Nekopara Vol. 3 was a conflicting game for me to say the least. Every time I criticize an eroge’s sex scenes I tend to be overly cautious about getting flooded with comments calling me a triggered feminazi. I seem to have avoided that result since starting this blog considering I’ve rarely one to not make my sex positivity apparent, but it may also be because I tend to examine these games on their own merits to a far greater extent that most critics even attempt. Starless: Nymphomaniac’s Paradise was a game that scarred me so badly that it caused suicidal thoughts but I’m still able to name some good qualities. But I’m NOT going to talk about that fucking game again; I’d rather stick to good games here.
This is a track that cannot be talked about with bringing up its context in the story. As I mentioned in the review, a major theme of Nekopara Vol. 3’s story deals with themes of prejudice and fetishism in all but name. There is a clever twist in that many players will be attracted to the series with the promise of a cute harem of catgirls, most of whom probably fetishize catgirls (and no, it’s not problematic since catgirls are not real). Yet here you have a series that serves to treat these catgirls as real people while also demonstrating that fetishism and objectification would realistically harm catgirls if they were real. And to think it does all of this WITHOUT being relentlessly preachy and guiltrippy. WHAT A CONCEPT!!! Was that so hard Master of Martial Hearts!!!???
In the world of Nekopara, catgirls are seen as pets and thus inferior than real people. The significance of this comes into play with the main character’s bakery La Solei whose employees are mostly catgirls. Maple is one of them who wants to be a singer but is discouraged due to the emphasis everyone places on her being a catgirl rather than her singing. Her owner Kashou encourages her to pursue this despite that while Maple’s sister and best friend Cinnamon helps her out with this. The end result is Maple and Cinnamon getting to perform on a fancy cruise ship for business owners.
What makes things difficult is that Maple is uncultured and only knew anime songs up to that point, among other comical shenanigans. She later reveals that she picked a song but is going to let it be a surprise. Fast forward to the day of the event after dealing with a prejudiced fuckwad chiding Maple for being a catgirl and Kashou for treating the catgirls as people and not pets. Despite the obvious frustration present in this situation, this also serves as a heartwarming moment because it shows that Kashou was willing to stand up for Maple despite the risk it carries. Given the amount of “centrists” that chide minorities for standing up to themselves rather than directing their anger towards their oppression, this comes across as especially significant and is another reason why Kashou would be prime husbando material if I was straight.
If one did not put two and two together yet, the song Maple choose is also the subject of today’s article. Due to my lack of cultural awareness, playing this game was the first time I heard of the song “Grandfather’s Clock.” The original song was from 1876 so there isn’t much of an original version to compare, but In the various versions I found I noticed it seemed surprisingly upbeat for such a dark subject matter. To quote Wikipedia…
The song, told from a grandchild’s point of view, is about his grandfather’s grandfather clock.
The clock is purchased on the morning of his grandfather’s birth and works perfectly for ninety years, requiring only that it be wound at the end of each week.
Yet the clock seems to eerily know the good and bad events in the grandfather’s life – it rings 24 chimes when the grandfather brings his bride into his house, and near his death it rings an eerie alarm, which the family recognizes to mean that the grandfather is near death and gathers by his bed. After the grandfather dies, the clock suddenly stops, and never works again.
Most people these days seem to have been introduced to this song from either Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 or Nekopara. Vol. 3. Hell I’ve even seen a comment that the latter seems to be the case more than the former. Well what do you know, maybe the mainstream will be swayed by the allure of a catgirl harem. Don’t tell me it’s not possible after our current president!
I needed to look up the lyrics given the Engrish in this song, but what is perhaps the most surprising is that said Engrish fits the context of the game quite well and Kashou even comments on it. The fact that the English was off still does not dull the emotion in Ogura Yui’s (?) voice or the impact of the song overall. Given that the audience reacted the same way and it even lead that prejudiced fuckwad from earlier to apologize, it’s easy to see that this was the intended effect.
I did say that the scene this song played during was the first time the Nekopara series made me cry. Admittedly this is only half truth since the tears formed when I looked up the lyrics to the song while listening to this song in the sound test mode that it happened. I know it’s not much in the game’s credit considering that the lyrics were not made for the game in quest, but I still need to point out how emotional they are. Just about any version of this song gets me to choke up upon hearing them, but I consider Nekopara Vol. 3’s version to be one of the better ones I heard.
Having lived through the death of both my grandfather AND my mother, the way this song packs the emotion of 90 years and highlights both the highs and lows while ending at his death is heart grabbing. Even reading them without any sound make me just want to stop and cry right now, and that last verse moves something in me every time.
And of course, there is the fact that this song also serves as a metaphor for Maple’s undying dedication and loyalty to Kashou. Given how prideful Maple is, it really shows how strong her feelings were for her to reveal them this way. Just about all of these emotions at once creates what is probably one of the most emotional moments I have ever experienced in gaming. I’m not even kidding. It’s quite fitting that a moment where Maple and Cinnamon seek to prove that they are more than just catgirls also proves that Nekopara is more than just catgirls.
I may have ragged on the sex scenes quite a bit but I do want to emphasize the fact that I absolutely adored the rest of the game. Anyway sorry i missed a few weeks of Amazing VGM but I was kinda dealing with a bad fit of depression and it thankfully seems to have resolved.
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