Title: Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru
Developer: Front Wing
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release Date: August 8th
Reviewed On: PC
The publisher provided a copy of this title for the purpose of review.
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru takes us back to a simpler time, one where a variety of anime and visual novels had magical girl spin-offs that logically made no sense but were beloved anyway. Tenchi Muyo had Magical Girl Pretty Sammy. Triangle Hearts had Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. And now, in the modern era, the visual novel Fruits of Grisaia has Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru. Like the spin-offs that came before it, Michiru is a title that never takes itself seriously, and often serves as a vehicle for its creators to poke fun at its parent franchise. This translates, in practice, to a silly visual novel that didn’t need to exist, but I’m nevertheless glad that it does. It serves as a refreshing change of pace after the endless string of downers that is Grisaia’s depressing 60+ hour story.
In Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru, one of the five heroines from Fruits of Grisaia is recast as a fourteen-year-old girl with dreams of becoming a pop idol. She currently spends most of her time singing and dancing to karaoke hits at a small jazz bar, though. She then, by pure chance, stumbles upon a cat from a magical world who needs her talents to find and seal away seven monsters who threaten the world at large. Michiru then gains the power, transforms into the game’s titular magical girl and fights evil…badly. She fails at every turn and, in general, makes a fool of herself even in the face of mortal danger.
Like many magical girl parodies, Chiru Chiru Michiru plays with genre tropes for laughs and rarely, if ever, bothers to make any logical sense. She squeals like a fangirl over her favorite idol singer/rival magical girl Kazuki. She also tries to defeat the forces of chaos with a baseball bat; Michiru is, from beginning to end, framed as a character meant to make us laugh at just how goofy she is. This applies to the rest of the game’s cast as well, most of whom hail from Grisaia proper, as they best resemble shallow caricatures of their actual rather robust selves from the original visual novel. This by no means a bad thing, however, as it allows the story to carry on at a brisk pace without bothering to dwell on things like character development or motivation. Neither of those has any place here, because as long as the reader keeps laughing and playing along with the silly fantasy that Chiru Chiru Michiru has created, everything is all right. That being said, this incarnation of Michiru also has quite a bit of heart. I couldn’t help but to root for her every now and again, despite how much of a comical loser she is. She’s just that endearing.
Art-wise, this title is identical in style to Grisaia and boasts clean background art, as well as some new sprites, outfits, and CGs for the main cast. The amusing super deformed artwork helps to convey some of the game’s sillier moments in greater detail. The real stand out here is the game’s presentation. Each part of the story is divided into anime style episodes complete with an opening theme song, eye catches, and closing credits. This visual novel really goes out of its way to look and feel like a magical girl anime. Though hearing the same theme and ending song again and again can be somewhat tiring after some time, the presentation still serves to make Chiru Chiru Michiru a unique experience even when compared to its progenitor. Keeping the magical girl theme going, Michiru herself also possesses a fully animated transformation provided by the same company behind the Fruits of Grisaia anime. This sequence is well rendered, cute, and serves to embody much of what the visual novel, in general, is attempting to do. There is has little substance, but it also endearing and fun enough that most readers won’t care. Both of these factors go to prove that Front Wing went all out here, despite Chiru Chiru Michiru being nothing more than a short and silly spin-off.
The music here, for the most part, reused from Fruits of Grisaia. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it can become an annoyance to hear the same thing for an 8-10 hour run time. The standout here, as mentioned above, are each episode’s opening and closing melodies. They’re cheerful and poppy in a very pleasant way and help to set the mood of a magical girl anime without being overbearing or stupid.
Final verdict, this is a fun visual novel that is primarily for fans of Fruits of Grisaia and/or the magical girl anime genre. Those unfamiliar with either might be more than a bit confused by the visual novel’s content, but even in that case Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru is still a fun and light-hearted visual novel that I highly recommend.
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