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Visual Novel / A Little Lily Princess

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"Cake! Me!"
A very hungry scullery maid
The Little Princess and the Scullery Maid

A Little Lily Princess is a retelling of the classic novel A Little Princess in visual novel form with a Yuri Genre twist. It was released for PC in May 2016 by indie developer Hanako Games under the label Hanabira (used for works not originally written by Hanako Games). Ported to consoles in 2021.

The game puts the player in the shoes of Sara Crewe, a girl who is clever, kind, has an amazing imagination, and loves to tell stories. Born in British India, Sara is sent by her beloved Papa to be educated in a refined Boarding School for Ladies in London. There she meets the headmistress Miss Minchin, the star student Lavinia and her best friend Jessie, the somewhat slow Ermengarde, the young and spoiled Lottie, her personal maid Mariette, and the Scullery Maid Becky. Sara will start forging relationships with them: friendships, rivalries, and even maybe love.


But fate is a cruel mistress, and soon unexpected events will turn little Sara's life upside down. What will happen to her, and will the bonds that she created with the other girls endure the hardships, or be shattered?

It's up to you to decide.

A Little Lily Princess contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Miss Michin certainly does not have the "cold, fishy eyes" and "large, cold, fishy smile" as she is described as having in the novel, though it's probably a case of Generic Cuteness.
  • Adaptation Expansion: While some bits of the novel are missing (like most of the Large Family), much of the cast gets greater characterization - in particular Mariette, Lavinia, and Jessie.
  • Adapted Out: Amelia, Miss Minchin's sister from the original novel.
  • Adoptive Peer Parent: As both Sara and Lottie have a death-induced Missing Mom, one of Lottie's events consists of disscussing this trope as a way for them to stay together after Sara graduates. Both Sara marrying Lottie's father (under the logic that Sara's is already Lottie's school mother anyway) and Lottie marrying Sara's father (because of Sara having no wish to marry) are considered, but ultimately dismissed. If her route is committed to in Act 2, Lottie revives the idea in an attempt to help Sara out of her servant situation.
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  • Affectionate Nickname: Sara's father calls her his "Little Missus," and Lottie calls her "Sara-mamma."
  • Age Lift: Compared to the novel. All girls (except Lottie) are now teenagers, and Lottie is eight years old rather than four.
  • All-Loving Hero: Sara, but a big part of the story involves questioning this: is she good because she's really a good person deep down, or simply because she's never wanted for anything and so never had any reason to feel displeasure? And sure enough, when she does lose it all, she finds herself struggling hard to maintain her original love and optimism.
  • Alpha Bitch: Lavinia. In her route things prove to be a bit more complex, however.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Much of Lottie's route has to do with Sara figuring out how to treat her morality.
  • Ambiguously Related: Mariette in regards to Alexandre Dumas. While she's not aware of him being a close relative, they share a surname and Mariette is dark-skinned enough to have some African ancestry. She also doesn't deny the possibility of him being a distant relative she's unaware of.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game tells the player outright which routes are still available and whether it's their last chance to pursue a route. Becky's route will also always be available in Act 2 whether you did Becky's Act 1 events or not, so that there is a route that can be followed in Act 2 regardless of how unlucky the player may have been in collecting resources in Act 1.
  • Bawdy Song: Mariette gets caught humming one in French in her route, though the innuendos fly over Sara’s head.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: One of Lottie's events consists of her having a two-person slumber party with Sara and being the first of the two to fall asleep. Sara spends some time just watching her sleep while reflecting on their "mother-daughter" relationship and eventually kisses her forehead. The part in which Sara is watching Lottie is one of the two images that can be unlocked by playing Lottie's route.
  • Berserk Button: Anything related to India is this for Lavinia.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Mariette has several lines in French that don't get any sort of translation, so they are best understood by a player who can read French.
  • Book Dumb: Ermengarde. She's not stupid per se, but struggles to learn anything from books.
  • Break the Cutie: Sara is subjected to a long process of this in the second half of the game.
  • Break the Haughty: Sara surpassing Lavinia and relegating her to a second place in everything has this effect in Lavinia.
  • Broken Aesop: This happens between routes. Lottie's route ends with Sara telling her that if someone keeps hurting her on a regular basis, she should get away from that person even if there are still good moments. Lavinia's route depicts her as a Loving Bully, resulting in the relationship filp-flopping between tender moments and Lavinia being a Manipulative Bitch towards Sara. That route still gets a happy ending.
  • Canon Foreigner: For the purposes of a plotline exclusive to her route, Lottie's father, who is merely known to exist in the original novel, makes a brief on-screen appearance.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The church's Tower Keeper, who is merely mentioned in an Act 1 scene common to all routes, keep Becky from falling of the bell tower in Act 2 of one of the routes.
  • Cooldown Hug: When Sara finally realizes that Lavinia is desperate for her love and approval, she tries to calm her anger with one of these. It actually works at first - until Miss Minchin arrives and is horrified that a servant is grabbing one of her ladies.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: In Ermengarde's route, Miss Minchin walks into Sara's room right as Sara, Becky and Ermengarde are about to enjoy food brought over by the latter. Miss Minchin orders Ermengarde to put all the food back in its hamper and she manages to accidentally fall on the floor while doing so. After Miss Minchin and Ermengarde leave the room, Sara notices a food item was left under the table and realizes that Ermengarde's fall had been to put the item there.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Mariette's route adds an extra layer to the fact that the seminar's new neighbor is looking for Sara to give her a large inheritance: in preparation for moving to France to follow one of the leads, his household sets out to hire a French maid and ends up with Sara's former one.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: If her route is completed, Mariette makes a big deal out of the fact that she could have potentially told Mr. Carrisford where Sara was much earlier if she had paid more attention to the reason for which he was about to travel to France. Sara points out that there were other missed opportunities, such as she and Ram Dass forgetting to tell other their respective names upon one of their previous encounters. That specific missed opportunity is incidentally common to all routes.
  • Dean Bitterman: Miss Michin is a Victorian version, being the stern, cold-as-ice, greedy, and cruel headmistress of a boarding school where the daughters of wealthy families are trained to be proper ladies. For those who can afford her tuition, she puts on a thin venire of niceness so as to get more funding from her students' families... but — as Sara finds out the hard way — if one of her students' financial situations changes for the worst she's not above effectively enslaving them and working them to the brink of death, and administers very harsh punishments for even perceived infractions.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Large Family (real last name Carmichael), who are only briefly seen their carriage. The only confirmations that it was indeed them are the number of siblings involved and that they are later mentioned getting a letter from their father who is currently in Moscow right when Mr. Carmichael is known to be there.
  • Developers' Desired Date: Becky is shown alongside Sara both on the title screen and the image used to represent the game in online stores. On top of this, Becky's route can be followed in Act 2 even if she was outright neglected in Act 1, while all five other routes require all their Act 1 events to have been completed to avoid being locked as soon as Act 2 starts. To add even more, she's among the half of the characters whose unlockable images are both in Act 2, removing the last possible gameplay penalty for not watching her Act 1 events.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Birthday: Becky doesn't know on which day of the year she was born, as she grew up in a workhouse. The authorities there decided she was old enough to be sent to the seminar to work as a scullery maid as an educated guess more than anything else. Sara suggests that she share her birthday, an idea that she likes very much.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • In Jessie’s route. While Jessie struggles to understand the difficulty of Sara’s new life, Sara’s naivety keeps her from understanding why Jessie thinks becoming a dancer (like she wants) isn’t much different than being married off to the older man who believes the Victorian stereotypes about red-haired women (like her parents want), and the problems that come with.
    • In a scene common to all routes, Mr. Carmichael, upon finding out that Mr. Carrisford has been sending gifts to Sara via Ram Dass after finding out about her bad living situation, suggests that he might take the child he has been helping in so she can be a companion for the one he's looking for once he finds the latter. Mr. Carissford wants to arrange another form of help because he considers that taking a girl from London to France, where she doesn't even speak the language, would be cruel. Sara has been shown to speak perfect French, on top of being the very child Mr. Carrisford is looking for.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • When Sara refuses to run away with her, Jessie resigns herself to never getting out of the engagement arranged by her parents, and decides that it would be awfully fitting for a tragic heroine if she were to throw herself into the river and drown herself. She walks away in the end, but not without staying out in the rain long enough to make herself very sick.
    • When Becky almost falls from the tower in her route, and Sara is left clinging to her hand for dear life, Sara declares that if Becky falls she will fling herself from the tower as well. Becky is horrified because self-slaughter is a sin to Christians.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: If you make it past Week 100 without managing to complete a route, the game becomes stuck in a loop where all you can do is skip through weeks, forever. Considering that A. Becky's route is always available to the player, and B. story events run out around Week 37 or so, the only reasonable way one could get stuck in this way is by selecting "Skip Week" every week and refusing to do any available events for over sixty in-game weeks.
  • English Rose: Discussed a lot in Lavinia's route, as she highly admires the archetype (a lovely pale-skinned English woman who is nice and well-mannered), and is determined to be one someday.
  • Empty Eyes: Sara's reaction to the death of her father.
  • Exact Words:
    • Sara never learned French. Doesn't mean she cannot speak the language, which comes as a big surprise for Miss Minchin.
    She had not learned French, exactly, not out of books, but her papa and other people had always spoken it to her, and she had read it and written it as she had read and written English.
    • If Lottie's route is committed to in Act 2, Miss Minchin tries to get her to stop treating Sara as her "mother" by telling that she is now supposed to treat Sara the same as Becky. Lottie's response is to also bring food for Becky when she visits Sara to give her food.
    • During the second half of her route, one event has Lottie start asking Sara questions about herself. When Sara asks why she's so curious about all those details all of a sudden, Lottie says that she's going to tell the story of the Princess Sara. Sara understands the answer as Lottie planning to emulate her The Storyteller activities with a story involving a princess based on her. It later turns out that Lottie's widower father was the intended audience for the "story of Princess Sara". Sara herself points out that Lottie, did, indeed, "tell the story".
  • French Maid: Mariette is a maid and she is French, but she completely subverts the saucy, sexy expectations, being more of a calm, older-sister Meido.
  • Friendless Background: Ermengarde. She jumps at a chance to befriend the New Transfer Student Sara, if you play her events.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: If her route is played, Mariette responds to discovering that Sara was Made a Slave in all but name with a bunch of French words that Sara is unable to translate, but can easily guess the general meaning of.
  • Fostering for Profit: Mariette was raised by a pair of innkeepers because her mother couldn't care for her. If Mariette's route is played in Act 2, it turns out that the innkeepers were caring for a bunch of children in a similar situation that they were working to the bone all while pocketing the money sent by the parents for their upkeep. The "cousin" who got her hired to be Sara's maid in the first place is actually one of the other children from the inn.
  • Gayngst: Mostly avoided, despite the yuri themes, but explicit in Jessie's route. Because her family is relatively poor, they're relying on her marrying a richer man to earn them money. Because Jessie isn't interested in men, it feels an awful lot like she herself is being sold. Thus her friendship with Lavinia: she hopes that if she's good enough to her, Lavinia will choose her for her 'companion' and then she could stay with her instead.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Lottie, with her curly blonde hair and light eyes, looks exactly like the Victorian ideal of a good and beautiful child. Lottie uses this very much to her advantage to get what she wants.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: This is the reason Lavinia is so touchy about the subject of India. It turns out that her mother is Indian.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Sara is called queer many times. Of course, even if you use the modern significance, they're not quite wrong.
    • The actual word "gay" in its older meaning "happy" also makes an appearance.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • In non-romantic endings, the person whose route was followed remains the most important person in Sara's life.
    • Mr. Carrisford and Ram Dass are promoted to this, at the very least. Ram Dass is made into the reason Mr. Carrisford survived the very circumstances that killed Sara's father, is shown to play a major emotional support role towards him, calls him a friend the first time he mentions him and makes a comment about Charan the monkey being like a child to both him and Mr. Carrisford. In one of the game's final scenes, Mr. Carrisford and Ram Dass are revealed as co-conspirators in making the "magic" happen rather than it all being Mr. Carrisford's idea, Ram Dass is shown to be on nickname basis with Mr. Carrisford and both men put a protective hand on Sara's shoulder when Miss Minchin comes to get her.
    • Mr. Carrisford describes himself as having been "closer than a brother" to Sara's father back in their youth. Becky's ending throws any ambguity about that particular relationship out the window, as Sara's confession in the finale consist of wanting a relationship just like the one between her father and Mr. Carrisford with Becky.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Sara has this view of herself initially.
  • Internalized Categorism: In Lavinia's and Jessie's routes, they both like girls but are miserable about it; Jessie because her parents want her to marry a rich man, and Lavinia because she's filled with self-loathing about not being a "proper lady."
  • Knight In Shining Armour: Sara comes to see Ermengarde in this way, due to her physical abilities and dedication to her. In fact, Ermengarde says that if she were a boy, she'd probably become a soldier, and be much better at that than she is at schoolwork.
  • Love Epiphany: Happens to Sara when after almost losing Becky she realizes that she loves her in a romantic way.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Downplayed, but weekly activities amount to that. You can get a lot or very few resources depending on the Random Number God's will, which can lock you out of routes or preclude you from getting the achievement for maxing out everything. The game does at least ensure that Becky's route is always available in Act 2, so that the player can't accidentally get stuck with no way to progress the story.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Lottie is one in the making, as she has already figured out that throwing tantrums over not having a mother will get her attention and what to tell people to get gifts. At some point, she admits to having pretended to having been more convinced of having seen something scary in her room than she actually was just so she could have Sara reassure her.
    • After Sara becomes a servant, several events involving Lavinia, both inside and outside her route, consist of her either implicitly or explicitly going out of her way to make Sara's life harder than in already is. This includes such things of complaining to Miss Minchin about invented incidents, sabotaging Sara's work or attempts to make her trade Emily for something else.
    • Sara is accused of being one by Miss Minchin in both Ermengarde and Lottie's routes. In both cases, an initiative to help Sara that is entirely on the other girl's part is assumed to have been started by Sara herself, with the other girl being dragged into it.
  • Mean Boss: If her route is played in Act 2, Mariette eventually turns out to be limiting her interactions with Sara in part because she now has such a boss, giving her little leeway to take longer than necessary for tasks that take her out of the house. This results in her being quite quick to move to Mr. Carrisford's household when he decides to hire a French maid.
  • Merging the Branches: Inverted via having events from the original novel be exclusive to some routes:
    • One of the most obvious ways by which this happens is that Sara remains friends with both Ermengarde and Lottie in the novel, but Sara can maintain her friendship with only one of them in Act 2 of the game.
    • The food hamper party whose interruption is the cause of the Darkest Hour in the novel is here exclusive to Ermengarde's route and doesn't include Lottie. Lottie and Ermengarde are equally regular visitors of the attic in their respective routes. Ermengarde's route is also the only one in which Melchisedec plays enough of a role to be named, while the only Act 1 scene that mentions the existence of the rats, which also has Sara consider making friends with one, is exclusive to Becky's route. Becky's route mentions Melchisedec's family exactly once in Act 2.
    • Ermengarde's route is the one with the second act that is the most similar to the novel equivalent of Act 2, but Becky's is the closest in terms of actual ending.
  • Missing Mom: Sara's and Lottie's mothers both died when their daughters were very young. Mariette's mother disappeared without a trace many years ago, and Mariette assumes she is dead. Becky's mother disappeared more recently and there's at least a strong chance that she drank herself to death.
  • Mistaken for Thief:
    • This is a recurring cause for the Darkest Hour before Sara wakes up to the "magic", as it gives Miss Minchin a reason to punish Sara by telling her she won't be getting any food the following day:
      • Jessie's route: Jessie gives Sara a piece of jewelry, but Lavinia reports it stolen and has Miss Minchin search Sara's room for it.
      • Mariette's route: Mariette gives Sara a shawl when they run into each other, but Miss Minchin assumes Sara stole the shawl from one of the students when she comes back to the seminar wearing it.
    • In Becky's route, Becky puts her savings in Sara's care for safekeeping, but Lavinia makes Miss Minchin search Sara's room for falsely reported stolen items much earlier than she does in Jessie's route. Becky's savings become the would-be stolen item and the cause of an early unfortunate incident rather than the last one before the "magic". On top of this, the last incident before the "magic" consists of her being accused of stealing food by the Cook, who gave the food to the policeman she's seeing and needed to cover up the real reason it was gone.
  • Moment Killer: One of the factors making Lavinia's route chaotic on top of Lavinia's Loving Bully behavior is that Miss Minchin walks in on Lavinia and Sara both times they manage to get a tender moment together prior to the finale.
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the indications of Ermengarde's niceness is the fact that a book in French that she could have easily given to Sara was instead gifted directly to Mariette, her French maid. Mariette points out that very few of the students would have tought of giving the book to her rather than a fellow student.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: During the museum visit, Lavinia wants to spend a little extra time looking at a dinosaur skeleton that terrifies all the other girls. She also calls the skeleton "marvellous".
  • Pets as a Present: Discussed when Sara tells the other girls a friend of her father's who gifted his fiancée a parrot who could recite poetry and Jessie protests that the woman may not have wanted to have a pet.
  • Point of No Return: Act 1 allows the player to follow several routes and the resources are sufficient to complete the first half of up to three of them during a single run. Act 2 will only allow the player to watch a free event from each still-available route before they need to commit to one of them, which locks the other available route(s).
  • Pun-Based Title: The game loves its lily imagery, but, of course, lily also directly translates to Yuri.
  • Puzzlement About Payment: Sara has a brief moment of this when finding out that Becky gets wages in the latter's route. She quickly remembers that any money she may be earning as a servant is going towards repaying the debt she has towards Miss Minchin.
  • Queer Flowers: This retells the story of A Little Princess with a Yuri Genre twist, has a lot of lily imagery, and it added the word "Lily" to the title referencing the Yuri Genre.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: In Becky's route Miss Minchin making Becky cry is this for Sara. She just can't hold back anymore and confronts Miss Minchin. Which of course backfires horribly.
  • Riches to Rags: Sara goes through that in Act 2, when her father loses his fortune and his life, and suddenly finds herself going from being one of Miss Minchin's academy's star students to being treated as less than dirt.
  • Sadistic Choice: When the Mistaken for Thief incident from Becky's route gets cleared up, Miss Minchin prefers imposing one such choice to Sara and Becky to admitting she made a mistake: either Sara stole the money Becky left with her for safekeeping, or Becky gave the money to Sara. If Sara stole the money, Becky gets it back, but Sara gets sent to the proper authorities. If Becky gave Sara the money, then Miss Minchin is entitled to it because Sara is in debt towards her. She doesn't allow for a third option, which is a problem because the situation itself qualifies as one.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Pretty much all of the schoolgirls are this to some extent, as becomes clear when Sara loses her status and none have the slightest idea just how bad things are for her now. Jessie is particularly noted for being rather ditzy, however, which is a little funny given that she's easily the poorest of the students.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Jessie, though in this case, the plot first brings it up in the context of a period trope regarding redheads: that red hair indicates a lustful, fallen woman.
  • So Was X: In Lavinia's route, when she confesses her deep-seated fear that she may never be accepted as a romantic partner because she's half-Indian, Sara reveals that her mother was in such a situation, as well. When Lavinia brings up the fact that Sara's mother was French, which clearly contradicts the new reveal about her in her eyes, Sara points out that Mariette, who is clearly mixed-race, is French also.
  • Spoiled Brat:
    • Lottie, who has learned to get what she wants by screaming and playing on people's sympathies over her lost mother. Ironically, Lavinia at one point calls her out for it; Sara notes in her thoughts that Lavinia is not much better.
    • Both Miss Minchin and the Cook think that Sara is one. Sara, also can't do much to change their minds. Based on their assumptions about her, they expect Sara to react very badly to being separated from her father. When Sara keeps her sorrow about the separation silent, they come to the conclusion that she doesn't care about her father and only about all the luxuries she owns.
  • The Story Teller: Sara not only has a talent for making stories, she also enjoys sharing them with the girls.
  • Street Urchin: Sara meets one in the street several times, always helping in some way.
  • Take My Hand!: While trying to retrieve Miss Minchin's runaway cat, Becky falls off the church belltower and Sara grab her hand but is unable to lift her. Thankfully, the keeper eventually helps them.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Becky has that attitude towards her wages. She doesn't consider using them to get extra food worth it, has two different more expensive items she wants to buy if she ever saves enough money for them and is worried that buying either will leave her with no money to take care of an eventual emergency for quite a while.
  • Tragically Misguided Favor: Lottie's attempt to have Sara marry her father to help her out of her bad situation ultimately only gives Miss Minchin an excuse to harshly punish Sara under the pretense of how embarrassing the situation was for herself. The latter is even how the obligatory Darkest Hour happens in Lottie's route.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Jessie gives a golden heart to Sara, intending for her to keep it even if they are separated - or if Jessie succeeds in going through with the suicide she's considering. Unfortunately, Sara ends up losing it when Lavinia reports Sara has stolen something and Miss Minchin searches her room.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Averted for the route split; Becky's route will always be available in Act 2 whether or not you did her Act 1 events, to prevent the player from getting stuck if they were unlucky gathering resources during Act 1.
    • Played straight if the player decides, for whatever reason, to skip every single weekend and refuse to do any events. A particular scene needed to trigger the story is locked until one completes a character's route events, so if the player refuses to do any of the events, the story eventually runs out of events. After Week 100, any uncompleted routes become locked and the player has no option but to continue skipping weekends, forever.
  • Unreliable Narrator: To an adult reader, it's clear that Lavinia's wildly vacillating behavior towards Sara is due to her very confused feelings towards her (wanting to be close to her, but wanting to be a proper lady; wanting Sara to love her, but also wanting to feel superior over her) and probably a bunch of confusing adolescent hormones, but Sara doesn't understand any of this, so she simply views her behavior as incoherent.
  • Victorian London: Where Miss Minchin's boarding school is located.
  • Wall Pin of Love: As Lavinia's has Loving Bully type behaviors in her route, she ends up getting Sara trapped between a wall, her body and her extended arms before confessing to her.
  • The Wicked Stage: One of Jessie's events consists of her needing to be talked out of her idea of joining the ballet because the game in set during a time in which stage jobs are disreputable.
  • Yuri Genre: The interaction with the cast can go from non-romantic, to subtext, to full-on lesbian love.