Snow Sakura (Visual Novel)

So, what is an anime fan that suffers from major boredom issues to do when he doesn’t feel like any new series and all the abominations in PC games need a rest from the beating you have been dishing out ? Simple – get your hands on one of the Visual Novels that have lingered on your “to do” list forever and get cracking. Snow Sakura was not all that familiar title to me and the OP didn’t seem all that catchy either, so i was not sure what to expect. In the end i can say this: even though some aspects of the story could have been handled better, this turned out to be one of my most enjoyable experiences recently with top notch humor and some commendable characters.

I guess we are all familiar with the usual setting of a guy finding himself in a new environment, surrounded by a pack of cute girls for some reason, yes ? Good.

Moving past the obligatory dream-like flashback of his childhood that the male is incapable of fully recalling, we find ourselves waking up in a room that seems alien at first, having recently moved to the middle of nowhere, aka a small village with grand population total of 88 people somewhere around Hokkaido. There is nothing noteworthy about the place at all, expect for the Sakura tree that blooms in winter for some mysterious reason. What is Yuuji doing in such a place you ask ? Simple – his father had to transfer to Hawaii for job related issues, and had decided not to take his son with him. The scene with Yuuji arriving home and finding it completely empty (save for a note that told him to go live with his uncle in Hokkaido) reminded me a lot of Hayate no Gotoku, and the note itself along with the commendable job of voice actors (that generally do a very nice job in this title) already made me burst laughing. The self destructing video tape he got later convinced me that his father was an ass, but capable of making me laugh all the time with his nonsensical and snarky comments.

And so the new (and forced) life in this rural area begins, under one roof with his enthusiastic and weird uncle and his female cousin Saki who has taken up the commendable duty of waking our protagonist up in a graceful and efficient manner, which usually means delivering an elbow blow to the stomach.

New life, new school and a new circle friends, dominated by females of course, and one simple minded pervert of a guy (Sumi) who is quick to proclaim Yuuji as his new best buddy. Typical setup ? Definitely, but i quickly got to find out that Sumi easily rivals Sunohara from Clannnad as far as comedy output is concerned, which is a very commendable achievement. The characters interactions often play out in a way that left me floored more often than not and making me laugh out loud, which in turn caused my cats to give me weird looks.

And thus we dive in to everyday lives of this oddball bunch of friends:

Photobucket
Saki: Your lively and straight-forward cousin who has taken up the task of waking Yuuji up in the mornings, because the guy is generally immune to alarm clocks. Much to his dismay though, her waking techniques are a form of torture on their own, though the most usual one is an elbow drop to the stomach. I know i would learn quickly to get up in time. She is also very self-conscious about her breast size which is occasionally being made fun of, though i can’t really figure out why as she is perfectly well endowed. Won’t stop her from taking such comments to heart though and Yuuji putting his life on the line to make them.

Photobucket
Misaki: Your classmate who, apparently, has a crush on Yuuji … well, at least her inability to remain calm initially around Yuuji suggests so. A bit shy and somewhat clumsy, she is bound to leave a pleasant first impression, though at times she tends to be an airhead and so ignorant of some issues one has to wonder if there will be a scene with her tripping and falling down like moeblobs tend to do. Charming indeed.

Photobucket
Kozue – another one of your classmates and Misaki’s best friend of whom she is very protective. No, wait – official stalker might be a better description ^^ The way she tends to behave around Misaki (whom she seems to consider the “perfect” girl) one might think she has some slight yuri tendencies. (I swear to god she must somehow be homage to Tomoyo from Card Captor Sakura). She has a quite sharp mind and is rather savvy when it comes to technology. Kozue always seems to have a camera around so she could immortalize any moments involving her precious Misaki. Her family is quite rich but she doesn’t let that show.

Photobucket
Misato: Your homeroom teacher and Misaki’s older sister. Although she is a teacher she tends to hang around with the gang on their get-togethers and generally tends to act as “one of the guys”. She likes to get drunk once in a while and generally is a complete ditz. Unlike her sister you don’t have to ask “how does she walk without falling down” … because she does!

If we were to assign stereotypes to these characters, she would be THE moeblob of Snow Sakura. One thing when preparing dinner together with the two sisters – never let them handle a crab alone. Chances are high the crab will emerge victorious.

Photobucket
Rei: your upperclassmen and one of the top students at school. She is generally level-headed and responsible, but doesn’t seem to take things too seriously. She is also a shrine maiden at her family’s shrine that has been taking care of the strange Sakura tree for ages. Oh, and i hold her responsible for destroying my mental image of a miko because she smokes.

Sumiyoshi (No, not getting a character art here): your self proclaimed best buddy who seems to think something perverted half the time and nothing at all the other half. Despite that he is a fairly honest guy who manages to strain my stomach muscles by proving to be an ample source of rarely entertaining comedy. This guy would make a fantastic due with Clannad’s Sunohara. And thats why he is such a welcome appearance, even if he has a guitar case stashed full of porn magazines he traveled dozens of miles to obtain.And with the cast set, the energetic slice of life story about romance in the snowy outskirts of Hokkaido is set to begin and ready to make you laugh shamelessly as you follow Yuuji trying to survive Christmas drinking parties

and otherwise classic but dangerous situations.

And a random snow fairy.

Overall i have quite a lot of praise for the title. The story is mostly slice of life in its feel, as the close group of friends and their everyday antics remains the focus through the whole game. The sudden few day timeskips can generally take one off-guard but that is a relatively minor problem. The most commendable feature of the title is its refreshing and energetic use of comedy. Entertainment-wise Snow Sakura is top notch as the character interactions are absolutely hilarious and don’t get old as time goes on. I busted my gut laughing at the gags and that is a very rare occasion when something can make me laugh constantly. Voice Actors deserve their share of credit as well; the acting is quite commendable and really helps in bringing the still characters to life.

Unfortunately the CG quality tends to leave something to be desired, as character designs often look a bit whacky. The plot is fairly typical one, but for me its the presentation that counts. And Snow Sakura doesn’t fail to deliver in this aspect. (Though i did have some major problems with one of the routes).

The characters turned out to be quite surprising as well – on initial impression i was ready to dismiss Saki as yet another violent tsundere (and i have an allergy when those are concerned), but she turned out to be anything but and in the end secured the spot as my favorite female character from Snow Sakura.

There were reverse surprises in this regard as well – i was fully prepared to love Misaki from the get go and the initial impressions didn’t disappoint indeed. My image of her crumbled deeper in her path though (and on Kozue’s path as well) when she let some of her less than appealing character traits show. Her likability (for me at least) went down the drain and now she is probably my least favorite character of the female cast. When near the end of hear path, i would have screamed “This is not what i signed up for!” in Yuuji’s place. Because it wasn’t.

On the other hand, our local stalker (Kozue) turned out to be a surprisingly likable character with her own quirks and issues, and her relationship with Yuuji was quite fun to watch developing. Overall the story carries on a very positive note, and although there is the usual slimmer of drama near the end (have you ever seen a romantic comedy without it ? :)) it doesn’t last long and issues are usually rounded up rather quickly for the “Happily ever After”. If you happen to be interested in Visual Novels and feel like trying out a light hearted story with quirky characters and high entertainment value – Snow Sakura would be a good place where to start. It proved to be a bundle of constant fun and for that it has earned a prominent spot on my favorite visual novel list.

25 Responses to “Snow Sakura (Visual Novel)”


  1. 1 LHW March 23, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Any recommendation for similar visual novels?

  2. 2 Kaioshin Sama March 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    It just so happens that somebody at Sony has already devised a way to deal with Giant Enemy Crabs. I’m not telling though because it’s now a meme.

    @LHW: I could help you if you are looking for something more in the avenue of H-RPG or H-Strategy Territory Conquering games.

    Being woken up by an elbow blow to the stomach by a loli is my favourite way to start the day.

  3. 3 Skyfall March 23, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Any recommendation for similar visual novels?

    That really depends what you are looking for. Humor-wise there is little that compares. Clannad comes to mind, as it also delivers a good number of gut-busting moments. Wind ~A Breath of Heart~ is something you could try out for some romance/drama/comedy with little bit of Fantasy elements.

    If you want a more serious title that deals with some raw issues and is quite high on drama threshold – Yume Miru Kusuri (Drug That Makes You Dream) is one that i have personally enjoyed a lot.

    All of the above mentioned have English translations available.

  4. 4 LHW March 23, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    @Kaioshin Sama: By H-Strategy, do you mean something like Pretty soldier wars AD 2048? The RPG category interests me, any examples?

    @Skyfall: Using ATGH and ATLAS isn’t really to my liking so having English translations is a plus. Thanks a lot for the recommendations.

  5. 5 Kaioshin Sama March 24, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Sengoku Rance and Seinarukana are examples of good games in general let alone good eroge. Both are fairly complex though so access to them can be limited if you can’t read Katakana or Menu options. Sengoku Rance I would personally recommend though for sheer replayability alone. You actually do have to play the game twice to get the good ending and several times to get all the character events (some are cancelled out by others).

    http://www.alicesoft.com/rance7/index.html is where you can find more info about the game.

    For straight RPG look for the upcoming Ikusa Megami Zero which is bound to be a hit. Eushully usually only releases one game per year and each year for 4 years running it’s been something I’ve looked forward to. They make some of the most unexpected and original experiences I’ve ever seen in gaming period, whether it’s an Airship Combat game that utilizes cards and a board game like playing field or a dungeon crawler where you have to make use of each characters unique skills to see you through the game.

    http://www.eukleia.co.jp/eushully/eu009.html Info on that one can be found here and it;s supposed to come out during the Spring 2008 quarter.

  6. 6 Ramiel Salbazier March 26, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    umm, what happened with misaki at the end? you made me really curious.

  7. 7 Skyfall March 27, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    What happens is that from a general moeblob she goes to being clingy, jealous and generally behaving like a spoiled brat. She makes a huge fuss about the smallest of things and overreacts to facepalm-worthy extents. At the end she was such a drama queen i could barely stand it. She went from one of the more likable characters to the bottom of the barrel.

  8. 8 Wolf April 8, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    It’s a nice game… I also found a sequel of it with only saki. U can find the link on my website icon… But it doesn’t seem to be like this game at all…

  9. 9 Wolf April 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    sry on my name…

  10. 10 Ichi-san July 9, 2008 at 6:11 am

    yo..

    yeah, it’s nice
    maybe I want saki to waking me up with his “elbow-drop” technique
    ’cause I think I have the same alarmproof ability as yuuji.
    Beside that, I think Rei is my favorite character
    I don’t know why but I think she’s cute… ^_^

  11. 11 hyperforce July 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

    From least to most favorite:

    Misaki – Misato – Kozue – Rei – Saki

    —–
    WARNING! – CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
    —–

    I read this review before playing through misaki’s storyline and I wondered what she could possibly do wrong. I soon found out.
    Though I think they made her character in her storyline very believeble. Misaki had allways been cared for and guided by Kozue. I guess she also had some kind of expectation about what her life would be like having no example from her big sister Misato.

    However, the moment Kozue lets Misaki go, and her biggest fears about Yujii ‘leaving her’ are put to rest she returns to her former self. Which made her ending all the better.

    —–
    No more spoilers
    —–

    Over all I don’t think Snow sakura is to short. Though after playing through all the storylines you do start to skip evem those loveble sequences.
    The often brief differences in the story made the repeating parts worth watching though and the humour you can find all thoughout the story can be re-read time after time and still retain that shine that makes this Visual novel so great.

    Though the paths of each of the characters could have been longer I think Snow sakura is, even though its my first Virtual Novel, hard to surpass.

    I don’t know if I’ll pick up another VN after this one but I do know That Snow Sakura has had and impact on me not many games, movies or books have ever had.

    It made me re-think some things about my life, my future and often effected my emotions like nothing has ever done to me.
    It even made me come to terms with the death of a girl I really liked (which happend about a year ago).
    This game did something to me that I never before had experienced and I’ve got the feeling it changed my life for the better.

    So with that I would give Snow Sakura a 9 out of 10.

    ‘Hyperforce’

  12. 12 darkmoon August 25, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I agree. I normally thought of these hentai-games as only sex centered.
    I played the Saki-ending and was kind of moved by the story. Would love to meet a girl like her🙂

  13. 13 Matt_D September 30, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I liked the game, it’s up there with other faves such as Season of Sakura and True Love (Season of Sakura being one of the nicest games I’ve played even if it had blatent rip offs of Rei and Asuka in it.)

    It was a suprise that it was done by the same company as did Kana little sister and Crescendo (both fantastic games – but games that make you cry like a baby.)

    It reminded me alot of Heart de Roommate, another wonderfuly funny game and very sad at one point.

    And if anyone is still looking for suggestions all the games I’ve mentioned above are great for their various reasons. But I’d include Ever17 yoo ;c) epic and I’d second Yume Miru Kusuri although I wasn’t too keen on one of the story lines (the one with the class president girl was meh.)

    Anyway a rare example of a fine Translated Visual Novel (there are other great ones out there but few are translated *sigh*)

  14. 14 geogo3r October 7, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Wolf you are my hero, is that sequel in English? I’m learning Japanese but I don’t think I’ll learn it fast enough. I have to say I really agree, this game was very good! And I agree with you Hyperforce, it sounds cheesy but beating this game made me a little depressed, it was like a good TV show ended and then I wished my life could be more like this (yeah, don’t worry, I don’t live in a basement, I have a bunch of friends it’s just that I wish my life played out like this game did xD) So anyways, I really do recommend this game. I loved the ending with Saki D:

    I miss it. It’s time for the developers to make a second one! >:O

    lol :3

    (you guys can keep in touch with me on the forums that i linked in my name if you want. ;] )

  15. 15 geogo3r October 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Oh, and hey, animehistory. I’d love to host you guys! I have my own webhost and I could get you set up with your OWN site, free of wordpress but still using the wordpress program, it’d just be your own site like animehistory.com😀

    contact me, you can see my email I assume, if not contact me on the forums I linked.

  16. 16 geogo3r October 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    ugh… and please ignore the… header… that wasn’t my choice… =.=

    I hate it so I have it ad-blocked on firefox D:

    apologies again.

  17. 17 Kaioshin Sama October 7, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you for the offer, but I am afraid we are going to have to respectfully decline. WordPress hasn’t done any wrong by this site yet, and I am not really sure I want to risk a move or any such thing if I don’t really have a reason to leave it. Keep in touch though and you are welcome to keep visiting and commenting here.

  18. 18 Wence November 28, 2008 at 2:42 am

    I must say I agree with pretty much everything in the review aside from Masaki.. while she was not my favorite she was not my least. Though Saki was by far the favorite.

    However I am in interested in a breath of heart.. and heard rumours past of an official English patch… But I know not where to buy it or get the patch.

  19. 19 Krisnantyo February 27, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Whew.
    After a long ripped time (sigh, it needs a full week to complete), i finished the Saki’s storyline.
    But i did realize & shock, that there are other storyline waiting to be done for. Wow, what a nice “romantic” VN i ever had. I never ever know that this VN could be played for a long time (compared of the other galge/VNs).
    Very touching story, what-a-shock humors all around the VN, and the “self” of each character tickles my attention to continue on.

    I would not hesitate to give 9.5 out of 10 for this VN..

  20. 20 speedy May 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Hi guys first of all sorry but my english is very terrible.
    I like Snow Sakura to much and most of all chars i like Misaki,Saki and Itou😀
    well i have question is there anyone who play sequel with saki¨? i want to know story o this novel is there Tachibana Yuuji?

  21. 21 btyop September 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I put Rei as most favorite, regardless her smoking habit.

  22. 22 magicalgirlj February 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I have to admit, I was a little disapointed with this game, but it is still a good game never the less. Just not the master piece I was hoping for. I think it is like Kanon meets Da Capo

  23. 23 Poke July 16, 2010 at 1:22 am

    The Sequel is no more, the site is downed apparently, and it seems it wasn’t good enough to torrent apparently. Not that I’m condoning it =P

    To give a little insight to my anon who played the preview:

    SAKI X YUUJI FULL ON.

    Also considering they are adults; you can see where we are headed.

  24. 24 poekaungmagic February 5, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Hi guys first of all sorry but my english is very terrible.
    I like Snow Sakura to much and most of all chars i like Misaki,Saki and Itou😀
    well i have question is there anyone who play sequel with saki¨? i want to know story o this novel is there Tachibana Yuuji?

  25. 25 semeXuke March 27, 2013 at 12:20 am

    >Poke: SAKI X YUUJI FULL ON.

    I hope that’s not what you meant. I really don’t want to imagine saki with a strap-on


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




March 2008
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Present


%d bloggers like this: