For those of you who didn’t already know, this VN is based in the same setting as Nanairo Reincarnation and by the same company. Nanairo Reincarnation was my VN of the Year 2014, and it is a VN that has remained strong in memory ever since.
This VN has a much stronger ‘horror’ influence than Nanairo, which tended to be more of a nakige for much of its length. The protagonist, Yashiro, is a young guy who was born particularly vulnerable to spiritual influences while not having the ability to see ghosts or spirits… meaning he is basically a walking target for stuff like that. At the beginning of the story, he finds out he is cursed by the ‘Ghost of the Old School Building’, one of the ‘seven mysteries’ of his school. This curse is fairly simple… it tries to get him to kill himself by jumping off the roof of the school building.
A lot of the common parts of this VN focus around dealing with the mysteries and trying to discover a way to put the ghosts to rest, and in that sense it is almost identical to Nanairo… except that the protagonist, while central to the story, is essentially a ‘normal guy’ who got caught up in the mess involving ghosts and spirits. The protagonist from Nanairo makes several appearances in the VN, as do his ‘family’ members, and it is based about two years after the original story. There is definitely enough influence from the original that I have to recommend you play Nanairo first.
This VN… tends toward an aura of sorrow, for much of its length. The moments of fear are there, but they tend to be less common than ones of sorrow/grief. There are a total of six heroines in the VN (five if you count Riri and Ruka as a single heroine), with three major arcs…
The first arc is the Velvet Arc, which has the twin kami (Riri and Ruka) path splitting off midway. Riri and Ruka’s ending… leaves a really strong impression, to say the least. Technically, they are sub-heroines, but their ending is in no way neglected, either for detail or emotional value. If there is a significant difference from the main part of the arc (Velvet’s path), it is that it is somewhat shorter and less dramatic. Still, I cried for a half hour after it was over. Those who liked the red-head from Hikoukigumo no Mukougawa’s ending will like this one. Velvet’s ending… is closer to what I would call a ‘bittersweet romance’ path. Velvet has serious psychological problems, all wrapped up in her past (I won’t spoil it), and dealing with those issues is the main focus of her path.
The second arc is the Older Women Arc, which contains Misato’s and Youko’s path. I’ll be straight… play Youko’s path first. If you play Misato’s path before Youko’s, it will destroy you utterly, whereas it is merely saddening when you play Youko’s first. Honestly, since I like that type of ending, I really did like how Youko’s path turned out, but it isn’t really a romance path (neither was Ruka’s and Riri’s). Misato and Youko’s paths branch off from one another dramatically very late on (from a story perspective), and Misato’s path follows a far less dramatic and painful road to the end, one that is closer to what romance fans would like.
The third and last arc is the True Arc. This path contains Kana’s and the True ending. Kana’s path… is probably the most normal of all the paths, at least until the endgame. To be honest, Kana’s path is the reason why I won’t be calling this one a kamige, though it isn’t horrible. It is just… difficult to empathize with Kana (by the time I got to her path, I just considered her Idiot Friend #2, so I couldn’t see her as a romantic partner, even through the protagonist’s eyes). Nonetheless, as paths go in a general sense, it was still pretty high quality. However, where this arc shines is, of course, the True path. The True ending is… really heart-breaking. What you might or might not have figured out from the clues about the mysteries behind what is going on at the school are brought to light in full form, and the issues that were generally laid to rest outside of the protagonist’s control or in a way that didn’t reveal the whole mystery were brought to a head in the protagonist’s personal viewpoint. I cried for the True path. I seriously cried. If you don’t cry after you see what there is to see in this path, you probably should go to a psychologist.
A few other comments before I go to my overall wrap-up. My favorite heroine in this VN was undeniably Velvet, both because of my tastes in heroines (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you know her secrets), and because I just really, really liked her ending. The protagonist’s degree of personal growth – and even his personality or outlook on life – will often be changed dramatically during the course of the paths, and this is one of the reasons I would love to give the kamige stamp to this one, despite the fact that it doesn’t quite reach Nanairo’s level.
Overall, this is definitely one of those VNs I’ll still be recommending to people five years from now, along with Nanairo. It is a bit guro at times (at about the same level as Nanairo there), and the protagonist is a bit too typical of protagonists in the kind of situation he ends up in at times. However, as long as you can get past these issues (or actively enjoy them) this is a great VN to play. I will say that I really wished they would have done another adult protagonist, like Makoto from Nanairo. I don’t really see the need to go back to student protagonists, but I guess that is just an inevitability when companies are under the kind of pressure of tradition these are. I am seriously looking forward to more works from this company and this writer in the future, and this one is a solid (almost inevitable) VN of the Month candidate.