Friday, 21 September 2018

Plk Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Time Tenshi series

Wondering what this series is about? What's with the "crappy" rating system? Find out all about it here​​​​​​​!

While not nearly as famous as Winged Cloud’s Sakura games, Silver Cow Studio’s Time Tenshi is one of the longest-running EVN series, following a single storyline and consistent cast of characters since late 2015. So far, its developers published three, fairly substantial entries in the franchise: Time Tenshi, Time Tenshi 2 (released in mid-2016 and later expanded significantly in the Special Edition version) and Time Tenshi Paradox – an episodic game, with two parts already available and most likely more coming in the near future. All of them, unusually at this day and age, follow a relatively tame, ecchi formula with no actual hentai scenes – a choice Silver Cow seems to be quite dedicated to, despite the general trend of inserting 18+ patches into everything that can even remotely justify the full-on adult content. But, enough of history lessons – how’s the story of busty time travellers and sexy side effects of temporal dislocation holding up in the current, competitive market of anime boob slideshows? Surprisingly well, I’d say! Or at least, to a certain point...

Time Tenshi starts with a bang and soon after, follows it up with a few extra ones. The first scene features our male lead, Kenji (the usual faceless, high-schooler protagonist-kun), witnessing his house burning down along with his parents. After being hospitalized for a few months because of the shock, he’s picked up by his only close relative – maternal grandfather, an elusive scientist who was barely present in his family’s life. He invites Kenji to live in his laboratory complex, where he hides… A time machine, obviously! And while this might be quite predictable, there’s another important twist, which will be a leading theme in the Time Tenshi games from this moment forward: time travel has a fairly peculiar side effect when used by women, making their hormones go out of control, their boobs and butts grow enormously (until they return to their time) and turning them… Eager, for a brief time after they come back from the past (that’s the one direction in which the time machine works). And the professor’s assistants happen to be three gorgeous women in overly-revealing uniforms! Who would’ve thought!
            The game is, thus, a real treat for all kyonyuu fans and uses the trashy idea surprisingly well – the absurd notions are inserted into a fairly consistent storyline about the dangers of manipulating time, having a few fun plot twists and some borderline-interesting moments. While it never reaches the levels of serious science-fiction storytelling, it’s also not as brain-dead and superficial as it would be in a typical Sakura game. The two primary heroines are typical cheerful & energetic vs. serious & refined tropes, but their light-hearted bickering and different reactions to the aforementioned side effects of time travel are mostly fun to read. I was also quite fond of the protagonist, who’s made to be a rather resilient individual, never taking advantage of the girls despite their vulnerable state many times throughout the story and rejecting unwanted advances from the game’s antagonists (obviously, also a bunch of attractive women). While this means he keeps the girls at a distance throughout the game (which ends up with a cliff-hanger BTW, leading straight into the sequel), his respectful attitude feels a bit refreshing in an ecchi game and leaves space for some genuine romance later on.
            Of course, as you could probably deduce from what I’ve written so far, Time Tenshi is rather tame, even among other non-porn fanservice EVNs. However, it’s relatively well-produced and fun – while I don’t think it could be considered a prime source of fapping material (unless you’re REALLY into giant breast), it’s simply enjoyable to read and look at, in exactly the brainless, relaxing manner you’d expect from ecchi stuff. Quite recommended!
Final Rating: Golden Poo! 
Time Tenshi 2 picks up directly where its prequel ended and follows a nearly identical formula. After creating a time paradox in the first game’s ending, the team deals with its slightly-disturbing aftermath and prepare to face new challenges, as a new iteration of their old antagonists shows up in the newly-formed timeline. Disrupting slightly the previous bliss of the Time Tenshi squad is a new heroine, a rather abrasive and deceptively-cute former cheerleader named Tessa, who openly comes into conflict with the old cast. While she seems rather unlikeable and her behaviour is slightly confusing at first, she receives probably more backstory and development than any other character in the series, making her quite an interesting addition and creating some fairly-believable drama. While the general plotline quickly reaches purely absurd territories, the character interactions and dialogues are at the same, relatively solid level they showed in the first game.
            One completely new feature, however, is the romance, which was added with the Special Edition release in the form of heroine-related choices, extra scenes with additional backstory and interactions with the protagonist, and romantic epilogues, one for each of the four girls. The romance is tame and cute above anything else, but faithful to the characterization of both the protagonist and the heroines. It might not be what you would expect from an ecchi VN, but is pretty satisfying nonetheless, also because the game really never goes overboard with trashiness and harem tropes, so the build-up to the love story aspect feels surprisingly genuine. There’s even no “obligatory harem ending”, which I applaud, as it would simply fit poorly with the characters – this is kind of basic consistency that very few fanservice games ever try to bother with.
            In the end, it’s more Time Tenshi though, so it might not be for those not willing to cope with obnoxious technobabble, pseudo-sci-fi storytelling and infinite amount of breast-expansion CGs (it also adds quite a lot of size-altering/giantesses to the mix, so I finally have a non-JP VN that I can recommend to my macrophile acquaintances). Still, even though its gimmick is in no way my personal fetish, I’ve enjoyed the let’s plays of it quite a lot and probably wouldn’t have the worst time reading it by myself – among the pure ecchi EVNs available on Steam, it’s definitely among the better ones and on that ground, I can quite genuinely recommend it as a source of mindless, kyonyuu-filled fun.
Final Rating: Golden Poo! 
Time Tenshi Paradox continues what pretty much seemed like a concluded story from Time Tenshi 2, in an episodic manner. While the first two games could be considered relatively content-rich, this time the story is spoon-fed to us in a bit over hour-long pieces – this is already a bit of a bummer, considering the long distance between releases of every new chapter. Paradox is also quite a mess story-wise, starting a pretty grand new intrigue and further exploring some of the events from the first games (including strangely pointless flashbacks to the characters that are effectively removed from the story by this point), with a pace that doesn’t hold much promise to get anywhere before 2022. And even beyond that, it completely ignores the Time Tenshi 2's Special Edition romance endings and while romance wasn’t ever the main focus of the series by any means, this makes the new chapters feel disjointed – pretty much a step backwards from the narrative point of view.
            The weird feeling doesn’t end there though. The new characters, coming from a future with vastly more advanced time travel technology, seem to be resistant to breast-expanding side effects of going to the past, making the game’s primary gimmick strangely underemphasized. While I never expected I’d be missing this kind of contrived, trashy plot element, the “does it even qualify as a Time Tenshi game at this point?” thought was very much alive in my mind through much of the playthrough. While the art, writing and music are at pretty much the same level of quality they always were, the whole game simply feels a bit pointless, without clear direction and any kind of conclusion in sight. While it might be worth it for the most devoted fans of the series (if those are a thing...?), it’s generally very skippable, at least until all of the episodes are out and the story properly concluded.
Final Rating: Rabbit poo 
Time Tenshi series is not what I expected it to be – while I thought I’d encounter a particularly cheap and trashy mass of ecchi fodder, I’ve actually found something genuinely amusing and decently-put-together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much ecchi trash – but ecchi trash that has fun by telling cheesy stories and playing with its cast of characters, rather than just give a paper-thin excuse to constantly show off fanservice CGs and call it a day. This might seem like quite a low standard, but that’s what this series is – looking at the bottom of the barrel and sometimes findings things worthy of the dubious honour of being “the best of the worst”. The cream of the crap. And Time Tenshi, my dear readers, is exactly that.
            In two weeks, we’ll continue our adventure with Silver Cow Studios, taking a closer look at the ecchi games they made outside of the Time Tenshi franchise. And once again, my special thanks go to Bosskwar, whose videos proved an invaluable help in the process of preparing this article. ;)

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