Tokusatsu and eroge are not necessarily the first two things you might think of combining together but they actually complement each other better than you would think. Dengeki Stryker mixes in tales of hot-blooded courage with transforming cyborgs and combines it with sexy time adventures. I first became aware of this series when Mike Dent mentioned it in his Friday Ace podcast. The opening video with a song by Masaaki Endoh of Jam Project and animation directed by Shinichi Watanabe immediately told me this was something to watch out for. Since MangaGamer does some rather robust demos so I was really looking forward to what they would release for Dengeki Stryker since they were doing the English adaptation. After playing it I learned it was not exactly the game I originally thought it would be. The question was did I enjoy what I discovered it to be.
Yuuki Yamato is your standard superhero obsessed boy. He has a bold heart but he does not have the iron body to back up his love of justice. One day a mysertious man offers Yuuki a bargain. The old man will give him the powers of his cyborg hero, Stryker Zero in return for all his memories. When Yuuki awakes he only remembers being Stryker Zero and cannot understand why he is now trapped in a child’s body in a Japan he does not recognize. Ten years pass as Yuuki awkwardly waits for the forces of the Balbora Empire to attack. When Yuuki moves to Tokyo for High School the day he has been preparing for arrives. But it seems his lost memories are catching up to him when he runs into his forgotten childhood friend Haruna Hongo. What exactly was the price of becoming a hero?
At first I assumed Dengeki Stryker was going to be something like Golden Knight Garo. Since it was a tokusatsu visual novel I assumed it was going to be serious, mature, and sexy with lots of hoot blooded fight scenes. In all actuality Dengeki Stryker is best summed up with Full Metal Panic! + Excel Saga. It is first and foremost a silly comedy. That is not to say that there is not some exciting tussles filled with physic powers, mechanical maneuvers, ninja techniques, and manly courage. Like Full Metal Panic! while the comedy is strong there is also some solid battles to keep things interesting. But they are mostly there to pump you up in between comedy scenes.
It turn out that like Excel Saga the opposing sides actually live right next to each other. Since Yuuki in living on his own in Tokyo he only has his shoestring allowance from his mother to make it in the big city. This means he lives in a super economy apartment complex next to the invaders from the Balbora Empire. Despite being god like psychics their lack of funds and need to keep a low profile have them living just as impoverished as their crime fighting neighbor. This means the hero and the villains spend more time clipping coupons and hunting down discounts then they do fighting each other.
The main gag is that despite having paper-thin disguise no one seems to be able to recognize each other off of the battle field. Yuuki sees the people next door as the upstanding foreigners who work hard and play even harder. He often mentions how he has to fight hard so he can make Japan safe for everyone including stand up immigrants like his new friends. The Balbora troops on the other hand frequently remark that when they conquer Japan they hope all their new citizens are as kind and virtuous as the wonderful boy next door. But when they only are in their oh-so-very-slightly-different looking costumes they are fighting each other at full power.
At the same time Yuuki is doing his best to fit in at school but much like Sousuke Sagara he is very bad at staying undercover. While he thinks he is blending in perfectly most people at school think he is a grade A psycho. The only people who interact with him are his child hood friend, her exasperated friend Sayaka Ichimonji, and Rin Kazumi a Balbora spy who is just as horrible at blending in. Yuuki instance of calling anything even slightly personal a piece of classified information is the tip of the iceberg with his clumsy attempts to live a double life.
The main trio has a distinctly Full Metal Panic! styled love triangle. Yuuki is the oblivious solider. He only lives for protecting people and therefore all other concerns are secondary. He is a kind-hearted boy but his single-minded worldview can make him good to know when you are in trouble but very difficult to get close to. Haruna is the gentle former girl next door who is desperately trying to get Yuuki to remember her. She is Yuuki constant ally despite their years apart and his constant odd duck behavior. Haruna is the Tessa of the two girls. In turn Sayaka is the Chidori. Sayaka constantly busts Yuuki’s balls when he acts like a moron but obviously has a soft spot for the guy. Her family runs the cafe that becomes a hang out for both sides of this little war.
Along the way Yuuki gets a rather unusual roommate by the way on a ninja named Jack. Jack is from Texas and came to Japan to be a ninja. Jack is also a huge clueless weeaboo who has a very warped view on the homeland of ninjutsu. Jack winds up getting saved from starvation by Yuuki who then finds this little mooch in his service. It is also rather quickly obvious that Jack is actually much more of a kunoichi than a ninja if you catch my drift. With Gemini Sunrise being the samurai cow girl from Texas, Cathy McMahon the cowgirl pilot from RahXephon, and Jack King the cowboy mecha jock from Getter Robo the Japanese sure love their cowboys from America.
The Balbora soldiers are pretty much secondary main characters from how much they appear in the story. Overall they seem like stand up people if they were not using their powers to overthrow the government. They are a motley crew of everything from a dapper gentleman who controls gravity, to a visual kei styled pyrokinetic, to a super intelligent talking dog. When they are not devastating downtown they most seem like a lovable if slightly dysfunctional family. They are very Florsheim in that manner. Their intelligence officer Rin Kazumi has no powers so they sent her undercover to the local school to find out Stryker Zero’s secret identity and try to seduce him. Colonel Mirror is the only member of the crew who lives on his own and he seems to have some secret agenda. He clearly know more than he lets on and is the only one who can see through Yuuki’s flimsy disguise.
Overall being from OVERDRIVE it means that Dengeki Stryker has very strong production values. Crisp and colorful character designs, rousing music, and a surprising amount of animated clips. It is hardly an anime with a lot of text but I was impressed that they had at least one animated scene per chapter of the story. A bit more surprisingly was there were very few choices to make in the demo. All the decisions seemed to revolve around either favoring Haruna or Sayaka. I wonder if there are any actual choices that effect the plot or does it all just come down to who you get in the sex scenes.
I find it amusing that other than the obligatory bath scene with all the beautiful girls (from both sides) there was not that much nudity and absolutely no sex in the demo. In return the teasers at the end of the demo made damn sure to show you that there would be some sexy time scenes if you got the full version. They clearly know how to sell these games. I think the story is strong enough that it does not need the sex but they also know that is a major reason people play these games.
I’m not usually one to complain about it but Haruna and Sayaka have a bit too much of the same face phenomenon. I can always tell everyone in Hayate the Combat Butler and Gundam SEED apart but I find myself confusing Haruna and Sayaka on occasion. Sometimes it a plainly obvious which is which but other times I have to just have to check the text so see who is talking. The thing is that Jack, Rin, Hiruko are all distinct in their character designs from each other and the main two girls. The guys all look nothing like each other. There could be a plot reason for it revealed later on or it just might be a Betty and Veronica thing.
I have to say that MangaGamer is fairly savvy in making their demos. They distinctly give you enough so yo get the overall mood of the story, the cadence of the writing, and a grasp of the characters. At the same time you don’t feel like you the rug was pulled out from underneath you feet too far into the game. A distinctly healthy portion. I think the ultimate decided factor merely comes down to watching the opening to the game. It will easily decide if you are going to like the game or not. If you are not instantly won over then nothing well sell you. But if you like romantic comedies with a manly twist this game will be one to get when in comes out on June 22nd. If the ending is as strong as the opening I am hoping MangaGamer will consider getting Chou Dengeki Stryker as well. We need more hot-blooded visual novels.