Yet another café-themed visual novel? I initially skipped Marshmallow All the Way Home thinking this would be the case. Instead, I was met with a surprisingly engaging story, following a protagonist with a traumatizing past, four charming heroines, and some hilarious lines.
Sheltering Under the Marshmallow Tree
Marshmallow All the Way Home finds our protagonist Ryo Miyahara on the verge of starvation. Homeless after his grandfather passed away, he’s been living in the park and eating grass to try and survive. But he can only keep going for so long and soon collapses.
A young lady appears. Feeding him and even setting him up with a job in her failing pâtisserie and a room to live in, Kanon saves him. This triggers a new chapter in his life, where he is dedicated to paying back her kindness and meets several new people along the way.
Adding Ryo as an employee seemed like a bad idea caused by Kanon’s empathy at the time; the store is already in the red. But it worked out well in the end. I enjoyed seeing Ryo push for new ideas to make the business succeed, and while there were plenty of slice-of-life scenes, it had some exciting moments too. Marshmallow All the Way Home introduces several problems to overcome regarding their success as a group which helped to introduce tension at times, but it was almost always quickly solved. One I was particularly surprised at since the nature of the issue was much more serious than I expected to find in a story about helping to sell cakes. That said, while serious, it leaned into the common anime trope of everyone coming together.
The common route had another surprise in store for me; it essentially resolves major issues for two characters. I was expecting these to be limited to their routes, but one character showed notable growth, while the other had an emotional moment overcoming part of their past. Between the character developments and the other powerful moments, the common route was much better than I expected.
Family and Fun
In terms of feel and themes, Marshmallow All the Way Home keeps up the humor throughout most of the slice-of-life scenes. It knows when to get serious though and isn’t just a light-hearted café-themed visual novel.
Sometimes it’ll have the too-young Shizuka thirsting after Ryo (who has made clear he’s not interested), banter with the competitive friend ‘Q-Tip’, or just jabs between the heroines. These are certainly funny and some parts made me laugh out loud. That said, the comedic misunderstandings that caused chaos sometimes did go on too long.
More important are the scenes where the backstory is explored. Quite a few of the characters have complex family issues, and we can often see how this affects their actions in the present. This might be in how important they find the community around them, their motives for trying to succeed, or in other ways.
Family is the most important theme that ties in through all routes of Marshmallow All the Way Home in one way or another.
Sasa – The Timid Artist
I actually started playing Marshmallow All the Way Home because of Sasa. I saw a screenshot with one of her lines, and it was too funny not to look into it further.
Sasa is a picture book author, both writing and drawing. Starting as a one-hit wonder, she authored a successful book but has a creative block. This doesn’t help the fact that she’s already prone to excessive self-depreciation, often calling herself things like a ‘moldy-jam-at-the-bottom-of-the-bottle excuse for a girl’. She has some of the funniest moments, like trying to dig a hole under a tree to hide from bright and cheerful people. Despite her introversion, she’s the head-over-heels-in-love type. While Ryo is somewhat dense, she’s fairly open about her interest.
Her route will likely be very relatable to anyone who has been involved in a creative endeavor for reasons other than fun. Even for those who haven’t, it has some touching moments. That said, it lacks the excitement of the common route or some of the other routes.
Raiha – The Genius Patissiere
When we first meet Raiha, she’s just quit working for a much more successful store. She’s a famous patissier, but is feeling somewhat aimless and wants to find interesting things to do. While she has reasons for it that her route explores, she comes across as somewhat aloof and wanting a sense of distance from others. Contrasting Sasa, she’s very confident and willing to go for what she wants.
Aside from Raiha’s issues with feeling aimless, we learn that she has a rather complex family situation. This makes quite a lot of her scenes rather dramatic, with emotional moments throughout. This is the cause of the main challenge found in Raiha’s route, which eventually built itself up to one of the more eventful endings.
The one negative about Raiha’s route is that she mostly acted as if she stopped caring about the problem that most of her route was based on. She took a lot of actions that didn’t match up with what she said was an issue. Despite this, she still kept up a particular restriction as if there was a barrier. This did break the immersion of the story somewhat.
Notably, Raiha’s route is the only one which has multiple endings. You can find out how to access these in our walkthrough/guide.
Ushio – The Little Big Sister
Despite having a tiny body, Ushio is the oldest and most mature of the heroines. Acting as the day-to-day manager of the store, she’s extremely considerate and likes taking care of people. She tries to act as an older sister to all the staff, though does have somewhat of a complex about her young appearance. I enjoyed seeing that gap between looks and personality, and it did end up in some amusing moments.
Ushio is the store’s first patissier, and her route explores her development here, and how she wants to succeed with a certain goal. Notably, it also introduces an important part of the protagonist’s history.
While Ushio’s route isn’t particularly exciting, I enjoyed spending time with her character. She pampers the protagonist and tries hard for his sake. Sometimes it’s just enjoyable to read sweet moments like that.
Kanon – Our Savior
Known for picking up stray kittens and helping animals, Kanon is excessively kind at times. That said, she’s willing to get pushy to help if she needs to. Kanon is the owner of the pâtisserie, having inherited it.
While somewhat of a lovable airhead at times, silly enough to hop around, and prone to fantasizing, she can get serious. We get to see a few of these moments where she has to grow into her role as the boss of the store throughout. She had a couple of really nice take-charge moments.
Kanon’s route surprised me a little. One aspect I saw coming very early on, but another seemed to come out of nowhere. The latter culminates in one of the most thrilling moments in Marshmallow All the Way Home, which I was also happy to find remained very much on theme. Kanon’s route is the closest to a ‘true route’, explaining the most backstory.
Lots of Lewd
One notable thing about Marshmallow All the Way Home is just how much adult content it contains. Each character has seven adult scenes, other than Raiha who has eight. That said, two for each character are in the extra content outside of the story. They’re all fairly long and in some cases are shown within a short span of time of each other, which did feel somewhat tiresome when I wanted to get back to the story’s progress. Nude sprites occasionally make an appearance too. These can also be viewed in the sprite viewer.
While many scenes are more vanilla, it does include some more niche content such as licking feet (receiving), peeing, anilingus, and public sex.
As with all Shiravune titles, Marshmallow All the Way Home uses mosaic censorship in its CGs. Notably, one CG in Kanon’s route looked somewhat strange, with a mosaicked penis appearing misshaped. Generally, it was fine though.
As this title is not on Steam, there is no version without adult content.
Graphics, Sound, and More
Marshmallow All the Way Home has some particularly beautiful CGs and sprites. Some of the backgrounds even almost look like paintings. A few moments stood out in particular, like a video background of cherry blossoms falling.
The use of sprites is fairly animated too. Expressions change even mid-sentence and sprites can move around, such as quickly sliding into a scene. ‘Emoji’ style popups occasionally are used, like a musical note or sparkles appearing around a character, which works well to emphasize their emotions.
Aside from the protagonist, all characters are voiced well, with performances matching their personalities. While the main cast stole the show, I always enjoyed seeing the businessman Jake Honjo turn up in a scene, mostly just for his voice-acting performance.
The background music is certainly good enough, but I didn’t feel like it particularly stood out.
Options around text, voice, and graphics are fairly extensive. There’s even a separate slider for background vocals in H-scenes! While my device isn’t suited to it, there’s a touch user interface included too, which would likely be appreciated by anyone playing with a touchscreen device.
While I had some issues with Marshmallow All the Way Home, its strong common route, the moments of excitement and drama, along with plenty of humor had me enjoy my time with it. While the setting is similar, it certainly breaks away from the mold of the standard light-hearted slice of life that many café visual novels contain. Instead, I found a story more focused on bonds, community, and family.
MARSHMALLOW ALL THE WAY HOME IS RECOMMENDED
If you are looking for another more comedic visual novel, you may enjoy Renai Karichaimashita: Koikari – Love For Hire or KamiYaba: Destiny On A Dicey Deadline. We have also covered a wide variety of visual novels both original to English and localized from Japanese, which you can check out here.
Many thanks go to Shiravune for a PC review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.