G-senjou no Maou (The Devil on G-String) is easily my favorite visual novel.
It somehow achieved an atmosphere that many urban fantasy books struggle to create without a lick of the supernatural or magic, instead using crime and mystery as the linchpin for its balance of character and conflict. At the heart of this is Maou himself, a villain who, like The Joker from The Dark Knight, totally owns both the story and protagonists throughout. The only fault in it is in being restricted to the visual novel story structure and medium. Despite this, I can’t imagine any other medium doing it justice and pray there is no future adaptation for it (unless directed by Tetsurō Araki).
By day, Azai Kyousuke is an ordinary high school student, by night, he’s a ruthless financier working for his gangster father’s underworld business. When Usami Haru transfers into his school, a mysterious man who calls himself “Maou” also arrives and starts causing havoc. Haru is determined to defeat this mysterious figure and inevitably involves Kyousuke and his friends with her plans. Maou starts up a deadly game of cat and mouse with Haru and her friends, raising the stakes involved for the protagonists with each move that he makes. Kyousuke and Haru are forced to race against time before each of Maou’s criminal plans are set into action.
G-senjou no Maou is why I usually feel content just reading a visual novel’s main route. This says a lot about the minor characters, for although unique and interesting in their own right, the minor routes don’t stand up to the main heroine’s story, the sheer epicness of it blowing the others of the water. As I mentioned in the introduction, I found the typical visual novel structure of heroine arc to heroine arc an unnecessary restriction, but at the same time it manages to help develop and build up both Maou and Usami for their ending confrontation, the only ending that ties up all loose ends.
Although slightly aged, the sprites and backgrounds are still nice enough not to disengage the average reader. Still, a design update wouldn’t go amiss now that the quality of visual novels have risen so high in the last few years. This goes doubly for the voices too. The female acting is so stereotypically anime-squeaky that I couldn’t ever imagine an English dub for the characters that wouldn’t seem out of place. The one thing that definitely won’t need an update is the music, the remixing of almost every classic score I can think of adds perfectly to the atmosphere of the story and the OST even works nicely by itself.
A flaw I’ve heard from another fan of G-senjou no Maou is that it doesn’t hold up as much the second time through because knowing all of the twists and turns makes them lose some of their impacts. This isn’t something that affected me (the same goes for any spoilers really), as I can enjoy and respect the inclusion of clues and hints that builds up to the big reveals. That being said, I would recommend avoiding spoilers for anyone else thinking of reading it. Something I did notice was the amount of maid and butler exposition during the somewhat drawn-out beginning. Just goes to show what different people pick up on and can admit to being flaws depending on what they value in stories, even as fans.
This is one of the few visual novels I would gladly recommend to people, even those who haven’t read a visual novel before. In a way, it would almost be a shame to read this one first as it might be awhile before they find something as good to follow it with. However, if it weren’t for my desperate search for something comparable, I might not have read as many visual novels as I have. There have only been a few others since that have managed to live up to it, but I’m glad I continued my search, as I wouldn’t have found as many of quality if not for this one. Although Fate Stay/Night was my first, if it weren’t for G-senjou no Maou, I wouldn’t have gotten into visual novels as a medium.
Total Rank: 9.5/10