With the official publication today of the June 2008 edition of eroge magazine Tech Gian, sites for games newly featured in the issue are coming online one after another. The biggest scoop by far (in my own twisted reckoning) is the grand opening of the site for Starless, the latest eroge title from Sei Shoujo after a three year absence from the scene (and from this earthly plane, apparently). Further details and game images below:

As we reported two days ago the game will be developed and published under the Empress brand, a subdivision of corporate parent Will that was responsible for the Sei Shoujo-designed 2005 release of Cleavage, the final game he produced before going on hiatus.

The newly launched Starless site contains a preliminary story exposition, character page, and sample CG, as well as a staff diary with a single entry from the brand’s “public relations magical girl”. A translated summary of the story section follows:

Protagonist Sawatari Yukito was looking for a summer part time job, when by chance he came across an advertisement in a job search magazine for a position with really nice wages. Upon quickly contacting the employer and learning that the position had yet to be filled, he applied without delay. The job was as a live-in servant at a mansion.

His first day of work arrived. Upon arrival at the mansion deep in the mountains he was surprised by the size of the grounds and the palatial building itself… appropriate for the richest of the rich. The mansion’s beautiful mistress and her equally beautiful daughters came out to meet him. However, within that day his expectations turned to bewilderment and then despair.

By the time he learned the reason behind the high wages he was being offered for a simple handyman’s job, it was too late… The work that awaited him was that of a “handyman” in name only. He joined several other servants at the beck and call of the mansion’s mistress, tasked with pleasing every perverted whim of her odd family.

Servants both male and female were unable to escape the mansion, forced to continually take part the unending bizarre play of the family’s mad escapades. Will Yukito ever be able to escape the mansion alive, or….?!

Both visually and story-wise the game is already reminiscent of the previous works for which Sei Shoujo served as auteur, Bible Black and Discipline. While I’m not personally a huge fan of the game’s sadistic themes I enjoyed Discipline a lot, and if Starless turns out to be more of the same I’ll be one happy erogamer.

The June 2008 issue of Tech Gian featured a separate booklet showcasing eight new forthcoming titles from Will game brands, of which Starless was one. The Starless pages contained more detailed game information and additional images not yet found on the official site, as well as an interview with Sei Shoujo, which is reproduced in translation here:

TG: This is your first new work in three years. What were you doing in the intervening time?

SS: I hid away in the countryside, occasionally taking illustration jobs, thinking up indecent pictures and stories. I was living a damp and humid lifestyle, like a mushroom. (laughs)

TG: So you came up with the idea for this new project then. Is there a theme or a concept you would say defines this new work?

SS: I was thinking “it’s about time I’d like to make another deep, dark ‘hentai game'” to start with, so I didn’t really have a particular theme in mind. That said, figuring out how to fit in all that perversion is pretty tricky in and of itself.

TG: Because this time you’re handling not just the visuals, but project planning and scenario writing as well?

SS: Yeah, it’s been awhile since I received the offer to take such a position, so I took the opportunity when it arose. It’s tough when no matter how much I do I still don’t feel that the end is in sight, but I also see the merit in the ability to directly implement what I want to express in both the scenario and the visuals simultaneously.

TG: You’re known for the wide variety of situations and “ero angles” you portray. Can we expect to see an even broader array of scenes here?

SS: You bet!

TG: Could you tell us the key points of this new work?

SS: First is “ero”! Anyway, the ‘hentai level’ in this is higher than in any of my previous works, so please look forward to that. Also, the number of graphic elements we’re putting into this is several times the usual. I’ll be happy if everyone anticipates that as well.

TG: Now that you mention graphics, in comparison to your previous work I’m left with the impression that the atmosphere of the coloring technique here is different.

SS: Oh, really? I don’t really notice much of a change, but now that you mention it I suppose the style may have evolved somewhat. In this work I’ve chosen to apply more of my personal preference to the coloring than in the past, so maybe that’s what you’re seeing. That said, from now we’re progressing to final finishing work on the graphics so when you see them next the atmosphere may be entirely different. (laughs)

TG: Finally, could you give a message to the readers?

SS: As is fitting for the most potent work I’ve ever produced, I’ll be packing as many ero scenes in as I can absolutely possibly think of, so please look forward to it. I appreciate your support!

A final note regarding the Starless visuals: it’s evident that Sei Shoujo’s style has evolved somewhat in his years out of the eroge limelight, but perhaps not as much as the game’s visual presentation might suggest. Both in terms of coloring techique, body lines, and facial features on some of the characters, this new work is strongly reminiscent of the work of fellow eroge CG artist and designer Hazuki (Erogamescape), who has been a colleague of Sei Shoujo’s since their days with Active when they worked on Mah Jong Gensoukyoku II and III together. They both later moved to Will, Sei Shoujo to produce Cleavage and Hazuki’s work appearing most recently in Shokujuu, published last December by Skunkworks – the brand originally scheduled to release Starless. We’ll be watching the credit roll for Hazuki’s name to appear.

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