This won’t be a complete review; it’ll be more like an earnest attempt to sound coherent and reasonable as I talk about a beloved yuri visual novel. Beware of spoilers.
It has been over three years since Kindred Spirits on the Roof was originally localized for Western audiences back in February 2016. Earlier this year (January 2019), the DLC, Kindred Spirits on the Roof Full Chorus, was released. The DLC added numerous features, such as complete voiceovers and translated voice actress commentary (the original base version only featured partial voiceovers, meaning only some lines were voiced, as well as untranslated commentary from the voice actresses).
Among many yuri fans who bother with visual novels, Kindred Spirits is frequently cited as one of the best yuri visual novels to have ever been produced.
If I’m allowed to borrow a popular phrase from one of lesbian ghosts within Kindred Spirits, however, I would like to say that the game almost portrays a “yuritopia,” for better or for worse.
The definition of a utopia is “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.” And that’s just it. A utopia, in my mind, is just too good to be true, and that still applies to even a yuritopia. In other words, I’m trying to say that this visual novel, which tries to wrap everything nicely at times, can be definitely considered less than perfect in some aspects and to certain demographics. And yet I think Kindred Spirits brings interesting discussion points to the table if you look beyond the surface.
Hopefully I’m not spoiling anything in regards to the couples (given that many of the pairings are featured prominently during the opening movie which plays whenever you start up Kindred Spirits), but the relationship between the teacher, Sonō Tsukuyo, and her student, Tsurugimini Kiri, is among the most controversial within the game. I would be confident in claiming that it’s one of the romances that brings out the strongest feelings within readers/players since it’s not black-and-white.
Should we be celebrating love for being so fluid and inclusive outside of the typical heteronormative standard? Should we be upset at how a teacher becomes romantically involved with a student? There’s nothing wrong with holding mixed feelings in regards to their relationship (if you ask me), but that’s obviously something that readers and players have to individually decide for themselves.
Secondly (and lastly since I only wish to address two possible concerns), the love scenes will be largely dependent on personal preference. Personally, I considered them to be tasteful and not overboard, but there are definitely people who aren’t a fan of explicit content so these moments might prove to be a dealbreaker.
It does bring up a good point to consider, however. Does love scenes have to be included and portrayed in order to make a relationship “official?” Well, it’s not quite that simple, obviously. But there are those who refuse to believe girls in yuri media are actually gay until there’s at least a kiss shown on-screen. Fanservice isn’t enough. Neither are implications.
In that regard, Kindred Spirits bypasses such concerns and makes sure to confirm to viewers and readers alike that these girls are indeed into other girls, be it via love scenes or otherwise (which, as stated earlier, can be a plus or a minus). Some of the women are more readily cognizant of their orientation, but there’s also a character who disputes that her fixation with women is temporary (i.e. the “gay until graduation” effect) since she’s always been attracted to women growing up, a character who does temporarily believe in the aforementioned effect, as well as a character who struggles for a long time in regards to what it means to come out and accept another girl’s feelings.
There’s a lot to love in Kindred Spirits. The artstyle is cute, the characters are multifaceted, the soundtrack is memorable despite being slightly repetitive. But I’d hesitate to call this the best or the perfect yuri visual novel. Still, I am glad about the DLC since it gave me a reason to play through the game again since I had originally play the game before starting The Lily Garden and I didn’t want to accidentally say something incorrect while relying on memory.
Furthermore, I’ll gladly vouch for Kindred Spirits as a strong starter yuri visual novel. If you’re curious about yuri visual novels, this one would be an excellent start. It’s not loved by many (which includes the voice actresses according to the voice actress commentary!) without reason.