|Yoyogi Hitozuma Senmon Gakuin|
|Platform||PC with Win98/2000/ME/XP|
|Number of Disks||1 (DVD format)|
Marriage and the permanence attached to it are no strangers to eroge as a whole. After all, marriage is at times used as an element that is part of a heroine's ending, or a defining element of a particular character (hitozuma characters being the most blatant example). Sadly, characters themed around this element have a tendency to be on the weak side when compared to others, often relying on the mysterious or charming nature that comes from being older than most of the main cast.
Certain players' fascination with married women has spawned a somewhat strong genre of eroge known as hitozuma games. This genre is largely composed of weak plot and even weaker character dynamics and psychology, opting to simply have a protagonist have his way with however many married women are part of the game. This often includes married teacher characters, newlywed women, bored housewives, rich women, and those married for duty rather than love (to name some). Very few (if any) titles look at these characters in a way that the player can take them seriously, thus presenting a rather shallow outlook on adult life through the filter of eroge.
To my surprise, the studio Lucha! decided to take a very different approach to married characters by putting together a cast that is not only believably adult, but with considerable amounts of baggage and issues on both a personal level as well as relationship-wise. In a way, this could be called a hitozuma game that has a clear purpose, while still meeting the criteria the fans of this genre have set for all games before it. I speak of Lucha's Yoyogi Hitozuma Senmon Gakuin.
Yoyogi Hitozuma Senmon Gakuin (Yoyogi for short) was released on June 30, 2006 by the studio Lucha!. This studio was a subsidiary of the larger game company known as Will, and was known for its company motto, "For beautiful eroge life". As a native Spanish-speaker, I get some amusement at the company name being Spanish for the word for "Fight!", which fits the motto quite well. The game features a scenario by Nanao Yuhi and character designs by SKYHOUSE. The game's title translates to "Yoyogi Housewife Training Academy", but the official translated title is "Celebian Housewife Academy".
The player takes the role of Sakura Kouji, second son of the Sakura family and convenience store clerk. His day to day life as a young adult is pretty monotonous, as he wakes up, goes to work and then comes home. Most of the problems in his life stem from the fact that he is seen as the black sheep of his family, and gets the majority of his grief from his older brother Shuuichi and his aunt Yukari. Of course, Kouji's additional burden is the fact that he's in love with his sister-in-law, Kyoko.
Kouji's psyche has endured quite a bit of abuse throughout life, as he was always compared to his older brother (and put down for never being good enough to match Shuuichi). To our protagonist, Kyoko being married to Shuuichi is basically life kicking him while he is down. As such, he often tries to avoid seeing either of them, but rarely succeeds due to Kyoko doting on him the way an older sister would (not to mention Kyoko and Shuuichi live next door to him).
After Shuuichi suddenly disappears (leaving a note for Kyoko, asking her to improve herself and that he'll be back in two weeks), our protagonist gets dragged into a series of events that concludes with Kyoko signing up to the Yoyogi Housewife Training Academy in hopes of becoming a better wife for Shuuichi. As the academy only accepts married couples, she makes Kouji come along to pose as her husband.
Thus, Kouji's two-week training course at the academy begins. Outside of helping Kyoko (and in a way, realizing his dormant dream of having a relationship with her), his life becomes intertwined with four other women looking to overcome their own problems or move on with their lives, all brought together by the academy's mission.
The story begins by introducing Kyoko during what seems like an average morning, dealing with Shuuichi ignoring her attempts to be lovey-dovey before heading off to work. The focus then shifts to our protagonist, followed by a brief introduction of the dynamics between him and a good part of the cast, including Shuuichi, Kyoko and Yukari.
After establishing Kouji's infatuation with Kyoko, the catalyst to the story surfaces when Shuuichi does not return home from work. With several days passing by without any information on Shuuichi's whereabouts, Kyoko becomes depressed while Kouji is tasked with finding his older brother (much to his own dismay). Things take a sharp turn in a completely different direction when a letter from Shuuichi arrives, with only the words "I'll be back in two weeks. Become a better wife" written on it. The prologue ends with Kyoko deciding to sign up for classes at the Yoyogi Housewife Training Academy in order to become a "better wife", with our protagonist getting dragged along to help out. Past the prologue, the story starts out focusing on the ruse Kouji and Kyoko put up by pretending to be a married couple. The story branches off if the player sets things up so that the other members of the cast discover our protagonist and Kyoko are not married, leading to the different situations involving the other heroines. Because each heroine has a rather unique scenario, there is very little interaction between the heroines past a certain point in each route.
From a dialogue standpoint, most of the choices that are presented to the player are very subtle in terms of where they'll take the story. A good number are "do or do not" type of choices, while others require paying attention to certain parts of the surroundings to move the story along. With this in mind, certain choices will cause the game to end prematurely, either by forcing Shuuichi to return home early or precipitating less-than-ideal outcomes to the heroines' stories.
Seeing that this is a hitozuma game and the type of setting used, there is also a substancial amount of foreplay or sex scenes used in the plot. Most of them are presented in a semi-academic way (as part of a certain lesson of the day at the academy) with only a couple of exceptions.
The first thing I can commend the writers for is the fact that all the characters in the cast are adult in some way, shape or form. By this I mean that the situations presented and how the characters interact with one another are completely different from what we see in the more common variety of eroge (where high school kids are used). Their ways of thinking and personalities also reflect their age quite well.
Another commendable aspect of Yoyogi is that it heavily relies on several aspects of relationships and the psychology attached to them. Kayo, for example, has a husband that is clearly a chauvinist. Chizuru, on the other hand, is on the receiving end of adultery. Kyoko's marital problems are much bigger than originally suggested, and so on.
My only real gripe with the story is the fact that Kamo is treated as the game's true heroine, if only because of the heavy emotional investment Kouji has for Kyoko throughout most of the story. This is further driven by the fact that Kyoko's ending is very wholesome and finite.
Character designs are provided by SKYHOUSE. This is the first game I've played that has used designs by this artist, and I can commend the fact that the designs are diverse in their own way. There are notable details that help differentiate the adults in the cast (Kayo, Chizuru, Kamo) from the younger members (Kyoko, Subaru) as well.
Audio & Video
Yoyogi is fully-voiced, with a cadre of well-known voice actresses and actors within its fold. Maki Izumi being here was something of a given, as Kyoko was made very close to the type of characters she normally voices. The same goes for Kayo being voiced by Isshiki Hikaru. Among the veterans we have Shiroi Ayano and Shion Miyabi, who definiterly play to their strengths with Chizuru and Kamo, respectively.
Music is credited to FunczionSOUNDS and Super Sweep, which turned out to be fairly decent. Something worthy of note for the music is that given the greater number of adults in the cast, the overall composition style reflected this very well. A lot of the pieces had a jazzy feel, others felt like something out of a lounge pianist's repertoire (most notably Chizuru's theme, "Mrs. Motherhood"). Overall, the soundtrack definitely had a mature feel for it, which went quite well with the setting, story and the cast.
As for video, we have the OP movie and ED movies. Since the OP is very graphic (as in, lots of ero CG), I can't really show nor find a link for it. The ED is peculiar in that it is set to the song Auld Lang Syne, with a bit of a twist past the first couple of bars.
There are almost no extras to speak of. Angelina's route is unlocked after clearing the first three routes (Kyoko, Kayo, Chizuru). Clearing that will open Kamo's route, which is labeled as TRUE in the scene selection menu. There's also a second ending for Chizuru where Kouji ends up with Chizuru and Subaru.
Part of me wants to write this game off for being a yaru game despite the interesting elements within it. Part of me thinks of this as the game that redeems all hitozuma games before it because of the plot and characters used. Regardless, the studio behind Yoyogi Hitozuma Senmon Gakuin is defunct, which is a bit of a shame.
I can't decide whether or not I'd recomend this game, as it is clearly built around a certain demographic. At the same time, it does present some interesting takes on relationships between characters beyond what is normally seen in other eroge. The only thing I can't really gauge is whether Yoyogi had any impact at all or whether it just came and went as just another hitozuma game. Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.