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Visual Novel / Hashihime of the Old Book Town

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Hashihime of the Old Book Town (Koshotengai no Hashihime) is a "psychedelic BL murder-mystery" by indie developer ADELTA, released in Japan in 2016, and on Steam and Mangagamer in 2019.

Tamamori came to Tokyo with his sights set on getting accepted to the Imperial University. However, he doesn't pass the entrance exam, and is so undisciplined and wrapped up in endless fantasies that he's kicked out of his boarding house after only two years. Through a stroke of luck, Tamamori begins to live and work at Umebachidou, a used book store. There, he enjoys whiling away his time as a "student preparing for entrance exams" and taking advantage of friends who are also from his hometown. But one right after the other, mysterious deaths befall those friends and, realizing he's been repeating the same rainy three days over and over again, Tamamori finds himself racing throughout Jinbochou to save them.

In this pop-occult mystery that surrounds the deaths of his friends... What is real, and what is a hallucination?

From Mangagamer

Note: due to the nature of this game, all spoilers are unmarked.

This work provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Quite a bit. Kawase's dad used to beat him up and it's implied to have sexually abused him while the Shopkeeper keeps his adoptive son Kaoru locked in the basement. Also Alternate Time Line-Tamamori to Kaoru, though he didn't actually raise him.
  • Affectionate Nickname: All of the main characters address each other with these. Professor invokes this when introducing himself to Tamamori, stating his real name but immediately asking to be addressed by his nickname.
  • All Just a Dream: Played with, but ultimately subverted. Kaoru's route exists in a timeline separate from the other four.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Oh boy:
    • Meiko/Naoshi is in love with Kawase. Sadly confirmed for being doomed.
    • Minakami toward Tamamori. He's wrong, though their love doesn't come to fruition in the other routes.
    • Kawase toward Tamamori in his route. He's proven wrong eventually.
    • Tamamori sees Hanazawa only as a brother. Hanazawa wants more.
    • Professor toward Tamamori. Though Tamamori comes to appreciate him sexually, he doesn't harbor romantic feelings for him at the end of his route. Professor doesn't mind, though.
  • All There in the Manual: Such as the exact nature of Kaoru's route and its relation to the other routes. Additionally, completing routes unlocks characters' profiles in the Extra section, which offer some trivia and, in case of main characters, a tidbit or two about their future lives with Tamamori.
  • Alternate Timeline: Kaoru's route, created by a Tamamori that killed Minakami, Tamamori and Hanazawa as kids.
  • Ambiguous Situation: With the presence of supernatural influence and Tamamori's own status as Unreliable Narrator, it's unclear whether Tamamori's hallucinations are a manifestation of a mental disorder, a result of using hashihime's power, or simply a case of a powerful imagination running wild. While Kawase, being a medical student, refers to Tamamori as a schizophrenic at one point, he is not exactly a reliable source.
  • Anachronism Stew: Professor's inventions but also Kyūsaku Yumeno's books. It's intentional, as the books come from the future.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kaoru, though he only kills under the shopkeeper's orders.
  • Bad Future: The original timeline, before the shopkeeper traveled back in time.
  • Berserk Button: Minakami the moment Tamamori is placed in danger.
  • Big Fancy House: Ikeda's Mansion, and Hikawa estate to an even greater degree.
  • Black Blood: The series uses pink blood, similar to Danganronpa, and one instance of neon green blood. Subverted at one point in Hanazawa's route, where Tamamori wakes up to the sight of a wall dyed crimson red from top to bottom with blood of one of the characters.
  • Boys' Love: Obviously.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: All male members of the cast are fairly attractive, with special mention going to Kawase, who is called a pretty boy in-universe on numerous occasions.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tamamori's grandmother in Professor's route. Alluded to in previous routes but never met in person, here she appears to deliver a bottle of rainwater from the day Professor met the shopkeeper, allowing Tamamori to save Professor.
  • The Chessmaster: The Shopkeeper, who manipulates the events of the game in order to give Tamamori experience necessary for becoming a great writer.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Minakami, Kawase and Hanazawa all fit, though Minakami and Kawase are more close to Tamamori, while Minakami fits more into the stereotype.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: While Tamamori witnesses a lot of dead bodies throughout the routes, two of the deaths take the cake, both courtesy of the man in a Noh mask. The first one happens in Kawase's route, where Kawase himself is found shoved into a chimney, with bones sticking out of his waist and his whole body folded so unnaturally that Tamamori compares it to an intricately folded paper crane, and then it's revealed that he is still alive. The second one happens in Hanazawa's route, where we don't get to see just what exactly happened to Professor, but we do get to see an entire wall dyed crimson with his blood, and his pixel-censored head carried around by his killer.
  • Cue the Sun: Minakami's, Kawase's and Professor's routes end this way.
  • Deus Sex Machina: Subverted: Hanazawa attempts to transfer the Hashihime by sex, therefore raping Tamamori. It doesn't work.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Minakami's final suicide, which solidified Tamamori's resolve to save him no matter what.
  • Driven to Suicide: Minakami in all routes, kicking off the plot.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Tamamori is forced to go back in time over and over to save Minakami, and even when their happiness is almost guaranteed, it's snatched away by Hanazawa of all people.
  • Earthquake Machine: Professor is building one for the military, and it was the source of several earthquakes in the beginning of the story. However, as Hanazawa explains, the funds are dwindling fast due to past negotiations gone wrong, and the whole thing is destined to become scrap metal in the near future. If only Tamamori shared his power...
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex:
    • Kawase and Tamamori in Kawase's ending, going by the tips.
    • Subverted for Tamamori and Minakami. Despite having the most stable relationship and considering each other's significant other, they only live together and spend the night together only on rainy days for the time being.
  • Fan Disservice: Hanazawa's sex scene. While Hanazawa is by no means unattractive, the entire scene is him raping Tamamori to test his theory about transfering the power of hashihime, and then not stopping even after it becomes apparent that the theory is wrong, all the while Tamamori has Heroic BSoD.
  • Gayngst: Minakami, whose realisation of his feelings towards Tamamori contributes to his suicidal ideation.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Zig-zagged. Some of the deaths are illustrated; some get detailed descriptions but no images; some are mentioned in passing; and in one case (Kawase's first death) the full image can be viewed in the gallery while the game itself only shows bits and pieces.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In his attempts to save his friends from gruesome deaths, Tamamori keeps repeating the same three days.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tamamori in Professor's route. Even after realizing his feelings for Minakami and confessing to him, he resigns him to travel back in time and abandon the other man to free and protect Professor from his older self's influence.
  • Hope Spot: The penultimate loop of Minakami's route. Minakami is willing to live and leave with Tamamori, but Hanazawa has other plans.
  • I Hate Past Me: The shopkeeper.
  • Imaginary Friend: The Frog Man and Not-So-Imaginary Friend Haruhiko. And in final route everyone besides Kaoru.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Averted in the main game, as the Shopkeeper couldn't bring himself to kill Minakami as a child. Subverted in the alternative world, in which the 3 children are killed.
  • In-Series Nickname: All of the main characters go by their nicknames instead of their real names.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Tamamori tries to kill himself in several instances, but is always stopped. In Hanazawa's route, he tries to bite off his tongue but is stopped by Hanazawa, while in Professor's route he tries to jump from high places three times and is stopped by Professor each time.
  • It's for a Book: Tamamori's favorite excuse.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Minakami didn't expect to be liked back, but he was content being at Tamamori's side.
    • Naoshi in Kawase's route, who has a crush on him but nonetheless urges Tamamori to chase after Kawase.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Teased at, but ultimately subverted. Early in the story, Tamamori goes to cinema to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At some points he suspects that the man in a Noh mask is his alter ego, since he only goes after Tamamori's friends, seems to know Tamamori's plans, and never touches Tamamori himself, but it turns out that they are different people after all. Hyde is actually Tamamori, and Jekyll kind of takes form in Frogman, like his conscience.
  • Kill and Replace: What Tamamori does to his doubles whenever he jumps into a new timeline. He has to do it to regain hashihime's power; fortunately, the doubles do not require to be killed conventionally and simply dissolve into water upon physical contact.
  • Love Epiphany: Tamamori has this epiphany in Minakami's route when he realizes the moment he told Minakami his first story years ago, it was the moment he fell in love with him.
  • Magical Eye: One of the main themes of the novel. The Hashihime resides in her host's eyes, allowing him to travel back in time using water.
  • Missing Mom: Tamamori's mother disappeared when he was a child and was never heard from again. She was the price the Hashihime demanded from Minakami for saving Tamamori's life.
    • Kawase's mother ran away and left him with his father when he was quite young
  • Mood Whiplash: In Professor's route, Tamamori is ready to jump off a bridge, when Professor grabs him across the waist to stop him...and accidentally pulls off a Suplex Finisher.
  • Ninja Maid: Hitotsurugi and Sazan, Professor's maids. Hitotsurugi is a skilled knife-thrower, while Sazan is proficient in martial arts.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: Hanazawa is mentioned to have seven older sisters, whose names contain characters for numbers 1 to 7, respectively, with Hanazawa's real name containing "eight". Also, members of The Irregulars get their codenames in this fashion, named after French numerals. If Tamamori joins them, he gets the codename "Six".
  • Occult Blue Eyes: A sign of being possessed by a hashihime. However, the host's eyes only appear blue to those who have been possessed themselves.
  • Off with His Head!: The man in a Noh mask's preferred method of dispatching his targets.
  • Official Couple: While all the timelines are canon due to the alternative timelines, Minakami and Tamamori tend to considered the game's main pairing due to it having the most complete storyline, and Minakami having revealed that they are soulmates in a sense in every life, even if they never ended up together in their previous lives.
  • Older Than They Look: The maids, who seem to be in their twenties but are actually over seventy, looking young thanks to surgeries performed by Professor. Also Kaoru, in the final route.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Tamamori, Kawase, Minakami, Hanazawa and Professor all go by their nicknames. Their real names, while revealed at certain points, are only used a handful of times. In Tamamori's case, he reveals his real name to Professor as a sign of closeness, but immediately asks to keep being addressed by the nickname.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Tamamori's frequent reaction to his other self once a new loop begins.
  • Parental Incest: Kaoru's route, though a particularly odd case. They happen to be the same age due to time traveler hi-jinks and that world Tamamori did not raise Kaoru, he merely filled for his adoptive father once he died.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Tamamori to Minakami, over and over. Also Tamamori to Kawase in Kawase's route.
  • Race for Your Love: At the end of Kawase's route, Kawase is planning to leave the city, but Tamamori is having none of that and chases after him, culminating in jumping into an open window of the already moving train that Kawase boarded.
  • Rape as Backstory: Kawase, also the maids.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Minakami and Tamamori.
  • The Reveal:
    • The shopkeeper is Tamamori from another timeline.
    • Professor wasn't just posssessed by hashihime at some point; he still is.
    • Hanazawa never cared about Kawase and Minakami - he was only being friends with them because his father told him to.
  • Rule of Three: In Professor's route, Tamamori tries to kill himself three times, and is stopped three times by Professor.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Tamamori's solution at the end of Minakami's route - instead of running around the city trying to fix things like in previous loops, he just boards the first train with Minakami and returns to their hometown. It works.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • The shopkeeper is happy when Tamamori grows closer to Minakami. He isn't fond of Kawase, however.
    • Tamamori, when he learns of Meiko/Naoshi's feelings for Kawase.
    • Madam hopes Tamamori will realize Minakami's feelings and accept them.
    • Sazan is overjoyed when Tamamori gets closer to Professor.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is it "Yumeno Kyusaku" or "Yumeno Kyuusaku"? It's both: "Kyuusaku" is the name of the real author, while "Kyusaku" is the name the shopkeeper used when republishing real Kyuusaku's novels in the past.
  • Stealth Mentor: The Shopkeeper, through Haruhiko.
  • Stylistic Suck: Tamamori's attempt at writing smut while having no experience of his own. Kawase, the intended recipient, only makes it through eight pages out of forty before dropping the whole thing.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Minakami, Kawase and Hanazawa all fit, but Hanazawa in particular.
  • Terminator Twosome: The shopkeeper. Sort of.
  • Theme Naming: Tamamori's, Minakami's, Kawase's, Hanazawa's and Professor's real names all contain water-related kanji in them.
  • Time Travel: All over the place!
    • Minakami traveled back in time 23 times to save Tamamori as as kid.
    • Tamamori himself, during the course of the game.
    • Professor, in his route. He even makes time travelling his profession in one of the timelines.
    • The shopkeeper and Kaoru.
  • Time-Travel Romance: Minakami and Tamamori, arguably.
  • Trapped in the Past:
    • Tamamori in Professor's ending, until he's rescued.
    • The shopkeeper and Kaoru arguably, even if they don't mind.
    • In Hanazawa's route, Tamamori willingly traps himself and Hanazawa in prehistoric times as punishment for Hanazawa's sins.
  • Unreliable Narrator: All over the place!
  • The Walls Have Eyes: Invoked in Professor's house. Hitotsurugi explains to Tamamori that the ring-like pattern seen on all walls in the house is called snake eye, which is said to ward off those with malevolent intentions. Tamamori even notes that he feels like he's being watched.
  • Weather-Control Machine: Professor has access to "rain bullets", which he uses to cause rain in the city and visit Tamamori more often, since the bookshop Tamamori works in only opens on rainy days.
  • White Mask of Doom: The man in a Noh Mask, who wears a traditional hashihime mask and whose appearance is never good news.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Meiko, but also Madam.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The shopkeeper's plan to create a future where him and Minakami could be truly happy together.
  • Youkai: The titular Hashihime, who resides in people's eyes.

Alternative Title(s): Koshotengaino Hashihime