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1947, in a criminal underworld. Bodyguards wanted.
Rose Guns Days is a doujin game by 07th Expansion. Word of God has stated this work takes place in an entire new universe, unrelated to When They Cry.Tokyo, 2012. The city has become a cosmopolitan metropolis, where people of Japanese descent have become very few. The young Journalist Julie Hayashibara is one of them, and is called in by the famous Mafia boss Jeanne Amakawa, Madam of a club in Tokyo called Primavera and Honorary leader of the nationalistic organisation Harukaze. The old woman wants to pass on the story of the unknown first Madam of the club, Rose Haibara, and how Primavera came to be how it is today.Tokyo, City 23, 1947. In an Alternate History, Japan lost the war in 1944, when the country was destroyed by a natural disaster. The United States and China quickly started to compete in the reconstruction, bringing massive waves of immigrants with them, to the point Japanese people became a minority in Tokyo. Three years later, almost all the Japanese people in Tokyo go by a second Western name, and unemployment mixes with criminality and prostitution. Leo Shishigami comes back in his unrecognizable hometown after three years, and saves a young girl chased by The Mafia, who invites him to eat pasta in the club she owns, the Primavera. After wandering around in the city and unsuccessfully searching for a job and a roof, Leo goes back to the club, where the crime boss Alfred Akagi and his henchmen are threatening the girl who helped him. After the incident where he shines again, Leo ends up hired as a bodyguard for "Madam Rose". There begins the story of Rose's determination to help her countrymen in need, where she will have to grow up from an idealistic but naive girl to a confident leader.The game is completely different from anything released by 07th Expansion so far, as it features no gore, Psychological Horror or mystery, but rather a mix of slice-of-life and action with elements of political drama, and a generally lighter tone. And in a slight originality from the usual sound novel format, action scenes are punctuated by a reflex mini-game with a recorded score at the end of each Season. Considering the setting, some touchy themes come to be treated in the story, especially the questions of nationalism and defense of one's culture, or Chinese-Japanese relationships after WWII.Witch Hunt, the translation team behind 07th Expansion's previous work Umineko: When They Cry, provides an English translation of the games. The demo can be found here. The Last Season was released in January 2014, with the current English patch covering the 1947 and 1948 parts of the story (Season 1 and 2 + half of Season 3).Manga adaptations almost immediately started in Square Enix magazines:
Season 1 started in September 2012 and ended in March 2014 in the Gangan Joker. It was drawn by Sōichirō, who already worked on the manga adaptation of Alliance of the Golden Witch.
Season 2 started in February 2013 and ended in April 2014 in G-Fantasy. It was drawn by Nana Natsunishi.
Season 3 started in September 2013 in the Gangan Online. It is drawn by You Oomura.
Last Season started in the May 2014 issue of the Big Gangan. It is drawn by Mitsunori Zaki.
Other completed manga adaptations include a two-volume spin-off called Aishū no Cross Knife ("My Beloved Cross Knife"), published in the Big Gangan, which takes place in 1946 and focuses on Wayne Uedera, with a generally darker tone. Another two-volume prologue titled Fukushū wa ōgon no kaori ("Revenge has the fragrance of gold") was published in Kōdansha's Monthly Shonen Sirius and takes place before Rose effectively became the Madam.Please note that in the VN, the story is divided both in 4 seasons (1, 2, 3, Last) and 4 years (1947, 48, 49, 50), but the two don't coincide. Season 2 covers the end of 1947 and the first half of 1948 for example. In the manga however, a Season covers a full year alright. When we talk about "Season" here, it refers to a VN Season.Obviously not to be confused with Guns N' Roses.
Rose Guns Days contains examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: In the manga, most fight scenes are shortened or outright removed. The dialogues and exploration of City 23 are also kept to a minimum, keeping only the core of the plot and giving the story a much faster pace overall; which can lead to some surprising choices, like the meeting and fight between Leo and Alfred in Season 1 being purely and simply axed. While the Season 1 manga keeps a good balance and removes mostly superfluous scenes, the Season 2 and 3 mangas suffer from some Compressed Adaptation issues − like the complete disapearance of the "War of Soy Sauce" in 1948, even though it was an important part of Rose's Character Development in the VN.
Alliterative Name: Most Japanese characters who go by a Western name chose one that gives this effect : Wayne Uedera, Cyrus Saimura, Amanda Amamiya, Oliver ("oriba−") Oribe, Nina Ninagi, Alan Aramaki, etc.
Alternate History: Outside of American and Chinese immigration, it's also mentionned that there is now a Cold War between the United States and China, and Japan benefits from the Marshall Plan. And since the atomic bomb was never used, the doctrin of nuclear disssuasion probably doesn't exist. However, oddly enough the narration often references events that occured after the war in our history, making it sometimes ambiguous whether the author is talking about RGD's world or our own. This may or may not be deliberate.
Art Shift: Not exactly, but many people are designing the sprites, with very different styles.
Band of Brothels: That's what Primavera is originally, and remains even after becoming a mafia group.
Bilingual Bonus: There are occasional lines in Chinese or (for the Japanese version) in English.
Bloodless Carnage: Whenever the heroes have a gunfight in 1947 and 1948, you will find nary a mention of blood or anyone being dead, even though there is little else a gunfight can produce. However this is sharply averted on several occasions in 1949 and 1950. According to Word of God, this sudden change of gears in the handling of violence between the first and second half of the story is entirely deliberate, and meant to accentuate the shock.
Bolivian Army Cliff Hanger: Season 1 ends with Rose running to safety while Leo and Wayne face Miguel's bunch, and the other characters' situation is unknown.
Averted with Rapunzel, who is called beautiful yet is as flat as can be.
Call Back: Richard's line "Long live capitalism!" was also said by Krauss at the beginning of Umineko: When They Cry. Except it sounds much more cynical this time. Similarly, speeches about the 3 powers needed to be a ruler mirror what Gaap says in Episode 4 of the same series.
Cast of Snowflakes: Ryūkishi07 was already pretty good at this when he was the only artist, so now that there are several, that's not too surprising.
Cat Fight: Can happen easily between Meryl and Stella, it seems.
Chekhov's Gun: Leo uses the gold lighter Rose gave her in 1947 to inform Wayne that he's looking for him in Shizuoka in 1950.
Cool Shades: Every character drawn by Ryūkishi07 (mostly minor or nameless characters) either sports these or has no eyes, save for Alfred, Claudia and Wang.
Death Is Cheap: Notable for being the first work of 07th Expansion to completely avert this. If a character dies, there is no ressurection, "Groundhog Day" Loop or afterlife here.
Deuteragonist: While Rose is the actual main character, each time period has one or several co-protagonists; in 1947 it's Leo, in 1948 it's Rapunzel and the Wandering Dogs, in 1949 it's Alan and Keith, and in 1950 it's Jeanne herself.
Dramatically Missing the Point: The cause of pretty much all the events in the Last Season with Richard and Keith mistakenly believing that the Chinese mafia was behind the death of Stella and Yūji, while the true mastermind was Gabriel. Interestingly though, that's not really the focus of the narrative, which insists more on them losing their mind than the target of their vengeance being the wrong one. Incidentally, in-universe the truth isn't exposed until after everything is finished, and it's only quickly glossed over.
Eagleland Osmosis: A very extreme example of this, no doubt − at least in Tōkyō. Season 2 shows that this trope is more limited in other cities.
Fictional Currency: Japanese Dollars and Japanese Yuan (although the latter is only briefly mentionned).
Film Noir: The story has definitely several elements of the genre, including the time period and mafia-infested setting.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: You can actually read some of the newspaper articles at the end of each chapter if you take a sceenshot.
Foregone Conclusion: Right from the start we already know what will become of Tokyo and Primavera in the future, and that Rose failed to concretize her ideals. The story is about discovering how and why it turned out like it did.
Foreshadowing: A big one early in Season 3, after Rose and Richard's interview with Wang Yuanhong.
Meijiu:"… However, if we leave the short-tempered Richard in power, isn't it possible he'll launch into a war for revenge without regards for appearances?"
Generation Xerox: Wayne devoted himself to protect Rose, and in the ending his grandson Toratsugu devotes himself to protecting her granddaughter Julie.
Given Name Reveal: A mundane example − some of the Japanese characters' real names are dropped in casual dialogues, but it's never crucial to the plot and rather serves to accentuate the mood of said scene (like Rose giving her Japanese name to a Western-hating old man or Richard saying farewell to Stella by calling her "Sumiko" during her funeral − and Gabriel doing the same to rub it in later). The final credits also list all the characters with their real names.
Gratuitous English: The opening Ai ga omerta contains a healthy dose of it, with gems like "don't know my heart yet but I love you" or "too boring, no can do, man".
Gray and Grey Morality: To some extent, since the story still takes place in the criminal underworld. While there are some unambiguously good-intentionned characters, many of Primavera's men follow Rose because she's on top, not because they are decent people. And a few of the characters we are made to root for or sympathise with, like Butler, are quite morally dubious by common standards. In the end, the plot is more about each side fighting to defend their own interests and worldviews than defeating a Big Bad. The one character that can qualify for this title, Gabriel, isn't even defeated by Primavera or the GDS, but by his own underling.
Gun Porn: This is a story about mafia after all. The preparation of the 1947 climax is the most notable example though. Between this work and Umineko, Ryūkishi seems to like researching on guns, especially heavy ones.
Meaningful Rename: After the disaster and the loss of the war, most Japanese in Tōkyō started to go by a Western second name, apparently to forget about the war and start anew.
Multiethnic Name: Similarly to Umineko, most characters have a Western first name with a Japanese surname. Unlike Umineko, these Western names aren't their real names − except for Julie, whose name is written in Kanji (樹理).
Mukokuseki: Mostly played straight, but curiously averted with Lee Meijiu's henchmen, who actually look Chinese.
Nintendo Hard: The fight mini-game starts gentle but gets harder as your score gets higher. By the end of a given Season, landing more than 3 or 4 hits in a row becomes nigh-impossible.
Noodle Incident: The event that kick start the plot actually. It's never really explained what the "Great Disaster" was, only that it apparently destroyed the entire Japan.
Odd Name Out: The rest of 07th Expansion's novels (Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Higanbana No Saku Yoru Ni) have an obvious formula to their titles that this game forgoes.
In the series proper, there is the owner of Jeanne's breadshop in the Last Season, called… Bread Yamada. That's apparently his real name.
Official Couple: Caleb and Amanda, as well as Rose and Leo. In Season 3 we have Alan and Meixue and Stella and Keith.
Once per Episode: Every time, the climax of the year is preceded by a quiet scene with the sound of a single spotlight flash, along with the date, hour and details of the weather.
Pinned Down: Happens twice in 1949, the first time when Yūji has been shot by a sniper, and Keith and Stella can't go save him. The second time when Meixue has been shot by Keith, and Meijiu and Alan can't go save her. Neither end well.
Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: It's sometimes very easy to forget that the Primavera family is a mafia under Rose's rule. Some characters lampshade in Season 3 that people rather see it as some kind of charitable organization, and that it can actually be a handicap when other mafia groups are involved.
Pyrrhic Victory: Magnificently subverted in 1948. At first the writing can give the impression it's a superb victory for Primavera who defeated Wang against all odds… before you realize that they gained pretty much nothing in the conflict and sacrificed almost every assets they had to only limit the damage. Not only is it pyrrhic, it's not even a victory; only choosing the lesser evil.
Present Day Past: The story takes place in the 1940s, but the background photos (especially those of city landscapes and car interiors) are obviously taken in 2012.
Prolonged Prologue: While Season 1 has the opening credits at the beginning and Season 2 and 3 don't have an opening at all, the Least Season oddly places the opening something like 7 or 8 hours of reading in, after several dramatic and crucial events have already happened.
Repetitive Name: Leo Shishigaminote "leo" and "shishi" are the Latin and Japanese words for "lion", respectively and Rose Haibaranote "bara" is Japanese for "rose", though the kanji used in her name is different. Probably justified, since Leo and Rose aren't their birth names (their real names are Koutarou and Misaki, respectively).
Save Scumming: A good (if a bit cheap) method to maximize your score.
Senseless Sacrifice: All over the place in the last 2 years. It starts with Stella's sacrifice which doesn't prevent Yūji's death; it continues with Oliver fighting desperately to protect what he doesn't know is a double, and dying with him anyway; and finally Cyrus fighting and dying to let Richard escape, only for the latter to die pathetically when trying to kill Gabriel.
Shoot The Fuel Tank: Played with in 1950. Keith shoots the fuel tank of the car Rose is hiding behind not to make it explode, but so that the fuel spills out and eventually explodes by evaporating (the narration describes it as an "hourglass"). We never see it explode in the end.
The character sheets on the official site are chock-full of call-backs to When They Cry, with Meryl hating pumpkins like Satoko, Maurice Monobe (Okonogi's Expy)'s hobby being gardening or James Tomitake liking nurse outfits, among others.
Shown Their Work: Ryūkishi still has a tendency to digress with historical trivia, although said digressions don't last too long and remain relatively in-topic. There is also visibly a lot of research about guns, notably all the details on Keith's sniper rifle.
Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Probably a type III (soft AH), considering that the scale of the disaster and of the immigration wave that follows are thoroughly implausible. But the author does try to portray more-or-less realistically how such a Japan would be ruled and how the Japanese and immigrants would live in it, as well as the impact it would have on US-China relationships. The setting would have probably be closer to type II had the story taken place some decades after the Disaster instead of just 3 years.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Despite having a protagonist who starts as a Wide-Eyed Idealist and having part of its message built around the protection of the future generations, the work can be quite cynical about how the world works, as well as very critical of some aspects of the Japanese mentality, be it through the narration, the voice of Chinese characters or the voice of Rose herself. It's still not quite as cynical as Umineko or Higanbana were though.
The Stinger: There is one at the end of each Season. Season 1 has a (partially misleading) trailer of Season 2. Season 2 has the first appearance of Wang Yuanhong. Season 3 has the first appearance of the young Jeanne.
Spoiler Opening: Brand New Way is pretty bad with this, since it only plays halfway through the Last Season and reveals several events that happen before it rolls. Except many readers will have watched the movie before reading Last Season.
Time Skip: The story is divided in 4 years (from 1947 to 1950), with a time jump in the middle of each Season after the first. The Seasons in the manga, somewhat more logically, follow the time jumps though. It's likely that the author had originally planned a "1 season = 1 year" structure but Season 1 ended up being too long, so he had to go for mid-Season time skips instead.
Title Drop: … Kinda sorta. The climax of the 1947 part is a battle named "the Night of Roses and Guns". The actual title is dropped at the beginning of the final chapter.
Rose: Yeah, let's start this. The ending tale of these days of roses and guns!
Unproblematic Prostitution: Played variously. Primavera is a high-class club, so the "ladies of the night" can work in relatively decent conditions (although it's not like they all chose this job eagerly), and there are bodyguards to take care of the problematic customers; those working for the mafia like Hotaru probably aren't so lucky. By Nina's case, it seems being legal isn't even a requirement to work in Primavera.
Values Dissonance: Invoked multiple times in the story, notably between Japanese and Chinese conceptions on various matters.
War Is Hell: The few flashbacks of the frontlines never describe anything pretty.
Wham Episode: Chapter 3 of 1949, titled "When the Rose Dies." The biggest wham being Stella's graphically described death by headshot. In a series where the main characters seemed unkillable, the scene hits you like a truck.
White Hair, Black Heart: After Kasumi, Amakusa, young Kinzo and Kyrie, the series seems to perpetuate the pattern with Alfred, Caleb and Gabriel. In a 07th Expansion story, if you have naturally white hair, chances are you're a bastard of some degree.
Women Are Wiser: Not quite explicitly stated but several female characters serve as a voice of reason to reign in a male one, beat some sense into him or just make him a better person (notably Zel to Oliver and Meixue to Alan; and Rose to Richard, kind of). One scene also compares the vision of women to a "radar" (able to vaguely sense a danger from far away) and the vision of men to a "microscope" (more prone to analyse the threat in detail from close up).
Writers Cannot Do Math: In Season 2, it is said that december 31st 2012 is the 67th anniversary of Leo's departure from Japan, which happens in… 1947. Unless the calendar doubled a couple of classes, that's 65 years.
The very setting of the series is a bit dubious in that regard: the Japanese are said to already be put in minority a mere 3 years after the war; considering the Japanese population was over 70 million in the 40s, even taking the war and the disaster into account that would require an immigration rate far beyond anything obvserved in human history, not to mention overpopulation issues. It's also possible it applies only to Tokyo, which would make it slightly more believable.
You ALL Look Familiar: It seems there are like ten mafia mooks in Tōkyō. Although admittedly, there are surprisingly many different sprites for nameless characters, which is an oddity in itself for a VN.