Kindred Spirits on the Roof
Toomi Yuna, the protagonist of Kindred Spirits on The Roof, spends most of her time at Kokonotsuboshi Girls’ Academy of Commerce keeping to herself. She has friends, like the forgetful Ano Fuji and energetic Komano Hina, but prefers to spend her lunch breaks alone on the roof of the school. This looks set to continue until one day she encounters a pair of ghosts on the roof. The two spirits waste no time explaining that both of them died years earlier and due to the unrequited feelings in their hearts at the time of death they cannot move on. Although the ghostly couple are deeply in love they lack the knowledge to experience their “first time” together and want to observe other yuri couples at the school for insights. For this they need Yuna to help more yuri couples form at school, a task which she reluctantly agrees to aid in.
Although this all sounds like the perfect setup for a pervy visual novel featuring lesbian schoolgirls the reality is actually a lot tamer. The focus is not so much on the sex, but more about the emotional connections the girls forge with each other. Instead of jumping straight to sex the characters form friendships and relationships first before taking their first fumbling steps towards more intimacy. In fact, it takes more than ten hours of playtime before there is even a glimpse of nudity, so if the yuri sex scenes are the only thing piquing your interest in the game you might end up slightly disappointed.
Kindred Spirits on The Roof is still very much an adult title as it does feature some nudity, which for once is not censored in any way even in the Steam version. Overall these scenes are tastefully done and not very explicit. Even the descriptions are kept relatively classy and are not as overblown as in some visual novels, which is fitting seeing as for most of the characters it is their first sexual experience. There are still some questionable elements though, such as the fact that the girls are all still in school and one of the pairings is a teacher and student, which is quite illegal.
As for the actual story, the game takes place mostly at school over a period of seven months. Something eventful doesn’t happen every single day, so players are instead presented with a planner that indicates days of interest. For example the “Teddy Bear” icons indicate the main storyline, which is viewed mostly from the perspective of Yuna as she goes around helping the various couples get to terms with their true feelings. Once these are completed for the month a bunch of “Cherry” icons pop up to indicate the side stories that are viewed from the perspective of the other girls. These are neat as they provide valuable insights on what is happening when Yuna isn’t present, but there is also a fair amount of repetition when certain scenes are replayed from two different viewpoints.
The game is a kinetic novel, so although you are given choices they do not influence the eventual outcome. These choices do however determine what extra scenes are unlocked after the main story. There are more than 70 of these scenes to view and they flesh out most of the characters even more, which makes them well worth watching. Considering that there is easily more than 30 hours of content to experience in this visual novel the slightly higher price tag is more than justified.
Initially the story feels a little shallow as the premise for Yuna to play cupid is rather flimsy, but the cast is so distinct that it is very easy to get caught up. The girls all face real problem and issues due to their feelings, so while there are plenty of lighthearted moments the story also touches upon some serious topics. It also helps that Yuna is a very likeable protagonist and while she is helping other characters she also learns how to deal with issues in her own life. It is refreshing to see characters who actually care about each other and their circumstances instead of the typical ecchi fan service many visual novels settle for. There’s the freshman who is in love with her senior, the second year free-spirited rock musician with a crush on the strict disciplinary committee member and many other characters that have more depth than just the usual tropes. Even the one veteran yuri couple in the game end up fighting because they cannot express their emotions in public. Stuff like that make the game feel grounded in reality despite the supernatural elements.
Kindred Spirits was originally released in 2012, so although this English version is new it still suffers from a couple of technical limitations. The most chafing is the 4:3 aspect ratio and 800×600 resolution. Compared to newer releases this is downright primitive, but although the art is not as hyper detailed and colorful as modern visual novels the simple style is still very fitting. The character designs are great and all the girls look adorable. Since the ghosts cannot leave the school the locations are somewhat limited, but there is enough variety to prevent the backgrounds from becoming too repetitive. The game also features tons of beautiful CGs.
The soundtrack is very good, but considering that playtime can easily stretch to 30 hours you’ll be hearing some of the tracks a lot. Instead of looping, the tracks also stop and then repeat, which is a little jarring. Despite feeling somewhat limited the soundtrack is very appropriate and quite memorable. The standard of the voice acting is also quite good, but unfortunately speech is reserved to key moments only. This is a pity as the quirky personalities of the characters are better expressed with speech.
Since Kindred Spirits is such a lengthy game there are a couple of instances where not much is really happening, but overall the story and characters are very entertaining. It is a pity that there are no different routes available, but there is still a lot of content despite the relative linear nature of the game. It is also hands down one of the best yuri titles we have ever played and comes heartily recommended even if you are not necessary a fan of the genre. MangaGamer has a trial version of the game available on their site, so check it out to see what you are missing.
- OS: Windows Vista
- Processor: Pentium Ⅲ- 500MHz
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: 800×600 Full Color
- Storage: 1100 MB available space
- Sound Card: Direct Sound Compatible
- OS: Windows 7 or Better
- Processor: Pentium Ⅲ- 1.0GHz
- Memory: 2 GB RAM