So here comes my first review! I hope you’ll find it enjoyable, and of course, helpful.
Sono Hanabira isn’t only the title of a visual novel series with a total of 11 games so far, no. Searching for this title will bring you across an OVA, some little web series, an online anime, light novels, a manga series, drama CDs, music CDs, a radio podcast, and even art books. Did I forget something? I don’t think so. And does this sound like a very successful title? Hell yeah!
Some years ago, we were introduced to a short visual novel that focused on the relationship between the two schoolgirls, Nanami and Yuuna. At that time, this was the first Yuri visual novel of the Sono Hanabira series, created by a doujin group called Fuguriya. Now in 2013, a total of 11 games have been released, and a 12th has already been announced. To me, this smells like big success!
For those of you who don’t know what Sono Hanabira is all about, I’ll give you a brief summary. All of the games focus on the love between various couples from the all-girls school, St. Michael’s. In each of the games, we are introduced to two female students and experience, from one of the girl’s perspectives, how they first meet, how they fall in love, and in general, how their relationship works out. This being a H-Game, there are A LOT of eroge scenes (sex scenes) involved, so of course, this game is only suited for those of you who are of legal age.
For each of the 7 couples, there are 2 visual novels, the first one showing how they get together, and the second revolving around their growing relationship.
Yuuna x Nanami (Perverted honor student & Cute klutz)
Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo and Kuchibiru to Kiss de Tsubuyaite (both games translated)
Kaede x Sara (Introverted class representative & Cute model)
Watashi no Ouji-sama and Aishisa no Photograph (both games translated)
Mai x Reo (Tomboy & Loli tsundere)
Anata to Koibtito Tsunagi and Anata wo Suki na Shiawase (both games translated)
Takako x Runa (Subdued teacher & Sadistic loli)
Amakute Hoshikute Torokeru Chuu and Amakute Otona no Torokeru Chuu (only the first is translated, the second is in progress)
Shizuku x Erisu (Traditional Japanese tsundere & Foreign flirt)
Tenshi no Hanabira Zome and Lily Platinum (only the first is translated, the second is in progress)
Risa x Miya (Cute class representative & Calm class troublemaker)
Michael no Otome-tachi and Atorie no Koibito-tachi (no translation available yet)
Note: Michael no Otome-tachi actually contains all the couples from above but has Risa and Miya as the main one.
As you can see, the variety of characters is quite big, and I’m pretty sure that everyone can find a couple to their liking as well. Personally, I think that each and every couple is quite appealing, in its own way.
Since this is a visual novel, the quality of the voice acting is quite important. While many visual novels don’t even have voice acting at all, Sono Hanabira comes along with not only some very talented voice actresses, but also surprisingly fitting voices, and by that I mean, they are perfect! Some of the voice actresses are kind of unknown, but I also read some really famous names. However, I’m a little wary here. Wikipedia tells me that big names like Eri Kitamura and Yōko Hikasa play main roles, but I simply can’t pick out their voices at all. But that aside, I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed by the choice of voice actresses, and that’s a promise. 😉
The background music is pretty decent. You won’t get bothered by it, nor will you find it very catchy, but in all kinds of different scenes it was always very fitting and never affected my enjoyment negatively.
Clear, rich in detail, cute, and oh so beautiful; those are just a few words to describe the gorgeousness of the presented art. Peko, the artist, certainly did a fantastic job here. Personally, I think the art of a visual novel is one of the most important selling points there is, and in this case, they definitely got the right artist to do the artwork.
As mentioned above, these visual novels are hentai games, which means there are quite a lot of sex scenes presented. First of all, for everyone who doesn’t like eroge scenes, there fortunately is a “skip button”, and since these scenes are not that important to the main plot, you can just skip them. But for everyone that isn’t bothered by the display of sex, in this case lesbian sex, please read on.
Sono Hanabira delivers pure yuri sex. No sex toys, and no male or other female characters are involved. While I think you can call these scenes pure, you definitely can’t call them innocent. It’s usually like this, the more sex scenes we see or the further we get into the game, the dirtier the sex gets. But don’t get me wrong here, I haven’t played many H-games yet, so I don’t know how sex is usually presented, but I do know that I, as a fan of cute and innocent romance, enjoyed (most) of the sex scenes quite a bit. The CGs, the voices, and just the cuteness of the characters make even the most fancy sex positions highly enjoyable. However, there is one thing that sometimes lessens my enjoyment, which is the volume of the H-scenes. To put it a little simpler, it sometimes sounds more like they are in pain rather than in pleasure. But then again, maybe that’s just me.
There is not much to say about this, since it isn’t really a game to begin with, it’s a visual novel in which you have a few choices to make. Mostly, you have around 3 choices. If you choose correctly, the story continues. If you don’t, the game ends halfway. At least that is what I’ve read on the internet, but personally, even though I sometimes purposely chose the wrong decision, the game still went on till the end, so I’m not really sure whether you can really “lose” here. Furthermore, the total gameplay is usually around 5 hours for every game (Michael no Otome-tachi is an exception), which isn’t that much, so even if you chose the wrong action, you can always go back and just skip through everything you have already seen.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a big fan of Sono Hanabira. It’s the combination of beautiful art, a cute story, and lovely characters that make these visual novels so very enjoyable. So in the end, I recommend these to every yuri fan and everyone that just enjoys a cute and funny love story and isn’t bothered by the fact that this love story is about two girls. But yet again, I have to point out that this is only suited for people over 18.