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Genre: Sexual Content Nudity Casual Indie Visual Novel
Release Date: Jun 27, 2016
Last July, I had the chance to review KARAKARA on Steam, and found it to be one of my most enjoyed visual novels to date. So with the announcement of a sequel coming down the line, I was offered the chance to revisit KARAKARA but with a few twist in store: KARAKARA 18+. KARAKARA 18+ is an anime themed slice of life visual novel that was developed by calme, later released by Denpasoft that, while still having beautiful visuals, an amazing soundtrack, and memorable characters, now adds in what I felt was missing in the story – sexual content – alongside some new problems to go with it.
Like a walk down memory lane, KARAKARA 18+ is a familiar yet charming tale that, once you start reading, does not want to let go as you get to connect with characters like never before. We, the reader, follow through the eyes of Leon, the proprietor of a small diner outside of town with his friend, and waitress, Lucia, a human hybrid with cat ears and a tail. The two get along great, but they are in the process of hiring to get an extra helping hand at the diner. One day, after making a trip to down to deliver some meals, they come across a small girl laying on a red suitcase in the hot desert. After taking her back to the diner, we find out her name is Aisia and that after coming to the city to find a job, walked a bit into the desert and fell asleep. The two hire Aisia as no one else has really applied for the job, and allow her to live on premise as she has nowhere to go, thus starting our true tale. I will end the synopsis here as I feel going any farther enters spoiler territory but I can say that the story feels more complete here then in the original version with the addition of some special scenes.
My biggest complaint about KARAKARA 18+ still exists from the original review, this being that the novel is short in read time. The novel still clocks in about two to four hours even with the new additions to the story, not bad as most shorter novels do tend to follow this path, but with KARAKARA 18+, you do not want it to end as the story was, for the most part, well written and filled with emotions. Some details from the normal version of the novel are finally filled in and it was a breath of fresh air for me, we now get to see Leon really show his true emotions and feelings for Lucia, even though Aisia being the trigger felt a tad off, and some details were still omitted, making the novel feel like it was missing something story wise.
Finally we get to talk about the 18+ content that was added back into this version of the novel, and while it solves a lot of story problems I had before, it also adds one big one that was not there before. So the adult content takes place near the end of the chapters, which was a good choice as these scenes did feel like that is where they omitted stuff in the prior version, adding a new depth to the story for Lucia and Leon that we were missing before. However, this does bring up one issue that was not a problem before: pixelation of certain areas. When Leon and Lucia are getting ready to get it on, they pixelate the area and as an 18+ variant of the original novel, it felt awkward as they did not have to censor this type of stuff, because this version was not available but by specific means as far as I know.
Walking along the dry and dusty road, the presentation for KARAKARA 18+ still holds to the beautiful handdrawn art and amazing soundtrack I experienced back at the first read. Visually, KARAKARA 18+ is a beautifully designed novel with its hand drawn artwork from start to finish for every portion of the novel. The backgrounds are vibrant, colorful and unique, allowing for readers to really feel like they are there with Leon and the crew, but still possess a high amount of detail that adds to the scene. The character art has to be my favorite addition to the game artwise, as it is highly detailed with a whole perspective, not just the face and upper torso done by most novels. The facial detail is still as vibrant and utilized like in those art styles, but now we get to see the character reacts with arms going up in the air, just a nice touch to the already beautiful designs.
Turn up the music as KARAKARA 18+ keeps the beautiful and classical soundtrack to set the moods for so many scenes. Musically, KARAKARA 18+ has one of the best soundtracks offered in a visual novel in my opinion, as the music is subtle enough that you can play it in the background while you are working on something, but distinct and memorable enough that you will not forget it, even after the playthrough is done. Using a variety of sounds like piano and horn, to the guitar for when the group is driving down the road, it always keeps the tone and mood of the area fitting. The sound effects, while minimally used, are well done here as they are used to add to the soundtrack, not overshadow it.
Overall, I felt KARAKARA 18+ still holds the beauty and charm of the Steam version, while adding just enough to call it a novel all its own, even with the new problems added by it such as censorship. The mostly well told story, memorable characters, nicely done 18+ scenes, excellently designed backgrounds and characters, beautifully put together soundtrack, and nicely used sound effects make this a novel worth its read time.
- A mostly well told story
- All the characters were memorable
- Excellent addition with the 18+ scenes
- Backgrounds and characters were excellently designed
- The beautifully put together soundtrack
- Sound effects enhance the experience
- Better seen emotional connection between characters
- The read time is short, around two to four hours
- Some scenes can feel forced
- The story has a few areas where the pacing become off
- The unnecessary censorship in the 18+ scenes
DarkLunarDude gives KARAKARA 18+ a Drastik Measure 8.2 out of 10.0 (82)
For the price of $18.99 USD on Denpasoft, I can recommend this version of KARAKARA to those visual novel readers looking for a solidly written slice of life novel with some 18+ content to fill in a few side holes in the story not usually seen, in addition to its amazing soundtrack and visuals.