Eville Caston
Eville   United States
Hopeless Maple fan :maple3:
Friend of Hana :HanaBomb:
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Alright folks, we've made it this far. The end of NEKOPARA is upon us (at least for now), and I don't know how to feel about that. After reading the first two volumes, I want you to take a moment and think of what you expect from this one. Should Vol 3 be more of the same, or do we need a major change? How should we conclude this trilogy? With that in mind, all good things must come to an end, so it's time to see how Vol 3 measures up.

I'll start with the easiest aspects: the sights and sounds. It's all more or less the same as before. We've got a few unique backgrounds for the new locations, plenty of CGs peppered in, and a few new music pieces. Other than that, it's all familiar territory. However, there is one technical difference that I found interesting. You may not have even noticed, but Vol 3 has a new engine, and it's even better than before. If you're like me and don't have great specs, you likely remember how difficult it was to run the heavily animated parts, namely the opening and credits sequences, as well as the lewd DLC. Well you may finally rejoice, because they're much more optimized now. So you can leave those H-animations on and enjoy to your "heart's" content. And the timing couldn't be better, because Vol 3 features FIVE naughty scenes that total around two hours runtime. Sheesh, what a time to be alive!

Now comes the tricky part: how does Vol 3 wrap up this trilogy? Naturally, we need to let our remaining two catgirl sisters have the spotlight. There's Cinnamon, the daydreaming lewd sister with a sort of maternal complex, and Maple, who's a bit of a fancy pants but has some real complexity. Since the bakery is running fine with everyone around, it's not as integral to the plot anymore. Instead, the main focus is on Maple's dream of being a singer, as well as Cinnamon's desire to help out. It's not so simple though, and along the way there are plenty of obstacles. Overall, I think it's most plot-intensive volume of the bunch, as well as the most thought-provoking. The duo dynamic between Maple and Cinnamon is spelled out clearly as best friend sisters. Though I think Chocola and Vanilla make the most entertaining duo, it's Maple and Cinnamon that have the most important one. Speaking of characters, I really liked Kashou this time around. Sure, Maple teases him for being kind of dense, but this time around, he's actually rather competent and caring. There has been talk about the catgirl sisters developing throughout the series, but I think Kashou has been developing alongside them, and finally we get to enjoy the fruits of those labors. Overall, Vol 3 is the longest of the series (it took me 7 hours to read without the patch), but it manages to be the most emotional as well, in my opinion. There's lots of great humorous moments, as well as solid serving of serious and thought-provoking ones. I won't talk about the climax in depth, but everything came together so wonderfully that I was earnestly crying. Yes, I'm a full grown guy who was reduced to tears by a story about catgirls, and I'm not even ashamed because it was so good. There's still an hour of solid denouement left afterwards, which still brings up good moments! Now that it's all done, NEKOPARA, especially Vol 3, was joy to experience. It may not be the pinnacle of literature or anything so lofty, but it does what it sets out to do with aplomb, and then some.

You know what, I need to take a moment to profess my adoration for Maple. Not only do I think she's best girl by far, but she's very much of the reason I love NEKOPARA. She's got a bit of a himedere and tsundere complex, but I think she's the least archetype-bound of the bunch. Funny enough, I didn't care much for her upon first impressions. I remember seeing her prideful attitude and thinking "Oh no, this girl's gonna be a pain", and I couldn't have been more wrong. Every character has their development over time, but I think Maple's is the most fulfilling. It's the driving force behind much of the plot of Vol 3, which makes it all the more rewarding to see moment play out. I think the parts that best subverted my expectations of Maple were her exchanges with Kashou. They really bring out the best in each other, most of the time. Now if all of this too much to take in, I should point out that Maple is a great singer and guitarist, and she has a fine fashion sense to boot. Really, what more do you need? By all means, pick your own favorite girl, but I hope we can all agree that Maple has so much to offer.

Okay, even though I had a fantastic time with this volume, I should take a moment to address some criticisms I have. First of all, I think Vol 3 has a few more script errors than its predecessors. They're not egregious, but I had to do a few double-takes on some lines that had issues. Also, the petting button didn't work for me in fullscreen. Maybe I could have remedied this by fiddling with options, but it's odd how it wasn't as seamless as Vol 2. Finally, perhaps most puzzling, is a certain...yuri scene. I'm not here to judge what readers may be into, but this felt like tacky fanservice. Oddly enough, it wasn't completely relegated to the lewd DLC, so you can't entirely avoid it if you want to, either. At least it's over quickly, and I suppose no real harm is done. All in all, these are some slight blemishes on an otherwise amazing experience.

Well, all I can say now is that Vol 3 is absolute best of an already awesome series. I recommend all of NEKOPARA, of course, but it's this final (for now) volume that has the biggest payoff. I was sad when it ended, not because it was abrupt or unsatisfying, but because I wish it never had to end. On a side note, I noticed that a lot of my friends who own the series either haven't touched this volume or don't even own it. If for some reason this applies to you, I implore you to see it through to the end. Please, don't miss out on this. You won't regret it! As for the future, I believe we have confirmation that there will be a Vol 4, though it may be far off. Even if it ends up not being as good as Vol 3, I think it'll be great. After the experience I had with the series thus far, I want this series to go on as long as possible. Thank you so much NEKO WORKS, and we're all looking forward to whatever you have for us in the future!
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