A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

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.

Comments:

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.

Conclusion:

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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

 

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Comments on: "To my Most Treasured: Review of [160826] Inochi no Spare" (21)

  1. Thanks for the review!!
    God one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a long time.
    if you stop to think, Ria not only live by herself and Meguri but also by Ryuji now next to Meguri in the eternal dream.

  2. […] element without laying out the parameters of said fantasy elements. In a simpler sense, think of this game with the concept of Oumonbyou, except much less symbolism. The previously reviewed game still had […]

  3. First of all I’d like to thank you for your reviews. I’ll be sure to read some of the earlier articles as it seems you’ve played quite a few games I have as well, but for now : Inochi no Spare…

    A little detail, but you keep referring to Meguri as Megumi, is that a typo or an alternate reading I was not aware of 璃? Since it also ties in with Ria’s name as explained in the story, I find it odd for you to made such a mistake given how much you seemed to love the game and the characters.

    I can’t say I was as thrilled as you were with the game. I’m not a huge fan of kinetic novels in the first place, that may be the biggest reason why, but not the only one. I would have preferred a couple choices in the game, there was potential for some really meaningful commentary and player implication there by for instance being able to let Ria do as she pleases and watch the consequences that would unravel on her family.

    As akerou before me, I had trouble sympathizing with the characters’ condition due to the poor explanation of the disease, and also found it too difficult to believe a condition widespread enough to cause eradication of a all cherry tree in a country would still have at least its cause unknown. The disease was also in my opinion a little too convenient timing-wise : symptoms appearing exactly at the right moments, the eights days final countdown, the two characters dying minutes from each other…, all of that reinforced the idea that this was just a made up story and made it just that much harder to get into.

    When I started the game, given the theme of designer babies I was actually expecting something more along the lines of a rare genetic condition, but I suppose giving both the main characters the disease would have seemed far fetched as well. The whole designer baby angle was in my opinion glanced over a little too quickly, and the family’s plan seemed either dumb or too far-fetched. On Ria’s birthday the game claims they can just walk in the hospital and transplant her heart to Meguri in a couple days, but I just can’t believe any doctor would agree to such a procedure that easily unless they were pretty twisted or demanded a lot of money, something a rather unknown artist would have trouble obtaining in the first place… let alone have enough to finance the birth of Ria that the game implies is Meguri’s clone (since she needs a near-perfect genetic match for the transplant to succeed).

    As far a dying heroines stories go, I much preferred Shino and Ren from Dekinai Watashi ga Kurikaesu, but I played that a while ago so maybe nostalgia is talking instead of reason. Still, I remember being moved by the story there much more than in this one. Meguri seemed much like a rehash of Shino for that matter, but without a familiar and easy to connect condition as cancer. I don’t agree that Tachibana Mao did such a great job at voicing Meguri, mostly because her pain screams sounded, sorry to be crass, a lot like her overplayed orgasm screams in other games. What would have been otherwise tense scenes of portraying character suffering left me with mixed feelings of uneasiness. She does a fine job the rest of the game though, and is a perfect fit for a “genki” style of characters.

    The romance was fine, but the drama, and the last days in particular, felt too drawn out. To be honest I had a lot of trouble accepting Ryuuji and Meguri’s decision to spend their last days together away from everything else, while understandable on some level I found that excruciatingly cruel towards Meguri’s family. That scene in which Yurie tries to reason with her is probably the one that resonated the most in the whole game. That probably biased my view of their last days, but from that point one I was almost completely detached from the character’s plight and was just wishing for it to end.

    • Lots of valid reasons! Thanks for the reply and encouragement. Just a warning that this is going to get long because damn your points are hard to retaliate against :(

      I also believe I owe you my gratitude that I did NOT realize I made such a big mistake as getting the heroine name confused on my review. Shame on you joyjason! I’ll definitely take my time later to fix this mistake.

      But before that, I’d like to answer to some of the problems that both you and akerou may have had. It is with my greatest pardons that I suggest both of you may have completely missed the meaning of the disease “Oumonbyou”. True, it’s heavily underdeveloped and having medical background I agree this was not a good design. However, do note that Japanese scenario writers rarely have a degree in any of the medical fields and trying to get anything anatomical/medical to be completely accurate within the story will be very difficult. Not saying that I want you to be lenient on this aspect, but this did blind both of you to the fact that Oumonbyou was purely placed in there to represent “death and permanent separation”. Again, there’s no good excuse for the writer to skimp out on describing of story elements that’s critical as the Oumonbyou, but it’s also incorrect to discard the other portions such as various symbolisms and relationships (which is more focused on and probably the main theme of the game), because of just that.

      Also even in a “reality-based” setting, it’s unfair for the story to be criticized just because it “feels” made-up. The attack events “trigger” conveniently, but how do you know that’s NOT coincidence? Even if it’s the super convenient aspect that the couple dies together, it needs to be accepted as a part of the story.

      The impact that this “death” had on society also seems to be a bit more difficult to understand. As mentioned in my reply to akerou, it’s due to a variety of SPECIFIC factors. Take ebola as an example; caused by a highly-contagious virus, severe internal bleeding, he’s usually isolated in a highly protective environment and eventually dies without and sometimes even with treatment. Ebola is a serious disease. Now assume we have no clue what causes these symptoms, and they’re replaced by, say, maple leaf patterns on the victim’s body (I’m pulling things out of my ass at this point). So what we have are patients who have maple leaf patterns spitting out blood in agony and it’s also highly contagious, and finally we don’t know what causes it. If you can imagine such a scenario, it wouldn’t be surprising to have the common people cutting down maple trees and refusing to consume maple syrup because of this “unknown”; they would rather not have maple syrup or maple trees, than to risk being infected with this disease. I believe this is called “Classical Conditioning” in Psychology, but please do correct me if I’m wrong.

      I also admit that the “designer babies” thing was extremely irrelevant throughout the game. I think it was only used to introduce Ria and her exclusively as well as her “mindset” of dying for her sister, but as mentioned in the review, this was another flaw that I found (i.e. that the game doesn’t explicitly reveal the origin of this kind of mindset)

      Ultimately, we need to look at things from the story’s perspective. We accustom to sci-fi or otherworldly settings because the parameters of those environments are usually implied or more explicit in the beginning. It’s the same here; the parameter that “Oumonbyou” is this disease that everyone fears, both the heroine and protagonist has this terminal disease, and they’re pretty much destined to die in pain.

      On the other hand, interesting how you do mention Shino from the previous titles; I believe it was still the same writer so there may have been some similarities between the two heroines. Can’t really compare the two mostly because I have bad memory and can’t remember every detail of Shino’s route which was roughly two years ago :(

      Admittedly, I thought that Tachibana Mao wasn’t the best candidate for Meguri’s CV, but this also needed to take a bit of “getting used to” and her voice felt natural once I got into the story. Ironically, I thought she was rather decent with voicing the pained screams, especially since I’ve heard her “H-scene” voices from a bunch of other games “(e.g. Ponkotsu Akuma, Sengoku Koihime X)

      Last but not least, the couple’s decision to spend their last days alone needs a very large amount of “reading between the lines”. They never make said implications either, and really depends on a lot of traits presented in the story. Consider the following:
      1) Meguri’s efforts to not show pain or “attacks” in front of her family
      2) Ryuuji hiding the disease from his parents
      I think this might be enough for you to decipher why the couples decided to separate themselves from everyone.

    • Thanks again for taking the time to reply to comments in such a thorough matter, especially to one such as mine that was mostly negative towards a game you’ve genuinely enjoyed. I know some who would just ignore or dismiss such comments quickly, so respects for that. Sorry for the long rant once again, it’s just so rare to find someone to discuss these games in such length.

      About the “Oumonbyou” disease, my first impressions reading the game were that it seemed much more similar to a standard Japanese-styled curse than an actual disease. Would I have accepted it better if it had been presented as such, I don’t know, it takes away from the realism the story tries to establish at least in the beginning, but at least I wouldn’t have had that nagging voice in my head constantly nitpicking the setting and detaching me from the characters. I understand the story also needed it to be curable through “conventional” means, which partly explains why it went that way.

      As a love story, it’s understandable for the disease’s symptoms to manifest at the most climactic moments, and for the characters to die embracing each other. But while it may seem cruel, I would have been much more touched and interested in the depiction of the couple’s condition in a less romantic and idealized fashion. While probably a little overboard, a pain attack in the middle of an ecchi scene would have certainly made from some food for thoughts about the realities of living with the constant fear Ryuuji and Meguri would have. If such a moment actually occurred I apologize, as I skipped all the ecchi scenes, but it didn’t seem so.

      Ria’s reasoning did make at least some sense to me, even if her stubbornness did feel overblown. I believe it is explained she overheard her parents talk about Meguri’s condition and the initial reason for her birth at a young age. Now as a teenager in search of a meaning for her own life and with a genuine love for her family, it’s wasn’t too difficult for me to imagine her locking herself into this self-constructed “duty” of hers, especially since the topic is heavily taboo among the family and her parents put efforts into shutting down any argument that many shift any of the parties’ points of view. Her own interpretation of her name certainly didn’t help matters, and shows once again the little thought the parents put into the whole situation. Note that this isn’t actually a bad thing, as they themselves realize that it’s a situation they created and are unable to find a suitable solution for.

      My memory probably isn’t much better than yours about Shino from Dekinai Watashi ga, Kurikaesu as I also played it two years ago. I do remember her being someone bright on the surface but filled dark thoughts and anxiety within, that’s very much the same with Meguri. Looking back the game on VNDB, the two also look very much alike, making the parallel that easier to draw. From what I do remember, I think Shino’s drama was better handled, especially the part about the protagonist being with her not because he loves her, but out of pity and because he projects his past trauma with Ren on her and seeks comfort for himself. In contrast, Meguri’s final burst of drama, “do I truly love Ryuuji or do I just seek comfort and/or escapism?” felt weaker, especially since the final answer “you can’t know and it doesn’t matter” while sensible isn’t very satisfying. Dekinai had lots of other qualities other than the love stories (the futility of time travel for one), which makes me see it as a much better game, even if it is written by the same person.

      About the couple’s final decision, I did say it was understandable and it is explained in the game in rather plain terms : Meguri compares themselves to cats hiding themselves to die. I don’t think Ryuuji’s family matters in the decision since his father barely knows Meguri and would probably not know or care if he left the house for a week or two. Still, for having had the misfortune to experience the loss of close ones both by their bedside and not, I can’t help but strongly sympathize with Meguri’s family and resent the couple for a decision that appeared to me as ultimately very selfish and not at all considerate towards Meguri’s parents’ and Ria’s feelings. In the context of the love story it does allow the two of them to play the married couple for a few days, but I always had that bitter aftertaste all the way to the end.

    • Wow, another reply full of interesting opinions and thoughts! My hats off to you because when I return a long reply with another long one, people leave me and that feels bad :(

      I’m really glad someone like you can “offset” my good review, because I’m just one voice out of many and your points are just as valid!

      I see we’re in agreement that the presentation of Oumonbyou is in fact, crap. The disease itself is so underdeveloped that if you’re in a scientific background your OCD would flare up and be demanding for explanations, but alas; that’s likely not what the author had in mind.

      > pain attack in the middle of an ecchi scene

      MY EXACT THOUGHTS! I actually expected this to happen when I was playing the game, hence didn’t skip through H-scenes JUST for that very reason! It doesn’t happen, however, as you’ve mentioned, and while I agree that it might be cruel on the characters, I personally also think it would have been absolutely hilarious (outside of other things) to see the responses of players who may have been jerking off and suddenly their boner dies. Man I’m going to hell

      Ah, so THAT’S what you meant by drama! That does make sense, especially because Shino’s “dead eyes” and her request for Riku to go away before she actually dies in her route hit really hard and made the entire moment impactful. In that sense, I agree this is much “better” than a bit of love-crisis that Meguri had with Ryuuji. How the true route for Kurikaesu pretty much changed Shino’s attitude towards Riku instead of Shino’s death was quite a good design, but I also found it less of a valid reason why Riku would suddenly decide he didn’t pity the girl anymore, but genuinely loved her just because of this event.

      Regarding the final thought about the couple deciding to be with each other, it is implied that the two did NOT want to conflict the family with their disease any longer. Sure, it would be possible for the family to take care of them until their death, but that would mean that the family needs to take care of them outside of their work, and have to stay by watching those pain attacks unable to do anything. This would ultimately give them a sense of helplessness which the couple was able to predict. This implication is made mainly due to the couple deciding it’s better to NOT be hospitalized.

      Furthermore, and these are my own theories (so sorry if they’re weird), is that first, the family can only sympathize with the pain that the couple experiences. This can cause some misunderstandings that already arose (see Ria’s mindset to die for her sister, which was NOT what Meguri wanted). On the other hand, Ryuuji can empathize because he also has the disease and have dealt with Meguri’s “worst” moments (including how she pees during the attacks). Seemingly similar, these two emotions are extremely different and I think it may have influenced the couple’s decision to move out.

      The second theory is that similar to the implication above, the couples needed to predict that the family needed to get “used to” without them being around. After which they die, Yurie, Ria, and Harunobu (?) would need to become a family of three, and pretty much forget about her and Ryuuji. Dying with them watching will again leave the same feeling of helplessness in the remaining family members which will cause emotional scars and bitterness in return.

      I think the best way to think of this is “What would YOU do?” Let’s say you’re in Meguri’s position, you’ve already decided you’re going to die, your loving family has had to deal with this shitstorm and disease for well over 17 years, and you have a lover who share same fate and is willing to stay with you until you die. I personally would choose the same decision that Meguri and Ryuuji has chosen. Sure, I’d probably want to stay with my mom and dad, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want them to see me die or have to deal with this any longer. I assume that the reason why Yurie didn’t push herself much at the scene where they leave is because we’ve already had a predecessor (Ria) for this kind of scenario.

      This got long again, but I greatly appreciate that I can talk about this topic with someone! Please. Let me know what you think of my theories!

    • I guess we’re both going to hell, because I admit a part of me also would have also loved to see the outraged reaction of players to a pain attack during an ecchi scene. I don’t think I’ve ever read a game going that way but I tend to stay on the safe side of visual novels, I’m sure much worse has probably been done in one of the more obscure-fetish-oriented nukiges out there. Still, it’s probably a little too dangerous for a company like AkabeeSoft2, but it could have also given them some buzz for the game.

      For your first theory, it’s something that is mentioned in the beginning of the game and is one if not THE reason Ryuuji and Meguri start feeling a bond between each other. She does explain that there’s a difference between imagining her condition and actually living with it, which is something that I can certainly agree to. As to the second, there’s a big difference between trying to mitigate the family’s sadness by distancing themselves and flat-out cutting all ties. Adding to the pain of losing their daughter the parents most likely felt rejected as well, which is maybe even worse. Speaking from personal experience, being by someone’s bedside during their last moments, this feeling of helplessness you mention is overflowing at that specific moment, but it’s still better than feeling regret and remorse for not being there at all (more than a decade later and it’s still not healed). It’s the difference between knowing you couldn’t have done anything more, and eternally wondering if being present could have changed anything. The way I see it, asking her parents to forget about them is mostly a way for Meguri to herself forget about the pain she will cause them by dying, which is why I said I found the decision selfish.

      In Meguri’s shoes I’m not sure what I’d do, but I certainly wouldn’t leave the house and ask my parents and family to just wait for my death certificate to arrive in the mail…

    • Looks like we’re in slight disagreement, but I can’t completely discard your opinions either because wanting to stay by your family in death really does make sense. I remember the one quote from a title called “Komorebi no Nostalgia” where an AI subcharacter says “Humans always have regrets, but they regret NOT doing something, more than they regret doing it”.

      It’s been like 3-4 years and I still remember it word by word!

  4. I’m actually the type who is bad with heavy stuff. In-between drama, even tear-jerking stuff is okay but if I get a bitter or bitter sweet end ultimately, I feel shitty for months, like seriously.

    It’s not that I consider these kind of stories bad, I like them as well when they’re good, but I still try to avoid them. One of them every couple years is all I can take lol. Surprisingly this title didn’t feel too bad in that sense, because – as you said – it wasn’t like experiencing the story from the protagonist’s pov, but rather like a story presented to you, which somewhat reduced the ensuing empathy (at least for me).

    I couldn’t really get as immersed as you because there were some (needless) issues with the writing. It’s honestly dumb to use a fictional disease for this kind of story because the audience can’t intuitively “connect” to it. It also enables the writer to do ass pulls, making up stuff about that “illness” however it fits the story which is kinda meh. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t enough real terminal illnesses… And if a story throws a fictional illness (and the work revolves around that) at me, I really want more clarification about how that illness works. Unfortunately, that partially broke immersion for me because I couldn’t buy it.

    the whole thing with cutting down cherry blossom trees was also a bit overdramatizing in a way it wasn’t believable (and its really pointless too! it serves the purpose of showing how much people fear that illness but if you used a REAL terminal illness you wouldn’t have to because the audience would already know that intuitively!) . supposing an illness broke out that caused a stigma that resembled chestnuts, would people wipe out chestnut trees and stop eating chestnuts? Hardly so, that’s not how human psychology works. “fear” isn’t chained to visual cues, but notions and yeah, these notions can be triggered by sensory cues, but that is interdependent with your general state of mind. if that what is the cause of your fear is on your mind, you’ll see and hear visual cues everywhere. In German “cancer” is translated to “krebs,” which is another word for “crab” and if I see a “crab,” I don’t think of “cancer” usually. however, if I was currently concerned about cancer, I probably would. everyone fears cancer to some extent, but we don’t wipe out crabs. of course, the illness in the game is more present, but the principal stands.

    the psychological portrayal for the characters themselves was nicely done, but everything concerning the illness itself, including how society handles it was really off imho. don’t take it that I didn’t like the game though, those are more like nitpicks and reasons why some things didn’t work for me.

    • Hey, point taken. As mentioned, the lack of explanation for the illness was one of the major ones that I found this game not worthy of perfect scores. However, I should remind you that not everyone is as intelligent as you or me; when someone does hear the word “cancer”, some of the less educated individuals will flip shit and go nuts about them dying soon.

      To answer to your skepticism and design of “Social Fear”, the presence of the “Oumonbyou” and the “Sakura” causing all this social taboos and fear was likely to represent this very trait; how some people jump to conclusions and have irrational fears for no reason. Your example of “Cancer” and “krebs” utilizes two different languages German/English and thus wouldn’t cause too much commotion since they’re not related otherwise. In this title, the setting is that this long-standing disease with an UNKNOWN CAUSE (this is important too) characterized by excruciating pain that you can’t treat and eventually results in death does have that impact and Fear Factor to cut down cherry blossom trees due to that “unknown” being mostly associated with the “pattern” that appears as well as the name of the disease.

      For that matter, if we really did have a “Chestnut Syndrome” in real life where the victim has chestnut leaf patterns or even smells like a chestnut, with as serious of conditions as what’s displayed in this title in addition to it being prevalent AND having an unknown cause, rest assured people will cut down chestnut trees like mad and become “fearful” of anything related to chestnuts.

      This social fear to cherry blossoms was supposed to be extremely specific to the situation so I wouldn’t say it’s badly designed.

    • first of all, my example with cancer is limited to us German. To us it *IS* the same term.

      the problem is, while there are illnesses with unknown cause, those are mostly illnesses relating to the CNS/PNS/parts of the brain. additionnaly, the cause is usually unknown because those diseases aren’t researched due to the fact that they only effect a very tiny minority (=no revenue for pharmaceutical companies). while there is no omnipotent cure for cancer, we *know* what cancer is. i find it a bit of a stretch to say a disease as described in the game with such extreme symptoms can remain “unresearched.” this is probably my core problem. it’s straight up impossible for the cause to be “unknown.”

      you see, like you said, most people wouldn’t notice things like that or complain about them, but still, i don’t see the point why you would want to do it this way when there is literally NO narrative purpose. you can do a game with a fictional disease in a sci-fi/fantasy setting and there is a focus on finding a cure for that disease in that world, with the “rules” being explained properly. but this game has an entirely different focus; it focuses on how they characters deal with a disease that spells inevitable death, what they go through, their suffering, their decisions, their view of life and purpose and life and so on. a fictional disease is not an appropriate choice for this.

      either way, as I said, this is more like nitpicking, but in my case, it was probably a little more disturbing as for you.

    • Sorry, it seems that I was unclear. The reason why Germans are smart enough to not go and perform mass genocide on the crabs is because there’s no relationship between “crabs” and “krebs” except for how they’re pronounced. In this title, the disease and Sakura are “related” (albeit fake) with two things: The name having “桜” and the petal patterns that appear on the victim being nearly identical to cherry blossom leaves. On the other hand, “krebs” and “crabs” are two different languages and have no association each other. I THINK this is called classical conditioning (Pavlov’s dogs), and I ask to be corrected if I’m wrong

      As I’ll mention in a different string of comments, there is no narrative purpose of “Oumonbyou” as you mentioned. It’s simply there to represent “death” (and while the writer probably had more intention of why he chose “Oumonbyou” specifically to represent it, that’s another story) and that’s pretty much it. Other than other miscellaneous reasons, he could have chosen our proposed “Chestnut Syndrome” if he wanted.

    • actually, auditory priming is much, much stronger than visual priming because semantic maps go through an auditory loop BEFORE the visual one. so actually, with the term “krebs” you have a stronger semantic priming than visual information would give you, e.g. some sort of pattern. it all comes down to associations, and a phonetically overlapping term has a deeper semantic association. this is an acknowledged fact among neuro scientists.

      and what goes for the writing…
      The thing is, you don’t need to be a doctor or anything to depict a disease accurately. There are tons of writers who accurately represent complex scientific aspects, or very detailed and involved methodology of craftsmanship. It’s really not that difficult nowadays, and only requires time and effort to research into these things; something that every exceptional writer does.

      If you aren’t willing to put in that effort, or simply can’t due to limitations in time, you need to go with a different approach, especially if, as you yourself stated, there is no narrative purpose of “Oumonbyou.” I know there was a really good example for this, but i just can’t remember the name so I’ll illustrate that with shigatsu wa kimi no uso (which has an entirely different set of issues). If the disease itself is not important, there is literally no reason to talk about it save the symbolic character. however, if you go out of your way and create a fictional disease, you make the reader ask themselves what the hell that disease is because they can’t associate anything with it. if anything, you disconnect the reader (like me and the other guy who commented) because shit doesn’t add up. the moment you make up fictional stuff, you need to follow up. you can’t just make up things and leave them in the room just like that, that’s really really poor writing, and pointlessly so.

      believe me, I’m quite experienced when it comes to writing since I’m technically making my living off it (translation inherently incorporates writing), and I get what the writer was gunning for, but that doesn’t make it any less a capital mistake. it’s a classical example of “well thought, but poorly executed” due to apparent inexperience. the writer is actually talented, but it he gives off this “greenhorn vibes” in terms of how he makes things pointlessly convoluted to show off his skills when all that really does is harm the writing. sometimes you need to take a step back and realize the most simple approach is the right one and he clearly didn’t do that.

    • Super late reply, but better than nothing me thinks.

      Going slightly off topic, it’s nice to read long replies which make sense the first time I read it, since on reddit that’s not exactly the case and I find myself reading replies 3-5 times without understanding what the hell the other guy was trying to say.

      Back on topic though. I’m still super skeptical about the crabs krebs relationship. Even if the word is similar, that’s the only “association” you can make that’s already across languages. As a Korean myself (and I’m pretty sure you’re aware of this since Japanese also follows the same pattern), we have multiple definitions for the same syllable pronounced the same way, but we don’t associate the definitions even though they’re literally the same “word”; they’re just used mostly for silly stuff like puns.

      You might also want to link me to some sources on that claim that Auditory > Visual when it comes to associations since a quick google search suggests otherwise, and my psychology professor also studied behavioral sciences, whom I can ask if absolutely needed.

      Again, I’ve already acknowledged (in the original draft of the review) the fact that in the writing perspective, the disease itself was poorly developed. That’s pretty much objective at this point. What I was trying to convey was that the author was giving a non-scientific, non-literal meaning to this disease of “death”, and the disease itself had no other meaning. This is represented by how the author seemingly left out many details, but strangely emphasized various traits such as pain, fear of death, and finally the cherry blossom patterns. I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed how when characters talk about the disease, it’s the general traits of the disease instead of actual scientific facts. I’m sure the writer COULD have explained the disease a lot more, but then that would make the entire story boring or less climactic as the readers would know what to expect. (More on this later)

      While I can understand your disappointment and how it may have caused a bad experience, it’s usage as a symbolism was performed well. As I see it, this is just like me finding Irotori to be fantastic in terms of story, but hating the vague writing style. Conversely, I strongly believe that this lack of information was actually intentional in Inochi no Spare, purely for the purpose of creating that climactic atmosphere of the unknown.

      If this still doesn’t convince you, imagine where “you” would include all that information about the disease that you thought was so crucial and debilitating because it was missing:

      In the beginning? That would just spoil everything including how readers will become almost positive that the two characters will die. Provided that a random guy picks up this game with no other information; he may have some of that “hope” that the characters will meet a good end as I did.

      In the middle? That would just disorient the flow of the story where you would possibly need to introduce new characters to explain said disease. This information would disrupt that happy family atmosphere and/or the tension between Ryuuji and his father, and cause kinks that you would likely not be happy about either.

      In the end? That’s where said information doesn’t matter anymore. The story had its climaxes and the author obviously wanted to end with that “hopeful” end just like he did in Kurikaesu, so putting that information at the epilogue simply has no meaning.

    • likewise pretty belated since I completely missed that you replied.

      I’d admit that the krebs example is somewhat off, especially if it’s common in your language that the pronunciation of words overlaps. this really isn’t the case though in either german or english; pronunciations usually don’t overlap and in cases they do, it’s pretty common that people misunderstand stuff because they aren’t used to constantly judge things by context. I never tried to make this example equivalent to the case as presented in the game, but only used it as a means to illustrate my point.

      in regards to the disease; well, as I said, considering what the game was really about, there was no point in creating this fictional disease in the first place. yes, it did it’s job, serving it’s symbolic role well. however, even you acknowledged the disease was poorly developed, so does everyone. and this is exactly the problem I’m getting it. if it’s only meant to serve a symbolic purpose, why use something that makes people go “this isn’t well developed.” it’s because it’s a pure fictional disease that it makes you want to find out more about it and that very expectation gets betrayed; it’s as simple as that. so you see, what I’m getting at is, you could’ve prevented this by using a real disease, or even leaving the specifics vague, but rooted in reality, like many other works do (meaning, “don’t give the child a name” as they say in writing terminology. just by giving it a name, you make it something “concrete” as compared to that vague nameless something that is only vital in regards to what it stands for). just by that, the reader doesn’t question the nature of it and accepts it as fact. the very moment that the game made you think “this disease was poorly developed” it had failed in it’s writing.

      what I depicted is actually the way to go you usually encounter in literature. the other route you can take is, you *truly* focus on some sort of disease, meaning the plot involves researching into it, finding out clues about it, trying to find a cure etc. (inochi no spare is obviously not this kind of story though).

      as for the auditory/visual thing… I took neuro neuropsychology classes a few years ago and I could swear that I learned the auditory loop when processing information & linking it against memories/semantics precedes the visual loop, which is also why auditory processing is a lot faster than visual processing. I’m pretty sure that’s the case, but I could be wrong.

  5. “Amazing introduction of setting”

    Really? The concept itself (For that purpose Meguri’s sister, Ria, was actually born as a designer baby. So that her heart could be used “like a spare”) seems pretty dumb to me.

    • The game goes into this a lot more than what I state in the interview regarding this topic, such as what Ria’s parents think of their past actions (leading to Ria’s birth) and how that may have caused Ria’s current mindset (although this is super vague)

      Even if the concept itself is dumb, it’s followed up and properly explained. Hating it for itself exclusively is just a personal opinion

  6. I had the same reaction as you, I saw this title some time ago and I jumped onto it like a hungry lion. I was hyped for it and was not dissapointed at all :D

  7. Thanks for the review!

    By the way, is this just me, but Megumi kinda looks like Shino from Dekinai Watashi ga, Kurikaesu? Both have pink-white clothes :/

    I’m going to be absolutely fucking cringe right now and say I ship these two.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAH admit it, u ship them XD it won’t hurt :P

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