Rule 43 and the Eroge Industry

This Article May Be NSFW

I’ve been wanting to write an article about something for a long time, but finding an entry point and the time to write it, on top of the other things I’ve been doing, is proving to be a bit of a problem. I am a huge fan of visual novels. It all started with 11eyes, which in turn started with me listening to its opening theme and getting drawn in by its black-and-red colored, gory, yet heroic visuals and strange, color-palette-filtered world. It should be noted that 11eyes is basically the only eroge I’ve played before watching its anime adaptation, but that’s because most of the ones I do like, the action-focused ones, rarely get chosen for anime adaptation, with the romance-focused ones being king.

This, in turn, ties into another one of my interests. I’m a huge fan of superheroes, Sentai, Kamen Rider, magical girls – even super robots, since they portray robots not as war machines, but as heroes who fight for peace and justice. I’m very much a Sayaka-type, if that wasn’t made clear. But finding eroge about transforming heroes is an uphill challenge, and this ties into a third point. The internet’s rule 43.

“The more pure and innocent something is, the more fun it is to corrupt it.”

While magical girls have had staying power among older audiences for some time now, with shows like Twin Angel and Madoka capturing their attention, I can’t help but notice a certain trend in the eroge industry. If one were to search under Getchu.com’s tags for “Henshin Heroine” or “Magical Girl”, the results would speak for themselves. It’s…. how do I put this bluntly?

Rape. Rape and tentacles and sexual exploitation are the order of the day for most girls who can be considered heroic. Whether they’re a holy knight or a Gavan-esque space policewoman, they’re likely to be investigating a case that ends up very badly for them. Now, not every game is like this. There are quite a few visual novels that keep the heroic atmosphere and make all the ero scenes consensual. Stuff like ALICETALE and Legend Seven and ColorfulCure. I’m grateful that games like this exist, and I’ve played or want to play most of them. Even techno-magical cases like Zero Infinity fit the criteria of game I’m looking for.

I remember the first time I experienced this. It was a game released by Lilim. Kango Sentai Nurseranger. The game features a team of nurse-themed superheroines with cute character designs and a theme song that plays like any heroic theme would. In the actual game, the POV character is a villain, working for the enemies to capture the heroines in tentacles and steal their life energy for his company’s purposes. As far as I can tell, he succeeds in some fashion. Showing the heroines getting friendly with each other doesn’t alleviate that this kind of uncomfortable shock value. Even if tentacles have become little more than a joke in late night anime, in eroge, they still ensnare things strongly.
Now, in most cases the game box art includes tentacles in some fashion so that the buying audience is aware of what’s in store. It’s not the first time I would be tricked into almost playing something like this. The next time would be two games by the company KAI. Walpurgis, with its holy knight motif, was released shortly after the concept of Walpurgisnacht had taken the anime world by storm by being the finale of Madoka Magica. It also had some disturbing, abomination-like villains. Now, normally, one would take this as a sign, but remember, I started with 11eyes. A group of inhuman-looking soldiers not only had compelling backstories, they were the good guys.

Yet the angelic soldiers in Walpurgis had no voice actors. They had no goals or motivations other than to sexually violate the heroines. I should’ve learned the first time, but they did it again. A game called Blades Heart was scheduled for release, featuring a group of ninja-themed magical girls. Again, not a bad idea. But… once again, they’re overtaken by tentacles. I’m sure at least some of these games have a happy ending for their heroines, but if they’re going to have ero scenes, I’d prefer it to be done with either a normal protagonist who got swept up in these kind of things, or each other. The latter is much, much rarer.

By this point, I’d learned to recognize the warning signs that a game may not be catering to my interests. That Getchu has a system that tags everything neatly and cleanly also helps. But the tides of trends once again drew my interest to a game. One that I’ve spoken about before on my tumblr, and was the partial inspiration for this article. Triangle’s Vampire Crusaders. This one was a little more outwardly gritty than the other entries on this list. And why shouldn’t it be? Vampires are creatures of the night, bloodsucking, sparkly monsters. The theme song was amazing, a sort of Visual Kei-esque piece with a sort of melancholy but rocking melody. To this day, I still don’t know the name or singer of it.

But the game itself… copious amounts of rape. And some weird stuff about a meteor and humans being in colonies and robots. Now, I could simply ignore these games, and do. The Getchu page offers me enough information to know that if I played this, I would end up confused and disappointed entirely through my own means. But it was another visual novel that made me write about these ones.

I recently cleared Unisonshift’s Ota-Ma!, a game about otaku. In there, voice actor/eroge fan Mami Aoba is purchasing games with the protagonist, Hiroaki. Mami displays genuine interest in games like the ones mentioned above. Now, she is a fictional character, but she got me thinking – what’s the appeal of these games? They’re clearly being made for someone, if the companies that do make them are still in business, but what are others seeing in it that I am not? There should be nothing wrong with preferring either pure love or something more immoral in one’s entertainment experience.

That’s when I remembered the rule of the internet about the fun in corrupting pure things. It’s why anime that have no sexual content receive mountains of erotic fanart and fanfic, while actual fanservice anime gets considerably less. It’s why dark and gritty and serious (I am not fond of those words) reboots are usually lauded and why the comic book industry in America is, in part, the way it is. Corrupting something taps into a darker side of humanity, one that I seem to have found expressed more though mischief and dicking around than sticking actual dicks in things. And magical girls and superheroines are usually associated with childhood, but at the same time, are original characters. So they can play the concept in a way more suited to a certain kind of adult fan while not ruining any childhoods.

This is not to say every game with a superheroine involves tentacles. Most of light’s works, ALICETALE, Legend Seven, all of those works I mentioned above still exist. For every corrupted heroine, there’s at least one game maker who understands that people want to enjoy their heroines unironically, and maybe have them find love on the side. It’s a wide market, there’s room for both. This is probably not the last time I’ll be tricked. First impressions are a powerful thing, but research is also important. In the end, I have Mami to thank for getting me to consider this on a deeper level.

And I still don’t know who sang that song.

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