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From Doujin Circle To Company! — ALcot’s 20th Anniversary

On November 28th, 2003, an eroge titled Clover Heart’s was launched by a newborn company—ALcot—in Japan as a DVD game and later as a home console game on the PS2. After that they began producing more known titles such as Onigokko!, My Girlfriend is the President, and the recently localized Clover Day’s.

But what about the company is so interesting to even be receiving its own article? Just the fact that they’re celebrating 20 years of existence? To answer that question, let me tell you everything about the company, from the very start to the present day, marked by Clover Memory’s, their last entry before closing this long, long chapter.

Before the Fame

Before ALcot became the company that we know today, they went by the name of APPLE Project, a doujin circle, with all the core members responsible for the creation of ALcot in the future. At the time, they focused on doing short popular visual novel parodies such as another ONE, Tenshi no Oshigoto -Their Wishes Afterward- and Stay. -Fragments of Memories-, all from from 1999 to 2000, with core members such as Miyazou handling the scenario and Nimura Yuuji (also called PRIMIL) as the artist.

While there isn’t much to comment on when it comes to the parodies themselves, they’ve set certain expectations about the kind of work they’d release in the future. In 2003, ALcot was born with their first non-doujin title: Clover Heart’s.

For a debut, Clover Heart’s was long in duration and featured two protagonists, twin sisters as heroines, and drama as a central point in its narrative. However, a feature that was introduced in the game that would become characteristic of some of ALcot’s future titles was the floating text, where all of the text boxes are dynamically shifting places on the screen while advancing the dialogues.

One year after Clover Heart’s release, ALcot released the short side story Toy Tsumechaimashita!. Speaking of which, ALcot had a leakage problem in 2008 related to a web-research they did; another interesting fact about the game is that Famitsu (September 3, 2004’s issue) reviewed the game and all of the reviewers gave it a 6/10, summing up to a 24/40 score.

On March 28th, 2006, ALcot published Triptych in collaboration with the now defunct Dennou Club and this time around Miyazou wasn’t directly involved on the game. Triptych is a slice of life fantasy mystery, featuring three heroines.

During that same year, they also published Natsupochi—this time with Miyazou back in the team. This is a slice of life romance with multiple endings and a more typical moe look compared to their previous title.

After that, ALcot would have a streak of one or two releases every year. In 2009, they would finally hit the overseas radars with the release of My Girlfriend is the President.

Becoming popular in the West

In September 18th, 2009, a trial version of My Girlfriend is the President was published in Japan, and following the release, TLWiki hosted an English fan translation of that version. Seeing that, Jast USA collaborated with these fans to complete and publish the translation officially (alongside its fandisc) under Jast Densetsu in December 26th, 2011. This was the first ALcot title to be officially released outside of Japan.

This title didn’t become famous just because of it’s localization or because of its absurd premise and parody of political figures. Instead, it grew (in)famous through memes.

The amount of absurdity and creativity towards this concept originated a video that would explode in popularity at the time with a fanmade trailer featuring English narration and Hollywood movie-style editing (which, unfortunately, I couldn’t find). That video had exploded so much that ALcot’s website was being overwhelmed by users from the US, France, United Kingdom and Russia. Another parody video that was popular at the time was one where all the characters featured on the game’s opening were switched with real life political figures, such as Obama, Putin, and many others.

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As of today, Jast USA has also translated Onigokko! and has announced translations of other ALcot games such as Yomegami: My Sweet Goddess! and Tokyo Hero Project.

ALcot’s 10th Anniversary

In 2014, Alcot celebrated their 10th anniversary alongside FAVORITE (another VN developer) and announced their new Clover Day’s. Clover Day’s was—and still is—a very special title not only for ALcot but for their fans as well, and it made for a time of celebration for everyone at the time.

Some teasing by Nimura Yuuji (2014)

Clover Day’s was a direct sequel to Clover Heart’s with different protagonists and side characters. Most of the staff from the previous title returned to work on the new title, making it even more special.

The game has four scenario writers (each one responsible for one heroine route) and four character designers plus Nimura Yuuji, who would also return.

And then, on March 28th, 2014, the title reached the Japanese market, followed by a remake called Clover Day’s Plus two years later that had more H-scenes and e-mote support. The game also had a PSVita release on 2017 but this version didn’t include the Plus content, as it was a console release.

The game is a love letter not only for those who enjoy ALcot titles but to visual novels in general, making references to other works from the same genre while having a lot of personality that made the title its very own.

Saving a FanTL Project

Clover Day’s‘ fan translation has a lot of background to it that I had to dig out. To make sure that everything was as accurate as possible, I contacted both Ittaku (ToHeart2, Secret Agent) and Astro, a former leader of the fan project.

In 2014, Astro picked up Clover Day’s as a passion project and announced it on the Fuwanovel Forums (which was the main inspiration for this chapter), creating Yakusoku Translations as the fanTL group.

On December 25th, 2014, he surprised everyone by posting a partial patch to the game with the common route fully translated. Things looked like they were doing fine until some problems started arising.

Astro wasn’t exactly a very available person, as he was only 18 at the time. In 2015, he started participating in official projects for companies, thus leaving Clover Day’s behind. He tried to recrute other people to translate parts of the game while still being the leader of the project but everyone ended up jumping out soon afterwards.

He began questioning himself if he could even count on others to help, and that’s when Ittaku entered the scene to help. Amongst everyone, he remained until the very end, starting with Tsubame’s route (2015) to Izumi’s to, finally, Anzu’s route (2017).

While Ittaku was having a streak of translating route after route, Astro was trying to make money from his translations to help pay his school since he wasn’t from a very well-off family. The project ended up having to be on pause for some years and that pained a lot who remained on the project—mainly Ittaku, who gradually enjoyed it more and more.

As the project was in a very complicated state and Astro had to drop school because due to personal reasons, the project came to a stop in 2018. There wasn’t anyone on the team besides Astro and Ittaku themselves. ALcot also wasn’t the type of company to easily accept an official localization offer from Western companies… that is, until NekoNyan appeared.

Against all ods, NekoNyan got the rights to localize and publish the title for the West, and reached Ittaku to invite him to the translation team. Ittaku proceeded to reach out to Astro, but he ended up refusing to join.
Finally, in January 20th, 2020, NekoNyan announced the title officially!

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Ittaku made sure of re-translating everything he didn’t translate himself (including Astro’s previous translation) for the official release with the help from NekoNyan veterans such as Chuee (NekoNyan’s editor) and a lot of the QA team members, such as KiriyaAoi.

After almost a decade, we see this translation rise from the dead!


That leaves us with what’s happening today: ALcot announced their last project Clover Memory’s as their 20th anniversary title, with returning staff from previous titles, including artists, some of the writers, the previous game director Tokino, and most importantly, Miyazou.

“Why is his name popping up so often?”, you ask. To answer that question, BugBug.NEWS (a japanese magazine focused on +18 PC games) has recently published their May 2024 issue and in it there’s an interview section with Miyazou himself and scenarist Soranoshita Hajime. In it, Miyazou talks mainly about his health and the reason he doesn’t believe he’ll continue making eroges in the next few years, and since he has been ALcot’s producer since its creation he asked the other members of the studio if they would like to continue on ALcot without him, and they all said no. Therefore, as a last farewell, he decided to do another Clover title.

Clover Memory’s interview section

The title has entered crowdfunding stage and as of the time of the writing, it seems to be going smoothly. Only 24 hours have passed and almost half of the total goal has been achieved.
If you’re interested in more details, be sure to also keep an eye on the news and livestreams they do at their official channel.

And while we don’t know if this title will be able to reach its funding goal or if it will be even receiving an official translation, it will be ALcot’s certain farewell and love letter to the industry. We can only hope ALcot gives NekoNyan a chance to bring yet another title the translation it deserves.

ALcot may not be the most well-known visual novel developer out there with huge historical and important titles like Leaf, Alicesoft or other companies of the sort, but it still has its relevance as a company ran by people who love what they’re making—said love even reaching international ground more than once.

With that said, I hope ALcot can have Clover Memory’s bear fruit and, most importantly, have an amazing 20th year anniversary.

Author comments

Hi there!
I believe that was the ending I was striving for, given I had no initial plans of ever writing this. An ending similar to the structure of a story: more than two acts and an emotional-yet-satisfying ending. I mean, isn’t this history kind of unbelievable in its own way—like it came from a fictional story book?!

Leaving that aside, this article got more delayed than I’d like to admit. I was going to try and finish it on time to Ittaku’s birthday, at the start of this month. He’s an amazing guy with lots of knowledge to give and has helped me a lot with this article and another one still on the works (and believe me, it’ll be a very long one, so stay alert if you liked my articles up until now.)

I’d appreciate some feedback on this piece, as it’s very important to me and I’m happy with the final result. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it, as it would mean a lot to me and the other people that have helped me—and still are—so far.

This was a very fun ride! From getting to know people such as Astro and Ittaku (who I never thought I’d have the chance to know in my life) to writing this piece, I’d say I’m more than honored, but lets be real: at the end of the day, they’re still people. They have families, jobs and their own issues. They make mistakes, but that’s what shape us to be more than we were yesterday, and that’s what I respect the most about them. Astro even said this to me while I “questioned “interviewed” him:

ㅤI mostly started the translation as a passion project. I didn’t know much about Clover Day’s at first but I came to enjoy the story and characters the more I worked on it. At that point in time, I just wanted readers to be happy and be able to enjoy the translation freely. However, because Ittaku also did a huge chunk of the work, I remember saying to him that it was his decision in the end if he wanted to go forward with the official localization. I also felt bad for not really contributing much to the 2nd half of the translation despite leading the project, so I felt like I owed it to Ittaku to just hand him the project and scripts. The translation was delayed a long time due to my own incompetence, so it wouldn’t feel right if I were to profit from it. That’s why I personally said no to NN, but Ittaku was allowed to do what he wanted.

 I have many regrets in my life and I wish I had the freedom and mental fortitude to achieve my goals instead of giving everything up. If I had unlimited time and energy, I’d start all over and accomplish the things I want. Unfortunately, having enough money to survive is also a factor, and that’s where all my time goes lately. Right now I’m just barely scraping by and hoping that I can one day keep doing what I love – streaming and translating.

Today, March 28th, is also Clover Day’s‘ 10th Anniversary. Damn you, ALcot, having two anniversaries at the same year! I wish I had this kind of thing…

If you enjoyed this, I highly recommend you reading an old interview that Astro had 9 years ago here on Fuwanovel with our dear shcboomer.

I wish you a nice day, and keep sending VNs and their translators some love!

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