Waifu Wednesday: Risu the Angel

Japanese games have a number of different ways of handling narratives from a first-person perspective.

The typical “visual novel” approach allows the player to ride along inside the protagonist’s head, being privy to their innermost thoughts as well as the things they say out loud. But in other instances where this approach has not been used for stylistic purposes — and particularly where a silent or quasi-silent protagonist takes the lead — a companion character is often employed to either speak “for” the protagonist, or to complement them in some way.

Gal*Gun Double Peace featured the delightful Ekoro, who beautifully complemented protagonist Houdai’s bafflement at the situation in which he found himself through dry wit and a touch of sarcasm. And Gal*Gun 2, which features the player themselves as the participant quasi-silent protagonist, has Risu; equally delightful, but in a rather different way.

Upon meeting Risu for the first time in Gal*Gun 2, we’re led to believe that some changes have taken place in God’s domain since the last time we came into contact with the heavenly host. Most notably, it appears that the world of corporate capitalism has made its way to the great beyond, as Risu introduces herself as a representative of the Angel Ring Corporation rather than… you know, just an angel.

This, in turn, leads the setup to Gal*Gun 2’s narrative to be somewhat different, as we’ll explore in more detail later this week. Rather than the protagonist being drawn into an unfortunate situation by accident as in the first two games, here he is “randomly selected” to help out Risu with her duties on Earth: specifically, fulfilling her quota of “Demon Busting”.

Early in their relationship, Risu refers to the protagonist as “sir” in the English subtitles and お客様 (okyakusama — customer) in Japanese speech, reflecting the supposed customer-employee relationship between the pair of them. However, since it becomes apparent very quickly that the player-protagonist is actually doing Risu’s work for her rather than being a “customer” per se, it doesn’t take long for this relationship to change. Indeed, upon the protagonist agreeing to let Risu stay with him after she loses her employee keycard (and thus the ability to return to heaven at will), she responds by saying that he “has the grace of God” in the English subtitles — a pun on the Japanese saying お客様は神様です (okyakusama wa kamisama desu — literally “the customer is a god”, more commonly translated to “the customer is always right”) — before correcting herself on the grounds that “the real God might get mad” about her saying that.

Instead, Risu quietly acknowledges her somewhat subservient, dependent role on the protagonist by deciding that the appropriate thing to do would be to call him “Master”. She has standards, mind you; if the player chooses to request that she call him “onii-chan” instead, she politely but firmly responds that “that’s not happening”. You’ll have to be content with Chiru for your big brother fantasies, it seems.

Risu shows herself throughout the course of the narrative to be a determined young woman, albeit one who is not very capable or indeed confident in her own abilities. She successfully puts across something of an air of polite refinement — to a fault, one might argue, as her rather formal speech is very much, as Kurona points out on several occasions, like talking to a “corporate stooge” — but she’s at her most appealing when she allows that facade to slip and her real personality to shine through.

Underneath her “customer-facing” exterior, Risu is a somewhat anxious, eager to please individual. She gives the distinct impression that she’s not quite caught up with the world in which she lives; in many ways it feels like she’s a depiction of a young woman fresh out of high school working her first job in a rather rigid corporate environment. She never seems quite sure whether it’s okay to “be herself”, or whether she should rigidly and strictly adhere to the standards set by the corporation for whom she works — and she never quite knows when to “switch off”, either.

Even when she should clearly be “off the clock”, she remains quite stiff and formal, with perhaps the biggest chink in her armour showing when she deliberately allows herself to get stabbed by one of Kurona’s “mini-demons” just to see what it feels like. As it turns out, it feels quite nice, and she’s not quite sure how to deal with this — and even less sure how to deal with the means through which the unfortunate situation is resolved using Doki-Doki Mode. It’s a rather delightful exploration of how someone who has, to this point, been pretty pure and innocent, learns about… more earthly pleasures, shall we say.

Risu is a nice contrast to Ekoro in that she’s fallible in a rather different way. Ekoro’s fallibility came from the fact that she had some distinctly “un-angelic” attitudes under certain circumstances, particularly when dealing with Houdai, and especially when she finds something of a kindred spirit in Kurona. Risu, meanwhile, is clearly still learning about herself and how to find her place in the world, and is embarrassed about the flaws she does have, being keen to keep them hidden and absolutely mortified when her poor performance as an employee to date is revealed to the world.

Ultimately Risu just wants to do the right thing. While she roped the protagonist into her problems without his consent, by the end of the game the pair of them have a good relationship with one another and make a good team. Okay, Risu might not be especially useful in gameplay terms for anything other than calling out the directions from which horny young girls are approaching, but she’s a nice presence to have around — particularly as, unlike in Double Peace, where Ekoro remained off-screen during the action sequences, she flits around as a chibi version of herself while the protagonist is defending himself from the hordes.

She’s a delightful companion character for this new installment in the series, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for deciding on her as their number one Gal*Gun 2 waifu. Will she enjoy the same enduring popularity as Ekoro? That remains to be seen, but I certainly like her a lot — and I wouldn’t object to seeing her as a guest character in other games at all.

Also plz no bully the angel. Thank you.

More about Gal*Gun 2

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