It’s time for another review! I’m writing this in a hurry to push out this review before Seele does, so bear with me if I miss anything or fail to elaborate on aspects you find to be important. And since this has lots of spoiler-able content, I’ll be trying the white text spoiler method since apparently WordPress doesn’t think we need a proper spoiler tag.
From now on, (white text) is spoiler, so please don’t go crazy highlighting stuff if you don’t want to get spoiled.
Hatsuyuki is a rare delinquent at Shirosaki Gakuen, grudgingly showing up in class in order to graduate. During the first snow in December, he met a beautiful girl in a pure white dress who was wandering about the old town searching for her rabbit Nemu. A few days later, the girl Sakura transferred into his school, with the intention of bringing him with her to the last winter.
The synopsis really doesn’t tell you a whole lot. Blame Micchi for I copied his word for word.
There are 3 videos for openings, and rather than choosing which one to embed, I’m embedding them all. Beware, each successive one includes more spoilers.
I don’t know why, but the prologue/common route somehow took me 3 days to complete it before I get to see the opening video. They merged the prologue and the common route in this one since you’re technically on a route already right after you finish the prologue. And there is also semi-forced route play order. You have no choice but to start out with Ran route (which isn’t really a Ran route) and after which you unlock Aya’s and Yoru’s routes. Then you unlock Shirokuma’s after Yoru’s, and Nozomu’s after Aya’s. And after you finish all that, there is the true route, with a side ending, waiting for you.
GODDAMN this game is depressing. Even more so than Natsuyume Nagisa if you have played that. I know some will disagree with me, warum and Seele for example, but personally I’m DEPRESSED after I finish the game. While it is true that the game and the routes generally end with positive and optimistic tones, there is only one truly happy ending where they both live happily ever after. And it’s not the true ending. Don’t even get me started on Aya’s second ending, or I’m afraid I’ll punch out a window or something. If you can’t accept Natsuyume Nagisa’s ending, or bittersweet endings in general, I suggest you stay away from this unless you want to join the merry band of the depressed.
But however sad the story may be, the story is nevertheless well written if only a bit melodramatic at times with plenty of very enjoyable comedy thrown in. I can’t remember the last time I pulled all-nighters playing well past midnight every day for nearly a week just so I can be on my schedule to finish one route daily because I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
(In afterthought, I’m getting the feeling that the whole plot is really on the melodramatic side. It’s basically a terror plot with ghosts thrown in. So much HATRED!)
The protagonist Kawano Hatsuyuki actually has a CG that I can’t show since it’d be a spoiler. First of all, the mere fact of me remembering his name without needing to look it up speaks volumes about his character. He is not your usual hetare nice guy protagonist; he is none of those. He has the reputation of being the guy you don’t mess with in school who can get his way just by staring at people, which has the unintended consequence of making everything he says sounds like threats. He didn’t exactly planned for this, but he couldn’t care less since he doesn’t socialize with other people anyway. He is playful at times as well, often playing jokes on other people at their expenses.
(He is actually the “Ghostchild” that is the leader of all the ghosts in the city destined to destroy the city at the end of winter and vanishes along with it. Since he knows he wouldn’t exist for long, he doesn’t want to get attached to other people. Interestingly enough, he is neither fully human nor is he truly a ghost. He is the host to hundreds of ghosts who died in the hotel explosion infused with intense hatred against the city by his father, and if the ghosts inside him aren’t purged by the end of winter, he will become one of them and vanish. )
Tamaki Sakura is the mysterious girl in the white dress Hatsuyuki met in the ruined old town searching for her bunny Nemu. My-paced and somewhat weird, she likes to use Nemu for BUNNY impersonations which included things like the simple bunny, bunny-copter, old man’s beard, muffler, etc. She is strangely attracted to Hatsuyuki and has the habit of holding his hands whenever they’re together saying his hands feel good. She is also highly allergic to ecchi talk and is prone to scream pyaa~~~ pyaa~~ and escape the scene whenever she hears it. Otherwise, she attends the same class with him and seems to be a normal genki girl who gets along with everyone.
She claims she went to the old town searching for someone or something, and when she finds it, she will find what she truly seeks. Since she is the de facto main heroine, her route is the true route. Jam-packed with revelations after revelations, this route is fast-paced and wastes no time in filling in all the plot holes of the story with numerous flashbacks and finally concludes the saga beautifully. If this route has a happy ending instead of a bittersweet ending, it’d be the BEST route I’ve ever played.
(She is actually Hatsuyuki’s engaged bride who perished in the hotel explosion where their wedding was taking place in celebration of the union of the two towns. She returns as a ghost to watch over him and is given a physical body to fulfill her dream of living together with him. In the end, she convinced Hatsuyuki to live on as a normal person and vanishes. Where the !@#$ is my happy ending!)
Kozakai Aya is Hatsuyuki’s one year senior and is currently working in a cafe filled with dolls where Hatsuyuki is working too waiting to get into college as she graduated but failed the college entrance exam a year ago. She used to be the student council president and was the perfect student everyone looked up to but not dared to get close to. No one knows what she is thinking, but she does have curious familiarity with Hatsuyuki despite having already graduated and supposedly hasn’t spend time with him before working in the cafe.
I feel she is kind of like the game’s second main heroine, as she is the only one with two endings and her route feels the most concrete like it actually happened out of all the routes save for the true route. I recommend you to not look forward to her ending in the true route if you were depressed by the ending in her own route; it’ll only make you even more so. I don’t ever want to be in Hatsuyuki’s position after what has happened. There is no way I can bear that pain.
Azuma Yoru is Hatsuyuki’s one year junior and an expert ice skater who practices on the skating rinks everyday after school. In fact, she is so good at ice skating that she once had a shot at competing in the world championship but blew it in the preliminary matches thanks to certain circumstances. In school, she is quite the popular girl and the most level-headed of the bunch often stopping Sakura and Nozomu from doing stupid crap and provide valuable tsukkomi that only such a level-headed person can muster. Did I mention she wears a choker, a stylish earring, and garter belts? I love those.
Her route is centered around her trauma surrounding her past skating incident. I seriously feel bad for this girl – she did nothing wrong but her life was completely messed up thanks to misunderstandings and malicious rumors. I can relate to her pain all too well; I don’t exactly like my past self either and I despise baseless rumors even more. This ending has to be one of the saddest “bittersweet” endings I’ve ever experienced.
Shinonome Nozomu is two year Hatsuyuki’s junior and the leader of the committee who guides students on their futures. Grew up around her onii-san Sai’s guy friends, she looks up to Hatsuyuki like a hero and started speaking like a boy in order to forge a “manly” relationship with him. She is kind of air-headed and easily manipulated by Hatsuyuki, though she is genuinely helpful to anyone asking for her advice. Surpringly ero too! She would have been a cute loli if not for two factors – her over-sized breasts and boy speech. She never reverts back to feminine speech fitting for a loli, but I suppose I can’t really complain about her breasts even though I prefer smaller ones.
Her route deals with solving numerous troubles of the students that has come to the committee asking for their help, and heavily references an event in Aya’s route in the climax of the route. This route is the least supernatural one with almost nothing of that sort going on; in my opinion this makes the route worse when compared to the others since the student’s troubles are plain boring if you ask me. I will never get over the fact that this is the ONLY route with a happy ending. Nozomu being my least favorite character doesn’t help either.
Shirokuma is the mysterious loli who claims to have come from Russia despite obviously not being Russian. Shirokuma is also not her real name, not that her real name matters since everyone calls her Shirokuma anyway. She is highly dependent on other people, like an ojou-sama shut in her home surrounded by servants. I’ll gladly take care of such a cute loli! GURURURUSHIRO!
She has the weakest route in the game. The first half is all about her trying to pass the exam to get into the same school as them, with frequent episodes of mimicking weird sounds like bear salmons and other crazy stuff outside of human comprehension- #$@!$SHIRO#(*&(^KUMA. It’s funny the first few times, but gets old quickly as you have no idea what the heck is going on in their exchanges most of the time. The oddest aspect of this route is, the story starts AFTER the credits with an additional chapter longer than the previous two combined.
I usually don’t bother with separate sections for side characters, but Ran’s importance in the story doesn’t allow me to be lazy. Ran is Hatsuyuki’s caretaker and guardian having taken care of him for as long as he can remember. It is through a certain incident involving Ran that propels Hatsuyuki to complete his mission before spring comes.
Recommended Route Play Order (So things make sense):
(Ran), Aya, Yoru, Shirokuma, Nozomu, Sakura
My route rankings:
Sakura, Yoru, Aya, Nozomu, Shirokuma
Nozomu’s CG’s looks slightly weird, the face especially, but other than that the art is above average.
Animated falling snow on a lot of the scenes. A very nice touch in my opinion, and along with the occasional flying sakura petals really adds to the atmosphere. Can’t think of anything more to add besides the usual standard system crap that shouldn’t need any further explaining.
GREAT music! I don’t remember who mentioned this, but this is one of the rare games where I don’t turn the BGM way down since they tend to be annoyingly repetitive. This is not the case here; I can never get tired of listening to these tracks over and over again. The only complaint I have is that why aren’t all the tracks in the OST!? Music I record myself tends to have horrible quality if I’m forced to record from the in-game music player.
Just play it. Don’t even think about it, JUST PLAY IT. Even if you don’t like bittersweet endings, play it regardless. As depressed as I am right now, I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed my time spent playing this game. I try to not think about how productive I could be if I didn’t spend so much time marathoning the game this past week. Saga Planets has not let us down.
Next up is Tsukomo no Tsuki. I’m in dire need of some lolis and imoutos to heal my fragile torn apart heart. Think I’ll only finish Maya’s and Tsukumo’s routes though as they are the only lolis/imoutos. And please let me know how the white spoiler thing is working for you, and whether you want more or less of them.