I have come to like quite a number of female characters but for this time, I decided to (briefly?) touch on one of the first girls I came to like a lot. I guess it does not help with the fact that she comes from a title I love a lot – but we all tend to rant more about the boys in Clock Zero and Nadeshiko deserves her own spotlight too. Though I do not go into the details, there are still critical spoilers for the game below!
Clock Zero starts off in a typical school setting – except that the characters you get are not really your typical elementary school students. One of those is the heroine, Nadeshiko, who appears stubborn and indifferent to socialising with her classmates but really just wants to quickly be an adult – a desire which is actually not only found in her, but in the other characters too. But I must state that Nadeshiko understands her own self really well. She herself knows how much she wants to grow up (and that desiring that in itself is sort of acting like a child already), and admits to being apathetic to others. She guesses that the fact that she acts more of an adult than a kid is probably linked to her father never being around at home since she was little, but truly wants his attention. While I do not mean to demean other characters who do not really understand themselves, I really do like this aspect of Nadeshiko.
Still in any case, yes, at first glance Nadeshiko does not appear to be too exceptional. In fact, I even think that her name is deliberately made to sound as “Nadeshiko” (if you understand the reference). But while she appears to be on the tamer side when you compare her to the likes of Madoka, Shuuya or Tora (Toranosuke), in all the routes Nadeshiko comes to prove herself as an emotionally, and mentally strong character – if not the strongest such character in the game.
To move my post ahead, let me skip to the critical chapter of the story– when Nadeshiko’s consciousness gets transferred to her 2020 self. When she is with Yuushinkai, she is a hostage. When she is with the Clock Zero government, she is a queen caged beside the king. In both versions of the story, all Nadeshiko wants to do first is to get back to her 2010 world. It is admirable how quickly she gathers herself despite the fact that she is in fact scared and confused (and as she should be), and despite the damsel-in-distress situation she is in. Part of the reason she can do this is thanks to her personality, and part of this is thanks to the bond she feels with the 2020 characters she knew in the 2010 world – and this kind of brings me to another point I like about her.
This is strictly my own opinion but I feel that Nadeshiko has really great chemistry with all of the characters – and I believe this is also thanks to the first half of the game where she spends with everyone in the 2010 world. So in the 2020 world, I found it believable how she grew to feel for the older Riichirou despite their 10-year gap from each other; how she sought comfort in the fact that Shuuya was the same Shuuya she knew but also saw how his kindness was hurting himself; how she was in constant debate over this distant yet familiar Tora but also felt attraction to him; how she blew hot-and-cold with the older Madoka but decided to sacrifice for his sake; and finally how she came to accept Takato’s mistakes, overwhelming feelings but broken personality, and instead of wanting to resist against him she grew to want to save him.
This certainly does not mean that Nadeshiko was able to do all these overnight. We were able to witness her struggles with the older characters, and see how she grows attached to them (again). And eventually, just as much as how she depended on them, they also depended on her – which in turn made both the stay and return endings bittersweet in their own way.
Instead of using her relationship with one of the five main guys though, I think that an interesting example to bring up would be her relationship with Rain. At a glance, it really is the victim and the perpetrator. But Nadeshiko does not hold this knowledge from the start and first builds a sort of friendship with Rain – even after she gets transferred to 2020. And even in Rain’s route, we can see how awesome she can be. In a scene when Nadeshiko asks him what she should do here now, Rain tells her to live freely and to continue being loved by King (Takato). Such direct words during such a delicate time can be painful – even Rain thought so himself. But to his surprise, Nadeshiko asks him to accompany her outside the next day and he observes that she is trying to confront the situation and move forward in her own way.
Throughout, Rain would somehow seem to be contradicting himself and I feel that Nadeshiko does pick up on this. Towards the end, when Rain wanted to provoke Takato by harming Nadeshiko, surely the first natural reaction for her would be to feel betrayed by Rain. But Nadeshiko not only does not want Rain to have his way, but to also want him to continue living on instead of running away.
A lot of times when similar situations occur in otome games, you wonder why the heroine is so forgiving. I mean, to be forgiving is a merit but if you remain unconvinced as to why she is forgiving the heroine can be seen as being foolish too. But I felt convinced by Nadeshiko’s actions. The relationship she had built with Rain does not exactly crumble completely, her stubbornness clearly kicks in and she is acting selfish here – she will not do as Rain wants, and she wants Rain to act as she wants – not exactly forgiving of her. (I have no doubt that Takato was influenced by Nadeshiko in how he confronted Rain’s betrayal too.) Of course, others may not agree with me. But Rain, and Nadeshiko’s relationship with him will remain one of the most intriguing to me. Strange as it is to say, Nadeshiko did somewhat rely on him, since unlike Takato and Madoka he is the one and same Rain throughout the game and says his mind almost 100% of the time. In Rain’s route, we also witness how he eventually opens up to her and finds a new meaning to his life.
Sorry if I did not make much sense in the end. So I guess, the short version of my rant would be that Nadeshiko is truly the “heroine” of the game as we witness how she ‘saves’ all of the guys in their individual route. One rebuttal may be that she acts too mature for a 12-year-old, though the game does attempt to explain that she synchs with her 22-year-old self in the 2020 world. But well, that still does not discount the fact for me that she contributed to my enjoyment of the game, and is one of my favourite female characters.