This Mortal Coyle

Hoshi from How to Date a Magical Girl

This column is reprinted from Unwinnable Monthly #116. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Fictional companions and goth concerns.

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How to Date a Magical Girl is a dating sim that fulfills the standard harem tropes: the girl next door, the shy one, the Type A student, the haughty princess and the jock (all of whom are, as the game carefully points out, over eighteen). And while I did successfully woo my Chosen One (the ultra-powerful, ultra-studious Miyu) with gifts and chess-playing dates, I’m not here to write about any of the girls.

I’m here to write about one very good boy.

Several months into your time at the academy, Hikari – your childhood friend and literal girl next door – approaches with a favor. While practicing magic, she summoned a familiar. Unlike the demonic familiars I wrote about last month, this familiar is a Shiba Inu. In Hikari’s words, “My bedroom filled with blue smoke, and then all of a sudden this big fat puppy dropped from the ceiling!” But Hikari’s mother won’t allow a dog in the house and she needs you to take care of him. You have no choice but to agree.

Hoshi demands a lot of attention. He constantly asks you to bring him lemon-lime soda and take him to the beach. When you refuse, he becomes irate: “What did you just say to me, you little bitch?” “I’m gonna mess you up! Get over here!” His eyes glow white, his teeth flash, he threatens your life. “You’ll pay for this, Deirdre . . . Mark my words. One day, you will pay.”

The problem with Hoshi’s beach obsession is that he’s a perv. One day, you take him to the beach when the full force of your harem is present. When Hoshi sees the girls in their swimwear, he can only say, “Glorious . . . Glorious summer youth!” The dateable girls don’t see you and Hoshi at first, and talk amongst themselves about their breasts. Right before someone takes off her top (naturally), they hear panting and look up to see . . . Hoshi.

Right before someone takes off her top (naturally), they hear panting and look up to see . . . Hoshi.

The girls then accuse me of being a pervert, which puzzled me slightly. You can choose whether to play as a generic femme or masculine avatar, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference in dialogue options. I went femme, so I’m not sure why the other girls would be incensed that I overheard them talking about breasts, which my avi also has. The girls make “pervert” accusations no matter what and other male characters (including Hoshi) insistently call you “bud.”

But what am I doing? I’m not here to write about any of that! As Hoshi says, “How about you pay me some attention for once, huh?”

If you continue acquiescing to his demands by taking him to the beach, you can ask him to perform magic tricks. This mechanic really changed the game for me: Hoshi can summon money, alchemical ingredients and even girls’ affection from the magical void. It’s a wheel of fortune whose only downside is wasting precious game time (you have to get a girlfriend by the new year and need time to work at your part-time job to make money to buy presents to win affection).

After leveling up Miyu’s affection enough to spend the night with her, I returned home to find a very angry Shibe. I had neglected him for an entire night. Hoshi says, “Where the fuck were you last night, you little bitch? Think you’re so cool because you finally lost your virginity? I’m going to pee on your bed, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Is this great in-game dialogue, or is this the greatest in-game dialogue ever written?

My complaint, perhaps, is in the game’s finale (which does not involve Hoshi). How to Date a Magical Girl gets darker and darker as the plot progresses, delving into murder and madness. For me, this is a good quality in a dating sim – I like to be surprised. That said, I ultimately found myself a little disappointed with the conclusion’s –

No. I didn’t come here to write about that.

Who cares about dateable characters – who cares about being called a pervert – who cares about getting lingerie-clad images of girls you’ve bought presents – when your talking Shiba Inu can summon money from a magical void? As Hoshi says, “Come one, you know you wanna play with this fat little pupper!”

I do, Hoshi. I do.

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Deirdre Coyle is a goth living in Brooklyn. Find her at deirdrecoyle.comor on Twitter @deirdrekoala.

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