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Video Game: Umihara Kawase
This is just how it begins...

Released in 1994 for Super Famicom, Umihara Kawase features the eponymous girl and her fish hook trying to reach doors in increasingly difficult fields while avoiding fish walking around. Yes, fish walking around. It can be beaten in less than ten minutes, but there's dozens of different ways to reach the ending credits, and impossible to see all of the fields in one playthrough. Plus some doors take a lot of knowledge about the game physics to reach.

A sequel, Umihara Kawase Shun (Shun meaning something being in season - in the English translation of the 3DS game, it's given the name Umihara Kawase Seasonal), was released for PlayStation three years later. It had fields that required even more intricate tricks with the hook, a shorter and springier line and... commercials. Yes, there were actually commercials inbetween some fields, from a company producing fishing supplies. In 2000, Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition was released. It contained five new fields and some bugfixes, but most importantly, it replaced the commercials with artwork of Umihara.

Following that, the series stayed quiet for eight years, until Umihara Kawase Portable, a port of Shun, was released for the PSP in 2008. While at first welcomed, upon release it was found a huge disappointment due being riddled with bugs, and due to a change in physics but the fields staying the same some doors were rendered impossible to reach. This had to do with the port being developed by a different studio altogether, and was so bad that a boycott was called.

Fans did not have to be without their portable fix, however - in 2009, Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition Kanzenban (kanzenban meaning "complete version") was released for the Nintendo DS. Not only was it a far better port, it also included the original game and had some extra fields. This port was overseen by the original programmer of the game, and the original artist contributed with new artwork. It has been recieved with great praise.

A brand new game in the series for the 3DS was released in 2013, titled Sayonara Umihara Kawase appearing on the American eShop in March 2014 as "Yumi's Odd Odyssey", the first game to leave Japan. It was released on European eShop as well, but under its original title, in April 2014.

There is also a manga, but it does not seem to have very much to do with the game.

The games provide examples of:

  • Anti-Climax: Alright, the game has no story whatsoever, but there is nothing that even remotely hints that you are close to the end of the game. You merely enter a door, identical to every other door in the game, and the credits start rolling. A little less so in Sayonara, as every ending field is also a boss field.
  • Badass: Umihara herself is one, considering she can possibly do this.
    • Adorable Badass Normal: In a game full of giant, walking fish, she's just a normal girl with a really awesome fishing line & a Hammerspace backpack. In Sayonara, nine-year-old Emiko shows up and can do everything Umihara does.
  • Dub Name Change: The American release of Sayonara is named Yumi's Odd Odyssey, with Umihara subsequently renamed Yumi.
  • Epunymous Title: The name of the game and its protagonist is the abbreviated form of a Japanese proverb, "Umi no sakana wa hara ni, kawa no sakana wa se ni abura ga notteiru." Translation 
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Field 56 (SFC). Slightly smaller but still giant in relation to the human characters crabs appear as bosses in Sayonara too, and this time you drop persimmons on them.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Well, not a pistol. Just a rubber line and fishing hook.
  • Hammerspace: As mentioned above, her backpack.
  • Handwave: The reason she goes around facing down walking fish? She's a traveling sushi chef gathering ingredients. This seems to only appear in the American translation, however.
  • Interface Screw: The HUD itself, situating itself pretty much right in the middle of the screen. While it's not totally obtrusive, it can prove to be a bit distracting at times. The only game in the series that spreads the HUD out closer to the borders of the screen is Umihara Kawase Portable, but, uh... yeah. Sayonara also keeps the HUD at the edges and lets you select what elements of it you even want appearing.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Fish with legs.
  • Mook Maker: The buckets. To a lesser extent, the sharks.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game has a learning curve. It's very sharp. Shun is even less forgiving. Also, you start with ten lives.
  • No Export for You: Only the PSP port was once scheduled to come over, only to apparently be cancelled.
    • Averted with the 3DS game being released on the eShop in the west.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: There's no explanation for anything. The manga doesn't seem to make sense out of anything either.
  • Older than They Look: Upon first seeing her SFC sprite, one would probably assume Umihara is still in her single digits. Her Shun sprite makes her look a little older, though not by much. She's actually nineteen - in Sayonara, she's become 20, and looks more her age.
  • One Hitpoint Wonder: Most enemies kill Umihara at the slightest touch. Good thing there's...
  • 1-Up: In the form of Umihara's pink backpack. In Sayonara, the backpacks become collectibles that you unlock things by collecting, but acts as one-ups in Survival mode.
  • Platform Game
  • Recurring Boss: A giant tadpole that lays eggs that hatch into tiny frogs appear at least twice in each game, Shun even having one field where there's two of them. Fighting them is somewhat different in each, in the original you have to avoid things until it jumps into the sea, in Shun you can exit the boss fields if you manage to reach the door and in Sayonara you have to cause damage to it. Sayonara is the only game where you can't face it twice in the same playthrough, as every boss field is an ending field.
  • Respawning Enemies: Nearly everything, except for the octopuses and bosses. Sayonara mostly lets enemies stay dead.
  • Spikes Of Doom
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Shun has the stages built out of polygons while everything else are sprites.
  • Timed Mission: Every field has a time limit. There's also a global timer, and the longer you play the game, the more likely is it that you will reach an ending field. Field 28 (again, SFC) is only possible to reach this way, after having played for 30 minutes.
    • A number of bosses are also like this, as all you can do is dodge until the exit door becomes available.
    • Sayonara has a regular field where you avoid/fight regular respawning fish enemies until the door appears, a rare appearance of a non-boss field with that kind of time limit.
  • Unmoving Plaid: The moving blocks in Shun are like this.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The tadpole from the original SFC game is literally unbeatable unless you have a good enough grasp of the physics and game mechanics to realize you can hang safely underneath the platform the battle takes place on, then pull yourself back up once it's safe, and the skills to actually execute this. Each boss in Sayonara can be this is you're used to the bosses from the previous games, as you have to actively cause damage.

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alternative title(s): Umihara Kawase
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