Today, I'll be doing a review of Akabeisoft2's "Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shōjo". The story starts out with a protagonist that's trying to become a Special High Class Individual, his name being Morita Kenichi. The story's setting wasn't too complicated, and it was really easy for me to get into. Anyways, in this world, criminals holds "obligations", which are basically laws that cannot be disobeyed or broken. If these rules are broken by a person, they would be sent to a concentration camp. The protagonist is a character that one would perceive to be very brave, bold, and perhaps even cunning at times. As I was reading the story, I realized that there was much more to the story than just the protagonist trying to help out three girls with their 'obligations'. It was more so him trying to fix his mistakes that he had caused in the past when he was younger. Hoping this didn't spoil too much, but I'll try my best to keep this a spoiler-free review for you guys.
Going to tackle this on by:
I personally found that the story was very emotional and even extremely depressing at times, it was hard for me to bear as I read Natsumi's chapter. There were so many things in that chapter that would eventually reveal Kenichi's reason for being in that town, as well as why he had such a powerful resolve. Most of everything was very well written and explained, though in my own personal opinion, the ending could have been done a little bit better. I personally finished the story and picked Natsumi, just because I wanted to see what would become of Kenichi and her. I felt as if had Kenichi been given chances to love other female casts in this story, he'd refuse everyone but Natsumi. He had a very strong bond with his sister, though it was once mentioned in the story that he didn't have any sexual intentions with her. The story was beautiful written and most things were explained, except for why Houzuki was so strict. How the story ended still left me hanging with some minor questions, though I guess that's what the fan-disc sequel / spin-off is for ; answering everyone's questions that were left un-answered in this game.
Score = 9/10
Considering that this was a game made in 2005, it was very nicely done in terms of artwork. I was a bit annoyed because during some scenes, I felt as if some of the images or artwork were being forced into the dialogue, just because they didn't want to change some minor scenery or facial expressions. However, the characters were drawn very well, and a lot of expressions really made sense and connected with the characters' current mood. I felt a bit uneasy at times when I was spam-clicking and the screen wouldn't shift, because I felt as if the developers got a bit lazy on that end of the stick. But, once again, character artwork was nicely done. In terms of landscape, I wish they had added more scenery to those as well. It was kinda boring seeing the same picture of the corn field over and over.
Score = 7/10
OH MAN, music. What I did like was the music, the music really flowed well with the pacing of the story. Sometimes, I felt as if the music was a bit forced whenever there was danger that was inevitable and predictable, giving the player/reader a hint that something's up. A lot of the music really contributed to why I enjoyed this read, because it was very fitting to the story's theme. The music was very soothing, one of the most soothing's OSTs I've heard in a really long time. I would recommend people to even read this VN, just because of the damn OST. I can't even describe it.
Score = 10/10
I don't know who did Touka's voice, but she definitely did a great job sounding like a tsundere from any typical anime. I really enjoyed the voicing, I seriously had very little trouble in terms of voicing as far as this VN went. I just wish that Houzuki's voice wasn't so damn creepy and fast-paced at times though, whenever he spoke, I felt like there was a fucking tape-recorder going at it and just spazzing out. Natsumi's voice was done wonderfully, and she really felt kuudere to me. Even Sachi's voice was great, really reminded me of the typical Genki Girl stereotype.
Score = 10/10
Ok, the big part, characters. At first glance, I thought the characters really didn't have anything that was deemed as remarkable or unique, though as the story unraveled, I started to really chip away at the characters and understood what's going on. If I had to pick which characters I dislike the most, it has to be Sachi. I'll explain why. I felt as if she was being very wishy-washy at times, during several painting scenes in her arc, that infuriated me. A lot of scenes just seemed like rehashed stuff, because she couldn't make up her mind. She really doesn't have anything special to her, and I felt as if her crush on Kenichi was a bit too forced.
Touka's arc was one of the more inspiring, and at the same time, slightly depressing to read about. It was mostly about 'drama', I really don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave it at that. However, Touka really changed as a character because of it. She opened herself up to the protagonist and even acted more maturely in accordance to how she actually felt during certain situations. She really grew up as a character by the end of the story.
Natsumi didn't really have very much going on from the beginning of the story, until 2/3rd in anyways. She's the typical quiet girl you'd see in a classroom that's always depressive and keeps things to herself, but after getting to her arc, I realized that I had barely scratched the surface of this character. Natsumi is a very strong, courageous, and I'd even dare to consider her as a very bold character. Her relationship with Kenichi was so powerful that in my opinion, having choosing any other girl besides Natsumi (and maybe Ken's sister...) would potentially ruin or detract from the story's atmosphere and moral. I loved how Akabeisoft2 saved her for last, though I dislike how she wasn't too involved in the previous two arcs.
Score = 9/10
Overall Score = 9
Please understand that this is coming from a person that's read quite a variety of Visual Novels and eroge. I also read Akabeisoft2's latter work, G-Senjou no Maou, which I thought was almost perfect in every way possible. I might do a review on that in the future, but certainly not now. I hope you guys find my review to be helpful, and hopefully, this'll help you to look at the VN a bit differently. Please also understand that I did not account in the sex scenes when reviewing this, because that's always just a little fan-service for the readers, and shouldn't take away much from the main story. Thanks for reading!