Note: Review copy provided by Razzmatazz.
After the success of Starlight Vega and the sexy contributions in Catch Canvas the one I dubbed Razzmatazz (Razz from Razzart Visual) and Friends had returned with their second Visual Novel about a very interesting yuri subgenre. Question is whether it was another big hit or was the studio a one-hit wonder? Let us find out as we take a look at Love Ribbon.
WARNING! The following visual novel is about an attraction between two sisters. Readers uncomfortable with this subject matter are advised to not read any further.
Genres: Drama, Romance, Incest, Yuri
Themes: School, Sisters
Length: 5-8 hours. I calculate that it is a bit shorter than Highway Blossoms.
Plot Summary: The story follows Iris, a girl who learns that her younger sister is transferring to her school, and will be living with her for the rest of the semester. Even though she has never met her sister before, Iris is determined to make up for lost time by becoming friends, and more importantly, to show off her dependable nature as the older sister of the household.
Unfortunately for Iris, however, things don’t go as planned.
Zoey, Iris’s younger sister, is a tall young woman who isn’t afraid to ditch class and badmouth others. Zoey shows little respect for authority, especially when it comes to her “older sister’s” attempts to play nice. And if things couldn’t get any worse, a confusing sexual tension blooms between them…
Before we get to the game let us briefly discuss the depiction of sisterly love incest in media. From my years of watching/reading/playing yuri media I can divide the types of “wincest” I stumbled upon under the following categories…excluding porn/hentai:
- Extra Snuggles: This is very lighthearted stuff where the sisters show an extra strong bond that hints at something more but is only enough for yuri shipping. Keep in mind that it has to be VERY SPECIFIC snuggling for it to work, otherwise it will come off as blind shipping. One example is Binbou Shimai Monogatari. Speaking of…
- Fetishizing: The “sisters” are only Shipping sisters together as romantic couples for the sake of a fetish. There is little reason to pair up the sisters together except “it’s hot”. One example is Dia and Ruby from Love Live!! Sunshine!
- “Get out of jail free card”: The closest thing to “wincest” where the writer gets away with hinting such a relationship…provided they go the safe route by either having one or both sisters be adopted or become a family after their respective parents marry. One example is Citrus.
Okay, on to the review. The point of the above examples is to confirm that Love Ribbon’s story falls under the understandably very rare category of 100% blood-relation , meaning both girls were born from the same womb. Now it is one thing to go through with a story about sisters being sexually attracted to each other. It is another to tell a compelling story around the subject. I am pleased to say that Razzmatazz did it again in LR by telling a story that takes incest yuri as seriously as it can without going overbaord with the seriousness. Basically Iris and Zoey’s tale is both really good and a believable one. I personally do not know what a romance between siblings could be like but LR’s gives a pretty good idea of one. Their very first meeting aside Iris and Zoey’s journey is filled with the most of the ups and downs an outsider intrigued by such a relationship could expect from the iterpersonal, the intrapersonal and the social. Both girls put a lot of thought into what they could be getting themselves into when the time comes and while the story is centered around the two sisters, as it should be, that does not mean the outside world is omitted from the equation. There is just enough content to show how outsiders would receive their relationship but not getting carried away with it. Some would argue a bit more would have been cool to really hammer it in but trust me…the story is serious enough as is with what we get from it and it is very much appreciated. A minor nitpick of mine is that maybe the story could have used a “Harumin” type character, especially in one particular scene late in the story but thinking about it a second time perhaps it is best that there was no “Harumin”.
Love Ribbon’s gameplay is basic visual novel fare with multiple choice sequences every now and then. There are two endings, a good and bad one (both very much dramatic), in this game. The cool part about the choices is that they do not just briefly affect the dialogue after said choice and give points toward the ending but when the “plreader” (play-read) least expects it there are also some “Oh yeah. I remember making that choice” moments. Making a choice could alter the events of the next scene or even skip it entirely. It is a nice touch.
I have to say both Love Ribbon’s character sprites and CGs are a big step up from Starlight Vega’s. SV’s CGs were pretty good but their character sprites were average at best. Not so with LR. Iris and Zoey are both lovely, the backgrounds are standard for School Life visual novel settings but still very well drawn and the CGs are great. The same goes for the soundtrack that perfectly captures the right mood for each moment, be it cheerful, romantic, sad or tense.
As far as Iris and Zoey themselves go they are the “well-behaved nice girl with big dreams” and the “rebellious cool girl with a hidden soft side” respectively. As any anime veteran would expect they have a “cutie X tsundere” type relationship and they work great together. Their joyful and sorrowful moments hit right were all very well done and hit the heart where it counts. While their primary struggles revolve around their growing feelings for one another they also have their own personal obstacles pertaining to their ambitions and cultural upbringing. Two girls who are nothing alike yet strangely brought together for reasons beyond their control…but do they really mind?
The other nice touch in the game are the animated intro CGs, also very well done. They pop up during important scenes such as the girls’ first encounter and the above scene giving those moments an extra spice. Speaking of spice…should “plreaders” use the “keys to paradise”…let us just say we the naughty will not need to use our imaginations as much.
Overall I would say Love Ribbon is another work of excellence by Razzmatazz and Friends. The story takes the subject matter as seriously as it can without going overboard with the seriousness and tells a very touching tale filled with joy and sorrow. Iris and Zoey are lovely leading ladies, the art style is great, the little extras are nice touches and the sexiness is top notch. It could have used a bit more perhaps but really what we got here is already a great package. Highly recommended to Nation members and open-minded readers who can handle the subject of a romance between blood-related sisters.