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Visual Novel / Sepia Tears

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Sepia Tears: Midwinter's Reprise is a freeware OEL Ren'Py-based visual novel released by Team NEET (since then reorganized as Scarlet String Studios) on December 24, 2013 (PC/Mac/Linux), February 28, 2014 (Android), and January 9, 2016 (Steam).

An updated version, Sepia Tears: Reprise Edition, was released on October 7, 2019, and contains three extra chapters (with four new CGs), new background art and reworked sprites, and a remastered soundtrack.

From the official site:

"Sepia Tears is a love story.

"There are no robots or vampires, for better or worse. It's about a high schooler named Mark, an ordinary protagonist with a memory that he tries very hard to forget. It's also about a girl named Myra who knows more about him than any stranger should, and who reminds him uncannily of his past.

"Together, they search for a storybook romance and realize that love doesn't always bloom as neatly as it ought to."

This visual novel provides the following tropes.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Rin. Her full name is Rina, but she prefers Rin (and is also a way for the developers to sneak in a reference to another Rin).
  • Annoying Younger Sister: Rin. Though at times, she still cares for her older brother, Mark.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mark so very much. It's even lampshaded by Lukas. Twice!
  • Dénouement Episode: The three extra stories, which are exclusive to the Reprise Edition, provide closure on the status of the relationships and friendships that happen to Mark, Myra, Rin, Lukas, and Lillian.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Once Myra drops the pretention of being a poor substitute for Mark's crush who dumped him three years ago, she undoes her Girlish Pigtails and her violet hair dye. This is reflected in the extra stories exclusive to the Reprise Edition.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The beginning has Rin trying to wake up Mark, with things such as the Hokuto Shinken.
  • Love Triangle: Before he resolves his issues with Myra, Mark first has to settle the score with Lillian. Simply put, he fell in love with her at first sight when they first met. But then, Myra comes back, alongside the painful memories of getting rejected by the girl he had a crush on. Lukas also hints to Mark that Lillian also fell for him, and warns him to take the initiative and resolve the love triangle right before it can possibly destroy the friendship Mark, Lukas, and Lillian have.
  • Maid Cafe: Lukas is a huge patron of one.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Mark. Even his own younger sister outranks him in terms of academic performance and general cheerfulness.
  • Otaku: Rin and Lukas. Rin leans more towards Mecha anime and love stories, while Lukas is a huge fan of visual novels.
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: A variant: In the prologue, Mark encounters a girl whose hair ribbon has something written in it, but the writing is obscured. The writing on the ribbon is later revealed to be "Don't cry", as the girl is actually Mark's crush who dumped him three years ago. It's also significant for another reason: Myra picked up the ribbon and wore it, which is the vital piece of information that Mark didn't remember.
  • Real-Place Background: While one half of the backgrounds is 3D renders, the other half consists of filtered photographic backgrounds depicting places in Toronto as well as the little-known Ontario town of Ajax. Makes sense, since majority of the developers are Canadian.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Myra assumed the role of Mark's crush, even doing things like dyeing her hair and wearing the same ribbon the girl wore. Fortunately, the original girl is not dead; she just disappears from Mark's life after she dumped him.
  • Shout-Out: Since this visual novel is made by a group of anime and visual novel fans themselves, it's par for the course for this to have several references.
    • The game you can hear Rin discuss as she's playing it in the background is Touhou Youyoumu ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom, specifically the invokedphantasm stage against Yukari. Someone mentions her wearing a frilly dress and holding a parasol, and the strategy Rin explains for a few of the spellcards is entirely accurate.
    • There are several chibi drawings of characters from other works. At one point in the mall they encounter figurine of Beatrice, while in the same breath Lukas references the Golden Land, which is fairly important in that game.
    • When Mark and Lillian meet at school on day 3, Lillian describes the plot twist of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.
    • On day 4, when Myra treats Mark to some taiyaki, he tells her of that one time when Rin associated the snack with a certain girl.
  • Snow Means Love: The story happens in the days leading to Christmas Eve.
  • Super-Deformed: Several event CGs contain chibi characters. They even have their own special section in the game's gallery.
  • Uptown Girl: Myra is the daughter of a wealthy man who helped build the town where the story takes place.