Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei is an Otome visual novel that follows Shanao, the last heir of the Genjin clan, which fell in a civil war with the Heike clan in feudal Japan. Shanao lives a peaceful life (in the guise of a male) under a monk alongside her friend and follower Shungen. However, after rumors of an ex-monk terrorizing nearby villages and attacking Heike soldiers for their swords, one of the Heike family heirs, Noritsune Taira, appears to disrupt Shanao’s life by proposing a contest to see who defeats the monk first. If she wins, she’ll be left alone by the Heike. However, after a series of events, Shanao must deal with more eyes suddenly being on her and the threat of her secret being exposed to the world alongside juggling interpersonal relationships and deciding whether or not she wishes to reclaim the Genji legacy.
An Otome’s Story
As a visual novel, Birushana is purely an otome game down to its roots. The game’s cast consists mainly of men, save for the protagonist. The visuals and aesthetics are feminine but not in the way that will deter any other gender, and each scene purely consists of static images with no cutscenes. However, the game lets players immerse themselves in the story by providing dialogue choices that affect their story. The game has five different routes attributed to each of the love interests Shanao can choose.
However, a major flaw I noticed in this system is that these dialogue choices (which pop up on the screen every now and then) don’t do a good job of letting players know how exactly they affect the current route or how they lead to specific routes. Each choice prompts a flower of different colors to appear on the screen; and these colors and flowers aren’t explained for a while. However, you’ll later learn that the red, green, and blue colors represent Shanao’s strength, kindness, and wisdom, which makes sense as each dialogue option you choose usually falls under one of these traits/properties.
Another irksome aspect of the game that is common to Otome visual novels and a lot of visual novels in general, is that the main character does not have a voice despite every other character being fully voiced (and pretty well if I might add). It’s usually argued that this is to instill immersion in the game, but to players like me, it evokes a nagging incomplete feeling.
History is Fun
Other than that, I enjoy just about everything else about the game, but I truly appreciate the historical elements and prompts that are seamlessly blended into the story and really strengthens the setting. Throughout the game, you’ll often see characters reference events in Japanese history, including wars, clans, royal families, eras, and many more. The great thing about this is that if you aren’t a complete Japanophile like me and have no idea what any of these references are or how they relate to the story, the game brilliantly includes an in-game dictionary of words and terms of interest which are highlighted during dialog.
These can range from off-screen historical figures to cataclysmic historical events and are always fun to read or learn about either. The game also sports an impressive soundtrack with lots of relaxing tracks that go well with many calm moments and high-energy tracks in high-octane moments.
Coupled with that is the incredible art befitting a good otome game that turns its historical figures into pretty boys and girls. Another noticeable aspect of the art is that the developer tried their best to make use of the still imagery to replace actual cut scenes by making them move in stiff-like motions, which basically results in a bunch of Jpegs being smashed together, which some may appreciate and some might really not like. Either way, it is worth pointing out as at least some effort was made, unlike in many other visual novels these days.
Lastly, if a player completes a route and decides to chase another, they can do so with the New Game Plus mode, allowing players to max out the aforementioned stats. Of course, some routes are better than others, especially in terms of romance, so using this mode is advisable for players who want a complete experience.
Overall, Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei is an excellent visual novel that wears its extremely Japanese themes on its sleeve. It covers several interesting subjects like chauvinism in the feudal era of Japan, and educates players on multiple historical events and people. While some of its only gameplay elements could’ve been better presented, it still provided a fun experience with an interesting story many Otome fans will enjoy.
Have you played any otome games? What do you think of Birushana? Let BagoGames know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei i
While some of its only gameplay elements could've been better presented, Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei is still an excellent visual novel that wears its extremely Japanese themes on its sleeve. It covers several interesting subjects like chauvinism in the feudal era of Japan, and educates players on multiple historical events and people.
- Great characters
- Great storytelling elements
- Very educational
- Unclear mechanics
- Routes are quite static