While Flowers -Le volume sur printemps- was slated for a March 2016 release, the demo proved to be a disaster containing horrendous typos as well as mistakes with the translation itself. Consequently, the release was postponed until August 2016 so JAST USA could adjust the yuri visual novel. Was Flowers able to redeem itself after the demo fiasco?
My answer is a solid yes. I feel like this visual novel is an excellent example of “pure yuri,” by which I mean a depiction of girls loving other girls without excessive fanservice or erotica. Although Flowers has its share of flaws, the game invites players into a beautiful, bittersweet world of yuri.
In a nutshell, Flowers almost feels like a visual novel adaption of Maria-sama ga Miteru. The story takes place in St. Angraecum Academy, an all-girls Catholic boarding school (a classic setting for yuri, to be sure) that is isolated from the rest of the world. However, instead of MariMite‘s Sœur system, in which an older schoolgirl forms a sisterly relationship with a younger schoolgirl, Flowers has the Amitié system, in which groups of three are formed. (I promise this is where I stop comparing Flowers to MariMite).
Before I go any further, I feel like I should introduce the cast. A yuri visual novel having nine voiced characters is pretty good! It’s no Kindred Spirits on the Roof in terms of quantity, but some yuri VNs have only two or three important characters, so there’s that.
Shirahane Suoh – the protagonist of the story. She’s a homeschooled bookworm (and movie fanatic) with underdeveloped social skills. Wanting to change her timid self and conquer her self-esteem issues, she enrolled into St. Angraecum while hoping that the Amitié system will help her make friends.
Hanabishi Rikka – the girl who received the highest score on the entrance exam. A stickler for the rules, she’s an example of the serious class representative archetype. Also hosts both private and class-wide tea parties.
Kohsaka Mayuri –
a charismatic hard-worker, she stands at the heart of the class along with Rikka. She entered the academy of her own volition in order to escape from personal woes. She enjoys baking and art appreciation as her hobbies.
Dalia Basquiat – the only named teacher at St Angraecum Academy who teaches the ballet class to the first-year students. Despite being a nun who strictly follows Catholicism, she’s rather mild and tolerant. Her pasttimes include ballet and gardening.
Sasaki Ichigo – Ringo’s twin sister. Even though she’s a mischievous troublemaker, she means no harm with her pranks. She’s rather close with Mayuri, whom she calls Yuri. She enjoys learning about the latest fashion trends and collecting frog-themed items.
Sasaki Ringo – Ichigo’s twin sister. At first glance she’s laidback, but she’s actually just a slightly lazy, eccentric girl. Unlike her cheery sister, she’s an avid book reader who quickly becomes acquaintances with Suoh. Her interests lie with reading and scary stories.
Yaegaki Erika – a girl who is unable to move her legs due to an illness. Whimsical like a cat and fond of teasing people, she makes an effort to remain distant with others. Her hobbies are reading and learning about people’s weak points.
Yatsushiro Yuzuriha – the president of the Council of Nicaea. Eccentric and theatrical, she’s unexpectedly good at taking care of others and is very popular. She’s childhood friends with Komikado Nerine, whom she calls Neri. Despite being a member of the cooking club, she’s actually terrible at cooking. She enjoys sports and photography.
Komikado Nerine – the vice-president of the Council of Nicaea. Half-European like her childhood friend, Yuzuriha, she’s hard to approach due to her fairy-like beauty and aura. She’s also the president of the choir club. Her interests lie with scary stories and walking while eating.
As luck would have it, Suoh becomes Amitié partners with Rikka and Mayuri, who also turn out to be her love interests. At first glance, Suoh, an awkward and shy girl, could not be more different than her Amitié partners, the two most popular girls among their peers. However, there’s more to either girl than what meets the eye, which is great since well-rounded characters are always more interesting than flat ones.
The other characters are also interesting people in their own right, as well. I’m pretty some players like certain “side characters” more than the main characters! Even though this is primarily a story about the relationships between Suoh, Rikka, and Mayuri, every character has her fair share of scenes, in my opinion.
Now I’d like to touch upon the positives for Flowers. I understand that yuri and fanservice tend to go hand-in-hand. However, I also feel like cartering to the fans’ desire for titillation tends to cheapen the medium. According to a wise schoolgirl from a certain yuri visual novel, even girls just holding hands could be considered splendid yuri. At any rate, the fanservice scenes are kept to a relative minimum with only ballet scenes, bathing scenes, and the mandatory measurement day scene.
For a game that can be completed within 10 to 30 hours, Flowers features a surprising amount of “choice points.” What’s even more interesting is the UI’s incorporation of a lily flower. If you pick a choice that points towards Mayuri’s route, the circle enclosing the lily shines blue and the lily flower blossoms. Choices that point toward Rikka’s route causes the circle to glow orange and the lily flower to bud.
I’ll leave the implications of the in-game lily flower for you to figure out, but it really makes things easy for players. If you want to finish Mayuri’s route, you just pick the choices that turns the circle blue as well as make the lily blossom, for instance. Route guides aren’t needed here, folks!
However, there are instances where players cannot rely on the lily flower to just spit out the answers. During the story, Suoh will have to use her deductive skills in order to resolve several conflicts. If players are looking to avoid an early game over (i.e. bad end), they must correctly solve these problems by selecting the right choices. Since there’s no lily flower during these occassions to point you to the right direction, players may have to save and reload several times during these reasoning trials.
Something I considered to be a nice touch is the thought bubble screens that pop up every so often. It kind of makes Flowers seem more like a manga, doesn’t it? I haven’t seen this in a visual novel before, so I thought this was rather innovative!
Flowers has eight chapters and each one features a preface in which Suoh has a brief monologue. Said monologues tend to hint at what the following chapter is about. They really demonstrate how well-read she is, but I really enjoyed how most of these seemingly random topics converge near the end of Mayuri’s route, which is the canon route.
Yes, Mayuri’s route is the official one. While there are seven possible endings, four of them are bad ends, one is Rikka’s end, and the last two are Mayuri’s bad end and Mayuri’s true end. Mayuri’s true end also has to be completed in order to even access Rikka’s route, so make sure you go after Mayuri first! And even though Rikka’s route features the only good ending, Mayuri’s true end is the one that’s treated as canon in the sequels to Flowers.
That’s right, there’s three more games after Flowers -Le volume sur printempts-, which means I should stop referring Flowers -Le volume sur printempts- as Flowers. Unfortunately, this first installment is a rather tragic story that ends on a bittersweet note, leaving the next three games room to continue the story. The game as a whole stands on its own well enough, but Mayuri’s true end has had me feeling down for the past week.
Despite the fact that Flowers was recalled in order to correct the rampant typos and the poor translation quality, there still exists a fair amount of typos within the game. It’s probably the highest concentration of misspelled words as well as misplaced and repeated sentences I’ve ever seen in a visual novel. However, when there’s no typos involved, the narrative flows rather elegantly. Yet some voiced lines are not properly translated but can be viewed in the backlog.
This is probably a problem on my end since my laptop is rather old, but the UI proved to be laggy at times. Saving and loading and skipping always seemed to take longer than expected.
Another minor nitpick I had with Flowers -Le volume sur printempts- is the fact that the transition screen seems to appear way too often. I understand that they are using it to show that the location and time has changed between scenes, but it still showed up way too often for my liking. Maybe I’m just too accustomed to rushing through games.
One thing I found to be slightly problematic is the volume of Suoh’s voice (and to a slightly less degree, Ringo’s voice). Suoh is a shy girl, so it makes sense that she is soft-spoken. However, that leads to the OST potentially drowning her out. Thankfully, there’s a menu option to adjust specific character’s voices. I ended up cranking Suoh and Ringo to the highest setting.
Speaking of which, the OST consists mostly of piano music. Most are soft and calming piano pieces, which is nice. Some tracks seem to pop up a lot more frequently than the others, but that’s just how OSTs are, right?
Upon completing one of the true routes, players unlock the Gallery menu, allowing them to access the Gallery feature, which displays CG you’ve unlocked, as well as the Endings feature. Completing both of the true routes allows players to access the Music feature and the Voice feature, where the VAs act out of character and talk about the game as people instead of as characters. It’s very similar to the feature I mentioned in my Nurse Love Addiction review. Completing all possible endings allows players to access the Comics feature, where there are three 4komas that are rather funny.
Last but not least is the art. I’m not saying that Nurse Love Addiction or Kindred Spirits have bad art – they both have wonderful art. Most of the visual novels I’ve reviewed thus far has had pretty art, in fact. It’s just that I feel this visual novel’s novels are probably among the most beautiful I’ve seen. Flowers is just on another level here.
So would I recommend Flowers -Le volume sur printempts-? I sincerely do. It’s a beautiful, bittersweet story that’s good enough enough to be a standalone game, despite having more than its fair share of typos. The fact that there’s sequels to this visual novel has me really excited, actually. Yuri fans have a lot to look forward to! With a reasonable price of $19.99, this pure yuri visual novel is not one to be missed.