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Random VN: Haruru Minamo ni

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Clephas

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Haruru Minamo ni is one of my favorite games by one of my favorite charage companies, Clochette.  Clochette is known for a combination of decent stories, moe-ero (sexy and moe) heroines, and fantasy/sci-fi settings.  Haruru Minamo ni is based in the same world as Amatsu Misora Ni, which is - ironically - my least favorite Clochette game.  In this world, the idea and existence of Japanese-style deities is a self-evident reality.  This is partly due to the fact that 'arahitogami' (kami who take a human shape and live as humans) come into existence regularly enough that they are obviously recognizable and accepted as what they are.

This game has five heroines: The protagonist's little sister and goddess of the mountain, Miori; the new sea goddess of Tamatsue, Kanau; a young thunder goddess named Mei; Tatsuki's (the protagonist) and Miori's osananajimi Ena; and the fisherman's daughter Asumi. 

Miori comes across as the most level-headed of the five heroines, having been a goddess from birth, rather than ascending to the position.  She was 'raised' to a great degree by her older brother, and she is all-too-aware of how the task of raising her has shaped his personality and way of looking at the world.  She has all of her worshippers' names, faces, situation, and lifestyles (and that of their relatives to the fourth degree) memorized, and she is the trusted and beloved goddess of the mountain.  She is also a heavy gamer (console) due to the fact that the siblings' ancestor (the first goddess of the mountain) having promised to remain upon the mountain, thus binding her to the old town around her shrine, thus making her a homebody.  She is the epitome of the Japanese idea of a tochigami, being able to express her will anywhere within her territory and protecting it against misfortune.  Obviously, she is a brocon.

Kanau is a young girl who became a goddess at a relatively late age, and as a result, she doesn't have great control of her powers.  She is also extremely unlucky and tends to draw misfortune to herself to an extreme degree.  However, she also has a hidden core of steel in her spirit that lets her get up after every failure with relatively little help or interference.  Her kind and hard-working nature show a great deal of potential, though it is, as of the beginning of the VN, unrealized.

Mei is the incarnation of a bolt of lightning given the form of a girl after attaining divinity.  Unlike Kanau, who is learning to be a goddess because she was born human, Mei needs to do so because she has had little connection with humans.  She is very straight-laced and honest, telling people what she thinks upfront. Her emotions are obvious, but she will often hold herself back for the sake of what she thinks is right.  She desperately wants to be of use to humankind, but she has no idea of how to go about it.  

Ena is the daughter of a Japanese sweets shop owner and the Yamagami siblings' osananajimi.  She is an easygoing, kind-hearted girl who cares about others first and foremost, without a malicious bone in her body.  Having grown up around Miori and Tatsuki, she knows them almost better than they know themselves, and thus she has made a point of restraining her long-held feelings for Tatsuki and keeping them below the surface.  For better or worse, she is the type of girl who suffers as a result of her tendency to put others first.

Asumi is a seemingly standoffish daughter of a fisherman.  Having been raised near the sea, she became an excellent swimmer at a young age.  However, she quit the swimming club and now avoids swimming anywhere but the mountain river, avoiding the seas like the plague.  She also doesn't believe in deities, feeling deeply betrayed by them for reasons that come obvious later.  Despite this, she is actually very straightforward and easy to get along with... once you understand she doesn't like wasting time on small talk.  

Mei

Mei has the cutest dere of all the heroines, I'm just going to say right up front.  Think 'cat who absolutely adores her master' and you'll get an idea.  Mei's path is pretty heavy on ichaicha... but since her dere is cute in a good way and there is little romance drama to annoy me past the actual stage of them getting together, I didn't mind either time I played it.  

Her path's drama is mostly centered around her growing as a kami by being loved by Tatsuki (yes, seriously), so most of it isn't that serious.  However, there are a few 'trouble moments', especially toward the end of the path.  Nonetheless, all is well that ends well, and the path is tied off nicely.

Spoiler

Mei as a mom made me cry with happiness...

Miori

Miori, despite her efforts to keep her brother at arm's length, is a rather self-evident brocon.  This is fairly typical of Clochette imouto heroines (incidentally, Clochette little sister routes are some of the best out there, though they lack the twisted stuff you see in some other companies' lineups).  However, this is made more complex by the background of the two.  The first part of the path, the formation of the relationship, is more of a clash of positions: brother/sister, priest/goddess along with a bunch of other baggage that was inevitable.  However, it does make it a lot more interesting than your typical 'incest is bad' drama you see in most imouto routes.

Miori and Tatsuki, once they get together are somewhat... intense.  This was also the case with Mei, but if Mei and Tatsuki were an extreme version of the typical bakkouple (idiot lovers), Miori and Tatsuki are so insanely intimate (think finishing each other's sentences half the time) that it takes it in a somewhat different direction.  There is some significant drama near the end of the path that is very, very revealing about the setting in general... but because of that, I would recommend that first-timers play most of the other routes before this one (Kanau's and Miori's can be done at the end) for the best experience.  

Asumi

Honestly, as a character, I like Asumi the most of the five heroines.  However, I have to say her dere is more 'hidden' than the other girls, as her feelings don't really reach the surface in the same way as the others.  As a result, in her path, you don't get to enjoy the kind of melty deredere crazy couple ichaicha you do in Miori or Mei's path.  On the other hand, her path is a gift to those who like intimacy over brain-melted ichaicha.  

Asumi's romance starts the most 'naturally' of the three paths I've played this time so far.  This is probably because she isn't a goddess (meaning Tatsuki's hangups aren't as strong an issue in that stage of the relationship), and Asumi's seduction of Tatsuki happening to be a lot more subtle than the others because of the way she handles emotions.

Honestly, I don't like the way this path ended, in comparison to the way the previous two did.  While it is highly emotional, it also trips one of my major most-hated tropes

Spoiler

The 'lose the powers you gained' trope.

Kanau

Kanau is a pretty straightforward girl in every way... but the beginning of the romantic part of this path is seriously weird.  I mean, it is a Clochette game, so sexually charged scenes are normal but...

The attraction of Kanau's path is the way she starts to change things in Tamatsue as a result of her personality.  While Kanau isn't my favorite heroine, she definitely has a strong path worthy of a main heroine.  

This path can be considered to be the 'main' or central path of the game, as it has the most story-focused approach, whereas most of the other paths had a tighter focus on the lovey-dovey aspects, with the story growing like weeds between ichaicha moments.  That said, it isn't like this path makes the other heroines feel underserved.  Rather, it feels more like a natural extension of what was going on from the beginning.  

Conclusion

I'm not a fan of Ena's path or Ena as a heroine (Ena as a side or helper character is ideal, but I don't like her type as heroines).  As such, I'm not interested in replaying her path.  This game in general is Clochette at its best, in particular the way there are so many diverse elements interacting with the central characters, as opposed to the charage standard, which generally has only the heroines, the protagonist, and maybe a few friends with relatively few other connections.  There are mild cathartic moments, humor, and ecchi enough for anyone who likes a more varied 'flavor' in their charage, and the heroine paths actually have a story to tell, not just a 'romance'.  I recommend this for people who want some mild fantasy and story in a primarily SOL setup (and for people who like heroines who happen to be attached to oppai).  

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