Review: Kira Kira

Guess which one is the guy

If you unfamiliar with what a visual novel is click here.

The Parallel

I assume that the majority of the people reading this have watched K-On! or are familiar with what this anime is about. If not, then here’s the entire anime in one sentence: a bunch of girls make a band and vow to become famous, but they just end up drinking tea and eating cake while lounging about. K-on! had a lot of things going for it, except plot. It’s the kind of anime that I watched when I was tired and wanted to sleep. Now imagine K-On! with suspense, drama, and tragedy. In other words, imagine K-On! with an actual plot, and bad things happening (no, not eating cake for one day is not a tragedy). That was what someone I knew promised, and it’s exactly what I got.

The Summary

A band with 3 girls and one guy (lucky guy that you get to play as) make a band for kicks since their club is getting axed due to lack of members and activity. However, their songs get popular over the internet, and a vast amount of people tell them to go for a tour. Of course a high school student band going on tour doesn’t sound like a great idea to Asian parents. The only answer that sounds interesting is, of course, to rebel and go on a tour no matter what they say.

The Cast

Kirari Shiino is the vocalist/fail-guitarist of the band. Her family is poor, and she has to work to the point of near exhaustion/collapse to make ends meet. Despite that, she has more energy than everyone around her.

Sarina Kashiwara is the guitarist, and an ojou-sama (rich girl). Of course, rich girls tend to be sickly, and Sarina is quite so. Combine that with a strict grandfather, and that obviously means she never got the chance to make any friends until Kirari popped into her life. She speaks and has the demeanor of an ojou-sama, and despite being soft-spoken, has an iron will.

Chie Isurugi is the childhood friend who plays the drums. Older than the other girls and the main character by one year due to family issues, she is much more mature than the rest of the band. She is the band “mother.”

Shikanosuke Maejima plays the bass, and is your standard bored male high school manga lead. Other standards include: former member of the tennis team, being dumped right before the story begins, and lives a depressed life after the loss of love and sports.

Plot

There are essentially 5 routes in this game; one bad end, one route for each of the 3 girls, and one true (canon) ending.  Renya Setoguchi, the writer for this VN, clearly shows his talent in script-writing. Conversations are smooth and natural, lots of character interactions and development, great placement of comedy scenes, and teary heart-jerking scenes. Each route is a radically different experience, which automatically puts this VN above many others. The locations for the second half of the tour relies upon your selected route, which affects which side characters are met. I’ll be frank, all 3 of the girls have major issues, and just learning about it is rather depressing. Despite the hardships they have been put through, there is no clear villain putting them down (no more elaboration or I’ll spoil it).  Their hardships definitely invoke some empathy, because their problems are faced by some people I know.  One thing in particular that I liked about this VN is that it clearly emphasized practice, something essential to making a good band.  This is a stark contrast with K-On!, where all they do is eat sweets and drink tea while miraculously performing flawless concerts.  The tour runs into problems such as booking issues, lack of finances, the singer experiencing stage fright, and a character getting sick.  It adds a sense of realism that you rarely find, and which is generally overlooked.

The true end, while quite happy overall compared to the other ends, is the most empty.  It’s one of the most open-ended endings I’ve seen, and I personally prefer closure to a story.  Also, the “bad” end of this VN is by no means that bad. Sure the band fell apart and you never get with any of the 3 girls, but you get this person featured below instead. Is it “bad”? You tell me.

Why not?

Rating: ★★★★½

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