Thanks to the hard work of the folks at Cherry Kiss, the Japanese eroge developer Miel may have more of its visual novels translated into English than any other one eroge company. I’ve reviewed Miel eroge a few times before (here, here, and here), but found the releases outpacing my interest, and haven’t talked about them in a few years. Instead of continuing to ignore them because of sheer quantity, I’m going to make their weight work for me and let you know exactly what you can expect from a Miel eroge, and how you can approach buying them to make the most of your money and interest.
Before going any further, this article is utterly NSFW, images included; you’ve been warned.
There isn’t a Miel eroge that can be labeled anything but nukige; that is, visual novels where the sexual content comes first and fast. In the case of Miel’s novels, this is as literal as it gets, with the first sex scenes taking place minutes into the plot, using some of the most ludicrous excuses to bring on the sex. Of course, some of their charm comes from how fantastical these initial scenes are, but it’s a double-edged sword — Miel eroge are not the kind of people who play with plot. The fap-fantasies their plots entail do matter, but only as much as a porn category matters in selling a fantasy. There’s no engaging story here.
Miel is like a renowned anime studio — anyone who knows them well enough can identify a Miel eroge from the design alone. All their modern releases use the open source visual novel engine Ren’py, so the controls are not only shared between their novels but by many others. Between the engine and their distinct art style, including the often voluptuous women, any screenshot from a Miel eroge that isn’t background art is identifiable. Quality wise, Ren’py has definitely helped Miel reach a level of consistent usability, and as long as huge tits aren’t a turn-off the art is good quality. Good, but not great. Miel art has its own charm from recognition if nothing else, but isn’t best-in-show even among nukige — that would be the equally oppai-obsessed Seishoujo (hyper NSFW). Lots of developers do better work, but they also finish games at a comparatively snail’s pace, so for consistent quick publishing nobody beats Miel.
Along with the large-breasted women, you can count on Miel eroge including a few other fetishes. Watersports are near-universal, as is mind-break, corruption, piercings, begging, impregnation, and pregnancy. I vaguely remember scat, but none of the novels I played for this analysis had it, so either I’m imagining things, or they’ve decided to stop including it (or I got very lucky). Various shades of non-consent show up, as does the occasional NTR. Sometimes there’s actual pet-play, and even free-use.
Near-universally, Miel novels include turning women into subjects and slaves, which brings us to:
Story, Writing, and Themes
The story in Miel eroge exists to sexually arouse, not to stimulate the mind. That said, the writers and/or translators do occasionally have fun with their jobs, and moments of fun shine through, especially comedy. There are fourth wall breaks, mockery of anime tropes, and even lampshading about how unlikely the very plot of their own eroge is. Sadly this comedy isn’t the point, and the Miel fantasies have common shared themes.
The most common theme is the transformation of women, usually powerful in some way, into slobbering mind-broken slaves. It’s also the most troubling because, for all that Miel is often satirizing the concept, they’re still portraying unhealthy and unrealistic depictions of women. As a fantasy, dominating or being dominated can be entertaining — even stress relieving. When done to personality-less, bland, female characters over and over again, it turns these drawn women into fap tools, and that’s a little on the nose for an eroge. While Miel’s novels can be lighthearted at times, the slavery obsession always makes them feel dark and dreary to some extent. Their protagonists are largely not people to be empathized with, which makes getting invested tough, even distasteful. Because most of their protagonists are the same person with a different name it lends a samey feel to Miel’s eroge as a whole, creating an effect of: “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”.
The only thing keeping Miel games fresh are their different plots and fantasies, but because the core fantasy is always the same — dominate some women until they are slaves to dick — they can only ever be so fresh. Weirdly this creates an effect where the more I played them for this analysis, the more they all felt like satire of themselves and each other. The ridiculousness of women getting one taste of sex and being banged into slavery by a schlubby virgin who can magically go for round after round starts to feel like an insult, the idea that any man might want something so mindless in their real life becomes a slight, and the idea of women dominated by dicking becomes more ridiculous from one eroge to the next.
Miel’s plots don’t do anybody any favors, making men and women into sex parodies of people, without enough actual story to fully develop personalities, or explore motivations, or do anything other than have a raunchy parade of sex CGs. With one caveat: the fewer female characters there are in a Miel game, the more space there is to explore what makes those characters unique, including the protagonist.
Best of Miel
There is no “worst” of Miel. Miel has reached such a standard that everything it releases has a moderate level of competence. Which games you should avoid are up to taste, based on fetishes. Maybe only a few novels are interesting to you because it’s so hard to find English releases of eroge about monster girls, or elves, or free-use, or dominating tyrannical women.
Alternately maybe the slavery or pregnancy content is a turn-off, or too questionable for you, in which case you should avoid Miel eroge with no exceptions except one.
That exception is the “best of Miel”: Genderbend Me! Sayonara Demon Dong
Sayonara Demon Dong, along with having an excellent, on point title, flips much of Miel’s script. The biggest difference from their other products is that the protagonist is the woman, not a generic male. The demon lord Bell has her gender changed from male to female due to magic gone wrong, and proceeds to enjoy the closest thing to a slice-of-life crossed with fantasy adventure story that Miel has. While still having plenty of fast and easy sex scenes, Sayonara Demon Dong focuses on the relationship between two characters, the protagonist Bell, and the hero who defeated her. There’s no slavery here, just a new woman enjoying her life and falling in love with someone she shouldn’t. It’s the forbidden love story in nukige form; Romeo and Juliet if it was a sex-filled isekai-inspired fantasy. Bell is fleshed out, unlike her male protagonist counterparts, and though the Hero Claus is somewhat flat and boring, it’s a good first step toward making any Miel character more interesting.
If only more women in Miel eroge could be converted to lovey-dovey sex lovers, instead of eye-rolling “pig-bitch” caricatures. As a breath of fresh air in Miel’s catalog, I wouldn’t mind more of what Sayonara Demon Dong provides.
I find Miel to be respectable for their consistent output, and their exploration of a breadth of fantasies. Their competence is appreciated, but their preference for sex scenes over plot, even over characterization, makes them feel repetitive no matter what window-dressing they are using. That repetition is all the worse because it falls on the backs of women made out to be slobbering sex slaves-in-waiting, and men presented as sex-predator virgins. I would advise anyone to pick and choose which of their novels to read carefully, because the occasional fantasy is fun, but Miel’s visual novels can quickly turn to self-parody and stain their own enjoyment. You can find over 30 Miel eroge on the JAST storefront.