“Len, as of today, I will have you abandon this city… along with your life.”
Ese Len, a seemingly normal high school girl is suddenly thrust into a hidden reality after reuniting with her childhood friend, Shinonome Sarume. After being told to abandon her “normal life”, Len meets the other members of the Kunai Organization and slowly learns about the truth of the ayakashi, their plan to summon their big, bad god and her destiny as one of the chosen divine sword wielders.
The burden to save the world is now on her shoulders, but little does she know is that the most complicated, yet bittersweet feeling in life will also hit her like a torrent of emotion.
Seriously, what’s a girl to do?
(I know it’s bland and all but the cat figure on the drawer is greatly appreciated)
I’ve been following some of Sekai Project’s recent works (mostly those with yuri in it) and Ne no Kami grabbed my attention because of its really colorful art style. After watching the opening PV, I was pretty much amazed and wanted to play it as soon as it hits the library of Steam. Because, jesus, can you blame me? It automatically reminded me of Aoi Shiro (another visual novel with the same concept).
Fantasy. Japanese mythology. Swords. Youkai. Yuri. Same bell, right? Riiiight?!
Ahem, now let’s get down to business…
(It took me awhile to realize that this character was a woman…)
(Aro-mah diffu-sah. I’m sorry, but Len said it in an amusing way that I couldn’t ignore.)
The story of Ne no Kami is told from both the perspectives of Len (main story) and Shino (side story). The game is a kinetic visual, meaning you won’t be presented with any options and just read through a single, unbranching storyline (so you can’t romance Shino sad). The main and side story will take at least 4 to 5 hours of your time.
The main story is about Len’s struggle to completely isolate herself from normality and to come to an agreement to a whole new “reality” in front of her; a reality that has been going on since ancient days. As someone with the ability to “sense” people’s presence as well as how “natural” she with one of the divine swords, Len eventually becomes a valuable member of the organization.
Although on Len’s side, she agrees to stay and swallow the whole shenanigans for one month… because she’s compensated with a hefty sum of money. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
She trains with the other senior Kunai members to prepare for whatever ancient conspiracy the ayakashi are brewing, and slowly realizes that the village isn’t as innocent as they seem to look.
The story also introduces Sarume Uzume and Himemishi Ruka. Uzume is Shinonome’s big sister and is quite smitten by Len (who she initially thought was a boy). After hearing about Len’s involvement with the organization, she starts to act as a motherly figure for the protagonist (and not missing any opportunity to snag her panties). Despite being weirdly open with her feelings, Uzume keeps a secret from Len, and it’s not a pretty one.
Ruka, on the other hand, befriends Len and tells her about her involvement with the organization. She is forced to choose a supportive role instead of fighting in the frontline. Her sweet, and caring nature makes her easily likable despite being really indifferent at first. She’s a total sweetheart, I give you that.
The game offers a lot of day to day chances to get to know the characters better, undeterred by the fact that their world is about to be thrown into chaos. The plot goes to full throttle weeks after, and it gets darker when the ayakashi as well as a secret cult, lead by a demon man called Tsuchigumo finally makes a move to put their plan in reviving the “big bad” in motion.
The main story ends with a really painful cliffhanger and the side story, which is Shino’s tale, fortunately, connects both the past and the present of Len’s and we get a bit of understanding from both parties. Since the game has been chopped into two parts, it feels, however, like the plot in part 1 has lost a certain luster and the potential to dive even deeper into the lore is lost in a sea of questions (and the amount of derailing I s2g). It’s nice and all that they have a glossary option for terms, but that function isn’t as useful as it seems since the story doesn’t make the reader think to actually get back to it.
(See how I love Len’s internal monologues?)
- Admitted smol washboard
- Oblivious af
- Mystic eyes of youkai perception
Len is your typical “fashionable/trendsetter” gal and obviously suffering some important assets. She has this tendency of comparing a life scenario to a video game, and her internal reactions when people tease her are hilarious to read and its bring her character to life. She’s also gifted with the “befriending” skill.
(She gets to pat a fox youkai so you have to give her kudos for that)
- Judges you
- Holy cow! but a bit smaller
- Secret uke
The “I haven’t seen you in ages childhood friend!” and a bit opposite of Len. Shino has a somewhat cool aura and Len’s senior in combat. She dual wields a divine sword in its inferior form. Despite looking uninterested in most things, Shino is prone to resort to teasing (Len) in any given chance. Although, given the circumstances, she is a determined person and will do anything to protect those she loves.
- Holy cow!
- Waifu material
- Len fan 24/7
Uzume is the ideal beauty – elegant, noble and kind. The perfect woman who can do anything. Should I mention that she’s a house waifu material too? Well, she’s all of that, until you put Len in the picture and she loses everything I’ve mentioned completely. Gap moe at its finest. She is prone to rolling on the floor while fangirling.
- Protect this girl
- Ice princess
- Secret seme
Protect this precious being. Ruka is the level-headed member of the party. House waifu material #2 partly because of what she does for the organization. She seems to hold a certain grudge for Tsuchimikado, her foster parent and seems to be withholding secrets from Len. Ruka looks really docile but → she can eat you… if you know what I mean. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Music / Voice Acting
Ne no Kami’s OST is amazing. I’d buy it in a heartbeat if I see it somewhere. The soundtrack is well composed and it manages to complement the overall ambiance of the game. From the tune that plays during a normal dialogue to the sudden, heart-racing beat once the action scene rolls to the screen, Ne no Kami’s soundtrack fully encapsulates the moment and it makes the reading experience totally worthwhile.
The intro song “Kyou no to himekishi wa Mau” by Himekusa Yuriko is done perfectly with the video. The voice acting of the four main characters are also surprisingly good, and they’ve managed to capture the character and give them a flavorful style. I’d be honest and say that there wasn’t a single character voiced in this game that I found “annoying” (Believe me when I say that I’ve encountered a lot)
Are you ready to sail with two canon ships!?
It took me by surprise that Ne no Kami broke the typical and expected “protagonist falls in love with childhood friend” trope. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one tired of that setting already?) So to keep your heart at ease, Shino is already dating someone before the start of the game, and Len herself is actually fated to be with Uzume, with the latter completely head over heels for our cute washboard.
I started this game with all the hopes that the relationship between these characters would progress to something memorable, and boy, it didn’t disappoint me at least. I might be a bit bothered by the shallowness of the whole “ayakashi” thing, but the moments between the two pairings are something that I wholeheartedly anticipate.
Len x Uzume is my favorite pair. Despite starting in a (weirdly) misunderstood way, I feel Uzume’s dedication to Len as something genuine. Len might be a bit unstable with her life post-ayakashi and (seems to be) oblivious to romance but Uzume’s maturity is there to help balance the relationship and shorten the gap between the two. Len, on her end, has that strong personality to unshackle Uzume from her lonely, and sheltered life.
Personally, I just love the pervert-oblivious dynamic.
The Shino x Ruka ship is as sweet as the chocolate that I am eating right now, and compared to Lenzume (?!), their relationship is the most stable and something you would expect from a yuri game. I’d be lying if I say that I didn’t get diabetes after reading the part where they were making out one sunny morning. Shino might look like she’s holding the relationship herself, considering how she’s the fighter in the pair but Ruka (surprisingly) is the aggressive partner and knows how to push Shino’s buttons. The unexpected flip totally blew my mind.
Alas, if you’ve noticed, this review is for the uncensored version that you can buy at Steam (so no sexy reviews for you </3).
Overall, the (painful) Part 1 of Ne no Kami was a delightful read. It was light and fun with really adorkable main characters as toppings. Sadly, if you’re looking for drama and a bit of intensity for Japanese lore, well, Ne no Kami has it, but it’s not enough. It’s going to leave you craving. There is drama but it doesn’t shine through much because the game likes to keep the whole thing convenient (and fluffy).
However, I am pretty pleased with the sudden influx of yuri visual novels in the market lately. If you have a certain thing for oriental fantasy and yuri, think no more and just give this game a go! You might need to hold on to buying it for now and get the game sometime mid-November unless you want to suffer a long, painful (waiting-)death.
Sekai Project is being such a tease lately. Please hurry up and announce the release date of Part 2 so I can finally break free from this torment. (◞‸◟；)