Ouka

The value of a miracle.

Ouka is a 2005 game by the now defunct Carrière, remake of the 2002 game Shinkirou, their first game.

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Story

In the town of Mugenkyou there’s a very old, very big, mystical sakura tree. That tree actually gathers lost souls, and purifies them; and as a side effect it can grant wishes and give powers to people with strong enough feelings. However, those miracles always have an equivalent cost, and the use of those powers have a feedback, potentially fatal.

Our protagonist Furusaka Yuuya lives in that town, and is the son of the family charged with caring for the tree. So he is part of the Moribito, the association of the people with powers, which protects the tree from external menaces (not that there have been any) and watches that people don’t misuse their powers.

But Yuuya is extra special. When little, he and his family were involved in a car accident. His parents died instantly, and to save his (not blood related, of course) sister, Yui, he got the powers of Yui and Magatsukaze. The first one heals, but as a cost brings upon himself an equivalent misfortune. The second destroys anything and everything, but corrodes his soul.

After that they got into care of Suzumori Shizuna, and managed to get a somewhat normal life. But Yui continued tormenting herself, blaming herself for all the misfortune that fell upon her brother. And one year prior, she suddenly vanished. The game starts when Yuuya has just returned to Mugenkyou, after half a year of unsuccessfully searching for her.

After the welcome party, he goes to the tree. Not totally serious, he thinks he would wish meeting Yui again. And when he’s about to return to his home, a girl appears above him. Gravity acts, and she falls upon Yuuya, knocking him out.

Loli imouto kemonomimi miko

Turns out Aya, the girl, has no memory. She doesn’t know who she is, or how she got there. Being the situation what it is, she gets to stay at Yuuya’s house. Especially after she shows not one but two powers; Shinsou (a kind of telepathy) and Shinwan (super strength). And so Aya becomes the newest addition to Yuuya’s household, becoming his new sister.

After that, he soon meets the other heroines, and so starts Yuuya’s new, lively daily life.

Review

Ouka can be divided in two main parts. The first is Ouka-hen, consisting on the four main heroines routes, and which can be thought of as a (very) expanded version of Shinkirou (and a completely new character/route).

Ouka-hen is episodic in nature. After several episodes, which introduce the different heroines in some self-contained situation, there’s a single choice with which you can go into the route of your choice.

Loli moe match time

These routes are very good. The drama levels go up, but it never becomes melodramatic, and is always a natural result of the heroine’s (or hero’s) past, or of their relationship. And, important for a supernatural piece like this, if makes full use of the setting, and the supernatural background of the heroines, not simply relegating them to some mostly irrelevant gimmick.

When compared with Shinkirou, it becomes clear that most of all, it’s a good execution what brings out the full strength of the scenario. The scenes extend long enough so they can hit fully, but don’t drag (too much), and a smart use and repertoire of sprites and good voice acting make it easy to really feel for the characters, who are also charming enough on their own. A good assort of background music that becomes really epic when needed (not many, but there are some very good action scenes) rounds up to make these routes some of the best character based drama I’ve read.

After finishing the four routes of Ouka-hen, you can proceed to the Yamitsukai-hen. It starts with a long trunk, which focus in the Magatsukaze power of Yuuya (which wasn’t actually a very big part of Ouka-hen), and here the romance shifts to the background, becoming mainly action. Which is for the most part pretty good, especially a really epic last battle.

Shirou, what are you doing there?

However, one of the strengths of Ouka-hen was relatively short and to the point events, and that’s lost here, almost feeling like things are artificially being dragged. The emotional manipulation becomes almost too obvious, also, especially with respect to the villain. But overall, even though it’s a little long, the Yamitsukai-hen trunk is a decent action piece, even if doesn’t really reach the quality levels of the Ouka-hen routes.

And immediately after finishing the trunk, a single choice lets you advance to the routes of the Yamitsukai-hen heroines. And here, sadly, the quality sharply drops. Again, no one of the strengths of the Ouka-hen routes appear here; you could even say that what happens is the opposite . They become in parts incredibly melodramatic, drag on things that should already be solved, rely entirely too much in contrivances and accidents to move forward (MC has a date with heroine, but other heroine just happened to have an accident, and so the first one is left to keep waiting? In the rain? Really?), and in one case is basically a rehash a couple of Ouka-hen routes. And this may be my personal preferences, but neither the heroines are on the level of their Ouka-hen counterparts.

So the Yamitsukai-hen is not as good as it could probably have been, or even outright mediocre, but the Ouka-hen is really, really good. If you want supernatural character based drama, you’d do well to keep this in mind.

Score: between 8.5/9.

Play this… or else

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3 Responses to “Ouka”

  1. I bought this game last year and I have yet to play it. good to know you liked it so much

  2. Noticed this review only now, you done a very good work!

    P.S.
    Don’t forget to play the fandisk, it’s cute.
    http://vndb.org/v2101

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