Copying their Copied Homework – Snow Part #2 (Asahi’s Route)

After finishing Sumino’s route, I put out a Twitter poll asking what route to try out next. “Old Lady Time Travel Daughter” won out by a large margin, so I originally set out to do that route. I attempted to gain favor with the tiny enigma child, but things didn’t work out.

Ouka: “Wee~ Weee~~!”

I played with the kid and gave them food as they sadly waited in the snow for their parents. She noted that we look really similar to her father for some strange reason in a not-so-subtle elbow nudge.

Whenever Sumino was rolling down the hill uncontrollably, I stepped out of the way and let her slam into a tree. I think this happens 3 times?? To be honest, after the last route she kind of scares me…

“The annoying one has arrived.”

When Asahi arrived at our window during a blizzard and knocked pitifully to be let in, I closed the blinds and went back to watching TV.

Though no matter how much I did, the time traveler would always mysteriously vanish and never appear in the plot again. Kanata goes to the shrine, notes she’s not there, wonders if maybe her parents finally came back, and wishes her well. We, on the other hand, have failed to get on any route, and things don’t turn out well.

Asahi: “To Kanata. I’ve been thinking a lot about us since my confession.”

Asahi leaves a letter behind complete with sad snow-covered narration about how we’ve changed, and that it’s clear she’s not in your heart anymore. She vanishes to the mountains to never be seen again.

The following morning, your cousin Tsugumi tells you that the family inn is bankrupt and being sold off as a cultural landmark! Tomorrow! Kanata was initially worried about what would happen to Tsugumi, but it turns out she got engaged to the strange town doctor and will be perfectly set. Everyone in the town has one last bath at the bath house in honor of its closing, and I get scared seeing Sumino in the inn again. That route hurt me more than I expected ; _;

Sumino: “U-eguu! P-promise, promise me you’ll, come back!!”

Lastly, Sumino walks us to the bus stop in harsh silence the next morning. Since we put up a thick emotional wall between us after *last time*, we don’t get her route, and we get on a bus to go back to the city we came from. She chases after the bus, shouting for us to come back one day, too broken up by our sudden separation. Kanata nods and waves, not wanting to do that again. Go time travel wisdom~

And then game over.

I had to do some searching in Japanese for a route guide, which isn’t easy when the game is named something super generic like “Snow.” Eventually I found something for the PS2 version which states that everything is actually in a strict order oddly enough. At first, you’re allowed to do either Sumino or Asahi, then you have to do the Legend route. After that, one more route opens up at a time, with time travel daughter being near the end.

The only hint I noticed that points to this is that Meiko at one point asks you “How much do you know about the legend?” to which Kanata doesn’t answer well enough. She smacks you and tells you to come back after studying more. Apparently that was more 4th-wally than I realized if she meant that for me, the player, and not Kanata. I also get strong vibes that she knows everything and may have lived in the days when the dragons were around.

I mean, does this not look like the face of an all-knowing deity!?

I figured if I didn’t do Asahi now, I wouldn’t go back to it, so I went ahead and started that route.

Spoiler-free version if you’re wanting to play the English release in the future: Both Sumino and Asahi’s routes tackle very similar themes, so you don’t really need to do both. Sumino’s has a bit more importance I feel, so I would recommend that one. Asahi explores a bit more of the world’s backstory a bit, but I think that’ll be mostly covered in the Legend route. Sumino’s is just the better story though. Sumino’s made me feel sad and anxious. Asahi made me feel annoyed and impatient.

Entering Asahi spoiler territory! Also Sumino spoilers from the previous post are mentioned!

(I’m going to be honest here; I played this route a bit over a month ago and was just so uninspired that I put this review off too long. Hopefully I didn’t forget too many details, but thankfully I take a huge amount of screenshots for fun out of habit.)

So after letting Sumino slam into more trees and cry about anman, the plot branches after we let Asahi into the house after she knocks on our window in the blizzard. Tsugumi asks Kanata who this random child is, but he has no idea either. Asahi gets upset and starts crying, saying that when you were kids, you, uh, “kept each other warm in a long hug full of love” or something to that degree. Tsugumi immediately flips out:

Tsugumi: “You planned on running away from this after what you did to her!? Take responsibility and make her your wife!

Obviously this is a misunderstanding. Tsugumi doesn’t seem to realize that this event was 10 years ago, so clearly he didn’t sleep with her and then ran the next morning. But for some reason, no one mentions this, and Asahi is ecstatic that she gets to be your wife and her love is accepted, by force.

The following night, you have strange dreams of what you may have just gotten yourself into:

Dream Asahi says she’s a daughter of a group that “punishes evil people.” However, a guy with a punch perm threatens to wrap you in a bamboo mat and throw you in the ocean to drown, so it’s easy to assume Asahi is a yakuza boss’ daughter.

Thankfully we wake up from that…

Asahi: “Good morning nanoda~!”

…and wake up into a new hell. Alright that’s a bit much. Also, you better get used to hearing “nanoda” at the end of all her sentences for the next several hours, since it’s her “cute” thing she does nanoda. It doesn’t really mean anything nanoda, just a cute way to talk nanoda. Alright we’re done with that nanoda.

Now that Asahi’s your forced wife, she insists on helping you with everything. And she’s somehow bad at everything.

“Asahi spun around the room in a panic, with the vacuum sucking up part of her skirt.”

She insists on making you dinner, which you think is nice, until you see she just brought out a plate of raw vegetables and starts gnawing on a carrot. You hold an uncooked potato in your hand, but you can’t really eat that. However, you summon your main power characters and eat as much as you can to make her happy. You request next time that she at least prepares them a bit. She’s confused at first, but nods enthusiastically that it’ll be much better next time! The next evening, you get a pile of hacked up vegetables. Confused, but still polite-ish, you eat them and ask that she makes some meat next time and actually seasons the food. That and rice would be a nice complement.

So the next day, she hands you a raw steak covered in pepper, sugar, soy sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup perfectly complemented with a bowl of uncooked rice. Perfect!

Now, the astute reader (or anyone whose remotely thinking about the story while reading) may have realized the route’s twist at this point: Asahi is a rabbit from your childhood who came back because they missed you. And now if you think I’m jumping the gun, let me present some proof:

  1. She has no idea how to do basic human things
  2. You met her 10 years ago, but don’t remember her. You shared a “loving, warm embrace” that can’t be explained unless you kept a bunny warm
  3. She served you a plate of raw vegetables for food
  4. Her hair is tied up into two long bunny ears
  5. She has red eyes
  6. She’s dressed like a fucking carrot
  7. She goes home every night, but refuses to let you see her house or know where she lives
  8. Kanon already did this (though with a fox), so there’s no surprise they copied this too
  9. There’s a rabbit on the game’s cover

So yeah, by this point (which is still in the common route section by the way!!) I already guessed most of the twist and spent the next several hours waiting for the game to reveal it.

Now you might be wondering why I called this post “copying their copied homework.” That’s because this route is really just the Sumino route all over again!! It follows the same structure perfectly, so you really don’t miss much if you only do one route. As I mentioned in the last post, this game was originally an 18+ game for PC, so this happy period most likely contains some scenes I’d rather not think about involving your pet rabbit. MOVING ON.

The beginning part of her route is her learning to actually cook like a normal person and control animal instincts, like eating the entire kitchen since she found new tasties. She’s incredibly bad at everything she does, but she makes up for that in enthusiasm!

“Let Asahi cook dinner”
“Cook dinner yourself (and save your sanity)”

Though enthusiasm only gets so far when you scrub someone’s back with a pool-scrubbing brush on accident and rip their skin open, requiring stiches. She’s trying though 😀

Soon however, Kanata realizes that her blind enthusiasm may cause some unexpected problems. Begging to be useful, Kanata asks Asahi to go to the village store and grab this week’s Shonen Copyright Avoidance magazine. Sumino’s mom, who runs the store, tells Asahi that due to being out in the mountains, they run one week behind on the magazines, and that she’d have to go into town to get one. Unfortunately, this is exactly what she does, on foot without telling anyone.

We find her frozen at the shrine (oh hey, just like Sumino) clutching the magazine for you. We bring her back home, realizing how terrible we’ve been or something.

She gets anime sick for a while due to it, but recovers pretty quickly. Kanata realizes just how much Asahi loves him, and he resolves to be better to her.

Around this time, Asahi, after many many days of practice, manages to make a meal that is not an inedible pile of trash!

Asahi: “I did it! I did it!”

What’s that? A happy smiling face? You know what that means!

*whistles from the sad train can be heard softly in the distance*

At some point, Meiko lets us know that Sumino has given up and that she wishes Kanata and Asahi well. The confusion over the past hugging incident is resolved, though Meiko wants you to tell her it really happened because it would ruin her amusement if everything just worked out. Kanata and Asahi break off the forced wife situation since the misunderstanding is resolved and decide to see what grows naturally in its place.

Asahi and Meiko get into a tiny argument due to Meiko’s bullying, to which she tells Asahi that she’ll “peel her skin off and cook her in a nabe pot.”

This freaks the Asahi out greatly.

Apart from that, everything is going great and life looks good! However, Asahi mutters the forbidden words:

Asahi: “I’m, just so happy right now.”

*sad train approaching the station, please keep your distance from the platform as the train pulls in*

To be fair, the game takes another hour at this point, and she says this like 2 more times as if feeling invincible and spitting at the gods.

Meiko: “I expected some mistakes, but to think you blew up the oven…”

She even relishes in her power and blows up the other heroine’s oven while trying to cook! She’s on a power trip!

Another important moment; Kanata catches Asahi with a lighter near the tapestry hanging in your room. The tapestry is ancient, coming from back when the dragons lived in the village of the past. She goes on about how it’s evil and she hates it, but you prevent her from burning it.

Kanata: “Is that… a lighter!?”

Definitely nothing related to bunny-ness and magical turning-into-human powers here, nope. Move along.

The next morning, Kanata notices Asahi acting peculiar.

Asahi: “Owowoww…~”

Not only was she sitting oddly close to the TV earlier, but she kept running into walls this morning. Kanata and Tsugumi determine that her eyesight must be getting bad and that they should get her checked out at an optometrist. Considering the game we’re getting into and what happened with Sumino, it’s beginning.

*glance, glance*

Her eyesight continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. They actually change her model here to have more vacant, blank eyes. It’s kind of creepy how they drew it… The doctor suggests that they admit Asahi to the hospital, but she refuses.

Asahi: “Please, Kanata… I don’t want… to go… anywhere else…”

You decide to respect her wishes and hope she’ll get better. Kanata and Tsugumi insist on having her stay at the inn since she lives alone with no other family. Later, you have a memory from when you were a child where your mom scolded you for getting too close to the ancient scroll on the wall, but you were too entranced with the bunny.

Huh, bunny, weird. Wonder what that’s about.

However, in the present day, there’s only a smudge there. On closer inspection, Kanata can somewhat make out a pair of eyes.

Kanata: “So, maybe that smudge…”
Tsugumi: “What about it?”
Kanata: “Maybe the rabbit that got erased is coming through…?”
Tsugumi: “…”
Kanata: “…”

Kanata, in an infuriating moment of “almost putting two and two together,” dismisses everything and ignores the mysterious scroll.

Soon after, Asahi starts mumbling a lot and loses the ability to talk normally. She has to try really hard to enunciate everything, often leading to grunts and gestures. Kanata takes her to the doctor again in a panic, but he can’t offer any advice other than rest. Meiko, his daughter, offers pointedly cryptic advice:

Meiko: “Protecting Asahi is okay as long as you don’t lose sight of yourself in the process.”

She came in with similar advice for Sumino when things were turning bad then, so I really expect her to be in the know.

Kanata looks back at the wall scroll when he gets home and notices the rabbit’s mouth has returned.

“It’s almost like it took Asahi’s.”
“Does… Asahi have some connection with this scroll?”

NOPE BETTER IGNORE IT, NOPE. WE CAN’T REALIZE ANYTHING FOR A FEW MORE HOURS AT LEAST.

That night, Kanata has a dream of the distant past.

Voice: “Mother! A huge rabbit just ran by!”

He dreams of running through lush green fields (ignore the sepia tones, that just means the recor– memory is old). He realizes that he, or more so the person whose memory he’s watching, is not in fact human. A kid shouts that they saw a giant bunny as they ran past. Another voice shouts that they found a monster. Before long, Kanata wakes up.

The next morning, Tsugumi mentions that they need to go on the roof and knock snow off before it gets heavy and the roof collapses. (Side note, isn’t it amazing how the inn doesn’t go bankrupt just because Asahi loves us?) Asahi insists on still helping out, despite all she’s going through. She still wants to be useful to Kanata.

Doesn’t this confident gaze just fill you with confidence that this will end well?

In all of our character’s infinite wisdom (he did let someone with a 106F fever go dress shopping), we decide that the person with degenerating eye sight should be allowed to climb a ladder onto a slippery snowy roof? What’s the worst that could happen, they’d fall off the roof?

They fall off the roof.

Tsugumi: “Oh thank heavens. No one was seriously injured.”

Thankfully you catch her and take the brunt of the fall. But really though, why did anyone think this was okay in the first place!?

As if the sad train wasn’t trying its hardest to get up depression hill, next Asahi’s hearing starts to fade. She’ll stare off blankly into space until Kanata shouts or talks right next to her ear, causing her to jump.

“I wonder if it’s the scroll– no couldn’t be…”

We have more sepia memories, this time we learn that the rabbit wants to become a human. A man tells it that in order to become a human, it needs to do good deeds for humans. The rabbit tries to pull vegetables out of the garden and bring it to the village to save them time, but they chase it away while calling it a monster.

Voice: “S-someone, come quick! The monster is taking my kimono!!”

Someone’s kimono flew off a drying rack and blew away, so she tried to grab it and bring it back (okay it’s clearly Asahi, I’m switching to she/her). However, they see the monster rabbit and immediately assume the worst and chase her out of the village.

The next morning, Asahi is nowhere to be found. Eventually, Kanata finds a note on the table:

“There in shoddy letters was the short phrase ‘I’m sorry.'”

He realizes that the tapestry in his room is now missing. We wonder once again if the scroll has any meaning.

“There has to be some relationship with Asahi and that scroll!!”

But alas we ignore it for now and search for Asahi. We don’t know where Asahi lives still, since she used to go back to her house alone and refused to let us see her place.

“As if my legs knew where to go, my memories followed the path through the snow for me.”

Thankfully Kanata intuitively knows where to go, this knowledge only being unlocked by plot relevance. He finally manages to track down Asahi’s home:

It’s an opening under a tree where she can get out of the cold. You find her alone and shivering, the wall scroll on the ground nearby. You hold her close, startling her in the process, and sleep there with her for the night instead of, you know, bringing her home.

Once again you dream of the past, but this time the rabbit saves a drowning child. The village is perplexed and terrified, but one man comes to her side.

Man: “This rabbit wanted to become a human and tried to help us. But we were scared and labeled it as a monster.”

A man named Hakuou (I think that’s how it’s read, the legend route should clarify it later) vouches for us and protects us from the other villagers. We learn he’s the man who told us we can become a human if we did enough good deeds, but he apologizes for how things turned out and asks that we return to the wild and stay away from humans from then on.

Kanata and Asahi then wake up from under the tree, after presumably seeing the same dream.

Kanata: “That… was sad. But, I’m sure this dream has a happy ending, right?”

HAHAHAHA no. Why would it, we’re playing depressing Snow simulator.

Kanata: “Go ahead and sleep. I’ll wake you when we arrive.”

I was 99% sure she was going to die here just like Sumino, but she didn’t. I’m kind of blanking on this next part, but we end up back at the hole again, this time with Asahi covered in cuts that won’t heal. I believe she ran away again, so you chased after her. You try to quickly grab food from the kitchen, but Tsugumi walks in and asks what’s going on. In a panic, Kanata sprints out without a word for some reason, clutching the few carrots he could. We see a flashback where he did this exact same thing in the past, with Tsugumi finding he was taking food to a rabbit that he wasn’t allowed to keep in the house. Why he panics now, I’m not really sure.

Back at the hole, Kanata manages to get Asahi to briefly nibble on a carrot, but not by much. Even after bandaging her wounds, the bleeding won’t stop. Kanata makes the expert medical decision to sleep in the cold hole again, and they’ll go to the doctor if it’s still bad in the morning. I really want to slap some common sense into this guy…

We have one last memory to see.

We learn that Asahi is not an actual rabbit, but part of the scroll brought to life by magic (THE SCROLL WAS IMPORTANT!?).

Man: “Don’t worry about the tapestry, I’ll keep it safe.”
Man: “…I’m not sure why you would, but on the off chance you want to return to the tapestry, come here.”

We learn that the tapestry is actual her life, and that she’s given form through its magic. She’s told to live her life as a rabbit, free from the confines of the tapestry. She runs after Hakuou and busts into his house however, despite him telling her to never seek out humans again.

Woman: “Settle down, otherwise I’ll skin you and boil you for dinner!”

Hmm, that line is oddly familiar and in the same font color/voice actor as Meiko. More hints about her being around for a long time, or just a very similar descendent?

Asahi ends up saving someone’s life, but is gravely injured in the process. The only way to save Asahi is to place her back in the tapestry to recover. However, she’ll be trapped and can’t leave of her own power.

Man: “I’m sure that someday in the future, someone will let you out of the tapestry once again.”

It’s implied at this point that she’s released when Tsugumi gives you the tapestry to hang up at the beginning of the game. She doesn’t appear for the first time in the plot until after that. We can also put together that being in human form maybe have been a reward for her past actions, but that she can only stay outside of it as a human for so long before she has to return, hence her slowly fading senses. She must have been released from it as well 10 years ago when Kanata interacted with the scroll, but she disappeared somehow. Maybe when the tapestry was rolled up? That or she faded after running out of power? Not sure if they answered that.

More importantly, we learn that she’ll die if the tapestry is destroyed.

“In the distance, Kanta can see a small red flame.”

Asahi doesn’t know this and plans on burning the tapestry. We try to stop her, but we hear screams of pain as the scroll starts to burn. Kanata rushes in and throws the scroll to the ground, putting out the flames. However, it looks to be too late.

Asahi: “…am I going to… disappear…?”
Asahi: “I… wanted to be with you… forever…”
Asahi: “You even let me… stay by your side… but now…”
Kanata: “!?”

Asahi disappears, leaving only her clothes behind. You collapse in the snow.

Thankfully you don’t die. While unconscious, someone finds you and brings you to the hospital. You make a recovery, but Asahi is not here with you anymore.

“I’m here now.
I’m no longer looking back.
I trust that person and won’t look back.
Now I can run.
To where the one I love is…
I run… I run…
The wind lightly brushes against my ears.
My feet kick off against the snow.
I… continue to run
To that person…”

And lastly, in a less confusing ending than earlier:

*bunny noises!*

We find a mysterious bunny whose happy to see us. Aww~

So Asahi briefly gets her wish to become a human and see the one who took care of her years ago, but the magic wasn’t strong enough to maintain her human form for long. But now this girl you fell in love with is now your pet bunny, so that’s kind of weird when you think about it. Hmm. Let’s not think about it!

Overall, the route wasn’t bad per se, but Sumino’s felt a lot stronger. This one at least ended in a way that made sense though. I feel like Asahi’s route was plain and stayed coherent by explaining everything by the end. With Sumino’s, we still have no idea why she got sick, better, then died. That one requires digging into the Legend route, which will be next up!

“Snow,” Also Known as Budget Kanon Part #1 (Sumino’s Route) – Games in Progress

Some months ago, I wanted to make my purchase from Japan Retro Direct worth the shipping cost when packages were expensive due to Covid. I searched the Dreamcast section of games and saw one that was just called “Snow” with two girls spinning as snow’s falling, and it just seems to whisper in your ears: “You’re gonna have a sad time.” It was in my cart and ready to go before I realized it.

I’m an absolute sucker for nakige, which are games designed to make you cry (naku = “to cry”, ge = short for “geemu/game”). Kanon’s a classic favorite of mine (tho I’ve only watched both animes for it so far), which suspiciously involves snow and sadness as well. Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna (I Am Setsuna) is another sad snow-filled game with one of my absolute favorite game OSTs that I overplay even now. Crystar is the game I’ll scream on rooftops about to the audience of no one else whose played it (another jaw-dropping, heart tearing OST here ; _;). ef – A Tale of Memories still makes me cry while thinking about it since I loved it to hell and back in high school. Narcissu–

You get the point, I like sad. This is up my alley so much. Let’s sad~

Before we begin, I want to shout out the recently revived translation effort for the game here! If this game seems up your alley as you read this, consider volunteering to help keep the project moving!

Some apologies ahead of time:

  • I played this game on-and-off for a few months, so I’m a little fuzzy on the beginning of the game. I’m writing this blogpost after playing for 5-6 hours marathoning the 2nd half, so there will be a lot for the Sumino-specific story.
  • Early on, I was taking pictures of the screen with my phone and using composite from the Dreamcast, so the photos aren’t the best. Now I have a RetroTINK Pro + S-Video -> capture card -> raspberry pi -> discord robot for super easy screenshots~

The game starts with the image of a shrine covered in snow. You’re told about a story from long ago, when dragons existed (wait wha-).

“Once there was a dragon princess who ruled the heavens.
One day, she fell in love with a boy from the surface.
The love between them was forbidden.
The dragon coated the ground in eternal snow, as if to break away from her lover.
Hundreds of years later, our story begins.
Feelings dulled to time will cross once again in the land where the snow buries only the truth.”

(if you like dragon princesses, boy, have I written the book for you~)

Alright, well that was–

At this point, I swore I hit some weird copy protection from playing a Japanese game on a US console. The game just screams at you, making your ears bleed. The camera pans up to see you’re lying on the ground, staring right at a girl’s panties. Classy start.

It’s this girl, I’m not showing the actual picture though > .>

She does the usual routine of calling you a pervert over and over, then throws a bunch of snowballs at you. Except one of the snowballs has a large rock inside of it, and she smashes your head in.

You fucking died.

–is what the whole village thinks. After a while, you wake up in what appears to be a shrine while wearing a white funeral kimono. I believe they were about to light you on fire.

So of course since immolation is not on your to-do list, you sit up and tell them you’re fine.

Cue the screaming. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH K-KANATA CAME BACK FROM THE DEAD!! WAIT PRIEST, DON’T ABANDON ME HEEERREEEEEE!!!”

Finally you calm her down after pointing at your legs and convincing the girl that ghosts don’t walk. She’s so taken aback by your firm logic that she sighs in relief. It turns out she’s your cousin Tsugumi who asked you, Kanata, to come to this remote village to help with running her family’s inn. Apparently you were caught in a rockslide before the snowball incident, so that’s more likely what “killed” you.

Realizing that since you’re not dead and there’s no need to have a funeral anymore, she says you can eat the special occasion sushi she ordered to get some energy back. On the way to sushi, you find…

More screaming!! The little girl who (almost) murdered you sees you and screams “YOU’RE A GHOST!” together with her cat and runs away in absolute panic before we can explain anything. You try to chase after her, but she disappears too quickly.

Now we’re at the part of the game where all the heroines/routes are introduced. First, we run into Sumino and her mother Sayori.

As you’re running after the pink-haired kid, you realize it’s oddly cold. Someone drives past in a truck to offer you a lift, but then suddenly screams that the dead have risen and guns it down the road. You eventually run into Sumino who, to no one’s surprise, screams in terror until you can calm her down. She points out that you’re still wearing a funeral kimono and bandages, hence why you look like the walking dead. You fix that, then walk to her house to warm up.

Woman: “GYAAAAA!!! THE GHOST IS TALKING!!!”

You may notice the screaming trend here. Sumino convinces her mom that you’re alive since you have feet, which is for some reason the most firmly held belief in this village. You find out that Sumino is your childhood friend from when you lived in this village 10ish years ago (huh, Kanon called), but you don’t remember her very well. She’s disappointed, but hopes you’ll remember in time.

Little Girl: “What’s your name?”

Conveniently, you remember her in your dreams as the girl whose jacket took the top award for cutest jacket that tries a little too hard. Just like in real life, you remember her dropping an anman bun, having it roll down the snowy road, then her crying over it. You tell her it’s just a bit dirty, tear off the dirty section, and tell her it’s still good. Just like you did earlier that day! Thankfully before long, you tell her you remember everything. Yay~.

In case you’re wondering, anman are steamed hot buns filled with sweet red bean paste. Yes. anman are important to the plot. No, I’m not kidding.

She has another childhood friend, Meiko, who doesn’t appear to have a route in this version. (There are several different versions of Snow, such as Snow Portable for the PSP that introduces a new character and might have a Meiko route, but since the game was originally in a 4:3 screen ratio, playing on a PSP cuts a lot of the pictures off. Then there’s the Android version, but that’s 18+ and I haven’t heard the best things about those scenes…)

She greets you with the nicest message of “Why the hell are you alive?” It turns out she’s the daughter of the town doctor, Seishiro. He pronounced you dead and she confirmed it, so to be fair she has either the right to be startled or to be sued for malpractice. She tells you that when Sumino found out you were hurt, she performed a “ohyakudo,” also known as a hundred times worship, where someone walks back and forth a hundred times before a shrine while offering a prayer each time. She mentions that it’s her best guess as to why you’re alive, and even if it’s not related, you should really thank Sumino for doing that for you.

Also if anything happens to Sumino, she will not hesitate to stab you~

Kanata: “What do you want from life?” Meiko: “To be the one to make your coffin–!!”

She’s constantly messing with you and talking in strange voices, but throughout the game you get used to her. It even gets to the point where when you see each other, you both go “usu” as a somewhat grunt, gruff greeting between casual friends.

The general setup of the game is that your job is to hike all the way out to a waterfall in the middle of the snow, fill up two giant tanks of water, then lug it all the way back to the inn so they can cook with it. The inn’s gimmick is cooking with fresh spring water, so your job is to do the heavy man lifting. Your cousin pays you 200 yen a day with no remorse, but since you’re getting a room and delicious extravagant meals, you don’t really have much room to complain. You’ll run into a lot of the characters while you’re performing this job.

After Sumino’s cast, the next route you can pursue is the pink-haired girl. You run into her several times in the beginning, but it takes something like 3 attempts to chase her down and convince her you’re not a panty pervert ghost whose haunting her.

Girl: “It’s you again, the panty-peeping pervert ghost!!”

Eventually you convince her and she stops being mad. Her dialect makes her sound like an old country woman, despite being a small kid. You find out she’s scavenging for food and eating things like nuts off the ground.

Girl: “Looks like we’re stuck searching for nuts again, huh…”

Behold, the saddest cat possible~. You find out she’s waiting at the shrine for her parents to return, but you tell her to go home and eat proper food. After some reluctance, she does. You repeat this a few times before noticing that something’s up. She doesn’t seem to have a home to return to and her parents haven’t been seen in years. The sadness of the game peers around the corner at you, light glittering off the knife, before returning to the casual fun times~. You play with her a bit, giving her a ride on your shoulder and spinning like a father might before you realize you’re not on her route and proceed to ignore her for the rest of the game. Whoops.

Next we have green-haired screaming child, who assaults you one day when walking with Sumino. She screams that she sees evil and stops you from the lewd act of holding hands with Sumino. She’s trying to be a cool hero of justice, but then falls out of the tree. You protect Sumino from her giant icicle, to which this girl gets sad that you’re being mean to her, and that she just wanted to play. You tell her that she can’t do anything that’ll hurt people, so later she comes back and throws snowballs at you. You get mad again, asking why she’s bothering you, but she replies that she knows you from childhood and you finally came back! (wait, I thought we did this already). You inform her you don’t know her, but she promises to make you hers. On this route, we ignore her constantly. Once we’re on the Sumino route, she comes into our house late at night through the window, says something like “I see your heart is set on another, and that my dreams will never be fulfilled. I’ll never see you again, goodbye.” and then peaces from the plot forever. Huh.

Lastly is the strangest character so far. Based on my decisions, I only ever saw her once in the scene above. We were fetching water when we found her asleep, surrounded by animals. She wakes up, sees up, and sprints away like a panicked animal. We never see her again. That’s literally all I saw of her, so can’t say much. Animal spirit in a human body maybe? Dragon related? Who knows~.

After a surprisingly long opening, we made enough decision points to land on Sumino’s route. This game is *very* long-winded.

Spoiler warning!! ⚠️ We will be talking about the rest of the game in detail, so you might not want to read ahead if you plan on experiencing the game on your own in the future!

Suddenly one morning, your cousin who runs the inn says she’s giving you the inn. You’re given 2 options: “Okay, I”ll take it.” or “Give me sometime to think.” Being a rational person, I picked the later option. You run to Sumino’s house to ask for advice, then when you get home, you find the inn sold with a note that says “get out by tomorrow kthxbai!” AND THE GAME ENDS IN A BAD ENDING.

So, time travel back, we pick the option to agree and sign paperwork. We once again head over to Sumino’s for advice, then when we return, your cousin has left the game, never to be seen again. Seeing you panic over what to do, Sumino and her mom decide to help you run the inn. They also casually push the idea of Sumino living at the inn together with you as the inn mistress, which leaves just the two of you under the roof. You know what that means~

ALL NIGHT PILLOW FIGHTS!! (>’.’)>~!

She agrees to work at the inn with anman as her pay because, in her words, anman is the source of her life. Remember this o _o

So now starts the slowest part of the game. This is about where I dropped it for a long time since it’s everyday life with Sumino, her mom, and you trying to run the inn. It’s super adorable, but happy and slow. This game was originally an 18+ PC title, so I suspect this is where a lot of the sex scenes were, but all we get is slightly creepy behavior and dorkiness. So we’ll call this plot lull the Snow Hump Hump.

“Just a little boob touch, as a treat..”
“No, I shouldn’t do something like that.”

For this part of the story, Sumino’s on full adorable blast with the full range of 90s anime girl noises:

“he-heUuuuUuuuuuuUuuuu~~~~” translates to “we just escaped a blizzard and I’m cold and tired.”
“Euuu Euuu” is a complicated one that expresses a huge range of Sumino’s emotions, from “we’re trapped in a blizzard and I’m panicking” to “the boy I love agreed to go on a date with me.” If you watched or read Air, it’s like “Gao gao!”
“do-dododo-dodododododo” is when your anime girl runs out of batteries.

While at your mom’s store, Sumino shyly admits she wants a toy ring and dreams of getting married. When she’s not looking, you quietly buy the ring from her mom using the meager salary you got from carrying water, then surprise propose to her one night:

This route is just too adorable. In case it wasn’t obvious how she reacts…

…it’s by making her favorite anime girl noise “euuu euuuuuuuu” followed by happily accepting your proposal!

Your engaged couple life begins as you work at the inn with random events like:

Your fiancé is asleep. Do you
“Give her head pats”
“Kiss her”

And more weird ones:

“I’m going to try licking her thighs while she carefully cleans my ears.”
Sumino: “A-Awawawa~! Blood is shooting out of your ears~!!”

Sumino also sets up March 3rd as the date to try on their custom-made wedding dress. The future looks bright.

Sumino: “…dehehehehe”
Sumino: “I waaaaaaaaaaaab youuuuuuuu~~~~! <3”

Your adorable wife is getting drunk off a glass or two of 1% wine.

Meiko comes by as well, but leaves the cryptic farewell of “Make sure to make her as happy as you possibly can.” before heading out.

I was really, really itching for the sad train to pull into the station so I was really excited by this subtle hint:

Sumino: “Huh? …wait, didn’t I make the same meal for breakfast this morning?”

My immediate thoughts went to she’s been dead the entire time and is fading out of existence! but that might be hoping too much.

But as I hoped, the feel train has left the station. I hope you packed your bags (and tissues).

Sumino slowly starts spacing out and forgetting little things. Her mom asks her to run errands, but she comes home after forgetting what she was out for.

Sayori: “I might have made her mad on accident. I jokingly said ‘what, going senile already?’ and she sulked and stormed off.”

Then later when you come home, she asks you if you’ve seen her anman anywhere. You look at her oddly and point to the table in front of her with the bag sitting on it.

Sumino: “E-ehehe… T-thanks Kanata-chan.”

It slowly gets worse as time goes on. One evening when her mom is busy and needs something from the store, Sumino volunteers to go get it and leaves before her mom can stop her. Several hours pass and everyone’s worried sick. You venture out into the town in the dark and eventually find her quivering at the shrine.

She’s completely forgotten how to go home or how to return to the inn. She’s stuck in an unfamiliar place, stranded in the snow. You warm her up with her jacket, calm her down, then escort her back to the inn.

It’s at this point that the family decides to take her to the hospital. She doesn’t know why they’re taking her. You and her mom just tell her she’s got a cold that could get worse if they don’t look into it. The doctor examines her and tells her that she’ll be fine, but that he wants her to stay as an inpatient for a while. Privately however, he informs everyone else that her mind is regressing similar to someone with Alzheimer’s. It will slowly get worse over time and there’s no treatment. The only factor is the will of the heavens.

At the hospital, she asks why she’s there since she doesn’t even remember coming. They decide to move her back home, since being around nostalgic places may help her maintain her memory.

Her disease reaches the point where she doesn’t remember eating after a meal. She complains and throws a tantrum that Kanata is ignoring her and refusing to feed her. She hits Kanata like a stubborn toddler would, but she doesn’t realize how strong she is and hits him for real. Once she finally tires herself out, she passes out, disheveled on the bed.

In one of her more together moments, she asks you a question that made me hesitant and mull it over:

Sumino: “I’m sick… aren’t I?”
“Tell her the truth.”
“Lie.”

That was a hard choice for me to make. Sayre and I talked it over a bit, and we finally went with telling her the truth. Even so, Kanata softens it a lot, saying she’s only a little sick and will get better soon. This gives Sumino some relief, but stabs into our heart.

At this point, the downward spiral accelerates. After dinner with her mom and Kanata, she throws a fit accusing them of eating without giving her anything. She calls her mom a horrible person for tormenting her child this way and screams at her.

Her mom, at her absolute breaking point, snaps and slaps Sumino. The sound effect really tore through as the music stopped and the screen went white.

Sumino: “…”
Sayori: “…s-stop your fussing right this instant!!

Sumino’s unable to comprehend what happens and continues her tirade.

Sumino: “Uwaaaa!! I didn’t eat anything!! You never fed me!!”

Eventually, Sumino wears herself down and passes out at the table, leaving Kanata and Sayori sitting together in silence.

Sayori: “…I’ve never raised a hand to her before…”

Sayori instantly feels guilty about what she’s done and apologizes to Kanata. Both her and Kanata acknowledge just how difficult this situation is for them, and Kanata doesn’t fault her for breaking under pressure.

From then on, Sumino goes into episodes of saying “I don’t want to eat, I’m not hungry” then complaining and demanding food later on, even after just eating. Her mom offers her anman, her self-proclaimed source of life, but she refuses, saying they taste terrible.

At one point, you catch her voraciously shoveling snow into her mouth, complaining of her hunger. You try to wrestle her away, saying you made an onigiri for her in the other room, but she thrashes and batters you. She claws at you and leaves you bleeding.

Once she calms down, she glances at her hand and notices something: the plastic purple gem Kanata proposed with.

“What’s this thing? It’s in the way,” she says as she casts the wedding ring away.

Kanata: “GOD DAMNIT!!”

Kanata’s spirit absolutely breaks at this point. It’s at this point that he feels like his beloved Sumino may truly be gone. That ring is the link between her and him. He spends the next several hours clawing through the snow in desperation, but has no luck. He thinks he sees a glimmer in the lake, so he dives into the icy water without hesitating and searches around. After cutting his feet on sharp rocks and nearly passing out from hypothermia, he somehow manages to stumble onto the toy ring.

Kanata: “With this… we can still be happy together…”

Even with the ring back, Kanata can’t help but feel in despair. Just to drive the knife deeper, the game gives you this choice:

“Think that everything would be better if it was all a dream.”
“No, we have to stay positive.”

I talked to my discord at this point and described the plot. I suspected that if I picked the first option, my character might try to kill Sumino to put her out of her misery. ItsumoKnight made the valid point that the plot would become Silent Hill 2 at that point with James and Mary. Knowing where that plot went, I decided to select the first option and see what happened.

The plot continues for another day, with Sumino now unable to even remember Kanata’s name. She barely remembers her mom, but she calls her the impersonal Sayori instead of mom. Knowing his fiancé doesn’t even recognize him anymore, Kanata faces another decision.

Kanata: “If this is all I had ahead of me in life, I shouldn’t have been saved from that rockslide. Why was I saved?”
“Throw everything away and head back to your old home.”
“Even so, I’ll stay and help Sumino.”

This one is a more clear-cut choice as to what ending, but emotionally the first option felt like it fit the main character much more. I went with that one to see what happens, and you steal away from the town at night. Suddenly, you wake up in a bright room. A man you don’t know asks how you’re feeling, and you reply that you feel good enough to go for a jog. He responds in a familiar way which you find annoying. You’ve had this interaction before. A woman comes to talk to you. She mentions something about her daughter and a promise to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. You don’t know anything about that and tell her “who cares about that.” You’re alone in that quiet, white room.

BAD END

So I guess we somehow also got sick when we left town and had our memories regress like Sumino’s. Well, time for time travel and redoing the decision.

Rather than breaking down and giving up, Kanata racks his brain for ideas on how to help. He suddenly remembers the hundred time worship Sumino did to save him and desperately gives it a shot since he’s out of options.

At the shrine, he hikes up the long staircase to the top, throws all the money in his wallet into the offering box, then vigorously shakes the hanging bell before offering his plea. “That’s 1,” he says as he heads all the way down the stairs, places a rock to keep track, then turns around and does it again. Around 20 times in, light breaks. Halfway through, he falls, but pulls himself up. It’s midday and he hasn’t eaten or rested, but he drags himself along. 70 prays in, he collapses again and thinks of Sumino.

Sumino: “Walking hand-in-hand with Kanataaaaa-chaaaaan~~”

After the vision of her in his head, he tears himself off the ground and keeps going. Only ten left when his knee gives in and sends him to the ground. He slowly pulls himself back up, but forgets what count he’s on. He keeps dragging himself along until he faints and wakes up in his room.

(I’m still not sure how big this staircase is for it to take him 36 hours to climb it 100 times? Especially when he climbs it now and then anyway…)

Staring at the ceiling, he realizes it must have all been a dream. However…

Sumino, who has been treating him like a stranger, walks into his room that morning and calls for him. Kanata starts crying for joy, with Sumino saying he’s acting weird. Sayori hears the commotion and comes over as well, also breaking down at her daughter’s mental return.

She seems to have all her memories from before her regression, but none during it. She’s essentially forgotten that she’s forgotten anything.

Kanata: “We’ll all be happier forgetting about all the forgetting.”

To keep things simple, they tell Sumino that she’s been asleep this whole time. To test the waters, Sayori hesitantly asks Sumino how she feels about anman:

Sayori: “What about… anman?”
Sumino: “Anman for breakfast? I can really have that!?”

She’s back!

Kanata: “Maybe the gods really do exist then.”

Sayori and Kanata believe the gods answered Kanata’s prayers at the shrine and saved the day, conveniently enough. Sumino remembers they have to pick up her dress tomorrow, bringing tears to Kanata again since she remembered their engagement. Sumino wants to sketch since she hasn’t drawn in forever, so they decide to go to the lake.

We’re finally back to the happy, anman-filled silly antics after surviving the sad gauntlet!

“I love you <3”

Sumino makes Kanata stand in a weird pose while she sketches him, then gives him the above drawing. He promises to keep it close to him forever. Sumino suddenly realizes she’s missing her ring, but Kanata pulls it out of his pocket from earlier and gives it back to her.

Kanata: “What I really wanted… was Sumino’s radiant smile…”

What a happy ending…

………

……

JUST KIDDING THE FEELS TRIP IS BACK TO KILL YOU

Sumino develops a fever of around 102-103 and, after half an hour or so of in-game happy, the sad song comes back. You know the game lured you in and gave you the bait and switch.

Kanata tells her that if she sleeps and reduces her fever, they can pick up the dress tomorrow. Anxious and excited, she attempts to sleep. In the morning however, her fever has gone up to 41.3C. In Fahrenheit, that’s 106 degrees!!

Sayori: “Forget about the dress and rest, Sumino! The dress isn’t going to run away.”

It was at this point that Sayre and I looked at each other. “Doesn’t a 106 degree fever mean a medical emergency that kills people?”

Yes. Yes it does.
Sumino: “Kanata-chan… Ple…ase… We need to… go today…”

Sumino refuses to back down and insists on going today, instead of, you know, going to a fucking hospital. Her mom finally agrees (wat), and Kanata agrees to carry her on her back to the store. Sumino tells her mom that she loves her and says goodbye. Sayori realizes that something is terribly wrong at this point.

Now Sayre and I are pondering the insurance liability for dying on store property. This scene was just not as well delivered as the earlier sad scenes, so we ripped on it a little haha.

It doesn’t help that Sayori was replaced with a giraffe at this point.

She tells Kanata to hurry quickly to the store, then go by the hospital on the way back.

You can see Sumino’s arms draped over Kanata’s shoulders as he’s carrying her through the snow.

She tells him how happy he’s made her, and that she’s glad he came back to the village.

He asks where they should go on their honeymoon. She thinks about it, then decides that Hawaii would be a great escape from the snow.

She briefly goes quiet before Kanata prods her awake again.

“I… was really happy with you…”

And she dies in your arms.

SHE FUCKING DIES. Holy shit I’m tearing up just remembering this scene. This game dragged you through mud earlier, only to offer a nice hot shower and fluffy towel on the other side, then filled the bathroom floor with glass when you got out. Fuuuuuck.

I can’t see in front of me through the tears.
But I have to let you try on the wedding dress.
I can’t see you through the tears, Sumino…
Sumino…
Sumi…no…

The scene fades to white as you remember play marrying Sumino as kids. You use a curtain as a veil and profess your love for one another.

And then it got weird.

You find yourself in front of the shrine, hearing the voice of the pink-haired girl calling “Mom, over here, over here!” You hear a voice respond in kind that sounds like Sumino’s. You see them playing together, but they don’t see you at all. Eventually, as things fade, they slowly turn to you.

“Welcome home…”

And the game ends.

WHAT!? So were the missing parents of the girl us the whole time? Does this mean those two are both dead now? Does me meeting them mean I’m also dead!?

What caused the amnesia!? Was it the dragon’s at the beginning? Was it plot convenience? How the hell do we have a dead time-travel daughter who talks like an old lady!?

For beating the game, the snow in the main title has melted, leaving a beautiful forest of green and confusion. There’s a new menu option called “Legend” which appears to be a prologue about the dragon fable, so I’ll have to read that next and see if it sheds any light on what I just saw. If not, we’ll have to play our time travel old lady daughter’s route next. And what’s with that animal girl!? And the green-haired screeching girl!?

Snow’s not ending anytime soon, is it…?