Merry Christmas everybody~! ^o^ Hope your holiday has been going great~! In the meantime this’ll be the final of my holiday post spam (seriously, 13! I’m spent! I have no clue how those episodic bloggers keep all this up xD)
It’s been preciously one year since I start playing Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo, and compared to my 2010 anime experiences, this visual novel easily blew them all out of the water to take my #1 spot. With a unique premise, an imaginative background that was taken advantage of to its fullest, an awesome set of characters including one of the best protagonists ever, not to mention a high-impact dramatic buildup that would even have the famed Key staffers envious— this is one visual novel that’s a must-play if you’ve got any interest in the medium at all~
Sharin no Kuni [lit: Wheeled Country] takes place in nominally democratic nation, which is actually ran by an elite stratum of “Special High Class Individuals”. Crimes within the nation are punished by ‘obligations’, in which case the people carrying the obligation have limitations placed on their lives, such as having your day reduced to only 12 hours or forbidden from having privacy, until they are deemed re-educated by the Special High Class Individual that are authorized to control every aspect of their lives.
In enters Morita Kenichi, Special High Class Individual candidate on his final exam. The location? His own hometown, where a rebellion broke out seven years ago and was brutally crushed by government forces. Yes, as the exposition soon reveals, he is the son of the rebellion’s very leader, and his final test? To administrate and re-educate three girls burdened with ‘obligations’, including two of his own childhood friends.
For seven years, seven whole years, Kenichi had changed his name and lived under the harshest of circumstances to pass his examinations, from climbing the power ladder in the slums to surviving the bloodiest wars in the southern jungles. The expectations for becoming a Special High Class Individual were tough, and he strived to meet it no matter the costs— for the sake of his dear friends whose lives were shattered, for the sake of reclaiming his own sister from political execution, for the sake of atoning for that unforgivable mistake he committed on that fateful day seven years ago… when Higuchi Ken had died and Morita Kenichi was born.
I’m only living because I can’t die! — Morita Kenichi
What does he find out after his return? His friends barely lived as empty shells of their former selves. His first love, once a shining beacon of optimism and will, was ‘obligated’ never to touch the opposite gender and reduced to a mess who was afraid even of looking at others in the eye. His sister, the last of his family, was within his reach— yet he couldn’t even say a simple greeting to her.
Hence Morita Kenichi begins his daunting task: to save his friends and family while maneuvering around his supervisor’s callous demands. It was a remarkable journey, filled with innovative schemes, breathtaking climaxes, and heartwarming conclusions; it parodied its own cliches, highlighted the danger of society putting ‘moral enforcement’ into legal hands, and unraveled several utterly mind-blowing revelations during the final chapter—
The conclusion of it all? Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo is easily my favorite visual novel available in English; I loved every moment of it, and much thanks for the folks at TLWiki for translating it~
Postnote: So concludes my participation in 2010’s 12 Days of Anime project hosted by Canon; one shared by many across the aniblogosphere (see 8C, prototype27, Scamp, schneider, Borderline Hikkikomori (cast), TWWK, Landon, Janette, digiboy, drmchsr0, doctordazza, Fawkes, FNSNA, super rats, Anime Diet (crew), Jubbz, RP, TheBigN, Jinx, mefloraine, Caraniel, Chii, Valence, dai1313, bitmapchaos, and Shinmaru). I hoped you enjoyed reading my input to this series (full list on my Archives page for Dec. 2010), and thanks to everyone who commented to respond with their own thoughts~ so, once again, Happy Holidays everybody~! and stay in the spirit of the season~!