Welcome to Queer Fudanshi! Let’s Talk. Today, we’re going to be talking about the BL Visual Novel titled No, Thank You. Specifically, we’re going to talk about No, Thank You‘s Hiroyuki Route.
If you are unfamiliar with some of the terminology used in this post such as BL (Boys Love), visual novel, or anything else, feel free to click on this link to my Important Terms page.
So, as I wait for the Sentimental Trickster and Seiyuu Danshi games to come out, I’ve decided to take up the game No, Thank You. After spending a week going through one character’s route with about one to three hours of playing per day, I’ve finally finished said route. In addition, because I am overwhelmed by just that one section of the game I feel like I have to review it aka I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT TO SOMEONE. Thus, I’ve decided I’m just gonna review each character route separately.
The official premise of the game:
This summer vacation begins with a car accident…
Our protagonist protects a man from an out of control car, but gets hit and loses his memory in the process. The man he saved happens to be the owner of a jazz bar, sótano. Out of sympathy for his hapless savior, the man decides to set him up with a job and a place to live.
From the outside, sótano looks like a cozy little jazz bar, but behind the scenes they solve problems that the police and legitimate detective agencies won’t touch. The staff there give our protagonist the name “Haru”. He gradually makes his way deeper into the organization, and the hearts and lives of the staff, while working as an apprentice bartender. But just who is Haru really…?
The story follows Haru and his coworkers as they solve case after case and serve a cocktail or two. In addition, it’s a Boys Love story, so the player can choose one of four characters to pursue a relationship with.
No Thoughts Before Playing
No, I didn’t write that heading wrong. As I said, I’m writing this review after playing Hiroyuki’s Route of the game. Because of that, I can’t properly write my thoughts before playing. I will make sure to do so for the other three character routes.
This is No, Thank You’s Hiroyuki Route
Warning: This game is NSFW. It contains SEVERAL sexual scenes. Younger QF Readers, do not play. Come back when you’re 18+. Plus, you have to pay for the game anyway.
Where to Buy:
The Talk (Spoilers Ahead):
I am SO UNHAPPY with the way this route ended. But more on that later…
*Note: I will be alternating between referring to Hiroyuki as Hiroyuki and Hiroshi.
The Story Line
I enjoyed this story. The idea of this jazz bar being secretly a detective agency sounds great to me. I also like that these seemingly normal guys are also running around solving mysteries and helping people (who pay). That said, the game doesn’t come off as a mystery but more of an adventure. We get to watch the guys solve the cases, but the cases themselves aren’t difficult. They’re more Private I, “find the missing person” type of cases.
In addition, I’m thoroughly confused and interested in Haru’s backstory. The way dating sim styled visual novels are usually set up, for those who don’t know, is that pieces of the whole story are shared in each character route. Haru’s backstory and origin, for instance, was only briefly touched on in Hiroyuki’s story line. It seems like I’ll have to play throughout each of the character’s story lines to gain a better understanding of who Haru really is.
I liked that the story is chopped up though because that warrants playing all of the character routes and not just for the characters you like. In addition, I like how the plot is split up into chapters. Usually each chapter was devoted to solving one case at a time and that helped it really feel like a detective story. Sadly though, the main plot line did get derailed by other things (more on that in a moment).
Haru and Hiroyuki Akiyama
No, Thank You’s Hiroyuki Route had a great couple between Haru and Hiroshi. The two were coworkers turned friends turned sex friends turned lovers and I was with them all the way. They seemed to balance each other out nicely by being supportive and caring to one another. They made a great duo.
Haru is a loveable character who plays stupid, but seems smarter than he acts. He is observant and thoughtful while also being aggressive and charismatic. In addition, it was refreshing to follow a character who was so confident in himself. From his self-deprecating jokes to his comfort in his own bisexuality. Haru was a great protagonist and all that makes me want to find out his real story even more.
Next, there’s Hiroyuki. When I was looking into this game I was doubtful about Hiroyuki. He seemed like such a bland guy to me. The nice guy, the average guy. There was nothing exciting there to see. Of course, the other’s weren’t that exciting either. The quiet one, the mean one, the older one. They’re all BL stereotypes really.
That said, having spent a week with Hiroshi I’ve now warmed up to him. He is such a nice guy that he belongs on Part Time the Series, the show about nice guys. In addition, the story did a lot to flesh-out his character. It gave him depth, a sad backstory, and strong heroic moments. We got to see the character’s multiple sides. He could be the strong heroic detective, the smooth bartender, the hot bed-mate, and the kind, harmless soul. Hiroshi is truly a great guy.
The Sex Scenes
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve seen some s***. I may be a young adult, but I am confident in saying I’ve seen my fair share of sexy content. So with that in mind, know that this game is the most detailed/graphic BL game I have ever played. (Don’t try to contradict me with titles of other games. This is just how I see it.)
It’s not even just the text, which is pretty smutty on it’s own, but the whole experience of it. The noises (oh, the noises), and the voice acting (OH, THE VOICE ACTING). On that note, I have to applaud Kazuya Uemura who played Hiroyuki Akiyama because, WOW, did he commit to the character.
The problem is, there’s too much of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with sex and sexual content except for in two cases. One, when it’s being presented to children and innocent youth. Two, when it’s in an overabundance. This game suffers from the latter.
The problem is No, Thank You‘s Hiroyuki Route ultimately became more porn than story. A visual novel by definition does not have to be porn. In fact, it doesn’t have to include sex at all. It’s just that we’re used to BL stories containing sex and porn. Something that isn’t inherently necessary. That said, while I’m fine with a visual novel that does contain sex, this one went over-the-top.
The game starts slow as it gets the player into the story and into choosing a specific character route to pursue. Then, about 1/4th into that route the sex starts. It only builds from there. In No, Thank You‘s Hiroyuki Route there are about 8 sex scenes. Keep in mind, some of the sex scenes have more than one round. In addition, most of these scenes were pushed together. There were literally times when they’d have 10-20 mins of sex. Then have 5-10 mins of regular story, and then go to another sex scene. By the end of the route I was literally saying, “They’re still doing it?!” and “Another sex scene?”
The ratio of plot to porn is horribly unbalanced. The game just goes over-the-top with the sex, to the point that it’s a distraction to the story, or rather the main story is a distraction for the sex. Really, it depends on what you’re looking for when you play. Are you looking for an interesting story with romance and a few hot and heavy scenes. You’ll get some of that, but also you’ll be drowned by multiple hardcore sex scenes. If you want all the smut you can handle, you’re golden. Turns out, this is the deepest of eroticas.
And then we have the ending. I’m so unhappy with how No, Thank You’s Hiroyuki Route ended. From a writing perspective I’m like, “Ok, I can respect it.” The “True Path” ends on a sad note where Haru goes back to his mysterious Grandfather and leaves Hiroyuki while the latter’s sleeping. Haru has this thought of (paraphrase), “I won’t say I’ll be back, but maybe I will be someday.” That’s beautiful because you could take it multiple ways. Either Haru does eventually come back and live a happy life with Hiroyuki or he doesn’t and Hiroshi goes off to met a girl, marry her, have kids, settle down and whatever else.
As from a reader’s perspective, I’m pissed off. I want a happy ending. I NEED a happy ending. Now I’m worried the rest of the paths will end like this. Or worse, I’ll get a happy ending with one of the others, but then I didn’t get one from Hiroshi’s path. I’m just like, “Why? Oh, Why? Why does it have to be like this? Why can’t they just be happy?”
After playing No, Thank You‘s Hiroyuki Route, I am both distraught and thoroughly compelled to play more. You know it’s a sign of good romance writing if I feel like a cheater for playing another character’s route. How could I ever betray Hiroshi like that?
I enjoyed this game a lot. While the sex was WAY over-the-top, it wasn’t totally unwanted. In fact, it was enjoyed in the earlier scenes. I just wish Parade (the company that made the game) had cut out a few sex scenes and replaced them with more plot. After all, it’s the plot that’s making me want to continue, not the sex. The way the writing slowly developed the relationship and still kept most of Haru’s backstory a mystery was beautiful to me.
I look forward to playing the other character routes, discovering their stories, and finding out the story behind Haru. I also expect to enjoy some of the sex scenes, but mostly be daunted by how many of them there are.
My rating for No, Thank You‘s Hiroyuki Route is 4 stars out of 5. What’s Yours?