☆ WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS GAME SPOILERS ☆
Sousuke’s route is without a doubt one of the two more plot involved routes. Unlike Hino’s, Isora’s and Toa’s, this route focuses on uncovering the secrets of the town, and we are rewarded with a great deal of it, all while coming across more clues for the next reveal that will be explained in the remaining routes.
I would be lying if I said I enjoyed this route from start to finish. This one was a bit of a rocky start, not because I disliked Sousuke. No, in fact I found him to be endearing with how straight-forward he was… except for when he would go overboard with his logic, I found the early game of his route to be incredibly exhausting. Thankfully he quickly got that under control, and started showing us just how great of a guy he actually is. Sousuke grew up in an uptight household where fun wasn’t in their vocabulary. He never been to a festival before, so being someone who is very much by-the-book, it was a challenge for Ichiko to loosen him up, and of all things, keep him out of trouble. But in the end, Ichiko was able to help him enjoy himself, and challenge himself to do things that he wouldn’t have otherwise tried or have been able to experience on his own. I liked the way he fell in love with Ichiko, it felt natural thanks to their frequent skinship and conversations. My favourite part about his character was how he would always blush around her. He was awkward in such an endearing way, but once he is in love, he will give you all of his love.
Sousuke’s objective for coming to town was to revisit the flower fields (the legendary Violacias) he had discovered as a child. This happened the day after he witnessed his father dragging a man out of his home and eventually exterminating him (given the description of the place, I was led to believe the man at the time was Isora’s father, as a Revenant). There he encountered what he described as “Death”, a man who we now know was a Revenant, said to harbour similar characteristics to Ichiko’s missing brother.
However what surprised me the most, was how Sousuke’s story turned out to be be quite a sad one. Ever since he witnessed what his father had did, his relationship with him has become estranged, and he left home as soon as he graduated middle school to get away from him, and hasn’t faced him since. The last time they do see each other, is when they briefly cross paths at the festival. It’s just sad since they were never able to clear up the air or close the distance that formed between them. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Sousuke ends up seeing his father’s corpse while he and Ichiko were hiding in the shrine when Ensepulchers came to investigate and recover the body.
And god damn it Ichiko, I still can’t get over her inability to connect the dots! Jeez, she really does have no sense of her surroundings!
Which brings us to our scatter-brain heroine.
Much to my relief, Ichiko was a lot more independent this time round, taking the initiative instead of passively going with the flow. She took it upon herself to trek into the mountains (even after experiencing how difficult it is to do so) in order to search for clues for her brother. To some extent she was also dumb, but eventually smartened up enough to learn from her previous experiences and be properly prepared… well almost. Ichiko was saved on two occasions that could have resulted her a certain death: The first time was when Kagura offered to serve as her guide, and wasn’t going to just let her reject the offer until Yuki came in forcing him to fill out some paperwork. The second time, was when she wounded up getting lost after her string got cut, and was luckily found by Sousuke first (I swore that was going to result a bad end right then and there… maybe it would have, had I not had enough points).
THEIR LOVE STORY
In a lot of ways, you could say it was Death that really brought the two of them together. Ichiko was there to support Sousuke when his father was killed, and he was there to support her when she learn her brother was said to have likely been dead/killed by a revenant. They are an endearing couple, proving to be one of the more sweeter ones, though it takes a while to get to that point. I was actually impressed with how how much patience Ichiko had with him, because he starts rambling on about logic, most girls probably would have walked away. Although it was a bit of a challenge, it was cute to see Ichiko trying to teach him how to have fun at the festival. Dear god, when you think about how his family never took him to festivals and stuff, what a suffocating household he grew up in! Of course it would take some time to help him comfortably loosen up!
But one of the things I noticed about Sousuke, was following their first encounter at the book store, not once had Sousuke ever gotten mad, yelled or spoken rudely to Ichiko. He was surprisingly cool-headed and patient with her, even when she recklessly followed him into the mountain after he had told her he would rather go alone because it would be safer this way. In the matter of fact, instead of chiding her for it, he realizes he should have just let her come with him to begin with, since they are working together after-all.
And that just goes to show, when it comes to supporting Ichiko, I would say of all the guys (so far) Sousuke is her number one supporter. He doesn’t pin all of the blame on her and acknowledges his own errors, he doesn’t coddle her, and is always working with her as a reliable partner on equal terms. It is this kind of foundation that makes their relationship so strong, and their intimate moments all the more special.
My favourite moment between them has to be after she was attacked inside the hotel. Sousuke stayed with her for the night because she was scared of being alone, but nothing was sweeter than him confessing his love and holding her in his arms. At first I was a bit bummed out that they didn’t kiss then, because damn it was a good moment between them, but later I realize that it only made it a lot more special because that night was about comfort. And while he said he loved her, at that point she hadn’t said it back yet.
Happy End: The two re-discover the flower field Sousuke was looking for, and will continue to pursue their new relationship when they return to Tokyo.
Normal End: Ichiko doesn’t confess her feelings, but Sousuke still gives her his contact information and they part ways, promising to meet again.
I have to say, I am glad our best boy Sousuke gets the best endings in the game. Even in the normal end, the two of them exchange contact information and still promise to keep in touch. He is certainly one of the lucky ones when you consider some of the others’ endings, ahaha! I especially loved the Happy Ending scene, where the two kiss in the mountains, and it was funny how he wouldn’t let her confess her feelings then, but you could say action speakers louder than words, fufufu!
And what better way to finish their story to reveal she during the time she was in town as a child, she and Sousuke had encountered one another in the mountains. What’s funny though is how never one of them realized it until the very last second of their story. It turns out he was the one who gave her the flower she has planted at home.
CAT MASK & KAGURA
At this point of the game, I think most of us are convinced Kagura is Cat Mask. This route actually reveals he is the assailant and has him properly captured to be exterminated. “Checkmate motherfucker”, was what I said when they finally caught his tongue. The clock was cleverly slipped in early on, and was something could easily be missed and/or forgotten, but it ended up playing a huge role in revealing the culprit.
However Kagura claims he was not responsible for killing Sousuke’s father.
MURAKUMO CLAN AND THE ENSEPULCHERS
In this route, for the first time we are finally introduced to the head of Murakumo Family. Kyouji is the one who oversees the Vigilant Community, otherwise known as: Ensepulchers. We learned the organization’s duty is to entomb the Revenants, by hunting spirits of the dead and exterminate them. This is also the first time in the game when they confirm the existence of Revenants. They are the Undead who roam town disguised as Humans seeking life force by murdering the living. They possess regenerative abilities and are said to be stronger than Humans.
But more importantly, it is revealed Sousuke’s father, one of the town’s leaders, was the one who was in charge of leading the Ensepulchers. This explained why Sousuke was always missing in action, doing his own thing in the mountains, and how he got involved with them.
ICHIKO’S BROTHER: WE GOT A NAME!
Before the completion of the game, I had always found it strange how Ichiko only remembers some strange details of her brother’s appearance. She never mentioned his hair or eye colors, or even his name. In fact, this is the first time we even hear of it, after the head of Murakumo Clan, Kyouji shows her a blank journal they had found in the mountains.
For the first time, we learn her brother’s name: Hanate, and strangely enough Sousuke feels as though the Revenant he seen in the flower fields shared eerily similar characteristics. However he brushed it off claiming it was impossible, since he was only twelve years old at the time, and her brother would have been a high-school student by then. This led me to believe Hanate may not actually be Ichiko’s brother, but more of a guardian of a sorts. The more we learned about him, the more I wondered to myself if he is really Human. We knew Ichiko is special, and her brother knows that whatever makes her special, is the reason why she is fated to be pursued by Death itself. Her brother was extremely over-protective of her, needed to know where she was, who she was with at all times, never hesitated to pull the trigger when her life was in danger.
That’s all learn about Hanate in this route, to uncover the rest of his secrets, it requires the completion of the game. However it is important to note this more or less one of the two routes that actually makes some progress with her brother’s mystery. This is particularly frustrating given the True Route doesn’t address this, which I find is a bit silly given Hanate is the very reason she came to this town in the first place. What this does however, it only make Sousuke’s route one of the most plot relevant one of the game.
FINAL VERDICT: 4.5/5
After playing three routes making little to no progress with her brother’s investigation, we finally get the chance to move forward and gradually uncover some of the mysteries about her brother, Hanate. However they never actually gave us a straight answer, instead of it was more about providing us the important clues forcing us to draw our own conclusions. Despite that, Sousuke’s route was especially enjoyable because finally, we were able to move forward with the investigation. It wasn’t just about her brother, but it included the town’s secrets, the Murakumo family, the Vigilant Community (AKA: Ensepulchers), the Revenants, revealing the culprit behind the Cat Mask, and most importantly, the proving the Violacias do exist.
All of these things playing such a big role is what makes this route my absolute favourite of the entire game. Yes it’s a bit gloomy, but the sheer amount of core plot elements being used is what kept me interested. Another strong point was just how awesome Sousuke character is. Sure his first encounter would certainly give you a mixed impression, as he is super blunt and socially awkward, but my god, he is such a great guy. He is hands down the best boy of the entire game. I absolutely love Ichiko and Sousuke together, they proved to be an endearing couple, and it is because of that I am more eager to return to the route to experience their journey together all over again.
Replay Value: High
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