Visual Novel Review: Katahane

Don’t read this if you are under the age of 18.
 
katahane yuri visual novelDeveloper: Tarte

Year: 2006
Genre: Yuri, Journey, Drama, Theater
Story: 7/10
The story takes place in a world with 3 kingdoms, the Red, White, and Blue Kingdom. While the game is divided into two parts, we start out with “Shirohane”:
Since there will be a theater festival taking place in their hometown soon, Wakaba, a young playwright, decides to write her own play and take part in the said festival. As many before her, she chooses to write about the traitor named Ein who killed a ruler of the White Kingdom a long time ago. This story is known all over the 3 kingdoms, making Ein one of the most despised men in the whole nation. Interestingly Wakaba decides to not depict Ein as the despised and much-hated traitor history makes everyone believe he is. She shows him as loyal supporter of the White Kingdom that neither betrayed nor killed their past ruler. Even though Wakaba receives a great deal of criticism for her choice of story, she is still able to find some participants willing to take part in this controversial play. Furthermore she even gets the chance to travel through the 3 kingdoms to find some more suitable actors to help her out. 
The second part of the visual novel is called “Kurohane”. It’s shorter than the main story and shows what really happened in the White Kingdom all those years ago.
I think it’s also important to mention that the whole story takes place in a fictional yet modern world, in which living “dolls” live alongside the humans. These dolls are manmade and have been around for a very long time already. Most of them look and act exactly like normal humans but don’t age and need some “tuning” every once in a while to be able to continue living.
Gameplay:
So far I haven’t played that many visual novels, which is why I don’t really know how to give a reasonable rating for this, so let me just tell you some things that I think, are important to mention. VNDB says the playtime is around 10-30 hours, maybe it’s just because I’m a slow reader but I think it takes you at least 20, in my case far more than 30 hours to finish Katahane. 
In this Visual Novel you can sometimes interact with the story by choosing between some given actions. Unlike the Sono Hanabira games, there are quite a lot of choices to make and it can also affect the outcome of the whole story. In addition to that you can sometimes even decide from whose perception you want to follow the story, which is a really nice feature.
Characters: 7/10
Even though my description makes it sound like Wakaba is the main protagonist of this visual novel, there actually isn’t one specific protagonist, there are several ones.
katahane characters wakaba cero
Wakaba (left), Cero (right)

Wakaba Faure: Wakaba is a young girl living in Moosgrun and a self proclaimed writer caught up in the idea of participating in her hometown’s theatre festival with her own play.
Coco: Despite her child-like appearance and behavior, Coco is a quite old doll that can be told apart from real humans by her doll-like limbs and her strange, clipped way of speaking.
Cero Sahade: He’s a student of the history faculty of Moosgrun University and the caretaker of Coco. Since he is close friends with Wakaba, he takes her with him on a journey to get Coco checked up but this eventually turns into a trip throughout the kingdoms to find the necessary actors for Wakaba’s play.
katahane characters angelina belle
Angelina (left), Belle (right)

Angelina Rocca: She lives in an orphanage, working part-time as a butcher but is aiming to become a famous actress someday. Since her career as an actress isn’t going very well recently, she decides to join Wakaba’s group and take part in her play as one of the main roles, Christina Dorn.

Belle: Belle is a doll living with her father and creator, the famous doll engineer Rein. She is a rather shy but kind girl and looks exactly like a real human. The only thing that distinguishes her from everyone else is a long, white wing growing out of her back.
katahane characters efa coco christina
from left to right, Efa, Coco, Christina

Again there are a lot more important characters, such as Wakaba’s brother, Light, Silvia and Tonino. I also left out all the characters of Kurohane, but the three most important characters of this part of the story are the princess of the White Kingdom, Christina Dorn, a doll from the Red Kingdom called Efa and of course Ein, the said betrayer of the White Kingdom.

katahane characters ein ronberg
Ein Ronberg

Art: 6/10

Katahane comes with quite a lot of CGs whereas most of them are very colorful and bright. And even though they are mostly nice to look at, I still can’t get myself to really like this art style. I pretty much enjoyed the depiction of the kingdoms and most of the backgrounds but the characters look just too plain and not detailed enough for me to really like it. Still I was never bothered by the art, the story (at least Shirohane) is very light to begin with, so the art fits pretty well.
katahane cg yuri visual novel
Nice huh?

katahane cg yuri visual novel

Music and Sound: 7/10
The background music was mostly, if not all of the time very fitting and even relaxing. Kathahane also comes with an opening theme, which kind of surprised me. I mean I know that many visual novels have an opening, I was just surprised to see one for Katahane. The song is called “Alea jacta est!“ by Rita, if I remember correctly she also did the opening themes of popular visual novels like “Little Busters” and also of another yuri one called “Aoi Shiro”.
The voice acting just like the music was done very well. I especially enjoyed Angelina’s/Christina’s voice, it really fit the character perfectly. And maybe my ears deceived me but isn’t Belle’s/Efa’s voice actress the same as Kaede’s from Sono Hanabira 2 and 4?
Yuri: 8/10
The yuri in Katahane really surprised me in good way since I didn’t have high expectations to begin with. Before I started playing, I already knew that the yuri couple wouldn’t be the only one to appear in this game. I also didn’t have high hopes to see a good romance since Katahane is still an eroge. But fortunately the romance turned out pretty well and even though Belle and Angelina weren’t the main characters, their relationships still appeared to be the strongest and most important of them all. And since this visual novel is pretty long, the two of them got a lot of time to properly develop their relationship. It’s actually a good thing that their love story doesn’t start out with something like love at first sight, it’s more realistic. They start off as strangers, become friends and eventually grow more and more fond of each other. It was quite lovely to watch them interact with one another because they really match each other perfectly.
In Kurohane you get yet another yuri couple, ok well not a completely different couple but still some different characters, that just look exactly like Bella and Angelina. Christina and Efa, as they are called, share a different kind of relationship with each other than the former. For me their get-together felt a little more rushed but that’s no surprise since Kurohane is much shorter than the main story of Shirohane. The love story in this one is also very tragic and far more serious, but it still comes with a lot of cute and adorable moments.
All in all I think it’s a double win for Katahane to have 2 yuri couples even though they look the same.
katahane yuri visual novel kiss
click to enlarge

H-Scenes: 7/10

If I remember correctly there is a total of 9 H-scenes, 6 out of them with our two yuri couples and 3 with the 2 hetero couples. Even when it comes to the sex scenes I have to divide the game into its two stories since even those scenes vary quite a bit in Kuro-and Shirohane. I think the sex in Kurohane sometimes came off a little confusing. I was more than once wondering what exactly the two of them were doing and even though it was shown in the picture the description didn’t really make their actions very clear. In Shirohane on the other hand, the depiction of the sex was much better and their actions were very clear and not confusing at all.
In general those scenes are very long compared to those of Sono Hanabira for example. We also get a lot of different pictures for just one scene and on top of that, they are not always still and unmoving, but the point of view changes by zooming in and out of the picture.

katahane yuri visual novel nsfw

Total Enjoyment: 8/10
Katahane was a lot of fun to play and lasted quite a long time as well. Following the story of the group of friends was interesting to watch but definitely not exciting or thrilling since especially in Shirohane, there was just nothing remarkably exciting going on at all. 
Furthermore I think the whole idea of the game is great; Our main heroes come up with and perform a controversial play based on historical events and we later on find out what really happened back then. It sounds simple and interesting and that’s basically what it was. 
Kurohane on the other hand sometimes felt extremely long due to the great deal of political talk and whatnot going on. In fact it was so long and temporarily even boring that I skipped some parts just to get them over with. Still I think this game really deserves its high ranking and I would recommend this to basically everyone who wants to read an entertaining and sweet visual novel.

English Patch:  
The game received an English translation in 2011, clicking here will redirect you to TLWiki, where you can download the patch and find instructions on how to install it.
But be warned, the installation of the English patch took me quite a while and problems kept popping up.

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11 thoughts on “Visual Novel Review: Katahane

  1. Man, this game…I honestly forgot about it. I put it off around 2 years ago. I suppose it's about time I finished what I started…even though I'll have to go through the Wakaba and Coco routes as well. Thank goodness for the skip button.

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  2. Good thing you ask, I totally forgot to add that, it received an English translation some time ago.
    But be prepared, the installation of the English patch was real hell to me.

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  3. Very surprised to see negative comments on the Kurohane section of the game. I actually thought that was the highlight of the game and was what made it interesting while the Shirohane felt lackluster and boring to me. Well, glad you liked the game at least.

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  4. Sorry for the late reply.

    In case of Kurohane, I just found it boring at times. There was just too much political talk going on and the screen time of the characters I didn't enjoy much was simply too high, which made me skip a lot of scenes.

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