Akai Ito (アカイイト), known in English as Red Strings (Referencing the legendary strings of fate) is a visual novel created in 2004 by Success, it is essentially a supernatural adventure with some Girls Love thrown in.The story is about a girl named Hatou Kei who, as a result of a dead mother, heads to her father's house in order to claim her inheritance. However, she soon finds herself caught up in supernatural happenings after a dream concerning a huge tree and a mysterious girl...It has an in-direct sequel of sorts called Aoi Shiro. While not following the same story, or having the same characters, it takes place in the same universe and many elements from Akai Ito, both story and 'gameplay', return. Sakuya gets a cameo in the Updated Re-release PC version of the game.You can now buy it on PSN for the PlayStation 3. Has slightly improved resolution, and Duel Shock 3 support.
The Alliance: The cooperation between the Mizuki and the exorcists sent to defeat Nushi, long time ago. By now, it's completely fallen apart amongst other things because the exorcists have wiped out the Mizuki and the lineage of Nie no Chi dwindled, with Kei being the last generation.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: During Uzuki route, Uzuki has been knocked out by KEI-kun. Kei and co retreat to her Big Fancy House, and do their best to supernaturally barricade the house with paper charms from Uzuki. Unfortunately, this time it's not just Nozomi and Mikage who is out to get Kei...
Ancient Tradition: Sakuya is a one-woman ancient tradition who watch over the Nie no Chi. Were the Mizuki tribe still exist, it would have been their duty.
And I Must Scream: Nozomi is trapped inside the Ryugetsu for centuries after Nushi-sama is sealed. This is probably also her fate in the endings where the Ryugetsu isn't destroyed.
Backup from Otherworld: Yumei, all the time, no matter what route you're on (save for Nozomi's). This doesn't apply on Yumei's own route, where she becomes physical again (and for all purpose, alive) due to drinking your blood.
Battle Harem: A Yuri Genre example: Kei has four women (OK, 2 women, 2 girls) who are seriously interested in her, ready to fight to death to protect her. It's very noticeable because Kei herself is not an Action Girl.
Beastess: Sakuya is big, has Cute Fangs, and has an animalistic aura about her. When she drink Kei's blood or use Ragou, she is a shade removed from being a werewolf. And then in the Onikiri no Oni ending, she become an actual oni.
Beautiful Dreamer: Inverted. It's Kei who is seen sleeping by [[spoiler: Uzuki and Yumei, in their respective route. For the former, it's the result of the But Thou Must, below. Because of this, fandom often depicts Uzuki as a creepy stalker.
Death by Origin Story: Senba Akira, whose death is a very major element in Uzuki's and KEI-kun's background.
Declaration of Protection: Uzuki to Kei. This is even the central premise of their relationship, with Uzuki doing her absolute bestest to protect Kei and Kei believing in her against all odds. See Justin Time below.
Demonic Possession: Poor KEI-kun. Later on during Uzuki route, Nushi-sama begin to possess Kei, which can lead to a very bad end.
Devour the Dragon: During Tsudura route, Obana is killed by Nozomi. Tsudura fall into Heroic BSOD... and then eat Obana's corpse, fusing the kitsune into herself. And then she become a super-powered werefox mage.
Distant Finale: The "Onikiri no Oni" ending, where many, many years have passed before we see Oni!Kei and Oni Sakuya fighting yet another Nushi cultists.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Although Akai Ito is not an eroge, all the blood-drinking scenes are EXTREMELY obviously stand-ins for sex. There's even have a special soft, romantic-porno style BGM track reserved for those scenes only. Even Kei feels that Yumei drinking her blood is something sinful, since Kei sees Yumei as a motherly figure.
Driven to Suicide: One of the endings has Uzuki being forced to kill Kei; she ends up killing herself so the two could be 'bound in death by the same blade.'
Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: Played straight and subverted. Sakuya looks thirty, and acts like she's in thirty. But in her route, it's revealed that she hasn't exactly grown up from being the little girl who was really attached to the first Ohashira, centuries ago.
Flashback Nightmare: Kei. However, some of it belong to Hakuka, and some are outright fakes; either created by her own mind or planted there by Nushi.
Freak Out: During Sakuya route, Kei's mind can't bear the sudden revelation of so many supernaturals right in front of her. She snaps, and then either she dies falling off a cliff or she gets better, depending on earlier choices. To be fair, before that happen you are given the option to simply escape Hemizuka and return to mundane life.
Frozen Fashion Sense: Subverted, Inverted, Justified, and even Played Straight. Let's see... Nozomi and Mikage has been trapped inside Ryugetsu for a long time that the change in people's way of dressing doesn't affect them. Yumei, on the other hand, only began wearing traditional kimono when she became Ohashira; in the flashback when she was still alive she wore normal clothes. On the other hand, Sakuya dresses liberally, despite being 1000+ years old (just look at her huge tract of land!). But then Nozomi, Mikage, and Yumei are ghosts, so it's not like they have a set of wardrobe.
Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Yumei-san. She never take Kei's blood without the latter's consent, she never snaps, she never gets angry at Kei even though her current state is, at least marginally, Kei's fault, she stands vigilant as an Ohashira-sama for about ten lonely years, she saves Kei all the time, etc etc and so on. She stands in stark contrast to another vampirism-capable ghost, Nozomi.
In fact, Yumei's theme song was later made into an Image Song (with vocal!), which nicely sums Kei's story in Akai Ito. It's a shame that the song isn't featured in the game. Definitely a Missed Musicof Heartwarming.
Intergenerational Friendship: Kei and Sakuya. Kei calls Sakuya, "Sakuya-san". When Kei's memories return, she remember that in the past, she call her Sakuya obaa-san.
In the Blood: The lineage of the Nie no Chi. From Emiko to Kei's father to Kei and Hakuka, aka KEI-kun.
Intrepid Reporter: Sakuya, whose job is a reporter/writer/photographer. Her field of specialty is folklores, occasionally branching to the occults. That she herself is a supernatural is a huge advantage.
Justin Time: Nozomi and Mikage comes storming with Nushi, the paper charms from Uzuki doesn't work, neither Sakuya nor Yumei is fit for fighting, and Uzuki herself is still unconscious from her previous battle with KEI-kun. Kei is forced to take up a sword and desperately pointing it at Nozomi, who laughs sinisterly. And then Uzuki wakes up and begin kicking ass. Phew!
Karma Houdini: Nozomi in her route. Elsewhere, she gets what is coming at her.
Knight Templar: The onikiri (exorcists) are very prone to this. The tenet of the Senba is basically "if it's an oni, it should die. No exception". Just how far Uzuki is willing to carry this creed vary between routes. The Wakasugi have wiped out all of the Mizuki Tribe save for Sakuya, even though they were protecting the Seal of Nushi.
Lesbian Vampire: While none of the characters are vampires and more like oni, their drinking Kei's blood definitely invokes this image. Lampshaded, too, with Kei comparing Sakuya to Dracula, when the Sakuya need blood for her power, to save both of them out of a cliffhanger situation.
Lethal Chef: Kei cannot cook at all and her food is described as a biohazard.
Life Meter: Kei's blood. There is no way to recover it in-game, since the game only take 4 days. Guess what Kei must do to save Yumei.
Masquerade: There are oni, insidious beings who corrupt and prey upon humans. And then there are the humans who hunt them. It's "better" for everyone if the humans don't know of this conflict. The Wakasugi is especially good at keeping this. Near the end of Tsudura route, Kei wonders whether she will be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade, after all that adventure with Tsudura. Tsudura's answer? Laser-Guided Amnesia.
Nice Girl: Kei. She even refer to the vampire twins as Nozomi-chan and Mikage-chan, even though they were trying to exsanguinate her just five minutes ago.
The Nose Knows: Tsudura gain super(-natural) scent ability in werefox form, after fusing with Obana.
Scarily Competent Tracker: And she can track Nozomi and Mikage by the smell of Kei's blood that they drank, even though those twins are vampire-ghosts hiding in a mirror.
Not So Different: What Nozomi whispers into Uzuki's mind, after she accidentally slash Kei to near death.
Oedipus Complex: Want to know who amongst the romanceable characters Kei is most attached to? You guess it, it's Yumei-san. She says that Yumei is like a mother and a big sister to her. Doesn't stop her from wanting to live with Yumei, in a way that's more like a couple. Yumei doesn't object to that, not at all.
The whole story can be said to revolve around this trope. There is that bit about Kei's memory of staining her hands with her father's blood. The memory is true, although it's not hers. And the plot starts with death of Kei's mother. The other character whose Happy Ending shows her living together with Kei? Sakuya, who has been watching the lineage of those with Nie no Chi and who have consoled Kei during the death of her grandmother and mother.
It's worth mentioning that the maiden name of Kei's late mother was Senba Mayumi.
Blood Requirement: N/A ! Nozomi, Mikage, and Yumei doesn't need human blood to survive, at all. They are more like spirits sustained with magic (and blood, especially blood of a Nie), than traditional vampires. Nozomi and Mikage only seek human blood to awaken Nushi.
Conversion: They can't convert the biting way. One becomes fettered spirit through powerful and rare magic. Bizarrely enough, only Sakuya can convert... although the converted one won't become a Mizuki.
Morality Shift: It really depends whether someone was already a messed-up person before conversion. However, Oni!Kei does seem to become less human after she ceases to be human.
Super Power: Oh yes, becoming an oni gives you super power.
Weaknesses: Nozomi and Mikage can only appear during the night, while Yumei can appear anytime.
Power Levels: In the JIVE Guidebook. Sakuya (in Ragou mode) is listed as higher than Nushi and thus highest in the ranking, while Kei is (obviously) the lowest. Oni!Kei and Horned!Sakuya aren't listed.
The Power of Blood: The story revolves around the blood of the Nie no Chi. In this era, that means Kei.
Red String of Fate: The literal translation of the title. When someone take Kei's blood (with her consent), there is a short FMV showing two blood-red sinusoidal wave synchronizing with each others into a straight line, showing adjoining of destiny. This even become a running gag in Yumei route!
Save the Day, Turn Away: Even though Tsudura have become a very powerful onikiri, have eliminated the threat of Nushi-sama (before it can even start), have saved Kei from very certain death, have helped Ohashira-sama Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and most importantly: have found a person she need not be paranoid of, she can't be together with Kei because doing so will endanger Kei. She does regret it.
Save the Villain: There is a Nozomi route. [[spoiler:However, it's rather short. It's at least partially canon, because Nozomi is hanging around Kei in the Aoi Shiro Kaeishou manga.
Secret War: The conflict between the Onikiribe and the Oni has been on-going since the beginning of time. Kei is only hidden from the preying supernaturals due to the blue marble charm that is her cellphone straps. And even that isn't fool-proof.
She Who Must Not Be Seen: Youko-chan, Kei's friend at the school. Also, Kei's father in the flashback; which is egregious because every other significant male characters (except Senba Akira) was seen.
Stepford Smiler: Tsudura. Kei even says in her route something along the lines of Tsudura being good at hiding sadness by smiling.
Super Mode: Sakuya, who morph into a near-human form whenever she drink Kei's blood. There's a level 2 of it, that's when she use Ragou. And then there is a level 3 of it, seen only in the Onikiri no Oni ending... maybe because she drink Kei's blood all the time.
These Hands Have Killed: One of Kei's resurfaced memory, about her hands being covered in the blood of her father. Turns out that while the memory is real, it's not her, it's Hakuka's. At that time Nushi was controlling him.
Together in Death: In Sakuya route, where she and Kei become the next Ohashira so they can be together forever. Yumei, now alive again, feel pity for them and is doing her best to allow them to live again.
Took a Level in Badass: Kei, of all people. In Onikiri no Oni ending of Sakuya route, Sakuya give her Mizuki Tribe blood to the dying Kei, making her something that is not human. Then they become a couple who fight those who try to awaken Nushi-sama again, possibly forever. Fans seems to prefer this ending so much over Sakuya's Happy Ending, that there is an unlockable Mini-Game about Kei's life (unlife?) as onikiri in Aoi Shiro.
Total Eclipse of the Plot: Nushi cause lunar eclipse to happen to prevent Sakuya from using her Ragou magic. However, it doesn't work because Sakuya was born during a new moon. Badassery ensued. Ouch.
Yumei: Becoming alive again, physical body and all when someone take her position as Ohashira. I.E., by KEI-kun at the Happy Ending at Yumei's own route, or by Sakuya and Kei at one ending of Sakuya route. It's also possible to retire from being an Ohashira if there is a (very powerful) magic that can act as a seal, i.e. at the end of Tsudura route. In that case, Yumei Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
KEI-kun: Dead, when Nushi completely took over his body.
Nozomi: Averted. At the end of her route, she doesn't get to be alive again. It's not known whether she's sent to Final Death when the Ryugetsu is destroyed in another routes.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The oni is a decidedly broad category. Dead people walking around? Oni! Ghosts appearing? Oni! Evil god who demand blood sacrifice? Oni! Your non-human ally? Oni! Those who murder people in cold blood, thus have no human heart? Oni!. Seriously, those onikiriyaku need to chill a bit.
When The Stars Align: The requirement for Sakuya to use her Ragou magic. Unfortunately, one of Nushi's power is control over celestial objects...
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Sakuya's lament when Kei dies is... touching. To be fair, she has lost absolutely everyone she knows in her very long life.