As a male gamer, I grew up in a world of fan service. The same holds true today. Video game or anime, there’s always a chance a female character will don revealing armor or get interrupted while changing. Depending on your values, these little bits of fan service are often an enjoyable experience. Enter Punch Line, a visual novel for the PS4.
Based on the anime that shares its name, Punch Line mixes the fan service formula up quite a bit. The main protagonist, Yuta Iridatsu, gains superhuman abilities when he sees a girl’s panties. If he gets too excited, however, his body can’t handle it. Continuing to stare at panties while supercharged will cause the world to end! But more on that later, because Yuta has to die first.
Getting an (After)life
Sticking true to its bizarre nature, Punch Line’s main character dies in one of the opening cutscenes. Kind of. Yuta blacks out after an intense panty-fueled power-up session. When he comes to, he’s a ghost. Well, technically he’s an “astral body” as the screenshot states above, but that’s still pretty much a ghost. It’s here where the game begins to take-off.
Told through various cutscenes, animated shorts and conversations, Punch Line’s story centers around six unique characters.
Yuta Iridatsu is very much your atypical anime protagonist. Not the coolest or brightest character around, but courageous and determined accomplish his goals no matter what. He’s immediately likable and isn’t afraid to take action when someone’s in need. He unexpectedly becomes an astral body but that doesn’t stop him from trying to save the world. And while he does get excited when he sees panties (what young man wouldn’t), he’s not pervy about it. I really like that aspect of him. Though he does look rather awesome powered-up on panty energy.
Haunting the unoccupied Korai House bedroom, Room 203, Chiranosuke is essentially Yuta’s sensei for all things spiritual and supernatural. He’s also a talking ghost cat. Chiranosuke seems to know everything about the afterlife and teaches Yuta how to be an astral body. He knows much about the happenings in the world, as well, but only shares when he feels like it. Chiranosuke tends to fall asleep if Yuta asks him too many questions or something he doesn’t wish to answer. The banter between the two is hilarious as he often harasses Yuta while providing guidance at the same time.
The remaining occupants of the Korai House, where much of the story takes place, includes Mikatan Narugino, Rabura Chichibu, Meika Daihatsu and Ito Hikiotani. Mikatan is an air-headed pop star by day and the superheroine, “Strange Juice,” by night. Rabura is a medium who doesn’t believe ghosts. She’s also a friend of Yuta’s pervy older sister, Akina.
Meika is the landlady of the Korai House and acts as Strange Juice’s technical support. Ito is Korai House’s resident gamer. She’s currently addicted to an online fighting game and rarely leaves her room.
How the World Ends
Without spoiling too much, even as a
ghos astral body, if Yuta stares at panties too long the world will end. Fortunately, spirits and astral bodies alike can move freely through time. Chiranosuke does a bang-up job explaining supernatural physics and ghostly abilities in-game. What you need to know now, however, is if you can’t resist the panties, time can always be reset. Not looking at panties isn’t always an easy thing to do. This is especially true when pulling tricks on people.
As an astral body, Yuta is unable to interact directly with the real world in an impactful way. So in order to accomplish pretty much anything, he needs to perform what Chiranosuke refers to as tricks. Performing tricks, though simplistic in nature, adds a welcome layer of interactivity not often found in visual novels. Players both scare and surprise Korai House residents in an effort to get them to notice something or go somewhere.
While not meant to be challenging, it’s easy to mess up the order in which to do tricks. Players float around a girl’s living spaces, observing it from all angles, looking for objects to interact with. It’s during this time that their panties are typically shown. And with only a finite amount of spirit energy, players must perform their tricks wisely or it’s bye-bye humanity.
Leveling-up Yuta’s spirit power by performing tricks and trick chains is a large part of the game. The higher his level, the more he’ll be able to interact with the real world as an astral body. The ultimate goal of this is to find a way to get his body back and save the world! And one of the first tasks towards this end is to track down the Nandara Gandara.
It’s an ancient Indian text, supposedly located in the Korai House. The writing and diverse plot points are top notch in Punch Line. Kotaro Uchikoshi, the writer for the Zero Escape Trilogy, truly put together something great in this anime-turned visual novel.
The game was a joy to experience and I cannot wait to see how the world is saved. Visual novel fan or not, the characters, writing, and unique gameplay are all easily appreciated and enjoyed. And while the fan service is definitely there, it’s not the focus of the game. In fact, in a perfect, non-destroyed world, you’ll see as few panties as possible.
Punch Line review code provided by PQube Games. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.