Originally released in Aug 2015, Ne no Kami – The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto was recently localized by Denpasoft and Sekai Project. The Indiegogo backers received their copies back in September, but the game was publically released a few days ago. How does this yuri VN about Japanese mythology and love fare?
Also known as: Ne no Kami – Kyou no Miyako to Futari no Hime Kishi, ねのかみ 京の都とふたりの姫騎士
Length: Short (2 – 10 hours)
Lewdness: 3/3 (Lots of Lesbian Sex; ecchi scenes are actually pivotal to the plot)
Summary: Ese Len is just your average high school girl – her only notable distinctions are her short stature of 140 cm and her ability to “sense” people’s presence. During one particular weekend, however, she reunites with her childhood friend, Sarume Shinome, who tells Len, “As of today, I’m going to have you abandon this town… and your life.” It turns out she is destined to wield a Divine Sword alongside Shinome and fight against ayakashi in order to prevent them from summoning their evil god. As a result, her normal day-to-day life has been forever altered by fate, battle, and love.
Review: I know some of my readers will automatically assume there’s a childhood friend route and I don’t blame you. After all, this is a yuri visual novel and Shinome is heavily featured in the plot summary. However, Len’s romantic interest is actually her childhood friend’s older sister, Sarume Uzume. Meanwhile, Shinome is in a relationship with Umemishi Ruka.
To be honest, Ese Len was both amusing yet amusing as a character. She does recognize that the setting is very similiar to those found in video games or fantasy novels and I do appreciate that she tries to see both sides of the story by talking with her opponents. However, she has trouble acknowledging that this is now her reality, which is fair given that she was an ordinary girl until the beginning of the game.
She is also too far idealistic, oblivious to romantic interactions, and prone to sucking at communication. In other words, Len’s very similiar to most shounen magic protagonists, which makes the fact that Uzume mistakenly believed Len to be a boy for many years to be hilarious.
Speaking of which, Uzume cultivates a girly, sheltered, housewife image, but she’s actually quite conniving and obsessive with Len. I mean, she enshrines Len’s panties with Len’s signature in a frame on the wall… Her love for Len, nevertheless, is the real deal. However, Uzume willingless to trick Len, coupled with Len’s inability to communicate, indirectly causes the tragic ending to this particular visual novel, which is part 1 of Ne no Kami. More on that later.
Well, I know that I mentioned that there’s no childhood friend route earlier. After all, Len is being chased after Uzume while Shinome and Ruka are a pairing. Furthermore, the visual novel is a kinetic visual novel (so no choices to be made here). Still, the game takes longer to finish than I expected. I personally clocked in around 8 hours. Len’s perspective took me around 7 hours whereas Shinome’s recounting of the events took an hour.
That’s right, we also get to see things from Shinome’s point of view. It actually goes a bit further than where Len’s tale in part one ends, so we get more cliffhangers that leave us heartbroken and in desperate need for part two! That’s planned in Winter 2016, apparently.
Since Len is slightly dumb and straightforward, Shinome finds her incredibly fun to tease and snark at. It’s clear, however, that she does care for Len. Unfortunately, just like Len, Shinome also sucks at talking things out.
Her lover, Ruka, is a nice girl who also withholds some important information from Len which might have contributed to the tragedy near the end of part 1. It seems like all these girls have something in common besides loving other girls! She is actually revealed to have been a bit of a cold girl when she first met Shinome. In the current day, however, Ruka’s completely thawed. We do get to see some of her iciness in Shinome’s recounting of Ne no Kami, however.
There’s other characters, of course. There’s three more Divine Sword wielders, several villagers, and the ayakashi. One of the foxgirls is even voiced! For various reasons, however, I’ll stop with the cast introduction here.
About the tragic end – it’s a big enough cliffhanger for me to recommend that you put this game on hold until part 2 comes out. I’m not going to talk about at length here, but it has me a bit upset even though it was somewhat expected. Still, it was painful to see it happen when it might have been avoided, but clashing beliefs are just hard to mend. It really demonstrates how thinking that talking things out can solve everything is very naive, though. Might always makes right.
Since I’m talking about typical shounen manga tropes, I kind of found it a bit ridiculous that Len was able to quickly match up with Shinome despite having an experience gap spanning several years. Perhaps it’s because she was naturally athletic and because the Divine Swords imbue their wielders with a split personality of sorts. In Len’s case, she becomes more analyatical whereas Shinome becomes more reckless. We know who’s getting the better end of that deal when it comes to combat.
The story itself resembles a typical fantasy manga, actually. Len just happens to be abnormally insistent on being diplomatic with the ayakashi, which is rather wishy washy for a protagonist. But there are some reveals, some of which are foreshadowed and some of which aren’t. I actually have half a mind to replay through the game to see if I missed some hints, but the end of the year is coming up and I still have many games to play and shows to watch if I want to make it in time for a big review post for 2016. The story, if you haven’t noticed, does heavily feature Japanese mythology. So if you’re into that, it’s a bonus.
One of the announced features was something about video and animation and stuff for the fight scenes. Personally, I didn’t see anything revolutionary, but most of the visual novels I play lack action scenes. I’m just not qualified to talk about this at length, perhaps.
The art, however, is pretty. Len certainly does make a lot of expressions, Uzume’s passion for Len is very vivid, Shinome has an excellent smug face, and Ruka’s “ice queen” expression during Shinome’s story is really cold. The girls all look beautiful.
In regards to the ecchi scenes, the game took a different approach and turned the dialogue into comic book / manga speech bubbles. It was rather similiar to the feature that I mentioned in my Flowers – Le volume sur printempts- review. And yes, the erotic scenes are actually pivotal to the plot, so I recommend you purchase the adult patch.
I rather enjoyed the OST. I would actually consider buying the soundtrack if there was an option to do so. The only thing I can do in that regard is wait, I suppose.
Finally, the voices. They really nailed the voice casting in my opinion. I have no complaints about the seiyuu’s performances!
Despite how frustrating Len is as a protagonist, how the visual novel plays out like a typical shounen action manga, and how the game ends with a cliffhanger, I rather enjoyed Ne no Kami. All the other features made up for these shortcomings and made for a pleasant experience. I just highly advise players to put this game on hold until part 2. According to Sekai Project, Ne no Kami part two is 82.23% translated as of November 6th, 2016. But if you do insist on playing the game before then, installing the adult patch would not be amiss.