There are certain things those familiar with romantic comedy, slice-of-life visual novels have doubtless come to expect by this point: a scene involving a maid costume; a heroine who can’t cook; a date at an amusement park; and some sort of boob-based misunderstanding. NinNinDays from Qureate has all of these things… plus leading lady Sumire is a ninja. Because why not?

The “ninja” aspect is primarily used to explore the clash between the culture of modern, urban life and the cultures of more traditional, rural communities. Sumire, hailing from a traditional, isolated ninja village, is naive and innocent in the ways of our world, but both she and the 'self-insert' protagonist find they have a lot to learn from one another after an initial, fateful encounter over a half-eaten meat bun. NinNinDays is mostly a narrative about learning to accept and even embrace your own flaws – and coming to understand that a good relationship can use this as a strong foundation. With apologies to Ru Paul, “if you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

As the narrative proceeds, the ways in which the protagonist and Sumire support one another help them understand the things they need to work on – and that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes. It’s a rather inspiring, surprisingly relatable tale – if a tad clichéd at times – and the multiple endings all present a different way of looking at how one deals with a major turning point in one’s life and outlook. It’s a beautifully presented visual novel; artist AkasaAi, last seen designing the demure Princess Aria in NinNinDays’ stablemate Prison Princess, has done a fine job on the artwork, with the event scenes, in particular, having a real sense of presence and physicality to them… particularly when Sumire’s butt is visible. Which it is, quite frequently. Ahem.

Meanwhile, the standard interactions between the protagonist and Sumire make use of the impressive E-Mote “emotional motion technology” for animated character sprites, best known for its use in the popular Nekopara series. E-Mote certainly breathes some life into Sumire, though it’s clear that the NinNinDays team aren’t masters of the tech like Nekopara’s Sayori is. Sumire very obviously uses fixed, “stock” animations for her various emotes rather than the gorgeous, natural-looking body language unique to each line of dialogue seen in Sayori’s work. It’s a small nitpick, but if you’ve previously enjoyed Nekopara, it’s clearly noticeable.

The localisation is also a little wonky from a technical perspective, featuring a number of typos, incorrect homophones, one instance of confusion between “earlier” and “later” and an apparent distaste for putting a space after a comma, but nothing that makes it unreadable. The actual tone of the English script is fine – and the translation is pretty true to the Japanese voice without being overly stilted.

In summary, then, this is a perfectly serviceable visual novel which boasts gorgeous presentation but is held back by its short runtime, lack of narrative ambition and rough edges in terms of localisation. It's not going to make you fall in love with the genre if you're a newcomer, but longstanding fans will be more forgiving of its shortcomings.