Clock Zero ~ Shuuen no Ichibyou ~, also known as Clock Zero ~ A Second from Ruin ~ is an Otome Game Visual Novel published by Idea Factory and Otomate for the PS2 on 2010, and later rereleased on the PSP. It received a more updated port with higher resolution graphics and new additional routes on the PlayStation Vita in 2015, dubbed as Clock Zero ~Shuuen no Ichibyou~ Ex Time.
The story follows Nadeshiko Kurou, the young, 12-year old heiress of her father's company, the Kurou Group, who, along with her childhood friend Riichirou Kanou, attends a private school like most regular rich kids her age. Recently however, Nadeshiko is plagued by strange dreams where she's in a ruined, dystopic world and where she herself appears ten years older. These dreams begin appearing in more frequency the moment the resident New Transfer Student, Takato Kaido, enters her life.
One day, her class advisor Kaga-sensei, decides to round her, Riichirou, and Takato, together with four other "problem" children: Shuuya Tokita, Madoka Hanabusa, Toranosuke Saionji, and Nakaba Hanabusa, to form an after-school club of sorts for them to do extra assignments Kaga-sensei hands them, a club they eventually name, Clock Zero. Excepting her strange dreams and the strange new talking stuffed animal Kaga-sensei gives her, Nadeshiko spends living her school days peacefully, albeit in a livelier way, with her newfound friends.
That is, until the figures she keeps seeing from her recurring dreams start to appear in reality and she soon finds herself in the ruined world she thought she'd only see in her dreams...
As this Visual Novel has yet to see an English release in the west, beware of unmarked spoilers.
Clock Zero~Shuuen No Ichibyou~ contains the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: Toranosuke's father beats him (and his brothers)up from time to time, while his mother turns a blind eye to it.
- Alternate Timeline: The dystopic future world Nadeshiko dreams of and eventually travels to comes from an alternate timeline where she gets hit by a vehicle and goes into a coma, prompting King, a.k.a., future Takato Kaido, to create a world where nothing can harm her, resulting in said ruined world. Nadeshiko, can, however, change this future in each of the boys' routes depending on the players' choices, notably, in the Return endings.
- Alternate Self: ALL the characters have one, thanks to King tampering with time in Nadeshiko's present.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: A rare protagonist example is Nadeshiko herself, being nigh asocial and usually preferring it that way.
- Always Save the Girl: Wanderer a.k.a. alternate future Riichirou will always come to save Nadeshiko no matter what. This also applies to Nadeshiko's other love interests, but not to Wanderer's extent.
- Bad Future: The Ruined World is actually an alternate future from the game's present timeline that was created as a result of Rain's schemes that got alternate Nadeshiko in a coma in the first place. King's immediate reaction to this following her coma only made things worse. Naturally, the characters involved with Nadeshiko all want to prevent this from happening.
- Big Bad: Shared between two people, though their roles vary depending on the routes: King, the government's ruler, and the one responsible for the Crapsack World everyone in the future is living in, and Yoshimune, the ruthless leader of the Yuushinkai rebels who abduct Nadeshiko in Riichirou's, Shuuya's, and Toranosuke's routes.
- Big Brother Worship: Madoka holds Nakaba in very high regard, often making others agree to his opinions despite how weird they may sound, and getting angry at those who insult him.
- Bishounen: Given the genre, this is to be expected.
- Bittersweet Ending: Regardless of Nadeshiko's choice in the end of staying or returning in each of her boys' endings, she will always have to leave one world and one version of the love interest in question behind. More apparent in the Return endings where Nadeshiko eventually forgets her adventures in the Ruined World over time.
- But Now I Must Go: The Return endings have Nadeshiko leaving the Ruined World along with her chosen love interest behind to return to her original timeline.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: It's an Otome Game after all.
- Chess Motifs: The Government characters from the Black Rabbit paths are all named after chess pieces. King, who is the leader and dictator of the Ruined World, Bishop, one of King's closest followers who is mysterious and unpredictable when matters of the heart come into play like when he falls for Nadeshiko, and Rook, another one of King's two cohorts who is pretty straightforward, holds King's "kingdom" at bay and can take away his power when needed at the right circumstance, and is the one who is responsible for most of the mess that happens in the plot. Nadeshiko is given the designation of Queen, both for her great importance in the plot (as the main character) and to King, making her an invaluable asset to both sides of the war, and then there's her own versatility to account for in all the routes. Wanderer was also originally designated to be the Knight for the Government, which is fitting considering his own unpredictability in the plot as well as his devotion to Nadeshiko.
- Childhood Friends: Nadeshiko and Riichirou have known each other since childhood, and while they bicker with one another from time to time, are shown to be really close and deeply care for each others' well-being.
- Childhood Friend Romance: If you choose his route.
- Crapsack World: The Ruined World in Nadeshiko's dreams, which is actually the state of the world ten years from the present.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Shuuya telling Nadeshiko that his memory transfer has failed is eerily reminiscent of somebody telling their loved one that they are suffering from a terminal disease.
- Dude Magnet: 12-year old Nadeshiko Kurou stands as one of the youngest examples of this trope in Otome Game history.
- Dystopia: The Ruined World, ruled under the iron fist of King and his cohorts, where everyone who doesn't have bar codes that act as IDs lives in destitution and poverty,and are subject to King's tyranny and his followers' cruelty. The people rebelling against him are no better than him.
- Evil vs. Evil: The Government, led by none other than the aptly named King, and the rebels known as the Yuushinkai, led by Yoshimune.
- Eyepatch of Power: While it doesn't really do anything, Toranosuke hides his left eye with an eyepatch since his eyes are heterochromic. As Traitor, he loses the patch and hides his right eye with his hair instead.
- Eyes Always Shut: Bishop, one of King's two Dragons, only opens his eyes occasionally and his default sprite has them shut all the time. This is why his identity as an alternate version of Madoka comes off as a huge surprise to Nadeshiko (and to an extent the player) since his younger self has bigger, wider eyes.
- For Want of a Nail: Nadeshiko's accident sometime in the near future set off the events that started the entire VN's plot. Preventing it from happening would result in a future where the explosion that triggered the rise of King's tyrannical reign and the tragedies that would occur as a result of it never happened leaving everyone to go about their lives in peace. Nadeshiko's accident will always be prevented in the Return endings somehow and the present character's futures are altered for the better. Only Riichirou's Stay ending is this trope explored however.
- Gilded Cage: In the White Rabbit routes, this is Nadeshiko's situation while she's under King's custody.
- Gratuitous English: Rain spews out a couple from time to time. Some of the promotional trailers for the game also suffers from this.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Takato and Philosopher. King aka Kaga-sensei and/or alternate future Takato on the other hand is a partial subversion.
- Happily Married: Nadeshiko marries the boy you choose at the end of each of their respective routes.
- I Choose to Stay: In the Stay endings.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: A gradual example. Excepting Shuuya's Return ending, Nadeshiko eventually forgets all her memories and adventures in the Ruined World, including even the love interests in the routes the player chooses, in the Return endings. However, she will occasionally have vague recollections of the time she spent with said love interests, bringing her to tears at times, even if she doesn't remember why.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Both Nadeshiko and Riichirou, whose bond stems from the fact that they don't have that many friends and are seemingly content with having only each other in their lives. Naturally, this changes the moment they're forced to join Clock Zero.
- Love at First Sight: Takato immediately felt an attraction to Nadeshiko the moment they first met on his first day in school.
- Mental Time Travel: How Nadeshiko and Shuuya travel to the future and the past, the former thanks to King's machinations, and the latter thanks to stolen government technology.
- Multiple Endings: With two different endings (the Stay and Return ends) for six routes to choose from this is inevitable. Of course, there's also the occasional Bad Ends, the Non Standard Game Over endings if you fail to successfully complete the assignments Kaga-sensei gives you or for other reasons, the neutral ending, and there's also the bonus endings from some routes if you choose certain options that'll trigger those endings.
- New Transfer Student: Takato Kaido.
- Older Than They Look: Shuuya is two years older than Nadeshiko and her peers except Madoka physically. Mentally, because of time travel, he's in his twenties.
- Promoted to Love Interest: In the original ports of the VN, Nakaba was the only member of Clock Zero who didn't have a route despite his strongly implied crush on Nadeshiko in extra materials and in the neutral epilogue. Come 2015's PS Vita port and much fan demand, he finally has a route of his own!
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Clock Zero is a club full of social misfits formed by Kaga-sensei to help these students make more friends and to help iron out their quirks. Though he has more ulterior motives behind gathering them together in the first place.
- Shadow Dictator: King, in the white rabbit routes where Yoshimune is the closest thing they have to the Big Bad instead of him.
- She Is All Grown Up: Puberty was definitely kind to the main characters in their adult years.
- Smurfette Principle: Nadeshiko is the sole female member of Clock Zero.
- Spoiler Opening: More evident in the PS Vita port, but this also applies to the original ports as well. Silhouettes of the boys' alternate future selves standing behind them in the opening spoil who's who before the VN slowly reveals who they are.
- Time Stands Still: Occurs before Nadeshiko is taken to the Ruined World from her dreams once Rain, the tiny plushed bunny Kaga-sensei gave her, instructs her to go take him to the clock tower.
- Time-Travel Romance: The premise of the VN.
- Tsundere: Riichirou towards Nadeshiko. Wanderer, his future self, is more of a Kuudere, however. and Madoka and Bishop, his future self to Nadeshiko. Nadeshiko herself can be one in some routes too.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ultimately, the reason the Ruined World is as it is in the future is because King wanted to create the perfect world for Nadeshiko to live in, where she would never be hurt nor would anyone dare hurt her, thanks to his love for her. Unfortunately, he went too far in his methods for her to actually completely appreciate this sentiment.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Nadeshiko's mindset is very mature for her age, always acknowledging her faults and showing much self-awareness in her internal monologues.
- Yandere: King, who "danger-proofed" the Ruined World and made it into what is in the future due to his love/obsession with Nadeshiko. Traitor/Waka also shows some shades of this as well especially in his Return ending.
I'm alive because you are here. For me, there is no meaning in a world without you.