Two wandering souls on the path to discovering a better life and each other.
To quote the overused and cliche advice of a wise sage: “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” No matter your pacing and position in this endurance fueled battle, the only opponent is your own mental fortitude and outlook with many obstacles and paths stretched out before you. For 23-year-old Mitsuki Tanimura this couldn’t be any more evident: forced to put his life on hold, he now aims to attend college in Tokyo. Feeling more than a little overwhelmed by his neglected studies and lack of social connections, this all changes when meets Kyouko Himuro. Only a year older and single mother, through a chance encounter, the two begin to cultivate a relationship filled with new discoveries and helping each other see life through a more translucent lens. Developed by ebi-hime, The Language of Love is a visual novel that excellent exemplifies that is never too late to begin living life. Of course, it should go without saying that it is also a very swell reading experience as well.
One thing that I adore about The Language of Love is that it steers clear of many conventional tropes that plague the format and doesn’t have to go far out of the way to do so. Where older protagonist and relationships are not a complete rarity in visual novels, the ones featured here are believable and down-to-earth. In particular, Mitsuki is something of a normal, if not near refreshing male lead: trying to get his life back on the right track after tending to family affairs and Tokyo full of opportunities that seem to be passing him by as his life is missing many important milestones. Not to confuse normal with boring, it isn’t until other characters are introduced like Tama, Kyouko’s daughter and one that facilities the two characters meeting that it becomes apparent how great the writing is. Loving the many scenes that Tama and Mitsuki share together, it is almost like an actual child is writing the dialogue. That or the developer has one or at the very least, a very bratty sibling. Supporting the theme of well-written and believable characters, Mitsuki’s budding relationship with Kyouko is also a solid plus: a woman with more than her fair share of issues but always keeps trying to move forward in spite of it. Chocked to the brim with interactions ranging from romantic to sentimental and never short on comedy, it is hard not to get swept up in the tale of two good-hearted, down on their luck people enriching each other lives for the better and slowly become lovers in the process.
Clocking in around 5-6 hours, The Language of Love is a rather modest length read. Where most of that is full of excellent characterization and essential for emotional attachment to take root, there times when the narrative tends to meander. Having no parts that I would consider monotonous or boring, there is a feeling that a few bits and pieces could be shortened down. However, again, having the grace of being well-written on its side, I didn’t mind most of those slow moments as limited as they were. Some of my favorite pieces actually came from Mitsuki, his small observations and smart-aleck musings making him far more personable and likable than I was expecting for a typical male protagonist. In addition, the lulling parts do offer a little more insight into his own thoughts and help round out this personality. Many of the other story beats such as Tama’s school arc and other events also do a great job of adding some slice-of-elements and aids in breakup some of the more tenser moments.
Having something of an average yet affable art style, the overall character designs are actually very nice. Nothing completely exceptional or noteworthy, they get the job done and fit the respective characters. Just for points based on overwhelming cuteness, Tama is my favorite, especially when pouting. Then again, like her mother, Kyouko can muster the same expression…just much more imposing than adorable. Okay, I guess it is adorable…a special type of adorable. CG artwork is also well done and kind of wish there was more on that front. Music is also another pleasing area that is not what I would call prominent but fitting. Most of the tracks running the gamut from maudlin to spry making for some nice background music.
Spending most of my time involved with visual novels this year, this probably one of the few Original English Language Visual Novel (OELVN) that I have touched and enjoyed as well as my first title from ebi-hime. Thoroughly pleased with the overall conclusion, The Language of Love definitely leaves itself open to a sequel or maybe something of a fan disc to explore what going on with Mitsuki’s and Kyouko’s life after the events of this game. Of course, not wanting to ruin or upset the balance of where things end and inspired to check out a few more entries of the developers back catalog, I think I can say that I’m satisfied. Although, part of me still wants to see that happen.
Final Verdict: Heart-warming, amusing, and inspiring, The Language of Love is a winner on all fronts. Having well-written and great characters to support it and a pair of older ones at that for the leads, it veers away from the commonality most novels fall into. And where the ebb and flow tends to get mired down, the dialogue and interactions give it the push in the right direction for an engaging read. If you are looking for something completely different and nice romantic story to boot, this is a highly recommended purchase.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This is by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by ebi-hime.