Games

Taisho x Alice Episode 3 Otome Review – Life is but a Fairytale

Taisho x Alice Episode 3 is the third installment in the fantasy otome series developed by Primula. For the series that just keeps pushing boundaries, episode 3 hits us deeper into the twisted fairytale adventures of Yurika and her gender flipped fairytale princes! This time around we get to romance cool beauty, Snow White and the mysterious Wizard, and if the other games are anything to go off, this latest installment is gonna be a wild ride! 

Game Details

Story

Just in case you missed out on the first two TaiAli games, here’s a basic rundown of the plot—Taisho x Alice is an episodic fantasy otome game, featuring love interests based on gender flipped versions of fairytaled characters. Each installment focuses on two character routes: Episode I Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, the second episode focuses on Gretel and Kaguya, while Episode III give you the chance to romance Snow White and the Wizard. 

Taisho x Alice tells the story of a young girl named Yurika Arisu, who wakes up alone in a dark world. After wandering around for she encounters a foul mouthed young man who refers to himself to Alice. The two of them decide to continue on together and soon discover a mysterious crystal that transports her to a place known as the Looking Glass World, where she encounters a group of fairy tale boys all of whom need her help. 

Characters 

Snow White Route – Starting with the Man in the Mirror

CV. Syouta Aoi

ONCE UPON A TIME, you meet a handsome prince who rescues you from a sticky predicament. It’s love at first sight—assuming you can get past your overprotective brothers, that is! Everything about him is a mystery…

While walking in the woods one night she, gets her hair caught on a branch and is rescued by a passing Snow. She falls in love with him at first sight and does everything in her power to bag her boy, despite the meddling of her four, over protective brothers–the LIs from the previous episodes are recast as her adoring onii-chans and it’s just as hilarious as it sounds (Gretel in particular is still hot for his big sis in this route too). 

Snow White is one of the love interests that you don’t get to spend much time with in the other episodes. He’s cute, but ultimately pretty distant whenever he shows up in the story, so I really didn’t know what to expect from him in his own route. A cool and composed young man, with ethereal beauty, Snow White is the epitome of a fairytale prince, but his aloof demeanor and blunt words leave much to be desired, which of course does nothing to dissuade Yurika. Snow can be a bit cold, the boy has NO filter, but he is never malicious, just brutally honest. I really liked the relationship between Yurika and Snow, it was cute to see him rebuff her advances only for her to comeback full force. I love characters that play hard to get, because it makes it so much more rewarding when you finally get them to open up, and when Snow smiles, it’s like a rare treat~  He is a lover of books, especially fairytales which he uses to escape the hardships of life… in a way that hits a little to close to home… 

This route was very different from those in the previous episodes, because it wasn’t apparent what the twist was until almost the very end. There’s an underlying sense of unease throughout the story, but when sh*t hits the fan, it really goes off the rails—and not just with Snow, but with Yurika as well. Despite being absolutely gorgeous (to the point that he’s often mistaken for a girl), Snow hates the way he looks and he gets pretty upset whenever someone calls him cute—which is directly tied in with his relationship with his mother. Ryoushi also plays a pretty big role in this route, and I really liked the brotherly relationship he and Snow share (it makes me want to romance him even more). This route goes into some pretty dark places and it’s just so heartbreaking and bittersweet. By the end of it, I just wanted to give Snow a big hug and stroke his hair to make everything better. This route is a perfect example of how much emotional trauma can affect one’s life… 

The Wizard Route – The Man Behind the Curtain

CV. Wataru Hatano

ONCE UPON A TIME, you live in a fine mansion with five handsome brothers: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Kaguya, Snow White, and Gretel, all of whom are currently engaged to you. But then you receive an anonymous threat: If you don’t choose to marry one of the five by the next full moon, you’re dead meat! Naturally, you hire a private detective to get to the bottom of this case.

So the route starts off in a similar fashion to Red’s route in Episode I; Yurika is sent a threatening letter—if she doesn’t marry either Cinderella, Red, Kaguya, Snow White, or Gretel by the next full moon she will be killed. So, Ryoushi and Woolfe hire private investigator, Wizard to track down the culprit and protect Yurika. Of course because this is an otome game, Yurika is living under the same roof as all of her potential suitors (living her best reverse harem life). Of course her fiance/step-bros are the prime suspects and the majority of the route consists of Yurika and Wizard interrogating each of them. Wizard is good natured and upbeat, and always seems to know more than he lets on, but whenever Yurika asks him direct questions, he is noticeably evasive. 

The Wizard’s route is interesting, because in the other routes he’s more or less this mysterious figure behind most of the goings on in the story—he exists at times outside of the stream of the narrative (kind of like an all knowing observer), and other times he has an active hand in the way the events in the story play out. So, it was a bit strange to see him front and center in his own story, because I’m so used to him showing up during the Bad Endings or as the “narrator” wrapping up the Happily Ever After Endings. And in a way his route doesn’t really play out like the rest either, rather, the first half of it is just a rehash of the backstories of the other love interests—it’s supposed to be his route, but you spend the bulk of it “getting to know” the other guys.  It honestly felt like a trip down memory lane for a bit and then like a freight train here comes the plot! So, this route is locked at the start of the game—a first for the series—and for good reason, because this route explains so much about what’s been going on behind the scenes and let me say it’s a LOT to take in… but I won’t spoil the surprise for you, just know that Wiz is best boy! 

Yurika is still the best Otome Heroine

arisu-yurika-taisho-x-alice

I thought this before in Episode II, but Yurika is a manipulative character—sure she can be sweet and demure and she seems to genuinely want to help those around her, but I don’t know, I can’t help but feel like she’s a puppet master behind the scenes pulling the strings in a twisted stage play. She doesn’t really help the love interests overcome their flaws, she twists them around her little finger until they just can’t help but rely on her for their happiness. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Yurika, she’s funny and smart and not afraid to fight for what she wants. Honestly, she is one of the best otome heroines I’ve seen in a long time—all hail Sass Queen, Yurika! She calls all the boys on their sh*t and there is something really endearing about her stubborn optimism. She doesn’t wait for the LIs to make the first move, she does and boy does she go hard for these boys! She has that Peggy Hill confidence we all strive for in our lives and I love her all the more for it!

Vibe Check – The Translation and Localization

The translation is really growing on me the more I play these games, maybe it’s because the lighthearted tone helps balance out some of the darker moments in the story. There were a few dialogue choices that got a good laugh out of me and I don’t care what anyone says, sassy Yurika is an absolute delight! There were some times where conversations will come to a complete stop while one character explains a term or a phrase being used—in Snow’s route where Yurika has a whole internal monologue about how gender roles affect a person’s speech, which while informative was absolutely pointless from a narrative perspective. 

Yurika also has this cute quirk where she mixes in Japanese phrases and words in with her speech that I found to be really fun. I really like that the translator included the English meaning of these phrases in the text (which saved me from having to dredge through the foggy memories of my undergrad Japanese studies). There were some instances where some of the word choices were a bit too “colorful” and it kind of took me out of the scene for a bit—’Wassup my brother?’ being one of the ones that really stood out to me… but, that aside, I really liked the localization overall. The stylistic choices are fun and there’s nothing wrong with spicing up a translation every now and again. 

Overall Thoughts

So, the aesthetics,  I really love the music in this game! The BGM is whimsical and fun, really conveying the fairytale theme of the game. The opening theme ‘Some Song I Forgot’ changes up with each new chapter, kind of reflecting the tone of that Episode’s routes—this time around the opening uses heavy electric guitar and seems a bit more off kilter than the others, which given how off the rails this story has gone is fitting. The ending theme ‘With All of My Heart’ is so much softer (the kind of theme you expect to find at the end of a fairytale story). The art is gorgeous, I love the character designs in this game, they’re a nice mix of Japanese and Western fashions—and I will admit I am a sucker for a sharp dressed man!  The blazers and vests give me LIFE!! But, even more than the CGs or the characters designs, I LOVE the cute chibi end cards that you get at the end of each Happy Ending—they’re just so precious and I legit have a special folder on my desktop where I have them all saved. 

There is a self awareness to this series that sometimes crosses over into fourth wall breaking territory and I can get behind a game that knows to poke fun at itself. Wizard’s route in particular is full of scenes and conversations where the characters are practically looking at the camera and winking while they go through the motions of the plot. The whole series has the feel of one of those anthology series, where you have the same cast of characters who take on different roles in each new iteration of the series. They’re more or less the same characters, with minor tweaks here and there that change either their backstories or motivations to suit the needs of the story, and I kind of like it because it really gives you a chance to see the full scope of the characters and their personalities.

But, you know, it’s kind of weird seeing the LIs from the previous episodes as Yurika’s “brothers” this time around, especially Gretel, who manages to retain his Sis-con personality from Episode II (blessedly without the cage). But, I will admit that all the LIs really have great chemistry with one another, their different personalities and quirks work well together and I could kind of believe they were really siblings. Honestly, the moments when all the guys were together teasing each other and just hanging out, were some of my favorite scenes in the game, because they added some much needed levity to the story—which goes to some pretty dark places. 

Because the story gives switches the POV between Yurika and the LIs it Taisho x Alice feels like a more comprehensive story, as we get much more insight into who they are as characters and why they do the things they do. We’re not stuck filtering the story through a single lens—and given what we know about Yurika, she might not be the most reliable narrator, so it’s nice to get some perspective from the other characters too. It works especially well in Episode III, because it becomes apparent fairly early on in each route that both Snow White and the Wizard are much more aware of what’s really going on in the Looking Glass World than any of the other LIs.  

Episode III is a doosy… I remember reading that with each successive chapter, the story goes further and further off the rails and boy were they not kidding. Taisho x Alice has more in common with Grimm than it does with the Disney fairytales I grew up with and oddly enough the dark twists really add a bit more depth to the characters and the stories.  Each route borrows elements from their fairytale counterparts, enough that they’re recognizable, but also different enough that each story stands on it’s own merit. This episode is where we finally start to get to the meat of the story and peel back some of the mystery each of the previous episodes have been building up towards. There were a lot of hints along the way but Episode III kind of rips off the Band-Aid and sometimes the truth is more terrifying than fiction.  

While a lot of questions get answered in Episode III there is still on HUGE mystery that still needs to be solved and that is Alice! We get a pretty big reveal in Snow White’s route, but by the end of the game there’s so much more left to be explored for him and Yurika. But, seeing as Episode 4 is exclusively reserved for Alice, I figure we’ll get those answers then… but trust me when I say, I need answers like yesterday! 

The Verdict – Is Taisho x Alice Ep 3 Worth Playing?

The premise of the game is that Yurika is supposed to “save” her fairytale prince and live happily ever after with them, but the more episodes I play the more I wonder if that’s really the point of it all. The further we go down the rabbit hole, the more everything seems to unravel and with each piece of the puzzle that falls into place, the more questions I have. These topsy-turvy fairytales become more and more twisted with each new route, dredging up some very real adult fears, but no matter how dark this story gets, I can’t help but want to know even more!


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