Jean d’Arc’s Birthday Story Sale | Episodes I – III | Ikémen Vampire | Event Review

Closer to You – For the third year running, Ikemen Vampire has released a new birthday story sale for Jean d’Arc’s special day. As is typical for these story sales, the previous years’ birthday stories have also made a comeback, so players can potentially purchase up to six sets in total.

Episode III, the newest episode, is the only one set after the events of Jean’s main route – meaning he and MC are already a couple when this birthday story takes place.

This typically allows for more intimacy, but these post-romantic development stories may also contain spoilers, so I generally find they’re more appealing to players who have already read the birthday boy’s main route.

Event Name: Jean’s Birthday ~Closer to You~
Event Type: Story Sale (Birthday)
Event End: 19th January 2022 (10:00 AM JST)

Each of the three episodes has two set options – Mini and Deluxe – which offer different contents for different price tags. The primary difference is that the story in the Mini set is written from MC’s perspective, whereas the story in the Deluxe set is written in Jean’s POV.

Both sets include a photo featuring the story’s exclusive CG; however, the deluxe sets also contain a 3-star card with the same birthday art as the photo. Furthermore, each set contains different attire, but I won’t comment too much on this, as I don’t tend to take the attire into account when deciding which set to buy, and preferences in that regard are largely dependent on personal taste.

In total, there are six sets to choose from:

  • Episode III ~ Closer to You (Mini Set)
  • Episode III ~ Closer to You (Deluxe Set)
  • Episode II ~ Your Warmth, Unforgettable (Mini Set)
  • Episode II ~ Your Warmth, Unforgettable (Deluxe Set)
  • Episode I ~ A Vow Purer Than Snow (Mini Set)
  • Episode I ~ A Vow Purer Than Snow (Deluxe Set)

Below is a series of reviews for all six sets – with a final recommendation and personal ranking at the end – to help you decide what to buy this year to celebrate Jean d’Arc’s birthday…

Episode III ~ Closer to You

Mini Set (580 Diamonds) – Closer to You: Story (MC’s POV), and Photo; Avatar: Moonlight Shadow Hair Clip (Attire – Beauty: 40), and Moonlight Shadow Heels (Attire – Beauty: 40)

The mini set contains the story ‘Closer to You’, written from MC’s perspective, which you can find in your ‘Memories’, under Jean’s category. As this birthday story has been released after Jean’s main route became available, he and MC are already a couple before the events of the story take place. There are some mild spoilers, so I’d primarily recommend this birthday story for people who have already completed his main route.

Despite being set after Jean and MC became a couple, I actually found it less romantic than the previous two episodes. Part of the appeal of Jean’s character is his refusal to let MC get too close to him, and her determination to push past his walls. This perfectly sets up his intensely brooding characterisation, but, now that he and MC have become a couple, they’ve already overcome most of these obstacles, so that tension is no longer there.

Obviously, the point of the romance is that they eventually move past their struggles and become a couple, but I felt that the angst was just sort of… removed. It didn’t feel present in this story in any noticeable way – almost like MC falling for Jean had flipped a switch and now everything was hunky-dory.

I think this is largely why the romantic lines came across as a little more generic than the ones in Episodes I and II — that quintessentially melodramatic tone that I loved in Jean’s main story just wasn’t there. Furthermore, this story felt a little shorter than the others, without the same clarity in the core concept of the scene’s plot and purpose.

The previous two episodes had a defined series of events that built up to a dramatic finale, with a clear goal as to what the writers were trying to convey to the reader. However, the structure of this birthday story didn’t follow suit. The ‘drama’ was fairly anti-climactic, breezing by in a flash, with the ‘peak’ of the episode being the spicy scene that ended just as it was getting heated up – in fact, it faded to black so abruptly that I hesitate to even use the word ‘fade’.

This was then followed by a low-intensity, wholesome moment with several other mansion residents – which was cute, but completely different in tone from other Jean stories I’ve read. I think this was meant to highlight his character growth (a noticeable theme in this birthday story), but this will only be satisfying for players who have experienced his growth in the main story, so it’s not necessarily appealing to anyone wanting to use this story as a way to get a feel for his character.

That being said, as someone who has read his main route, I enjoyed witnessing the results of Jean’s character development – and this does establish ‘Closer to You’ as a post-romantic-development side story. I just felt that this story was a little lacklustre (and a little rushed in pacing) compared to Episodes I and II. Still, the spicy scene (prior to cutting off) was definitely appreciated – mostly because of the CG art, which I still highly recommend, despite not enjoying the story in this Episode as much as the others.

Deluxe Set (1,800 Diamonds) – Closer to You: Story (His POV), Photo, and 3-Star Card (Beauty: 99); Avatar: Jean’s Smiling Face (His Attire – Beauty: 100), Birthday Cake Plushie (Jean Chibi – Beauty: 130), and Moonlight Shadow Dress & Cape (Attire – Beauty: 100)

The deluxe set contains the same story, but written from Jean’s perspective, as well as a 3-Star card containing the same art as the photo. Having a card version of the CG means you can set it as your homepage or add it to your deck for love battles. However, as it’s only a 3-Star card with a relatively low beauty score of 99, it’s not too effective in love battles, and therefore most likely to be used for your homepage.

I definitely enjoyed ‘Closer to You’ more from Jean’s perspective than MC’s. My main criticism was how the drama felt lacklustre, but it was more pronounced in Jean’s version. His emotions were more intense than MC’s – so the stakes felt higher – and his actions made more sense with his added perspective. There were a couple more mild spoilers in his POV, so I’d still only recommend this set for players who have previously completed his route.

CG: If you like a spicy CG moment, this is the episode you should buy. It’s easily my favourite of the three, with a shirtless Jean (complete with nipples!), which you can see a preview of in the feature image for the event (and at the top of this review). Needless to say, I’ll be using this card for my homepage…

Recommendation

Jean fans who have read his main story will likely appreciate Episode III more than fans who haven’t, as it showcases his character growth and alludes to important moments in his route. There are a few minor spoilers, but these are likely more noticeable if you understand the reference, and I don’t remember anything too major besides Jean’s character sprite where he’s not wearing his eyepatch (his eyepatch-less face reveal happens during a fairly climactic moment in his route).

I definitely preferred the version from Jean’s POV, so I’d recommend getting the deluxe set if you’re interested in Episode III. This set also contains the card with the CG art, which I personally like the most out of the three episodes, and is probably my main reason for wanting this set at all.

Unfortunately, the story in Episode III is probably my least favourite of Jean’s birthday stories, although the spicy scene in the middle was appreciated (if brief). I think extending this scene, and drawing out the tension in the first half of the story, would have significantly enhanced my enjoyment of ‘Closer to You’, as it felt noticeably shorter, choppier, and less dramatic than Episodes I and II.

Episode II ~ Your Warmth, Unforgettable

Mini Set (580 Diamonds) – Your Warmth, Unforgettable: Story (MC’s POV), and Photo; Avatar: Soft Navy and Black Fascinator (Attire – Beauty: 40), and Cross Strap Mary Janes with Blue Lilies (Attire – Beauty: 40)

The mini set contains the story ‘Your Warmth, Unforgettable’ – written from MC’s perspective – which you can find in your ‘Memories’, under Jean’s category. It’s a sequel to Episode I – taking place exactly one year later on Jean’s birthday – and it’s set prior to any romantic development between Jean and MC.

There are references made to the previous birthday story – so anyone who has already read Episode I will recognise the scenes in the flashbacks – but, it’s not necessary to read Episode I in order to understand and appreciate Episode II. I liked that this story tied in with the previous one – making it feel more like a series of canonical events, rather than an irrelevant side story – but it does mean we have two stories in a row that take place prior to any romantic development (and therefore won’t contain any spicy scenes).

Oddly, the major dramatic scene in this story was incredibly similar to an important scene in Jean’s main route. There were also several other themes, references, and hints at Jean’s past that were both present in Episode I and Jean’s route. As a player who has already read both of those stories, this felt somewhat nostalgic – but, on the other hand, it wasn’t particularly novel, or unique.

If, like me, you’ve already played Jean’s main route, you may not feel like this birthday story is anything new or exciting that you haven’t read before – but it’s worth noting that the scene isn’t identical to the similar one in his route… just very similar.

However, I still enjoyed how ‘Jean’ the story felt — an iconic mix of bittersweet romance and poetic melodrama that epitomises the brooding vampire trope. If you haven’t read Jean’s main route, this birthday story works well as a trailer, as it maintains a similar tone and writing style, and it provides a glimpse at Jean’s relationship dynamic with MC.

Deluxe Set (1,800 Diamonds) – Your Warmth, Unforgettable: Story (His POV), Photo, and 3-Star Card (Beauty: 99); Avatar: Special Birthday Outfit for Jean (His Attire – Beauty: 100), Happy Birthday Plushie (Jean Chibi – Beauty: 130), and Soft Navy Cape Dress (Attire – Beauty: 100)

The deluxe set contains the same story, but written from Jean’s perspective, as well as a 3-Star card containing the same art as the photo.

I liked how Jean’s perspective was noticeably different from MC’s perspective. There are a couple of small scenes included that aren’t present in the Mini set version, and Jean’s inner monologue hinted at the memories and motivations that drove his behaviour.

Jean is a fairly stoic, softly-spoken character – and his thoughts are just as brooding as the few things he says out loud. I liked that some of the lines in this version explained the feelings behind his decisions, although I do find his general tone to be a little more ‘flat’ – almost like I’m reading it in a monotone – as opposed to MC’s livelier, more turbulent style of voice.

CG: I love the art for ‘Your Warmth, Unforgettable’. Jean looks beautiful. MC looks beautiful. They’re both dripping wet and drop-dead gorgeous, so I’ll definitely be using the card as a homepage. It’s not quite as spicy as the art for Episode III, but it’s still pretty hot, despite the chilling rain.

Recommendation

Taking the substantially different price tag into account, I’d have to say that if you’re only interested in the story – and not the attire or card – then I’d recommend the ‘Mini Set’ for ‘Episode II – Your Warmth, Unforgettable’. There are some noticeable differences between the two versions of the story, but I didn’t enjoy the ‘His POV’ version so much more that it would justify spending an extra 1,220 diamonds.

I enjoyed Jean’s perspective more by reading it directly after MC’s perspective, as I found it interesting to compare how each character interpreted the events of the scene, especially the way they viewed each other during the romantic moments. If you’re willing to shell out the diamonds, I’d definitely recommend getting both sets, so you can also experience both perspectives, for maximum angsty romance (and a sexy card).

Episode I ~ A Vow Purer Than Snow

Mini Set (580 Diamonds) – A Vow Purer Than Snow: Story (MC’s POV), and Photo; Avatar: Hair Ribbon for Jean’s Birthday (Attire – Beauty: 40), and Earrings for Jean’s Birthday (Attire – Beauty: 40)

The mini set contains the story ‘A Vow Purer Than Snow’ – written from MC’s perspective – which you can find in your ‘Memories’, under Jean’s category. As this is the first birthday story in Jean’s series, it’s set prior to him and MC becoming a couple, but, even after having read Jean’s route, I still found the story enjoyable.

‘A Vow Purer Than Snow’ is a perfect balance of angst, romance, drama, and steamy flirtation – all of which takes place before the beautiful, wintry backdrop of Paris draped in snow. If you haven’t read Jean’s route, this story works well as an introduction to his character and the dynamic he shares with MC. If you have read his route, it’s still a romantic scene with Jean, and makes several allusions to plot conflicts in the main story, which are fun to read with an understanding of what they’re referring to.

Out of the three currently-available episodes, I read this one first, but it ended up being my favourite. It felt the most quintessentially-Jean, and I liked being reminded of all the reasons why I fell for his character in the first place. I will give a quick content warning for attempted assault, which is used as a plot device for Jean to play the hero. It’s brief, but some of the antagonist’s lines felt a bit icky to read, so just be emotionally prepared, and remember that you’ll be rescued quickly and he’ll get his comeuppance in the end.

Deluxe Set (1,400 Diamonds) – A Vow Purer Than Snow: Story (His POV), Photo, and 3-Star Card (Beauty: 99); Avatar: Birthday Present Plushie (Jean Chibi – Beauty: 130), and Dress for Jean’s Birthday (Attire – Beauty: 100)

The deluxe set contains the same story, but written from Jean’s perspective, as well as a 3-Star card containing the same art as the photo.

The deluxe version of the story contains mostly the same plot events, aside from a couple of slightly different conversations, and Jean’s inner monologue. I felt that both versions had largely the same impact and overall appeal, although having Jean’s perspective for a story where MC doesn’t know him too well yet does add some extra insight into his character that wasn’t necessarily picked up on by MC in her POV.

CG: I didn’t particularly like the art that came with Episode I. To be more specific, I liked Jean, but not MC. When I looked at it prior to reading the story, it seemed like Jean was being his usual beautiful, elegant, brooding self in a snow-covered, winter wonderland… and MC was just falling over and faceplanting into him. Which sort of ruined the general graceful vibe that Jean was going for.

Once I read the story, however, I realised this was actually a fairly romantic moment, and I now appreciate the CG a little more. It still just feels a little odd, though, and I’m not sure exactly what it is about the image that I find so off-putting. Maybe it’s their facial expressions? I just think the idea was solid, but the execution feels a little confused. I won’t personally be using the card as a homepage any time soon, but this is just my personal taste, so perhaps you’ll disagree.

Recommendation

If you’re purely interested in the story, then you can get pretty much exactly the same experience and level of enjoyment in MC’s version of the story – so I’d recommend choosing the ‘Mini Set’.

However, if you’re not too worried about the cost, then I do think that the brooding, dramatic tone has slightly more impact in Jean’s POV, as you get to read his bittersweet thoughts along with the rest of the events taking place – plus, the extra set bonuses provide a higher boost to ‘Beauty’, as well as a card you can set as your homepage.

I personally loved Jean’s route, so I’m happy to fork out the extra diamonds for his story sales – but, if you’re not so head over heels, or you’re keen on saving your funds, then you won’t miss out on much by opting for the cheaper, mini set for Jean’s Birthday – Episode I – A Vow Purer Than Snow.

Final Thoughts

Each episode has its own appeal, so which set (or sets) you choose will depend on what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to spend. It’s worth noting that purchasing all six will provide bonus rewards (to be sent to player mailboxes at a later date), and any previously-purchased birthday stories will count towards this reward – so be sure to check your saved stories in case you’ve bought one of these sets before!

To summarise the appeal of each option, Episode I felt most like a unique, exclusive event story, and I enjoyed how it alluded to Jean’s route in a way that established his character and dynamic with MC, without spoiling any major plot points.

Episode II also references Jean’s route – as well as Episode I of his birthday stories – but it only briefly mentioned the same allusions made in the previous episode, and the major events of the scene were almost exactly the same as an important scene in his main story, which made it feel a little less novel than Episode I.

I did, however, like the CG in Episode II much more than the one in Episode I — so, if you like wet, pretty men with eyepatches slowly raking their gloved hand through their dripping hair, exposing the solid muscles beneath their translucent white shirt… well, you’ll like the photo and card art for ‘Your Warmth, Unforgettable’, in Episode II. I certainly did, so thank you Ikemen Vampire for the eye candy.

Episode III has the added appeal of being set after MC and Jean have become a couple, which is satisfying for players who have read his main route, as you can experience his birthday with post-character development. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing too impactful if you haven’t already read Jean’s story.

Unfortunately, I felt that the plot was anti-climactic when compared the two previous episodes, without the same linear progression in intensity. This made it feel less polished and cohesive, and more like an excuse for a spicy scene (which would have been fine, if the spicy scene hadn’t ended so abruptly).

The drama was more pronounced in Jean’s POV – and the deluxe set contains a card version of the CG for your homepage – so I’d definitely recommend this over the mini set, if you don’t mind paying the extra diamonds.

Oona’s Ranking:

  1. Episode I – A Vow Purer Than Snow – Deluxe Set
  2. Episode I – A Vow Purer Than Snow – Mini Set
  3. Episode II – Your Warmth, Unforgettable – Mini Set
  4. Episode II – Your Warmth, Unforgettable – Deluxe Set
  5. Episode III – Closer to You – Deluxe Set
  6. Episode III – Closer to You – Mini Set

More Info

Character: Jean d’Arc
Game Name: Ikémen Vampire: Temptation in the Dark | イケメンヴァンパイア・偉人たちと恋の誘惑
Developer: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Publisher: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Platform: Mobile
Age Rating: 17+ / Mature
More information: here!

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