First Day at Moegino High!
I've been meaning to start writing this for a while now, but kept getting distracted by stuff. But it's finally here and I'm pretty excited!
Tokimeki Memorial is a "love simulation" series by Konami that revolves around simulating the entire high school experience with a focus on dating and finding a girlfriend. But it's not all dating -- you'll still have to manage your studies, club activities, hobbies, and more.
The series took a lot of turns at its third entry, going from 2D portraits to fully-animated 3D models for the characters, and adding new gameplay systems and mechanics while changing some of the others. The large casts of the first two games have dwindled down to just a few girls you can get to know this time around, too.
In exchange, though, I feel that the characters were very fleshed out and all of the new game systems added a lot to the simulation aspect of the game, and made the game a lot more engaging to play. The biggest downside is that the new art direction is abysmal -- even though this is perhaps my favorite game in the series, I have to admit it is very ugly.
I'll go into more detail about what I like and dislike about the game and what makes it so ugly as we go, though! So let's just get started.
When the game boots up, we see the Konami logo, and we hear Makihara, the game's heroine, say, "Konami!"
It's very cute and I love it.
We're then shown a bunch of obnoxiously low-resolution images of the town and school and stuff -- the setting of the game. Makihara's voice is the narrator here, and she tells us about the legend that makes up the main "story" of the game. It's going to be repeated a lot so I won't go into it now.
But importantly, in the screencap above, notice the little path through the wooded area leading from the road in the bottom right of the image up to the school grounds, winding a little bit as it goes. This path will be referenced a lot in the beginning, so it's just neat to notice it here on our little overhead view of the school grounds.
After Makihara finishes her narration, the picture of the city turns to color, cherry blossoms begin to fall, and music begins to play.
The theme song to the game is Seven Rainbow by ZARD (RIP). It's a really nice song, and has a very 90's jpop feel to it.
We're shown little clips of each of the main characters turning around and stuff, with closeups of their faces and their names in the background. Here's Emi Tachibana's clip as an example.
Mixed in with this are colored pictures of the sepia stuff we saw before.
We get lots of extra shots of Yukiko Makihara, too, as she's the main main character of the game.
Among various shots of Makihara and the school and ~the path~, we're also shown this little collage of each girl appearing in front of a backdrop related to their school activities. This is a great hint of how to meet each character if you have your eye on befriending a certain one right away.
For example, Mari Oda is shown above in front of what looks like some kind of backstage area, with costumes and props and settings and stuff behind her. If you'd like to meet her, you can join the drama club, or study fine arts enough to catch her attention.
Random shot of the school campus where you can see the pool and stuff. Yeah, it's a huge school.
As the song is ending, we see just a white screen with more cherry blossoms falling, and a message scrolls across the screen:
Please smile for me
On that fateful day
At that place we remember...
And we're taken to the title screen, which has a music box version of Seven Rainbow playing. The subtitle of the game is "At That Place We Promised."
Pressing start, we're only given two options: to play or to go to the options menu. Of course, we're going to the options menu! (sorry loll)
There are a lot of options here. The first one is text display settings. Even the slowest text speed is very fast!
The second menu is for the icon layout. You can have it be "GUI" which is the normal setting, which you'll see once we start playing the game, or you can change between "MODE A" and "MODE B" which arrange the icons onto little squares like you can see in the screenshot above. This makes it look more like previous games in the series instead of the new layout.
Then you can toggle some animation settings in the next menu.
The menu after that allows you to change your cursor. They're almost all huge and weird and ugly. I chose the black arrow because it's... the least bad, I guess, but ... even that is not great.
In the next menu you can change the window color. You can choose a color for each corner and it will make a gradient between them, and you can turn the opacity on or off, too.
The next menu lets you change some control modes, like setting the cursor to mouselike mode or a more normal console game mode.
You can also change the "system background" in the next menu. If you notice in the previous screenshots, there's some purple with the word OPTION all over it (it's constantly scrolling around, too). This is what it's like when you choose "none" for the system background.
There are five options: A and B change the words to hearts and clouds instead of words. C, D, and E, are all unique patterns, with C being these brown squares that remind me of cookies, D being some weird tree things, and E being the chicks popping out of eggs in the screen cap above. The constantly animate and it's a bit... much.
The next menu is basic sound settings: stereo vs mono and volume level adjustments.
The last menu is for toggling voice settings for individual characters. The game is fully voiced, so if you dislike a certain character's voice, you can mute them from here, and they'll get tape over their mouth with a big red X on it. You can also turn off EVS for individual characters if you want.
EVS is a system that lets the characters say your name as part of the script, but... sometimes it can sound really bad, so you might want to opt out.
With that out of the way, we're ready to start the actual game. I'm sorry for showing a bunch of menus, but I'm trying to be thorough! And I actually like this kind of stuff myself, hahaha.
Anyway, this is the data management menu. At the top left, you have New, Load, Copy, and Clear commands, and then below that you have the 16 "blocks" allowed for each memory card in slots 1 and 2 in the PS2.
The big window displays information about whatever you have the cursor on, so right now it's just explaining that clicking "New" will start a new game from the beginning, but if you have a save file, it will display a lot of information here.
When we start a new game, we're taken to a name entry screen, where the backdrop is a picture of Makihara. She actually says, "Can you tell me your name?" And stuff -- she says something for every single entry field when you reach it lol.
Entering Japanese names is a LOT OF FUN. For example, I wanted to name my character "Kobayashi," which starts with "Ko," so to find "Ko," Naturally, you go to the "Shi" section and look for it there.
OK, if you understand Japanese it's not so bad, as you look them up by their Chinese readings even though in most names they use their Japanese readings, so what they're filed under is almost never matching the sound they make in the name.
But if you don't have a good handle on the different readings of the characters in the name you want, this can be a big pain, and even with a dictionary it can take a while.
So I usually choose names where I'm familiar enough with all the characters that I don't have to look anything up. Which means when I first started playing this series like everyone was named Nakayama.
After that, we go to a screen to enter our birthday and blood type, and after entering those, we're asked to confirm that we got everything right, again with voice prompts by Makihara.
I named my character Naoki Kobayashi -- yes, after the dancer -- and used my own birthday for the birthday (I actually didn't even think to use Naoki's, hahaha). The blood type I always just choose at random, whatever I feel like I haven't chosen in a while. But usually when I start a new file on a new game, I'll pick B. I don't know why.
We're then asked if we want to create EVS data. This is one of the most interesting systems of the series, but it can also be one of the most frustrating.
EVS stands for "Emotional Voice System" and is a feature of the game that allows the characters in the game to actually say your name in the voiced lines. Basically, all of the voice actors recorded a bunch of sounds so they could mash them together so that the characters in the game will actually say your name aloud, no matter what you enter.
It sounds like it would be a nightmare, but with the way Japanese language is structured, most Japanese names actually sound very natural and nice in the EVS system! But if you try to use weird names or foreign names, you will probably get some garbled sound that will make you think a demon has possessed the character instead (though it can be pretty funny).
The biggest annoyance to this system is that there's no different inflections, so whenever a girl says your name, it will be the exact same voice clip every single time, no matter the context. So even if she normally says "Kobayashi-kun!" in a cheery tone, she'll say it exactly like that in the middle of crying and telling you a sob story or something. It's really awkward.
But MOST of the time it's pretty cool and I always play with it on, unless I name my character something really weird or use my IRL name. Though even then sometimes I will go through great efforts to customize the EVS to try to make it sound good.
Anyway, on this menu, you basically just type in the pronunciation of your name, and it will generate voice clips based on that.
I should also note that you have to enter a nickname for yourself, which people will only call you when they're very close to you, and I chose "Hige" which means mustache. I actually wanted to use the Chinese characters to spell out 口髭(which is more specifically mustache and not just facial hair), but I couldn't find 髭 in the stupid menu and gave up pretty quickly. I was going to have them pronounce it as ヒゲ either way, but I just wanted it to LOOK like that.
But yeah, now it just looks like ヒゲ as well.
After that, you have to watch a progress screen for a while as it saves your EVS data. There's a little animation of cassette tapes being filed into these little pink carrying case things, which is kinda cute, but at the same time super weird that they are even using cassette tapes as their imagery when this game came out in and takes place in 2002.
After the EVS data finally saves, the game actually starts! We're introduced to the setting by Kobayashi, our player character, giving a brief introduction to the school where we got accepted.
The school sits atop a hill in the northeast of Moegino where we live. It seems the school is quite popular since it has a rich history and a culture of student freedom.
We're really excited to have been accepted to this school, and are looking forward to all the things high school life will bring -- learning new things, playing sports, making new friends... and of course finding love. It's going to be a great three years packed full of experiences!
We cut to a black screen with the sound of a clock alarm going off. After several presses of the snooze button, we finally wake up and realize it's a great day. A great day for STARTING HIGH SCHOOL. I have to stress that we mention that we're starting high school today like at least a hundred times. Like as if we didn't get it the first time. As if that isn't the entire point of the game in the first place.
We're shown some shots of the house and we go on and on again about how we're going to have high school experiences and need to make a good first impression or whatever. We also much be rich because this is a pretty fancy house. Also we like... have no parents or family?
But uh, all these games are like this. There's no mention of your parents ever...? At least not that I can remember.
Anyway, time to go to school. To HIIIGH SCHOOL!
So as we leave our school to go to high school, we walk down the road toward high school and think about high school, and since we're going to a high school and thinking about a high school, we have the realization that people go to high school are high school students, so we must be high school students because we're going to high school.
I'm not even kidding.
After way too much of this, we finally get to the "story," or rather, anything other than saying we're in high school.
We just for some reason remember that there's a strange legend about Moegino High School.
On the way to school, there's a path you can take from the bottom of the hill, and this walking path is known as the "Legendary Hill," where it's said that if two people hook up there, they will have happiness for eternity.
"Hook up" is a terrible term to use but I don't know what else to say. "Get together?" Basically, if they form a bonding relationship there??? LOL
Anyway, we remember that place from when we were little and decide to see if we can find it again.
We get to the base of the road leading up to the school and know we have to be in the right area. A little looking around (actually it's like immediately on our left like if we weren't limited by the shape of the screen/monitor, we would be able to see it lol) ...
And we've found it! So we decide to start our FIRST DAY OF HIGH SCHOOL out by walking this path.
The stairs are the part that lead to the Legendary Hill. We're not there yet.
Along the path, we see an old shrine. We look at it and determine it is indeed old. And then we decide to walk on.
So we do some walking, and we're shown this image with some footstep sounds and like the camera bounces a little...
And then this image scrolls and we hear the same footstep sound clip again...
And this repeats several times and it takes a VERY LONG TIME to the point where whenever I play this game I plan on going to the bathroom or getting a drink or something during this part.
Anyway, after a lot of walking, we reach the LEGENDARY HILL which is this little incline just before getting to main path leading into school. Cherry blossoms are falling all around and we comment on how pretty everything looks.
And then suddenly we get swept up in so many flowers we can't even see?! The screen goes white and then we see a girl from behind, who turns around for a brief moment before we lose sight of her again.
The girl you see here is actually randomized, and will become your first friend besides the default friends you always meet. The 3D models are indeed fully animated, and she actually is facing away at first and turns around... but I caught the ugliest screenshot ever of her turning that didn't even look remotely human, so here is her fully turned around lol.
The screen goes white again, and we get another message:
On that fated day,
Amidst the dancing cherry blossoms,
The two who meet and find love
Will be bonded for eternity...
Which seems to be a bit of a variation on the legend we mentioned earlier.
With that, we're shown in our high school class introducing ourselves to our high school peers talking about how we are attending high school and are happy to be in high school here at this high school.
Cutting to the end of our first day, we start to wonder about the girl we saw on the Legendary Hill, thinking about how she was cute and we should have at least gotten her name.
But our thoughts are interrupted by one of our classmates getting our attention.
We apologize for spacing out, and the girl is like, "Hey, it's me, Yukiko Makihara. We went to elementary and middle school together."
We seem to not remember her at all, though, and as she continues to talk, we just keep chanting "Makihara, Makihara..." to ourselves, hoping it might remind us somehow of who this girl is.
Makihara seems a bit disappointed at first when we don't remember her, but we continue to chant "Makihara" and she suggests a memory that might help. Apparently, when we were in elementary school, we saved her from a boy that was bullying her.
After a few more chants of "Makihara," we finally tell her that we do indeed remember her! But she seems pretty different now.
She remarks that she stopped wearing her hair in braids and cut it short, and stopped wearing glasses and changed over to contacts.
After that there's a bit of an awkward silence, so she asks if this is weird. I think she's referring to the fact of suddenly coming up to us and talking to her, but we answer that it's not weird -- her new look suits her very well. She seems surprised that we answered that way, and after a pause says she's happy to hear it, and she's glad to spend these next three years with us.
She asks us if we've thought about what club we want to join, and says she's thinking about becoming the manager for the baseball team. She asks us if we'd like to go check out the team together with her, but we tell her we want to think more about our club choices for now.
She says that's probably a better idea, and if we ever feel like it, to come look at the team. We say we will, and she heads off. We seem to be pretty surprised that such a thing just happened. We also think it's weird that we've been in school together all this time but we barely are even able to recognize her.
But before we can even get a break, someone else starts talking to us...
This guy comes up to us and excitedly asks us if we know "Yukiko-chan," so perhaps he is her brother or her friend or something? Though we quickly assess him as acting "too familiar," so it might be that he's just like that.
Then he starts going on about how cute she is and how she's the most dateable girl in class...
And he asks us to share any information about her we have, no matter how tiny the detail. But we say that we hardly know anything about her really, as we've hardly even talked, and his demeanor suddenly changes from friendly to perturbed, as he mutters about how useless we are.
Before we even have much opportunity to be properly annoyed, another voice chimes in, saying to quit with the futility.
And another weirdo shows up...
Glasses addresses him as Shiratori, and asks him if he's aiming for Yukiko, too.
Shiratori scoffs at the use of the word "aiming" and tells him not to use such rude language. OK, maybe this guy isn't another creep...?
He starts correcting Glasses, telling him that girls are not some kind of thing you chase after, which sounds fine...
But uh, then he goes on to say, rather they're things you make chase you...
But of course, with his charm that's no problem at all.
We ask this guy if he's okay, because who the hell says stuff like that?
But Glasses seems pretty impressed, and says that he's such a lady-killer. Shiratori says he shouldn't state the obvious like that.
Shiratori asks who we are again, as if he's already forgotten us, but we've never even been introduced. We introduce ourselves as Kobayashi, and he just says that we'll have to take whatever we can get, since we don't have his charm. Of course, we get a bit annoyed with him, too...
But he says that we shouldn't allow meeting someone as great as himself make us dwell on the things we can't do. We're just on a completely different level, that's all.
Then he does an obnoxious, loud laugh and leaves us alone. Glasses tells us that Shiratori is "just like that," but he's not really a bad guy. If we get to know him, we'll realize he's actually quite fun.
We half-heartedly accepted this answer, and wonder to ourselves what the hell we're getting ourselves into.
He finally introduces himself as Yabe, and suggests since we're going to be spending the next three years together, that we should be friends.
And so we've made our first three friends at Moegino. A weird girl we can hardly even remember, a sort of obnoxious guy who doesn't have much respect for women, and the world's biggest asshole who is "really a good guy when you get to know him."
To be honest, I think Yabe is kind of cute. He's a fun friend to have. He's annoying sometimes, but I like hanging around him. Shiratori on the other hand, I can't really stand lol. Makihara, of course, is very wonderful and great and I'm glad you always get to be her friend from the beginning.
Feeling a bit worn out after meeting our, uh, "unique" new friends, we decide we should head home for today.
But as we're leaving the school, near the front entrance we happen to see...
The cute girl we saw at the Legendary Hill! With all of our grace and charm topping even Shiratori's, we just kind of blurt out at her "IT YOU!"
She turns around and asks what we want. We ask her if she happened to be on the hill path on the way to school today.
She seems pretty excited to answer, really, just saying that she was, but she flaps her arms a bit and pulls her hands up near her chest in a raptor hands pose.
We seem relieved we got the right person, and introduce ourselves, finally getting to ask for her name. She tells us that her name is Rika Kawai.
We repeat the name "Kawai" to ourselves, and she asks us just what it is we wanted. We respond that it's just that since we didn't manage to catch her name back then, we decided to ask her now.
She comments that calling out to her just for that is really weird. We laugh and say that was really all we wanted, and she says she's going home. She doesn't seem annoyed or anything, just thinks we're a big weirdo now. Great first impression!
She leaves, and we seem a bit disappointed that meeting her at the Legendary Hill didn't somehow give us a better bond starting out, since it felt like some kind of weird destiny thing when we saw her. But it was probably just us being a bit too imaginative and hopeful...
Kawai is a great character, probably my favorite (I think I said this earlier lmao), so I'm glad to have met her as our first friend. Well, at this point, we're more just 'acquaintances' with everyone, but at least we have four people we know at school and seem to be on okay terms with.
Kawai isn't necessarily difficult to meet normally, but it can take a long time, since she doesn't approach you right away when she first notices you, and it takes a while before you're able to run into her. Though you can meet her if you both end up in the same school club, too. I like being her friend so I'm glad to have her here from the start.
Anyway, we decide to do our best even from the first day, and we're taken to the command menu!
The game follows a calendar system -- you can see that it's April 10, 2002 in the top left corner of the screen. Each week, you choose what to focus on for that week using this menu. It essentially is choosing your after-school activities for that week -- what you'll do on campus before going home each day. When school is on break, you'll do the activities at home.
For weekends and holidays, you get to choose an action for that day, and you usually have more options, since you have a full day available. You can also schedule dates for these days.
Along the top right of the screen, we have our parameters -- these are a lot like RPG stats, but of course we're not going to be doing any fighting. We build our character by boosting these.
They way they raise is a bit different than previous games, and there aren't as many stats, either. But we'll get into the mechanics next time. For now, we'll just learn what four character stats we have, from left to right:
Humanities is our skill with subjects considered 'humanities,' such as literature or foreign languages (in our case, learning English).
Sceinces is our skill with math and sciences.
Fine Arts is our creativity and ability to perform artistic tasks.
Athletics is our prowess at sports and the general shape our body is in overall.
Along the bottom, we have four more pieces of information about our character, also from left to right:
Endurance is our current physical condition, less like Athletics in that it only shows how tired we are at the moment. It will decrease the more we push ourselves. If we neglect this, we could get sick or injured.
Willpower is something... I don't really know what it does. The manual doesn't really mention it (at least, there's no section for it specifically) and I've never paid much attention to it. Maybe I'll find out over the course of this diary!
Stress is similar to endurance, but for our current mental health. It will go up the more we do things, and if we neglect it, we can have a nervous breakdown.
Extracurricular is a space reserved for the club or team we join. We have a skill level related to that, too, but since we haven't done anything yet, there's nothing here.
In the center of the screen, we have our action commands.
Along the left side, we have four options for focus for the week: Humanities, Sciences, Fine Arts, and Athletics. These will work on building our parameters in each respective area.
In the center, we have some more options. The bottom one with the pillow will let choose resting as our focus for the week, which will lower all our main parameters, but restore our Endurance and Stress back to healthier levels.
The two icons above that, though, aren't action commands for our weekly focus.
The top icon in the center column is for the computer.
Our computer doesn't have a lot of options in it for now, but what is there is very useful. In our list of bookmarks, we have the newsletter "Moegino Watcher," and a weekly forecast.
Moegino Watcher will update with new information to show what is going on around town. We can learn about ongoing events and current movies and stuff from here, as well as openings of new places. We can't visit places or go to events that we don't know about, so it's important to come here regularly to check up on what is new. I often forget to do this, but luckily there is at lest back issues, so if a new place opened two months ago, you're not locked out of it for the rest of the game or something.
From this month's issue, we learn that we can view cherry blossoms from the hilltop park during April, a flea market is being held at Moegino Shrine on the 28th, there's some spring clam digging at the beach, a farm is hosting a horse-riding event (like, you can go ride the horses, IDK what this would be called lol), and there's a 'family drama' movie about penguins playing.
Our other computer bookmark is the "weekly forecast," which is actually quite a bit more than a weekly forecast!
We have a full calendar here that goes up until the end of the game, and any events we know about will be marked on the calendar as well. Yellow days are normal weekdays -- on those days, we'll participate in whatever action we chose for the week. Blue days are non-holiday Saturdays, and pink days are holidays, on which we're able to choose specific actions for that day when we get to them.
The icon on the 8th shows the beginning of the school year, and the icon on the 18th of May shows the school Field Day.
Along the bottom, we have the weekly forecast on the left, which will show us the weather. It's probably not a good idea to plan outdoor dates on rainy days -- stuff like that. And the bottom right shows our "BioRhythm" chart. I'll explain this in more detail later.
Going back to the main menu, we can choose the little planner book thing icon from the center column, and we'll be taken to the System menu.
The first option here is Data Management, which will just take us to the same screen we started a new game from, where we can also save and load data.
The second option is our inventory, which will show us all the items we own that are relevant to the game. Right now we just have a bunch of clothes. The four columns to the right give us a bit of information about the items: whether they are usable, wearable, decorative, or giftable.
The third option in the System Menu is for a list of profiles of the characters we know. We can see all of the characters we've met and see some information about them. It's important to remember that this information is not up-to-date, and will only be accurate based on the last time we got it confirmed.
For example, next to Makihara and Kawai's names here, you can see a "?" icon. When we learn about how they feel about us, it will be replaced by one of the smiley face icons from the top. However, we can only learn about how they feel by asking one of their friends or things like that. And this will only display how they felt at the last time of asking, not at the current time of checking.
Clicking on a profile will let us see some information about the character. Nothing will be displayed here until we learn it, which we can do in various ways. We can figure out things like what club a character is in or their birthday simply by asking them or running into the information somehow, and phone numbers work the same way, but it's a lot harder to ask for those, and girls will often refuse to give you their number if they haven't grown to trust you yet.
I like that you actually have to ask for girls' numbers in this game -- in previous games, you just had some creepy stalker friend who whenever you met someone new, you could ask him and he'd just give you a bunch of detailed information. Then you just call these girls you don't even know and they don't seem to think it's weird at all...?
But now you're able to meet up with the girls after school if you run into each other on the way home, and you can ask them for their number then, as well as make plans with them or just walk home with them.
Strangely, you also now get information like the three sizes from the girls' friends, which I think is super weird. No one seems to question you when you call them and say "Hey, how big are your friend's tits?" which I think is stupid.
The fourth option in the System Menu is the Options Menu, which is the same one we saw before starting the game. You'll notice that now we have the option to mute Kawai's voice or EVS samples from here. You can only do this after meeting someone, I guess to prevent spoilers of some of the characters you can meet or something.
The last option in the System Menu is EVS management, which allows you to customize the EVS data for each character. The only thing you can change from here is the accent pattern (so you can't make different girls call you different names), but you can use this if the game auto-detects the accented morae of your name wrong, or if it sounds weird and you want to change it in hopes it might not sound so bad. When I use my IRL name which is not Japanese, I usually have to go into here and mess with everyone's individually and try different accent patterns until it sounds okay. Some of them never sound okay. You can play a sample and see if it sounds good, then save your changes.
Also, characters will have different samples available. For example, Makihara can either call me by my family name (Kobayashi) or my nickname (Hige) but there's no time in the game where she'll ever use my given name (Naoki) so we have no options for that. Kawai, on the other hand, who doesn't have the same grasp on social skills, will actually never call you by your family name.
Returning back to the main Command Menu, we have one more option on the screen -- the bulletin board in the box on the right side. This is where we can go to join an extracurricular. We can hover over one of the ugly posters to see it more clearly, but inspecting one will force us to immediately join the club AND choose it as our focus for the week, so we have to be careful about pressing buttons on this screen...
We're given ten different clubs to choose from: drama club, astronomy club, baseball team, tennis team, science club, track team, student counsel, a/v club, soccer team, and akido team.
I usually start a club right away, since clubs are a great way to meet new friends and raise your parameters. But sports teams also require you to attend practices or you'll get kicked out, which can be trouble if you schedule a date on the same day as a practice or if you really need to rest but have a practice day.
I haven't decided which club I want to join yet. I'm still not sure exactly how I'm going to play out this game. I might just kind of try to do a bit of everything and see where it leads -- I at least want to meet all of the main cast, and I'll probably avoid the secret characters for now.
I might aim for Makihara, and meet everyone else along the way, so that you guys can choose whose ending I aim for next time.
I generally like doing sports clubs because practicing benefits both your club skill and your athleticism, which is nice. Plus Tachibana always seems to be one of the hardest to meet for me, and akido club seems like a good way to catch her interest early.
The biorhythm chart suggests that fine arts would be good to work on this week, so something like drama club would be good, plus we'd get to meet Oda right away, too.
Since we're not focusing on anyone in particular, maybe we could join astronomy club, as there won't be any girls there (even though the poster is encouraging girls to join), and raising our science ability will make it easier to be friends with Kawai, as well as perform well on our school tests.
Though if we do decide to try to date Makihara, it might be fun to be in the same group as her. I do really love the baseball team, too, because it's always exciting to make it to Koshien (I've never done it in this game, but in TokiMemoGS, I managed to get the team to Koshien as a cheerleader, and while I was dating Hibiya, too!)
Those are the four I think would be most helpful right now, but it's fun to just pick whatever. I often like to pick a club that's actually counterproductive to the girl I'm focusing on -- like if I wanted to go for Kawai, who is very interested in science and robotics, I might join a sports team. I do this not just for variety, but because I usually focus so much on the other parameters that it's good to have a good outlet for boosting the parameter I neglect a lot. It helps me stay on track.
But for now, since this entry is long and I have overwhelmed you with menus, I will stop here. If you have a suggestion for a club, feel free to comment it! If there seems to be any high demand for a certain club, I'll just join it. Otherwise I'll have to think about it some more, and next time we will join a club and see what the main gameplay is like.