A while back, you may recall that we discussed Immoral Study, a short-form visual novel by developer Scoop. While it certainly had its questionable aspects — particularly, as the title suggests, from a moral perspective — it presented an interesting case study in the use of the “short story” format for commercial visual novels.
The question of total duration and what is “good value” in terms of price versus playtime comes up over and over again when gaming is concerned. In terms of games with a strongly interactive, variable component that changes each time you play, there’s an argument to be made for developers keeping things going for as long as possible — but when we consider narrative-centric experiences like visual novels, the opposite can very much be true. Once a work has said what it needs to, it doesn’t need to stick around just for the sake of padding out that play time.
Immoral Study Lesson 2, like its predecessor, doesn’t really stick around long enough to outstay its welcome — but at the same time it feels like a complete, satisfying experience, with arguably a better sense of narrative payoff and closure than its predecessor offered. So let’s take a closer look.
In Immoral Study Lesson 2, we once again follow the misadventures of Professor Hitosuji, a private tutor who managed to wangle himself a coveted A-Rank tutor’s license thanks to his family connections. Hitosuji has little interest in teaching traditional lessons, however; he’s more up for using his position to take advantage of rich people.
Specifically, he repeatedly manages to position himself such that he is left alone with the daughters of wealthy families, at which point he inevitably indulges his selfish sexual desires with them — naturally raising some fairly serious questions over consent in the process.
In the case of Immoral Study Lesson 2, Hitosuji’s target is one Yuka Iijima, the daughter of a wealthy factory owner who has become rebellious and uncooperative in her teenage years. Iijima senior is keen to marry her off to someone wealthy who will inherit his factory, but Yuka isn’t all that keen on this plan; as such, she’s been letting her grades slip and taken on a seemingly delinquent air in an attempt to make herself somewhat more undesirable to any prospective suitors.
As we join the action in Immoral Study Lesson 2, Hitosuji manages to sweet-talk his way past the factory security guard and into Yuka’s bedroom through some rather underhanded means. Upon arrival, it becomes clear that Yuka is no ordinary teenage girl — well, perhaps we should say instead that she’s not an example of traditional femininity as Japanese society and culture would define it.
Her room is a mess of mechanical parts, scientific experiments and computer hardware, and it completely lacks any sort of traditional feminine touch. Her seating is an old tyre on the floor, and it’s clear she’s been using her room more as a sort of workshop than as a place purely to rest and relax.
At the same time, it’s immediately clear that expressing her passions in this way is something that makes Yuka feel comfortable and at ease; she knows she’s not traditionally feminine, and what her father and Hitosuji initially assumed was an air of delinquency is, in fact, just her expressing who she really is.
It doesn’t take Hitosuji long to discover that part of Yuka’s behaviour is down to the fact that she has feelings for a particular individual who works in the factory — but that she has been struggling to express herself towards him. This is the real cause of her rebellious behaviour; she was so resistant to the idea of her father marrying her off to any old random rich bloke that she became increasingly desperate to come up with a plan that would make her true love notice her.
I’ll leave exactly what transpires in this regard for you to discover for yourself — like its predecessor, Immoral Study Lesson 2 only takes about 30-60 minutes to play — but suffice to say this time around, there’s a certain amount of subverting expectations going on. While I’d hesitate to say that Hitosuji gets what he deserves, the end of the experience does make it clear that he’s not always the “winner”; there are people out there who are capable of outwitting even his wily ways.
This was true to a certain extent in Immoral Study Lesson 1, too; in the case of both games, the way in which the narratives wrap up makes the experience as a whole feel less sleazy. For sure, Hitosuji is still an absolute dirtbag — we get to ride along inside his head as he has all his inappropriate thoughts, remember — but one thing that the series as a whole makes clear is that he’s not the only one with sexual power.
In fact, there’s an argument to be made that his tendency to think primarily with his penis leaves him very open to manipulation by canny young women — and this is most definitely the case in Immoral Study Lesson 2.
This allows the sexual content of the game to work on a few different levels. Firstly, in the most superficial way, Immoral Study Lesson 2 is an exploration of a fantasy about being left in a position of power over someone who appears relatively vulnerable. Look a little deeper, and you’ll discover it’s actually also an exploration of a fantasy about being manipulated into doing the bidding of someone else through the use of sexuality. On top of that, it’s also a somewhat twisted love story about a wily young woman taking advantage of someone’s jealousy to get exactly what she wants.
Narratively, Immoral Study Lesson 2 is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor; the whole thing teases the direction that things are likely to go a little earlier, and that helps provide the more gratuitous sexual content with a feeling like it’s leading somewhere.
Gameplay-wise, meanwhile, it’s very similar — the game is once again positioned as a quasi-adventure game in which you’re presented with multiple choices for what Hitosuji should do next at regular intervals. More often than not, you simply need to click through every option as many times as possible, but there are a few exceptions.
Like the first Immoral Study, there are a couple of situations where picking the wrong choice can result in a hard Game Over and the need to restart or reload a save. But new to this version is a delightfully tense sequence where you’re presented with a series of time-limited choices, with one obviously “correct” answer and two stupid ones. It’s quite surprising how genuinely panic-inducing the context of the scene and the large on-screen timer bar actually is — so make sure you click carefully!
Graphically, the game is well put together; like its predecessor, several of the more erotic scenes in Immoral Study Lesson 2 are fully animated, but the static art is gorgeous in that distinct PC-98 style also. The voice acting for Yuka is very good, too; the speech brings a lot of life and personality to the character, and helps the whole experience feel a bit more immersive.
The main weak points of Immoral Study Lesson 2 are the very limited number of background music tracks, none of which are especially well composed, and all of which get a bit tiresome after a while, and some rather questionable localisation decisions in the dialogue for the English version. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but nothing takes me out of an erotic moment quicker than someone using words like “poontang” and “spamhammer”. Call me a traditionalist, I guess.
With all that in mind, Immoral Study Lesson 2 is actually a relatively worthwhile short read. While it might initially seem like a straightforward nukige that is about nothing more than realising a completely immoral fantasy — with some rather… creative use of mechanical implements — the narrative payoff and comedic moments towards its conclusion make the whole thing very enjoyable.
And if you don’t enjoy it? Well, you haven’t wasted any more than an hour of your time — and these days you don’t even have to pay anything to give it a look for yourself, because you can find it as part of the excellent Asenheim Project website.
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