This non-spoiler review focuses on the initial story, characters, and gameplay.
Enter the ultra-fabulous and prestigious theater school,Univeil Drama School, and achieve your acting dreams! What’s the catch? Not only is it the most demanding, cut-throat boarding school in this universe, but you also need to be a boy to attend this popular testosterone-filled theater school. This is the setting of the highly anticipated otome game made by none other than the best-selling Tokyo Ghoul creator, Sui Ishida, published by Broccoli, and localized in the West by Aksys Games. Jack Jeanne is the epitome of a dream come true for otome game fans.
Jack Jeanne started off with our female protagonist, Kisa Tachibana, play-acting with her older brother and a childhood friend at a playground in a temple. The trio parted ways with the promise they will one day perform on stage at the Univeil Drama School. Fast forward to the present, Kisa had to forgo her dreams due to the fact the school is an all-boys school, but her brother was able to attend and graduate from Univeil. Kisa was left on her own to help with her family’s near-state of poverty, while her brother had disappeared after graduating without a care. Despite the bleak start for our lovely protagonist, she gets visited by a mysterious white ferret, who guides her back to the temple from her childhood. There she met the president of Univel, who gave her a proposition she simply couldn’t refuse.
If you guessed it, Kisa is given the chance to attend Univeil if she can act as a boy for an entire year at the school. Not only must she keep her gender and identity a secret, but she must land herself a top role in the final school performance of the year. Kisa immediately agreed, auditioned, and was accepted into Univeil. As a new student, she met her childhood friend, Soshiro Yonaga, and a fired up and super tall red-headed boy, Suzu Orimaki. During her early days at the school, she learned that the students are sorted into four different divisions based on their talents and attributes: Quartz, known for their jack-of-all-trades actors, Rhodonite, known for their singing and femininity, Onyx, known for their dance skills and masculinity, and Amber, known for their genius talent and Cirque du Soleil-esque eccentricity.
Kisa and her friends are sorted into Quartz, where one of her classmates may end up as Kisa’s boyfriend by the end of the year. Remember, this is an otome game!
Romance aside, Jack Jeanne is a very interactive plot and character-driven game that includes stat-raising, rhythm games, multiple choices, and a very long common route. Broken into five parts, the game follows Kisa and her class preparing and performing plays while also competing against the other classes. Each part is focused on a certain play starting with the Newcomers Performance, The Summer, Fall, Winter, and the final year-end Univeil Performance. There is also a summer school trip scenario where players can rapidly increase their protagonist stats during this time. Players must go through every single day raising stats and reading through the events of the day. There will always be some sort of character interaction whether it is continuing the overarching story of Kisa’s first year at the school or meeting some random characters who basically say, “keep being awesome!” On the weekends, players can choose to spend time with certain characters which will either raise certain character’s progress meters up or expand on the world of Univeil.
Jack Jeanne only has routes for the boys in her Quartz class with the minor exception of one certain character that some may or may not consider a route. It’s a bit of a pity as Kisa encounters multiple other characters who she can interact with and receive “confessions” near the end of the game. Hopefully, one day Sui Ishida and Broccoli will consider a fan disc to explore a what-if with the other classes!
To obtain the correct routes for each character, you must raise the corresponding stat to the maximum of level 30. Players can easily achieve this by focusing only one stat at a time and making sure to pick and choose your selected beau to hang out with whenever the game gives you a chance. Usually these are made by certain choices throughout the game or simply spending your weekends wherever your chosen boy hangs out at (Yeah, like stalking them).
Meet the Boys
Suzu Orimaki: Suzu is the red headed tall himbo of the game that our protagonist first meets at Univeil. Stereotyped as a “Jack,” which means he has the features and demeanor to act primarily as male/masculine roles, Suzu is extremely energetic. At times, he’s hot-headed, but he’s also pure hearted and prioritizes his friends. When he met Kisa during the auditions at Univeil, he immediately scouted her as a “Jeanne,” an actor who plays the female/feminine roles at Univeil. Kisa almost has a heart attack thinking he immediately found out she is a girl, but fortunately for her, Suzu is our most oblivious male of the bunch. Expect very cute scenes of Suzu being very confused about his budding attraction toward Kisa despite thinking she’s a boy too. To get Suzu’s route, you must max out the Run/Spirit parameter.
Soshiro Yonaga: Soshiro is Kisa’s childhood friend whom she used to play-act with and made the promise they would attend Univeil together. Though he moved away, that never stopped him from always thinking about our protagonist! Soshiro began Univeil as a “Jeanne” at the beginning of the game, but slowly developed into a “Jack” throughout the year. He tends to have an inferiority complex, feeling like he isn’t good enough to be on stage, but he eventually gets over it due to his motivation to honor his promise with Kisa to perform together. To get Soshiro’s route, you must max out the Study/Insight parameter.
Mitsuki Shirota: The main singer of Quartz, Mitsuki is a “Jeanne” type and second-year student who helped train the students in Kisa’s class on music. Reserved and aloof, Mitsuki only has the best of the class’ interests in mind and would do anything to protect them. Despite sometimes being annoyed with the class antics, he always provides guidance and support when he can. To get Mitsuki’s route, you must max out the Voice parameter.
Kai Mutsumi: Kai is a third-year student and the leading “Jack” actor of the class. He has an affinity for animals and mostly hangs out in the woods near the school. Apparently, Kai started off as a mediocre actor, and it took a lot of perseverance to become the main leading man. He tends to give advice when he can and watch over other students who face struggles like Soshiro and his inferiority complex. Kai is the father-like upperclassman who’ll even sacrifice himself for the sake of others, if it would help them grow in their talents. To get Kai’s route, you must max out the Charm/Develop parameter.
Sarafumi Takashina: A third-year student who is the “Al Jeanne,” the leading “Jeanne” actor of Quartz. Coming from a famous family of traditional dancers, Sarafumi is also the main choreographer and dancer of Quartz. He’s the game’s flirty playboy. To get Sarafumi’s route, you must max out the Agility/Dance parameter.
Neji Kokuto: The screenwriter, director, and weirdo of Quartz. A third-year student at Univeil, Neji is the eccentric genius of the bunch. Originally, he transferred from the Amber division as he felt like he could further his talent and attributes with the students in Quartz, where they had more diverse talents. Neji can play both “Jack” and “Jeanne” roles, but he also opts for the oddest ones just like his personality. He is always pushing the other students to their limits to see how far they can go and is extremely fascinated and inspired by Kisa’s chameleon-like ability to act. To get Neji’s route, you must max out the Act/Drama parameter.
Chuui Tanakamigi: Chuui is technically the “bad” end route and offers some angsty moments with our protagonist. If you think Neji is weird, well, Chuui is a beast. He’s a second-year student and a proclaimed genius of Amber whose acting talents were so astronomically great that acting troupes around the world were already trying to recruit him. He gains a very unhealthy obsession with Kisa and considers her the only one who can be his partner on stage. He tends to creepily show up, and his “obsessive” demeanor is so intense that Kisa is always feeling his literal eyes on her all the time. Fans of Ishida’s prior work, Tokyo Ghoul, will definitely notice some prior work inspirations in his CGs.
Fans of Broccoli will know this publisher is known for its rhythm otome games like the Uta-no-Prince-sama series. Jack Jeanne is similar with its stat-raising and rhythm game mechanics. The stat-raising parameters are easy to understand: you simply need to max out certain parameters to unlock certain character’s interactions, routes, and endings. In between the parameters, players would follow the normal visual novel format, which goes through the storyline with interspersed character interactions and choices that will have an impact later in the game.
During the performance segments of the game, there will be two rhythm type games, a singing and dancing portion. Players must achieve an SS standing in these games to achieve a gold status and win first place to beat the other classes and to also progress the plot correctly. While you could achieve similar results by only having an S status, the SS will guarantee good endings for the routes you follow. All performances follow the same storyline in all the routes with some tweaks to the final Univeil performance. For those who are not good at rhythm type games, the game has three levels of difficulty with the normal level being the easiest to beat especially if you just want to move through the story. However, the faster the song, the more difficult it becomes. Also, there are more songs and dances that are added as you play through each performance segment.
This game packs a lot! While it is an otome game, romance is not at the forefront. Ishida focuses more on the plot and character development more than anything. Players are fully playing through nearly 365 days of Kisa in her first year at Univeil, which makes this game quite long to play through. While the scenarios during the weekends will differ through each playthrough depending on who you want to interact with the most, the performances all have the same storyline, and players must play through the rhythm games during those segments. While players can skip the practice portions, provided you have played through the game at least once, you cannot skip the ones during the actual performances, so it’s a lot to do over and over. However, the game does allow you to skip through any of the visual novel portions that have been read already.
Your reward for completing every scenario will lead to unlocking over 100 CGs! Yes, Ishida did not hold back on his artwork. Whether you are a fan of otome games or a fan of Ishida himself, he delivered with his impressive art. The storyline is also nothing to scoff at. Essentially a story-within-a-story, the performances you play through each have their own entire script. You can also play through the entire game forgoing any of the other character routes. Ishida truly outdid himself in catering to both fans and those who are not familiar with the otome genre.
Overall, Jack Jeanne is a solid game, full of hilarious and heartmoving moments, absolutely gorgeous artwork, appealing character design and depth, a musical score that requires its own album, and an inspiring feel-good story about a girl following her dreams.