Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru serves as a spin-off to the Grisaia series, which are arguably among some of the best modern visual novels around. Taking a hard left turn from the school life that perpetuated in those games, here we find one of the main protagonists in a standalone experience.
While many of the important characters from Grisaia make an appearance, you won’t need to have played any of those titles to enjoy your time here. They take on completely different roles during the story (other than Sachi, who still acts as a maid to Michiru and is still a consistent source of silly one-liners).
The lovably dimwitted Matsushima Michiru is a 14 year-old middle schooler working as a rookie idol who yearns to one day hit it big. Her weekends are spent performing on stage in a jazz bar with other idols, shelling her merchandise to the patrons.
One night, she takes a walk outside during the night and spots a shooting star. While dreaming of fame and admiration, her thoughts are suddenly interrupted by a talking cat named Nyanmel who comes crashing down from the sky.
Warning her of a cataclysmic event that threatens humanity’s existence, Michiru takes up the role of a magical girl to save mankind… but only after discovering that she was the only one who fit the qualifications to do so.
Along the way she will have to face off against her rival Kazami Kazuki, whom Michiru has a very unhealthy obsession with, as they work to protect the world.
The structure of the game is formatted like an anime series, complete with an opening, ending, recap, and preview. It’s an entertaining trope I wished more games explored. Characters also play into this aspect to a certain degree with sometimes hilarious results. It does a wonderful job acting as a parody to magical girl anime.
There is nothing in the way of player choice here as players will spend the entire time reading through the story with no interactivity to speak of. While this makes the game fully linear, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the story is superb and often entertaining. What helps is Michiru’s personality which exudes this delightful innocence, often devoid of self-awareness, which I found quite endearing.
Though Fruit of Grisaia leaned heavily into some serious topics that, at times, became highly emotional, Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru swings the other way by being very lighthearted with few exceptions.
While this may appear aggravating elsewhere, the writers pull it off well here with its brand of humor I couldn’t get enough of.
The art design is incredible. I have always been a huge fan of character artist Akio Watanabe’s work, who anime fans may know best as the designer behind Bakemonogatari and Nisekoi.
He produces some of the best work in the business. Couple that with the bright color palette and beautiful soundtrack, I had a pleasant time coursing my way through this game.
Being a huge anime fan, I loved how the narrative is presented as an episodic series. It may have not always been cohesive, but it still worked well here. Some people may be put off by its length but I enjoyed the time I had with the game.
Regardless of whether you have played the Grisaia series or are just a fan of visual novels in general, Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru is well worth a look.
It is important to note that the game is sold in two different parts on Steam, matching the way it was originally released in Japan. Be prepared to pick up both versions if you want to experience the game in its entirety though you could always dip your toe in. Just know that there is a huge cliffhanger at the end of Part 1.