"Could it possibly be rewritten, that fate of hers?"
The latest released visual novel from Key Visual Arts, makers of Kanon, Air, CLANNAD, Angel Beats! and Little Busters!. The scenarios are written by Yuto Tonokawa, Ryukishi07 and RomeoTanaka.Kotarou Tennouji is a second year high school student who lives a carefree lifestyle with his friend Kotori Kanbe. Deciding one day that he has been wasting his life and that he needs to seek out true friends and the meaning of existence he sets out to face everyday with such thoughts in mind. After experiencing some supernatural occurrences, he consults with the "school witch" Akane Senri who asks him to join the occult research society. He recruits some members, sets out on absurd quests, makes new friends in he process and generally works towards every day being fun. He goes on to discover some of the deepest secrets that Kazamatsuri city holds.A Fan Disc Harvest Festa was also released with Alternate Universe or After story for each Heroine. One of the stories is a Dungeon Crawling RPG called Rewrite Quest.A full translation was completed by Amaterasu translations. According to their website it has a whopping 3.6 MB (which is over 100,000 lines) of pure text.Don't read below if you don't want heavy spoilers.Now has a character sheet; take character tropes over there, please.
Rewrite provides examples of:
Action Prologue: Terra route kicks off by putting Kotarou in the frontlines of a war zone in the middle of a desert, without any explanation whatsoever.
Advanced Ancienthumans: Human society rose far more early than they believe, perhaps as long as two billion years ago. Every time they advance, they end up nearly killing off the planet and themselves and are reduced back to more manageable levels by the Key. Occasionally, small pockets of humanity survive or just a few special individuals. Sakuya is one and Shizuru's route utilizes a shelter built by a previous cycle. Terra and Moon route are based around ending this cycle.
Always Save the Girl: Lucia's route. Kotarou, Shizuru, Chihaya and Nishikujou are dead set in saving Lucia, despite her just having killed almost all of the people in Kazamatsuri with her poison.
An Aesop: The story in the end basically says "Yeah, environmental measures are nice and all, but it's impractical to expect a modern society to be able to focus on them that well. People should just stop messing around and focus on space travel since the Earth can only do so much for us."
Or perhaps more generally: The Earth has finite resources and current methods are not doing any more than slowing their consumption. Therefore the only way humans can survive is to find a new paradigm, a new technology or a new way of using the resources we have. More than that we should be aiming to surpass the Earth, not merely survive it.
Akashic Records: All Hunter powers pull from a kind of human Collective Unconscious. The Rewrite power is perhaps the ultimate expression of this — at one point, Kotarou displays an ability to pull a specific Hunter ability at will from this memory, suggesting that all uses of Rewrite work this way. On a greater level, the Omnipotent Power pulls previous archetypes and forms, such as previous types of life, from destroyed worlds after Salvation. Kotarou's Rewrite power is stated to be directly descended from Sakuya's in this way.
Alternate History: The world of Rewrite follows a different history than our world, though it's still very similar. For example, the Key destroyed a Middle Eastern country in the 90s and the incident was blamed on some type of weapon of mass destruction.
Ancient Conspiracy: The organization Gaia is controlling familiars and is trying to destroy humanity to save the planet. The organization Guardian is trying to stop them by whatever means necessary.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Kotori's story in Harvest Festa includes a scene where Kotarou chases Kotori throughout Kazamatsuri because Kotori is too embarrassed to hear his confession.
Animal Eye Spy: There is a kind of surveillance bird that summoners can use.
Another Dimension: There is small dimension that closely resembles Kazamatsuri City except for having almost no human life in it.
Class two, societal collapse: Akane's route has around a hundred thousand refugees flee into a created dimension to escape the end of the world. Outside of it in the real world, humanity may have survived, but there is no chance that any governments did.
Class three, species extinction: Salvation will kill everyone if triggered. This has happened before with isolated survivors. This is also responsible to several mass extinction events of varying scale. Shizuru's route has a group of fifty refugees manage to escape into a shelter plus Kotarou on the outside rewriting himself to survive it.
Class four, total extinction: If Salvation is not triggered and life continues as it is, the Earth will die and become completely uninhabitable by anything. No complex life, no single cellular life, nothing. Lucia's body produces the same kind of toxin that will cause this. In her route, this scenario may be survivable.
Another Class four: During Moon and Terra routes we learn that the world doesn't have enough life energy to start a new re-evolution after the Salvation is triggered again, so it will die out for real this time around if isn't stopped.
Kotarou tries to be one with Shizuru, but he’s told it’s a bad idea and gives up on it. Things don’t turn out well.
Kotarou and Chihaya makes a more proper battle couple.
Barehanded Blade Block: Sakuya does this to Kotarou's aura sword in Chihaya's route. Complete with blood dripping from his hands but then the sword is made of aura and supposed to be able to cut almost anything.
Being Watched: At the start of the story, Kotarou has a feeling that someone is watching his every move, but ends up thinking its a ghost. He's not that far off the mark, since Kagari can't be seen by normal people.
Kotori’s route ends with Kotori and Kotarou still alive, but the Key is dead and all of their friends are gone. With the Key dead, the world is likely doomed in a thousand years. Also, Kotarou’s super powers are gone, though he didn’t much like them anyway. This is one of the happiest endings.
Lucia’s route has her release a wide poison attack and decimate Kazamatsuri. She and Kotarou will have to spend years at the very least moving between various nuclear shelters to live in to both hide from enemies that pursue Lucia and isolate the world from the poison she creates. A new suppressant may never be found or stop working again. The Key is probably dead as is Akane if she was still in town. Passing comments in the epilogue hint at Kotori's survival. On the bright side, even if the world ends, humanity and life as we know it may survive due to experiments on Kotarou creating resistances to Lucia and the Earth's toxin.
Bizarrchitecture: The closed space city is an identical copy of Kazamatsuri, looking from afar. When examined from up close, several diferences appear, such as doors not really being doors, pipes only designed as such, walls seeming to be carved out of a rock, etc.
A sidequest involves catching and dueling with Sukumon. Apparently, they're familiars Gaia just left lying around.
At one point in Lucia's route, Kotarou visits an arcade and promptly starts playing Grazeblue.
Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Kotarou gave Lucia a spicy bentou and added an super strong pepper sauce into the jalapenos. Lucia ate it without any problems. Or rather, she didn't even really notice.
Black Cloak: Mysterious people wearing black cloaks are seen in the "other" Kazamatsuri, accompanied by black dogs. They're summoners working for Gaia.
Bloody Hand Print: What Kotarou sees all over his room when he tries to confront the "spirit".
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Esaka performs a one-man version of this. Most people believe it's just a strange fit he has. In Terra, we see that people occasionally think he's actually attacking because he's so 'energetic.'
Broken Streak: Subverted out-of-universe. In previous Key games, the cute mascot animals have always belonged to or attached to minor heroines; Makoto had Piro, Kano had Potato as well as being the one to take care of the class rabbits (Sora attached himself to Misuzu, the main, but he wasn't a mascot), Kyou had Botan, and even though Rin had all her cats, Kud also had her dogs and was a minor heroine, plus the main relationship was between Riki and route-less Kyousuke. Chibi-Moth and Kotori would look like a broken streak, but Kotori is a decoy and the real main heroine is Kagari.
Bullet Time: The drugs Shizuru produces inside her body make her a terrifying combatant by allowing her to move quickly enough to dodge hundreds of bullets at once.
Burn the Witch!: The fate of the first Holy Woman and many of her successors was this sort of execution by an enraged and fearful populace.
But Thou Must: In the Terra route, almost all important choices in true route only have one option. The one exception results in a Non-Standard Game Over. You do see several options on the screen, sometimes to ridiculous extents, but you can't choose any of them.
Call Back: In Harvest Festa, Yoshino again challenges Kotarou to a duel. Yoshino then proceeds to beat Kotarou in a card game.
Kotori became a druid in order to revive her parents. However, they came back as nearly mindless servants that can’t handle anything more than simple conversations or fighting on her behalf. Just before going off to die for the final time, they hold a brief conversation with each other, though.
Later, she revived her dead dog Pero, but while he had far more personality than a familiar should, he was far nicer and friendlier. However, it turns out that Chibimoth really is Pero in a sense.
Finally, she suspects that Kotarou himself is nothing more than her familiar and that this trope is in play since his personality is so much different, but on this one she’s wrong. More or less.
Car Chase: More like a familiar vs bike chase, in Shizuru's route, but still fits.
Cast From HP: Some abilities will shorten your lifespan. Familiars also eat into your life force.
Cerebus Retcon: Moon reveals that that even if Salvation is averted, the death of the Earth is almost imminent. Two routes don't do anything about this and are most likely doomed soon: Chihaya and Kotori's, which originally appeared to be the happiest endings. It's also inverted with the other endings, though. Shizuru and Akane's routes have humanity nearly wiped out, but the population has been reduced enough that the lifeforce drain on the planet is all but gone, meaning the world can be rebuilt and won't end in a few decades. Lucia's route has Guardian prepared for the end of the world, so presumably not all of humanity will go with it.
Church Militant: It doesn't come up much outside of Lucia's route, but the Guardian organization is based in the Vatican and many of their policies are coached in religious terms.
Cliché Storm: Invoked. Yoshino’s lines are so cliché that Kotarou can’t help but laugh at him every time he speaks.
The focus of Moon is to retcon the world into the exact perfect arrangement so that humans can either survive the end of the world or stop it altogether.
In Terra, Lucia's backstory also gets retconned, though since she doesn't appear until the last few minutes you'd be forgiven for not noticing. Namely, the experiments on her began before Terra starts, but in the end she doesn't seem to have her former poison powers.
Crap Saccharine World: The world seems like the typical Key worlds at first with lots of pretty, mostly happy people, but then it turns out that the world is on the verge of several different kinds of apocalypse.
Cruel to Be Kind: In Terra Route, to protect her from invading forces, Kotarou shoots Kotori's "parents" in front of her to drive her away.
Presumably due to the presence of the writers of Higurashi and Cross Channel, the plot of Rewrite is much darker than previous Key titles and with a great deal of combat.
Akane’s route is quite a bit darker than the route before it as Kotarou instantly embraces killing in order to protect Akane.
Terra route continues the trend set by Akane's route though he has better direction now.
Date Peepers: Shizuru does this during the first time Lucia invites Kotarou over, and later Lucia is convinced that she's doing again during their date. Subverted later in that is revelead later that she was doing that only to hide her embarassment.
Demonic Possession: A ghost possesses Lucia in her route. Subverted in that Lucia was actually faking it in front of Kotarou.
Depending on the Writer: Character traits and plot points are not very consistent between routes due to having three different writers and little in the way of oversight to keep the details consistent. Not only are characters like Akane different depending on who is writing them, but there are even some plot holes thanks to it.
Despair Event Horizon: Akane crosses that line during Chihaya's route, and Lucia comes too close to it on her own route.
The Lucia route establishes that Guardian's low presence in Kazamatsuri is because the Guardian branches elsewhere in the world were tricked into thinking the Key was in their own country. It's a trick that won't fool people for long, but it'll fool them long enough. Terra route confirms that this is a major problem for them: More and more factions and infighting are appearing.
Gaia has been split into two groups that spend as much time fighting each other as Guardian.
Shizuru’s route ends with the Key successfully singing the Song of Salvation and dissolving the current world. Fifty two people survive including Shizuru. Three die before they can return to the surface and one baby is born. Kotarou was not one of those fifty odd people nor were any of the other people in the main cast or supporting cast apart from Imamiya. Kotarou is now a tree. However, judging by the precedent of Sakuya this is likely not permanent. Still, humanity was basically wiped out.
In Akane’s route, she triggers the apocalypse. Billions die and the Martel Corporation hastily evacuates a hundred thousand people into an alternate dimension. The survival of the rest of humanity is extremely shaky. Akane and Kotarou go into exile after Kotarou takes the fall for everything. Of the main and supporting cast, only Kotarou, Akane and Yoshino survive. The world within the alternate dimension will regress socially, politically and scientifically. Also, due to the small size, population control policies are in effect.
The Dragon: In Akane's route, Kotarou joins Gaia and unwittingly becomes this for Akane.
Dramatic Shattering: In Lucia's Route, windows and light-bulbs break to show the presence of the ghost. It is an effect that Lucia can create.
Duel Boss: In Rewrite Quest, Kotarou has the option to challenge Midou to a duel.
Dwindling Party: Moon Route has Kotarou and his friends all work together to protect Kagari from an endless army of monsters. They all die one by one.
Earn Your Happy Ending: A repeating theme throughout the routes. The happiness of any ending seems to directly correlate with how hard Kotarou's willing to work for it.
In Shizuru's route, Kotarou's decision to abide by the decisions of others results in the most unequivocal disaster of the routes. He's a burden, and that burden results in the ultimate destruction of the world. However, he makes a decision at the end, allowing him and Shizuru to both survive the end.
In Lucia's route, Kotarou again stands by and does very little over the route. Disaster strikes as a direct consequence. At the end, however, he puts effort in, and gets a happy ending for Lucia and himself. The world survives.
In Akane's route, Kotarou does more, but he still doesn't allow himself to dig deeper into Akane's plans. As a result, the world ends. However, Kotarou's decision to intervene at the end saves a portion of humanity, and they're able to survive in the City of Stone. This version of humanity has access to familiar powers, and, while diminished, may survive much longer than the other heroine routes.
In Kotori's route, Kotarou is nearly powerless. Despite that, he works to help and protect Kotori, and as a result, the world is saved, both survive, and they're able to live happily together.
In Chihaya's route, Kotarou works as hard as he possibly can from start to finish, and as a result, humanity manages to so impress the Key that Salvation is averted, something not accomplished in any other route!
In the Moon route, Kotarou brings together the collective knowledge of all his lifetimes, and throws everything he has into helping Kagari. He gives up the Occult Club and Sakuya sacrifices all instances of himself, but he's able to make the Terra route possible. Kotarou also notes the version of himself in the retconned universe will be different (and thus this is the end for him) but he has already seen the new world succeed.
In the Terra route, Kotarou betrays almost everything and throws away every ally he has in the name of saving the world. He succeeds, and a result, he's given a second chance to be with and watch over his friends, while humanity in general is given a second chance and a new potential.
Eating Contest: Lucia and Chihaya enter one where they have to work together to eat a giant parfait within a time limit or else they pay the cost. Unknown to them, the parfait is spicy hot.
At the end of all non-Lucia versions of the Common Route, Kotarou discovers the power of Aurora during a fight with a Hound familiar.
During Lucia's route, he discovers Aurora at the very end of the route.
During Chihaya's route, Kotarou inherits some of Midou's power over fire, allowing him to create flaming Aurora.
During Akane's route, Kotarou uses Aurora to simulate the power of evolution at breakneck pace with multiple branching generations, refining a weapon to perfectly counter his current enemy. The result is almost identical to the Key's Aurora ribbons.
During Terra, Kotarou does not have Aurora, due to never receiving the power of the Key's ribbons. However, when he is forced to fight the same enemy as above, he uses Rewrite to bring his blood manipulation ability to its absolute peak. Since Rewrite uses life energy, and Aurora is the primordial energy of life, this allows him to create the same Aurora ribbon weapon on his own power. Most impressively, he accomplishes this without the use of the evolutionary process he uses there.
Emotional Powers: Hinted at with a question early in the game. "Would you change the world or yourself?"
"Yourself": Superhumans get their powers when a person who wishes to change the world focuses on themselves first. They tend to be extroverts and have high personal responsibility. They're more likely to accept the status quo even when it is dangerous.
"The World": Summoners get their powers when they wish the change the world and brood on it. They are introverted and have difficulty making friends and are prone to things like autistic behavior. They often gloss over their own personal failings.
Endless Corridor: There is an alternate Kazamatsuri that appears like an inferior, massive copy. Kotarou gets trapped in it several times, Yoshino gets stuck with him once and several others have stumbled in and out of it as well.
Enemy Civil War: Gaia has several competing factions. During Akane's route, the one where we learn the most about them, we find out that Kotarou is actually in the eviler of the two. Suzaki is actually a fairly reasonable fellow.
Ethereal Choir: There is one song in the story that forces Kagari to bring ruin faster to the world.
Some of the routes contain some pretty strong foreshadowing for Kotarou's true age and identity, especially Shizuru's and to a lesser extent Lucia and Kotori. This doesn't have any payoff until Terra.
Akane's questionaire appears to be filled with rather bizarre questions, but in truth she was actually testing to see how much of an affinity for being a summoner he had. Questions about his dissatisfaction with life or feeling that he was sick are intended to figure out if he's unhappy or a hypochondriac, which are clear signs of summoner aptitude. When you've read Terra, it becomes clear that Kotarou's answers are highly ambiguous in this respect. The last question is the most blatant and the only one you get the chance to fill out yourself. It is one of the most important and obvious questions and is a necessary flag for Shizuru or Akane.
For the Evulz: Midou just likes to destroy things. Gaia is as good a way as any.
Fossil Revival: Kilimanjaro was created with fossilized remains and beetles.
From Bad to Worse: The Salvation and Re-Evolution were already bad enough, but in Moon and Terra routes is revelead that the planet doesn't have enough life energy left to repeat the cycle one more time, so if Salvation kicks in this time, is truly the end.
Gaia's Vengeance: The Key is here to see if mankind should be saved or not with implications that whether or not we pass its inspection depends on how well we've treated the Earth and whether it wants us to continue living on it or not. Subverted. The Earth is alive, but only in the sense that a tree or perhaps even a complex program is alive: It has no real awareness, only certain things that it does. The Key is far more intelligent, but it isn't actually that concerned over whether the planet lives or dies so much as whether mankind does. If mankind is going to kill the Earth, they'll kill themselves off in the process and that's why it really wipes them out. Better to start from scratch and make a more sustainable system next time.
Game-Breaking Injury: Shizuru almost dies trying to save Kotarou when he's attacked during her route.
Ghibli Hills: The entire city of Kazamatsuri is surrounded by lush forest.
Girlish Pigtails: Shizuru. Chihaya sports the tsundere-tails variation of the trope.
The Glomp: Nishikujou's character is introduced when she's trying to invoke this on Shizuru.
A God Am I: Played for Laughs when Kotarou is conducting a simulation of Earth from creation to present times and gets the feeling of omnipotence. Kotori knocks him out of it.
Going Down with the Ship: Several of the minor characters indicate that should Salvation begin they intend to stay behind even if they could escape. Surprisingly, Suzaki appears to be one of them. It's even more surprising once you're read Terra.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: There over 100 friends for you to find during the course of the novel. Some are mandatory, while others are very well hidden.
In Chihaya's route, Midou, though it doesn’t seem like it at the time. When his ideology has been beaten as well as his familiar, he assists Kotarou in defeating the rampaging Sakuya somehow.
In general and on a lighter note, the story occasionally admits that the other girls are interested in Kotarou as well, but they're always supportive of whichever girl's route it is rather than getting in the way. For example, Shizuru helps Kotarou get close to Lucia despite her own obvious crush and admits to Nishikujou that Lucia managed to get ahead of her. In Shizuru's route, Kotori supports that relationship.
Green Aesop: Subverted. As far as the Key is concerned, it's perfectly natural for mankind to not worry about the environment when they first enter the modern era. They soon begin taking measures to rectify the situation but it's too late by then. In the end it's not environmental measures that will save the Earth but rather utilizing technology and techniques that Gaia and Guardian have been monopolizing after destroying both organizations to keep them from fighting and sucking up life energy even faster. Finally, the ultimate long term solution is to leave the Earth entirely and settle on a new planet.
Grey and Gray Morality: The people wanting to kill the Key (Shizuru and Lucia) have better reasons for what they’re doing than those who protect her like Kotori. However, if the Earth isn’t revitalized it will die and the planet will simply begin pumping out poison. Also, they always plan for end of the world scenarios… and occasionally try to FORCE them to occur.
In contrast to the other more bittersweet or outright bad endings, Ohtori Chihaya’s ending is unambiguously happy with humanity saved, no largescale casualties, all the heroines still alive, the occult club reforming and only one major character dead. Sakuya might not even be truly dead either.
Terra route ends with the world saved more completely than in any other route. Humanity is expected to live on without destroying the Earth and dooming themselves. All the main heroines are alive and it gives Kotarou a chance to bond with them when they have normal lives and can all be proper friends together. On a somewhat negative note, Kagari is gone and the world has entered an ice age, but that was part of the plan all along.
And thus, the world was saved through the love of boobies. Pay no attention to this clearly being a joke ending.
Shizuru during her route. In trying to save Kotarou she almost dies.
Luis during Terra.
Sakuya during Moon, using the power combined of all versions of himself in order to help Kotarou.
Hidden Eyes: Lucia, whenever she gets extremelly embarassed. Or pissed. With her sometimes is hard to distinguish one from the other.
Hope Spot: Used in Moon Route, the situation looks grim but the real Sakuya finally joins the battle and Shizuru is defeating multiple familiars at once. Cue Shizuru along with Chihaya being caught off guard and dying in the fight. Sakuya then transforms to take down as many enemies as possible until he breaks apart, leaving Kotarou the last one standing.
Lucia's ending scene has a sunflower sprouting from the ground.
Terra Route's ending has one on the previously barren moon.
How We Got Here: Shizuru’s route takes a time skip of a month at one point and then traces back to show how the situation got to this point.
Terra route starts shortly after Kotarou meets the Key and history diverges from the rest of Rewrite, then returns to when Kotarou was young and continues until it reaches the starting point.
Humanity on Trial: The collection of sad memories inside Kagari and humanity's waste of energy are the main reasons why the "Key" activates. Kagari herself cannot stop it. Kotarou needs to prove humanity deserves to live.
Humans Are Special: Or, more accurately, "Intelligent Life is Special." Moon route reveals that the planet only allows for one type of highly intelligent life, and that the progress of that species is closely monitored. If that species becomes unable to make any more progress or if the planet will die before that species can move on to a new planet, then the planet initiates Salvation and Re-evolution and tries again with a new species.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Starting in Moon, there's a minor recurring element that those who are more intelligent than others often end up alone. Kotarou rewrites his brain so much in Moon that he nearly turns himself into a god and might have done so for real if he kept it up. Kotori was also alone as a child because she was highly intelligent and didn't watch her mouth.
It's a Wonderful Failure: The climax of Shizuru and Akane's routes are a long progression of failures largely as a result of Kotarou screwing up majorly by either stalling Guardian and putting Shizuru out of commission at a crucial moment and thus causing Salvation or perhaps worse (once you've seen Moon and Terra) aiding Akane blindly without questioning what she's doing.
Item Get: In some cases, the VN likes to poke fun at the player as they progress through, but some of the more amusing areas are when it suddenly turns into an JRPG.
(while searching for Kotori in the forest) You obtained Wooden Bear! (some moments later) You obtained Wooden Giraffe! (even more moments later) You obtained Someone's Right Arm!
The Infiltration: In Terra Route, Kotarou enters Gaia organization to order to spy for Kagari.
Joshikousei: The five main heroines are in High School.
Knight Templar: Gaia believes in revitalizing the Earth even at the potential cost of destroying mankind. Guardian is a lot nicer and are trying to save the world, but they quickly resort to lethal force.
Kill It with Fire: During the final battle sequence of Chihaya's route, Kotarou has to cut some vines that are blocking his path, but since his aurora blade can't cut through them, Midou, apparently lend his fire powers to him.
One of Shizuru's abilities is to tamper with memories.
Kotarou starts out the story with a fuzzy memory of how he spent the time around his coma.
Last Girl Wins: Kagari is the last heroine to appear in the opening and the game (she's not even named in the OP). Chronologically though, she is the third girl Kotarou meets. The first two are Kotori and Akane.
A Lighter Shade Of Gray: Even during the Gaia routes Kotarou thinks of them as being more the bad guys than Guardian. However, during Terra, the trope is subverted: Guardian has a lot of complete jerks and knight templars in it and in the end is just about as bad as Gaia, who are largely a bunch of depressed misfits.
Limited Wardrobe: Everyone has at most three sets of different clothing (School/Casual/Combat) or rare, one time occasions that they wear something different.
Love Confession: Kotarou made one to Kotori before high school, but she rejected him.
Love Triangle: Chihaya's route has an odd one. The situation between Sakuya, Kotarou and Chihaya is clearly set up as one, but Sakuya and Chihaya make it clear from very early on that they have absolutely no interest in each other as lovers. Instead, Kotaru is competing to be Sakuya's equal and thus match up to Chihaya accordingly even though it's obvious even to him that she likes him already.
Luminescent Blush: All the girls blush as it is norm in this kind of game, but Lucia takes the cake easily.
MacGuffin: All organizations are searching for the "Key" , which is Kagari.
Magic Contract Romance: Subverted: Kotori thinks that Kotarou loves her because of this, and rejects his confession.
Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Kids that develop their super powers early are closely monitored by Guardian. They have the option join them or forget about it altogheter (via memory manipulation). And when they aren't, they have the tendency to be more aware of the inconcistencies of the world, as exemplified by Kotarou chasing down UMAs during Terra route, because he stumbled upon them earlier in his life.
Masochist's Meal: The Black Spice Alliance tried to challenge the spiciest foods in the city and was defeated by the cafeteria's mapo tofu. The super spicy parfait is another masochist's meal.
May-December Romance: Based on The Reveal in Terra Route, an unintentional case between Kotarou and most heroines. Kotarou is actually ten years older than Kotori and this becomes more evident when a high-school level Kotarou is talking to an elementary-school level Kotori.
Its not quite a 10 years difference. Kotarou was in middle school when the girls were elementary school age and his memory gap was mentioned to be around 5 years so he's probably around 5 years older than them. In the non-Terra routes, he stops physically aging at around age 16. Nishikujou was around her early 20s when the girls were 16 but its never mentioned whether she's older or younger than Kotarou).
The game outright specifies Kotori is 10 years younger than Kotarou.
Memento MacGuffin: During Moon route, Kotarou finds several of them, one for each of the Occult Club members.
Mind Screw: The first half of the Kotori route. Kotarou has no idea what’s going on and neither does the reader. The Moon route also starts as one of these.
Mind Rape: The Key does this to Akane during Chihaya's route, showing the bad side of humanity.
Misapplied Phlebotinum: At the end of Terra, Kotarou subverts it. The five Occult Club members form a contract with him and give him form, at which point they request him to act as their butler and nothing else. He refuses and says that his abilities are so much greater than that that he should be put to better use. Considering that he states that his power is limited only by the number of people who feed him energy and that five people is enough to quickly jump to the moon, he kind of has a point.
Modesty Towel: Kotori uses one during the Outdoor bath peeping event on her route.
Mood Whiplash: There are a lot of cases like this such as a happy buzzer noise signaling Kotarou finding lots of small wooden animals. The same sound goes off when he picks up a severed arm before identifying it. The story itself changes towns quickly when November arrives.
Mugging the Monster: Deliberately invoked by Kotarou when he takes Kotori and Chibi-moth into the slums of the city. When anyone tries to approach and mug them, Kotori orders Chibi-moth to beat them down. Kotarou then proceeds to take the mugger's money, usually forcibly renaming them "lamesters".
There are endings for Kotori, Chihaya, Lucia, Shizuru, and Akane. If you fail to enter any of the five heroine's routes, you will get a Non-Standard Game Over where all the heroines transfer out of school and then the world ends.
After completing the five heroine routes, there is a Moon Route followed by the true ending Terra Route.
Finally, there is Joke Ending that occurs after getting all the other endings and fulfilling certain conditions. Just before entering Akane's Route, Kotarou uses the "love of boobs" to defeat Kagari and rewrites reality so that there is world peace with everyone saying the word "boobs" in their conversations. Akane and Kagari are not amused.
Mutually Exclusive Magic: The mindset that gives birth to superpowers is usually incompatible with the mindset that gives birth to summoning abilities. The two groups can't even infiltrate each other because of the obviously differing mindsets. However, Kotarou is able to use both due to never really getting over being a loner, though he's a much stronger superhuman than summoner.
Naked People Are Funny: One scene had Kotarou and Yoshino running around school naked, while trying to hide their faces.
Narnia Time: The time on the closed spaces run differently from the outside. Sometimes a few minutes take hours outside, other times less than a few seconds.
Not Worth Killing: The Earth Dragon claims it was just out on a stroll and doesn't feel like killing Imamiya, so it lets him go.
Nuke 'em: This how a branch of Guardian decides to wipe out Kagari and the power spot in Lucia's route (without the consent of its Kazamatsuri agents). It was disguised as a Nuclear Option to rid the air of Lucia's strategically-released poisonous miasma, which had killed almost everybody in the area anyway.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the Terra Route, when Kotarou attacks Gaia's headquarters at the end, he runs into, fights, and defeats the Earth Dragon. The battle itself, however, cuts off after his first attack, so we don't see exactly how Kotarou won. Presumably because it'd be a repeat of the Akane route's ending.
Omnicidal Maniac: Midou is the most graphic one we get to see, but Kashima Sakura is just as bad during Moon.
Kotori does not appear in front of Kotarou in the other four main heroines' route.
Lucia only appears in Shizuru's and her own route.
Chihaya, Shizuru, and Lucia becomes Out of Focus in Terra Route until the ending because Kotarou never actually met them before (besides Shizuru who appears in one scene.)
Out of Time, Out of Mind: While not actually time travel, Kotarou in Moon Route has the memories of all his Alternate Universe selves in previous routes (and other ones not shown) but there is no difference in his personality.
When Kotarou stops to let the player think about whether they want to hang out with Shizuru or not he lampshades the weight attached to really inconsequential seeming choices.
Kotarou: Incidentally, I always seem to think hard about little choices like this. Is that normal?
Later, when Shizuru makes Kotarou forget her name her name turns to ?? for a few lines.
The Terra route also does this when it locks in your choices so that you must follow the only path to saving humanity. Choices pop up all the time, but you can only pick one option.
When Kotarou first encounter with Gil in Chihaya and Shizuru routes.
Kotarou: I just discovered what is probably a UMA, but I feel no strong emotion at all. It's like the music in the background is comic instead of dramatic. (The background music is indeed the one used for comic moments.)
While the visual novel mentions it in the text, the manga explicitly shows Chihaya's cherry panty in her introduction.
Akane gets one when trying to overclock her own computer. She doesn't care.
Paparazzi: Inoue may not take much pictures, but she's deffinetely has the mentality of one when introduced early in the story.
Parental Abandonment: Parents just don't seem to exist in this story for the most part, though Kotori and Kotarou's are referenced. At the end of Terra, Nishikujou adopts all the heroines since Guardian isn't needed anymore.
Kotarou talks about his family on occasion, but they’re never around and simply send him an allowance to live off of. They're actually part of Gaia and are presumably estranged from him due to his choices from before his accident.
Shizuru lives alone in a tiny house with nothing in it. She accidentally erased her parents' memories of her existence and refuses to spend money so that if they remember her she can buy their dream house for them.
Lucia grew up in an orphanage. Nishikujou functions as a Parental Substitute for her because her superiors felt that she needed a mother figure.
Akane also appears to be an orphan, though she was adopted some years back in order to become the holy woman. Perhaps it would have been better if Sakura Kishima had never found her, judging by her own route and Terra's ending.
Chihaya's parents have been dead for over a decade. She doesn't remember them well.
Kotori is an aversion, since Kotarou is on familiar enough terms with her parents, though they're a little distant. And also long dead: Kotori tried to revive them, but it didn't work out very well.
Le Parkour: Kotarou realizes that he and Yoshino are basically playing parkour while running about the school.
Place of Power: the power spots in Gaia's headquarters, Chihaya's village and Kotori's hiding spot in the forest.
Poor Communication Kills: The story would be a lot simpler if Gaia and Guardian would bother to speak to each other. They don't, so they've been in perpetual conflict for centuries or longer.
Porn Stash: Mostly averted. Kotarou notes that most people don’t really keep porn in their houses anymore rather than use the internet so porn stashes have largely stopped existing. Still, he does have a porn folder on his computer that he does not want people to find out about.
Abilities like Rewrite also appear to tap into life force. Kotarou's power also risks turning him into a familiar.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Familiar contracts slowly drains the energy of the user. So in some experiments, Gaia decides to force children into contracts to support larger familiars.
Power Glows: In Kotarou’s delusion, he and Yoshino begin glowing while having a fist fight. He also glows when rewriting himself.
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Kotarou to the crow-like familiar on Moon: "You made me, and that means War." *kills the familiar*
Pyrrhic Victory: In one bad ending, Kotarou manages to defeat his opponent by himself, but in the process he had to turn himself into something completely inhuman and mindless.
Razor Floss: One of the secret agents in Kotori’s route tries (with no real success) to fight off a Tyrannosaurus familiar with a super power that involves string used to cut through things.
Reality Ensues: One of the things that may come as a surprise to fans of other Key works is that things that are a big gamble hoping to fix someone’s problems are quite prone to failure. It’s not easy to fix things so quickly and with so little fuss. Still, if you keep at it, things will probably work out eventually.
Replacement Goldfish: Kotori's "parents" and Chibi-Moth are familiars she made after her real parents and dog Pero died.
Kotori is afraid that Kotarou might be another familiar she made when he almost died long ago.
The Seven Mysteries: There is actually an eighth one. Finding it is one of the conditions for the Joke Ending.
Sheathe Your Sword: In Terra Route, if Kotarou tries to attack or capture Kagari in their first encounter, she will immediately retaliate and give the Non-Standard Game Over. Kotarou failed to do this trope in all the previous heroines' routes. The choice to not attack is slightly obvious since the game even highlights the correct answer.
Shoot the Bullet: In Terra Route, Luis tries to shoot down the incoming missiles with his javelins to create a path for Kotarou and the children. He himself dies from the blazes.
Shout-Out: Kagari calls humans "homo faber" among other things.
Also when Akane starts moving a familiar for practice purposes, Kotarou asks her if it can only walk.
As a child, Kotori wears a sweater that says "Gao Gao Stegosaurus," with fat cartoon Stegosaurus on it. Another reference to Air.
A Sinister Clue: In Terra Route Kotarou makes up with Nishikujou and Imamiya using his left hand instead of the right with the excuse that it's injured. He doesn't want to have to betray them and can't make his heart hard enough to act all friendly to people he has been betraying.
Smug Super: Many superhumans tend towards being rather arrogant and ostracizing. As they grow older they seem to mellow out somewhat, which is why the early impression of them in the story is so positive.
Someone to Remember Him By: In the end of the world shelter in Shizuru’s route a woman has had to leave behind her lover and discovers that she is pregnant.
Square/Cube Law: Kotarou’s rewriting power does give him superhuman strength, but there’s a limit to how much you change the human body or a familiar before the size grows unnaturally large or starts significantly changing in form.
Superpowered Evil Side: Kotarou enters this state when trying to protect Chihaya from Shizuru and Touka. He uses his ability too much that he rewrites his own sense of reason.
Sympathetic P.O.V.: The branches of the story all portray the situation differently with the viewpoints of the druid, Gaia, Guardian and the Key all being shown. Gaia, however, is not shown in a very positive light even with the sympathetic POV. In Terra route, Gaia is made more sympathetic and Guardian less so, achieving a balance between them where they're both wrong.
Sweat Drop: One of Kotori's sprites has a perpetual one it seems.
Taking the Bullet: Kotarou sticks his arm to defend Kotori from a Leaf Dragon attack at the end of the common route.
This becomes subverted in Akane's and Terra Route as he is unable to uphold his ideal with the path he choose.
Time Skip: Several short ones in different routes and in most of the epilogues.
Shizuru's route has a month time skip where Kotarou suffers from Laser-Guided Amnesia and can't remember what happens during that period.
Akane's route has a year time skip.
Terra route has a few since from beginning to the end, it covers more than a decade of Kotarou's life.
Trauma Conga Line: In the Terra route, Kotarou's life is all about being built up and then being sent crashing down again. After joining Guardian, he goes into the battlefield and becomes one of the few surviving members of his group. Later, he tries helping Kagari in saving the world because he is sick of how Guardian works. This forces him to betray and kill his own comrades along with his mentor to protect her. He tries to prevent the ritual in Gaia's headquarters, but people still die in the process. Finally, after all his efforts, he is the one who personally delivers the fatal blow to his love Kagari because it is the only option left. It is no wonder that he mentally breaks down and asks if he is cursed.
Trash the Set: Kazamatsuri on a few routes gets run over by the forest.
Troll: The first person to respond to the Occult Club’s message board is someone who first asks them for magic to let him pass exams without studying and then begins insulting the club.
True Companions: Both Gaia and Guardian appear to be this from the outside. Inside is a different matter altogheter. A more direct example would be the Occult Club during Moon.
Universal Poison: The poison Lucia produces and the Earth will one day produce isn’t some chemical. It’s basically pure death and works on anything.
The Unmasqued World: In Terra Route, Jasmine leaks out all the secret technology Kotarou gave to her through the internet so the world can survive.
Unreliable Narrator: Used in Konohana Lucia's route. Many scenes involving only Lucia and the ghost are either blatant lies or symbolic. For example, Lucia knowingly altered the printer paper herself and the 'don't wake me' scenes with her and the ghost are basically just panic attacks. Or more lies, but in this case ones told to the audience and not to Kotarou.
Utsuge: It's a Key Visual Arts game so this is expected.
Vicious Cycle: Many mass extinction events were the result of the "Key", including the end of dinosaurs and the Great Flood in the bible. In the true route, it is final cycle since the planet is running out energy and rebirth cannot occur.
Wall of Text: Terra route sometimes takes several pages of nonspoken dialogue with just text without changing the background image.
Weirdness Censor: It's a wonder that Gaia and Guardian manage to keep their positions a secret from the rest of the world, considering how flashy things tend to get when they fight, as evidenced by the Midou-Kotarou fight in the school gym during Chihaya's route.
Wholesome Crossdresser: The Sukumon Boy is actually a girl. She apparently has a crush on Kotarou, but he walks away before she finishes talking.
World Tree: Kotarou and Kagari transform into a giant tree in Terra Route's Ending.
In Terra Route, Kotarou's commander in the battlefield killed wounded children just because they were considered enemies. This resulted in Kotarou's second defiance against Guardian.
Kagari was willing to kill young Akane after she noticed that Akane can see her. Kotarou stops her because he can't condone the killing of someone he knows.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Used by Akane's secretary in a prank against Kotarou. She steals Kotarou's money and takes a taxi to escape. When Kotarou catches up to her, she screams in front of the crowd and a policeman takes Kotarou into custody for sexual harassment.
In Shizuru’s route, Kotarou and the others don’t get to the Key until after she has begun to sing. When the full song has been started, even destroying the Key is no long enough to stop it. Humanity is erased apart from fifty survivors.
In Akane’s route Kotarou is ‘’way’’ too late. As in, he’s weeks late. Humanity has probably survived even outside their bubble dimension, but civilization was already completed destroyed.
In Terra Route, Kotarou was too late in giving Kagari a good memory. So he had to kill her to stop salvation.
You Can't Go Home Again: Kotarou in a few of the routes, more proeminent in Terra after he joins Guardian. Not that he minds.
Your Mind Makes It Real: If you receive sensory information telling you that something happened to you and believe it, your brain will reproduce the effects onto your body. This is how Lucia's fellow test subjects all died. Only Lucia was able to disbelieve what the VR was telling her brain.
Your Singing Needs Work: Apparently Kotarou sucks at singing, even at humming a song, but since we don't get to hear, we have to take the heroines word for it.
You Will Be Spared: At the end of Kotori's route, Shizuru snipes the Key and then walks away without killing either Kotori or Kotarou, despite them clearly having protected it. Imamiya, on the other hand, was about to kill Kotarou.
Zerg Rush: Kashima Sakura uses hundreds of familiars to try and destroy Kagari during Moon.
Zettai Ryouiki: All the female school uniforms are these (including Chihaya's)
Akane, however, simply wears knee-socks.
And Shizuru wears white tights, though her Guardian battle uniform uses the tight high socks coupled with shorts version of this trope.