Foreword: When it comes to Yuzusoft games, a lot of people claim them to be a “safe choice”, meaning that the game itself is never going to be absolute shit. I agree with this statement for the most part (having played the more recent Yuzusoft titles), but I also think it should come with an additional comment that like other mainstream galge companies, there’s not much adventuring going on with this company at least regarding the story.
In addition to this, I’m seeing that there’s a set pattern nowadays that even for “romance” oriented games such as Senren Banka, the romance transitioning is often completely missing or otherwise shitty. This is really disappointing since quite often, the conflict presented in a heroine route is resolved by the protagonist and the respective heroine who has already formed a “romantic bond”, but said bond was never “formed” in the eyes of the reader; it was just thrown out there.
Well, aside from this, Senren Banka is not a bad game, but as with many Yuzusoft titles, it’s not a “great” game. There are multiple reasons for this, and I hope readers can follow along with me as I make the attempts to explain why.
P.S. omg Irotori is quite amazing with story elements, but it’s sooooooo boring… Someone kill me Q_Q
Title: 千恋＊万花 (Senren Banka; Thousand Romance, Ten thousand flowers)
Release Date: July 29th, 2016
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v19073
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=895010
Game Type: Fantasy Romance Novel with a rural setting
Summary: Masaomi is heading to Houri, a small town unlike the city he lived in and even with the nickname “Inutsuki” (likely meaning “haunted by dogs”), which prevents taxi drivers to even enter. This town is filled with various mysteries, such as the presence of spirits or monsters which ironically seem to attract foreigners. In addition, at the heart of it all, a sword-pulling event is open to the public.
While Masaomi was brought here more from a blackmail while his parents were enjoying a trip, he greets his strict grandfather and his cousins, as well as his childhood friends. For fun, they make Masaomi pull the legendary sword–the Murasamemaru, from the stone it was stabbed into.
Masaomi obliges, and without too much thought, he pulls on the sword lightly to have it completely snap in two! Chaos immediately ensues as the sword didn’t even budge when others pulled on it. It’s not long until a spirit named Murasame pops out and explains that Masaomi has been chosen by the Murasamemaru to defend Houri from the Tatarigami’s curse which has been going on for 500 years.
Story Length: Moderately Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: A pretty easy game to clear, which is made easier with a flow-chart. On the other hand, the game did feel a bit longer than normal. Whether that was due to it actually being longer or from me getting bored out of my head, no one will know.
Character Design Rating: 5/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Protagonist Rating: 7/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 5/10
Rating Comments: So some comments.
Overall, Senren Banka was a good game with an overall decent efforts to explain the story to the readers, but I’ll need to point out right now that all routes (excluding the Koharu/Roka routes) do suffer from the following 3 fatal flaws:
- The game tries to end the story with a happy-go-lucky scenario, or pretty much state that there is no “bad guy” throughout all this conflict of curses
- Most of the spiritual elements within this game is highly convenient and subjective, often using the term “desire” for the answer of everything
- Romance transitioning is completely absent
And thus because of these three fatal flaws present within all four routes, the story score suffered heavily. However, outside these flaws, the story wasn’t especially terribad like other charage–all four routes do incorporate this fantasy element of the Curse of Tatarigami and does go into more detail about the aftermaths of said curse (which is the ending of the common route), so there’s that going for us.
Characters are generally pretty bland with what I would think is a poorer choice of CVs. Both Kiritani Hana and Haruka Sora are present in this game (they voiced Yuzusoft’s last game, Sanoba Witch), but I feel as if Ai Shimizu would have been more proficient at voicing maybe Lena or Mako.
I say Mako because Ai Shimizu did an absolute awesome job voicing another ninja heroine, Konami, from Sengoku Koihime
My opinions aside, it’s true that the characters seem a bit bland; none of them really seem to have a specific role within the story except for maybe Murasame, who was more clearly defined as a character and had more interaction with Masaomi, earning the title of my favorite for this game. It wasn’t the heroines, but more of the subcharacters who I found to be more colorful (such as Masaomi’s grandfather) which is never a good thing amiright? (Hopefully I can be a bit more detailed with character explanations)
Masaomi is the better of this game, to my eyes, as the protagonist full of justice and morals. He’s always out to help someone out, and I appreciated this kind of design. It’s just that as with other galge protagonists, that really seemed to be it; Masaomi is definitely active, but not at all interesting. He’s more on the plain side and wasn’t at all colorful or had something to be differentiated from other characters. His conflict with Yoshino from the beginning scenes were never followed-up, and it’s with no doubt that his romance transitioning was the worst in the entire game.
Yoshino is the girl who is responsible for sealing the powers of the Tatarigami and keeping the curse at bay via various dances, and also the girl who (unwillingly) becomes the fiance of Masaomi after he pulls the sword from the stone. Overall hard-headed and serious about almost everything, Yoshino’s personality reflects how she was taught all her life to devote herself to sealing the curse as much as possible, even after losing her mother due to the very thing that she’s managing right now.
Like Masaomi, she is shown to be able to see Murasame, and work to defeating the black beasts which appear sometimes, as denoted by when she would grow dog-like ears, symbolizing the curse of the Tatarigami.
Her route mostly involves how she feels differently about Masaomi after he has gone through so much to help her fix the curse, and now that the curse has been lifted for the most part, Yoshino wants to repay Masaomi for all his hard work.
Quite ironic and surprisingly, Yoshino’s route was the worst route within the 4 heroines at least in my opinion. A large majority of the route was filled with pointless ichaicha, and topped at the very end with a life-and-death scenario involving Yoshino’s mother and the history of their family, which had little impact for the most part.
As a character, Yoshino was also one of the lesser developed characters, seemingly the main heroine but unfortunately lacking a lot of interaction with Masaomi, her design also has a very obvious contradiction where within Mako’s route (which followed the same events as her own route), she does not see Masaomi as a romantic partner. In this sense, Yoshino and her route was quite poorly designed.
No game with an East Asian setting would be complete without a ninja heroine, which is what Mako is. Born from a family where she was trained to serve the family of Yoshino, the reason behind this is actually quite shocking and explained later in the route. This was a good follow-up, but it’s quite unfortunate that this element was quickly discarded afterwards; Yuzusoft should have really used this “reason” as one of the main conflicts for Mako’s route.
Generally more sadistic, Mako tends to tease other characters with their relationships or initiate sexual jokes. Ironically, she herself obtains this knowledge from shoujo manga, and within her own route, she becomes almost overly sensitive to romance. In fact, her route is mostly just that; what romance is. it starts with her making a wish to know more about love, and this desire attracts the very Tatarigami who caused all this mess, who also wishes to know the same. This same curse then often turns the poor girl into puppy which might ensue some laughter.
Overall, Mako as a character was more fitting as a subcharacter while her route was a bit more on the “annoying” side. Along with how exaggerated she acts around Masaomi, it felt as if Yuzusoft just realized that they failed to sell her as a character in the common routes and hurriedly put in some irrelevant traits in her route.
Murasame is the loli spirit guardian of the Murasamemaru, the sword. As with any other character like this in galge, she is well over 500 years old and was protecting the sword until the true master appeared to claim it, which happened to be Masaomi. Due to this, she is capable of touching Masaomi (which doesn’t happen with anyone else), and also infuse her spirit energy into him, though this does have some rebound effects as well.
Murasame’s route stems from after the curse being lifted and she herself not knowing what to do anymore, since the Murasamemaru is now pretty much an ordinary sword aside from being effective against the curse. This is when a bit of progress in the story displays the past of Murasame and how she also has a “real name”, along with something from 500 years ago (HINT HINT) that would put the girl at a great dilemma.
Strangely enough, Murasama seemed to be the main heroine considering the interaction between her and Masaomi is overwhelming compared to other heroines in the main story. She seems to play important roles in other heroine routes as well, adding to this trait, and how there was that unique factor of Masaomi being the only one capable of touching her was an overall plus to this design.
The only thing I didn’t really like about Murasame’s route was the very reason why she was placed in the dilemma as mentioned above. To be frank this reason was quite retarded, to the point all that good build-up of the dilemma and conflict crumbled into pieces.
Last but strangely not the least is Lena, the foreigner girl who is introduced later in the story when Masaomi’s grandfather assigns him to guide a foreigner who will work in the inn that Masaomi’s grandfather owns. Relatively cheerful and slightly ignorant, Lena’s incorrect usage of Japanese idioms actually becomes a main story briefly in her route which acted as an excuse to give interaction between her and Masaomi (because otherwise, she wasn’t really relevant in the main scenario).
Strangely enough, Lena’s route delves into the past events most thoroughly, and sufficient it is to say, her route alone will be able to help readers understand the full story without knowledge of other routes. However, like the other routes, Lena’s route does suffer from those flaws mentioned previously which greatly contaminate the quality of her route of being a very deep story regarding romance.
Overall, I personally thought it was a weird mismatch to have Lena, a heroine who was rarely prevalent in the game, to hold one of the better morale/themes, or perhaps even have the best route. As a character, Lena lacked impact and was more fitting as a subcharacter instead.
Koharu and Roka routes are available as well, although it goes without saying that these scenarios are not really worth playing unless you REALLY liked these characters specifically. Unlike what it presents (the game marks this route as Koharu AND Roka), this is not a “harem” route, and you split up well into the route.
In this route, Masaomi has finished lifting the curse, but decides to leave Yoshino’s house after breaking arranged marriage and through a bit of event, starts to work at the cafe run by Roka and Koharu. The four main heroines rarely show up in these routes, and the fantasy themes of Tatarigami is completely absent. Though to be fair, this route does contain a bit of love triangle, which made it more bearable for me
Another thing that Yuzusoft does that I like; characters from previous games make subtle appearances.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Well, not much to comment on since I think I said most of what I needed to say. I found myself frequently looking at past Yuzusoft games and thinking that this game also had that general set pattern of scenario that Yuzusoft seems to stick with dear life. While that does make them a “relatively safe” company for games, it also makes their games extremely monotone and boring like it did for this one. It had the battle scenes, but it wasn’t exciting. It had the cute characters, but none of them really stood out or was interesting. The protagonist was well designed, but seemed too much like a list of bullet-point traits (almost to the point he seemed like a zombie being controlled by the reader).
I found it weird how Yoshino, who was supposed to be the main heroine, was actually the least developed or at least had the most flaws. I’m not sure what happened here, but this was something different than other games which almost exclusively focused on the main heroine, with some of them even having another “true” route for the same heroine (as they did with Sanoba Witch). I personally think that would have been a good thing to have for this game as well, seeing how Yoshino was pretty much worthless throughout the story aside from her part as a priestess.
Strangely, Yoshino didn’t really seem like the main heroine.
In retrospect, I think I would describe this game as a charage that tries to become an actual novel. So many of the game’s traits point towards this game being that more-shallow, light-hearted charage, but the serious atmosphere of the curses and how it was always the center of the scenario suggests the latter. This kind of pattern was also present in a game called World Election, and is actually more unwanted since it essentially tries to do two things at once and, unless performed well, fails at both.
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 3/10. The problem with this score was that CGs for the most important scenes (aka the climax or otherwise perhaps some of the battle scenes), did not receive a standalone CG. Instead, the game was full of CGs exclusively of the heroine, or H-scenes which didn’t contribute to the “visual” aspect of Visual Novels. The CG Set made this game seem excessively like a charage as it focused on the heroines too much
For which you should be embarrassed about, Yuzusoft
Music Score: 6/10. Games that have a unique ending song for each of the heroines (including the two subheroines) will score better. Unfortunately, aside from this, the music was just too plain
- Senren Banka incorporates a fantasy theme and maintains that theme consistently in all four routes
- Protagonist is one of the better designed, as having the traits considered ideal; full of justice, dedication, and morals.
- In addition to the four main heroines, there are two additional characters who have a route
- The game has a unique ending song for each heroine, including the two subheroines
- Character design is unfortunately lacking with some traits of heroines being introduced in a very rushed manner (Mako’s fear of heights) or never properly followed up (Yoshino not getting along with Masaomi)
- There are some significant contradictions across routes.
- Due to the fact that this game revolved around a fantasy element, it is possible for readers to see much of the scenario as convenient
- Romance transitioning absolutely sucks in this game, to the point SenREN Banka (highlighted for reasons) would have been a better game just by knocking out the romance.
In conclusion Senren Banka wasn’t a bad game, but it was overall pretty boring and if you played previous Yuzusoft games, the game has pretty much the same pattern of scenario to the point the reader can predict what happens. In essence, this game is a charage that tries too hard to make it a novel with a serious story, and failed to both sell the characters or tell a story. Yuzusoft should really have stuck with one thing.
P.S. OMG FUCKING HYPE