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Videogame / Rakuen

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Rakuen is a 2017 RPG Maker game by Laura Shigihara. It follows the tale of a sick boy at a hospital, who decides to visit another world.

Boy and his mother have shared a family secret, a book that can take them to another world. The boy wants to visit Rakuen, a mythical land, and so he decides to ask Morizora of the Forest if he can go. Morizora demands that the boy help others around the forest first, however.


Tropes for this game include:

  • Adult Fear: Many run rampant in this game.
    • The boy has a form of cancer, and he's spent most of his time at the hospital. His father then dies in a nuclear meltdown. Knowing that he is going to die, and that his father had the chance to come home has made the boy bury a lot of grief and resentment.
    • Tony's backstory reveals he lost his son Benny in an accident when he wasn't there, leading to his falling out with his daughter.
    • Kisaburo is struggling with memory loss and hallucinations, to the point where he can't recognize his wife.
    • As we find out, a nuclear meltdown has happened, implied to be Fukushima. The workers at the plant die while completing a shutdown, and the hospital loses supplies, patients and space to flooding.
    • Uma is homeless, stealing hospital supplies to survive, and he doesn't want to see his sick daughter because he was a compulsive gambler and alcoholic.
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  • Ambiguous Disorder: Kisaburo's symptoms are suggestive of either dementia, Alzheimers, or a form of schizophrenia. Whatever it is, he ends up dying despite the hospital's best efforts. His medical file more or less states that he's suffering from brain tumors, and those are the cause of his hallucinations.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The envoys. Touching them sends you back a few steps, and they seem to hover in the darker parts of the game.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Alice and Dean are a couple of Leebles that live next to Winston. During the festival, Alice is trying to ask Dean how was the work that day, but he gets constantly distracted, at one point by the fact that Alice has ears. (For the record, every Leeble has huge triangular ears that are impossible to not notice)
  • Bilingual Bonus: For whatever reason the Leebles keep asking if the boy and his mother are some sort of horse since humans aren't native there. Then you find out the old man named Uma (which means "horse" in Japanese) has also been coming here, so the Leebles might have just misunderstood his name as being his species.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everyone at the hospital is helped, and the boy makes their lives better with his actions in the fantasy world. Sue still dies, as does Uma and Kisaburo. The boy wishes to go to Rakuen, and die, by default. His mother promises to be strong, and she goes back to take care of his little brother.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Cats in the fantasy world are purple, vaguely humanoid creatures.
    • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Meanwhile, there are other animals that look, act and bleat like sheep, but are called with another name.
  • Cooldown Hug: The mom offers one to Yami, the dark manifestation of her son.
  • Death of a Child:
    • In Tony's backstory, his son Benny died while his daughter Christina was watching him. For that reason he refused to speak to Christina, though he kept their music box.
    • Sue dies without reconciling with her father Uma.
    • The boy asks for Morizora to let him travel to Rakuen, the afterlife.
  • Emo Teen: Yami, who appears whenever the Boy is trying to sleep. He actually represents the boy's sadness, anger and resentment about being sick and about his father dying.
  • Fantastic Racism: There are some tensions between the Kanko Leeble tribe and the striped Illbo Leeble tribe, as while the two are fine trading with each other relations beyond being friends are strongly frowned upon. This is shown as a reflection of the real life racism Korean/Japanese couples face, as it's what Winston (a Korean man in real life, and a Kanko in the fantasy world) and Gemma (a Japanese woman in real life, and an Illbo in the other world) had to struggle with prior to Gemma's coma.
  • Foreshadowing: When you first visit Morizora and his helpers explain to you that you need to help your fellow patients to awaken him, the examples they give are "A man whose connection with his wife has been severed" and "A woman who prepares to lose that which is the most dear to her". Obviously the first one refers to Winston and Gemma, but only at the end of the game is it made clear that the second example is about the Boy's mother herself, soon to lose the son she loves.
    • When you meet Sue's self in Morizora's Forest her sprite is semi-transparent implying Sue is close to death.
  • Grumpy Bear: Tony is this in both the human world and in the fantasy realm. He's actually a bear in the latter.
  • Heroic BSoD: The boy suffers this after Sue dies, despite his efforts in trying to help her.
  • Implausible Deniability: It's revealed that the mother believes that her son will get better. Yami and the boy reveal that they overheard the doctors saying that he's not getting better, even as Mom protests that it's not true. It's justified since the boy has cancer, she just lost her husband to a nuclear accident, and she is trying to be strong for her family. The final stage of the game is about the mother reassuring the boy that she can still be strong if he dies, that he doesn't need to try to protect her by fighting to live, and that she can let him go.
  • Insert Song: The Mori no Kokoro are songs of strong emotional value to wake up Morizuka.
  • Leit Motif: Parts of certain songs in the soundtrack are strategically snuck into other songs.
    • The chorus of "Jump" is heard in part of "Welcome to the Forest."
    • A more somber and creepier version of Tony's music box theme, "My Little Girl," can be heard in Tony's house.
    • Sue's "Tiny Planets" theme is played sped up when you've helped certain characters. A slowed down version also plays in the western side of the forest.
    • Tiny Planets, in turn, contains part of "Build a little world with me."
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: The boy is one, though he is actually upset about being ill.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Rakuen itself means "Paradise" and is typically treated like one in the Boy's story. Fitting considering it's actually the afterlife rather than some mythical Utopia.
    • Everyone you meet in the hospital typically has a Leeble with the exact same name as them in the story world that represents them and often has similar problems.
    • Yami's name means "darkness" or "shadow", fitting his Emo Teen appearance and attitude and how he's most often seen at night when all the lights are out. It also foreshadows how he's the dark manifestations of the Boy himself.
  • Nice Hat: The Boy's origami samurai helmet. You can actually make one if you wish!
  • No Name Given: The Boy goes unnamed for the whole game. Same for his mother and father.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Sue's father Uma hasn't come to visit her in the hospital.
    • Kisaburo due to dementia no longer recognizes his wife and grown children. They convince their mom to put him in a hospital.
    • Though he doesn't admit it until the end, the boy is hurt that his father chose to stay at the nuclear plant and give up his life.
  • Pet the Dog: The theme of the game is that although you ARE helping the people at the hospital a great deal, you can't magically solve all their problems- Kisaburo still has dementia, Tony's son is still dead, etc. Despite this theme, the credits sequence shows that Gemma woke up from her coma and reunited with Winston. They've been through so much, it's almost like the game just said, Okay fine, let them have this."
    • Not to mention Tony is able to reconcile with his estranged daughter, allowing him to be involved with her life once more.
    • Talking to Danielle in the cafeteria about Sue right before the ending of the game reveals that Sue was somehow able to reunite with Puchi at the hospital before her death, with Danielle stating that she's never seen Sue so happy, other than when she was spending time with the Boy.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the paintings in Monsieur Bud's mansion is of him observing two people dancing inside of a lighthouse.
    • A recurring NPC seen in Morizora's Forest is a singing sunflower. Creator Laura Shigihara's first big break was composing the music to the game, as well as voicing the Sunflower.
    • As a more general RPG reference the frog the Boy finds and hopes to keep as a pet is named Glenn. The Boy's mother also mentions during one of her dialogues that she used to play a videogame where the characters traveled through various time periods.
    • There is also the obvious parallel between Gemma & Winston and Romeo & Juliet.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • The boy is a Cheerful Child mourning his father and his cancer.
    • The boy's mother visits the hospital regularly while making sure his brother is safe with her mother, mourning her husband, and eventually having to let the boy go when he desires to go to Rakuen.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Tony's music box. The quest to fix it leads to you helping him reconcile with his daughter Christina.
  • Trauma Inn: The ability to sleep in the Leeble Village Inn is evocative of this but since the game lacks combat it doesn't actually serve a gameplay purpose.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Downplayed. In the fantasy world Kisaburo's counterpart is a goofy fishman creature, while his wife Kazuko's counterpart is an elegant lady whose only inhuman features are colorful hair and fins on the side of her head. Could also be an example of Humanoid Female Animal.
  • Wham Line:
    • Immediately after the bombshell that is Sue's death as listed below, Yami visits the boy once again, and what he tells him is the first sign about his true identity.
    Yami: They all leave eventually.
    • Not the lines itself, but who says it: the boy asking why his father left him, why he chose to leave.
    • The boy's wish: he asks to go to Rakuen, to the afterlife, rather than for his cancer to be cured.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Sue's empty hospital bed, following her Dying Dream of visiting her marble worlds.
    • Yami turning into an envoy, and vanishing with the Boy
    • The last shot before the credits: the boy taking his hat off, revealing he lost his hair from chemotherapy.

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