Foreword: Bloody hell this game. I swear this game. Holy crap this game. OMFGWTFBBQ THIS GAME
I made a good choice in picking this game to be the first one to play for the August releases. As you might have guessed from various sources, this game is very depressing, but very well worth your time. In fact, this game is pretty short, but contains various elements missing in other games from the July releases I was criticizing about, so that was a huge plus. Enough talking about the game for now because I’d hate to say everything here.
Goddamn, I fucking love kinetic novels for this reason. I just love them. If a big company is releasing a kinetic novel, I jump on it like a starved lion who found its prey. It works for me because of a lot of reasons, and I’m going to discuss most of that below.
I REALLY want to avoid spoilers for this review, but due to the nature of the game and how short it is, as well as its contents, I will have to include spoilers. I’ll make every effort to be conservative with them and avoid them at all possible (aka, restrict it to the “spoiler section”)! Please bear with me in this aspect!
Please be warned! This review will contain spoilers!
Title: 生命のスペア (Seimei “Inochi” no Spare) [Spare (Extra) Life]
Producers: Akabeisoft 3
Release Date: August 26, 2016
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v19513
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=911027
Game Type: Nakige with Life and Death Themes
Summary: “Oumonbyou” (桜紋病) [Sakura-Pattern Disease] is a fearful disease with no known cure, and the victim’s life is filled with pain and despair until the last exacerbation, soon after which he dies. It is given this name due to the cherry-blossom patterns that appear on the victim’s left-side of the chest which spreads to the rest of the body, and this has caused the entire society to hate cherry blossoms; cutting down any and every one of them.
Ryuuji’s older brother died. Koutarou was always so nice to him, but Ryuuji couldn’t do anything for him in return. This caused the entire family to split apart and Ryuuji now spends his days alone. He thought this would be okay, but he meets a girl named Meguri who has the same disease that his older brother has.
Was this obligation to his dead older brother? Was this repentance for not being able to save his older brother and his family? The same questions surround Meguri as the two become much closer than before.
“I was born for you”. What does that mean?
Ryuuji’s brother; Koutarou. Really makes me wish I had an older sibling like him (I’m the eldest)
Story Length: Moderately Short (15 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: N/A
Comments: A Kinetic Novel. I personally love Kinetic Novels for a lot of reasons, but the major one is that this forces the writers to focus every bit of the “quality” possible on this sole route. While others may disagree, I strongly believe many of the “Kamige” out there either have a “True Route” which greatly exceeds the quality of the other portions of the game, or is a kinetic novel with a stunningly good story.
Character Design Rating: 9/10
Story Rating: 9/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 9/10
Rating Comments: You might notice that this review does not list the “protagonist rating”, and you’re not wrong. Ryuuji, who is the protagonist of this title, doesn’t actually seem like a protagonist, but rather one of the characters in the story, just like Meguri or Ria. The reader seems to be an invisible person watching this story unfolding, and especially for this reason, I would have REALLY wanted Ryuuji to be voiced; that would have immensely amplified the immersion of this title.
Ryuuji easily fits into what I would consider my “ideal protagonist” in galge.
Characters have amazing designs, and even the subcharacters perform extremely important roles. If I had to make a complaint about one of them, it would be Kyouya, Ryuuji’s father. He didn’t seem to be that important despite being voiced with a sprite, though the game makes heavy implications about this character at the end.
Otherwise, expect a lot of heartwarming scenes with Meguri’s parents, who are somewhat similar to Akio and Sanae from Clannad (their personalities are reversed though). Meguri’s conflict with Ria (Meguri’s younger sister) was also well utilized, and everything just seemed so realistic. In fact, I sincerely appreciate both the design of Meguri and Ryuuji, who develop that romance for each other rather quickly, but have conflicts midway through which really got me excited because that’s how romance usually develops (at least in my opinion).
Meguri, this game’s main heroine! Voiced by Tachibana Mao, I thought this was a weird choice in CV, but her voice felt so natural once I got engaged with the story.
Ryuuji himself is extremely resourceful, as that character who knows much more about this disease than anyone else, his firm desire to help Meguri was something I really appreciated, along with how his flaws were “covered” by Meguri. It really fit the phrase “I was born for you”, which worked for both Ryuuji and Meguri for each other.
Story is EXTREMELY impactful, though to others, it may be a bit more extreme especially for those who aren’t used to seeing blood or “painful screaming” in games such as this. The exacerbation events are superclimactic and often descriptive, and actually quite common (fair warning to potential readers). The mere fact that such a disease exists in this kind of scenario and various elements revolve around it (e.g. Society now hates Sakura and becomes fearful of both cherry-blossoms and the patients with Oumonbyou) was a great introduction to show the reader how serious this disease was.
Add that on top of the small plot-twist that even Ryuuji has the disease; this makes the reader become even more curious at how the story will progress and makes the story have much more seriousness. Using charming and heartwarming scenes as well as characters, the game elevates the sympathy the readers have on these characters to the maximum, and that is one of the hardest things to do in any form of writing. In addition to this careful and dexterous planning of scenario, the music and graphics seem to amplify everything this game has to offer, to the point I was quite nauseated with some of the sounds or words presented during these “attacks”. This, my dear friends, is immersion to the highest level.
This eye-catcher featuring Meguri also changes subtly as you progress in the story.
Fucking hell this design. LOVE IT
Summarized Story (aka, Spoilers):
Ryuuji’s past and his family history is revealed slowly along with his relationship with the game’s heroine, Meguri. The game then introduces Meguri’s younger sister Ria, who is actually a genetic baby born to become the “Spare part” for Meguri. It seems that Ria herself is completely fine with this fact and even becomes upset when Meguri is against this. This directly contrasts with Ryuuji who was too scared to die for his older brother.
Nonetheless, the story then reveals that Ryuuji also possesses this disease, which no one knows except for Meguri; not even his parents know. This, as well as past events, form a very strong bond between the two characters, after which Meguri suggests to become “fake lovers” so Ryuuji can assist her in convincing Ria to change her mind about the transplant.
While not as prevalent as Meguri or Ryuuji, Ria herself plays a very big role and highly relevant, capable of being called one of the main characters of this game.
While the couple is unsuccessful for the most part, the following scenes involve Ryuuji learning this “family love” from Meguri’s parents, who really treat him like their own son (He also learns of a certain secret later as well). This causes Ryuuji to slowly have a change of heart regarding his own parents and Meguri, who he soon comes to sincerely love. This is where the couple decide to change their relationship to a true one.
The conflict with Ria is finally solved when Meguri snaps at Ria’s stubborn phrase “I was born to die for my sister”. This causes another climactic scene which is resolved by the act of Ryuuji, and Ria herself finally realize that she had the wrong mindset all along, and extremely reluctantly decide to follow Meguri’s wish for her to live on.
At this point, the couple realizes their time is near, and decide to leave the Shukugawa household and live the “rest of their lives” with each other. While there are icha-icha scenes here, it’s strangely not annoying despite being repetitive, and quite important since another conflict regarding their “romance” for each other arises. This conflict was very well-needed since considering without it, the couple’s romance seemed quite spontaneous. This scene works to neutralize that kink and strengthen the bond between Meguri and Ryuuji, who soon swear loyalty with marriage.
I’m going to be absolutely fucking cringe right now and say I ship these two.
The couples experience much more frequent and devastating exacerbations and slowly weaken to the point they are unable to eat. With one last strength, the couples follow Meguri’s wish to die while viewing the Cherry Blossoms which has already wilted, where Ria appears to proclaim that she will live for herself and for Meguri. With one last painful attack, Meguri dies, with Ryuuji dying shortly after.
The next day, Ria visits the house again to find Kyouya already there and looking at the dead couple. He makes a few comments at this point which heavily imply various things about this character, including how he is regretful that he was unable to look at Ryuuji more.
The epilogue introduces Ria fully matured and in the process of developing a cure for Oumonbyou. /SPOILER END
So in a way, this game has that one bit of “hope”, just like how it did in the previous Akabeisoft 3 game.
Sexual Content: Moderate. I personally think it would have been better have less sexual content. They never really interfere with the story, but at least in my eyes was excessive or unnecessary.
PROTIP: PREPARE TISSUES
About 1 hour into this game, I knew this game was either going to make me cry like a baby, or make me extremely angry (if it turned out to be shit instead). It turns out it was the former, and I’m not sure if I should be happy or not, but what I know is my tissue box is now half empty.
Damn, the amount of development for all these characters is amazing. It’s the same for subcharacters too, which is the amazing part. Each of them seem to be important and relevant to the main scenario and given a specific role to support the main characters; Meguri and Ryuuji.
But let’s get to some complaints. As a soon-to-be pharmacist, I’m not too fond of these “diseases” which is highly relevant but never thoroughly explained. At least for this game, the Oumonbyou was supposed to symbolize “death”, but I wish this disease was more specifically explained. It even says the disease is related to the heart and causes patterns on the left side of the chest, but anatomically, the heart is located in the middle; the myth that it’s slightly off-set to the left is because the larger portion is on the left side and thus makes it easier to find the pulse; that’s all.
Second is that the design of Ria could have been improved. She strongly believes her destiny is to die for her sister, but the “origin” of this belief was never defined. Basically, I wish there were at least some scenes where Ria started to accept this fate of death, since she obviously didn’t have it at birth.
And uh… Huh, is that the only bad things I can think of? Wow, that’s quite amazing considering I can be quite the bitch about bad traits in games. Well, if you’re a reader who has already played this game, let me know what you DIDN’T like about it since I obviously couldn’t find any more than these two.
Like seriously; I’m trying my best to criticize this game, here!
It also seems that the title also makes a double entendre. “生命” is pronounced “Seimei”, and literally translated into “Life Order”, and can literally mean “Reason to Live” depending on the context. The fact this is read as “Inochi” or “Life” in the title suggests that the game wants to make the implication that only those with said “Reason to Live” are alive. This description contrasts Ria the best, whose “Reason to Live” was to die for her sister, creating a paradox. Considering how the entire title seems to describe Ria or perhaps even Ryuuji, this theory seems to be accurate.
Man, I knew I was going to cry, but I didn’t think I’d cry this much. Watching the Opening again afterwards made me cry a second time, and listening to its song titled “Liblume” is making me tear up again. It’s that both characters seem so apathetic towards all this life-and-death business and as they’re dying they’re talking about all their regrets which really reminds you that these characters represent the rest of us.
MORE LIKE WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE CRYING HERE. You know what? Screw it. I’m making you guys cry too.
Last but not least, the game makes heavy, miscellaneous and subtle symbolisms regarding other elements; such as how pedestrians would fear Meguri when she would have an attack or how SOCIETY would HATE AND CUT DOWN the Sakura since its petals were so similar to this deadly disease (HINT HINT). While unknown if this was intentional, I thought this was still worth mentioning.
Affection for the Characters: High
CG Score: 6/10. Big problem with this one that there’s not enough normal CGs.
Music Score: 9/10. Expect oriental-themed music which are slow and impactful capable of hitting you quite hard with the feels. Shimotsuki Haruka is a goddess with singing and I always love her songs too.
The interaction between Meguri and Ryuuji was so clearly defined and highly intricate, making the romance between the two one of the most valuable ones I’ve ever seen.
Addictiveness: Moderate. Strangely enough, this game was THAT good that I would like to come back to it if I had the time.
- Amazing introduction of setting, conflict, characters. Flow of the story is great along with various elements answered as they’re presented so the reader isn’t overwhelmed.
- Extremely impactful “attack” scenes which are highly climactic and also quite stressful. It is supposed to represent “Fear of Death” and does a HELL of a good job at it.
- Characters feel alive, genuine, and are generally charming. Heartwarming scenes can be seen at many points in the game, allowing the reader to feel sympathy for them.
- On that thought, CVs including Tachibana Mao is very skilled at voicing each scene, and at the end voicing the dying Meguri.
- While unable to call a “protagonist” Ryuuji is a character who I would consider ideal in just about any galge.
- Romance is very strong, valid, and developed well. Quite ironically because we know why.
- Music is strong and supports each scene where it is used, along with the Opening Song titled “Liblume” with heartwrenching tone and lyrics which really hit me hard at the beginning of the game.
- Kyouya (Ryuuji’s dad) seems to have an important role considering he received voice acting and a sprite, but this reason is not explicit.
- On the other hand, the ending and his overall design makes heavy implications
- There is slight flaw with Ria’s design where she doesn’t have this “Origin of Belief” about her death.
- Some anatomically incorrect traits about the disease is present, although it doesn’t make much difference since Oumonbyou was supposed to represent “death”.
- CGs are unfortunately lacking
- I personally wanted Ryuuji to have voice-acting considering the length of this title and how his design was more like one of the main characters in the story.
Rest in Peace, Meguri and Ryuuji