Kisetsu o Dakishimete (季節を抱きしめて, lit.: "Embracing the Season"; translated as "In the Season of the Cherry Blossoms" in the game's instruction booklet) is the second entry in the interactive anime Visual Novel series Yarudora, produced by Sony Computer Entertainment, and developped by Sugar&Rockets and Production I.G. The game was initially released in 1998 on Playstation 1, then re-released in 2005 on Playstation Portable and in 2009 on the Playstation Store.
Spring, in a little Japanese town. The main protagonist (i.e. the character controlled by the player), a 20-years old man, enters university and is greeted by his close friend Tomoko Kunitachi. He actually was a Rōnin for a year, due to a Heroic BSoD caused by the loss of the classmate he loved in his High School time, Mayu Sakurai. It was made worse by the fact he feels guilty for this, as he lost the courage to confess his feelings to her during their last conversation, and she died in a traffic accident mere hours later. Tomoko, whom he met at cramschool, and who fell deeply in love with him, helped him get back on his feet, and he's now partially back.
But as he and Tomoko are walking in the blossoming cherry trees-filled university's park, the main protagonist notice an unconscious girl under the "Hirenzakura" (="Cherry Tree of the Tragic Love"), a tree famous in the town for its centuries-long legend of a tragic love having occured at its feet, and as such is said that couples meeting there are fated to be separated.
As the protagonist rescues the girl, he has a shock: she bears an uncanny resemblance to his former love Mayu. When the girl wakes up, she says she has lost her memories. Seeing the plight of the girl, and troubled by her appearance that awakes in him wounds not quite healed, he joins her in her Quest for Identity. She'll decide to call herself Mayu, to the surprise of the protagonist.
And thus starts a Slice of Life Love Triangle story (as Tomoko, who openly claims her love for the protagonist and unilaterally considers him as her boyfriend, isn't pleased at all at his interest towards Mayu), in which the fantastic will invite itself in, as the secret behind Mayu's identity will unfold...
The "Spring" title of the four original Playstation 1 Yarudora games, Kisetsu o Dakishimete was directed by Mizuho Nishikubo (Ghost in the Shell, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Patlabor 2 The Movie), and the character design is courtesy of Kaori Higuchi (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Angel Sanctuary OVA).
BEWARE, this game is very story-driven. DO NOT HIGHLIGHT THE MARKED SPOILERS BELOW if you want to keep the full experience of the game. You Have Been Warned.
This game presents the following tropes:
- Adventure Game
- Berserk Button: Mayu really hates perverted men, and will not hesitate kicking the crap out of them.
- Big Damn Heroes: Mayu performs one when the protagonist gets caught by a policeman, as he's mistaken for a pervert while he was waiting for Mayu in front of an all-female High School. Complete with an upbeat, cheerful variation of the game's Leitmotif as Mayu bails him out.
- Big "NO!": Mayu does this twice, both at key scenes (which can be both seen in trailers of the game). One of those is combined with Sparkling Stream of Tears, see below.
- Butt-Monkey: The main protagonist. Be it either being kicked by Mayu or taking a faceful of a sweets plate by Tomoko for being mistaken for a pervert, or being startled by Mayu appearing from behind and falling head-on trash bags, that guy never catches a break.
- Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: When Mayu moves in the protagonist's flat, the protagonist deseperately tries to hide his erotic books. Unfortunately for him, Mayu finds one in the kitchen room. He tries to tell it's one of his friends who has left it there, but Mayu doesn't mind, as she actually likes those kind of books (which is strange, given her Berserk Button above).
- Chekhov's Gun: The Cherry Blossom petals scattered around the place Mayu was lying when the protagonist first found her. Make sure to get one of those at the very beginning of the game if you want to see the Good Endings: it's a crucial element to bring back Mayu's memories.
- Cherry Blossoms: The big theme of the game, as well as its Flower Motif.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Tomoko, full stop. This is the source of much drama in the game; her getting over it near the end of her storyline is a major point of her Character Development.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The storyline is, on a grander scale, a display of the protagonist coming to terms with the loss of his former love, and deciding to go towards the person who's currently the dearest to him.
- Console Cameo: A Playstation 1 appears among the stuff the Otaku Friend has in his room.
- Cool Big Sis: The Sexy Lady.
- Cut Song: Track n°17. Given its place in the Sound Test (right between the beginning of Scene 18 and the confrontation scene), that fast-paced track was probably meant to be played during the very short scene in-between, where the protagonist hurriedly rides back to his home. Track n°16, the BGM playing at the beginning of Scene 18, is prolonged to that short scene instead.
- Cute Ghost Girl / Nature Spirit: Mayu's true identity. She's the soul of Mayu Sakurai, who reincarnated into the Spirit of the Cherry Trees after her death. She can come to the world of living beings with a tangible body, but only during spring time.
- Dizzy Cam: Used for dramatic effect at the beginning of the confrontation sequence. Having a bad presentiment, the protagonist rushes to home. As he opens the door, a shot of Mayu and Tomoko's faces looking at each other spinning fast, along with a lightning strike, occurs. This spinning shot is also part of the game's opening demo.
- Driven to Suicide: A key part of the Sexy Lady's past. She was so distraught by the brutal death of her fiancé (who was so impatient to propose to her and give her a wedding ring he forgot to Look Both Ways, got hit by a car, and died in her arms), she took a lethal dose of sleeping pills under the Hirenzakura tree, the place where the two first met. But her attempt failed, as in her coma, she saw an apparition of her fiancé, who told her not to go the other side yet.
- Drives Like Crazy: The protagonist has a tendency to not drive very safely in the sequences where he rides his scooter.
- Ending Tropes:
- Bittersweet Ending: In regards to Mayu, given the following...
- Did Not Get the Girl: What will happen with Mayu, no matter the ending you'll get. Get a Bad Ending? You'll never see her again. Get a Normal Ending? She'll disappear, but will help you heal your wounded heart. Get a Good Ending? She'll Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence as the Spirit of the Cherry Tree, and depending on the storyline, will give you the courage to go forward in your life, or will watch over your newly formed couple with her sister Mami.
- Faceless Protagonist: The only time his face is seen in game, is when there's a reflection of himself in the window of his working office, and even then it's only a partial and unclear one due to darkness. Otherwise, his face either appears off-screen, or hidden inside his scooter helmet.
- Fetal Position Rebirth: The "Spirit of the Cherry Trees" storyline has an event where the player character dreams of Mayu floating in the darkness in fetal position, then dissolving into a storm of Cherry Blossoms. Seeing this event is mandatory to get the storyline's Good Ending.
- Flower Motif: The Cherry Blossoms.
- Foreshadowing: On the box's front cover, no less. Pay attention to, and ask yourself about that white, ethereal-like silhouette of Mayu.
- Fortune Teller: The protagonist works part-time as the writer of the fortune-telling column of the town's magazine. He doesn't believe in fortune-telling and has very filmsy knowledge of it, so he writes whatever comes into his mind; yet, he's concidentally accurate enough that his column is the most popular part of the magazine, and that people blindly follow his advices, as demonstrated when he uses the column to meet Mayu (who strongly believes in this column, all while not knowing the protagonist is the one writing it) again. Of course, this being a dramatic Love Triangle story, things take a turn to the worse when Mayu discovers the column writer's identity during the game's climax.
- The Glomp: Mayu gives one to the protagonist if you choose to volunteer to help her in her Quest for Identity. That sequence is also part of the game's opening demo.
- Guide Dang It!: Aside from the 100% Completion and Last Lousy Point elements typical to the Yarudora series, this game in particular has 3 Bad Endings that absolutely aren't intuitive: Bad End 17 and 18 are only unlockable after having completed three playthroughs before, AND having slapped Tomoko in your latest playthrough; Bad End 12 requires having seen Bad End 17, and in the immediate next playthrough, slapping Tomoko again.
- High-Class Call Girl: The Sexy Lady. Going by mistake to the Host Club she works at will land you a Bad Ending, albeit a light-hearted one.
- Hint System: Most of the Bad Endings have one of the main heroines, in chibi form, explaining where you screwed up. Those light-hearted hint sequences either reinforce the comedic part of the joke endings, or create a positive Mood Whiplash with the sadness-inducing or downright scary endings.
- Identity Amnesia / Quest for Identity: The driving force of the game, and more specifically Mayu's storyline.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Mayu, who can't bear seeing hungry stray cats, and thus buys them pet food.
- Leitmotif: The Ending Theme "Kisetsu o Dakishimete", which is used in various remixed forms throughout the whole storyline.
- Love Triangle: Type 5 of Triang Relations, between Tomoko => the Main Protagonist => Mayu. Mayu likes the protagonist, but considers him more like a big brother, until the moment she recovers her memories.
- Memento MacGuffin: The ring the Sexy Lady wears at her neck. It's the wedding ring her beloved fiancé, who died in an accident, wanted to give her. As a symbol of her finally coming to terms with her loss and being ready to move on a Second Love with the protagonist, she buries it under the Hirenzakura tree in her Good Ending.
- Necktie Headband: The Drunken Geezer, during the hanami sequence, wears one.
- New Game+: Required to get several endings, as well as 100% Completion.
- Our Souls Are Different: This is one complicated version of the trope the game has here. It also depend heavily of the storyline followed:
- In Mayu's main storyline, she's actually Mayu Sakurai's soul, who has just reincarnated into the new Spirit of the Cherry Trees, a kind and benevolent Spirit coming in the world of livings beings each Spring to make blossom the cherry trees and bring happiness to the people, and has lost her memories in her first coming;
- In the "Spirit of the Cherry Tree" storyline, she's Mayu Sakurai's tormented soul who has been sucked and trapped inside the cursed Hirenzakura tree after her death. Upon seeing that her little sister Mami (who has just come back from overseas in order to pass university exams so she can be close from her late sister's homeland, and from the protagonist she always had feelings for) has suffered a traffic accident leaving her between life and death and causing the Hirenzakura tree to suck her soul as well, Mayu decided to come to the world of living beings and fuse Mami's soul inside hers (at the cost of their memories being sealed), so the Hirenzakura tree can't touch Mami's soul until someone she loves (i.e. the protagonist) lifts the curse on the Hirenzakura tree by discovering the truth behind the tree's legend. The curse lifted, Mami's soul returns to her body and she makes a miraculous recovery; and Mayu's soul reincarnates into the kind and benevolent Spirit of the Cherry Trees.
- Pinky Swear: Mayu and the protagonist do one, as he promises to help her searching for her identity.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Tomoko begs this to the protagonist in the confrontation sequence, after Mayu has ran off the house and the protagonist tries to chase after her. Depending on the flags you raised during the game, choosing to stay or not will lead to Good Endings, Normal Endings, and Bad Endings alike.
- Race Against the Clock: Of the Celestial Deadline type. In the "Spirit of the Cherry Trees" storyline, after Mayu recovers her memories during the stormy night, the protagonist has until the morning to save Mayu, her sister Mami, and himself from the curse of the Hirenzakura tree (which seal was broken the moment Mayu's memories returned), by finding the truth behind the curse and breaking it.
- Sailor Fuku: The blazer Mayu wears when she's first found is a plot point, as she and the protagonist use it to try and find the school it's affiliated to, and consequently discover her identity. It doesn't work, nobody they ask has ever seen this blazer. When following the "Spirit of the Cherry Trees" storyline, it's implied the blazer is the one Mayu's sister Mami, who just came back from overseas, wore when she was accidented.
- Second Love: What the protagonist can become to the Sexy Lady if you follow her storyline, and what Tomoko or Mami can become to the protagonist if you follow their storylines.
- Sparkling Stream of Tears: Mayu does this while running and tackling the Drunken Geezer, as, as the (unbeknownst to her at that point of the storyline) Spirit of the Cherry Trees, she feels pain when the geezer starts breaking and shaking cherry tree branches in a drunken fit of rage.
- Supreme Chef: Mayu. To her own confession, it was like her hands moved on her own when cooking: she and the protagonist deduce she must have been someone who's speciality was cooking before she lost her memories.
- Trash of the Titans: What the protagonist's flat looks like. It's so messy there's even erotic books in his kitchen!
- True Love's Kiss: The kiss Mayu and the protagonist share near the end of her storyline revives her memories.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: As much as Tomoko's jealousy grate your nerves, do NOT slap her when the option is available (unless you're after 100% Completion). This will land you a Bad Ending... or rather, 4 possible Bad Endings depending on the flags you've raised during your current AND previous playthroughs.
- Visual Novel