Since 1996 J-List has been working to create a market for English-translated visual novels from Japan, also called eroge, “gal” games, H-games and, in the case of romantic games with female main characters, otome games. Visual novels are a highly developed art form in Japan, with stories of varying complexity in which you must find a way to woo female (or male) characters and get them to fall in love with you, though there’s often a lot more going on than that, depending on the game. These games occupy a strong place in popular culture here, and many have spawned sprawling commercial empires like the Fate/stay night franchise. It’s a common meme in some anime series, like FLCL, Excel Saga, Welcome to the NHK, Genshiken and of course The World God Only Knows, to de-construct the themes in visual novels in playful ways. In the popular anime Chuunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai, the attractive Nibutani suddenly approaches the main character to ask if she can come over to his house on Sunday. Later he’s worried: “I haven’t raised my ‘affinity parameters’ with her, and there hasn’t been a ‘special romantic event’ between us either. Situations like this usually lead to a ‘bad end’ in love-simulation games.”
I like series that de-construct visual novel themes.