Time to kick off the Otome Madness Event!
☆ WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS GAME SPOILERS ☆
When we first meet Hino, he is the typical childhood friend who has a long-lasting crush on the heroine. However she is super dense, and so he doesn’t really get very far whenever he tries to get himself out of the friend-zone… until they come to Okunezato to participate in the Okunezato’s Supernatural Club meet-up, and help Ichiko investigate the circumstances around how her elder brother mysteriously disappeared, and why he came to the town in the first place.
Hino likes to boast how well he knows about her, but in reality, he is actually super insecure about being unable to meet her expectations and fill her brother’s shoes. He also has a hilarious obsession with the town’s mascot, Okune Panda. He will buy all the merchandise and want to hug and take pictures with the mascot at every opportunity he gets… Except for the one night they saw him out on the streets and it just creeped them out.
We later learn that in order to continue being by her side, he had to promise her brother that he would do everything to protect her. This comes after taking her to a “haunted house” (actually an abandoned shack) because he wanted to impress her, but they ended up encountering a serial killer. Whelp. The guy threatened to kill Ichiko if Hino didn’t shoot him with the gun he gave him. In the end her brother was the one to take it and kill the guy, but ever since, guns have triggered his trauma. In order to face Cat Mask, Hino needed to be able to overcome that fear, but luckily he never had to shoot the guy, because I don’t know if he would have been able to handle killing someone, even for the sake of protecting the one he loves with how bad his trauma is to begin with.
However while Hino was always super sweet to Ichiko, he is actually quite rude to everyone else. I quickly grew sick of how he kept on dropping snarky comments on everything everyone was saying- so often, that even Ichiko chided him for it. It also didn’t help how I quickly found him to be incredibly boring, and increasingly grew frustrated with some of the outrageously stupid decisions he makes for someone who is supposed to upholding his promise of protecting Ichiko very seriously. In fact, more often than not, I found myself quite infuriated with some of the decisions they made, stupid ones, especially Hino. He doesn’t want to go into Ichiko’s room just to talk because he’s worried people will get the wrong idea or whatever because he’s a guy, or while there is a murderer on the loose, why not they go and try and go through the Mountain’s Tunnel just before dark, or ignore curfew orders and sneak out at night to swim at the middle school’s pool, or even go to the bloody riverside after dark to talk about their past— and he gets shot! GO FIGURE. I wasn’t even surprised that it happened at that point, nor did I care because it was his own stupidity that put them into that dangerous situation in the first place.
LIKE COME. ON. This is guy goes on and on and on about how he needs to protect her, and yet he completely contradicts himself by making this stupid decisions! THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR EVERYTHING!!!!
Actually, now that I think of it, there were times when Ichiko made smarter suggestions than Hino, but it irked me that she didn’t have the backbone to put her foot down, and went along with his stupid ass decisions… Not that she didn’t make any stupid ones herself.
Their Love Story
Normal End: Ichiko refuses to give Hino the gun and tries to shoot Cat Mask, but there are no bullets. When Cat Mask is about to kill her, Hino tackles him and the two of them go tumbling off the cliff where he falls to his death. Cat Mask gets away.
Oof, this actually hurt my heart a lot more than I expected it to. Hino ends up getting himself killed in order to save her. In the end, he didn’t get to confess his feelings for her, and more or less died in vain since even though he and Cat Mask fell off the cliff, Hino’s body was the only one that was found. This pretty much implies Cat Mask got away.
Happy End: Chikage saves them and falls to his death. Hino and Ichiko get out of the predicament alive, and confess to one another, finally ready to put the past behind them, after learning that her brother is dead.
I thought the Happy End was okay, but I think I actually like the Normal End more, just because it invoked more emotions from me. But I do like the final touches of how Hino inherited her brother’s coat, officially receiving the torch to carry on the duties on protecting Ichiko from danger.
But the true hero of the route has to be Chikage, who gave up his life in to prevent Cat Mask from killing Ichiko. It is important to note, this man saved her twice, and deserves all the recognition in the world. It is thanks to him that she and Hino even have a future together.
However when it comes to their love story, I wasn’t invested in it at all, nor did I care. Sure Hino absolutely loved Ichiko, but I was just not feeling their chemistry, and for most part I found him quite boring… and unbelievably stupid at times too. Seriously, any of those stupid decisions could have led to a Bad Ending should have the writers desired to do such a thing…
FINAL VERDICT: 3/5
When you first start off the game, you only have two options to start with: Hino or Isora. In fact, it should be noted this game has a very strict structure that it wants you to follow, and it is strongly advised that you follow that order it has already given you in order to be able to unlock the remaining routes. So with little choices to choose from, and I elected to start with Hino. While the early game was strong, (did an excellent job of making my heart jump out of my chest, that scene where we see someone spying on her from the bushes made me yell out loud! This is why I don’t watch thrillers/horrors…) by mid-game I grew accustomed to the patterns of the suspense and build up to whenever to brace myself for a possible threat to emerge. However by between mid and late game, I was bored out of my mind, and just wanted to get this route done and over-with.
With Hino’s route being my first playthrough, what surprised me the most was how we didn’t see the Supernatural Club do anything as a group. With the Admin supposedly not present, the group pretty much are left to do their own things, and gathered together for a barbecue or two. I thought they had come to this town to investigate altogether as a part of their club activities, but apparently not. This was particularly disappointing because I thought they would at least be able to make more headway with the investigation as a group than just Ichiko and Hino doing it all on their own.
And I guess it’s a good thing I started with him, because man. Hino was boring, and it didn’t help that his route really doesn’t tell you much about it’s secrets at all. In fact, all we learn are the following:
- Cat Mask is not Yuzuki or Chikage
- Ichiko is Special (her Red eyes in the pictures are the first clue we know of)
- Hanate is said to have been dead for a long time (though to be fair, I think most of us thought so as well).
- Chikage came to town to investigate something (as he has been frequently tailing Cat Mask and seen going into the forbidden areas). Before he died, he spoke of a name: Tzuzuri.
- Kagura is suspicious as hell (super dodgy, I don’t trust him, he’s creepy!)
Overall Hino’s route is not bad, but it is not great either. A lot of it has to do with whether or not you like his character enough to overlook some of the stupid things he comes up with, unfortunately that was not the case for me. I just don’t like this guy at all. Of course once you complete the game, I still think it is worth revisiting just because you can finally connect all the dots and make sense of the things that are teased happening off-screen. But for the fun of it? Never again.
Replay Value: LOW
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