Blind Prism ~Rainy Season~ is the second release of doujin circle Ka*Kuu. It also is the second release in the Blind Prism series, though the website dictates that you don’t have the play the first game (Blind Prism ~Before Sweets~) in order to better enjoy ~Rainy Season~. From here on out, I’ll be referring to this game as just “Blind Prism”. The story is about the evolution of Kuronagi Mikoto and her overprotective older brother Wakazumi’s relationship. After Mikoto meets with the school nurse, Nikaidou Shinobu, Wakazumi and Mikoto’s relationship begins to change. Anyway, I got the download edition of Blind Prism from DL Site’s Girl’s Maniax section (some content is NSFW) here for 324 yen, encouraged by the positive reviews it had received. At roughly $3.25 AUS, I certainly wasn’t expecting things from it like I would with games by bigger companies, but I was still disappointed. While it isn’t an exceptionally bad game, it is far, far from good. I’ll be going into detail on why it ended up being such a mediocre game- in my humble opinion, of course.
*** This review contains spoilers. Please be wary! ***
Release date: 12-8-2013 (package edition, now sold out) and 19-8-2013 (download edition)
Developer: Ka*Kuu (花*空)
Writer: Hiori (緋織)
Artist: Matsuri (まつり)
Rating: CERO A (All-ages)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 1~2 hours
Knowledge of Japanese recommended: Basic
Official website: http://mascatfes.wix.com/kaku#!rainy-season/c22op
VNDb.org link: http://vndb.org/v14931
* Plot Summary*
Kuronagi Mikoto, a student in her first year of high school, is irritated.
This is because her older brother of two years, Kuronagi Wakazumi, is becoming increasingly overprotective and meddlesome. As the president of the Japanese Archery Club with both an attractive face and figure, he is very popular with the female students. She wonders why he is so strict with her, even though he has a kind attitude towards other girls.
One rainy day, Mikoto relays her concerns to the school nurse, Nikaidou Shinobu. Nikaidou sneaks his way into the holes of Mikoto’s heart like a gentle, quiet rain shower… From then on, the the relationship between Mikoto and Wakazumi gradually begins to change.
It’s the rainy season.
Hidden feelings begin to pour down without pause…
Blind Prism doesn’t avert nor subvert itself from the stereotypes associated with such a plot setup. I picked up this title with the knowledge that games that deal with more specified elements (in this case, the incestual niche) nearly all follow the same pattern. Even so, Blind Prism reads like it was created using a “Brother x Sister Romance” template without any effort to stand out from the crowd. Players assume the role of Kuronagi Mikoto, the youngest child of the Kuronagi family who has recently started her first year of high school. She is getting increasingly fed up with her two-years-older brother Wakazumi’s overprotective and overbearing actions, not being able to understand why he is so hard on her. Furthermore, Mikoto has realised that Wakazumi is growing distant from her, and she can’t figure out what she did wrong to make him act that way.
Yup, you guessed it- Wakazumi is in love with his own sister, so he’s doing the old, “If-I’m-Not-Around-You-I’ll-Get-Over-These-Feelings” manoeuvre which has a 100% failure rate in the sibling romance world.
Back to seriousness. As Mikoto is further subjected to Wakazumi’s hot-and-cold (mostly cold) actions, she finds herself at the end of her tether. She voices her concerns about his behaviour to the kind and wise school nurse, Nikaidou Shinobu (Mikoto is anaemic and semi-regularly visits the infirmary). His cryptic advice immediately gets across to the player (but sadly not Mikoto) that Nikaidou-sensei knows far more than he’s letting on. Pretty much every time Mikoto visits and then leaves the infirmary, he gets a short monologue. In those, he makes vague statements about Wakazumi and Mikoto that further cements one’s guess that yes, Nikaidou-sensei is certainly “in the know”.
Wakazumi immediately takes a dislike to Nikaidou-sensei because of his overly familiar treatment of Mikoto, and the fact that Wakazumi has picked up on Nikaidou-sensei’s “knowledge”- appearing to want to shield Mikoto from it. He forbids Mikoto from ever speaking to Nikaidou-sensei again. She doesn’t listen to him, as she can’t reconcile obeying when she has no clue why he disallowed her in the first place. Later that night, Wakazumi comes to Mikoto’s room to have a talk, and they argue about Nikaidou-sensei. Wakazumi fears that Nikaidou-sensei is planning to take advantage of Mikoto, and Mikoto retorts that she believes that he’s a good teacher who kindly offers her advice. She continues, relaying that she’s sick of his strictness towards her as she’s not a kid anymore. She also adds that even though he’s her brother, it’s not up to him who she can or can’t interact with. After letting out all that she has to say, Wakazumi appears to be hurt. He will end up leaving home to stay at their older brother Kuronagi Soushi’s apartment, but his decision factor to do so depends upon your response here.
One response is trying to get Mikoto to take back what she said. Mikoto says that she doesn’t listen to him because she finds his actions illogical. Wakazumi responds by telling her that he only thinks about her and that all of his “illogical” actions actually have rationale behind them, but she just doesn’t realise. Believing that Mikoto doesn’t “need” him anymore, Wakazumi leaves the house and goes to Soushi’s place.
The alternative response, and the one that leads to the best ending, is to tell Wakazumi that you hate him. He gets hurt and asks Mikoto if he’s no longer needed in her life. Not giving her time to respond, he pushes her down on her bed. He rationalises this by trying to get across to her how unguarded and dense she is. Granted, I heavily criticise density and unguardedness in otome protagonists as they’re overused and typically exaggerated to unrealistic levels, but in this case, it’s a little different. Who in their right minds would be en guard against potential sexual assaults from your own brother? I do agree Mikoto should be much more careful around Nikaidou-sensei, but of her own brother? Come on. This makes Mikoto view Wakazumi as a “man” rather than “brother”. She pleads Wakazumi to stop, which snaps him out of his “daze”. Rightfully disturbed by his own actions, he leaves the house and goes to stay at Soushi’s apartment.
Well, if you at least TRIED to explain your actions, Waka-san, maybe Mikoto might be able to see things from your perspective. Of course he won’t and thus, the forced drama continues. It’s painful to read. Anyway, for a character that’s supposed to cool, level-headed and mature, his reactions in both situations are strikingly immature, to the point it just feels like the writers wrote him out of character just to add more drama. The plot progresses with the very extreme (and ridiculous) view that Wakazumi either admits his feelings to validate his overbearingness in Mikoto’s eyes, or keep his feelings to himself and Mikoto won’t ever be able to figure out poor choices until it’s too late.
Regardless of your choice, Mikoto now firmly believes that Wakazumi hates her, and shares her concerns with Nikaidou-sensei again. Of course, Wakazumi’s instincts were spot-on, and Nikaidou-sensei uses this opportunity to take advantage of Mikoto. He tells Mikoto that he knows a “secret” about them, but will only reveal it to her if she agrees to be his lover, and not tell anybody. He warns her that it’s not in name only- he will expect her to comply with everything “lovers are expected to do.” Nikaidou-sensei describes himself as “completely lacking morals”. Even so, Nikaidou-sensei advises her to think about it more before completely agreeing to his condition.
After thinking things over, Mikoto decides that she becoming Nikaidou-sensei’s lover isn’t the right way to go about things, trusting that Wakazumi must have thought for the best of her. So now she thinks she’d be better off not knowing the “secret”. Before she gets the chance to tell him, Nikaidou-sensei says that the rain reminds him of “that day, 11 years ago”, and proceeds to tell her about an occurrence from his past. When he was still a medical student, he happened to be in his hometown’s hospital when an ambulance arrived, carrying three people. The three comprised of a husband and wife, along with a young girl he believed to be their daughter. The couple were pronounced dead on arrival, but their daughter had miraculously survived. He guessed that she was able to survive thanks to the couple protecting her somehow. Soon after, the three’s family hurried into the hospital. He was surprised to find out that the couple weren’t the parents of the girl whom had survived.
The couple were in fact the girl’s “uncle and auntie” (the Japanese for this doesn’t determine blood-relatedness or if it’s just an affectionate title given to very close friends of the girl’s family). Their son had arrived, but instead of crying and mourning the loss of his parents, he was more worried about the girl. This triggers something within Mikoto’s mind, where a young boy tells a young girl, “don’t cry, I’ll be there for you. I’ll protect you.” Nikaidou-sensei says that because the name of the boy was so unsual, he remembers it. The boy’s name was “Wakazumi-kun”, and the girl’s name was “Mikoto-chan.” This revelation then triggers her memories, as she remembers everything- the accident, her time in the hospital and a young Wakazumi telling her she’ll be okay. Mikoto is distraught that Wakazumi isn’t her “real brother”. As Nikaidou-sensei takes Mikoto’s hand, Wakazumi miraculously appears and warns him not to touch her.
Nikaidou-sensei then begins to explain why Wakazumi’s attitude had changed around her. As most would have (hopefully) predicted by now, he reveals that Wakazumi doesn’t see Mikoto as his sister, but as a woman. He further eggs Wakazumi on by asking Mikoto if she thinks Wakazumi’s feelings are disgusting. She doesn’t answer. Nikaidou-sensei also reveals that the reason for Mikoto’s anaemia is psychogenic, as whenever Mikoto tries to remember the accident, the trauma makes her light-headed. He thinks that because Wakazumi didn’t “allow” Mikoto to remember, she suffers from her anaemic bouts now. Before Nikaidou-sensei can do more damage, Wakazumi takes Mikoto’s hand and leads her out of the office. He asks Mikoto if she really does think that his feelings are “disgusting”.
This is the point where the game will divide towards its three endings- the bad, normal and best endings. In the bad ending path, which is the default one if you have less than three “prisms” (this is explained in the “Gameplay and System” section of this review), you can only respond with “I don’t know”. Mikoto apologises and says that she has never seen Wakazumi as “more than a brother”. Nikaidou-sensei catches up to them, and damages Wakazumi more by hugging Mikoto and telling her to “come back to this office”. This causes him to leave. Back in the office, Nikaidou-sensei cruelly reveals to Mikoto that her decision, or lack thereof, is more telling of what she actually feels than she realises. By not instantly denying that Wakazumi’s feelings are disgusting, it showed him that Mikoto was uncertain and ready to leave him behind. Nikaidou-sensei goes on a diatribe about how our true thoughts are cruel, and how he feels sorry for Wakazumi for having the reason of his existence deny his feelings- even if indirectly. However, Mikoto can easily see through Nikaidou-sensei, and detects that he’s taking joy in their suffering. Angered, Mikoto declares that she hates Nikaidou-sensei, which only amuses him further.
He continues on saying that it’s not enough to cleanse oneself of a “crime” by saying it “wasn’t your intention”. People aren’t creatures that exist solely on pure thoughts- they’re actually full of incredibly dark feelings they keep to themselves. Nikaidou-sensei cites himself as an example. He then suggests Mikoto to become his lover anyway, as he’s interested in seeing how this incredible hurt will shape her being. Despite her hatred of him, Mikoto found herself unable to run away. Nikaidou-sensei vocally wonders if Mikoto will become the same “thing” as him. He says that he’ll be her brother’s “replacement”. Mikoto, describing him as “poisonous, yet attractive”, believes that she is already in the process of being “poisoned” by him- she hates him, but she probably will visit his office everyday, as lovers.
In the normal ending, which can be obtained if you have more than three but less than eight prisms, you tell Wakazumi that you don’t find his feelings disgusting. Mikoto admits that it’s too soon for her to suddenly be able to know how she feels about Wakazumi. Wakazumi says that he’ll stay at Soushi’s place longer, so that he won’t be a burden to her. However, she selfishly insists on him staying with her, even if her eventual response may not be to his liking, just because she can’t bear to be without him. Wakazumi caves in, and decides to stay by her side again, come what may.
In the best ending, obtainable by having eight or more prisms, it follows the same direction as the normal ending. However, in the epilogue, it shows that the two had become a couple.
* Characters *
Kuronagi Mikoto (name changeable)
The protagonist of this story. She’s in her first year of high school, that makes her around 15-years-old. She’s hard to write about, because Mikoto is devoid of any personality traits that can’t be found in other otome protagonists. While it’s completely justified that she’d feel unguarded around her older brother, and the thought of him having feelings for her wouldn’t cross her mind, density and unguardedness are some of the most cliché protagonist traits out there.
Oh boy. If you thought Mikoto was boring, this guy rivals her in that regard! Despite being the ONLY love interest of the game, you get to know very, very little about him other than his God-knows-why love of Mikoto. Seriously, why? Did he always love her? When did he start loving her and why? What shifted his feelings from brotherly love to romantic love? It’s never explained, and it hurts his character so. I can only guess he “grew” on her over time. Anyway, this makes it hard to care about him. He’s nothing more than “The Ace” archetype, having both the looks and smarts and being able to do anything and everything flawlessly. He has no real character flaws, making him both unbelievable and unrelatable. Let’s put it this way- Wakazumi is so BORING that I enjoyed the bad ending the most, and was more amused with Mikoto ending up with a sociopath.
He’s the school nurse, who starts off as a kind confidante of Mikoto’s. As you play through the game, you learn that he knows a lot more about Wakazumi and Mikoto’s relationship that he lets on. Wakazumi quickly picks up on this and dislikes him for it, but Mikoto remains blissfully unware until near the end. In reality, he is sociopathic and haraguro, unburdened in his joy-taking of the two’s confusion and despair. Much like everyone else, you know bugger-all about him… However, this is justified to me as he’s established from the start as a “mysterious” character. The writers decided to keep him a mystery, and I think that was a good decision. While I’m curious why he is the way he is, I’m glad it didn’t take on even more clichés by giving him some absurdly horrific past to justify his character. Or worse, give him a route, and make Mikoto use what essentially amounts to “Protagonist Miracle Cure” to get Nikaidou-sensei to “see the light” and love her truly. Nikaidou-sensei is the most interesting character, which also makes him my favourite, in spite of his pretentious drabbles about “true human nature”.
Amamiya Hikaru is Mikoto’s classmate. Their exact closeness isn’t very clear, but one can ascertain that they get along just fine. His cherubic good looks, easygoing nature and openness makes him incredibly popular. He’s something of the school’s idol. He doesn’t affect the story much, save for being a tool to show how overbearing Wakazumi is. Hikaru offers to help Mikoto get a part time job by asking his place of work, but Wakazumi quickly shoots the idea down. Wakazumi says that Mikoto wouldn’t be able to handle working and going to school, since she’s quite slack and would easily get behind. However, it is quite possible that his intervention could have been motivated from jealousy as well.
Tsutsui Takahisa and Kouda Akane
Close friends of Mikoto’s, they’re also in their first year of high school. Takahisa is Mikoto’s childhood friend, while Akane became friends with Mikoto sometime in junior high school. They contribute nothing of worth to the story. I guess they’re just there to fill the gaps when Mikoto isn’t interacting with Wakazumi or Nikaidou-sensei.
Serves the same function as Takahisa and Akane, but for Wakazumi instead. This guy is arguably even more pointless than Takahisa and Akane. Even though he’s good friends with Wakazumi, it sure doesn’t seem like it as the latter didn’t once show enjoyment in being around him.
He’s the oldest child in the Kuronagi family at 22-years-old, and is a university student. Soushi lives alone. He’s not very interesting too, but at least he serves a function- however boring and cliché. I even think he was created with the intention of there being a location for Wakazumi to run away to. He is empathetic and offers wise advice to his two younger siblings. Soushi pretty much knows exactly what’s going on, but doesn’t take issue.
* Gameplay and System *
Blind Prism’s system is pretty basic, and I mean this in a positive way. Commonly used functions are easy to access and use, placed in a minimalistic list inside a white cloud design. To get to the less common or more specific features, you have to right click and select from a pop-up box. The format of the settings appears to be predetermined by the engine it runs on, as I have seen the exact format on VNs that have used this engine. A notably annoying thing about this engine (if it is the engine’s fault and not the creator’s) is the fact that the skipping function stops during transitions and sound effects. The transitions are slow
Blind Prism is an ADV, and as such, includes a choice-based system that dictates which ending you’ll arrive at. Most of the choices are incredibly obvious once Wakazumi’s character is established. If you pick what to do with that in mind, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty with this game. It even includes a hint section in the extras menu if you’re having any trouble getting all three endings.
The most important thing to understand about the gameplay, other than the choices, is the “prism system”. The prisms are water droplet-shaped objects of various colours that form a rainbow along the top-right of the screen (you can see a partially completed one in the above screenshot). There are ten in total, and each one is obtained at the conclusion of an event or scene after the correct choice is selected. They all represent a “theme” of an event/scene. They are: Anger, Memory, Expectation, Trust, Unease, Bond, Decision, Regret, Truth and Love. The amount of prisms you have at in the concluding moments of the game dictates which ending you will get. This means that even if you make the correct choices near the end, if you have insufficient amounts of prisms, you will not get the normal or best ending. Having less than three defaults you to the bad end, more than three but less than eight gets you the normal end and more than eight gets you the best end. However, if you select the incorrect response at the last choice, you could have all of the prisms but still get the bad end. Luckily, it’s very obvious which answer to pick here so it shouldn’t cause trouble.
It’s not a bad idea (plus rainbows are pretty~), but it’s redundant, leaning towards pointless. Why not just leave it at a choice system? Was the prism just a gimmick to make Blind Prism “stand out” more? I say it’s pointless, because there are only two responses you can make in each choice. So whichever you don’t get a prism in, you know you’ve made a mistake (in most cases). If they really insist on the prism system, my suggestion would be to make it three responses to choose from, and each prism represented the fact that you made the best possible choice and are heading towards the best end. I think you should get all ten prisms to get the best possible end, instead of the last two just coming along for the ride during the ending moments of the game.
* Art, Music and Sound *
I don’t have strong opinions in the art department. The style itself is nothing really unqiue. It looks less refined than in commercialised games as the artist is certainly no professional- with some minor anatomical errors and other inconsistencies. There are nine CGs in total. The moments they picked to make a CG weren’t poorly selected, though I think some scenes could have done with a CG. Nine CGs in a short doujin game isn’t bad, so I’m satisfied in this regard. The sprites felt more like cardboard cut-outs rather than, well… sprites. The variations of poses and expressions were very limited, so everyone looked wooden a lot of the time. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with budget constraints or laziness.
The music was certainly selected from those free-to-use websites, as I recognised one of the pieces also being played in a couple of other doujin visual novels. The pieces the Blind Prism’s creators picked were nice, and primarily featured the piano. The music was quite repetitive because of the limited amount of tracks, but they were applied in the right moments and most of them were nice pieces. The piano pieces meshed very well with the rain sound effects and overall atmosphere of the game.
The rain sound effects (which actually behaved more like a music track, anyway), were of good quality and realistic. I liked how there was a variation of them based on the intensity of the rain, or where you can hear the rain from in-game (like under a roof or outside). Not much else to say about the sound effects. They were pretty standard and did their job.
* Score and Final Thoughts *
Voice Acting: N/A
Music and Sound: C+
Gameplay and System: C
Overall Score: D+
If the tone of this review didn’t give it away already, the scores should- I didn’t enjoy this game. While it’s not painfully bad so as to make me want to throw it in a fireplace, it is incredibly boring. I took approximately two hours to fully complete the game, but it felt longer. Much longer. Blind Prism is an incredibly predictable and shallow game, not once turning away from the common tropes associated with brother/sister romance in otome games. To top it off, its prism system was poorly executed and borders on pointless. Another annoying element was how you couldn’t skip or click through transitions and sound effects, which sometimes impeded the otherwise good skipping speed. This probably is the fault of the game engine Ka*Kuu used, not a programming error. Even in the face of their issues, Mikoto and Wakazumi hardly developed, if at all, which brings me to my largest gripe next to the plot- the characters. I can’t remember the last time I’ve played a game where I couldn’t give a damn about any of its characters. Yes, Nikaidou-sensei is interesting, but he’s still very generic and definitely can’t be considered a “good one”. The supporting cast (save for Soushi) were entirely pointless. It’s painfully obvious they were there just to conveniently bring up expository information, or serve as poor comic relief in between the “meat” of Blind Prism, which are Mikoto’s interactions with Wakazumi and/or Nikaidou-sensei.
In spite of my negative score, I do have a few good things to say about Blind Prism. I think its use of rain was quite nice, and produced a fitting atmosphere. The gloomy greyness created by rain clouds obstructing the blue sky matched the sombreness and seriousness of the plot quite well. The music, though repetitive because of the limited amount of tracks, were mostly relaxing piano-based pieces that were well-selected and matches the situations they were played during. The rain sound effect was of a high quality, and even a few different types were used depending upon the location you could hear the rainfall and the intensity of the rain. The sounds of rain was relaxing, but served as a reminder of how rain itself brings along a gloomy theme- which worked with this game.
In the end, this is only my opinion, but I don’t recommend this game at all. I found absolutely nothing special about this game. It’s a sad case of its price reflecting its quality, though I’m thankful it didn’t leave a dent in my wallet unlike some more expensive and just as boring games have in the past.