Game: The Language of Love
Genre: Adventure, Simulation, Visual Novel
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/Publisher: ebi-hime | Ratalaika Games
Age Rating: EU 12+| US Teen
Price: US $11.99 |UK £9.99 | EU €9,99
Release Date: October 30th 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to Ratalaika Games!
For those of you who hear the name ebi-hime and it rings a bell, that is because they are the one responsible for a previously reviewed game on this site, Strawberry Vinegar: a delightful little visual novel with multiple endings based on choices you make throughout the story.
Ebi-hime is back, and now we have The Language of Love available on our Nintendo Switch devices. Released back in May of 2019 on Steam, The Language of Love takes us on a journey as the game’s main character: Mitsuki.
So buckle up your visual-novel-swimwear and let’s dive into this one, shall we?
Imagine a World…
Tanimura Mitsuki, our twenty-three year old protagonist has moved from rural Aomori, Japan all the way to Kawasaki which lies on the western shore of Tokyo Bay.
Mitsuki had plans to move to the city and go to university right after graduating from high school, but fate had other plans for him. Extenuating circumstances keep Mitsuki from leaving the sticks… until now.
Now Mitsuki is planning on attending university, but in order to do so he must take the entrance exams (a truly terrifying prospect in Japan, no sarcasm intended, competition is fierce over there…).
Therefore, our bold hero is currently attending cram school to study and prepare for taking university entrance exams.
Imagine a World Without…
The big city isn’t as glamorous as a young boy from the countryside dreamed it would be however. Mitsuki finds himself shunned and scorned by his cram school peers; he let it slip on the first day that he was twenty-three, so all his eighteen year old classmates want nothing to do with him.
On top of that, he hasn’t managed to meet any of his neighbours, or make any friends. When his parents call him every week, he lies and tells them he is fine, but he is so sad and lonely that he spends a lot of his time just lying on the tatami floor of his apartment staring at the ceiling.
But then, one fateful evening after returning from cram school, Mitsuki meets a small child in distress. This little child has lost the key to her apartment; her mom had left several hours ago to get some groceries and hasn’t returned yet.
Mitsuki decides to help little Tama out, and eventually even discovers that Tama and her mother live in the very same apartment building that he does!
When Tama’s mother, Kyoko, finally makes it home, the story takes us (and Mitsuki) through the friendship, bonding, and romance of two people whom Japanese society has deemed outcasts.
Imagine a World Without Judgement
That’s the gist of what you are getting yourself into when you pick up The Language of Love.
As far as visual novels go, it is the epitome of such. Many visual novels you play will have you make various choices throughout the game that can affect the outcome.
The Language of Love however, does not have this feature. It is, literally, a novel you read on your switch with visual features (artwork) and music to set the mood of each chapter.
I always like a visual novel with multiple endings, then I feel like I have some agency over my character and what happens to them. With that being said, I must confess there is also something simple and delightful about The Language of Love as just a pure-and-simple visual novel.
One thing that I really loved about the story is the almost incomprehensible glimpse into Japanese societal structure and culture.
In Canada (where I hail from) it’s not really seen as disgraceful or disgusting to go back to school when you are older. There are several people who THINK that they will be looked down upon for having to go back to school, but both times I have been to post-secondary school I was an “adult learner”, and neither time did I ever feel like I was looked down upon for it.
That being said, I know that in Japan that most certainly could be something that would make a young person feel like they were lesser, and that makes me sad. Especially because Mitsuki has this mentality that his life is over, but he is only twenty-three!
The other really poignant story comes from the circumstances of Kyoko, our cute single mother. She became pregnant right at the end of her final year in high school; her boyfriend at the time left her high and dry, and her family was so traditional they disowned her. Kyoko works as a waitress and can barely make ends meet.
The struggle is real, and my heart goes out to every single mother out there: they are brave souls. Even more so, my heart goes out to Japanese single mothers, I am sure that culturally they are not on the most favourable end of society.
The visuals are excellent. The few characters Mitsuki interacts with are all well drawn, and the backgrounds are so delightfully Japanese I oftentimes felt as though I had returned; I especially liked the artwork for the ryokan and hotspring that is the setting of a portion of the story.
The music is fine, it balances the mood of each scene nicely.
All in all, it’s a story of two people coming together, getting to know each other, and then supporting and accepting one another unconditionally. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s all I’ve ever wished for out of a loving relationship.
If you are a reader, you’re going to want to pick this one up. It’s not that expensive, and if it’s ever on sale then consider yourself getting a very good deal.
Final Verdict: I Like It!