Haru, a young and very introverted girl, gets a call from her friend Manami. It's the latter's birthday, so she decided to invite the former for a nice, all-girls hot springs trip, along with her other pal Erika. After much insistence from Manami, Haru reluctantly accepts the offer. There's only one problem...
Haru is Transgender.
In 2019, npckc released a sequel, called last day of spring. It follows Erika's point of view as she tries to organise Haru's upcoming birthday party. It can be found here.
The third game in the series, spring leaves no flowers, was released on November 30th, 2019. The protagonist here is Manami: The day after celebrating Erika's birthday, she notices both Haru and Erika acting strangely towards each other, and tries to understand why.
The trilogy has seen a Compilation Rerelease titled "A Year of Springs", which features an additional ending exclusive to the compilation.
The spring series contain examples of:
- All Love Is Unrequited: Erika has a slight crush on Haru, who is in love with Manami... Who already has a boyfriend, and is later revealed to be aromantic anyways.
- Subverted in spring leaves no flowers: Haru and Erika do end up together in the end.
- all lowercase letters: The titles are all intentionally all lowercase. The text messenger conversations are devoid of capital letters as well.
- Asexuality: Manami realizes she's asexual and aromantic in spring leaves no flowers.
- Birthday Hater: Downplayed in last day of spring: While Haru doesn't hate her own birthday per se, she doesn't really think it's worth doing a huge party over.
- But Thou Must!:
- In last day of spring, you initially get three choices of which spa to reserve for Haru's birthday. However, no matter which one you choose, Erika learns that spa doesn't accommodate trans women and is forced to change her plan to host a spa day at home for Haru instead.
- In spring leaves no flowers, some of Manami's dialogue options are crossed out and picking them only results in her hesitating before going with the other option instead. However, this isn't a full case of But Thou Must as some of these crossed-out options determine the ending you get despite having no immediate effect at first and you can only get the best ending if you're persistent enough in choosing the crossed-out options.
- Cast Full of Gay: Most characters in the series are LGBT to some extent: In the main trio Haru is trans and a lesbian, and Erika is bisexual: Only Manami seems to be straight, having a boyfriend. ...Until spring leaves no flowers, where she realizes she's asexual and aromantic.
- Coming-Out Story: spring leaves no flowers can be seen as this for Manami, as she comes to terms with her asexuality.
- Cucumber Facial: One of the items Erika can buy for Haru's spa day in last day of spring is cucumbers.Erika: Fancy spas all have cucumbers to put on your eyes, right? I have no idea what they're supposed to do... but everyone does it, so it must do something, right?
- Cutting Off the Branches: Made more explicit in A Year of Springs, as achieving the endings below is what unlocks the next story.
- last day of spring treats Erika's second ending in one night, hot springs as canon with Erika and Haru having become close friends since that night.
- spring leaves no flowers similarly treats last day of spring's best ending as the canon one with Erika's love confession to Haru in that ending being followed up on.
- Former Teen Rebel: Erika mentions at one point that she was quite the delinquent as a teen, getting into all sorts of trouble at school.
- Gyaru Girl: With a tanned skintone, blonde hair and a delinquent history in high school, Erika seems to fit the bill.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every installment in the series includes the word "spring" in the title. Fittingly, the Japanese word for spring (the season, not the water source) is "haru".
- Incompatible Orientation: Haru has a crush on Manami, who already has a boyfriend, and is later revealed to be aromantic.
- Innocently Insensitive: Erika makes some insensitive comments about Haru's gender, like commenting on how well Haru passes as cis and saying that Haru used to be a guy (Manami makes a habit of correcting Erika when she can). However, Erika is willing to learn, and if given the option, she gladly sits down and listens to Haru talk about her issues.
- LGBT Awakening: In spring leaves no flowers, Erika discussing romance and sexual feelings with Manami leads to Manami discovering that she doesn't have those feelings at all, and she didn't even realize girls could have these feelings. The rest of the game is about her coming to terms with being aromantic and asexual.
- Love Bubbles: These appear in last day of spring when Haru smiles at Erika, causing Erika to realize that she has a crush on her.
- Love Revelation Epiphany: Haru initially rejects Erika's love confession in last day of spring but after having some time to think about it between the time periods of the second and third games, she realizes that Erika's confession made her feel "butterflies" and agrees to give dating her a go.
- Multiple Endings: There are seven endings in one night, hot springs, with none being a definitive Golden Ending:
- Manami End 1) - Friends forever... Haru doesn't give Manami her birthday present, and instead simply tells her happy birthday. Haru, Manami and Erika leave the hot springs together, to search for a souvenir shop.
- Manami End 2) - Honesty is like a gift: Haru gives her birthday present to Manami, but asks her to not open it until she's back home. Haru leaves the hot springs by herself: The ending pictures shows that Haru's gift was a small, ribbon-shaped hairclip.
- Erika End 1) - New friends, new adventures: Haru doesn't go to the women's baths with Erika. The next day, Erika apologizes for being insensitive to Haru during the trip. Erika, Manami and Haru all take the same train to go home.
- Erika End 2) - The world can be kind too: Haru tells Erika she loves Manami. The next day, Manami gets a message from her boyfriend, asking her, Erika and Haru to come eat together. Erika, assuming Haru would be uneasy if she saw Manami's boyfriend, politely declines. Haru and Erika leave the hot springs to take a stroll around town.
- Good End - Hot springs are OK: Haru, Erika and Manami all leave the hot springs, and take the bus together to go eat breakfast in town. Manami seems to imply that Haru liked the trip.
- Normal End - Let's try something else: Haru declines Erika's invitation to the hot springs. Manami changes her plans, and invites Haru to a theme park instead.
- Bad End - Hot spring are not OK: Haru, exhausted and stressed over by the trip, leaves the hot springs by herself when everyone is asleep.
- last day of spring also has 5 endings. Unlike one night, hot springs, however, the first 4 are Bad Endings of sorts which can be triggered from April 2nd to April 5th, with the last ending in April 6th being the Golden Ending. spring leaves no flowers does the same, with 8 endings, but they're not tied to specific days.
- Oblivious to Love: Manami doesn't realize that her longtime friend Haru is in love with her even though Erika figures it out less than a day after she meets Haru for the first time. She also fails to realize that her best two friends have started dating each other, assuming that the reason Haru and Erika are behaving oddly is that they had a fight. Justified by her being an aromantic asexual.
- Omega Ending: A Year of Springs adds an extra epilogue after achieving the best endings in the trilogy titled the coming spring. Haru is moving out of her old room, moving closer to her work and living together with Erika, who has a job now.
- Playing Sick: In last day of spring, Haru tries to get out of having a spa day with her friends by telling Erika that she's not feeling well. Erika initially buys it, until Manami tells her that Haru did the same thing with her in the past whenever she felt too anxious to socialize.
- Sobriquet Sex Switch: When Haru has to sign a form with her legal name, it's revealed that Haru's deadname is "Haruto".
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: last day of spring shows that even though the staff member Haru met at the hot springs in the first game turned out to be extremely understanding of her situation, the vast majority of public bathing spaces in Japan are not nearly as welcoming towards trans women. Erika, despite her outrage over this discrimination, recognizes that there's nothing she can do to change it as a single person.
- Trans Tribulations: The first two games are mainly about the internal and external struggles Haru has to deal with as a trans woman in a country where she can't even change her legal name or gender without undergoing sterilization. Her tribulations are balanced out by the love and support she receives from her friends for the most part, but her frustrated speech in the second game could serve as the page quote for Trans Tribulations:Haru: Everywhere I go, I feel like I'm being turned away. I can't go to women's spaces because I'm not legally a woman. But I can't go to men's spaces because I obviously don't belong there either. It just makes me too anxious to even — to even go on a spa trip with my friends, because society keeps telling me that I'm not... that I'm not really a woman. But then what the hell am I supposed to be?
- True Companions: The series is as much about the deep, abiding friendship that Haru, Erika, and Manami have with each other as it is about transgender and LGBT issues in Japan.
- Unseen No More: Manami's boyfriend Tatsuya is only mentioned in the first two games, and in the third game his profile picture on Manami's phone only shows his name. Only in the third game's true ending does he appear in person.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: Since Haru can't change her legal gender or name under Japan's laws unless she undergoes gender affirmation surgery and sterilization, she fills out her hot springs registration card with her birth gender and name. The staff member who reads her card is quite surprised by this.
- "Which Restroom" Dilemma: According to Haru, she feels conflicted about which restrooms to enter, as she doesn't feel at ease in the men's restrooms while feeling judged when going into the women's.
- You Are Not Alone: A recurring theme in the series is that being LGBT+ can be hard, but having friends who unconditionally love and accept you for who you are or even just a single person who shows unexpected kindness and understanding to you can go a long way towards helping you feel more comfortable with your gender and/or sexuality.