Dakimakura Review – Android C from Instant Brain (NSFW)

It’s pillowcase show-and-tell time, and in a first for this site, today’s pillowcase features a subject that isn’t human. Rather, Android C is – obviously – an android, one of the main characters from the Xbox 360 visual novel Instant Brain, which I’m sure almost nobody has heard of.

Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have been maligned – unfairly, in my view – for featuring a preponderance of shooters, foremost amongst them the Halo series. Curiously, the Xbox 360 has become the console of choice for a different type of shooter – the 2D shoot’em up. A staple of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming, the 2D shmup has, like magnetic media, pagers, and photographic film, been consigned almost to historic irrelevance by the inexorable march of technology. However, a few companies still specialize in making games of this type, and perhaps none of them are as dedicated and prolific as Cave. They’ve made many shooters over the last two decades, including Mushihime-sama, DoDonPachi, DeathSmiles, and Espgaluda, among others, and a number of them have been ported to the Xbox 360. Besides Cave’s games, shmups like Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Triggerheart Exelica, Otomedius Excellent, the Raiden series, and Strike Witches have been released on the 360, establishing it as the unlikely console to own for fans of the genre.

Unlike most of Cave’s portfolio, Instant Brain is a visual novel, the first that they have developed. It was released last year on the Xbox 360 to reasonably good reviews, scoring a 9/8/7/8 in Famitsu for a total of 32/40. The game’s protagonist is a spiky-haired man named Zenya Barataki, an amnesiac photographer with a unique camera that captures the memories of what he photographs. The heroine is Android C, often just called C, a model H4667C maid-type android. According to the game’s character page, an android like her costs as much as a luxury apartment. Apparently she is the only family that Zenya has.

This pillowcase was sold through Cave’s shop late last year, right at Christmas time. It’s 160 centimeters by 50 centimeters long and is listed as being made of polyester, but it has the same heavyweight feel and elastic stretch as the dakimakura covers I own that are made of roica. It feels like a durable, good-quality material; I’ve had a few pillowcases that were made of fabric so thin that the printing on the opposite side of the pillowcase would bleed through when you photographed it, but C’s pillowcase has no such problem.

The illustration for this pillowcase was done by Iruma Kamiri, the artist who did the character designs and artwork for the game. He’s probably best known for his doujin work, produced under Hellabunna, the name of his circle. In particular, he published a lot of good Dead or Alive doujinshi back in the mid 2000s, which is how I became familiar with his work. I thought he was a curious choice to provide artwork for an Xbox 360 visual novel, given that much of his work is pornographic in nature, but I’m certainly not complaining.

The front side of the pillowcase depicts Android C in an abbreviated form of her maid costume. While she’s not restrained, there’s an unmistakable bondage theme in her design, with lots of leather, straps, and buckles. I’m not an enormous fan of the archetypical maid outfit – frilly skirts and such – but I like C’s uniform a great deal.

The reverse side shows that Android C has shed much of her outfit. Instant Brain got a CERO C rating in Japan, signifying that it is suitable for ages 15 and up, so presumably this is as much skin as is shown in the game, if she even shows this much.

I really do like Android C’s design; the bondage aspect is attractive, and as I mentioned in my post on Alice, I like the combination of black hair and red eyes. I think her facial expression on both sides is very appealing; a bit of shyness, a bit of vulnerability, but also a sense of impassiveness. And of course, she also has an attractive body.

Talking about a pillowcase can get a bit dry, so I’m going to digress from the dakimakura cover discussion for a bit and show off a few pages from a couple of artbooks. I recently purchased the Instant Brain Official Material Book and the Cave Shooting Artworks book and I think they are interesting enough to share.

Here is the cover of the book. You can see Android C, and the man in the middle is Zenya, the protagonist. I do not know who the girl on the right is; she also appears on the cover of the limited edition version of the game, and I assume she’s someone important. She resembles a younger version of Android C, but androids surely do not grow in the same manner as organisms, so one wonders who she is, or how synthetic Android C really is.

Android C is shown here cosplaying as Reco, the heroine of Mushihime-sama, probably Cave’s best-known game. If I remember right, this image was used for a promotional telephone card. The girl on the right is Kirin Yatsuhisha; she’s voiced by Rie Kugimiya, an actress famous for giving voice to a billion loli tsundere characters. For a game as relatively obscure as Instant Brain is, it features a very impressive voice cast. Android C is voiced by Mamiko Noto, who has performed as Masane Amaha in Witchblade and Satellizer El-Bridget in Freezing, among numerous other roles. Instant Brain’s other seiyuu include Marina Inoue (Yozora in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Laura in Infinite Stratos, to name just a few roles from recent anime), Miyuki Sawashiro (Suruga Kanbaru in Bakemonogatari and Yomi/Dead Master in Black Rock Shooter), Kana Hanazawa (Zessica Wong in Aquarion Evol, Nadeko Sengoku in Bakemonogatari, and Matou/Black Rock Shooter in the anime of the same name), Chiaki Takahashi (Azusa Miura in THE iDOLM@STER), and Akio Otsuka (Rider in Fate/zero, Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid). That’s a lot of high-profile talent for a company’s first visual novel.

Here is Android C’s basic character design in the game. Her maid outfit isn’t exactly modest, but it covers up quite a bit more than what she’s wearing on the pillowcase.

Here’s one of the pictures in the book; the book is mostly a compilation of character profiles and design sketches, but there’s about a dozen pages in the beginning of the book that feature full-page artwork.

Here are the design sketches for the dakimakura cover. The artist considered using a different pose for the front side, where C is covering herself up. I like it a lot; if Cave made an alternate dakimakura cover using the discarded sketch, I’d definitely buy it.

Now here’s some artwork from the Cave Shooting Artworks book. Instant Brain doesn’t show up in this book, being that it’s not a shooter (though it does include a playable version of DoDonPachi, with Kinect controls, even), but it shows artwork from a number of Cave’s other games.

Here’s a couple of pieces of art from DeathSmiles. The book is 159 pages long and the first 52 pages are Deathsmiles art.

Here is one piece of character art. I haven’t played DeathSmiles, though the Xbox 360 version did actually get localized in the United States and is available reasonably cheaply, and DeathSmiles II is available in North America through the Games on Demand service.

These characters are from DoDonPachi Daioujou, which hit arcades back in 2002. The character design and illustrations are credited to Shohei Sato and Junya Inoue. Cave’s newest game is DoDonPachi Saidaioujou, released in arcades just this month. Besides the bullet hell gameplay Cave’s games are known and notorious for, it features character designs done by Nagi Ryou, best known for his work on the Ar Tonelico series.

Here’s Reco from Mushihime-sama. These images were drawn by Tomoyuki Kotani.

And here she is again, this time from the sequel Mushihime-sama Futari. This time, the art is credited to HACCAN. I do own this game; the Xbox 360 version was region-free, an unfortunate rarity amongst 360 games. Cave has been quite appreciative of their overseas fans, moreso than one might expect from a fairly obscure developer of games decidedly outside of the mainstream. (Incidentally, Instant Brain is not region-free and requires a solid knowledge of Japanese to enjoy, anyway. I’m hoping that someone will pick it up for localization but frankly, there’s zero chance of that ever happening).

Despite owning the game, I don’t mind admitting that I completely suck at it, as I do with all bullet-hell shooters. I’d probably do better at the game if I were younger; I spent a lot of my childhood in arcades playing games like 1942, Tiger Heli, and Carrier Air Wing, but these days, I play games like Robo Defense, which doesn’t require much skill, and I’ve played games like World of Warcraft, which requires even less skill.

Here are the sisters from Pink Sweets. They originally showed up in a game called Ibara, where they were the bad guys; in the sequel Pink Sweets, they become the playable characters. I had planned on picking up this game, since it was also released region-free (along with the game Muchi Muchi Pork), but money was short at the time and I never did get it. I still hope to add it to my collection someday, though.

This is Element Daughter 01 A.I from DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu. This game was localized in Europe by Rising Star Games, but the disc is playable on North American 360s. This character got a colored model kit that was sold through Cave’s store and, I think, at various hobby shows and events. Off the top of my head, it’s just the second Cave character to get a figure, the first being, of course, Reco, who got a figure from Max Factory a couple of years back.

She also got a dakimakura cover; it was sold at the same time as Android C. I thought about getting it but I was already spending quite a bit on pillowcases at the time so I passed on it.

I probably should’ve just scanned these pages; it’s hard as hell holding up a camera that weighs five pounds with one hand. I’ve got Darth Talon and Uesugi Kenshin standing on my scanner, though.

Here is artwork from Akai Katana, a horizontal 2D shmup that Cave released a couple of years ago. It’s getting localized in North America by Rising Star Games, which means if you own a 360, you should buy it. Here, I’ll even give you an Amazon link.

This wallscroll depicts Sumire Asaka, one of the characters in the game. The game features gorgeous character art (sort of superfluous, since you fly in an airplane through most of the game, but still appreciated). You can see high-res images of the characters over at Andriasang.

I’ll conclude this very cursory overview of Cave’s games by mentioning that the music for Akai Katana and part of the soundtrack for Instant Brain was composed by Ryu Umemoto, who also scored many of Cave’s other games. He was a completely self-taught musician, which is something I admire a lot, being that I never studied any form of creative art myself. Tragically, he passed away last year at just 37 years of age, after a long illness. It’s sad to read his Twitter timeline, in which his last posts are mentions of his illness and of the Tohoku earthquake. There’s also a mention of a planned trip to Sweden, where he’d visited before. (In a bit of an odd coincidence, I got an e-mail just a couple days ago from Mangagamer announcing that they had acquired the rights to Eve Burst Error, which Umemoto had composed the music for.)

Back on the subject, I really like this pillowcase a lot. Should you happen to play this game, there is a walkthrough available on Cave-STG. In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing my rain dance, hoping that someone will pick Instant Brain up for localization.

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15 Responses to Dakimakura Review – Android C from Instant Brain (NSFW)

  1. you forgot about Caspar from Deathsmiles. She got a figure release too. Tho I’ve never seen the Reco figure. Elemental Daughter A.I was a colour resin kit and damn expensive. They sold her on the cave web store a little while back and it went out of stock really quickly!!

    Looking back, I forgot that I have played so many Cave shooters. I own Deathsmiles and Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu (I refuse to call it resurrection) on the 360 and all their iOS ports.
    I also got Ibara on the PS2 and i HATED it!! It may be because it was one of their early shooters but I found it almost impossible to distinguish between the enemy bullets and my own, which is rather lethal in a bullet hell shooter.
    TriggerHeart Excelica by Warashi continues to be my fave shooter of all time, closely followed by Raiden II. For some reason, I could never get too deep into the much vaunted Treasure ones (radiant silvergun and Ikaruga) despite owning an original Saturn version of silvergun!

    • Tier says:

      I like Triggerheart Exelica though the swinging game mechanic was pretty weird to me; I always left it on auto, though I hear most players prefer to control rotation manually. To be truthful I’m much more of a fan of the older style of 2D shooter rather than the bullet hell type; I like Ikaruga more than Cave’s games (though I’m no good at it, either; I can barely make it to stage 3), and most of my fondest shmup memories are of games like Carrier Air Wing, 1942 (I didn’t care much for 1943, mostly because of the timer on the guns, and I found it sorta disconcerting to learn that Sine Mora has a timer), and Thunderforce II (I never did get Thunderforce III since the PX in Korea never stocked it). I’m not sure if Ikaruga or Gradius V is my favorite Treasure-developed shmup; I think maybe I’d give the edge to Ikaruga for its music and style.

      • I use manual swinging in Excelica. I feel that I get more control over it when I do. Also, just attaching and letting go of an enemy makes it explode and can take out smaller enemies around it.

        I can’t remember what my first shmup was. I think it was Raiden 2 but I just enjoy hazing the bullets in bullet hell shooters.
        And Sine Mora has been surprisingly divisive. I know a few shump fans who appreciate its stylings but really don’t like it as a game.

        • Tier says:

          I think my first shmup was 1942, or some Korean game on the Apple II+. A lot of my best gaming memories involve shmups; I remember being a hardcore NES fanboy right up to the point I played my cousin’s Genesis, at which point I ditched Nintendo for good and became a hardcore Sega fanboy. One of the games he had was a shooter called Truxtun, which I liked a lot, mostly because your ship could get lasers that looked like lightning bolts.

  2. Aaron says:

    I really like this dakimakura. I think the best part is that the coloring and shading are just done so well. For example her underwear looks lifelike which is probably due to both the coloring and material. It may also be that her skin is actually shaded whereas most dakimakura are the typical anime / manga illustrations.

    My biggest question is how did you hear about this dakimakura? Do you have a blog you follow or subscribe to their twitter? I keep watch for the Agarest and Neptunia ones by following twitter, but even then Compile Heart’s Twitter is so sparse and their site is in Japanese that I don’t know if I am missing something or not.

    Between this and the Teresa from Seikon no Qwaser (don’t know if that is right) I really need to find a way to see what dakimakura are being released.

    I am not much for shmups though. I couldn’t play then when I was young (on the NES, etc) and cannot play them today. As such I don’t support Cave because I can’t justify buying a game I will never beat or will get frustrated with. As for this game, maybe I’ll post on Aksys’ site for an idea for localization.

    • Shashin says:

      Heh, I actually don’t have much to contribute to this review, other than the fact that she has a very cute butt.

      To answer your question, however, the best site to keep up with current releases is probably the “Dakimakura Blog”; that’s not the official name as far as I know, it’s just what most of us foreigners have taken to calling it. If you weren’t aware of it, you can find it here:

      http://blog.xn--er-573a1isbf1441e2hs87j.jp/

      Wasn’t necessarily how Tier heard about this particular cover, but they usually do a pretty good job of covering most upcoming releases.

    • Tier says:

      I think one of the things I like a lot about this pillowcase is that her proportions aren’t too stylized (I mean, aside from the narrow waist and large bust, but those things are sort of to be expected). A lot of the dakimakura covers I have are drawn with oversized heads and relatively small torsos, but C looks more like an adult. Not that I mind the younger sort of look that characters with larger heads have, but I think I like characters to look older than middle school age.

      As mentioned I check the dakimakura blog (Buried in Dakimakura, I think its name is). Sometimes they’re also mentioned on hobby websites like Moeyo and Akibablog; I remember the Agarest War ones were mentioned there. I also come across them randomly; Cave’s online shop randomly offers goods for sale, which is how I came across this one, and I saw the Teresa Beria (Seikon no Qwaser is right) on Amiami while glancing through their character goods section. It helps that I have a truly boring day job that gives me a lot of free time to browse webpages.

      I remember that Instant Brain got a mention on Aksys’s forum, though I don’t think there was much of a response to the localization suggestion (much, much less than the amount of support the Xbox 360 version of Arcana Heart 3 got).

  3. Cantan says:

    Come on Tier – you can’t claim this is a dakimakura review when three quarters of the review is actually looking at books!

    Shame on you!

    She’s quite cute though!

    • Cantan says:

      “In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing my rain dance”

      Cut that out – I was wondering why the weather was so crap this side of the Atlantic! When a butterfly flaps its wings (or an idiot does a rain dance)…

    • Tier says:

      Ha, I surely can. What, do you want a detailed examination of its zipper? Besides, y’all can stand to get more books. I’m always mortified when I hear people say they don’t like books.

      You people are always blaming other people for your troubles (blame it on the Americans and if not them, pin it on the Greeks). Next thing you know you’ll be blaming your society’s dentistry on the US.

      • I resent that generalisation! Being a Brit, I can say that we usually blame mainland europe for our problems, so that basically means France and Germany who like throwing their weight around in the EU.

        Oh, and you also forgot about spain. I think most people have given up on Greece by now!

        • Tier says:

          The French! They are to blame for everything. Particularly scoring in tennis, which confused the hell out of me until I got Top Spin on the Xbox.

          I forgot about Italy too. So many problems in the world and so many other people to blame it on.

  4. Aaron says:

    How do you feel about Noire and Uni from Hyperdimension Neptunia? They both have red eyes with black hair.

    • Noire is all kinds of awesome!!! Uni, not so much…Plus, Uni uses pads. Nepgear says so!!

    • Tier says:

      Both of them are really cute and I like all of the character designs from Neptune. I have to admit that since I only have a 360 out of the current generation of consoles, my fanboy instincts make Green Heart my favorite design of all of them. My instincts and her prodigious underboob, I mean. I need to get a PS3 soon, though, since Agarest War 2 is due out next month, and I could use a Blu-ray player that actually works.

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