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Yet another "perfect lifestyle" has been born, and the dreamlike life based on despair contaminates the people.
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The 25th Ward is the sequel to The Silver Case and Flower, Sun and Rain. Like its predecessors, it is a Grasshopper Manufacture visual novel/adventure game directed and co-written by Suda51 with a complicated and surreal mystery story.

In the year 2005, a new 25th Ward has been built as a successor to the 24th Ward project. This so-called utopian city was constructed with the purpose of providing a perfectly orderly lifestyle, but its ideal of order is soon threatened by the impending chaos represented by Kamui Uehara.

The story is divided into three different "story threads", which each take place from a different perspective and parallel each other as they cover the same events in different lights. These are:

  • Correctness (written by Goichi Suda), which follows the 25th Ward Heinous Crimes Unit investigating the secrets of the 25th Ward's conspiracies. Correctness cases are denoted with #s.
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  • Matchmaker (written by Masahiro Yuki), which follows the Regional Adjustment Bureau, a team of glorified government hitmen who "adjust" undesirable residents of the city. Matchmaker "cases" are denoted with "s.
  • Placebo (written by Masahi Ooka), which follows returning character Tokio Morishima, who has lost most of his memories. Placebo reports are denoted with *s.

These three different stories together tell a labyrinthine and exceedingly bizarre tale about city infrastructure, murderous intent, big data, order and chaos, observation, and the nature of protagonists.

The 25th Ward has a complex release history; it was originally only released episodically on Japanese flip-phones in 2005, which means that very few people had a chance to play it before it went down. For this reason, it was long considered lost media and a "phantom game", until a full remake was released in 2018 on PC and PS4, complete with three new chapters (#06: white out, #07: black out, and *06: YUKI).

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  • Aborted Arc: One of the big themes at the beginning - the chaotic introduction of Kamui into the Ward, and the order/chaos divide it symbolizes - is dropped around the chapter 3s, with the observers/Kurumizawa plot taking the focus instead. In fact, in "digital man", Sumio Kodai ends the chapter by metaphorically shooting Shiroyabu in the head (probably?) and stating that "Kamui can fuck off". Ultimately Played With: Kamui does bring about chaotic change in Ward 25, but not with him directly appearing for it; Kurumizawa, who exists within Kamui's power, becomes a former cog in the machine of Ward 25's society, while Mokutaro Shiroyabu—revealed afterward as Mokutaro Shimohira, making him the son of Kamui Uehara—ascends to Kurumizawa's level in order to go after him. By the time of black out, the story is effectively already over when Uehara becomes Kamui Uehara.
  • Alien Geometries: The abandoned Thousand Hotel. It's described as the floors being alive and shifting, but in practice, it's more like this trope in that the exit can't be found physically but only through taking a certain path.
  • Ambiguous Situation: #04: digital man does not clarify which Sumio (Kodai or Mondo) we are playing as. He's one of the few characters identified in dialogue labels by their first name, leaving this person's identity up to interpretation.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Unlike the first game in which you strictly played as two protagonists, The 25th Ward switches the player character a lot. #3: "boys don't cry" changes you to Shiroyabunote ; #4: "digital man"note  to Sumio Kodai, as well as a brief segment with Sakura; #6: white out to Akira/Big Dick, the protagonist of the first game; and *6: YUKI to, well, Yuki Shimohira.
  • Arc Number: 25, naturally. The setting is Ward 25, various magazines and websites have "25" or "Quarter" in them, the 25-sided polyhedron in the lower-right corner of the screen who is actually the Big Bad's current form, etc.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The Moon arises as a recurring symbol in this game, per Grasshopper tradition. Matchmaker's protagonist is named Tsuki (meaning "moon"), the key appraiser Okamoto speaks through a round window with multiple round holes (visually similar to the Moon and its many craters), and every single chapter ends with a shot of a colored glowing Moon.
  • Arc Welding: Certain endings in #7: black out cross over with other Suda works, and *6: YUKI returns to the setting and subject matter of the Twilight Syndrome series, compounded by a Hinashiro coffee shop named Strike Again Coffee.
  • Arc Words: In Correctness, "Kill the Life"; In Matchmaker, "Save the Life". In both cases, "the Life" (日常, nichijou) refers to the seemingly-utopian way of life in the 25th Ward upheld by sinister government agencies. People outside of Ward 25, such as Kousaka and possibly Kurumizawa, seek to destroy this twisted Life.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Taken to an absurd level. The reason why "Goddess" (the murder victim from #00/#01) was killed by the deliverymen, as Tokio finds after *01: NAGARE? Because she didn't separate her flammable and non-flammable trash correctly. And she wasn't their first victim offed for such bizarre reasoning.
  • Art Shift: Like in the original game, though not quite as frequently.
    • The Correctness, Matchmaker and Placebo story threads each have their own different artist and style, as well as different composers.
    • In #04: "digital man", the eponymous Kurumizawa's depiction in reality changes every time we see him. In one shot, he appears cel-shaded whilst standing over a dead body. Another shot shows him as a PlayStation 1-era video game character model. When Sumio finds him, he appears to be a lifesize image that stepped off of a TV screen, complete with scanlines and unstable frames.
    • On the Internet in TIGIRI, characters have more cartoonish or anime designs, and the 3D environment is based on early dungeon crawlers.
    • YUKI's style is even softer than the rest of Placebo, and uses lots of colored highlights, at least one significant highlight per panel of art used.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In *06: YUKI, for those who have completed the epilogue of the original game's remake's Placebo thread. A character who looks a lot like Tokio around the time he's headed to Lospass Island cheerfully comments to Yuki about having matching frappacinos, which seems Out of Character for a character like Tokio. He even introduces himself as a freelance reporter, just like Tokio... Well, it's not Tokio; the immediate next line reveals that this is a different man altogether, a journalist named Hiiragi. He just happens to look like post-Silver Tokio down to the outfit and hairdo. The real Tokio appears later, having grown his hair our longer, among other things that have changed in the 12 years following his departure from the 25th Ward.
  • Big Bad: Kosuke Kurumizawa, although in true Suda fashion, his role is very non-traditional. He is introduced as a murdered apartment manager in Correctness, brought up and dropped out of nowhere; but then he appears throughout the story threads appearing very much alive, and wherever he goes, reality starts to come apart for the other characters.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Matchmaker: Tsuki has lost all of his friends and colleagues in the Regional Adjustment Bureau, including his protégé Yotaro Osato. However, Tsuki has finally eliminated all of the people who had destroyed his life in the past, and walks away from the 25th Ward. Though effectively unemployed now, Tsuki can finally be himself again...starting by finally heading off to buy some Mont Blanc dessert, his old favorite.
    • Placebo: Tokio regains his memories, and with them their burden: he has to complete his true mission in the 25th Ward, and he releases his pet turtle Red. As Tokio leaves the 25th Ward to its obliteration, he tears out the artificial Silver Eye out of his head and destroys it. Leaving his past behind—including a sibling who may already be dead or may not be real—Tokio instead becomes a mentor to people who share his abilities, resurfacing in the year 2017 in Hinashiro to help Yuki Shimohira.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: #7: black out shatters it completely.
  • The Bus Came Back: *6: YUKI brings back the setting of Hinashiro City to the Kill the Past series, which hadn't been mentioned since Human Entertainment's Moonlight Syndrome in 1997.
  • Carnival of Killers: The Okiai hitmen in #3: boys don't cry. They were all hired by Kousaka to go after Shiroyabu in order to "awaken" his criminal power.
  • Central Theme:
    • "Killing the past". Matchmaker protagonist Tsuki ends his storyline by killing Shigino, quitting his job at the RA Bureau, and departs the 25th Ward...but first, he decides to get some Mont Blanc, his favorite dessert that he's decided to get back to again. Placebo ends with Tokio leaving the 25th Ward before its destruction. *06: YUKI serves as a Distant Epilogue, showing that Tokio is still alive and kicking in Hinashiro City, where he gives the new protagonist, high schooler Yuki Shimohira, some much needed advice.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • You know Kosuke Kurumizawa, the dead guy who gets abruptly brought up and abruptly dropped very early on in the game? Turns out he's the main antagonist.
    • Yagisawa, the random man who Tokio tricks early on was actually not the man Tokio contacted online. This was somebody else who Meru was used as a body by proxy. Yagisawa is also mute; Meru gave him her voice by use of a portable speaker.
    • Aoyama and Akama are very minor characters in the main game, only there to fill out the HC Unit's ranks. In black out, they reveal themselves to be time cops who play important roles in the plot of both this game and others.
  • Cliffhanger: white out resolves the Sequel Hook left by the "Whiteout prologue" from the Silver Case remake. Remember the gunshot that ended the prologue? It's not Officer Shiroyabu who shoots Big Dick—it's Tetsugoro Kusabi who shows up and shoots Officer Shiroyabu in the ear first.
  • Colourful Theme Naming: Four of the HC Unit members fit into this: Kuroyanagi, Shiroyabu, Akama and Aoyama.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • YUKI features one to killer7, of all things, in the form of Rina and Slash. Rina is a personality that Yuki Shimohira took into herself, and Slash is Tokio's hacker contact who died and was taken into Tokio's self. These cases are remarkably similar to Harman Smith's multiple personalities in killer7, though how they manifest in YUKI is different.
  • Creepy Child: Alice in #4: "digital man", being the first entity to confront Sumio in the chapter's surreal opening.
  • Cyberpunk: Even more so than in the previous game. Transhumanism is a more prevalent theme that is explored in both positive and negative ways, and the line is blurred even more between the city and a computer system. Placebo hits the nail on the head by showing Tokio having a cable plugged into his eye socket...the one containing an artificial Silver Eye.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original Silver Case was dark, but The 25th Ward is filled with sociopaths; even Correctness protagonist Shiroyabu is blatantly guilty of police brutality.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: electride reveals that the Big Bad was disguised this whole time. What's the disguise, you ask? Well...he's that 25-sided 3D shape in the lower-right corner of the screen, which doubles as the cursor you use to move around and solve puzzles. He's been with you this whole time.
  • Eldritch Location: The Red Room (why, yes, that is borrowed from Twin Peaks) and its adjacent Blue Room and White Room.
  • Expy: Engawa from "02: quiet cradle is one for Enzawa, the Kamui fanatic that Tokio spoke with in the original game. Both are people who admire and worship Kamui, both threaten to kill the protagonists who encounter them, and both are offed by assassins. Unlike Enzawa, Engawa is presumably the leader of the Kamui Fan Club (Pending)note  that Tsuki and Osato are led to, pitting the two assassins against several people. Unfortunately for the fan club, it turns out that threatening to offer two dead assassins to Kamui is not a good idea for a bunch of non-assassins to actually do. Tsuki and Osato respond by mocking the fan club, then killing all of them except for a terrified Engawa. Maejima then arrives to take Engawa, extracting information from his brain before cutting him loose, having severely lost much brain function in the ordeal.
  • First-Episode Twist: The Postal Federation is a government organization of deliverymen assassins, who have been killing people in the high-rise. This just leaves the question of "why", however.
  • The Four Gods: One version of the puzzle to reach a convenience store's "WC"note  involves inputting their names on the right directions.
  • Gainax Ending: Several sequential ones.
  • Gambit Pileup: It's much less possible to sort out than Suda's other pileups, due to us missing several pieces of the puzzle regarding who's aligned with who.
  • G.I.R.L.: The chat room manager Meru, AKA Goddess, is eventually revealed to be a trans woman on life support. By the time Tokio meets her, she's been dead for hours.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: *06: YUKI starts with a woman falling onto the train tracks at the station just as a train rolls in. We only hear some gruesome noises before the scene fades to Yuki's house.
  • Government Conspiracy: Too many to list; the entire city is muddled with conspiracies on all sides.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As you might expect from a game played from three separate perspectives. Even then, though, it's a particularly complex one, with some of the pieces being in previous games while others have yet to come.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the end of Matchmaker, Tsuki and Maejima are the only RAB members left that are confirmed to be alive. The rest have either been killed off or vanished as a result of the machinations of Shigino and the Postal Federation.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Tokio is suffering from this. Justified: this was a measure that Kipple took to protect Tokio from the forces at play in the 25th Ward from noticing him. The more it wears off, the more that people in the government do notice him, as is the case when Tsuki and Osato sneak into Tokio's boat..
  • Living Polyhedron: Well, "living" might be a bit of a stretch, but the 25-sided polyhedron in the screen's lower-right corner—the one that serves as the player's cursor—is actually Kurumizawa, who was declared dead in the beginning of the game..
  • Meaningful Background Event: Or rather, Meaningful Background Visual Noise. Much like The Silver Case before it, The 25th Ward uses the screen behind the windows of CGI and art cuts to show simple graphics unique to each and every chapter. One includes an ever-moving web of lines, one uses black paint strokes, one uses genetic-test-like rectangles, one uses raindrops against water, one includes a flickering orange that moves like a flame on a bomb fuse... The only chapter to abandon this entirely is #07: black out.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The HC Unit, the RA Bureau/observers and the Okiai Syndicate/Postal Federation are all at war, with Tokio caught right in the middle of it.
  • Mind Screw: One of Suda's biggest, especially in Correctness, the scenario he wrote.
    • #03: boys don't cry has Shiroyabu show up at two different ATMs to fight the last two assassins...somehow at the same time. This appears to be a sign that Shiroyabu has awakened to his criminal power.
    • #06: white out ends with Big Dick and Officer Shiroyabu seeing Joker unmasked as...an older Shiroyabu.
  • Multiple Endings: Parodied in the final chapter, black out, which features a full 100 of them, chosen arbitrarily from a menu. They range from completely ridiculous to ominous and sinister to crossovers with other Suda and Grasshopper properties. It also lies about deleting your save data after making your choice. There is a "true ending", but the only way to see it is by going through all 100 endings, each of which requires you to play through black out again to see. Also doubles as an extreme example of Last-Second Ending Choice.
  • Nostalgia Level: digital man and white out for The Silver Case; YUKI for Twilight Syndrome.
  • No Ending: In the original mobile version of the game, Correctness ends extremely abruptly. The HD version's additional chapters give it an at-least-somewhat-smoother ending.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: YUKI, which is tonally and artistically very different from the rest of The 25th Ward, and stars a new protagonist. It also serves as the epilogue to the Placebo story thread, with Morishima returning in a supporting role to Yuki.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: The chapter white out stars protagonist Big Dick from The Silver Case.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Correctness, but especially #3: boys don't cry, is this for Shiroyabu. He starts off as a good-intentioned detective; trigger-happy and reckless, but not any more evil than the other trigger-happy cops in the game's world. In boys don't cry, he's left to his own devices for an investigation and ends up killing civilians, sexually assaulting one of the bad guys (or bad girl in this case) trying to kill him, and becomes a pawn of the villain. At the very end of electride he might have a Heel Realization, but the circumstances are unclear.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Matchmaker protagonist Tsuki was actually a member of the Republic task force that appeared in the original game, recruited by Daigo Natsume after the former was arrested and his syndicate was officially cracked down upon. The reason Tsuki didn't appear in "lunatics" or "decoyman" was because he'd been injured during training, and was thus off Republic's active team at the time they were effectively destroyed.
  • Schmuck Bait: The apartment puzzle in #05: electride, which asks you to investigate the 2nd through 80th floors of an apartment building, even making a point of telling you that you need to look over every nook and cranny of the building and check every single apartment. But there must be some trick to it, though, because it also tells you that you'll receive "no hints," which is itself a bit of a hint that you don't really need to do all that. The secret is that the rooms you have to check aren't actually specific rooms; going to any floor and checking the first door will make the person you need to find be in that room, and the room you need to find to finish the puzzle can be any one of many that follows certain rules. You don't actually have to investigate thousands of rooms, but the only way to solve the puzzle is to buy into the idea of doing so...at least, until after checking every room of a few floors you notice that only the first apartment of each floor has anybody in it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "5: moon over 25, RAB cleanup man Maejima meets with Tsuki one last time to pass on some information before he goes off the 25th Ward's grid.
  • Sequel Hook: Subverted. Every single one of black out's 100 endings ends with a "TO BE CONTINUED..." If the player doesn't bother to go back through the chapter 99 more times to get every single ending, he/she will think this is a sequel hook. It's not. It's actually a hint that the player needs to get all the 100 endings because the game isn't quite over yet. Once you finally get the 100th ending, after it plays, a brand new ending will play. This is the game's true ending, finishing up on a definitive "THE END.". Other elements of the final few chapters definitely do imply multiple continuing plot threads in future works, though.
  • Sixth Ranger: Discussed by the characters, who compare Joker, the new member of the Kamui-emulating criminal group TRUMP (the guys from #5: lifecut from The Silver Case), to one of these.
  • Suddenly Voiced: A version that has no voice actors whatsoever. Uehara begins talking in the true ending, and from what he says, it's either a pretty big deal or the developers poking fun at the player for actually playing through black out 100 times. He declares himself Kamui Uehara, plans to change the world (and knowing it is an expensive undertaking), and asks the player to...loan him 50,000 yen?
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Correctness' protagonist "Uehara" is so similar to Big Dick/Akira from the first game that it's very easy to assume they are the same person; only one easily-forgettable line early on (implicitly comparing Uehara to Akira) indicates that they aren't.
  • Take That!: #07: black out is very much a Take That to critics of Suda's previous visual novels, as well as to the idea that visual novels have to have choices, branching stories, and Multiple Endings. For once in the entire series, you are given true freedom to affect the story in any way you choose...as in, actually choose from a list of a hundred, while being told "this is what you wanted." The endings are only barebones sentences in sequence, with absolutely no expounding on any of it. Only a small number of them have anything to do with resolving the Mexican Standoff that led up to this; the rest involve things like walking away from it, Non Sequitur answers involving things like Mobile Suits to pilot or spontaneously exploding for no reason... And to top it all off, you literally cannot get the game's true ending unless you painstakingly replay the final chapter a full 100 times through and choose every single ending one by one. And yes...it's as painful and time-consuming as it sounds.
  • The Stinger: Exaggerated. Although the chapter order is up to you, proceeding in the most normal method (rotating between the storylines) means that there's as many as five whole chapters after the game's credits, besides the stinger to their own chapter. And then, after you play through all of the game's chapters, another chapter opens up which is itself a stinger to the rest of the game. And then, even that chapter has a stinger in the form of the game's true ending, which won't play until after you play through that chapter no fewer than 100 times. Holy grasshoppers, Batman.
  • Time Skip: YUKI takes place in 2017, 12 years after the events of The 25th Ward (the year 2005).
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Although the player switches POV to several different protagonists during the game, the cursor used for gameplay and the running wireframe man used to select the chapters are both Kurumizawa, meaning that the player was playing from their perspective all along. Though, it's said that Kurumizawa exists "within Kamui's power", which gives another perspective: that the player is the true nature of Kamui.
    • #06: white out reveals that Shiroyabu never knew that he was actually Kamui Uehara's son, Mokutaro Shimohira. "05: moon over 25 makes a similar reveal regarding Yotaro Osato's Sundance lineage, and his RA Bureau colleagues knowing who he really is while he himself does not.
  • Trash the Set: Tokio watches the destruction of the 25th Ward at the end of *05: MISOGI.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Similarly to the first game, the most sensible playing order is to rotate between the storylines, only there's three instead of two this time.
  • Uncertain Doom: The last we see of RAB chief Kiryu and Ichigaya, they are fighting to the death. When some of the remaining RA Bureau members return, they notice that the two are nowhere to be found, so it's likely that they've killed each other or the survivor left the 25th Ward. Either way, their microchip signals no longer being tracked indicates that they're completely gone from the city.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: boys don't cry and SIZUKU feature very unexpected turn-based RPG combat, with Shiroyabu fighting assassins who attack him at ATMs, and Tokio fighting his hacker friend Slash to the death.
  • Villain Protagonist: Matchmaker's protagonists are part of the 25th Ward's government-assassin conspiracy.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: HC Unit member Sakaki gets killed off by a delivery man, in #01: new world order.
  • Wham Line:
    • A major one from #02: good looking guy:
      Kuroyanagi: Machiko, I have just one final question. Where are you from?
      Machiko: The shelter.
      Kuroyanagi: I see... Same as me. I'm from the shelter, too.
    • In "05: moon over 25, Tsuki says, "The fact that Osato was an illegitimate child of Sundance...". But only if you've played Flower, Sun and Rain.
    • In #06: white out, Kusabi identifies Mokutaro Shiroyabu as Kamui Uehara's son, Mokutaro Shimohira.
    • *06: YUKI offers some insight into Yuki, the protagonist of this chapter. At the shoeboxes at school, checking Yuki's Student ID identifies her as Yuki Shimohira, which would likely make her the offspring of a grown-up 24 Wards Shelter child.
  • Wham Shot: Two in white out:
    1. The abrupt Sequel Hook of "Whiteout prologue" is followed up on: The gunshot takes a chunk out of Officer Shiroyabu's ear before he can shoot and kill Big Dick. Who shot Shiroyabu? Tetsugoro Kusabi.
    2. When Big Dick and Officer Shiroyabu get to Joker as his mask comes off, and the camera zooms in to reveal him to be...Shiroyabu himself.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: In the ending of Placebo, Tokio Morishima rips out his silver eye and shoots it, giving up his immortality. When we see him again in *06: YUKI, he obviously looks much older, as one would expect in a 12-year gap.
  • Yakuza: The Okiai syndicate, which Tsuki was a former member of.

(A digital moon appears)
THE TWENTY FIFTH WARD
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