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Video Game / Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

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The cover featuring Yuri and Miu

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is the fifth installment of Fatal Frame Survival Horror series created by Tecmo.

Three protagonists all end up connected to the events and mysteries of Mt. Hikami, a location that was once guarded by shrine maidens and a popular tourist spot, but has since been abandoned and become a local hotspot for people wanting to commit suicide.

Yuri Kozukata works at an antique store that also specialises in psychic readings and finding missing people. When her employer and good friend, Hisoka Kurosawa, goes missing on Mt. Hikami while on her latest missing person case, Yuri takes over the case and hopes to find Hisoka there as well.

Ren Hojo asked Hisoka to help him find a book on postmortem photographs, having been tormented with dreams involving a white-haired girl that he apparently killed as a young boy. Finding a postmortem photograph of said girl, he heads off to Mt. Hikami to find out the meaning behind his dreams and why this strange girl appears fixated on him.

Miu Hinasaki grew up without her parents, but discovers that her mother has been seen heading up Mt. Hikami. While searching for her, she got trapped herself. After Yuri rescues her, Miu insists on heading back up the mountain, intent on finding her long-lost mother.

While searching the mountains, it's learned that the shrine was set to perform various rituals that had the purpose to appease the Shadowspring, known to connect the world of the living with that of the dead, and sealing the Black Water. When the ritual of a shrine maiden called Ouse Kurosawa failed, the Black Water overflowed and cursed the mountain.

The game was originally released on the Wii U in 2014, with the localisation being a digital release on the Nintendo e-Shop in 2015. It had been in development since Deep Crimson Butterfly was released, and it borrowed mechanics from it and Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, setting the tone of the series during the Nintendo era.

In 2021, a port was formally announced for the Nintendo Switch, but surprisingly, this was followed by an updated trailer indicating a multi-platform release, including Steam, Microsoft and Sony consoles, and the game was released accordingly on October 28 later in the same year.note  What this means for Nintendo's ownership of the franchise is currently unknown.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water contains the following Tropes

  • Abandoned Camp Ruins: You'll find a couple of remains of old campsites on Mt. Hikami, left there by people who have come to commit suicide.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: The English dub has this as a noticeable issue, with the characters mispronouncing names such as Fuyuhi, Haruka, and Hisoka.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The Spirit Stone Flashlight suffers a downgrade from the fourth game in the hands of Ayane. Whereas Choushiro could wield it to outright exorcise ghosts, Ayane can only temporarily stun them with it.
  • All There in the Manual: The official guidebook for this game reveals the identity of Miu Hinasaki's father, which was merely alluded at in the game itself. As implied, it's Mafuyu Hinasaki.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Full costumes and accessories can be bought with the points earned from exorcising ghosts, with Yuri having 4 costumes, Ren having 2, Miu having 3, and all three characters having 4 accessories each. The remaster added even more, both unlockable and as DLC, upping the totals to 7 (w/o DLC) to 10 (w/ DLC) costumes for Yuri, 3 (w/o DLC) to 4 (w/ DLC), 6 (w/o DLC) to 9 (w/ DLC) for Miu, 4 additional unlockable accessories for Yuri and Miu, a Yuri exclusive pre-order DLC accessory, a pre-order bonus DLC accessory for both Yuri and Miu, and a pre-order DLC accessory for all three characters.
  • Antagonist Title: "Maiden of Black Water" can refer to Big Bad Ose Kurosawa specifically or the cursed shrine maidens in general.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The second encounter with Ose requires the player to run away, while also having Yuri as an escort. But Yuri is invincible and heads straight for the goal, meaning the player only has to worry about Miu making it through.
  • Auto-Save: Contrary to its predecessors, the game saves automatically and has no manual saving.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ayane grabs Tsumugi and pulls her out, just as she's entering a Black Box.
    Ayane: I made it...
  • Body Horror:
    • The reliquary carriers had their skin fester and rot from the black moisture.
    • One man has massive glass shards stuck in his back, when he crashed into a window while hanging.
    • The failed grooms get their bodies broken and contorted to fit into the Black Box.
    • The shrine maidens had their eyes gouged out.
  • Boss Corridor: Though previous games also used boss corridors in their final acts, this game also has the Final Boss, Ose Kurosawa, beckoning Yuri to enter the corridor towards the Shadowspring. And even then, the Shadowspring also has another short road leading to the final boss's arena.
  • Bowdlerized:
    • As per usual, the American and European release removed Yuri's lingerie and Miu's gravure bikini as unlockable costumes, replacing them with Nintendo costumes. Strangely enough, the Australian version kept them in, giving at least European players a chance to import that version and have access to them. The remaster, instead of adding the original costumes back in, ended up replacing them again, with Yuri getting a blue bikini, while Miu got both a yellow bikini and a pink one.
    • When Yuri uses Glance on Miu, she's shown posing for cameras in a white bikini and long scarf, which was one of her unlockable outfits. The scene was altered to having her wearing her usual attire. Said altered version of the scene was kept for the remaster.
  • Breather Episode: The Interlude chapter has no hostile ghosts to worry about, and only a few, easily obtained spectral echoes to take pictures of. Outside of obtaining some notes and information, the short chapter leaves a bridge between Ren having just saved Rui from a spiritually-forced suicide attempt and Yuri heading off to Mt Hikami to find Haruka Momose and Hisoka.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: It's not a Fatal Frame installment without at least one instance. Miu is the product of Miku following her older brother Mafuyu's spirit in the third game.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The characters that die over the course of the story here aren't spirited away or killed by a disease, and are instead Driven to Suicide after being possessed. A lot of the ghosts have met much more violent ends compared to previous installments too.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • Get an S+ (SS) rank on Normal and Nightmare difficulties on ALL missions including Ayane's three Thread missions and you'll get the "Optimal" Equipment which makes all camera shots Fatal Frames. It's still helpful if you're aiming to complete all Notes, Traces, and Specters as it lets you just speedrun the stages.
    • Finishing all Normal and Nightmare missions on any rank unlocks the "Infinite" Equipment. Equipping it lets you take photos without consuming film, essentially giving you infinite ammo.
  • The Cameo: Zero Suit Samus and Zelda are unlockable costumes in the Western Wii U release. The remaster instead has Ryza's outfit and hat as a pre-order and early purchase bonus.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Miu comments in the Eleventh Drop that her family used to have a Camera Obscura itself, but the only thing remaining of it is the case. It's a nod to the camera having been used in the first game and it shattering during the final confrontation with Kirie, as it had the last piece of the Holy Mirror in it.
    • As of the remaster, several unlockable outfits are references to other characters from the Fatal Frame series.
      • Yuri has outfits resembling Mio Amakura from Fatal Frame II, and Rei Kurosawa from Fatal Frame III.
      • Miu has outfits resembling her mother Miku's appearances from Fatal Frame and Fatal Frame III. The latter outfit also has "(The Tormented)" in its name, referencing the subtitle of that game. She also has an outfit referencing Mayu Amakura from Fatal Frame II.
      • Ren has an outfit resembling Kei Amakura from Fatal Frame III.
  • Creepy Doll: The Shrine of Dolls is filled with them, including several the size of children.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Woe betide those that head to Mt Hikami. Aside from the horrible deaths that several people have experienced there, anyone who ends up falling under the influence of spirits may end up forced to re-enact their deaths.
  • Damsel in Distress: Several drops require the player to rescue women. Ren always has to save Rui.
  • Death Seeker: People heading to Mt Hikami tend to be this, as it's a suicide hotspot.
  • Driven to Suicide: As Mt Hikami became known as a location for people to commit suicide, with the shrine maidens using their Glance to take on the secrets and sins of people to give comfort to them, this was very common. After the mountain became cursed, the spirits of the deceased can force any unwitting person to replicate their suicides, even if the person may not have come there to die.
  • Drowning Pit: The ritual central to the story involved sealing a Virgin Sacrifice into a box that's filled with black water. For one who is chosen for the most honorable type of Virgin Sacrifice, her box, after being filled with black water, would then be placed in a sacred lake in order to purify the water of the mountain where said lake is located at its peak.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Getting the In the Reliquary ending for Ren. It requires the player to choose Shiragiku's token, and then letting her push or drag Ren into the Black Box in the room. This goes against the basis of the game and is unlikely to be purposefully done on a first playthrough, with most players not even realizing that this ending exists.
  • Escort Mission: Several Drops involve the player having characters following them around. Fortunately, the characters are invincible and cannot actually be killed by hostile ghosts.
  • Event Flag: Depending on what the player chooses to do or not do in the Final Drop, the ending changes.
    • Yuri's ending depends on whether the player used Glance on Ose while underwater or above water.
    • Ren's endings depend on which token he chooses — the Photo of Bride (Ose) or Bundle of white Hair (Shiragiku) — and what he does upon entering the room. Take a picture or use Glance on Ose, while Shiragiku depends on defeating her or letting her drag him into the Black Box.
    • Miu's ending depends on whether or not the player took a picture of Miku at the lake.
  • Eye Scream
    • Kyozo Kururugi slashed out the eyes of the shrine maidens.
    • The Umbrella Woman, a non-hostile ghost found on Mt Hikami. She placed flowers in tribute and left her open umbrella nearby. The wind picked up and the umbrella impaled her through the eye.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Completing the plot opens up a side-story following Ayane. As she has no Camera Obscura and cannot fight ghosts, the side-story is a Stealth-Based Mission, contrary to the main campaign.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Tall Woman that appears sporadically throughout the game. She's not even related to the curse or anyone else, she just wants you dead and, unlike the other ghosts, is implied to be actively hunting you down.
  • Honor Before Reason: Becoming an Immortal Flower is an honor for the shrine maidens, and something they all aspire to be when their duty of taking on the secrets and sins of people committing suicide is over. It's considered such an honor that being chosen as a Pillar is a step down, to the point that one Glance shows a former shrine maiden struggling to leave the Black Box when she was chosen to be a Pillar and not an Immortal Flower.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Compared to prior entries, the fanservice is kicked up with Jiggle Physics, Sexy Soaked Shirt, and a bikini modeling flashback with Miu. The Drowned Maidens have prominent Navel-Deep Neckline, in comparison to the far more tame Full-Frontal Assault of the ghosts in the third game.
  • Human Sacrifice: Contrary to the previous games, it's done willingly and even considered an honor to be chosen to become a sacrifice. Especially since shrine maidens with strong spiritual powers are more likely to be chosen as Immortal Flowers instead of Pillars, seeing it as an acknowledgment of their powers.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Chapters are called 'Drops'. Ayane's side-story uses 'Threads'.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Fatal Glance was written as Fatal Grance in the Japanese version.
  • Jiggle Physics: Minor jiggle physics are found on the female characters. Though it gets more noticeable on Miu's breasts when she wears the Zelda costume or on Yuri's butt when wearing the Metroid outfit.
  • Life Meter: Below the usual bar indicating the character's health, there's now an orb with a water bud depicted inside of it. This is the 'wetness meter' of the game, indicating how wet the character is. When it rains or the character ends up falling into water, the meter rises, and ends up blooming into a water flower, when maxed out. When maxed out, the character's defense is weakened and hostile ghosts appear more frequently.
  • The Load: An unfortunate side-effect of any character following the player around during certain Drops. While they cannot be killed by hostile ghosts, they do tend to get in the line of the camera's view and make fighting ghosts a little more tedious. Nothing's stopping you from letting ghosts attack them for easy Fatal Frame combos though.
  • Madness Mantra: "I'm not sick anymore... I'm not sick anymore...", said by Yuri in a flashback, trying to cope with her newly-acquired sixth sense, and the ghostly harassment it has brought her.
  • Meaningful Echo
    • "No! I won't let you do it!" has been uttered several times, usually with an embrace.
    • "You are not alone." has been said to Yuri by Hisoka, to Hisoka by Yuri, and Ose to Yuri.
    • "It's nice and warm..." is stated twice at the end of the Twelfth Drop, once to Hisoka by Yuri in a flashback and the other time with their roles reversed in the present (with the speaker drinking coffee while talking to the server each time).
  • Mistaken Identity: Shiragiku and Ose mistake Ren Hojo for Kunihiko Asou because of the striking resemblance.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Embrace: Have Yuri use Glance on Ose while underwater. Seeing the suffering Ose has gone through, Yuri feels for her and finds herself on the cliff she once wanted to jump off from. Ose wanted to live with Asou, but wants to die with Yuri. Yuri jumps off, falling into the water while embracing Ose. Hisoka is left at the cliff, staring after Yuri.
    • Bride of Black Water: Have Yuri use Glance on Ose while above water. Seeing the suffering Ose has gone through, Yuri feels sympathy for her and embraces her while crying. Ose begins crying herself, letting her emotions free, and returns to her white, bridal attire. Ose thanks Yuri for breaking the curse upon Mt Hikami, and she's ready to continue her duty on her own. The Black Water recedes back into the Shadowspring and Hisoka calls out to Yuri, ready to go home. And at Kurosawa Antiques, Ren watches over a sleeping Rui. You can also change the Ending Music from "Higanbana" by An Ju to "Torikago" by Tsukiko Amano if you equip Yuri's White Kimono or her "In this cage" Ring at the costume selection menu.
    • In The Reliquary: Have Ren choose the bundle of white hair, and let him be dragged or pushed into the Black Box during the ensuing battle. Shiragiku is overjoyed that her childhood friend, mistaking Ren for Asou, has fulfilled their promise, and looks forward to being inside the box with him. But she realizes that she doesn't want to trap him inside the Black Box and shoves him outside, intent on continuing her duty alone.
    • Alone in the Casket: Have Ren choose the photo of the bride, and take a picture of Ose. Ose believes that this is Kunihiko Asou rejecting her a second time. Lamenting how he took part of her soul with his photograph, she decides to let things go and asks him to take one last picture of her, so that he'll have a piece of her. Ren takes a picture of Ose, in her white bridal attire, and she disappears back into her Black Box.
    • Cherry Blossoms: Have Ren choose the bundle of white hair, and then win the ensuing battle. Shiragiku recalls how happy she was to become friends with Kunihiko Asou, but realizing that they could never be together. She can feel that she'll soon melt away into the water and thanks Asou for being there for her, and asks him to please forget about her.
    • Love After Death: Have Ren choose the photo of the bride, and use Glance on Ose or let her approach. The spirit of Kunihiko Asou takes over Ren and embraces Ose. He wants to end things with Ose, telling her that he loves her. Ose smiles, saying she saw it in his heart, but wanted to hear him say it. She reverts to her white, bridal attire and thanks Asou, disappearing into the Black Box again, with her heart at ease.
    • The Shadowborn: Have Miu not take a picture of her mother at the lake. She and Miku walk into the lake, coming to terms with their estranged relationship. When the sun begins to set, Miu grasps her mother's arm and begs her to not go, with Miku ensuring her she'll stay. Miu holds her mother's hand and begins to cry as Miku disappears, realizing she had merely found a remaining shadow of her long-dead mother.
    • Waking Up To Dreams: Have Miu take a picture of her mother at the lake. The events are the same, until the two stare at the sunset. Then Miu wakes up. She sees her mother sleeping next to her, and she lies back down, holding onto her.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Marriage and Funeral Celebrant are two elderly priestesses that oversaw the rituals on Mt Hikami. They both carry mirrors that disorient the opponent, leading to them being taken to the House of Joining or placed into Black Boxes without realizing what happens.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Matchmaker thought having a picture of the Immortal Flower would be a perfect help in finding her a groom. Unfortunately, Ose had already fallen in love with the photographer, leading to her rejecting every man lured to the mountain for her, and getting them all killed.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Happens to those that cannot resist the ghosts' influence on Mt Hikami.
  • Psychic Glimpse of Death: After injuring or defeating ghosts, you can perform a "Fatal Glance," which allows you to see how that ghost died.
  • Replay Mode: The Records menu includes a tab where you can replay the pre-rendered flashback cutscenes or Glances.
  • Run or Die:
    • Whenever Ose appears before being fought in her proper battle, the Camera Obscura is ineffective and she can kill through mere touch. The player has to run away and escape the area as fast as possible.
    • Ayane has no Camera Obscura and her Spirit Stone Flashlight merely incapacitates ghosts temporarily. Her side-story revolves around having to evade or run away from ghosts to find Tsumugi.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • The Fourth Drop has Yuri looking for Haruka Momose, and finding her in the Womb Cavern. She gets rescued from the Black Box and taken to the antique store, but she follows her dead friend's spirit back to the mountain at the end of the Fourth Drop, and is confirmed to have died.
    • The The Shadowborn ending for Miu can come across as this. She finally finds her mother and catches a glimpse of her, but it turns out to have been nothing but a glimpse. Miku disappears into the sunset, leaving Miu alone again.
    • The Embrace ending for Yuri may come across as this for Hisoka. She saved Yuri from her own suicide attempt in the past and helped her cope with her sixth sense and life, only to see her committing suicide and die for real this time.
  • Skippable Boss: The battle against some of the boss-level ghosts can be avoided altogether by not entering the area section where the specific ghosts appear. Some examples includes the Funeral Celebrant in the Ninth Drop and Kirika Reisen in the Tenth Drop.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The previous games tended to use the JSL romanization for names, while this game ended up using the Hepburn romanization. One example is "Kunihiko Asou" being spelled as "Asou" in the previous games, while in this game, it's spelled "Aso."
  • Status Effects: "Tainted" causes the health of the affected playable protagonist to decrease continuously. It's removed by either banishing the ghost(s) the player is confronting at the moment or using Purified Embers.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Can happen to Miku Hinasaki, depending on the ending obtained for Miu. Either Miku is slowly dying or has been dead for years.
  • Tank Controls: One common criticism of the game was its clunky controls.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Ren keeps having dreams about a white-haired girl and him carrying a knife, apparently injuring or killing her from behind, and worries if he actually killed her. He was reliving Kunihiko Asou's memories, where he merely cut off part of Shiragiku's hair as part of their promise, before she was put into the Black Box as an Immortal Flower.
  • Title Drop Chapter: The Seventh Drop is titled "Maiden of Black Water".
  • Together in Death: Part of the process of Ghost Marriages, wherein a living person gets bound to a dead person and ensure their being together upon the former's death. Shrine maidens that were sacrificed to the Black Water had their spirits brought back to be married to a living man, who would end up being placed into the Black Box with her. They would share the pain and suffering from bearing the mountain's tragedies, leading to a pillar lasting longer.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer spoiled the entire story of the Second Drop.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Kyozo Kururugi killed the shrine maidens and the Flamekeepers. The former's death caused Ose so much pain that her ritual failed, and the latter's death left the Shadowspring to overflow much more easily than had they survived and kept the holy fires burning.
    • Kunihiko Asou accidentally caused lots of damage. Aside from having fallen in love with Ose at first sight, his taking a picture of her captured part of her soul and her feelings of love inside of it, resulting in any man that sees it to fall for her and approach Mt Hikami to be married to her. And since Ose fell in love with him, too, all other men were rejected and stuffed into Black Boxes.
    • Haruka Momose heads for Mt Hikami. Her disappearance brought Fuyuhi to the mountain, where she ended up being forced to kill herself. Fuyuhi's spirit then came and lured Haruka back to Mt Hikami, leading to Haruka being turned into a pillar, and Yuri, Hisoka, Rui, and Ren almost dying.
  • Video Game Dashing: After the rather slow running speed from the previous four games, this game finally makes it so that when the characters run, they actually run.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: The shrine maidens were young women, spending their lives soothing the suffering of others.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Yuri uses Glance on Miu, she sees her deepest thoughts and feelings. Miu turns the tables on her and forces Yuri to experience what being Glanced is like, having her own feelings observed by another person. Miu tells her to never do that again to her.
  • Women Are Delicate: Earthquakes occurring on Mt Hikami affect women more than men. This is why Ren manages to stay conscious and keep everyone safe at Kurosawa Antiques. Though he does end up passing out long enough in the Eigth Drop for Yuri and Rui to be spirited away.
  • You Are Worth Hell:
    • Yuri willingly takes on the spirits on Mt Hikami to find and bring Hisoka back.
    • Hisoka was willing to become a Pillar, leaving her in a state between life and death, to keep Yuri safe.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Following the birth of her Shadowborn daughter, Miku's lifespan has been significantly shortened.

Alternative Title(s): Fatal Frame V Maiden Of Black Water, Project Zero Maiden Of Black Water