☆ WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ☆
PART 1 – NORMAL END
The first time we meet Toa, I immediately find him adorable. He is a clumsy and shy guy who loves cats, and a beautiful cinnamon roll, too good for this world. Who would have thought he would the charismatic hot artist, A-TO!? I actually can’t believe I didn’t catch that sooner. Tao = A-TO, CONSISTS THE SAME LETTERS OF HIS NAME! So simply yet it was in front of us the whole time!
THEIR LOVE STORY
Although I am not typically a fan of corny love stories, I absolutely adored this one, making Toa one of my top favourites of the bunch. Ichiko and Toa are like two peas of a pod, and are incredibly alike to one another. In a way they are kindred spirits, but end up being each other’s strengths. Due to being bullied as a child, Toa suffers from serious anxiety so he feels more comfortable hiding himself by keeping his hair down and wearinghis grandfather’s padded doctera kimono. However when he is A-TO, he is an incredibly confident, charismatic and handsome young man, born from the confidence boost that was given to him when he met Ichiko as a child. Ever since she has been his first love, and he even wrote a song about his feelings for her.
FEELINGS AND INSECURITY
The thing about Toa though is despite his two different “identities”, he is still true to who he is, and is an incredibly endearing character. I absolutely love how he can both be super shy around Ichiko, but also confident. It is quite funny because Ichiko too, albeit she didn’t have two different identities like he did, she showed us her confident and playful side during the first half of the story, where she was just herself, having fun and was attracted to Toa’s good heart. She found him cute, lovable and quickly fell in love with him as well. However during the second half, when she learned he was A-TO, that’s when she started feeling insecure, despite him having confessed his love to her. She couldn’t understand the reason why he fell in love with her, and felt that there were so many better choices out there. She even felt guilty for wanting to keep him to herself, scolding herself for thinking such things. This particular stage of their relationship was thankfully not dragged out thanks to not only Toa being quick to connect the dots and Ichiko feeling bad and wanting to apologize as quickly as she could. In the end, the two were more or less two individuals who were lovesick with each other.
But holy shit, the scene when he told her how the two of them knew each other from the past, and that was when he fell in love with her… My god, their kiss scene *nosebleed*, it made me blush, but also laugh from embarrassment because I wasn’t expecting Toa to be THAT passionate. Heck I would say that kiss was definitely a lot hotter than Isao’s and that should say something. It was a full blown make-out session that’s what it sounded like. (And I just realized, this is the first game I have played where they actually include the kiss SFX…*covers face* So embarrassing!)
AT LEAST WE GOT ONE SONG
I am relieved they at least featured A-TO’s LOVESICK song in the ED Theme. After hearing about it, it would have been a huge disappointment to never actually hear it. Although I must say I feel really sad for Toa not being able to hold the concert after-all. I wished for his sake that they had been able to pull it off.
LACK OF PLOT DEVELOPMENT
Toa’s route doesn’t contribute much to any progression in regards to the investigation of Ichiko’s Missing Brother. In fact, despite having grown up in this town, Toa was surprisingly ignorant of a lot of things that was happening, but perhaps it was because like he said, he wasn’t so much interested in urban legends, and didn’t pay much mind to it. This route primarily addressed the Vigilant Committee, introducing the real threat of Revenants, the Murakumo family and some very important information in regards to Cat Mask, which is he is not the only one who will come after her. At this point, my suspicions Kagura has only grown (due to disliking cats: HOW DARE HE KICK THE KITTEN, thank god it wasn’t killed, I swore he was going to kill it).
….Or so I thought.
PART 2 – TRUE END
And now I present you, the True End, which destroyed me: I AM NOT OKAY RIGHT NOW. I AM A WRECK OF EMOTIONS. WHO SAID THAT WAS OKAY?! I MEAN I KNEW HE WAS DEAD BUT OH MY GOD I CAN’T HANDLE THIS!!!!!!!! THIS IS TOO CRUEL!!!!!!
When I first completed Toa’s route, I couldn’t help by feel disappointed. I felt he got the short end of the stick not only in regards to the plot, but the CG treatment (only have a total of 6 CG slides). So when I discovered that Toa was in fact the “True Route” / “True End”, this was my reaction: “OMFG, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!? TOA WAS THE TRUE ENDING ALL LONG?!?!?!”
So it turns out Toa actually died in a car accident on his way to Okunezato. He became a revenant the day before he met Ichiko and Hiro at the shrine. The only one who knew the truth was his factional twin, Yua, who was willing to do whatever it protect him, and even offered her him to take her own life. However miraculously, through the power of love, Toa was able to remain sane and not hurt anyone thanks to being by Ichiko’s side. He is able to “recharge” through physical contact with her, typically through hugs and kisses. Since he was in such shit condition the night before his concert, everyone agreed to let the two of them stay together for the night. (And I am so salty that they did not give us a CG, like come on, give us some bed cuddles CG!) So all those times was saying she was like a battery and he needed recharge, we now know he wasn’t kidding around. She was litterally the only thing keeping him sane.
For the first time in the entire game, the Supernatural Club actually does something productive, and that is “Operation: Protect Toa”, in order to help fulfill his wish to complete his concert. To do so they needed to protect him from the Ensepulchers. Aside from Yasu betraying them (no shit, who would hell trusts this idiot?) and Yua being stabbed by him to protect her brother, Toa is able to perform his one one and with that left the world once more.
THE TWINS’ TRAGIC FATE
The bond between Yua and Toa is probably what choked me up the most. Because of the town’s old traditions, due to being twins they were separated, Toa lived with their parents and Yua was raised by their grandparents. The two were able to meet every now and then, but it got harder after their parents had died. Knowing Yua is his sister is also what makes the story of how she was the one who submitted his application to a talent agency all the more sweeter. And Yua is an incredible sister who will always put her brother first. It is almost a shame we didn’t get to see the two of them bond some more through the story, but as it was kept a secret, it was only natural that we learn it through the True End.
Yua’s involvement in Shinryu’s death was hinted throughout the game by Yua’s unease and restlessness. In fact, it was one of the main reasons why Yua was also on my list of potential Revenant Suspects.
HE WAS NEVER OUT TO GET HER
The joke however is that Kagura got it all wrong when it came down to another Revenant is out for Ichiko. It’s quite the opposite actually. The Revenant, Toa was in love with her, so much so he would never want to harm her, and would rather be dead before that were to happen. Fortunately, Toa didn’t have to suffer an agonizing death, but that granted him peace and closure in a way that would take your breath away.
Another thing that frustrated me was how they didn’t bother to let us hear ATO’s cappella of Starry. I am so upset about that, it’s not even funny. The fact it wasn’t even featured in the True ED Credits was incredibly disappointing and missed opportunity to have everyone bawling their eyes out, if they weren’t already doing so.
Among the things that were finally tied up was, they revealed Yuki was the Admin of the club all long, and Yuzuki knew it.
For some reason, that didn’t really surprise me. To be honest, I really didn’t care for the whole “who is the Admin “mystery”. With the lack of actual club interactions besides the BBQ and meal gatherings, it didn’t feel like there was a meet up in the first place.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
To be honest, it frustrated me how the True End had to be “unlocked” in such a round-about way. In fact, it would have been a lot more pragmatic for Yuzuki’s route to be featured before Toa’s. It would have been the perfect follow up to everything we learned in Yuzuki’s route about Revenants, and avoid this bizarre set up in the first place. Not to mention, I already had my suspicions that Toa was a Revenant to begin with, mainly because I noticed he virtually had no appetite when it came to home-cooked meals. Yes, as weak as an argument as that may sound, that’s exactly why I suspected him, and wasn’t surprised when it turned out that he was dead. What did surprise me was when and how he died.
But my biggest gripe was how this route was declared as the “True End” there were way too many loose ends, and that ticked me off. Under no circumstances should a route that is supposed to be the “canon end” be filled with so many holes! The remaining of the secrets are only be explained in the Secret Route, which is a bit ridiculous.
In all, I feel like this route could have had a much cleaner execution. However despite its glaring flaws, after being forced get Hino’s and Isora’s routes out of the way, Toa’s was exactly what I needed. He is an incredibly endearing character with a great (albeit Tragic) story, making him not only one of my favourites, and one of the few routes I am more likely to revisit in the future.
Replay Value: Moderate
Extra Note: Sousuke once again proves he is best boy.
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