Intro & Common Route:
Bishounen-P: Hello! We’re back for another round of BP&J Discuss! Fun fact: we’ve planned this review for several months, but I put off reading this VN during a certain route which we’ll discuss later. (Spoiler: It’s D.D.’s route.)
Jane: Yes, I’d like to publicly air my grievance that Bish bought me this VN, of her own accord, when she was partway through it. And then she stalled it once I had finished reading it and wanted to discuss it! I’m referring to months-old notes for this review.
BP: From now on I will finish things before I buy them for you. *grumble*
J: ChronoClock is a hard VN to make an overall judgement on, because there’s so much variance throughout it, both in our opinions of its quality and in its genre. The general concept is that the protagonist, Rei, has a magic pocket watch which lets him travel back in time—but only five minutes back, and he can’t do it more than once an hour. (He also gets to hang out with Chronos, a time goddess known as “Cro” for short, whom no one else can see.) And in some routes, that power leads him into a whole world of time travel weirdness, while in others it’s just kind of a funny quirk of a slice of life romance story.
BP: I absolutely adored the prologue chapters; it had me thinking that this could easily become one of my favorite VNs of all time based on how well it was written. Between Miu’s wild near-death experiences, Rei’s creative usage of his stopwatch, and a developing romance plot that felt like early Toradora, I instinctively sent it to Jane as well in hopes of writing a review about it one day.
J: One of the best parts of the common route is Rei’s relationship with Miu, an underclassman he uses his time travel powers to save from an accidental death. Miu suffers from social anxiety that’s portrayed pretty accurately and respectfully—while Rei sets about helping her become a bit more confident so that she can confess her feelings for his friend Shuuji, he also understands that it’s a deep and serious issue that she can’t just “get over.”
BP: Rei and Miu’s relationship and characterization in the common route is exactly why I was so excited to share this VN with Jane.
J: Meanwhile, each of the other characters get fun and intriguing introductory scenes that establish their quirks and eccentricities. One of my favourite parts was when you meet the possibly-yakuza-affiliated Makoto, who immediately threatens you with bodily harm because she thinks you “remembered something you shouldn’t have.” I immediately went for her route first, because there’s nothing I like more than a woman who might murder me.
BP: Every character had a firm grasp on my heart. Be it Cro, the mysterious beauty who always teased Rei about his not-so-secret intention of wanting a girlfriend, or Michiru, Rei’s blind sister who was not-so-subtle about wanting to absolutely ravish him. The best thing about this VN is definitely its fantastic introduction to its world and characters.
J: We’ll get into some spoilers in our discussions of the routes below, which we’ll get through in the order of what we think is worst to best: D.D. > Misaki > Michiru > Makoto > secret routes
BP: Yes, this is that D.D. I had read some bits and pieces online about how she was a controversial character because of the way her dialogue was translated. In the original text, as you can tell if you listen to her voice acting, she will randomly spout English words in the middle of sentences. However, in the translation, she does the opposite. Personally, I enjoy this aspect of her character. She comes across as a gigantic weeaboo, so translating her dialogue as such was humorous and felt accurate. I was excited to read her route, hoping maybe they would explore her fetishization of Japan, thinking maybe that Rei would turn back time to avoid awkward situations surrounding her or something else.
J: Unfortunately, nothing nearly that interesting happens. I also found D.D. really funny in the common route, and her romance route was disappointing in comparison. The whole time travel element of the plot basically gets relegated to the sidelines in favour of some fairly typical romance on par with any old bland moege, and I think D.D. as she’s written in the prologue deserves something a lot wackier than that.
BP: Her whole route is about her Anime Illness that she keeps a secret from everyone around her. She came to Japan to meet Rei again, as they were engaged to be married thanks to a promise between their grandfathers. Nothing of note happens in particular, except for when D.D. rejects Rei thanks to this illness and he surprises her with a wedding. Which, personally, I found completely unromantic, not only because of the fact that two teenagers are getting married, but also because he just surprised her with it at school. I rolled my eyes throughout that whole scene.
J: It feels like a waste of such a funny and distinctive character to give her route such a generic plot. And the next one isn’t anything all that special either.
BP: I played this route first. I tend to go for whoever I think is going to be my least favorite character first, and save my favorite for last, when there isn’t a recommended or enforced route order. Misaki is your typical tsundere, from a rival corporation. She has her secret interests. Honestly? There isn’t anything really special about her route. It was a fine first route, because while still being significantly lower quality than the prologue, it wasn’t obnoxiously bad like D.D.’s, it was just passable.
J: Yeah, I don’t think I have much to say about Misaki. Time travel doesn’t play much of a big role in her route either, which was disappointing to me, but there are some nice cute moments. If you enjoy slice of life and romance, you might like this route a lot more than I did, but I was hoping for something different.
BP: I do want to add that Misaki’s route has one of my favorite eroge lines, pictured below.
J: ChronoClock does at least have some memorable comedy even in its less impressive routes! And the next one gets a lot more interesting.
BP: This is the character that made Jane finally call me out once and for all for liking incest routes. It seems that with every moege/charage that I play, the sister is inevitably my best girl. This all started for me with Kanon from G-Senjou no Maou, but let’s not stray too far from the point of this review, or I’ll start rambling again!
J: Bish has also made me read both Kana Imouto and Sisterly Bliss ~Don’t Let Mom Find Out~ (the latter of which she reviewed on her blog a while ago). From now on I’m just assuming anything she recommends to me has sister romance.
BP: I saved Michiru for the last of the four main routes, because I knew just from the common route that she was going to be my favorite. She drew me in with her witty lines and I was curious about what role her blindness would play in the route. With the other girls, the route begins with Rei’s feelings for the girl, and eventually leads up to them returning them. With Michiru, I expected it to be the opposite, with Rei eventually becoming OK with having feelings for his sister. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
BP: Michiru’s route introduces an entirely different aspect to their relationship: a daughter.
BP: I quickly fell in love with Little Michiru and her innocence; I loved watching her relationship with Big Michiru grow and develop, from Michiru being weirdly jealous of “her younger self” to seeing the child in a motherly way. The route was so heartfelt and warming that I was glad I saved it for last, because to me, it felt like anything else would be cheating.
J: I, on the other hand, was a little uncomfortable with all the incest stuff in this route. It usually doesn’t bother me too much in eroge even though it’s not really my thing, and I do think Michiru herself is a pretty fun character. But the whole dynamic with Little Michiru also having a crush on Rei and older Michiru seeming to view this child as a romantic rival was just too weird for me. Bish clearly had a very different perspective on it, so maybe some other readers with different tastes will enjoy this route as well. But out of the four routes that are available before you unlock the secret one, the only one I personally liked was Makoto’s.
J: As I mentioned earlier, Makoto’s route was the one that I read first—and it left me especially disappointed when I moved on to the other routes next, since it was by far my favourite up until the secret route. While D.D.’s and Misaki’s routes do very little with the plot’s supernatural elements, and Michiru’s route just has one instance of time travel kicking off a more character-focused story, Makoto’s route is full of the kind of magic action I was hoping for from this VN.
J: That being said, I felt like its pacing was often way too fast for the kind of complex story it was trying to tell. For instance, the scene near the beginning of it that establishes that Makoto has a magic watch of her own is so fast, strange, and sudden that I found it hard to follow and kept expecting it to be revealed as some kind of dream sequence.
J: Also, Makoto’s watch apparently gives her Loki as her equivalent of Cro, but you never actually get to see him! He never shows up or does anything! Why would you just drop in a reference to such a fun mythological figure and then waste the chance to have him be an actual character?
BP: Makoto’s route was completely bonkers; I was constantly shocked at how fast the pacing was. I went into this route with poor expectations based on the other routes, since I played it immediately after D.D.’s. However, not only did Rei use his watch consistently, but he also made very clever usages of it in his battles against Makoto. One of my favorite parts is when she uses Cro’s watch and you see it happen, and Rei realizes what it’s like to experience this.
J: It’s a really fun route to read once you get past the initial confusion of how quickly you’re thrown into things. All of the creative uses of the watches and their powers made it by far my favourite route of the four you can access from the beginning—but the route you unlock after completing them all blows it out of the water.
J: This route is so good. It made slogging through all the flaws of the first four feel entirely worth it. Not only does it bring together elements of all the other routes, which I always appreciate, but there were parts when I was really impressed with the prose on top of the intriguing plot.
BP: I knew beforehand that there was a Cro route, and that she would somehow end up attending school with Rei, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. It starts out as some kind of pseudo-harem route, where Rei remembers everything from every other route. This was foreshadowed a little in some of the other routes, in which Cro mentions that in alternate timelines he may have dated someone else.
BP: Not gonna lie, I honestly wouldn’t have minded a small divergent choice in which he does go the full harem route rather than picking Cro.
J: Cro’s human version character design is so cute, and seeing her lose her powers and rely on Rei after spending four routes with her as a seemingly omnipotent, mysterious companion makes their relationship especially interesting. I also remember a lot of good funny bits in this route, like seeing Rei go through the same embarrassing experience twice when he tries and fails to save himself with time travel.
J: Cro’s route was the highlight of ChronoClock for me—but unfortunately, our review won’t be ending on this positive note.
J: Finally, we arrive at the last “route” of this VN.
BP: This is what we were all waiting for. The final culmination of that incredible prologue. Miu and Rei! It’s finally time!!!
J: In case anyone has read this far without reading the actual VN, I want to explain that there’s a point in the common route, as Miu is about to finally confess her feelings to Shuuji after a week of coaching from Rei, when Rei internally debates whether he’s really content with the direction his relationship with Miu has taken. Will he really be happy for her if she starts dating his friend, or does he actually have feelings for her after all? If his time travel powers were less limited, would he want to go back and do things differently?
J: You get a choice at that point that’s locked when you first encounter it. I spent the rest of the VN wondering what was going to happen once it was finally unlocked, and after really enjoying Cro’s route, I was excited thinking that it might lead to a final true route focusing on Miu that could be just as good or even better than Cro’s.
BP: And then . . . she gets a really anticlimactic ten-minute ending and that’s it. That’s it. After everything we got from the common route, it’s just a short and generic ten minutes of them lying on the roof and talking about the other timelines and how he finally “earned the right” to date her. Sigh.
J: Yeah, that whole conversation fell entirely flat for me because Miu plays such a small role in the other routes. If she had stuck around and been good friends with Rei throughout everything else that happened, I could see it being a sweet moment when it turned out that she was his true love across all the timelines. But the way it’s written, it just feels like a lot is missing. He doesn’t even really know her all that well!
J: I feel like this VN could have done so much more with one exciting final route too. I think it would have been interesting to see Miu starting a relationship with Shuuji instead of having Rei rudely interrupt the confession that she had been planning for so long. Maybe they could have brought back in some of the supernatural conflict from Makoto’s route, and explored that more while Rei deals with his feelings about Miu for a while.
J: That kind of sums up how I felt about ChronoClock as a whole—it had some really great moments that made me excited to read more, alongside long stretches of mediocrity that were especially frustrating to read because of how much better they could have been if they matched the quality of the good parts.
BP: Would I recommend it? Personally, the answer to that question is a big toss of dice. If you have no problem slogging through D.D. and Misaki’s routes, then I’d say yes, because the rest of them made it worth it for me. I definitely wouldn’t call it a must-play, but rather if you’re running out of things to read and want something fun, this could be a nice in-between VN while you wait for more releases.
J: If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t go so far as to stop my past self from reading this VN—but I would warn myself to keep my expectations from getting too high.