Title: 吉原彼岸花 久遠の契り
Developers: Maria Crown & Prototype (Port)
Release Date: 20th December 2018
Length: ~15 Hours
Links: Official Site, VNDB
This game takes place in the Edo period & is centered around the red-light district “Yoshiwara”. In the brothel Oukaya, the top courtesean is a young woman named Chihaya. Despite being forced into this line of work, she takes pride in her job & enjoys her daily life in Yoshiwara, surrounded by people that she cares about. However, her world is turned upside down when she discovers what “true” love is like. In a place as corrupt as Yoshiwara, can this love survive?
This is the Nintendo Switch edition of the game, which includes all of the PS Vita additional content (most notably a route from Tatsukichi), as well as new CGs & including the PS Vita bonus drama CD as a visual novel portion of the game.
Rin goes by the name of Chihaya when she’s working & has attained the rank of “Oiran” (courtesan). She was forced to work in Yoshiwara after her parents failed to repay their debt. However, Rin has no ill will towards them & is looking forward to returning to the small shop her parents run. She takes a great deal of pride in her work & is intelligent, quick-witted and can play the Koto. When she’s not working, she spends a lot of time with the other girls who work at the brothel.
Oukaya Shigure (CV Morikawa Toshiyuki)
Shigure is the current owner & manager of the Oukaya brothel. He was trained by his cruel father but Shigure is a lot kinder & cares a lot for his workers. He’s an intelligent man whom is very softly spoken but still has an air of authority. He seems to have a soft spot for Rin.
Kagura Akito (CV Takeuchi Ryouta)
Akito is one of Shigure’s good friends & frequents Oukaya. He’s a debt broker & one of the most feared men in Yoshiwara. He & Rin do not get along at all and have a tendency to argue when they’re in the same room.
Sakuya (CV Mizushima Takahiro)
Sakuya works as a hairdresser who is employed to work on the higher-ranking courtesans in Oukaya. Sakuya is very polite, as well as dilligent in his work & is popular with the girls in the brothel. However, he always remains stoic even amongst their teasing.
Ootsuki Shinobu (CV Majima Junji)
Shinobu is a carefree warrior whom is known to frequent the brothels around Yoshiwara. He’s very playful & flirtatious. In Oukaya, Shinobu is best known for getting drunk & passing out pretty early on into the evening.
Iseya Souichirou (CV Nakazawa Masatomo)
Souichirou is the owner of a shipping agency whom has recently arrived in Yoshiwara. He appears to be a kind young man whom often tells it how it is. He seems to have an interest in Rin, after meeting her at a shrine one day.
Tatsukichi (CV Okitsu Kazuyuki)
Tatsukichi is a worker at Oukaya whom is tasked with handling many of the day-to-day tasks in the shop. He also carries the unmbrella during the courtesan’s procession in the evenings. Tatsukichi is popular with the courtesans due to his dilligence at work but he tends to be very untalkative.
Artwork for the game was handled by Ranpumi, whom has also worked on the games Omega Vampire & Otome Ken Musashi.
Opening Song: Soushibana – Riryka
Ending Song: Anata to Naraba – Riryka
The game has 33 BGM tracks & released an OST on 26th Feburary 2016.
As expected for one of Prototype’s ports, the system was incredibly clean but well-presented. The title screen changes after each route you finish, which was a nice touch.
Wow, what another delayed review – whoops! Anyways, I’d been meaning to play this game for the longest time so when they announced the switch port with even more content I finally bit the bullet & bought this game.
Despite not necessarily being a fan of historical settings, I actually really found myself being drawn into Rin’s daily life & found myself actually looking up more about Yoshiwara. The game presents both the happy side of Rin’s daily life & the obvious dark side to the whole situation which grounds the reader into remembering the danger of Yoshiwara. However, the game as a whole was generally a tad lighter than I was expecting, which was appreciated.
Rin herself is such an interesting heroine – I find myself impressed with how she conducts herself while she’s working & her general intelligence. I definitely wasn’t expecting to find such a confident young woman being the heroine of a historical otome game. There’s not very many “all-ages” (I use that term lightly haha) ports the I wish I’d played the original of but this is one of them because I think the “power balance” of some of the ero scenes would be very interesting.
Onto the characters & I found it quite surprising that most of them are ~fairly~ likeable.
I went into the game expecting to like Sakuya and boy do I know myself well. He’s utterly adorable & such a sweet, sweet boy. I found his route generally really enjoyable but his ending was a little “convenient” for my liking.
At first I just assumed Shinobu was a boring flirt & was about to write him off before discovering his route. He’s actually *redacted* & I appreciated that his route, while a little bittersweet, was more realistic than most of the others.
I wasn’t expecting to like Akito at all but he & Rin’s interactions were honestly great & he ends up pretty much as a tsundere in the end. His ending is the happiest, which is surprising, but I’m not gonna complain~
Souichirou’s route was one I knew I’d probably like, even though you can see the twists coming from a mile off. He had yet another “convenient” ending but I still like him as a character.
I was really interested in Tatsukichi’s route since it was a new addition & was initially impressed by the amount of effort that they put into it since it was of comparable length & CG count as the “main” routes. However, his route is just so sad that I wish they’d never bothered – why go to the effort of adding him in if you’re not even going to give the boy a happy ending?! I’d understand the argument if the rest of the game was full of “realistic” or tragic endings but, considering the amount of convenience going on in most of the routes, this treatment of Tatsukichi felt pretty darn unfair!
Finally, we have Shigure. Ah, Shigure. I actually liked him at first but due to certain things, I have no idea what to make of him…
I was overall very happy with Ranpumi’s artwork – a lot of the promotional/bonus artwork is gorgeous & the in-game CGs themselves were of a good standard.
The BGM was generally fitting but not particularly memorable – that OP song is fabulous though! Voice acting was also on point.
Okay, that’s enough good talk – there’s one thing that left such a foul taste in my mouth that it’s tarnished my opinion of the whole game somewhat & that’s the true ending. It was precisely what I was hoping the entire game wouldn’t be like so I suppose I should be glad it was confined to one route? On the positive, it cleared up a “mystery” that had been bugging me the whole game. However, it didn’t really add anything to the game for me & I just found the whole thing a bit pointless? There was probably a whole lot of symbolism there that went over my head because all I could think of while reading it was “when will this end?”.
My Score: 6.5/10
Am I being a little harsh? Maybe, but that true ending really did impact my feelings on the game quite considerably. If you can get past the trash true ending & a fair amount of “convenient” endings, then Yoshiwara Higanbana is certainly a decent game. It has an unusual setting, great heroine & better than expected love interests. I don’t know if I’d promote the port over the original since Tatsukichi’s route ain’t great, even though the other extra of the high school drama cd port was pretty funny (but switch-exclusive, sadly).
I’m happy to *finally* get this review done & dusted – it’s been so long that I actually played this game so I apologise if the review was shorter than usual/expected since it didn’t leave too much of an impression on me.
Oh well, my next review will be of the highly nostalgic Starry Sky ~spring stories~.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for your thoughts on this one! I was expecting the heroine to be much more passive as well, so it’s nice to see that’s not entirely the case here. Will you be playing 幻奏喫茶アンシャンテ? I’m super curious about it but alas, am broke atm haha.
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Yes! It always nice to see a heroine with a bit of personality,haha.
I definitely plan on playing that game – I never preordered it but plan on picking up a copy while I’m in Japan next month to save on shipping costs. Hoping it’s worth it!
Thank you for the review! I just started playing the pc ver and I’m kinda confused by it. I was wondering if you know how the game works with locking down the specific character you want to play. Like I really want to play Akito first but I got Sakuya’s route instead.
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So sorry for the late response!
As far as I can remember, I don’t believe that any of Akito’s endings are locked. The only locked endings are Souichirou’s best ending (locked until you finish everyone else’s best ending) & the games true ending which is locked until you finish Souichirou’s true ending. (Tatsukichi’s route is locked too but that’s only in the console versions).
Sorry I can’t be of much help!