Review by TheSAMMIES
All Consuming Revenge
Warning! Hanachirasu is not a game for the faint of heart. Its got rape, violence, and a slew of other screwed up stuff in it. Dont play if you dont want to read about dark stuff and dont play if youre too young.
Nitro+ is one of my favorite visual novel producers. They generally try to go for darker and more story oriented stuff and a good portion of their games have US releases (thanks, translation groups and JAST USA!) Hanachirasu is one of their lesser known works, and while it isnt terribly famous, it is a solid title and is short enough that you could probably knock it out in a couple of days without much trouble.
Story- Hanachirasu is a story of two men: Akane and Yoshia. They hate each other. In fact, they hate each other so much that theyve been looking for excuses just to kill one another.
Hanachirasus setting is pretty interesting. It takes place in alternate history Japan where the bomb was never dropped and instead The US and Russia set up colonies in a couple of Japans territories. The result was a convoluted series of events on a timeline that are explained in-game. Long story short, guns are stupid, people kill each other with swords now, and theres a war between the somewhat pragmatic government and the honorable resistance fighters.
Remember how I said Hanachirasu is about two men who are looking for excuses to kill each other? They take sides in this war just to do this!
You play as Akane for most of the game. Hes got long, effeminate hair. He looks kind of wimpy despite his skill with a katana. He plays Shogi with himself and pretends his opponent is Yoshia. He has a girlfriend that he treats like crap, works as a bodyguard for the corporations, and has the sense of humor of a serial killer. Akane is a pretty interesting main character if only for how unique he is. Hes not a cipher for the player to project himself into. Hes actual developed character with dreams, fears, and a serious mental condition.
The story isnt perfect, though. Just because Akane is well-written doesnt mean hes enjoyable. In order to win, youre going to have to think like Akane in various situations. If you want the good ending (bad endings cut the story short), then youll have to do some really terrible things. The story even pats you on the ass for being a jerk too.
Sadly, the supporting cast is a bit lacking. The best character in the whole story (besides Akane) is an unnamed guardsman who wears a mask and carries a huge staff. He works as Akanes sidekick and voice of reason early on until hes written out of the story. There are a few other named characters too, but they arent very memorable. Theres this blacksmith lady that is built up to play a huge role, especially with her selling blades to both Akane and Yoshia. I think the character is supposed to be some kind of commentary on war profiteering, but she ended up just looking like fanservice. Goodness, her breasts have more development than her as a character. That and, she kind of pissed me off. I know, its a personal thing, but I never promised unbiased reviews.
Other than a few minor gripes, Hanachirasu has a pretty good story. Its a breath of fresh air compared to most other translated VNs and it certainly has its moments. Just be warned that its certainly not for everyone. Playing as an amoral girly man with an almost homoerotic obsession with another guy isnt going to be everybodys cup of tea.
Presentation- Hanachirasu has pretty good art. Backgrounds and sprites are fairly detailed and the CG tends to focus more on action and swordfights than sex acts. The music is pretty good too. Some of the fight tracks are very intense. Yoshias theme is one of the clear standouts. It perfectly sums him up and gives the reader a good impression of who he is even before hes done anything significant in the story.
Gameplay- Hanachirasu puts you in the role of an amoral jerk with monomania. That means that the easiest way to get the good ending is to think like an amoral jerk with monomania. Youll get a few choices, and let me tell you, trying to be a hero or even a nice person will get you nowhere. Its a huge contrast compared to romance visual novels that usually have you trying to understand the situation and figure out the right thing to do. Its very unique in that regard.
There are a few other interesting quirks too. After completing the game and getting three endings, three additional endings open up. Some of them are hilarious. Stick around for them if you want a good laugh. These additional scenes also give a bit more insight into Hanachirasus setting and some of its characters. If you really loved that, then you should enjoy this too.
Additionally, after completing all of those endings, you can unlock a fun little tactical strategy game. It wasnt translated, so most people arent going to bother with it, but I did. It was a lot of fun! Its kind of like a dumbed down version of Nobunagas Ambition, but with a Hanachirasu setting and Hanachirasu characters. If you can read Japanese, then I recommend you at least try it out. I certainly enjoyed this silly little minigame far more than Id care to admit.
Cool Fact- This game will actually teach you a bit about swordfighting! It covers the three ways you can win a duel. Watch for that scene. Its fun and educational!
Also Try- Kikokugai: They Cyber Slayer is very similar to this in that it has amazing and detailed fight scenes as well as a very creative setting.
Product Release: Hanachirasu (JP, 09/30/05)
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