Toono Sayo is a young girl who looks forward to the release of her brother's new novel. He plans to write a story about a death god who, after meeting a young girl, decides to set off on a journey together with her to find the most beautiful word in the world. And then one day, under a blue sky and a frozen clock tower, she meets a young man with blond hair and eyes the color of the sky. He remembers nothing except for one thing: "I am a death god". This is the story of a death god and a young girl.
Shinigami to Shoujo
Age Rating: Cero B / 12+
Date of Release: 2011/07/28
Voice Cast: Ueda Kana, Suzuki Tatsuhisa, Chiba Susumu, Kawashima Tokuyoshi, Nobutoshi Canna, Nojima Kenji, Nonaka Ai
I was hooked on this game the moment I first saw the trailer and heard the lines "I want to find what the most beautiful word" and how the heroine rejected words like love, beauty, peace, and etc. The mystery was compelling and the added supernatural element of a young girl meeting a shinigami, or death god, created an interesting setting.
Shinigami to Shoujo is a game that has an overarching story that is organized by chapters. Each chapter can be considered to be an episode that has a story, written by the heroine's brother, which introduces a theme through characters that are specifically featured to represent that theme. For example, the first chapter is about the word "end" and it asks questions about what it means for something to end and how you would know when something truly ended. This theme is introduced through a side character, a girl who has lost her memories, as well as the story that the heroine's brother wrote about a caged bird.
There is so much character development in this game because of how every chapter features a different story and theme. Even the main cast get their individual spotlights when you go down their routes because of how they are connected to the theme of that chapter and its story. This also applies to the heroine who grows so much through each chapter.
This game has 5 character routes and one friendship route for a total of 6 routes. There is Hinase Mitsuru who is kind to everyone and likes to flirt gently with the heroine. Kirishima Nanaki is a serious young man who can see things that no one else can. Chiyo is Nanaki's childhood friend and a very kind but excitable person. Toono Tooya is the heroine's brother and a novelist who appears to have a sister complex. Ao is a mysterious man who has lost his memories and calls himself a shinigami. And lastly Miyazawa Kaho is one of the heroine's friends and has a friendship route.
The gameplay is rather simple since the game is completely choice-based, but they do separate the characters into their own arcs. For example, Hinase's route starts in the middle of Chapter 4 and ends in Chapter 4. Nanaki's route starts in Chapter 5 and ends in Chapter 5. This actually creates a nice playing order that gradually reveals the story if you do Hinase -> Nanaki -> Tooya -> Ao.
Most of the seiyuu in this game are uncommon, or unfamiliar, but they did a pretty good job. There weren't any lines which sounded flat or dead, but neither were there any lines that were outstanding to me. The heroine to this game is also voiced but only partially, which means that you can only hear her in the prologue, epilogue, and two special chapters. This leads me to having to point out that the font had this style that made it a bit hard to read sometimes.
Overall, the art was quite nice. I was a bit disappointed when I saw how amazing the cover art was (the picture at the top) only to see the sprites in the game. Sometimes the sprites looked blurry too because of how the game had three planes of field to simulate people standing far away, close, and very close. Some CGs had perspective issues but some were also drop-dead gorgeous.
This leads me to talk about the font next which, as I mentioned, was difficult to read because of the styling. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't easy as well. However, the style of the font fit with the font used in the short stories of each chapter and also the font used in the UI. Shinigami to Shoujo has a very convenient system where they let you look at the gallery and jump to that scene, or you could look at memory blocks and jump to those scenes. They also had a chapter jump button so that, once you beat the game, you can start your game off at any chapter you want.
In the end though, the most amazing part of Shinigami to Shoujo is its characters. Not only are they all very developed but they aren't what they seem. At first glance they appear to fit certain tropes, like Hinase being the playboy or Tooya being the brother with a sister complex, but then they smash those tropes and reveal their unique backstory. It's such a treat to play through the game and unveil all the mysteries. Don't you want to know what the most beautiful word in the world is?9.0 I think the best part about Shinigami to Shoujo is that the themes introduced in the game can be taken away. They leave you thinking about them long after you're done the game. A few detraction to this game is that it is quite hard to play without a guide and the length might deter some people. It also places emphasis on story rather than romance, which at times made me sad. The font was also a bit hard to read and the heroine isn't fully voiced; only partially.
I would also say that most of the enjoyment from this game comes from breaking down the themes in each chapter, so if that isn't something that would interest you then this game won't be very enjoyable. The game leaves quite a bit up to interpretation which might make some people tilt their heads in confusion. However, despite all the mystery in the game, everything ends up being resolved and concluded neatly. There are only one or two loose ends in the game which are only vaguely addressed in the afterword but it didn't detract from my overall satisfaction of the game.