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Anime studio Gainax has had a steady stream of animated successes since catching lightning in a bottle with 1995’s Neon Genesis Evangelion. Eva was actually Gainax’s grand return to animation, though, ending a four-year drought in which the studio didn’t produce a single anime of its own.

Gainax wasn’t spending those four years slacking off, though. The company branched out into video game production, with its biggest hit being Princess Maker, in which the player serves as guardian for a young girl in a medieval fantasy setting. The brainchild of Gainax co-founder Takami Akai, who also handled character designs for the game, Princess Maker was so popular that six sequels were made, and the franchise is credited with helping to popularize the “rearing” genre of Japanese games, in which gamers take care of an in-game character or pet as it grows.

It’s now been eight years since the last Princess Maker title was released, but Akai is back with a new game that deals with a subject close to the hearts and stomachs of many people: ramen.

Ramen Goddess (Ramen no Megami in Japanese) opens with you, the player, wandering the forest in a fit of depression, having lost all sense of purpose in your life.

▼ Perhaps the rise of online journalism has put an end to your anachronistic career as a street corner newsboy.

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Among the trees, you encounter a goddess dressed in a Chinese dress who bestows upon you the Ramen Bowl of Hope, and it’s then that you have the epiphany that your true calling is to run your own ramen restaurant.

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You won’t be alone in this endeavor, though. From the Ramen Bowl of Hope is born a baby ramen goddess who’ll be with you as you open your business. Depending on the culinary choices you make, she’ll mature in different ways, evolving into a child goddess, then into either Kotteri or Sappari mid-level goddess (kotteri and sapari being the terms used to describe heavy or lightly flavored ramen broths, respectively) before reaching her final, mysterious form.

▼ Kotteri in red, Sappari in blue

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Along the way you’ll have to deal with picky customers who request specific types of broth and noodle firmness, the latter of which requires precise timing of how long you boil the ramen.

▼ We’re guessing Kimono Girl has to remove her mask before she starts eating.

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Ramen Goddess will be released in Windows and iOS versions on May 20 at for 2,160 yen (US$18). Preorders have already started through Gainax’s Gene Pro Alpha online shop here, which is offering a discounted price of 1,944 yen until May 10.

The preorder even comes with a unique freebie. Despite Ramen Goddess being a download-only game, customers who preorder will also receive a disc case featuring Akai’s artwork on the cover.

▼ As for what you’re supposed to actually store in there, we’ve got no clue, but it sure does look nice.

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Related: Ramen Goddess official website
Source: Culture Lab via Jin
Top image: Yonago Gainax
Insert images: Yonago Gainax