Developer: Purple Software
Release Date: 31st July 2008
Age Rating: 18+
Length: 20+ Hours
Links: Official Website, VNDB
Okita Riku is your average eroge protagonist – he lives with his younger sister due to their parents working overseas and even has a childhood friend that he walks to school with in the morning. The day before the start of the new school year after spring break, his younger sister begs him to take her to see the new school she’d be attending. Whilst there he ends up losing her, wanders into the courtyard and sees something straight out of a novel: a mysterious girl standing under a legendary blossoming sakura tree. The girl turns to him and says the following:
” I’m sure you’ll fall in love with me.”
It later turns out that this girl is his new neighbour and classmate Konoha. The sakura tree the pair met is part of a school legend called the “blossoms of love” whereby any couple who swear their love under its blossoming petals will have eternal love. But with this spring bringing multiple new encounters, just what will happen to Riku’s peaceful life?
As part of their 20th anniversary commemorations, Purple Software released a significant number of download editions of their older titles. Prior to this, Ashita no Kimi to Au Tame ni was the only game prior to Mirai Nostalgia available. Being someone who enjoys going back and playing older titles, this was something I really appreciated so I made sure to buy a few of these to hopefully show other companies it’s viable. One of the games I bought was Haruiro Ouse, primarily because of its iconic opening song & movie. Did it deliver on the dramatics teased by said beautiful opening?
If I had to describe Haruiro Ouse in a single word it would be that it is very “average”. It feels like a combination of many tropes from the 2000’s tossed together into one game and provides a perfectly mediocre experience. There’s the childhood friend who wakes you in the morning, doting younger sister(who isn’t actually a heroine), a mysterious encounter/transfer student, distant senpai and themes of dreams or wishes throughout a lot of the routes. I’m sure most eroge players can probably recognise these traits in a lot of other games they’ve played but this was one of the first times that I’ve felt a game to be so cookie-cutter.
However, all of this pales in comparison to the game’s biggest problem – the protagonist Riku and his utter lack of emotional capactiy. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase donkan (鈍感) in reference to protagonists who tend to be a little dense in noticing that he has an eroge-style harem around him but Riku is on another level for most of the game. Whilst his personality is inconsistent once the heroine routes start (likely due to differing writers), he literally does not even realise that one of the heroines views him in a romantic way after a confession & later kissing him – the mental gymnastics this man went through were truly wild. Whilst there technically is a plot reason why he is like this, it only covers up to a certain period of time so either there’s a massive plot hole or Riku’s a dumbass. I’ll go for the latter. Again, I don’t mind a little bit of obliviousness from protagonists as it normally acts as a catalyst for a heroine to confess but I would rather never play another eroge than sit through Riku’s ponderings again.
Enough about our spineless “protagonist” and time to move onto the heroines, because that’s the most important thing in a charage. Let’s begin with the ojou-sama, tsundere childhood friend Nadeshiko. Being a tsundere from the 00’s, she’s more of the violent type, which I don’t really understand the appeal of. The game establishes some interesting backstory between her and Riku but we’re going to completely ignore that, focus on her “competing” with Konoha over Riku and actually getting into a relationship with him early. This is because the BS in her route was yet to come and it was incredibly frustrating to read because most problems could just be solved with communication.
Kuu is a fellow transfer student and actually lives with Konoha next door to Riku. She’s from overseas (Switzerland I believe, although one of her grandparents was Japanese) and is here as an exchange student to study. She’s incredibly smart but talks very little and has difficulties making friends, although she seems to have a soft spot for Riku (how?). Despite how adorable Kuu was, her route was terrible. She deserved a better game!
Kikyou is a sharp-tongued, unfriendly senpai who the group happen to meet one day because she works at a local family restaurant in order to become more feminine. Apparently her job there was meant to be lowkey secret so that’s how Riku gets involved with her (desite the fact the place she works being in walking distance for students from their school??). As you may be able to tell, Kikyou is a Kuudere and her dere side is actually pretty cute. Surprisingly, Kikyou probably has the best route of the five heroines, if only because the romance didn’t make me want to hold the ctrl button. It probably helped that all the good sub characters appear in her route too.
Despite being the game’s adult heroine, Haruna is a real ダメ人間 and can often be found collapsed on the street from hunger because she spent too long searching for…manga ideas… Haruna’s apartment happens to be close by to Riku’s home so he frequently feeds her and eventually helps her out with her work. I feel like her route is quite typical of the “manga writer” trope, with her drama also being kinda pointless. Another snoozer.
As is pretty clear even from my trash synopsis, Konoha is the main heroine of this game, with most of the mysteries involving her in some way. Despite the fact that her route isn’t locked (completing the other heroine routes only unlocks an omake H scene for her lmao) it should probably be done last. It’s clear throughout the entire game that Konoha is in love with Riku so there’s no romantic buildup for her (maybe for the best tbh) and the actual plot of her route was underwhelming. At least she got some nice CGs?
It’s not often that I say this but the side character trio of Occult Club Pres. Misa, Riku’s younger sister Ayano and Kikyou’s older sister Satsuki were honestly more interesting than the majority of the heroines. I was pretty sad to learn that none of the three got a route and its unsurprising this game never sold well enough for a fandisc.
There were two artists who worked on this game – Tsukimori Hiro & Yuuki Makoto – and I’m not sure exactly who worked on which heroine but the artwork in Haruiro Ouse is incredibly inconsistent. Normally I’m a bit more forgiving on older titles but the fact that purple software released Asukimi the year prior (which had great artwork) makes me more harsh on them, as they have the staff and budget to produce something more polished. Generally Kikyou & Konoha had the better CGs imo, with my beloved Kuu getting the short end of the stick.
Probably the one are of this game deserving of praise is the music – as expected of Purple Software at this point. The vocal songs are both great (It’s the goddess Hashimoto Miyuki singing what do you expect) and the BGM was also pretty nice as well.
My Score: 4/10
For a game that has so many tropes in it, it’s incredibly surprising that the authors couldn’t put them together in a way that actually makes Haruiro Ouse an enjoyable or even average experience. I may be a little harsh because I despise Riku but the lack of particularly interesting character routes doesn’t make up for his faults.
I’m really sad about this because I was really looking forward to this game. I’m just hoping that the other older Purple Software titles I picked up are better than this, although the bar is pretty low. I plan to play Akiiro Renka at some point soon.
Thanks for reading!