If this game ever gets translated (which is very likely because I know a translator is working on it), Katawa Shoujo developers will have a ball with it. I can imagine those tweets already: “Porn. All of it is porn.” They will be far worse than the ones on Kajitsu. They’ll also go on Dan Kim’s podcast to utter their disgust over Harumade, Kururu: “Those damn nukige are nothing but filth. Harukuru is merely a generic harem with some awful SF backdrop.”
And I’ll have to copy everything down they say and change every instance of said visual novel to Katawa Shoujo. It’s exhausting 😦
But for once, our KS devs are partially right. As in 1/100000000th right.
Porn is bad. Especially porn in visual novels. Awful moaning, cheesy text, dicks and all that icky stuff associated with sex — they’re really boring and drag down the reader’s enjoyment. If readers want to fap, they can go to SadPanda or read Hadaka Shitsuji. Harumade, Kururu suffers from having too much porn. There are 23 h-scenes for a VN that has a script size that’s under 1MB.
Maybe the guys at Sumikko thought it’d be some great trolling. Sumikko used to make nukige until a bunch of doujin people entered their team. I guess they wanted to intentionally make Harukuru be a cult hit or something. Or they probably want to sell the VN by advertising, “Hey, we got a lot of porn to share~”. Who knows.
Sure, I guess there will be some fucked up people in this planet who will be able to enjoy Harukuru‘s h-scenes. When I started reading this, vvav (translator of SubaHibi, Sumaga, and SayoOshi) said he enjoyed reading them “very much”. He took the time to take pleasure in them. One h-scene a day.
But vvav is not normal. Normal people will not be able to read 15 h-scenes continuously and successively. Especially if it’s in the beginning.
Harumade, Kururu starts with a harem prologue. The main character, Kazuki, is forced by a bunch of girls to take up a harem. In this prologue, they fuck like bonobos. Girls go yuri on each other. Fellatio, orgies, et cetera. Normal harem stuff in VNs. Unsurprisingly, I struggled more in the prologue than anything else. I’ve started reading this a month ago and for a week and half, I plowed through the Endless Fifteen with scars and tears only Urobuchi can describe.
This is not to say that whole prologue is bad. Because I’m mentally five, I found the sex jokes funny. Watanabe “Fucking” Ryouichi, the scenario writer, is infamous for his extremely raunchy jokes. Bored, the group were idling in the classroom. They asked each other what they should do in this free time they have. They could study or go fishing. And then, Shizuka (pink-haired) went to the blackboard and wrote, “Orgies”. That non-sequitur joke will forever stay in my mind. One of the more amusing h-scenarios was when Fuyune, the blonde-haired girl, asked the girls to take her virginity away Marimite style. Harumi (cyan-haired) and Shizuka turned into these S ojousamas and shouted all these hot sadistic stuff that I can’t help but fap to it.
Of course, I realize this still won’t convince people like the KS devs to finish through the prologue. They’ll just throw it away and call it filthy trash. Sexist, anti-feminist, misogynist — check your thesaurus for more information.
But for the people who somehow endured the grueling harem prologue, they will be able to read the real side of Harumade, Kururu.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence my favorite visual novels have another side to it. On the surface, they look like boring, generic trash. But once you flip the page, someone snaps in the background and suddenly we’re in a different world. YU-NO was like that to me; I thought it’d be a normal adventure game, but I didn’t expect it will involve time-traveling.
Similarly, Harumade, Kururu shifts genres from a harem nukige to a surreal slice-of-life setting with a lot of hard science fiction. Inside this peculiarly ordinary setting, the characters wake up but it seems like they forgot everything. Including their names. What’s stranger is that nobody else but these four are here. Their names are apparently on some paper slips found in their own room. However, their names are a bit too coincidental.
Because, you see, their names correspond to the four seasons.
Disoriented, the characters are even more confused how there’s only one guy in the group. Is this an intentional harem setup? They decide to go outside to look for people.
And that’s where they see a huge pillar that looks like it can reach the cosmos.
That’s also where shit gets real.
Anyone looking for more porn will be disappointed. Sure, each girl has two h-scenes — strangely, they’re not written by Watanabe (who wrote the Endless Fifteen) but by somebody uncredited — but they’re at the end of their routes.
Instead, the reader is tasked in figuring out what the fuck is going on in the setting. Harumi’s and Akio’s routes give clues to what is going on while striving to give a compelling narrative on the troubles of the respective heroines.
It’s surprising how well-developed all of Harukuru’s characters; you would have thought you know all of them, but there’s always something quirky about them in each route. Each of them have a special trait about them and they’re all used differently in each route. That much detail to characterization is incredible. I enjoy how Fuyune’s behavior changes in basically every route.
As for setting, those routes give a good number of clues, red herrings, and all of those good stuff. You think you can piece all of them together. After all, there’s so much information. But you won’t get the real gist of it until you get to Fuyune’s route.
And once you’re at the end of that route, you’ll be dumped with a ridiculous amount of exposition. Stuff you can’t figure it out on your own. Instead of feeling cheated, you will be astounded. It’s commendable how the fucked up setting is realistic. And it also shows Harumade, Kururu‘s true colors: it is, in fact, speculative fiction. You can sense the genius inside Watanabe “Fucking” Ryouichi’s head. Like SCA-JI, he whips out his astounding knowledge on ecology, biology, politics, and history to create this strange scenario. I can’t really divulge any of the points sadly; they’re huge spoilers. So just imagine a conspiracy theory except with a lot of evidence. The speculative fiction is so convincing I might as well call it proof of humanity’s decline.
Fuyune’s route will leave anyone bitter about humanity’s future, so it’s up to Shizuka to save you from that negativity. This abrupt tone change is so Shizuka. Everything in the VN has become very light-hearted. Her route serves the core message of Harumade, Kururu: to keep on living even after you get shitted on. It’s a cheesy, “feel-good” message, but even Cynicalkastel-chan can’t help but feel good.
And the ending is endearing to anyone who is immersed into Harukuru‘s atmosphere. It’s a great ending that really speaks the truth to all of us — that continuing to live is a wonderful thing.
Arguably, one can nitpick that the VN ends in a harem ending. The whole VN tries to (and successfully) justifies the harem setup. If that’s unnerving to you, then shikata ga nai. It is the VN Katawa Shoujo developers will love to hate. In fact, I’m a bit unnerved by the harem ending as well, but I cannot deny it’s the only happy ending for the group. Which reminds me of the Monogatari series over how well the harem setup is used. Both the Monogatari series and Harukuru use the harem setup for a certain purpose and to divert expectations. So in the end, all of those “sexist tropes” are justified. You’ll have to try the VN with an open mind and I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised what it has to offer.
On another note, Harumade, Kururu is the first visual novel which I read in Japanese. Hopefully, this won’t be the last one too. I’m getting in the groove for the Japanese language. There are many things I like to read and play in the Master Language; it will be fun to see how far I can go. With one visual novel down, I think I can read so many things now. Also, this must be some strange coincidence but I also find it amusing that my first visual novel is titled Harumade, Kururu. Its subtitle is in Engrish: “Spring has come true?”
And strangely enough, the title acts like a metaphor — because for me, spring has really come true.
Company: Sumikko Software
Scenario Writer: Watanabe “Fucking” Ryouichi
Artist: Sasai Saji, Shiwasu Horio, Hirose Madoka (SD Art)
Music: SHIM(TGZ SOUNDs) (BGM), Barbarian On The Groove (ED)
Genre: ”’slice-of-life”’, speculative fiction, harem
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Links: Official site – VNDB – EGS
Translation: Unannounced translation. Will update once it’s properly announced.
Recommended if you enjoy: porn, speculative fiction, humanities, sex jokes
Similar VNs: Cross+Channel, Danganronpa, Sharin no Kuni
Will people feels: Yes, you will feels.
Kastel’s arbitrary VNDB score: 8.0/10