Karumaruka*Circle Review

I’m alive again! I haven’t been active lately because all the games I played lately sucked in one way or the other, including this one, so I couldn’t bring myself to write about them. But this time, there’ll be two people telling you how much this game sucked!

Aero here. Though I won’t say that this game was a COMPLETE failure, I will say that it was a chore to play through. 

Karumaruka Title Screen

Company: SAGA PLANETS
Game Site:  カルマルカ*サークル
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Links: Getchu, walkthrough, seiyuu listing

Our guy Kaito was casually strolling down the street when suddenly a girl with a curious pet turtle jumped out of nowhere and said to him “YOU ARE JESUS!”(very loose translation) then dragged him to a room where a bunch of weirdos await him. Which, understandably, got him just as confused as we are, especially considering the incomprehensible presence of a girl who appears to like him against her own will. And in some (not really) twisted turn of events, he joined their star club, and so begins the train wreck story involving stars, sins, and whatnot that hardly makes sense until the very end and may leave you wondering why did you bother with this in the beginning.

Opening Theme

At least the OP is decent.

Yep, the OP is one of the game’s more redeeming features. For some, you might find it even more worth it to just loop the OP for 20 hours instead of playing the game…funny how I’m not even joking about that >____>

Scenario

The introduction sets the stage for a nice, mysterious investigation into the seven deadly sins that each member of the star club possesses. The cardinal sins impart to their owners rather inconvenient traits, such as falling asleep anywhere for the sin of sloth, eating inhuman amounts of food for the sin of gluttony, and breaking things left and right for the sin of wrath. After a failed try of ridding themselves of the troublesome sins, they promptly sidetracked into doing their mundane star club activities….and doesn’t ever return to what they’re supposed to be doing all along until the true route, after the game forces you to play all the routes leaving the mystery more or less just hanging there. I completely understand that sex is of extreme importance that trumps all else and there’s no helping that you may get horny from just about any stimulus out there, but what about…. the mystery . Well, since the sins which are supposed to be one of the main theme are nothing more than annoyances that’ll supposedly pass away with time, we’ll just leave that for the true route while we brainstorm all the positions and places where we can have sex shall we?

Hey I have an idea for you, SAGA PLANETS. How about cutting out all the routes, release them as a fan disk, and attach the true route to the introduction or common route? With some cutting  and pasting and some tweaking, it’ll be perfect. Profit for you and a coherent story for us!

I generally agree with Aedes here. I personally feel that the introduction didn’t “introduce” things well enough. We’re told that those who access Karumaruka can freely explore and change the past, present and future. The “exorcism” of their curses seems to just be a side effect. So with the intention of getting rid of these curses, the group intends to access a force which could effectively change the world. Seriously?!?

Though we’re told and briefly shown how the characters are inconvenienced by these curses, it wasn’t really portray as a very serious issue to me. For example, Nicole’s curse causes girls in the area to become attracted to her. The thing is that the curses aren’t ALWAYS in effect. So say goodbye to the lesbian ending you were hoping to see because the effects of the curse are temporary. 

After failing to access “Karumaruka” the gang are told that their curses will probably fade in time. So basically the curses and the mystery of Karumaruka are thrown aside and everything up to now didn’t really set up for anything. Great, just great. The individual routes are pretty much a typical slice of life romance. I usually would LOVE this kinda thing. However the addition of lame twists and stupid minor characters made things very unpleasant. Some routes are overly serious, while others are just a bit too normal. FIND A GOOD BALANCE DAMN IT!

“Karumaruka” is really only looked at in the true route. I’ll admit that the true route wasn’t bad, and answered quite a few questions that were introduced. However after completing the game, I still have questions. Also the ending relationship between Kaito and Natsuki feels pretty forced and really had nothing to do with making the route a “true” route. I feel that they only added it in because they wanted Kaito to end up with someone. 

Characters

Amagase Natsuki

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-27_16-52-57

Take a samurai from ancient times, infuse him with a love for stars and certain plush toys, and this is who you’ll get. Her story kind of reminded me of the story from Kara no Shoujo 2, but none of the good parts from it. No chopping off limbs or pushing people under incoming trains, just major family problems that have been going on forever. Also her sin of jealousy? Completely disappeared in the route. Sorry, no yanderes fighting to the death.

Asahina Shin

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-27_16-54-02

Take a rebellious daughter of a rich family, infuse her with certain hobo-like qualities, and this is who you’ll get. You’ll never see a cuter hobo than this, I promise you. She may have some daddy issues, but that’s the useless father’s fault of not being honest with your kids. It’s no wonder the world’s governments are in the shape they’re in with politicians like these around. And I really should say more about my favorite character, but her charm of normalcy is something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Or go listen to her voice samples. They’re hypnotizing. And she’s probably the enemy of all woman on the planet for being able to clear out a buffet on her own and still retain that body…

Natsume Koyomi

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-27_16-54-23

Take a silver haired loli, hang her up by her panties using a twig, and this is who you’ll get. When she isn’t sleeping or up on a tree, she is usually marveling at the mathematical wonders of the world. But excuse me if I can’t sympathize with a math nut who sees euclidean dimensions and prime numbers just eating ramen. Ramen is one of my favorite food too, but isn’t there something else you should be thinking about, like how delicious this thing is?

Otone Nicole

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-27_16-55-27

Take a foreign exchange student who speaks better Japanese than any I’ve met, raise the pitch of her voice by an octave or two, and this is who you’ll get. Don’t even get me started on her route. It’s like trying to describe the US government shutdown that has been going on earlier this month. Those two bear way too much resemblance for my taste.

Kousaka Yukiha

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-27_16-56-47

Take a good looking lazyass, blindfold her while making the image borderline NSFW, and this is who you’ll get. While this is a girl who should be seeking immediate professional psychological help for her dissociative identity disorder, none of that matters as there’s this ↑.

My character rankings: SHIN >>>>>>>>……

Since I found every route to be pretty average, including the true route, I’ll skip the route ranking and go for a character ranking instead. 

Character ranking: Shin>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Natsuki>Yukiha>Nicole>Koyomi

Miscellaneous

On the bright side, there may finally be a couple of characters who speak like normal people without weird, tacked on artificial anime speech, as I like to call it, that has long been a major gripe of mine regarding eroges. Shin and Kaito mostly talks like a typical Japanese youngster with loads of informal slang and contractions, which may be a bit exaggerated at times, that can be heard on Japanese drama or variety shows. I’ll admit I haven’t been up to date with Japanese shows since years ago, but I have the feeling it didn’t change that much. What a refreshing change from the usual overly polite or downright stupid ways of speech that usually signifies this person learned too much of his/her Japanese from anime (funny how that works).

To the dialogue writers: You know what typical youngsters talk like right? Write them that way please. And to the voice actresses: You know how typical youngsters talk right? Talk like that please. I’m aware that neither of them are in complete charge of their work, but this is merely a humble plea from a person who has had to endure far too much clichéd speech patterns.

And on an unrelated note, the game features better than average OP and ED by KOTOKO and WHITE-LIPS, respectively. I’m looking forward to its CD release in December. Though the BGM was nothing too remarkable.

Overall

This would be a forgettable title if not for SHIN and the writer’s sly use of Shakespearean tactic of making everything a godawful mess with seemingly no way out at some point in the story. But of course everything is resolved nicely, after going around in a circle of 5 routes. Play for Shimizu Ai’s fabulous voice acting for Shin. Or better yet, go watch some Japanese variety show or drama to remind ourselves that there’s a pretty large gap between voice acting and talking in real life. At least until the day when we can digitize ourselves into the 2D world.

Story: 6/10
Character: 11 FOR SHIN
Graphics: 8/10
Music: 7/10
(Relatively) Normal Speaking: 8/10
Sexy Voice: 9/10

Overall: 69/100 (totally made up)

Story: 5/10
Character: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Music: 7/10

Overall: 55/100 

The characters for this game are likable; it’s the story that’s the problem. The concept of Karumaruka is somewhat interesting, but there’s not enough set up for it. Looking at the true route, the individual routes seem to provide very little towards the mystery of Karumaruka. As Aedes mention earlier in this review, you could just as easily have isolated the true route into a different game and the experience would have been almost the same.  The heartbreak that I’ve come to know and yearn from playing Natsuyume and Hatsuyuki is no where to be found here. I feel I could go play go play Kisaragi Goldstar and find it GOOD after finishing this >________>. 

カルマルカ*サークル__2013-10-28_17-17-17

↑ The game’s raison d’etre ↑

About Aedes

Seriously siscon eroge enthusiast and alliteration adorer.

51 thoughts on “Karumaruka*Circle Review

  1. Given that HatuSaku was so well received, it’s a right shame that going from your review it wasn’t at all up to scratch. It must have been frustrating to see the important stuff being shoved aside in favour of the more unimportant stuff – at least, until the true route.

    It sounds like so much more could have been done with the effects of the curses the characters have, too. Case of wasted potential?

    • Most definitely a case of wasted potential. I mean, just look at how much more screen time Shin could have gotten if they made her the main heroine instead! If, on the off chance, you’re talking story wise, it’s a case of keep wanting to bash my head against the wall because everything between the intro and the true route was such a mess. At least when Shin isn’t on the screen.

  2. While i agree that the character individual routes didn’t live to the expectation of their previous games, however i thought that the true route made up for it.
    I found the true route pretty exciting to read and it linked elements of the character routes and the main mysterie of Karumaruka fairly good together

    Also i didn’t like Shin that much :p

    • Volume-wise, the lackluster individual routes comprise much more of the game compared to the true route. Thus, although the true route is indeed pretty good for the reasons you stated, I find the game as a whole disappointing.

      You just denied the game’s whole raison d’etre. :(

    • Can’t say I agree with you in that the true route makes up the rest of the game. However that’s just me. If you’re interested, here are some of the reasons why I didn’t like the true route:

      -I can’t help but feel that more people than just a director of a school would be after Karumaruka. Sure, not many people know about it. However the director’s family got hold of the info, so I don’t see why others couldn’t.

      -Given how all powerful Karumaruka is, I can’t see why “everything” couldn’t have been fixed with its power (including the relationship gaps in the “other world”). Clearly they just wanted to show that the characters had the integrity to make the choice for themselves.

      -The curses, only two of them seem like they really matter (kaito’s and Mirai’s); the others just seem like jokes. Also WHY they are cursed is never explained.

      -As I stated in the review, the relationship between Kaito and Natsuki in the true route seems way too forced. Unlike Natsuki’s normal route, they don’t spend nearly as much time together in the true route.

      However I’ll admit that the true route did have its moments and there were some moments that got me a little on edge. I just didn’t find it great. If you want to talk about true routes that make up for the other routes, I believe Natsuyume fits that category ^^.

      • - It’s pretty hard to believe in a story about a power that can rewite the past, present and future
        – the director’s family very likely had a strong connection with the Sasakura’s Otherwise why else would the director had such a wish for wanting to be married with Mirai’s mother
        -Probably the point was that such power was not needed, probably explained by the whole “illusion world” at the end
        – I agree how most of the curses were more or less used as jokes and how they got cursed wasn’t very clearly explained but the corresponding curse were related to the characters.
        – Well not denying that. The romance was lacking in the true route because it completely focused on the plot and probably was Natsuki the closest to Kaito due to their backstory

        Natsuyume Nagisa ‘s true route was a little short, because the Nagisa chapter only lasted 1 chapter and it was used to conclude the story. The majority of that true route were spent in the Ayumu chapters, which very well might have been it’s own route (and imo it is)

        • -If I recall correctly, Mirai says that the director’s family somehow got a hold of some info concerning Karumaruka. Seems more coincidental than a relationship, but who knows. The thing is that they leave it rather vague.

          -A power that can do anything…this is just me, but I don’t see why they couldn’t change everything, while at the same time destroying the existence of Karumaruka.

          But hey, I’m this is just my view on things. If you enjoyed the game, then that’s great ^^. For the same reasons I view Ayumu and the true route to be the same in Natsuyume.

        • Isnt the entire mess started because it was said that every Director of the school has to know about the Karumaruka?

          and the reason why they are cursed though very shallow had to do with a “gap” in their lives that they never seem to get over but want to recover from
          Koyomi had no parents, Shin was kinda distant with her father, Yukiha felt that her parents were to distant and were only for the money, er… I’m not sure about Natsuki Nicole or Ren… err… yeah WHY PRIDE FOR A TRAP…
          PS: I didnt finish the game only read Koyomi and Shin’s routes

    • Well, I think only Natsuki’s route and maybe Shin’s route that I found didn’t live to the expectation. but since Natsuki is the true heroine, it’s forgiven.
      Nicole’s route and Koyomi’s route is really good and i really enjoy their route, especially Koyomi is my favorite heroine in Karumaruka

      The true route is the best route in Karumaruka. I really enjoyed the true route and it made up for Natsuki’s route and Shin’s route.

      If I compare it with Hatsuyuki Sakura and Natsuyume Nagisa, it’s doesn’t as good as Hatsuyuki Sakura, but I think it’s better than Natsuyume nagisa in a certain way.

        • Maybe since individual routes more serve to build up for the true route, some people didn’t find it interesting or enjoyable (like a build up chapter in manga where most chapter are decent and sometimes not interesting or enjoyable). This is just maybe.

          I wish Niijima Yuu go back to SAGA PLANETS again one day. To me, he is Jun Maeda of SAGA PLANETS.

    • They didn’t forget about the main settings in most of the individual routes though. They either used the excuse that they didn’t find any leads about Karumaruka or in Koyomi’s route’s case, they got “blackmailed” to stop investigating.

      The unresolved main settings are not even completely absent in those routes as some of those lead to the character’s motivations (Shin, Nicole) for wanting to obain it or don’t want to obtain it (as it get explained in the true route for the other heroines)

  3. I apologize for saying this, but when I read your review about Karumaruka Circle, I feels you’re doing a half assed review here. That very loose translations and those explanation only make me feel you’re doing half assed review here.

    I appreciate your review here, but I kinda disagree with you. The story isn’t as bad as you think. Well, its story isn’t as good as Natsuyume Nagisa and Hatsuyuki Sakura, but it’s still a good one. It doesn’t mean you’re totally wrong about its story. Some of what you said is right about its story.
    Btw, I’m not disappointed and happy with the story and it lived up my expectation. Well, maybe I’m happy with its story because I don’t really put high expectation since Niijima Yuu doesn’t involved (anymore) with the scenario and the one who in charge for the scenario in Karumaruka Circle isn’t a really well known writer. If Niijima Yuu involved with the scenario of Karumaruka Circle, maybe I’m little disappointed with its story (and it will become the same thing that happen to Amairo Islenauts too. After knowing who is in charge of the scenario of Amairo Islenauts, I’m really disapointed with Amairo Islenauts).

    I think the best thing in Karumaruka Circle is its character. I even okay give 15 out of 10 for its character. Its character is really cute so I can’t help to give that score for character. Its art and OP (song and movies) is improved and much better than Natsuyume Nagisa and Hatsuyuki Sakura.

    • I will not deny that. I don’t take this seriously; I wrote this for fun, nothing more. If it seems half assed, it’s because this is but a rant.

      The story itself was alright. It’s the lack of it in the routes that bothered me.

      I pay absolutely no attention to writers. But I did enjoy Amairo Islenauts a bit more. It doesn’t pretend to have a story and its characters are generally likable.

      Coincidentally, I liked just about every song from Saga Planets.

      • No wonder it feels half assed. -_-

        Well, I won’t disagree with what you said about the story since I think you’re right about that.
        The theme of 7 sins and Karumaruka is really lacking in individual routes. It kinda feels like they forgot about the theme and the plot in individual routes (Aarrgh it’s hard to say it in words, but it feels like that since the plot never really get anywhere in individual routes). But glad they didn’t completely forgot about it since there are things that connected with the 7 sins and Karumaruka. But still, this is the main weakness of Karumaruka Circle.
        Also, it feels like they use individual routes to build up the story in the true route.

        You should pay attention to writers. For me, it’s one of important thing to rate the story in VN. I also considered the writer of VN because I don’t want to set my expectation bar in the same level for every writers.
        I usually set my expectation for newcomer writer and the writer that already made a name in different level. This is to avoid I set the bar too high when the writer in charge for the scenario on the next title of a certain developer is different.

        btw, about Amairo Islenauts, This is my opinion about it. Airi’s route is definitely really bad. Many things in Airi’s route is bad (included drama in it). Masaki’s route isn’t as bad as Airi, but it’s still bad. Yune’s route and Shirley’s route is good, but not enough to made up how bad those two routes.
        To be honest, when I still don’t know who is in charge of the scenario of Amairo, I want to forgive it. But after I know that Konno Asuta and Kagami Yuu that in charge of the scenario of Amairo, I decided to not forgive it. I mean those two are well known writer now and the level of their story is only in that level? Definitely a disappointing one for me.

        Me too. The song from SAGA PLANETS is definitely in different level than other company. I think only Key that is in the same level with SAGA PLANETS now when it comes to music.
        Btw, are BGM also included in every song you mean there?

  4. Probably the wrong place to ask this but are you guys going to do a followup review on the Walkure Romance FD that came out, considering you did a review on the original?

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