「ようこそ、ラ・ソレイユヘ！」 (Youkoso, Ra Soreiyu e!)
“Welcome to La Soleil!”
Quiet those voices, lay aside those pitchforks, because anime’s saviour is here. Or well, at least one its most anticipated varieties because there’s no denying the hype around this one. That’s right boys and girls, Nekopara in all its cat-girl glory is here at last, and while opinions will inevitably be divided for a few noticeable reasons, there’s no denying—this one was a long time coming.
As any connoisseur of eroge can tell you, Nekopara is (in)famous. This series of visual novels has been popular as hell since its inception over five years ago, providing both a relatively quaint and lighthearted café-life story while meshing it with the usual ecchi shenanigans. Or if you opted for the 18+ content, outright hentai material. Ever wondered what happens when man mates with neko? Look no further. The good news (or bad, depending on taste) is that Nekopara’s adaptation visually looks to be going the vanilla route. Expect quite a bit of ecchi as things progress, but none of the adventurous bedroom acrobatics I’m pretty sure everyone and their future cat-girl is here for. Bad production choice? Certainly up for debate, but there’s no denying Nekopara is about more than just the lewds.
In terms of that story as well, Nekopara also isn’t deviating hard from its source material. Right out the gate we have visual novel material more or less continuing from the OVAs, with spunky Chocola (Yagi Yuki) and demure Vanilla (Saeki Iori) doing their usual slice-of-life stunts, while the first teasers of conflict (read: fun and games) between Azuki (Izawa Shiori) and Coconut (Mizutani Marin) and the less serious tribulations between Maple (Itou Miku) and Cinnamon (Noguchi Yuri) make their presence felt. I wouldn’t expect an entirely faithful adaption in the end considering the emphasis will be firmly on Nekopara’s slice-of-life side (not to mention the presence of a wholly anime-original cat-girl and accompanying story arc), but so far at least anyone here for diabetes-inducing nekos and cutesy shenanigans won’t have much to complain about. After all, these cat-girls want you to know they’re are here to stay.
Going forward it’s anyone’s guess how well Nekopara will match up to the likes of Gochuumon and Blend S, but with a wholesome story, nekos aplenty, and more than a few mischievous scenes guaranteed to be sprinkled throughout, this one will certainly not prove disappointing. It may not be the most faithful of adaptations, but Nekopara is so far doing things right.
ED: 「陽だまりの香り」(Hidamari no Kaori) by Chocola and Vanilla