Issho ni Gohan is based off a drama CD series. In the game, our heroine, Mugibata Akane, is a 1st year at Hanarenjyaku University of Cooking. Unfortunately, her part-time workplace just went bankrupt and her funds are running low and she can barely make ends meet – so much so that she collapses from hunger one day! Fortunately, Satou helps her out and even offers her to take over his position of managing Meshi Yasou, an apartment for Hanarenjyaku students, as he’s leaving soon. Akane decides to take up his kind offer and so begins her days at Meshi Yasou~ This is a pretty straightforward game and you can finish each character rather quickly, so I won’t be doing a full-blown review of all the character routes.
Very briefly, let me explain the game system. There are two parameters: the love one, and cooking one. The former one is quite obvious, while the latter one is for Akane’s own cooking knowledge/skills. Besides some common events, the rest of the game flow would then depend on the Map Events – clearly, you would have Akane go to the area where the target guy is. Other than that, there are some cooking mini-games which would up Akane’s cooking skills. You can also unlock recipes as you proceed into the game. All of this is for the common route which takes place for about the first 4 months. The individual routes that follow take place for the next 3 months.
Akane herself is a positive girl, and tries her best at both her new job and studies. Her specialty is pasta, bread and sweets and to be perfectly honest, she fails at other dishes that doesn’t use wheat flour. But while running Meshi Yasou, she gets a chance to work on that area too.
Daitou Natsu (CV: Tsuda Kenjiro)
Daitou Natsu is a 4th year university student, majoring in Japanese food. With his calm and serious personality, he takes it upon himself to manage to rules of the apartment, and even calls himself the Discipline Committee Member. Clearly, he preference is Japanese food and he often reads up on books all about the topic. Though he appears strict, he’s kind deep down and looks out for everyone, including Akane. He’s particularly close to Nao as fellow 4th years, and always worries over his well-being. When he’s with Pitan, a cat he took in, he can get quite affectionate and even starts talking in baby talk. When Akane stumbled upon this, she promises to keep it a secret from the rest. Natsu has extremely high alcohol tolerance so if you see him going red in the face, it’s definitely not due to the alcohol but embarrassment~ He doesn’t speak much and is better with writing than speaking.
In his individual route, Natsu keeps getting called back by his family, who runs a traditional Japanese restaurant. This continues to occur and Natsu would go contact-less, even when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished and they decide to enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Eventually, he asks Akane if she can return to his home with him and for some reason she’s asked to train with the waitresses for the day. It’s revealed that Natsu’s parents were forcing him to go for a omiai and when they found out that he’s entering the competition with Akane, they mistook her for his girlfriend and asked him to bring her home since she’ll be the future hostess here when they marry lol. While Akane does her best to help him out, Natsu is still found out later in the end. He ends up going for the omiai but rejects it properly.
They win the cooking competition and Meshi Yasou is saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. Akane and Natsu eventually realise that they like each other and in the epilogue, Natsu brings her home to see his parents for real this time. They visit a shrine near his place later and Akane wishes to be with him from now on too.
Karasawa Rei (CV: Ono Daisuke)
Karasawa Rei is an OB (old boy) of the university but has been given special permission to continue living at the apartment as his workplace is near. He works at an Indian curry place and due to his irregular shifts, he can often been found sleeping at odd hours. He has a doS personality (I see him as more of an oresama character though), but his cooking skills are superb and he can taste what’s been added to a dish in seconds. He calls Hikari and Akane his toys, and also uses them as taste testers for all of his curry experiments. But according to the rest, he treats both of them kindly too and would never act like that towards them. Unexpectedly, he’s terrified of bugs. Rei thinks that everything tastes better with curry and during their BBQ, he went ahead and added his curry sauce to everything. He still drinks even though he gets drunk straight away and would end up crying. He’s the older brother to Lu but they both can’t get along at all. They both have different surnames as their parents are divorced.
In his individual route, the friction between the two brothers continues to intensify and Rei gets injured at one point. Rei has been short-tempered and violent since young which caused others to avoid him. While Lu looks down on everyone else despite his pleasant personality, though that has changed somewhat since he came to Meshi Yasou. Both of them admit that they seem to have the same tastes though, and this is shown when Lu offers for Akane to be his working partner as he plans to open up his own restaurant in the future. While Akane herself and everyone else knows that she likes Rei already, Rei himself doesn’t seem to be bothered at all. Akane also sees it as a pity that the two brothers can’t get along, but there’s no point forcing them when neither of them has the intention. Apparently it started from young when their pranks on each other would get worse and worse (Lu would disguise a gummy as a bug, while Rei put firecrackers in his lunchbox etc). The same event happens, whereby Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished and they decide to enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Naturally, Rei sticks to his curry but his perfectionist personality has him work at the dish over and over again. Thankfully, Akane’s sense manages to improve the dish.
They eventually win the cooking competition with their curry + dessert + drink menu. Meshi Yasou is saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. Their winning menu is also now served at Rei’s workplace. In the epilogue, everyone goes to view the cherry blossoms and Rei sneaks out with Akane later. Though he’d always denied seeing her as a woman, it’s ‘cos he saw issues with their age gap etc. But he has sorted out his feelings now and confess to her – in his style of course, saying that she’s now his. After that they even do it at her place (wow) and Akane is happy that her feelings have been answered.
Unoha Nao (CV: Fukuyama Jun)
Like Natsu, Unoha Nao is a 4th year university student, majoring in food model. He has poor health and is weak towards the sunlight, hence he hardly goes to the university. Instead, he works on his assignments at Meshi Yasou and submits them later. Initially he stayed in a room near Rei and was made to go along with his curry experiments – till he collapsed and had to be sent to the hospital. After that, Natsu had Satou switch rooms. When Nao was young, he was indoors all day due to his poor health. When he could finally go out, his father Nao often gets caught up in his work, and forgets to eat properly, hence he can be found lying on the floor and often worries Natsu. Despite all this, his work is brilliant and has a peculiar artist-like aura. He also enjoys gazing at the stars, and on a few occasions he has brought Akane out to gaze at them at night. He has this image that everyone has their own night sky full of stars but every individual has different stars shining brightly for them. In his case, his food sample star probably shines brightly, while his appetite and health stars shine weakly. Nao was born and raised in Kyoto by his parents who are both fellow artists
and he speaks with an adorable dialect.
In his individual route, when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Natsu and Riki would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Akane sees that a food sample competition is taking place at the same time, and persuades Nao to enter this too to up their chances. She gladly accepts being his assistant, though the assistant role can only help with preparations and ideas and not during the actual competition session. Akane ends up creating a new menu for Nao to make models of. Meanwhile, she also discovers that Nao is being offered a chance to study overseas as at this rate, he may not graduate successfully since he always takes breaks off school. The professor also knows someone setting up a food sample company targeting the foreign market and wants Nao to help there too. While Akane is shocked at first (and finally realises her feelings), she decides to support Nao’s decision and they both focus on the competition for now.
Though Natsu and Riki won 2nd place in the cooking competition, Nao won 1st place in his and Meshi Yasou is saved thanks to the efforts from both sides. Nao takes Akane out to walk to see the stars that night, and promises that they’ll come here again. They both confess to each other and Akane promises to wait for him. In the epilogue, one year has passed and Akane is surprised to see a collapsed Nao in Meshi Yasou. Apparently he has completed everything overseas and so now they can be by each other’s side again.
Umino Riki (CV: Suzumura Kenichi)
Umino Riki is a 3rd year university student, majoring in Japanese food. Even though he’s more knowledgeable in Italian food, he decided to study Japanese food to pick up his roots. He has a casual and friendly personality, and is a popular guy often seen going on dates. However he usually breaks the curfew and often at odd ends with Natsu. His flashy style is telling of his fashion interest, and he works part-time as a DJ in a club too. Riki often comes up with his own original dishes, fusing Italian and Japanese cuisine. To him, having fun is the most important while cooking but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t serious either. When he opens up his own dining cafe bar, he plans to be concerned with all the details from interior to the menu, so as for all customers to be able to enjoy themselves as they like.
In his individual route, when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Akane and Riki would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Things start roughly with Riki suddenly dashing off for am important appointment and getting annoyed later when Natsu comes in to help Akane in place – but Akane learns later that Riki is actually taking up special classes in nutrition for the contest. They eventually decide on preparing an original pizza, with each slice designed to represent the uniqueness of the Meshi Yasou residents.
They win the cooking competition in the end. Meshi Yasou is saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. In the epilogue, two months have passed and Riki brings Akane to the club that night. However he has booked it just for them and as promised, he prepares his own special fruit cocktail for her.
Toriyama Yousuke (CV: Shimono Hiro)
Toriyama Yousuke is a fellow 1st year like Akane. He knew her before she’d moved in as they take a common class, even though he’s majoring in Western food. Yousuke loves his karaage (fried chicken) but doesn’t do too well with other types of Japanese food, hence he decided to major in Western food. He’s also knowledgeable with all other fried food. He has a complex about his height though, and reacts immediately whenever someone calls him “chibi” or small. Yousuke drinks milk regularly, though he denies that it’s so that he can gain some height lol. He calls Hikari “shishou” (master) as he’d challenged him upon hearing a rumour of a mysterious person in school being able to whip up a delicious dish in 2 minutes and Hikari’s looks appear identical (my guess is that the person is actually Satou) – but in the end Hikari’s dish was not tasty at all. Still, Yousuke felt respect for him to accept a junior’s challenge even though he’d show off his uncool side and called him “shishou” since then. He enjoys trying out all sorts of take-out food, and finds a certain joy in eating while walking around, on-the-go.
In his individual route, when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Akane and Yousuke would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Things start roughly with initial failures and Akane burning her hand by accident, but they eventually pull themselves together with everyone else’s help too. They win the cooking competition in the end. Meshi Yasou is saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. Their winning menu also spreads to the neighbourhood restaurants and cafes. Afterwards, Yousuke brings Akane out for a walk and confesses to her. Their feelings are mutual and so they start going out~
In the epilogue, Yousuke buys her matching cups, which she previously pointed out to him before while they were doing some other shopping. They hope that they can use them together one day when they start living together after they graduate.
Yoneda Hikari (CV: Kaji Yuuki)
Yoneda Hikari is a 2nd year university student, and has the same major as Akane – management. Like Akane, he only does well with dishes to do with rice and miso soup. He has an easy-going personality and so often gets caught up by the others, such as in Rei’s curry experiments or Gunji’s training. Though he may get down, Hikari’s positive attitude allows him to switch gears quickly. He tries to cook his own food, but he admits to relying on lunchboxes and cup noodles from convenience stores too since he can’t cook many dishes (of course he keeps this a secret from the other residents). Born and raised in Niigata, he’s used to the cold just like Akane and they surprisingly have many similarities. Hikari has an older brother, and a younger sister whom he dotes on a lot. He’s awkward and easily embarrassed around people, which explains why Lu is the only friend he knows in his year.
In his individual route, when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Akane and Hikari would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Things start roughly with initial failures, especially since their capabilities are limited and at one point Rei even questions if Akane should change partners. Hikari doesn’t answer her contacts for a while, but later she discovers that it’s ‘cos he’s seriously practising as he asks everyone to teach him. There’s a slight tension with Hikari unconsciously getting jealous over how close Akane and Yousuke are, and with the latter two witnessing a girl passing Hikari a letter. But it turns out that Hikari asked for advice on what would be a good present for a girl and got the store information from her – so that he could buy Akane an apron in return for her Valentine’s Day gift.
They win 2nd place in the cooking competition but Meshi Yasou is still saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. Afterwards, both of them confess their feelings to each other and start going out~ That being said, in the epilogue nothing seems to have changed much and Riki, Yousuke and Gunji all comment on that and tease them a bit – including stalking them on their date. Hikari gets mad at them and runs off with Akane to the park. He finally kisses her there, while denying that he didn’t do it ‘cos Riki made a remark about it.
Satou (CV: Hatano Wataru)
Satou is the one who helped Akane out, and still continues to help manage Meshi Yasou as and when. If it’s not obvious enough by how he appears to be capable of every little thing – he’s actually an android. He easily fixes the holes Rei punches into walls, helps out with the preparations of dishes in seconds, and is known as the “Time Sale Emperor” as he never fails to miss out on discounts and time sales at the supermarket. All the Meshi Yasou residents appear to know of this, but Akane doesn’t and that’s why his actions sometimes surprise her.
In his individual route, when Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Akane and Satou would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. Apparently Isozaki Rie, the woman from the real estate place, had her eyes on the apartment since a year ago. Though they smoothly work on a pasta dish for the competition, complications crop up along the way. As they interact more, Satou starts to act differently and even calls the rest to ask for their advice on how to properly interact with Akane. Riki concludes that it must be love and Satou acts rather out of character lol and Akane tells him that he should stay as his usual self. Akane is also shocked when she learns that Satou is an android. He took the damage when saving her from an oncoming truck and had to be shifted back to his room in Meshi Yasou, and had to recover his lost data. When he wakes up, he can’t recall who Akane is as his memory from meeting her till now has been damaged, so he goes back to try and recover them. But even after doing so, he still isn’t as before and his functions for cooking don’t work anymore. They continue to manage somehow though and on the day before the competition, Rei attempts to interfere by taking away the ingredients delivered from Akane’s family. Satou helps Akane to get it back and at the same time, recovers all of his memory (and possibly feelings for her).
They win the cooking competition and Meshi Yasou is saved, as after that the public started to help to protest against the demolition of the apartment. For the first time, Satou cries even though he shouldn’t be able to function like that. Akane hugs him, as she says that he must be happy to have been able to protect this important place. In the epilogue, Satou brings Akane to see the flowers which they’d planted in the backyard bloom in the early morning. (I don’t know what happened to the fact of Satou having to leave Meshi Yasou – stated in the prologue?)
When Meshi Yasou is at risk of getting demolished, it’s decided that Akane and Hikari would enter a prestigious cooking competition to save the apartment. With the help of everyone, they end up winning 3rd place. The rest also managed to gather petition signatures from the public. Thanks to all of this, Meshi Yasou is saved as Satou managed to persuade an organisation backing him up to buy over it, saying that many promising students are living there. Everyone celebrates that day and Akane is thankful to be able to continue to spend her days with them.
Considering the fact that there are 8 routes to go through (including the Normal one), it didn’t take me that long to finish the game. Once you’re through with the first few character routes, you skip a lot of the common events for the later routes – I would force skip the overlaps in the individual routes too. As you can tell, the story is really straightforward and well, the only one which differs a bit is Satou’s route due to the fact that he’s an android. That being said, it’s not that I didn’t like the characters – I did – but not all of them had great routes. For example, I really like the 4th years but they didn’t have great chemistry with Akane in my opinion. I felt that Yousuke and Akane were the best couple but to be honest the least plot happened in Yousuke. It didn’t help that Akane’s personality got more bland as I progressed from route to route. I hardly say this about heroines but in Satou’s route – there was a huge moment when I literally face-palmed and questioned the logic behind her actions. Taking all of this into mind, I think that Rei had the strongest route as a whole even though he isn’t my favourite character.
I don’t really cook, but I suppose people who enjoy cooking may also enjoy picking up on random tips and recipes? If not you may just be like me, feeling hungry every time I play the game lol. The cooking mini-games were easy enough – except for Natsu’s which took me a few tries. The music was alright and so was the art – though you could easily observe how certain characters’ CGs (ahem, Natsu) were not as nice as others. I showed the nicer ones but I didn’t like how they phased out Akane’s presence in CGs, to only show her hand, have the guy facing you full-up etc. I liked the fact that everyone calls Akane by her name. I observed this in the recent Otomate games I’ve played and hopefully they’ll continue with this.
If you’re interested in the game, I would say that you may just want to play the character routes you’re interested in since the story is pretty much the same in all of them. Take note that Satou’s route is only unlocked after the first playthrough and that you’ve to start from the beginning for his. If you’re playing for everyone, and I had to recommend a play of order…nah, I don’t have one. Maybe just save Rei’s route towards the end and feel free to multi-task this game with another one.