[PC] Harukazedori ni, Tomarigi o. – Review

Title: はるかぜどりに、とまりぎを。
Developer: Skyfish
Release Date: 26th October 2007
Age Rating: 18+
Length: 15+ Hours
Links: Official Website, VNDB

Set in the near future, Harutoma takes place 15 years after humanity suffered two disasters. The first is that a massive rise in sea levels left many areas uninhabitable. Shortly after this, a newly discovered fatal illness called “Satori Disease” quickly spread amongst the survivors, claiming the lives of half the remaining population. Depite this, humanity lives on – people still manage to live their lives, fall in love and carve out an exsistence for themselves.

Amongst this is our protagonist Okina Shingo, who has been struggling after his girlfriend left him one year ago. However, one afternoon, his adopted younger sister Harune startles him with a sudden confession, admitting that she’s had feelings for him since they were children. Given this abrupt change in their relationship, and a few unexpected encounters, Shingo begins once again to move forward.

My Thoughts

Despite having numerous titles from them on my backlog, I must admit that I don’t know a huge amount about the Skyfish brand and thought they were more known for their action titles. However, I wanted to play Harutoma2 because I read some good reviews so figured I should start with the beginning of the series. Considering I grabbed this for 500yen at some point during DMM’s seasonal sales I can’t say I had a lot of faith in this game but was pleasantly surprised actually.

The first thing that I should probably explain is the unusual layout and presentation of Harutoma’s story. It is set in three different time periods – “long long ago” (childhood), 1 year ago & present day. At the beginning of the game you are given a choice of which time period you wish to start from and the choices you make open up new events later on. On reflection, it was actually pretty neat and really gave some depth to the characters but you will need a walkthrough because there’s a lot of endings.

Moving onto the rest of the game and I would highly recommend starting with Harune’s ending from the current time period first – it was absolutely heartbreaking BUT does set up the theme of some of her later endings. Speaking of Harune, the game makes it quite clear that she’s the main heroine so if she isn’t a character that you like then you probably won’t enjoy Harutoma to its fullest. Harune is the protagonist’s cousin who was orphaned as a child so came to live with his family and is now considered his younger sister. She’s definitely one of the more bratty, jealous imouto characters but her dere side is of course delightful. Does this make Harutoma an 妹ゲー? Yes, and I’m here for it.

Harune is too cute – how can you resist??

Touko is the other heroine who could be considered close to Harune’s status, being Shougo’s lover from the 1 year ago section. She works as a trainee teacher whom does her work placement at Shougo’s prestigious school. Touko is from a wealthy family, with this being her first time living away from home so she has a more child-like side to her too, which was adorable. Considering the initial setup shown to the reader in the present timeframe, it was pretty interesting going back and finding out what happens to the pair in the past. However, one of her bad endings was just really random and uncomfortable to read.

Touko

Akiho is both Harune’s best friend and the childhood friend of one of Shingo’s male friends Ryouta, which makes her an odd choice for a heroine. Her “relationship” with Ryouta is probably best explained as 友達以上恋人未満 or “more than friends, less than lovers” – Akiho considers herself to be his girlfriend at points in the story but Ryouta is known for being a playboy and can’t commit, hence the two haven’t confirmed or progressed their relationship. This makes things even more awkward when Shingo gets involved and whilst I can understand Akiho finally finding love with someone who appreciates her back, Ryouta just seemed like a POS for most of this route. Akiho is the other heroine with just a really weird bad ending though.

Akiho just wants someone to treat her with love and I respect that.

Kanome is the final main heroine and is a shy first year student who falls in love at first sight with Shougo. She fulfills the role of adorable kouhai very well and is generally pretty likable. She was orphaned as a child and was taken in by the church so is a Sister there. Kanome’s route was overall decent, nothing particularly good or bad but still enjoyable.

頑張れ!

There is another girl in the game who gets an ending but talking too much about her and her role in the game would be kind of spoilery. What I will say though is that I feel she kinda got shafted because her ending was short and lowkey felt like an omake.

Considering the amount of time that the game spans, there’s actually very few side characters. However, perhaps the best eroge dad is in this game. Okina Wataru is the life and soul of his family, a silly man who works hard to keep his little family together after his wife left him. Even though he’s primarily comedic relief, he does step up during the more serious parts of the game to try and help his kids. The trio of Shougo, Harune and Wataru make for some of the most fun and vibrant family interactions in eroge that I’ve seen and it was a joy to read.

The setting is another unique aspect of Harutoma – the authors’ take on a post-apocalyptic setting was something that I initially wasn’t sure about but I think most of us can agree after the past few years that humanity has shown it wants to return to some form of normality even in the face of a completely abonormal situation. This somehow makes Harutoma one of the more realistic takes on this genre and the contrast between the “normal” love stories and the unnatural backround setting was quite striking.

I must also praise the music in this game – the BGM was generally pretty fitting but the vocal songs were particularly nice. I’m a big fan of the opening theme personally.

The artwork was provided by Tsurugi Hagane, whom has a very distinct style that I tend to associate with Skyfish. The artwork was definitely of slightly variable quality (although nothing too bad for 2007) but the bigger problem was the fact that there wasn’t the biggest number of CGs, leading to reused images frequently. This was particularly prevalent in the H Scenes.

Speaking of H Scenes, there was a reasonably high amount in the game at 25. My main complaint would be that this was the area where there was the most reused CGs, which felt kinda lazy. I would rather have fewer but unique scenes. Aside from the two bad endings that I mentioned earlier, which are strangely dark in nature (which doesn’t fit the rest of the game & don’t actually have H scenes despite their content) the H scenes were fine.

Final Thoughts

My Score: 7.5/10

Harutoma is a game that surprised me by actually being pretty decent despite the price it was sold at, certainly one of the better 500yen purchases I’ve made recently. It takes a unique setting and applies it in an unusual way, choosing to focus on a love story rather than something more over-the-top. Does this make Harune’s stroy any less important or impactful? No. However, the other heroines do feel slightly abandoned when you realise that Harune is clearly the game’s central heroine.

I enjoyed the story quite a bit throughout the various Harune routes and was in tears at various points, although her final ending did end on a brighter note (was still crying though).

The “progression of time” themes implemented by the game’s unusual system were enjoyable, with the fact that choices years ago affecting things in the current day a fun thought.

I would definitely recommend this game to people who are interested in Harune or for those who just want a good 泣きゲー. I’m personally looking forward to playing the second game in the series at some point!

Thanks for reading.

About Zettai Renai

Hello! ヾ(^-^)ノ Sometimes I write about Visual Novels. I particularly like cutesy/fluffy stories~ I also am eternally suffering in Enstars hell(˶′◡‵˶)
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