Toppara ~Zashikiwarashi no Hanashi~

vndb EGS

Toppara ~Zashikiwarashi no Hanashi~ is a 2008 game by Caramel Box – Ichigo-aji.

Main character Itsukaichi Keiji has had the ability to see youkai and other supernatural phenomena since birth, and used to play with a Zashiki-warashi, Midori, that haunted his house. It was thanks to said youkai that his family was considerably prosperous. But a certain day she left, and then tragedy struck: his parents died in an accident, and relatives took most of the family fortune, leaving him with only the house and a little money. So now, three months later, he’s all bitter and depressed, lost all his friends, hates humans and youkai, and only trudges forward in his empty existence.

Since something has to happen, otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story, he wakes one day to discover that a Kage-onna, Mikage, has possessed him and his house. Kage-onna are youkai that possess lonely men and tend to them, like a substitute wife. Keiji is not amused, but finally relents, mainly because he has no actual way to make her leave.

And then, in true moege fashion, he meets several other youkai that live in the town, one per one, during the holiday week of early May. We are presented then with Sakuya, a Hakutaku who works in an old store which previous owner died of old age a few years before; Seori, a Hashi-hime who haunts a certain bridge, and makes couples that cross it quarrel and break up; Touka, a Kitsune who lives in the local shrine (along with Suzu, a Tsukumogami of the shrine’s bell) and likes to bath in the nearby hot springs, and who is trying to become a good fox; Isora, a Kappa he used to play with when child; Chizumi, a very energetic girl who was searching for Keiji and calls him goshujin-sama (before he manages to convince her otherwise), for reasons she can’t remember; and Sachiko, a Yakubyougami who came to haunt Keiji’s house thanks to the negative atmosphere it had after his parents death. And at return to school he ends up entering the Youkai Research Society Local History Research Club (the youkai one is society, the history one is club), mainly because of the president’s insistence, Honami, a youkai fanatic, but also to see if there’s a way to exorcise the Kage-onna that haunts him.

Day Parade of Seven Demons (From left to right: Touka, Mikage, Sachiko, Seori, Isora, Chizumi, Sakuya)

The prologue, when Keiji meets the different heroines, is long, and kinda slow. I wouldn’t say that it really drags, but it could probably be a little shorter. The girls are presented one per one, in a more or less long scene, and between them there’s slice of life stuff with Keiji and Mikage, consisting mainly of food talk (of which there’s a lot). Once the holiday ends and Keiji starts going to school again, you choose which girl to meet every day, so as to then enter her route. Those trunk+routes are not very long; Mikage is longer, but most can be finished in a few hours at most. And after finishing every route you can see the True End.

A cow youkai

I just said that the prologue was slow; the routes don’t share that flaw (maybe Mikage’s a little). They have the right length: not too long so as to become boring, but neither too short so as to be too abrupt. The pacing is solid, the romance comes as natural, and the drama is not forced, but very natural, consisting in simultaneously solving Keiji’s trauma and distrust of youkai, and some fundamental problem to the heroine in question (…maybe with some exception, in each case). And though it doesn’t really manages to tear one up, some of the ends do become emotive.

Not actually happening

The heroines are also nice. No one is unlikeable (to me, at least), and the youkai trait is well used, and central to their route; it’s clear the girls are youkai (well, with the exception of the human one), and it does affect the story, not being just a simple gimmick.

There are also a few side characters, that serve mostly for exposition. Of which there’s quite a bit; the game shows a fair amount of research. I haven’t found that the Kage-onna serves widowers, but the rest of the numerous historical and folklorical trivia is fairly accurate.

Another nice touch is that when playing you’ll see randomly some little weird critter crossing in the background or something. It doesn’t affect anything, but it’s a nice way of understanding a little Keiji’s senses.

Example

Overall, it’s a solid moege. The comedy factor is not very high; but it has a good balance between slice of life and drama, and has a smooth transition between them. And personally I was searching for something with youkai, and it certainly delivers, and appropriately. Well, you could argue it would be more appropriate to have the youkai as mysterious, dangerous monsters, ala Mononoke, but if you are going to have them as moe characters, this would be a very good result.

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4 Responses to “Toppara ~Zashikiwarashi no Hanashi~”

  1. ive been looking for this vn for a long time, cant find it anywhere to download it, i have even less hopes its translated…

    • Indeed it’s not translated. If you don’t mind the Japanese version, searching the sukebei version of nyaa should work (search for the name in Japanese).
      Also, Mangagamer is working with the parent company of this, so an official English release is actually not impossible. Support Mangagame etc etc.

      • well i found the game, not translated, but i read on several places about a program that reads/translates visual novels or something like that, while playing any dialogue text will be translated in real time in the program so playing the game/watching the translation is possible, ill try that program sometime and see how it works…

        • Well, you are free to try, but machine translations are not very good. At best you’ll get only a slight idea of what it’s happening, and at worst you’ll misunderstand key scenes.

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