's routes make subtle hints of it and Nanami's route makes no reference to magic at all). Something interesting to note is that their rivalry for Yuuta's affections does not do anything to the friendship between them. Of course, this notion is somewhat distorted by the game's constant references to yuri (girl-on-girl romance). In fact, I could say the story also has yuri undertones because of Mao's obsession with Haruna combined with the yuri implications between Haruna and Miu.
My only real gripe with the story is that it never puts emphasis on the future of the characters. The endings are specially guilty of this, simply giving a feeling that they have a long journey ahead of them, but without any sign of how it turned out. Then again, I'm partial to the "many years later" type of epilogues.
Shintarou is credited for the character designs. Personally, the characters are too similar to one another. There are traits here and there that set them apart, but as a whole there isn't much variation when it comes to the girls. The only character who was designed well enough to stand out on her own was, in my opinion, Nanami.
Sound & Video
As expected from other FrontWing titles, BMG is fully-voiced. This is one of the few titles out there where Isshiki Hikaru uses her higher voice range, since she is usually cast for older sister-type characters or serious, strong-willed females that require the use of a deeper voice (Asami from Sekai de ichiban NG na koi, Tou from Yatou hime zankikou, and Saori from AneImo2 come to mind). Kusayanagi Junko was great at portraying Mao, and Nogami Nana surprised me with how she voiced Nanami.
Elements Garden is credited for the BGMs, while Fujima Jin composed the OP and ED songs. The game's soundtrack is decent, if overly reliant on synthesizer. The track selection was somewhat iffy, but nothing really bad in terms of composition.
As for video, the OP for BMG can be seen here.
BMG is packed with a couple of interesting extras. Clearing Mao's route will earn the player a special scenario called "Mao's Scene", where Mao and Yuuta fully act out one of Mao's perverted visions of Yuuta ravaging her. Nanami, Haruna/Miu and Chizuru's routes yield audio dramas respective to each of them. For getting all endings, the game will unlock voice packs that can be unzipped and used to replace the standard Windows system sounds.
This is not mentioning Miu's route, which is an extra on its own, requiring the player to clear at least two other routes before opening up.
A nice game to tide people over until something bigger and better comes along. The strong point of this game is actually the use of comedy (and in my opinion, Chizuru and Mao's routes were the best), from the quirky cast to the situations here and there. The voice cast was also impressive, and the presence of Elements Garden only helped the overall presentation of the game. Not really the best ever produced by FrontWing, but far from mediocre. Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.
"Nee hee hee~..."