With all the flashier titles in their catalog, Love Calls You Home is one of their underrated gems. It doesn’t come with all the gimmicks and angst of some of their more popular Otome Romance titles, so it’s pretty easy to overlook this unassuming slice-of-life romance. An overworked young woman finds herself in close quarters with a handsome and supportive guy, and while the circumstances for their cohabitation differ by route, the romance between the MC and her chosen love interest remains largely grounded in reality. The only “gimmick” is that a majority of the guys are secretly famous or have lucrative careers. I kind of got the impression that this was what Voltage was going for with their older title, Serendipity Next Door, which has a similar premise.
Currently, four out of the five love interests are available—Taiyo, Arata, Liam, and Hazuki. Because, I’m biased towards kuudere and tsundere, I picked Arata’s route as my first conquest of the game.
Also, because folks (myself included) are fussy about spoilers. Here’s your one and only spoiler warning. This review will have minor spoilers for Arata’s route and Love Brings You Home.
I waited to write this review because I didn’t quite know how I wanted to go about discussing Arata’s route. On one hand, I’m a fan of kuudere LIs, so I had no problem overlooking some of Arata’s less than stellar personality points, however, there were some pretty cringe-y moments in this route that will probably make some folks a little uneasy. So, if I had to sum up my feelings about this particular route, I’d have to say they’re a bit mixed…
Arata Yuki is a famous pianist who was forced to take a break from the music industry after he was involved in an assault (he beat up a music producer). Unable to play the piano he loves, Arata decides to find his childhood piano in hopes of recapturing the spark that made him fall in love with music in the first place. His search leads him straight to the MC doorstep—her late grandmother bought the piano for her when she was a child—and Arata insists that she let him stay in her house so he can make use of the instrument. Rightfully against letting a complete stranger live in her house, she turns him down, but when Arata saves her from a neighborhood prowler she decides it’s safer to have a male presence in the house.
The main plot kinda follows the usual cohabitation tropes, with Arata and the MC having to reconcile their difference while navigating the ups and downs of being roommates. There are central conflicts that are specific to both the MC and Arata, and each one gets an equal amount of screen time throughout. The first involves the MC’s attempts to get her jerk of a boss to approve her new toy proposal and the second focuses on Arata’s attempts to rediscover his passion for the piano. Unlike most Voltage Inc. games where the MC takes on a more supportive role, by helping the LI resolve their issues, Love Brings You Home reverses this idea an makes the LI the main source of support for the MC. While the MC is at work Arata is the one who stays home and takes care of the housework—cooking, cleaning, the whole nine yards. But the game takes it a step further, by having Arata also offer emotional support for the MC—he listens to her vent about her frustrations at work and when she needs a reprieve from the life, he plays the piano for her. Like most kuudere characters he’s a bit gruff about it, and he’s not above throwing a little shade as those types of LIs are wont to do, but when it counts he does go out of his way to make her feel better when she’s down.
Now, right about now you’re probably waiting for me to get to the “cringe-y” bits trust me I’m getting there. So, I didn’t like the way the writers introduced the whole living together scenario. Like I mentioned, a prowler breaks into the MC’s house and Arata breaks in to save her and she is so grateful for his help that she offers to let him live in her guest house so he can be close to the piano. However, just a few scenes before Arata also barges into the MC’s house uninvited, under the guise of reclaiming “his” piano and remember at this point in the story Arata is a stranger.
The writers imply that what he does is okay because his intentions weren’t nefarious, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a strange man thought it was okay to barge into the home of a single woman living alone. In any other situation, Arata would have been arrested for trespassing, but because this is an otome game that fact gets swept under the rug. There’s also a kiss that happens midway through the route, that, depending on whether you consider the MC’s budding crush on Arata consent, is hella forced. But, what makes it worse is how dismissive Arata is about the whole situation. He kind of acts like he did nothing wrong, meanwhile the MC is clearly shaken by the event and AVOIDS him for a few chapters because of it. He does apologize later for his actions, but even with that bit of retconning the whole thing kind of leaves of a bad taste in your mouth.
Those bits aside, I did enjoy playing Arata’s main story, the premise was good and the pacing was really well done. Arata is a solid kuudere love interest, so if you’re not a fan of characters that are initially cold towards the MC, you might find Arata’s behavior earlier in the route a bit frustrating. However, he clearly grows as a character, and it’s nice to see their relationship develop in a natural way (warts and all). I also really loved how Arata became a source of support for the MC, it’s not often that you see this kind of role reversal in otome games and I’d love to see more of it in the other routes.
The MC in this game is one of my favorite Voltage Inc. heroines because she is just so relatable. We’ve all at some point or another had to deal with crappy bosses and jobs and feelings of worthlessness. I can honestly say I’ve had a boss or two just like the one in this game and let me tell you, it really get really stressful dealing with that kind of toxic behavior on a daily basis. So there were moments in the game where I felt everything the MC was going through, and that was not something I never would have expected from a Voltage Inc. game.
Love Brings You Home drives home the point that sometimes what you need isn’t a whirlwind romance, but rather someone who is willing to be there for you when things get tough and quietly support you through life’s ups and downs. So, despite some hiccups along the way I recommend playing Arata’s Main Story, it’s well worth the price of admission.
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