Sakura Spirit, an original English language visual novel by developer Winged Cloud, was a huge hit on Steam last year, no doubt thanks to its abundance of fanservice and shiny anime boobs. But does it go beyond that?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no, it doesn’t.
Protagonist Takahiro is getting ready for the judo fight of his life, and when he goes to an ancient shrine in the forest to pray for luck in the competition he’s suddenly magically transported to another world. There he runs into two foxgirls, Machiko and Maeko, who are in the middle of stealing panties from two warrior girls, Narumi and Miyu. Hijinks ensue as he ends up stuck in the middle of the girls’ fight and eventually becomes a mediator between the human village and the animal-girl spirits.
First things first, the plot here is paper-thin, silly, and very, very rushed; finishing both routes and unlocking all the CGs only took me around 2 hours. It’s an unoriginal mix of anime clichés that never even makes an attempt at creativity. It does aim for comedy, but it only occasionally managed to raise a smile from me, with most of the jokes being immature and forced. However, if you’re looking for something lighthearted and unchallenging, then it could do the job. Unfortunately it’s also littered with grammatical errors and awkward sentences that hinder the flow of the reading experience. These issues could easily have been fixed by a good editor, and the fact that they still remain an issue shows what priority the writing came in at in the creation process.
The characters, including the protagonist as well as the four girls, are cliché and forgettable, to the point where I don’t really have anything to say about them. I expected there to be four routes, but the girls basically come as pairs, and although there are two endings there’s not much difference between them.
Moving on to a more positive aspect, the art is definitely the standout point of this VN. The colors are rich and vibrant, and the girls are all extremely shiny and well endowed. Sprites, despite very obviously coming from the same base art, are crisply drawn and display a range of emotions. The interior backgrounds, in particular, are lovely, utilizing a traditional Japanese aesthetic.
Let’s be honest, if you’re playing Sakura Spirit it’s the CGs that you’re really there for, and luckily you’re treated to 30 of them over the course of the game’s short playtime. Most of them are somewhat ecchi in nature, although never crossing the line into hentai, with the girls in conveniently risque positions, bosoms spilling out all over the place. It’s fanservice for fanservice’s sake and, while that will appeal to some tastes, others will find its blatancy distasteful.
Sakura Spirit is a visual novel that values style over substance; it has the visual part down, but seems to have forgotten that the novel is just as important. As long as you’re not bothered about plot and good writing, I’d recommend this game if you’re looking for shiny boobs without 18+ content, but if it’s fap material you seek then there are plenty of other nukige out there that will show you more than this.