Okay DAMN. People said this game was good but I did NOT know it was going to be THIS good. Well, only parts of it.
This title’s definitely on kamige level, but it’s really unfortunate that I can’t really say it’s a kamige because of a couple of reasons. Despite this, I wouldn’t hesitate to call this one of the most impactful games out there and MAN it really left a big impression on me. More like, why didn’t I hear about this title before? The all ages trial was from 2008! Ya’ll need to make recommendations like this more often because I often find myself missing them. Though to be fair on the other hand, most of my bias for this game comes from the fact I love seeing philosophy in galge/eroge in general. It really gives me a lot of “shower thoughts” that I can ponder about for the next few days.
While I’m going to be praising this game for the most part, it isn’t without flaws. I’m going to point out some major kinks that this game had that makes it awfully awkward in some areas and may be more of a turnoff. I think Sakura no Uta would be a great example of how a lot of amateur players scream is the best game ever, and completely ignore said fatal flaws, lol.
This review will contain minor spoilers and analysis of the game! Please only consider reading this review if you didn’t really understand the game or have already played it!
Title: サクラノ詩－櫻の森の上を舞う－ Sakura no Uta -Sakura no morino uewomau- [Lit. Trans: The Poem of Sakura – Dancing above the Forest of Sakura-]
Release Date: Trial released in 2008, Official Release in October 23, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v562
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=44121
Game Type: Philosophical Poetic Novel with Slice of Life Themes
Summary: Naoya’s father died, who was his last blood relative. With no other family left on this planet, Naoya also refuses his father’s inheritance of 150 million en (Roughly 1.5 million USD) and now penniless, he somehow still finds the leisure to mess around with his friend Kei. However, as the funeral in the forest of cherry blossoms end, Kei’s older sister Ai invites Naoya to live with them in return for making meals at their house, which Naoya agrees to.
It’s been so long since that unfortunate accident 6 years ago that left Naoya, a world-famous artist himself, refusing to draw again. Now with the innocent childhood friends all grown up, Naoya must move on from the death of his relatives and live his own life with the relationships that he has. However, little will he know that he’ll be the center of even more; more pain and suffering for the people around him. He’ll never understand until much later how much of an influence he holds as the son of the World-Famous Artist.
What is mind? No matter
What is matter? Never Mind.
Story Length: Long (35 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderate
Comments: It’s not especially hard, but can be slightly confusing at times. Fortunately, there aren’t many choices in the first place, so you should be able to get through each route by trial and error.
Otherwise, make sure that you clear both Makoto and Rin’s route before moving onto Rina’s. Shizuku’s route follows afterwards. The title screen will then display successive routes, marked with “IV”, “V”, and “VI”. If you didn’t realize, these are Roman Numerals, with the titles of each “chapter” in German. Chapter 1 is titled “Beginning of Spring”, Chapter 2 is “Eve”, and Chapter 3 depends on the heroines, but they are “Olympia for Rin”, “picapica (crow) for Makoto”, and “Zypressen (Cypress) for Rina”
Character Design Rating: 9/10
Story Rating: 8/10
Protagonist Rating: 8/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 9/10
Rating Comments: What, surprised at the scores? Yeah, me too. This game was extremely superior in all aspects; character design, story, and with protagonists. Let’s take them one by one.
Story, don’t expect your typical galge with this one. As mentioned previously, there will be a SHIT-TON of philosophy as well as “quotes” from famous people as well as a lot of Fables and Lore presented in the game. Tip for people: it is HIGHLY recommended to look these up while playing the game if you are not familiar with what the meanings are, because I guarantee you that each of these have a specific meaning somehow in the story. Some Japanese players found themselves NOT being able to understand some of the context due to this (courtesy of Getchu Reviews), so it’s not a surprise if the Western population do not realize its meaning as well. It is also suggested to read each line carefully, because some lines have a mega-huge foreshadow that readers will pass by without a second thought if you don’t.
Sui: No, it’s nothing! Misakura Rin-san is really cute, I like you! You can think of me as a mother-figure from now on!
(Players who went through this game will realize why this is a spoiler)
Sudden bursts of humor can be found throughout the game, though I’ll make sure to include that some of said humor was slightly inappropriate at times. Aside from this though, most of the story is concentrated at the heroine routes along with each respective fable, which added to the score design. Even after the heroine “chapters”, “IV”, “V”, and “VI” give the readers the full aftermath which was heavily needed and very much worth every minute of reading.
I didn’t give the story a 9/10 out of a whim; a lot of the foreshadows present early in the game matches up with the later scenario and the game has a great pace that keeps a mysterious environment, but allows just enough “hints” to allow the reader to make expectations as he plays the game. The poetic ring of the story was also something I really enjoyed, though if I wanted to say it in a bad way, it sounded a bit too chuunibyou. It’s actually pretty funny since you even have kids barely the age of 10 talking about various philosophy and sociology. Bitch, go back to doing your math homework.
The story goes far more deep than what I expected; Chapter 4 goes into the events of the past while Chapter 5 and 6 focus more on Naoya as a “Protagonist Route” which I’ll explain in a bit. In addition, I found many portions of the story extremely climactic even without the presence of battle scenes; I was so immersed in what was going to happen next to the point I found myself greatly disappointed when a route ended.
Such as scenes as this, where Naoya “battles” against the “god of beauty” herself
Character design is just as amazing and is even “perfect” as the game utilizes so many characters and subcharacters so fluidly throughout the game. One of the minor things that really cut it short was that each heroine route was too focused on the respective heroine, and other heroines didn’t play much of a role. However, this isn’t as significant since each heroine route DID have a specific and exclusive subcharacters who plays a major role in it. In this sense, the game did not have a central heroine as I’ve expected. In addition to this, there was a major flaw with the heroines, which will be discussed later. However, even this major flaw didn’t really jeopardize the integrity of the design purely because of how well the game utilized subcharacters instead to fit each role.
Jokes were mostly centered around heroines and subcharacters, and sparingly on the protagonist for the right amount of laughs, though some of the humor did get a bit repetitive such as Yuumi’s lesbian approaches (even though it does have a context and was fully valid).
Make sure you pay attention to every character who has a voice; since they’ll play a large role some way in the game. Those without it are usually just mob characters, for which the game does utilize to break the fourth wall a bit.
Protagonist Score is actually something that gets better as you go on, and maxes out at the very end of the game. In the beginning, you see Naoya who is literally wasting his talent, heritage, and life on seemingly nothing. In fact, the beginning scenes may even make the implication that his father, Keiichiro, was the “true protagonist” because so much of the dialogue revolves around him. However, as you become more devoted to the story and the background of the heroines, you come to realize that every action Naoya takes has a meaning and he’s actually someone much more caring than what he appears to be.
The real bonus from his “caring attitude” is that it climaxes when something happens to Kei in chapter V, the guy who he always used to tease. Basically, Naoya’s attitude doesn’t change just because he’s dealing with a bishoujo like some other cheap galge; he actually acts most drastically when it comes to his “best friend”, and one of the poems recited within the story HEAVILY imply that Naoya truly cared about his best friend more than anyone else in the entire story.
In this sense, the character who had the most amount of development with Naoya was Kei
In addition, it seems that the game centralizes Keiichiro, Naoya’s father, as the protagonist in Chapter 4 when everyone including Ai was much younger and shows the truth about the art “Olympia” as well as the Nakamura family that continuously popped out in the previous stories. In reality, Keiichiro’s father makes much of the contribution to the “slice of life” portion of the story because within the context of the main story, he has already passed away, and most of his story in Chapter IV deals with how he lived his life.
The fact how the game shows one protagonist, but also displays another character as the protagonist related to that protagonist, and then compares the two was something I found extremely unique and appealing, especially because other characters often mention how Naoya and Keiichiro are so similar, even though it’s repeatedly shown that both protagonists absolutely hate it when they’re compared to each other.
Character Summary: I’m going to cover the most important characters here. Hang with me!
Rin is first. As pretty much the Yamato Nadeshiko character with good looks, great at housework, intelligent, and kind, she is introduced with a picture that Naoya had in an album. It seems that they have known each other in the past, but for some reason, Rin moved away 6 years ago and Naoya cut off all contacts with her even though she sent him many letters. Not surprisingly, this game involves the girl transferring to his class, matured and more beautiful than before. However, Naoya seems to avoid this girl despite being a childhood friend, which Kei finds to be strange. Rin soon approaches Naoya herself, though, who awkwardly greet his long-lost childhood friend.
Rin is actually quite a colorful heroine despite the above description. The common route shows how this girl is always very calm, but also capable of throwing a grown man like Akashi or have a very dark side which intimidates anyone, including Makoto. She also seems to be quite perverted as shown in her route, possessing a large amount of “Ecchi” Novels and Manga.
On the other hand, she makes a HUGE foreshadow of the ENTIRE GAME by comparing Naoya to the “Happy Prince” story in this scene which is present in the beginning. Just absolutely splendid design. Mmm!
Rin’s story mostly involves her past which she forgot about. It involves how her mother passed away and how she hates her father for “taking her mother away from her”. However, the readers are quickly shown that this is a series of unfortunate accidents and misunderstandings, and involved a sacrifice from Naoya, which Rin soon comes to remember. In this sense, Rin’s route reminded me of Fuyou Kaede’s story in “Shuffle”, but had much less impact and significance. Readers should take note that Rin’s route by itself is not complete, and is greatly supplemented by Shizuku’s route later on in the game.
To be completely honest, I didn’t really like Rin’s route nor her character as a whole that much, and my predictions were dead on that outside of her own route, or more specifically Chapter “VI”, she becomes pretty heartless and cold contrary to her warm personality shown in the beginning. Moeka Choco (Rin’s CV) was also more associated with tomboy characters in my experience, so that was kind of a mismatch for me as well. In addition to this, I actually noticed that her design has an in-your face contradiction; in Shizuku’s reminiscence, where Rin still has her “abilities”, Rin is shown as energetic and cheerful, but after Kei’s death in Chapter V/VI, Rin’s memories/abilities return and she becomes extremely cold, to the point she really is the “Cursed Girl” as pointed out by Keiichiro. Someone clear this for me, since I think I may have missed something.
Makoto is the Art Club Leader, and is often seen bossing both Kei and Naoya in the beginning scenes, often making Kei crossdress and Naoya recruit girls with cringy chuunibyou phrases because the Art Club requires more members. More of a tsundere character than anything else, readers are quickly shown that Makoto is actually independent from her parents for some reason.
Makoto’s route starts with Naoya admiring a set of cups that was, in his opinion, the perfect cup for drinking tea or coffee. This brand, which seemed to be quite popular (Sorry, forgot the name as of writing this review. It was Usagi-something) is made none other than Makoto using a fake name, who had no idea it was so popular. Her status as an art club leader isn’t just for looks as the game shows this girl very skilled with pottery, who is the creator of the “Four Constellations” which caused an extreme craze in the past.
Makoto’s route involves characters who are threatened by the Nakamura family (PROTIP: Every authoritative member in the Nakamura family are fucking assholes) quite unreasonably. A child from that family injures a girl named Nei to the point she needs rehabilitation, and they demand charges for a fucking scratch? I honestly felt myself getting quite pissed at this family at this point (P.S. Their actions get worse as the game goes on. If this gave you cancer, just be warned that you may be enraged later in the game).
Anyway, it seems that these characters are still doing their best to live, but always oppressed by this family to the point Makoto wants to do something about it. This then involves her mother who doesn’t have a good relationship with Makoto (why would Makoto liberate herself from her parents?) due to the fact that she believed her mother didn’t love Kei, who is actually her true sibling (confusing right?). This is the first moment where the reader is presented with the Nakamura and Natsume families, so try to keep up with the information.
In general, I thought Makoto’s route was pretty decent since it involves the folklore “Rabbit and the Moon”, though like with Rin’s route, it lacked impact. I also thought it would have been nice if the game displayed the aftermath of the two characters that Makoto and Saki (her mother) ends up saving, but this was also lacking as well. In addition to this, Kei has no role in the entirety of Makoto’s route, despite him being one of the main focus.
The self-proclaimed “imouto” is what Rina is, and just because she’s not really associated with any other route, I’ll put Yuumi in here as well. In reality, Rina’s route is divided into two ultimate ends, her true route, and a yuri route which actually had a full-blown context which was much unexpected (I mean, what game has a yuri route in a galge with a solid context? @_@)
This one does, apparently.
I found that throughout the common route, Rina herself wasn’t that important; Yuumi had more interaction with Naoya despite not being a heroine herself, which actually made Rina’s route a bit more unnatural than it would have been. Readers will quickly catch on that Yuumi actually “loves” Rina, which actually isn’t a joke but has a serious context shown with her reminiscence. In return, Rina’s reminiscence displays an altered version of the Little Red Riding Hood, but instead, the girl wears pure white and is considered “poisonous”, and the wolf is Yuumi herself, who is “tamed” by the beauty of this white girl. In addition to this fable, the two characters starts to dream about someone named Hakuki (This character is important, by the way) who is capable of “drinking” people’s minds
Rina’s route heavily lacks Naoya’s interaction… at least in the present. Most of the story takes place in the past about 6 years ago when Naoya meets the two for the first time drawing on the dome in a deserted playground. He makes another sacrifice at this point to change Rina’s life, which creates a direct love-triangle between her, Yuumi, and Naoya. It’s also shown at this point why Rina decided to become Naoya’s “imouto” despite the fact she’s not related to him.
Rina’s routes were interesting as well, but like with the other heroine routes, seemed to lack impact. It really felt like the heroine routes were pretty much “fillers” for the true route (IV, V, and VI), which was stunningly beautiful. If at all, however, each of the heroine routes were filled with allegories, which made it far from boring. The relationship between Yuumi and Rina was also very intriguing, which was another reason why I found myself enjoying Rina’s route for what it’s worth.
Shizuku’s last of the heroines, and despite having such a grand introduction in the beginning as well as in the opening movie, she didn’t seem to be that important. If at all, her route was almost just as boring as Rin’s route. It involves her past and true identity as the rebirth of Hakuki herself, except as an incomplete form, she is only capable of drinking people’s “dreams”.
Shizuku’s route starts with her past when she was always pursued by the Nakamura family, who went through extreme measures to obtain this power of “Hakuki”, and how Keiichiro “kidnapped” this girl so she wouldn’t be abused by this crazy-ass family. Her real name is Kuzushi, which is actually the reversed pronunciation of “Shizuku”, but she took out the “shi” at the end as it meant “Death”, which made her name “Kuzu” (葛). Regardless, her bounty as according to the head of the Nakamura family at the time was 15 million en (150 million USD), and Keiichiro had fallen ill and WAS unable to earn this money. This is when he passed on this “mission” to free Shizuku to Naoya, who took up this mission himself (after complaining a bit) and accomplishes it with a bit of help from two people, one who might be familiar at this point. This event then directly connects to Keiichiro’s death and the scene where Naoya refuses the 150 million en, making it form that “loop” back to the beginning scenes which was quite satisfactory.
I vote for Shizuku x Sui yuri… …Please?
To be honest, I expected Shizuku to be a central heroine even though outside of her own route, she was just a normal girl who had problems waking up. Even her identity as a Hakuki-reincarnation appeared out of nowhere (e.g. it was never hinted anywhere in the game), and her relationship with Rin was fully hidden until her own route. Shizuku’s CV was also someone who I wasn’t familiar with, and with all due respect, she wasn’t that great either. I also hated how little of a role she played in the later chapters despite all that had to do with the Nakamura/Natsume families.
“True Route”, or Chapters IV, V, and VI, involve mostly the protagonists of the game, and is, in my honest opinion, the best part of the game. It involves Naoya and Keiichiro the most, and shows the two character being much more protagonist-like than other routes. Chapter IV explains much of the holes left unanswered in other routes, including the “war” between the Nakamura and Natsume families as well as Keiichiro’s role within this feud. Chapter V is like a “True Route” of the entire game, and Chapter VI finishes off with the “After-story”.
Chapter V does include a route for Ai, the loli-teacher who has a lot of charm points in my opinion, and was in full deserving of a route herself, but the game only gives her one H-scene and that’s it :(
In general, the true route was the best part of the game, despite me not talking about it as much. This is because I feel as if this True Route is something I’d like anyone to experience and not have to read a crappy review on
I’ll be honest; Ai seems like the central heroine considering how much of a role she plays in the True Routes
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: Alright, I’m going to have a lot of comments.
First, as mentioned previously, love the poetic ring of everything. The poetry really hits you from the beginning portions of the story, and there are frequent scenes where characters will interact using poetry, and while it may seem rather “chuunibyou”-ish, it’s still not retarded like Astral Air was since it is relevant to the context of the scenario and also has a meaning. Said poetry or quotes even are from real-life references, and this really enhanced the slice-of-life aspect of the game.
On the other hand, this feature also worked AGAINST the game in a way, because the game also presents the lore of “Sennenzakura”, “miracles”, as well as “supernatural” abilities such as what Rin holds. Basically, the game didn’t really choose this game to be strictly reality based or fantasy-based and somewhat “used its own logic” in certain areas of the game. The fact that the game utilizes real-life people’s quotes but resorts to fantasy elements in other parts of the game was one of the biggest and most unwanted consistencies.
It’s honestly nice to save these climactic scenes with fantasy elements, but they kinda ruin the overall story simply because it’s there and contradict with the slice-of-life aspect.
I guess this is more of a complaint, but I didn’t like how the heroine routes were pretty boring and almost irrelevant to the True Route. Sure, Makoto and Rina’s routes were decent, but I personally thought Rin and Shizuku’s routes were pretty crappy which knocked off points in the story rating. It’s also a minus how none of these four routes are related in any way to the True Route, which features more subcharacters than anything else… Actually, that’s pretty much the case; the main heroines comprise of MAYBE 1% of the True Route. uwotgame
This leads me to my next point that the entire game really seemed like five different “books” because of that lack of relevancy. Basically, it seemed as if Rin’s route was one book in a series and Makoto’s route was another. Not sure if this was the kind of environment that the authors were aiming for, but needless to say, it was very choppy overall and more of a minus for me. It’s almost as if the heroines were added JUST to make this game have H-scenes. It’s really not an exaggeration to say that nothing is consistent across routes.
I guess the exception is Akagi’s idiocy
Aside from this, I actually found the humor to be pretty nice. Lots of references and occasional breaking of the 4th wall allowed comic relief from all the serious atmosphere, although it’s also possible to argue that some humor was placed inappropriately and sometimes a bit repetitive. It works contrary with the game’s morale and atmosphere, so I can’t really say that the comedy worked to improve the game’s story, but it was more like an “offset” to not have the entire game be super-depressing.
Ai (Child) : Draw a Pik〇chu and Mic〇ey!
Kuzu: I love you. Please let me lick your penis
Another complaint I have is that there are very few “artwork” compared to how the entire game revolved around it. Literally, there is like 40-50 hours of story, and only a handful of actual “artwork”. I mean the actual pieces of art that the characters draw; not the actual CGs themselves. In scenes where said artwork was present, it seemed rather low quality and not that mesmerizing… that or I’m just an amateur when it comes to appreciating art, I guess.
I personally wish that the authors did more with Chapter VI with what they did. It involves some of the subcharacters from the beginning chapters all grown up, and introduces new ones who play some important supporting roles. Basically, I wish there would have been some romantic development between Naoya and one of his “students” because that would have created another path for another story. I dunno, I just felt like Chapter VI was too short :(
I mean, it could be just the fact good stories just SEEM too short
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 7/10. Quite beautiful CGs, though at times, it was obvious there were shifts in artist because there would be slight differences in each character (e.g. their sprites and CGs wouldn’t match up)
Hint: That’s not Yuumi
Music Score: 8/10. Love the music though. I especially appreciated how the game provides a unique ED vocal song for each of the heroine routes, and especially liked the Opening, for which the full version is played at the ending of the True Route. It’s just that other than these tracks, most of the tracks were lackluster and “comical”
Addictiveness: Very Low. Quite unfortunately, this game was really only valuable for its True Route, which had little replayability.
- Amazingly designed story and character design, along with superior and unique protagonist design
- A large focus on philosophy, psychology, and sociology throughout the entire game, and they make sense as long as the player takes the time to “look up” what they mean
- Scenario involves lots of real-life references, such as quotes, copyright references as humor, and even occasional breaking of the fourth wall
- I especially liked the music in this game, especially the opening, titled Sakura no Uta (same as the title, but spelled differently o3o)
- Heroines were abysmal in the True Route and have little impact themselves in their own routes
- Heroine routes were more like “fillers” and do not relate to the true route at all
- “Art” drawn by characters are sometimes exaggerated and highly lacking for such a long game that completely revolves around it.
Overall, Sakura no Uta is an amazing game full of intellectual topics and great story elements like foreshadows from the very beginning of the scenes. While I do see a lot of praises for this game, I feel as if many of the players are praising it without knowing why it was actually good, and the people rating this game low are those who didn’t really understand everything that the characters were saying. It’s not a game you should approach expecting a light story, as the True Route is heavy on the feels and a lot of slice of life aspects, but if that’s something you enjoy, you’re in for a treat.
Ai is best girl though. Let’s not forget that.