“Exams? Are they delicious?”
… That was pretty much my mindset as I started and finished this game in another record time–3 days.
This is, however, considering that I really did NOTHING but play this game. As much of a horrible student I am, I am very pleased with my progress, as well as this game.
Overall, Hatsuyuki Sakura was a great game–probably enough to be called a “kamige” by various individuals. However, there’s a reason why I do not call it a kamige (if you want to know why, read on). Released on my birthday, I am shocked and have mixed feelings about this game, but most of it is a good thing, so…..
Well, I’ll definitely be following Saga Planets from now on (considering this is my first game from them)
Title: はつゆきさくら (Hatsuyuki Sakura) [Lit. Trans: First Snow Cherry Blossom]
Producers: Saga Planets
Release Date: February 24, 2013
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v7302
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=710938
Game Type: Romance Novel with themes of Graduation and Revenge.
Summary: Hatsuyuki is someone who is feared by his classmates due to his fierce attitude. He skips class frequently, and “threatens” a girl to create an alibi for him. One day, as he was skipping class again, a bunny hops over and snatches a 1000 en bill from his hand. Naturally, the protagonist chases the creature into the old ruined street which is rumored to have ghosts all over the place.
This is where he hears a girl crying, and this meeting between Sakura and Hatsuyuki will be something that triggers a chain of events of chaos, revenge, despair, anger, but most of all, love.
My favorite character: Ran! Unfortunately, she’s not a heroine :(
Please note that this review contains intentional spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Story Length: Slightly Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Clear cut choices… Prologue, then the Bad End comes first, and then you can choose between the four heroines. The final route, titled “Graduation” involving Sakura, unlocks in the title screen after the clearing of the previous four heroines. Somewhere in there, you can unlock routes for the two girls from the “Shirosaki Yankees”, but they do not have CGs involved with them
and Perverted Laugh here)
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 9/10
Game Quality: High
Overall Rating: 9/10
Rating Comments: A nearly perfect game, it’s REALLY unfortunate (and I’m so pained to report) that this game sucked in one of the most important elements: the protagonist. Despite this, it’s still better than pretty much almost all of the other games out there, in terms of both character design and story.
Let’s start with our protagonist–Hatsuyuki. As you probably can tell, Hatsuyuki’s name means “First Snow”. The game is quick to surprise the reader with the fact that this protagonist is indeed the “Ghost Child” or the “King of the Ghosts” who is rumored about greatly in school. Of course, this is shown after the fact that Hatsuyuki’s target for revenge is none other than the rabbit that Sakura accompanies, and it is shown in the beginning scenes that Hatsuyuki’s approach to Sakura involves trying to know more about the rabbit.
Other than that, Hatsuyuki is shown to be very inconsiderate with his words. Using foul language and threatening pretty much everyone that talks to him, the reader will be surprised to find that Hatsuyuki is indeed, very kind at heart. Simply put, he’s a “tsundere” protagonist. Many scenes involve him being concerned about a heroine, but this kind of care becomes greater for a certain character: Ran, who he admits is his “family”.
A scene where Sakura draws this “figure” on the blackboard, and later mistaken as Hatsuyuki being the creator
The greatest flaw with this character is arguably the fact that his emotions seems to change too rapidly. According to the story, he was emotionally attracted to Ran, then Aya, then to the respective heroine (in that chronological order). While it’s true that one can argue that he was attracted to Sakura at first (when they were young…), this still doesn’t justify his feelings changing from one girl to another within the course of 1095 days (3 years).
For the reference, this 1095 days refers to the time period of his acceptance to High School (Japan/Korea has exams for acceptance to High School, just like how America has them for college applications [like SATs]) until the last day of his Graduation.
His goal is obviously to perform revenge, but while the game shows that he wants to avenge Ran, it then introduces that the “real” factor is Sakura’s death. This emotion was implanted in him by the ghosts, who haunted this boy until he became full of anger.
Hatsuyuki’s second flaw is that all four of the heroine routes do not correspond with the true ending. In the four heroine routes, he acts the role of “the good guy”, and helps the heroine with her problems to safely have her graduate, while he takes on his role as the leader of the “Ghost Parade”, which isn’t even explained in detail, and disappears. In the final route, he is shown to be an actual human who still has a body and a soul–it just needed to be combined according to his will.
One of the last scenes in Azuma’s route. Must I explain?
The third flaw with Hatsuyuki is that he’s freaking weak. Fights can be his specialty, but when it comes to being the “King of the Ghosts”, he’s easily overcome by the Sword of Banishment (referred to as Silver Sword in the story) or even magic circles drawn by spirits (my face when mixmash of western and eastern occults). Even in the bad route, it assumes that he gets his ass whooped by Konohasakuya when he retreats to his hotel and burns it down. Some king you are, if you can’t do anything but control ghosts and can’t do anything by yourself.
The last flaw with Hatsuyuki is his design. He’s supposed to be a highly cynical, and greatly pessimistic character. Despite this, he is shown to be lonely, and in a sense, a tsundere character. I don’t like it when my protagonist is a tsundere.
Sadly, Hatsuyuki, (as well as Sakura) were ironically the characters who brought the overall score down. I say ironic, because as the readers know, they are the main characters.
In the order of clearing (at least to me), Azuma is first. Strangely enough, the three trio characters (Azuma, Shirokuma, and Nozomu) tends to be more for comical purposes. While the other two heroines (Aya and Sakura) is the “main story”.
This girl who is very talented with ice skating is thought to be cursed, as her classmates witness many of her ice skating partners to become injured in some way. Hatsuyuki first notices this girl due to her smell of Anti-spirits, and recognizes that this girl is not really cursed–just a series of unfortunate accidents that caused many people to hate her. Azuma has a younger brother who greatly admires Hatsuyuki, and one of the comical scenes involve Azuma being jealous of her younger brother, who seems to communicate more with Hatsuyuki than his own girlfriend.
Next is Aya. A strange upperclassman who failed her college entrance exams, her story takes place one year previous to the main story. Keep this in mind while you watch Aya’s story. Aya’s story mainly revolves Hatsuyuki’s 2nd year in high-school, starting from the time when Ran was assaulted and he was left alone. As he soon used up all his money, a boy named “Akira” gives him large amounts of money to beat up a specific group of people. This soon leads to his encounter with Akira’s older sister–Aya, who takes it upon herself to take care of this young delinquent.
Aya loses her memories in the main story, but makes an appearance in the final route as Hatsuyuki’s supporter, since she regained them through the “Owner”, who is a ghost herself.
Shirokuma is a strange, childish character who suddenly makes an appearance at Hatsuyuki’s part-time job store. Shirokuma means “white bear”, but it is shown that her real name is “Sasaki Mochizuki”. Does the name sound familiar? Shirokuma’s grandfather is supposedly the main culprit of the explosion 10 years ago, and also the main target of revenge for Hatsuyuki. The even more surprising thing is that this small character who looks to be in elementary school is actually three years younger than Hatsuyuki, and studying to take the high-school entrance exams. Naturally, Hatsuyuki helps Shirokuma apply to Uchidakawa High School, but fails once. Despite using harsh words, Hatsuyuki reconciles Shirokuma, who falls in love with someone who she refers to as “Manager”. A fair portion of Shirokuma’s route involves an incomprehensible and idiotic conversation between her and Hatsuyuki.
Last heroine is Nozomu, a 1st year who also admired Hatsuyuki to be able to “control” others according to his will. Trying to imitate him, Nozomu also follows an informal speech using the pronoun “俺”, and its respective grammar. Nozomu, ironically, also has the largest breast size in the entire crew of heroines. Originally, this girl wants to become friends with Hatsuyuki, who is her role-model. However, seeing how Hatsuyuki is actually considerate and not all foul-language, this girl soon imagines herself kissing Hatsuyuki in her imaginations.
As another comical character, this girl is prone more to Hatsuyuki’s sadistic teasing, mainly because she enjoys it to some extent. I found myself laughing hysterically to the conversations that the two would share. For the reference, Nozomu has a brother who has a completely different personality, and is already “friends” with Hatsuyuki.
Last heroine! As strange as it is, I actually enjoyed Sakura’s route the least. The other routes have a sophisticated humor with the protagonist being the center of action, but Sakura’s route where the protagonist is antagonized (?!), and the game challenges the reader’s assumptions that what the protagonist is doing is right. Just as a notion, this is not a good trait. A protagonist should be considered an element of “justice”, and despite how some of us hate the poetic justice often present in children’s tales, all storylines should have it. Well, nonetheless, Sakura’s route is a lot of the “past events revealed at once”, since the only real hint I got to Sakura’s route was that the two have met before, and were good friends.
Sakura’s route was also largely uninteresting, since it shows both characters falling in love with little to no reason. The game makes an implication that Hatsuyuki appreciated Sakura’s continuous approaches despite replying with harsh words, but again. I prefer my tsundere to be in heroines–not the protagonist. The game seemed to somewhat rush the ending (Sakura’s route), using strange logic that reveals Sakura’s identity as the “Ghost Queen” who sacrificed her “identity” to meet and be with Hatsuyuki one more time.
…and a small section for Ran! This adorable character is seen with pink Japanese clothing, and shown to be very friendly. This mysterious character’s identity is hidden throughout the story, but it is shown that sometime during Hatsuyuki’s 1st or 2nd year in high school, her soul was taken away by Konohasakuya, and Hatsuyuki’s motivation came from the ghosts reassuring him that his revenge will bring back Ran’s soul.
What’s known, however, is that Ran also shares a large portion of the comedy in the beginning scenes. She would “punish” Hatsuyuki when he drinks alcohol, by picking up his legs and swinging him around until he throws up. One of the scenes involve her performing this very act, but her hands slips so the poor Ghost King crashes into the wall at high speed.
Ran’s identity is another victim at the “party” who became deformed after the explosion. She is indeed alive, but her soul was transferred into the doll to take care and nurture the “Ghost King” so he can perform his revenge. After Hatsuyuki learns of Ran’s identity, he meets a girl very similar to the “doll” that Ran possessed during his graduation.
Just a single CG for this little “antagonist”, Konohasakuya, because not only did she hurt Ran, her personality is also highly contradictory (Yes, I hate her guts)
Sexual Content: Moderate
WHY NO ROUTES FOR RAN?! WHYYYYY!!!?!?!?
Ran’s route is a bad-end. Okay. I see an H-scene in there too. BUT WHY?!?!?!
Ideally, I would’ve wanted this game to have a separate ending where Hatsuyuki somehow successfully restores Ran’s soul, or if the game wanted to be consistent, have him actually meet the “real” Ran in real life, and have the story continue from there. In the end, Ran wasn’t even “tricking” Hatsuyuki in any way, so there was no reason to make this character any more evil than she appears to be.
As with most characters who hold lots of knowledge about VNs and eroge in general, Ran is going to be my favorite character.
Affection for the Characters: Very High
CG Quality: Moderate
Music Quality: Top-grade. Seriously, the quality and variety of music in this game rivals the music-themed games like White Album 2 or Ryuuyoku. That’s really amazing.
Conclusion: The great and almost perfect game is ruined by a poor protagonist. The game starts out great, but ends up not so great. The themes and morals are consistent, and the music is top-grade, but this is the type of story where the first-portion of the story is used to explain the things in great detail, and the latter portion of the game is entrusted to someone else, who can recreate some great action scenes or a variety of story splits to keep the reader entertained.
As stated above, ending is rushed with the protagonist antagonized, and frankly, I would recommend playing this game only for the heroines except Sakura.