Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 242020

Japanese School Life is a short visual novel about an exchange student named Brian who is beginning a year at school in Japan, which he’s absolutely thrilled about.

On his first day of school, he befriends two girls in his class, and they decide to show him around Japan and teach him about Japanese cultures and traditions.

This visual novel is more of a celebration of Japanese culture than anything else. There is no particular plot to speak of, just Brian going through his year in Japan and experiencing various things. A couple points introduce minor conflicts, but everything stays light and casual.

Some parts are oddly lecture-like. Brian will ask about a particular custom, and one of the girls will go into a detailed explanation of the tradition and the history behind it.

Still, it achieves its purpose. While it might be a little heavy-handed in that regard, and a couple parts felt a little odd (such at the point where they discussed how we rarely use umbrellas in America), I did come out of Japanese School Life with more knowledge about Japanese holidays and culture.

But this is a romance celebration, so let’s talk about the romance.

A handful of choices determine which route you end up on, and I use the term “route” very loosely. Each choices had a few different lines of dialogue, and the character route you’re on changes how two or three scenes play out. None of the scenes are blatantly romantic, either, making the whole thing feel more like a friendship story with hints of attraction.

Click for Japanese School Life spoilers
There’s not even an actual love confession. The story ends with the camera focusing on the chosen love interest while Brian thinks about how special she is to him.

I finished both routes wondering why they hadn’t just made it a friendship-focused kinetic novel, since it practically is anyway.

So if you’re looking for a cute slice-of-life story meant to teach you about Japanese culture, Japanese School Life does a decent job, but if you’re hoping for an actual romance story, I’d look somewhere else.

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