Music is an amazing medium. It has the power to bring people together, to tell a story and express your feelings without a single word. Despite how powerful music can be it doesn’t come without hardships. Whether it be a corrupt and unfair industry, the pressure to compete with others for the success of your music or even the relationships with your band and their internal conflicts.
The most powerful music comes from overcoming such struggles and putting those feelings into your music. Deardrops attempts to show us this and how overcoming such conflict can lead to your success and fulfilling your dreams. So today on the VN Completionist, we will be taking a look at Deardrops and we will see lives up to this and truly rocks our world or whether it fails to hit the right chords.
Deardrops is a Japanese Visual Novel produced by Overdrive, who produced Visual Novels such as Kira-Kira and Dengeki Striker. The game was translated and published in English by MangaGamer. The scenario was written by Nakura Reiji and the Artist was Fujimaru.
The story of Deardrops follows our protagonist Shouichi, who was a violin prodigy from a young age, winning many national competitions and goes to Germany to play in an orchestra. This is until one day when he returns to Japan for unknown reasons and gives up on the violin.
He then starts to work at a live house and meets many talented musicians in his daily life, at which point he decides to pick up a guitar, form a band and re-enter the world of music. The story mainly follows him overcoming the struggles of forming and maintaining a band including the harsh, unfair music industry and the inner conflicts of the band but also about coming to terms with and overcoming his own past.
Our protagonist is Shouichi Suganuma who is an ex violinist turned guitarist. He can be summarised as a kind, hard-working person, but also highly competitive when it comes to the band. he hates to lose or perform badly. He also has a quite low self-esteem, mostly due to his past trauma toward classical music.
The other main characters are the band members he encounters throughout the common route are Riho, Yayoi, Rimu, Eijii and Kanade.
The vocalist Riho Kaguya is honest, stubborn, short-tempered and uncompromising but is also extremely ambitious and motivated when it comes to singing. Her attitude toward everything else is rather apathetic.
Yayoi Ooba is their energetic, lead guitarist who is obsessed with the guitar. She also has low self esteem when it comes to people calling her normal or not standing out.
Rimu Tamano is their carefree and whimsical drummer and Gonda Eiji is their Bassist who is temperamental and cynical person. He also acts as a lone wolf but is passionate when it comes to music and practice.
The final main character is Kanade Sakurai, who is the daughter of the live house owner and Shouichi’s childhood friend. She is a kind and timid person who cares for others over herself. She is also a very talented Singer but is held back by her lack of self-confidence.
The common route of the game mostly serves as an introduction to all the characters during the formation of the band. This does serve as a good introduction to the characters with fun concerts and some interesting but not particularly strong conflicts. This does leave some room to develop upon all the characters and for further conflict in their respective routes.
The characters in the common route are quite fun and they have an interesting group dynamic to read with some interesting story around them. Outside of that, they do come across as rather one-dimensional and predictable. This makes the common route kind of dull and it starts to drag on in the latter half. It’s saving grace is the band’s performances, which was an aspect where the common route and the game as a whole shines.
The character routes themselves I have a mixed opinion on. It seemed like the game had a lack of focus on any of the other girls outside of Riho. The only other girl who has a significant amount of focus on her was Kanade but it wasn’t up to the same standard.
Yayoi and Rimu’s routes definitely suffered due to this focus on the other two as main heroines. The length of their routes felt rather short (I finished Rimu’s in a couple of hours, more for Yayoi’s) and suffered from a rather uninteresting plot which allowed for very little character development. They only really emphasised pre-existing traits they had already developed but these routes at least succeeded in this aspect.
Kanade’s route was much better than the two routes previously mentioned. It introduced a more interesting, higher stakes plot. This allowed her character to be developed from her altruistic, optimistic but also somewhat naive character to a person who is more dependant on others and doesn’t shoulder all her emotional burden on herself and becomes a stronger character for it.
This route also introduces aspects of Shouichi’s character which were previously not explored and insight into the incident with his orchestra. They also show the dynamic between him and his rival Johann revolving around the pressure to perform at the highest level and the burden it placed on them to succeed. I personally found more interesting than Kanade’s conflict and the romantic relationship between them which felt rather bland and run-of-the-mill (This was a similar case for Rimu and Yayoi’s route).
They also began to introduced some themes of the unfair, corrupt nature of the industry which is taken further in Riho’s route but took a back-seat to Kanade’s conflict and wasn’t really explored much.
Riho’s route on the other hand was probably the most interesting part of the game. It felt significantly longer than the other routes and was most likely intended to be the main route of the game. Interestingly there was a larger focus on the band as a whole, mostly Shouichi and Gonda and Riho ironically doesn’t play such a large part in her own route. The only focus on her being mainly on her at the start which leads into her relationship with Shouichi and his character arc.
This route develops a lot of the central themes of the game involving the corrupt nature of the music industry and also some of the internal conflicts within bands. This was explored heavily around Gonda, whose character arc was more interesting and compelling than I initially thought.
This route also explores again Shouichi’s relationship with his orchestra but instead of exploring the rivalry between him and Johann, we instead get insight into his fear of the violin, the guilt he feels towards what he did and his feelings of not being worthy to play music again. This aspect of the game I felt out-shined the rest of the game and made the other routes feel quite lack luster.
Despite not playing a major role in this route, Riho and her relationship with Shouichi was also another part of the game I found the most interesting. Their relationship acted as a driving force in the character development of shouichi. This was due to the unique nature of their relationship which wasn’t necessarily one of romantic love, but more of mutual understanding but also a strong rivalry between each other.
Her stubborn and uncompromising nature helps push Shouichi back to the violin and achieve his own goals. Conversely he helps to fulfil her own dreams but this also makes her not want to lose to him and surpass him in terms of skill, which is an aspect that she admires about him.
This route gives a much better resolution to Shouichi’s conflict and the band unlike previous routes. It also gives us much more of the band dynamic plus more brilliant performances that were enjoyable to read in the common route. Overall I felt this route was really good and completely out-shined the rest of the game which felt lack luster in comparison.
The music was generally good throughout the game (which is to be expected) especially the vocal tracks which played for the insert, opening and ending songs. The background music was good mostly because they opted for a sound track composing of rock orientated tracks with some classical pieces as opposed to a more standard sound track consisting of more generic classical pieces which fit the game thematically.
My only problem with this was the track length was quite short for many of the songs. They would loop frequently in scenes so a lot of the tracks became repetitive and lost the unique flair they had initially and felt annoying to listen to after a while. This also wasn’t helped by the fact that the music wasn’t easy on the ears for the most part due to the rock theme.
I felt that the art was good in some aspects but also missed the mark in others. I did like the character designs which is something I normally dislike about Overdrive games. It was mostly the male designs such as Gonda, Samejima and especially Leo that I liked which took advantage of the central theme of the game and tailored them to the rock aesthetic. Sadly most of the girls designs felt generic and boring, wasting that potential which they used on the male characters.
The background art also followed a similar trend. The backgrounds for the various Live houses and stages that they played on gave off unique vibes and were visually appealing. The other backgrounds were forgettable and didn’t really add anything to the scenes they were used in. Despite this, the CG art throughout the game was great and when used had quite a lot of impact especially in some of the more gripping scenes. The combination of both music and CG art also worked really well during the concert scenes which were exciting and very fun to read.
In conclusion, I feel that this game was pretty good but failed to excel in any aspect. The common route and Riho’s route was really good pretty much outshining the rest of the game presenting some interesting themes around the subject matter of music. The game also succeeded in developing Riho, Shouichi and Gonda into some really interesting characters and creating a fun band dynamic.
The rest of the game felt really lack luster in comparison with some rather uninteresting character routes with short length, low stakes plot and very little development on some characters who were already rather one-dimensional.
Apart from this, the game was successful in the music and art aspect catering to the Rock Aesthetic of the game. This was definitely prevalent during the concerts, which were always exciting and fun to read as was one of the high points of the game.
I personally would recommend this game if you have some interest in a music themed Visual Novel as it was definitely successful in exploring themes around the music industry, people’s attitudes towards music and just music in general. For others not particularly invested in that aspect of the game and just looking for a good story with some interesting characters, I don’t think I could fully recommend this game although Riho’s route is definitely interesting even if you’re not interested much in the music aspect.
My recommended read if you enjoyed Deardrops would be Kira-Kira. Both games share the central theme of music and are both developed by Overdrive so you will probably get a very similar experience from this game. Kira-Kira is also much longer than Deardrops which may be appealing to some.
I would also recommend Boku ga Tenshi ni Natta Wake as well for similar reasons and because this game has Nakura Reiji as the scenario writer too, but this game isn’t out in English yet so keep this one in mind for the future.
This concludes my review of Deardrops. If you haven’t done so already, follow me on social media and make sure to check out the other posts on the site. Anyway, thanks for reading and I will see you on the next VN Completionist.