Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio Ni Let’s Play: Part 2

The first part of this Let’s Play seemed to go down pretty well, so here’s another dose of Hanagumi action! In the last section we left Ogami just as he received his rather un-military-like new uniform, and left Yoneda’s office…

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…only to find out that someone’s been eavesdropping! There are two options here – Ogami can admonish Sakura and Iris for eavesdropping (which upsets Iris) or he can just ask them to show him to his room. Upsetting Iris isn’t something cool people do, so I stuck with the less offensive option… but of course Iris and Sakura then fight over who gets to take him. So Ogami, Solomon of the Teikokukagekidan, says they can both show him the way.

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Once they’ve dropped him off at his room another LIPS event comes in – this one’s a special multi-layered event where there’s an overall timer (in this instance, for getting changed) with individual LIPS within it – deciding if Ogami’s going to dress in a hurry, then if he’s going to put his shirt or tie on first (obviously shirt first), then if he’s going to walk out the door… or realise he’s not put his trousers on yet (!!), then finally, if you’ve answered quickly enough to have some time left spare, comb his hair. All dressed up and ready to go – and not a moment too soon as Iris bursts into the room with Sakura not far behind, and they both compliment Ogami on his ability to dress himself. That’s surely a little patronising, isn’t it?

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Then it’s back down to the lobby – why are Sakura and Iris talking about ticket-clipping? Puzzled, Ogami wishes them well with whatever the heck it is they’re doing and then gets inundated with stroppy customers demanding to have their tickets clipped – “But I’m not a ticket-clipper!” responds the confused navy officer – “Umm… then what’s the ticket-clipping uniform for, idiot!” one disgruntled theatre-goer (sort of) says. “I’m really not a ticket-clipper!” Ogami repeats to another person in line “I’m…” and this is where you get to shout “Leader of the Teikokukagekidan!” or “...an ordinary ticket-clipper”. Discretion being the better part of valour and all that, Ogami carries on clipping tickets.

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Ogami then gets to display his ticket-clipping prowess with another new LIPS event that requires you to enter the displayed button/direction presses quickly and correctly – get it right and both Sakura and Iris are impressed! It’s still not quite the job Ogami thought he was signing up for though, is it? A customer then asks him what he thinks of Sumire – and is disgusted when I decide that Ogami isn’t on board the Top Star’s hype train.

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The general public aren’t done with the Hanagumi’s captain yet! He the has the dubious pleasure of serving Sassy Little Kid, and Ogami’s response is decided in an “Analogue LIPS” event, a type of LIPS first seen in Sakura Taisen 3 where there’s only one response but you use the analogue stick to decide the intensity of it – this time it’s how tolerant Ogami’s going to be of this kid’s attitude.  It’s better if Ogami bites his lip and endures it rather than blow his lid at the boy, so that’s what I have him do. He can rage quietly on the inside instead, like all healthy people do.

At least Maria’s impressed by this display of self-control, and as she’s not easy to please that’s always a good sign! She may be tough on Ogami (so far, anyway) but she’s a big softy for her fans and signs Sassy Kid’s handkerchief for him when he asks.

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Tickets finally clipped without Ogami shouting at anyone and we are rewarded with a brief chat with Tsubaki, the lady  in charge of the theatre shop and Ogami’s chief bromide-pusher. “Kimimi, what are bromides?” I hear you say - I’m glad you asked! In this context they’re celebrity publicity photos, which in Sakura Taisen games means images of the Hanagumi looking cute, cool, or attractive.

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After Tsubaki’s gone Ogami’s finally free to wander around the theatre for a short while before he goes banging on Yoneda’s door demanding an explanation on all this ticket-clipping business – I decided to make a break for the gift shop to grab my first bromide (you can only take one per visit, the excuse being that they’re very popular), and I went with Iris’ snowman scene. I’ll try to pick up a variety as we go through, but I’m not making any promises!

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Once that this-time-or-never bromide chance is out of the way it’s time for some more general wandering for Ogami; meeting Tsubaki’s office-based colleagues Yuri and Kasumi, bumping into Iris in the garden and impressing Maria (accidently, she snuck in) by having a quick play on the music room’s piano.

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There’s also this rather sweet (and new) scene where somebody runs up behind Ogami, covers his eyes and says “Guess who!”: now I know I’ve kind of spoiled who that was in the images above, but in any case if you guess right Sakura’s flattered that you remember the sound of her voice and starts blushing. She also makes a sharp exit as soon as Ogami asks her about the secret Teikokukagekidan corps, leaving him still none the wiser.

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After a few more cute-but-not-blog-worthy little events Ogami decides it’s time to go confront Yoneda and find out exactly what’s going on. You also get this rather unexciting screenshot of Yoneda’s office door – hurray!

Ogami goes to enter, but he overhears Yoneda talking on the phone – this short scene’s a nice little peep into Yoneda’s character as well as a bit of world-building information on these “Koubu” that have been mentioned before – Yoneda’s expressing the difficulty he feels sending these young women off to fight while he can do nothing but watch over them – they’re the only ones that can use the Koubu (the military’s secret weapon mentioned in the first part of this Let’s Play), after all. Yoneda likes to put on a front and make them all believe he’s the jolly drunkard but when he lets the mask drop (which is very, very, rarely to his team) it’s obvious he’s a committed and experienced military officer.

But in any case Ogami’s there to get an explanation about this ticket-clipping malarkey, and that’s just what he does. Ogami demands to know why his secret corps-captaincy has a whole lot more theatre and French-girls-with-stuffed-bears in it than he was expecting, and why is he the only one that’s finding this whole situation weird?!

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Yoneda directs him to the sign at the back of the room, and I need to give a quick Japanese lesson: as with many languages, words with the same or very similar pronunciations can have very different meanings depending on how they’re spelt. In this case, “Kagekidan” can be written as 華撃団 (roughly: “Floral Attack Squad”) or 歌劇団 (roughly: “Opera Troupe”) – Ogami assumed it was the former, but Yoneda’s sign shows it’s the latter. This news hits Ogami hard, and he stumbles out of the office feeling utterly devastated.

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Sakura spots him and looks concerned, so she offers to take Ogami to his room – he accepts, too confused about Yoneda’s words and his new role to do anything else.

Ogami thanks her and Sakura goes all gooey-eyed at him, but catches herself before she says anything embarrassing. Ogami asks if she’ll stay and talk to him for a bit, but she’s got stage business to attend to so she leaves.

BUT WAIT!

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She comes back just to say she hopes he cheers up soon in a rather flustered and blush-y way, then she properly goes for good and leaves Ogami to process the events of the day by himself. Finally alone and in his room, he mulls over how he would have given anything to defend the peace of Teito, but he’s instead found himself stuck in a ticket-clipping uniform with a theatre group. Yay.

We then get a short break screen, and the opportunity to save. Leaving Ogami confused and upset is actually a pretty sombre place to leave the game but don’t worry, things soon turn around!

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Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio Ni Let’s Play: Part 1

Hello and welcome to the first part of my play through of Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio Ni! If you’re not familiar with the subject - it’s a Sega-owned series that started way back in 1996 on the Saturn and the main entries are a mix of (Japanese style) adventure game, with a bit of romancing and the odd SRPG battle thrown in here and there. While Sakura Taisen V is the only game that’s had an English translation so far (under the name “Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love”) and received a pretty lukewarm reception when it did, in its homeland it’s been a huge success, spawning anime and manga, stage shows, drama CDs and spinoff games on the Game Boy Color, PSP, DS and even arcade games!

As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I’ve gone for the Playstation 2 remake rather than the original Saturn version (or the high[er] resolution Dreamcast/PC ports) as it not only looks better but it’s had tweaks to everything from the script to the battle system (I’ll cover that once we get to one), and in my opinion is all the better for it. Here’s a few screenshots of the Saturn and PS2 versions side by side, so you can judge for yourself:

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The LIPS events have also had some new additions too, mostly coming from the improvements seen in Sakura Taisen 3. LIPS stands for “Live & Interactive Picture System”, which in real terms means choosing between regular adventure game options such as “Say hello” or “Ignore her” but with a time limit in place to try and instil some sense of standing before a real person who’s waiting for an answer. There’s plenty of variations on this theme throughout the game – I’ll describe them as they pop up.

That’s about all that was needed before we start, so with that out the way let’s get going!

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Chapter 1: Teito: Flowers of the Kagekidan*

*Please take all translations I do with a healthy dose of “Roughly…/Along the lines of…/Paraphrased as…” – I don’t claim to be an expert. You may not like some of my translation choices as I go through the game – that’s absolutely fine (please see previous sentence) – just breath a sigh of relief that I’m only mangling a Let’s Play, rather than an actual translation of the script.

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Ah, where it all began – Ogami’s letter detailing his transfer to the demon-whacking Hanagumi (Flower Company)! It’s funny to think that he was first handed that letter almost twenty years ago, and between now and then there’s been a billion* drama CDs, stage shows, figures, art books and ports, not to mention a movie and a flippin’ (now closed) restaurant! He’s to go to Ueno park and meet up with someone from the Hanagumi, but he doesn’t know who.

*number possibly inaccurate

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The park’s in full bloom, and the person we’re waiting for is Shinguji Sakura – a relative newcomer to the job herself. Ogami’s reaction can be paraphrased as “They sent a GIRL?!”, as he’s surprised that a woman would be working such an important covert operation as the protection of Teito. Bless him, he’s going to be up to his eyeballs in colour-coordinated women-warriors before this series is over, and thankfully his shock at working with ladies lasts not much longer than this paragraph does.

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Now I know I said in my previous post I’m rooting for Kirishima Kanna, but it seems rude to not be as nice as possible to Sakura the first time we meet – especially as Ogami’s only just arrived! So I chose the top option in the LIPS event “For now I’d like to know more about you” which flatters Sakura as well as rewarding you with this beautiful image to the right (just a note: any not-square images have been created by stitching together several screenshots, they’re not cropped) – and a little chat where the currently-stuffy Ogami asks about the Kagekidan’s (Floral Assault Troupe) weaponry capabilities. Sakura mentions the Koubu (these are the steam-powered armoured suits they jump into to fight demons, but you’ll see more than enough of those once the battles start to show up), but Ogami’s not really much wiser for it as their work’s all top secret.

Just as he’s getting used to his female coworker there’s another shock in store for Ogami – his new workplace is… a theatre?! He’s a bit surprised that not only does it look like a theatre from the outside, but on the inside there’s a normal-looking lobby, with no guards in sight: still, this is meant to be a secret base, isn’t it…

 

 

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Now it’s time for Ogami to meet his second Hanagumi member - the adorable French girl Iris Chateaubriand and her teddy Jean-Paul. As with all small and cute characters she’s actually harbouring immense spiritual energy, which is why she’s with the group. There’s another LIPS even here, and the first one with an extra secret option if you can hold your nerve long enough for it to appear! This is the best choice for Iris as it causes Ogami to compliment her cute ribbon. You can view Iris’ double-screen introductory image here if you like.

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After a little spat Sakura and Iris leave Ogami on his own – and he still hasn’t reported in to General Yoneda yet! But he soon finds himself (optionally) bumping into another team member – Kanzaki Sumire, the “top star” of the troupe, as she’s quick to remind everyone.  We also get introduced to another style of LIPS event not seen in the original; in this one as Ogami wanders around the theatre he might see someone in a particular area (in this case, the food hall), and he has a limited period of time to decide whether he’ll stroll on by or go over and interact with them.

Sumire, “top star” that she is, mistakes Ogami for a waiter and wants to know if he’ll go and fetch her a clean fork. I decided that he would, because he needs to learn his place with the Hanagumi – and it’s right at the bottom! Sumire’s pleased with Ogami’s compliance, and eventually introduces herself properly once she’s worked out who he is. During this talk she also has a little whinge about Maria, who’s currently leading the Hanagumi, but Ogami does eventually find out where to find General Yoneda and trots off.

 

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At last! Ogami finally arrives at Yoneda’s door, three strange ladies and some submissive choices later. But the Hanagumi ladies aren’t done with him yet, as he bumps into Maria Tachibana just as she was leaving Yoneda’s office. Maria’s the serious one, so there’s actually only one choice in her LIPS event that impresses her – and that’s Ogami not actually making any choice at all (definitely don’t ask her out for a date!) and just letting the time run out.

Now it’s time for a quick “click event” – where you’ve got free reign over a little cursor and can inspect or chat to whoever’s standing before Ogami. Yes, you can click their boobs – there’s even a cheeky face icon when you hover over the relevant area – but it’s not recommended if you ever want these ladies to do anything for you! Maria’s introductory image is here.

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With Maria gone, Ogami gets to knock on Yoneda’s door and finally meet his superior. Ogami introduces himself in the most spectacularly formal way and finds… his commanding officer a *little* worse for wear on saké! Ogami has two options here – the best one is to admonish Yoneda’s mid-day tipple with Ogami’s Burning Hot Soul of Justice – which, after a bit of “You’re nothing like the rumours about you!” “Oh? What rumours are they?” and so on it turns out that Yoneda actually likes Ogami’s attitude and hands him his now-iconic uniform as well as a pocket watch (unique to the Playstation 2 version - a prop replica of this is included with the limited edition of the game) and sends him off to get changed and start his duties.

But what will those duties entail? Who’s been listening at the door? And can Ogami change into his uniform without forgetting to put his trousers on? All these mysteries and more will be answered in the next instalment!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Let me know if you have, and if you haven’t let me know what (practical) changes you’d like to see in the next one!