As far as I could tell, there seems to be a surprisingly lack of eroge in English based on the whole “trap” phenomenon. I’m sure there are some but I’ve had a hard time finding many. As such, I was interested in School Idol QT Cool based on its premise. At its heart, School Idol QT Cool is a visual novel about two idol singers who are actually boys that crossdressing. Well technically, one of them is strongly hinted at being a transgirl so it may not be fully accurate to say they are both boys, but I’m just going by what the visual novel itself says, so there will be more on that later.
To be more specific, our story takes place in a world where Japanese schools have idol clubs. For those unaware, idol singers are child pop stars, traditionally female, who are groomed by Japanese talent agencies to gather a fanatical following based on a positive public image. In the back-story of this visual novel, school idols are more amateurish idols that are chosen to represent their schools in order to give them more publicity. It has become a common practice within the world of this visual novel to the point where there are festivals showcasing school idols.
At Hyakumangoku Academy, however, the idol club is not doing too well due to there being only one member. The story stars Yuki, a normal highschool boy who is shown the current idol club by Akaru Yoshikawa, the club’s only current member. A few weeks later, Yuki randomly decides to stop by the idol club to talk to Akaru, where he runs into Aya Kuriama, the president of the idol club. Aya mistakes Yuki for a new applicant due and dresses him into girl’s clothing while also applying makeup in a ridiculous fashion that can only occur in an anime inspired work. Despite being initially opposed to joining the club for obvious reasons, Yuki decides to join and adopts the stage name Haruka.
First things first, one is going to need a lot of willing suspension of disbelief in order to get through the story of this visual novel just due to how unrealistic all of the scenarios are. Obviously, there is the fact that it isn’t too out of the ordinary to have a male idol singer without trying to pass themselves off as female. However, it is kind of established that Aya is utterly insane and could just be doing so for her own titillation, and it also kind helps that Yuki is hinted at having a bit of a crossdressing fetish going on.
About halfway through, it is revealed that the reason there are no applicants are because none of the other girls want to put up with Aya questionable training methods, and when I say questionable I mean that they involve lots of sexual misconduct. Realistically, if that stuff happened, Aya would have been reported and likely expelled. It would be at least a little bit believable if Akaru and Yuki were the first people she used her “special training” on and they just kept quiet because it worked, but it does not work well when used as a plot point to explain why there’s no one else there to begin with.
Additionally, how does Akaru have such a naturally sounding female voice? Coming from a transwoman in real life, I can easily say that it is not possible for anyone who has gone through male puberty to have their voice that high naturally without surgery. If she was on puberty blockers and hormones then it would make sense, but it wouldn’t explain why there is zero breast development. It only takes a few years for female hormones to take effect when also taking blockers, so if she was on them since before puberty, then she should have developed by the time she is in high school.
Yes, I am probably looking into this far more than it is meant to be, but that leads me to another subject about this visual novel; its characters. Yuki is honestly a pretty bland protagonist whose personality only ever seems to be what the plot demands, which is usually shy and submissive. Aya is the stereotypical perverted woman who loves sexual harassment and whose training methods often involve sex, yet they somehow work so they decide it’s okay. Also she is the one who encouraged Akaru to join the idol club despite her thinking she couldn’t join despite being born a boy, and also serves as the mentor during moments where she isn’t an insane pervert.
Most interestingly, for better or worse, is Akaru. As I have previously stated, there is a lot of in the visual novel that hints at Akaru being a transgirl. The problem is that the visual novel gives so little to go on that you really can’t tell. There is an obvious difference between her and Yuki in that Akaru always wears women’s clothing while Yuki only does during practice and performances,” and no one knows Akaru was born male. There is a one line where Yuki says something along the lines of “I know Akaru is a boy on the outside, but what about on the inside” and the visual novel’s store page even describes Akaru as “every bit a woman in both her outward appearance and personality.” Also note that it uses the correct pronouns when referring to Akaru both in game and on the store page. Despite this, the plot often comes across as if it has no clue what a trans person and there will still be constant “but she’s a boy” monologues from Yuki.
In general, this visual novel seems rather confused as to what it wants to present Akaru as. Multiple clues lead to her being trans, yet there are too many holes for it to make sense. As such, it kind of gives off the impression that the writer just thought “trans, crossdresser, same difference” and didn’t put too much thought into it. Of course, one usually is not going to expect a porn game to be the savviest on social issues, especially considering one from Japan and that was originally released four years ago, but it does demonstrate that one should not really expect a decent plot from this visual novel.
I suppose this is to be expected since the selling point was the sex after all, but considering that most people these days do not pay for their porn, I have no choice other than to look at the full package. Additionally, I felt that the subject matter had some potential and that a lot more could have been done with it. Based on the premise, one may be expecting something along the lines of “Love Live with traps” but it doesn’t even live up to that.
The main problem from a story perspective is that most of the visual novel is based around sex scenes that are completely unrelated. There have been many points while reading this visual novel where it felt like the plot was getting interesting only to be interrupted by a sex scene. This is not because the sex scenes were bad or anything but more so because of how much precedence they got over the main story.
It often felt like there was very little conflict present in this visual novel, and what little there was ends up being resolved way too quickly without any suspense. Most of the story is building up to this festival where Yuki and Akaru are supposed to perform, yet when you reach it; you never actually see it happen. You completely skip the festival and it tells you the results with very little description. This visual novel literally skipped over its climax.
If this visual novel was supposed to only be about sex, then the plot should have been something that lends itself to that concept better. When you have a concept like this, there are so many things that I would have loved to see expanded on. We see very little of Yuki and Akaru’s stage personalities or how they perform. A huge issue was made early on in the story that Yuki needed to suppress his sexual arousal while on stage to prevent himself from getting in front of a large crowd due to the exhibitionist tendencies. We never hear anything about how he overcomes this. The entire plot serves no purpose other than to get character A and character B to have sex.
Our characters are supposed to have established personalities but they seem to randomly change when the plot demands it without any real development. For instance, this visual novel does have a few choices that will determine whether Yuki is dating Akaru or Aya. This leads to instances where Akaru will somehow get over her crush on Yuki if he chooses Aya despite her being so infatuated with him that she masturbated in the school club room from smelling his clothes. Another example will be that Akaru will randomly start sounding teasing and dominant like Aya during sex (which is actually called out but still not explained) while Aya loves sexually harassing other students yet freaks out when Yuki expresses his sexual desires towards her. The characterization between these three is downright inconsistent.
This is a shame because the first hour of this visual novel showed a lot of promise. It set up the story to this visual novel and I really enjoyed Aya’s character at the start. Yeah her character was flat but she happened to say things that made her personality appealing and sexy, which is important but often overlooked element in eroge. Her dominant personality does continue to retain its appeal throughout the visual novel, but it makes the actual sex scenes with her feel rather disappointing as a result.
In general the sex scenes were not bad and I’d say they were passable. I will specifically cite the art direction as the reason for this because it makes the characters look attractive and expresses the events well enough. One jarring exclusion is the inability to watch any sex scene from the menu after you have seen it. Yes, you are given the option to rewatch every ending sex scene and you can view every frame of each sex scene as a still image, but you can’t rewatch the earlier sex scenes as they occur in game unless you saved before them.
Then again, this isn’t too much of a loss because the dialogue during these scenes consists of about 25% narration or description and 75% onomatopoeias or irritating noises. This is something that drastically reduced the enjoyment of a lot of these scenes for me for a few reasons. The first of which is that the audio during these scenes are unbearably annoying and made me want to skip through most of them as quickly as possible. When it comes to spoken lines, the voice acting is not bad. Unfortunately, when it comes to making licking or sucking sounds, it sounds more like someone chewing their food too loudly than anything erotic. This is made even worse considering that School Idol QT Cool has the option to turn off sound effects, but these annoying sounds are not counted as sound effects. This means you cannot turn off these sounds without turning off the voice-overs as well, which would greatly reduce immersion.
The other reason this is a problem is because it’s just lazy writing. Having visuals and audio present is not an excuse to slack on the writing. They are called visual NOVELS for a reason, and that is because the script is usually written like a book. Novels, especially erotic ones, are based heavily around creative wording and expression being used to paint a picture in one’s mind. Let’s take an excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey; “oh the sweet agony… his hands clasp my hips. He sets a punishing rhythm – in, out, and he reaches around and finds my clitoris, massaging me… oh jeez. I can feel myself quicken.” Say what you will about the quality of it, as it doesn’t really matter since I just looked up a random excerpt, but this still demonstrates what an erotic novel is supposed to do. If everything In Fifty Shades of Grey was just “*lick* *slurp* *suck*” then it would not have been nearly as popular.
Having visuals is not an excuse unless the scene is a complete animation, and that is almost never going to be the case in a visual novel. Yes the individual still images look nice, but there are not enough to depict everything that is going on, especially since the text will describe things that are not drawn. This leaves you with sex scenes that are still fairly decent, but are also sorely lacking. It also does not help that the soundtrack consists of only three tracks, none of which are very good.
School Idol QT Cool is a visual novel that I really wanted to like, but I am unsure if I can say I did. I really enjoyed how it started out, but it went downhill from there until it had an abrupt and sudden ending. I would not say that I disliked this visual novel by any means, but it ultimately felt like it was just going through the motions. It has all the parts, but does not put them together in any interesting ways, and is nothing more than a fairly passable otokonoko hentai. If you are curious about it and like its premise, however, I would still recommend it. It won’t really blow anyone away but there is still enjoyment to be found.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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