I finally finished Kara no Shoujo~! It was kind of difficult coming back to it after a few months away, as the plot is quite complicated, with a lot of different characters and connections to remember, but I soon got back into it. The first couple of times I played through on my own, then I used a walkthrough to get all the different endings and scenes. Now, onto the review.. (I say ‘review’, but it’s more just a jumble of my thoughts on the game, that I hope might stimulate discussion, or help someone in their decision to decide what to play ^^;)
Kara no Shoujo’s story is fantastic. It’s probably best described as a murder mystery/psychological horror. I was completely engrossed in the mystery, and it kept me guessing right up until the end. I won’t spoil anything, but let me say that there are many shocking and strange developments to look forward (?) to. It’s worth playing through every route as each adds more to the main plot, expanding on various characters’ motivations and inner thoughts. After experiencing all the different routes, I got kind of confused about who was dead/alive in the ‘true’ route though!
It seems that most of the characters in Kara no Shoujo have some kind of secret to be discovered, and many of them have connections that gradually come to light over the course of the game. Most of the characters are unique, complex, and well-developed, even the many supporting characters. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite, as these aren’t standard moe characters – I liked them all for their different roles and what they brought to the story. I guess if I had to pick, it would be the same as in my previous post; Toko, Natsume, Yukari.. and also Kyoko. It’s probably obvious that I preferred the more mature characters to those like Tojiko and Hatsune.
The protagonist is also pretty likeable. His attitude towards young high-school girls is pretty questionable, but he’s generally a good guy, and has that world-weary, ex-cop, hard-boiled detective vibe going on.
The art isn’t the kind of moe-moe fuwa-fuwa stuff I usually go for, but it’s entirely appropriate to the story, and it’s instantly recognizable as Innocent Grey’s work. I liked all the character designs, and the gorgeous muted colour palette. Some of the CGs are very lovely, others seemed kind of bland; then again this isn’t a game I was playing for the CGs.
This is a difficult one to rate. On the one hand, this story could have been done without any H-scenes at all, and would still have been brilliant. On the other, the H-scenes do sometimes add to the plot, giving us some more psychological insight into a character (I’m thinking of Toko, Orihime, and Kyoko’s scenes here). However, how these come about doesn’t always seem natural. The protagonist & Kyoko hooking up seems perfectly normal – they’re two adults who are both lonely and grieving. But the way the protagonist becomes involved in some of the other sex scenes leaves a bit of a bad taste behind – is it really a good idea to have sex with a young, emotionally disturbed girl who thinks she has literally become her dead friend? Anyway, despite that, I do think that some of the sex added an interesting, sometimes dark, element to the plot. To sum up, these scenes aren’t exactly ‘sexy’ as they are often slightly disturbing, but that doesn’t mean they were redundant.
To me, good music in a VN is music that doesn’t stand out. It’s appropriate to and enhances the scene, but ultimately it stays in the background and doesn’t detract from reading. The music in Kara no Shoujo fulfilled this perfectly for me. The only theme I didn’t like was Tojiko’s. I also really liked the theme at the very end of the true route, ‘Azure Bird’, that one was beautiful. One thing I didn’t realise before going into this game was that it is not voiced. Well really I should say the English version is not voiced, whereas the original Japanese version was; some kind of rights dispute led to the original voices not being used in the English release. I was a bit disappointed when I realised this, but I don’t think it spoiled my experience of the game as the story itself is engrossing enough. I will eventually make sure to play it with the Japanese voices though, just because I’m really curious as to the voices that match up with the characters I already feel I know so well. I wonder if there’ll be any I find particularly jarring.
I loved this game! I had to take some points off for the lack of voice track, and wasn’t so sure what to give for H-scenes; I’d actually like to rate it higher, maybe by giving the story like 15/10 haha. I would really recommend it to anyone who is a fan of murder or psychological mysteries, horror, gore, and just damn good storytelling! There is a sequel due to be released on February 8th and I cannot wait! I’m kind of dreading reading something so complicated in Japanese, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the struggle.