Monday, March 02, 2009

The Heart-Melters #5 - Kaho


Who is she?
Although the genre is virtually non-existent in America, the dating sim is one of the most popular genres in Asia. Apparently there are a heck of a lot of desperate men willing to spend money to buy games dedicated to cute, anime-style girls. The dating sims range from mild, G-rated fantasies to sexually explicit packages designed to supply the real deal. Sister Princess is a dating sim that would be on the innocent side of the smut spectrum IF...IF it was not filled with incestuous innuendo. The general plot is that there are 12 sisters madly in love with their brother. It's not just the love one would naturally have for their family member. No. It's more than that. They WANT TO MARRY THEIR BROTHER! I've heard of brotherly love, but this is ridiculous! Kaho-chan is one of these 12 sisters, and she may be the second youngest. She's a lovable soul with a bubbly personality and a never-say-die approach to life. She's extremely clumsy and has nary a sense of balance. She trips on almost everything, but usually just laughs it off with one of her heart-melting giggles. She's just so innocently adorable. Oh yeah. Kaho is a cheerleader. Not a very good one, but cute.

Kaho's Influence (February 20, 2005-May 2005)
The story of Kaho's path to the Heart-Melters Gallery begins not long after Katsucon 10 in 2004. During that time, I was driven to compile a list of the 100 cutest anime girls in Word document known as Useless.doc. I'd go around to websites looking up different anime and judging the girls I see in cuteness before ranking them in my list. I should have known that this list would turn out to be useless, since list is just like any other list I tried compiling: I lost interest before I completed it. I managed to include 111 girls, although looking back, I can think of loads of changes I'd make. Maybe Misao shouldn't rank so high (6th.) Perhaps Faye Valentine is a bit too low (somewhere after 50.) However, what really killed the list was a particular anime known as Sister Princess. All 12 of the other sisters were amazingly cute. By the time I finished including all of the sisters, 10 of the 12 were on the list. Topping the list was a sister named Kaho. Yet I didn't feel it was right. I didn't even know Sister Princess existed only 30 minutes earlier, and now here comes all of the cute girls and they dominate (screw up) my list. It wasn't even a good anime. Most reviewers found it to be abysmal at best. And worst of all, the two people I found the cutest were the two youngest! (Their innocence really got to me.) I abandoned the project shortly afterwards

Fast forward to Katsucon 11 in 2005. It had been over a year since the anime convention that drove me to begin the useless list. Two things caught my eye while perusing the program: One is that they're showing The Cat Returns on Saturday at 6. (Disney refused to let them show it subbed). The other is that Sister Princess is being shown on Sunday at 12. I remembered Sister Princess as the anime full of cute girls that had disrupted my list. Yet I became rather intrigued. Was the show really as bad as people said, and are the girls really as cute as the pictures had suggested? On Sunday, I didn't make it into the video room until past halfway through the first episode because I was busy playing Mario Kart: Double Dash. The first girl I saw was pretty cute. I was thinking, "Man, that person is cute. I wonder where she had ranked on my list." Little did I know that she was Kaho, the apex of all Sister Princess sisters in cuteness! By the time my mind had clicked, I was already quite attracted to the adorable cheerleader wannabe in a green sweater and pleated skirt. (And in case you were wondering, the show is as bad as the review sites suggested. It was virtually incomprehensible. But the girls are cute all right...real cute!)

The Age of Kaho
Kaho-chan may be one of the youngest sisters, but even then she may actually be 11 - about the same age as the tomboyish Mamoru. After I had gone back to my dorm following Katsucon 11, I began to think about Sister Princess, especially about Kaho. I knew this was something special, something like what happened with Misty in 1999, Shiori Fujisaki in 2002, and Elizabeth Patterson in 2004. In fact, I realized all of these attractions were strong enough to warrant their own title: the Heart-Melters. (I wrote the original Heart-Melters Gallery thread during the weekend of February 26, 2005 - less than a week after seeing Kaho at Katsucon.) Over the next few days, I began searching for Kaho pics on Google. Some of the ones I found were pretty blurry, but a lot of them were bloody cute, all of which justified her place as a Heart-Melter. Oh sure...her sisters are cute, but Kaho...Kaho...Kaho with her lovely smile and charming personality is definitely at the head of the pack. It was when making the list in 2004, and in the height of the Age of Kaho in 2005. Previously, when I was saving pictures of Heart-Melters, I saved numerous pictures of other characters, but in this case I was saving pictures of only Kaho. If that wasn't enough, I even got downgraded to a 56K connection by ITC while downloading episodes of the Sister Princess sequel Sister Princess RePure just to see Kaho. It was a worthy sacrifice...3/6 episodes were related to Kaho. (Kaho is obviously one of the most popular characters even in Japan.)

Yet as expected, the obsession with Kaho was only temporary. After watching all episodes of Sister Princess and every episode of Sister Princess Repure, I realized that there was nothing more to go for. The series weren't good enough to warrant a re-viewing, and none of the Sister Princess games were available in America. I was under pressure from more than one person to get over her, and I willingly relented. Even before summer vacation began in mid-May, I was saving pictures of her sister Yotsuba (not the cute but not heart-melting title character of the Kiyohiko Azuma classic Yotsuba&!) . I slowly stopped thinking about Kaho and began turning my mind back to the lovely AJN. By June, all of my previous admiration had faded away, and all that was left was a shell of a memory. I never did revive any attraction towards Kaho, but I kept all of the pictures as a sort of a memento to the short-lived bygone days. It's a reminder of the fact that even of people lose their status as Heart-Melters, they will always be in the Heart-Melters Gallery.

Strength: 3 - I don't often get so caught up in a Heart-Melter that I'd save their pictures incessantly, but Kaho is one exception. Not only did she dominate my thoughts for a period of time, but I also wasted a lot of bandwidth space on pictures of Kaho and only Kaho.

Duration: 6 - As I had discussed in the Tomo entry, the brightest stars usually die off the quickest. I've realized it doesn't really apply towards the Heart-Melters, because the correlation betwsen the Strength and Time rankings have been generally positive, but at just above three months, Kaho's time as a Heart-Melter had been relatively short.

Recurrence: 7 - Not only was Kaho's burn-out relatively swift, but it was also pretty complete. It seems that most Heart-Melters have a general "honeymoon" period that lasts two to three months, and if they want to continue as a Heart-Melter, they'd better offer something extra either in the form of a dazzling personality or a good source material. Kaho had neither. She was kind of shallow and Sister Princess sucked. So once Kaho's Heart-Melter status died off, I never had the urge to watch the show to revive the attraction. She's still my favorite sister, which beats some other Heart-Melters (like Tomo).

Overall: 16 - Because of Kaho's low recurrence score, she ended up with almost the same overall score as Sheena. This was quite surprising. I was far more obsessed with Kaho than Sheena, so I kind of expected it to be a lot higher than Sheena. (It shows you the flaws of compiling the overall score with a qualitative numeral figure like rank.) Either way, Kaho still finishes within the top half of the Heart-Melters Gallery!

Next Up: Forever With You

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