My Girlfriend is the President, a visual novel from 2009, is the perfect antidote to today’s obsession with politics.
One of the most common complaints people level at today’s social media landscape is that they feel like there’s no escape from politics. Politics are everywhere, we’re told; all art is political. Everything is political. Everything must be analysed through a suitable “critical lens” and judged against today’s standards, regardless of when the thing under scrutiny was originally made.
And while there are some valuable conversations to be had, without a doubt, sometimes it’s exhausting. Sometimes you just want to escape, preferably while taking the piss out of the thing that has been exhausting you and filling your life with such relentless, joyless misery.
With that in mind, I present to you Alcot’s 2009 visual novel My Girlfriend is the President, also known as Osananajimi wa Daitouryou, brought west by JAST USA in 2011. This is a delightful comedic adventure that I still look back on very fondly today — and its inherent silliness feels like it might be more valuable than ever in today’s highly-strung online climate, so I highly recommend making some time for it.
In My Girlfriend is the President, we follow the story of Junichiro Hondo, a young man who is very surprised to discover one morning that not only has the “Snow House” appeared where his neighbour Yukino Ohama’s house used to be, but Yukino Ohama appears to have become the President of Nippon.
The astute will, of course, recognise the fact that real-life Japan does not work on a presidential system, and the reason for this peculiar situation is the fact that aliens crash-landed on Earth, inadvertently wiped out the existing government of Nippon and decided to rebuilt society, brainwashing everyone in the process to make them believe that nothing unusual had happened.
Trouble is, the only reference material the aliens had to go on was the cultural information stored in the “Hoyager” probe launched by “Ameriga” in the 1970s, and consequently they came to believe that all of Earth ran on the same political system as that country. So… well, that’s how things became how they are.
What then follows is a highly entertaining tale as Junichiro attempts to figure out exactly what on Earth has happened and why — as well as learning a few things about himself in the process.
Junichiro, at the outset of My Girlfriend is the President’s story, is a hormonal young teenage boy, wracked by the sort of impure thoughts that only teenage boys have. He takes pride in his filthy mind and openly admits to “sexually harassing” the people around him — including his neighbour (and now President) Yukino — though it’s worth noting that said “harassment” never escalates beyond inappropriate comments.
Naturally, this leaves Junichiro with plenty of opportunity for character development, and so, as the story proceeds down one of four different paths, he comes to understand the difference between love and lust — and eventually reaches the conclusion that making his chosen sweetheart smile is more important than anything else in his life.
As for those potential sweethearts, they’re a delightfully mixed bunch. One of them is, as you might expect, President Ohama, who has been friends with Junichiro since their shared childhood. She’s an adorable, energetic young girl who is in touch with her feelings and has learned how to be patient with Jun-kun over the years, even when he’s at his most inappropriate.
Elsewhere, we have the “Rusian” president Irina Putina, who is a textbook tsundere that it’s a delight to see gradually “crack” as her relationship with Junichiro develops. Then there’s Ran, who is an older sister-type character who turns out to be a magical girl. And Ell, who is a starship.
Yes, we’re firmly in absolutely ridiculous madcap comedy territory here, and My Girlfriend is the President does not hold back with its chaos. The main villain is Josef Mengele, for heaven’s sake, though fear not — he well and truly gets his comeuppance any time he even thinks about starting trouble.
But at the same time, My Girlfriend is the President manages to also tell some surprisingly intimate, touching love stories. Each of the main love interests has their own distinctive personality, wants and needs — and Junichiro needs to understand and appreciate that before they’ll let him into their hearts (and pants).
As an 18+ visual novel, there are plenty of sex scenes towards the middle of the story — it kind of feels like My Girlfriend is the President wants to get all the boning out of its system before building to a proper narrative climax (no pun intended) — but these are handled well, and do a great job of depicting the growing bond of trust and intimacy between Junichiro and his possible partners. The scenes with Ell are especially adorable; bet you’d never think banging a spaceship would make your heart melt so much, eh?
My Girlfriend is the President is a great example of the core appeal of visual novels. It’s pure escapism that proves surprisingly immersive while you involve yourself in it. Despite its bonkers premise and setup, it’s a game that features some surprisingly well-crafted and deeply loveable characters — and despite the fact that there are no meaningful choices to make other than which route you want to play, each of those stories will keep you thoroughly invested until the credits roll for the last time.
It may not be especially thought-provoking in the same way as more “highbrow” visual novels, but ever since I first played it in 2011 I’ve always looked back on it very fondly indeed.
And, as I say, in today’s world of never-ending political yelling and posturing on social media, it might just be exactly what you need to cheer yourself up a bit if you’re feeling a bit worn-out and run down.
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