This was my very first Nitro+ eroge, and impress me it certainly did. It’s very different from any other eroge I’ve played, and most definitely deserves a place in my favorites. Consisting of complex, multi-faceted characters, a detailed, well-developed setting, and an engaging storyline, I loved nearly every aspect it had to offer.
Muramasa takes place in an alternate early 20th-century Japan of sorts, where warriors fight using Tsurugi, which are mecha-armor of sorts. The strongest Tsurugi are old ones crafted by blacksmiths, and consist of the souls of its blacksmiths. Japan (or Yamato, as it is called) is ruled in tyranny by the Rokuhara Shogunate which no citizen likes, with international forces (and by that, I mean Western forces) called the GHQ trying to take control of it. In recent years, there has been appearances of a powerful silver Tsurugi called the Silver Star that carries massive death tolls on its trails, as well as a red Tsurugi known as the Red Warrior that seems to be fighting against the Silver Star and Rokuhara like a “hero.” However…
This is not the story of a hero.
Soukou Akki Muramasa follows the story of Minato Kageaki, a policeman in his 20’s, and the wielder of the powerful red Tsurugi, Muramasa. He has deemed it his mission to track down and defeat the Silver Star, and has to take the lives of those “infected” (for a lack of a better word I can think of in English) by it. He may seem like something of a hero on the surface, but it really is not so, for he kills both the guilty and the innocent, the evil and the good.
Kageaki is a serious, straightforward guy who is concentrated on his mission, and bears a strong guilt for the lives of the innocent that he takes. He makes for an interesting protagonist who deals with a whole load of inner conflict as well as outer conflict, and holds a strong connection to the Silver Star that he is tracking down. Kageaki does have a covert pervert side that tries to keep itself hidden, but can’t help but come out at times. Of course, he approaches his interests seriously and confidently, in contrary to the usual adolescent. He is most definitely a defined, proactive protagonist with his own motives and ideals.
His Tsurugi is Muramasa, a red Tsurugi that normally takes the form of a mecha spider. They fight together, but cooperate on the basis that they have no other choice, and view each other as “limbs” and “body,” rather than anything like friends. Muramasa is a girl, and sometimes doesn’t hesitate to make snarky comments, or call Kageaki out on his actions. Muramasa is also definitely capable of getting jealous and pissed.
Ayane Ichijo (yes, Ayane is the last name and Ichijo is the first) is a school girl with a strong sense of justice. At first she dislikes Kageaki after witnessing a “cowardly” side of him that didn’t bother to fight back against yakuza, but eventually warms up to him after finding out his identity and becomes his assistant. Her story is about heroism and justice, and she strongly desires to rebel against the much-hated Rokuhara. She displays strength of will throughout the plot, even if her “justice” does not go as expected.
Ootori Kanae is a well-endowed ojou-sama from a rich family with an influential history. She is currently employed in the GHQ as a First Lieutenant, and also ends up assisting Kageaki on his mission. She is well-mannered and walks around with an old lady as a personal servant, and likes to tease and flirt with Kageaki for fun. Of course, there is much more to her than the ojou-sama archetype, as her story centers on revenge.
The visual novel is definitely of the quality over quantity type. There are only three routes, but each route is very long and full of content. Each route reveals something different about the world, the political state of affairs, and the motivations of different groups of characters, accumulating to the True end. Before unlocking the True route though, the routes of the above two heroines have to be completed. The routes themselves are eventful and interesting, often presenting the ideals of various characters, and the way they clash.
For the faint of heart the Japanese used in Muramasa is not. Along with loads of terminology and infodumping, the general level of vocabulary and sentence structure used is of high difficulty, as the eroge is written to actually feel like an older Japan. The writing style makes most conversations and descriptions happen in a complicated and roundabout way. The language used most of the time is beyond what a regular student who has been studying Japanese for a couple of years is capable of (unless said studying is on the intense and hardcore side, rather than the lazy side like mine). Having a good grasp on Japanese grammar and sentence structure is a must, as well as a good knowledge of kanji. Much of the kanji was too complex for me, and I had to depend on Translation Aggregator for vocabulary much more than usual. If you’re not absolutely fluent in Japanese, be sure of what you’re doing before you tackle Muramasa with TransAgg. With that said, even if struggle with the politics, Muramasa will be worth it at the end.
The character designs and CGs are attractive, and the mech designs, animations, and CGi cutscenes show that production values are obviously high. All important side character have portraits (unlike a certain company *coughKeycough*), and the entire visual novel is full-voiced. Even Kageaki. Most of the music compliment the feel of the 20th-century Japan setting, although some break into the intense and hot-blooded territories (which I’m totally ok with).
The ero-scenes are short. Very short (
I don’t think they’re long enough for you to have a good fap). Some of those are also not very pleasant, as most side-heroines…don’t get vanilla sex, to put it nicely. Muramasa is clearly not an eroge you play for the actual ero, yet I ended up wishing more longer and more ero-scenes because I managed to love all of the main heroines. It’s funny how I end up sitting there bored, with a pokerface, during even the hottest ero-scenes from other eroge, yet I managed to want more from the heroines in Muramasa. It’s the seriousness and general lack of room for romance that makes one treasure such scenes more, y’know?
Soukou Akki Muramasa often gets called a dark eroge, and it is certainly for a reason. However, it becomes less so the further you advance, and ends off in a satisfying way. Great story, a consistent theme, detailed setting, and complex and strong-willed girls plus a giant cast of side characters–there is no reason for me to not like it at all. Sure, there were parts where the pacing slowed, but it didn’t feel too apparent, and the build up is worth it. Production values are high, the vn looks great. It is the first Nitro+ eroge I’ve played, and I’m glad my introduction to this company went so well. I’ll definitely be checking out more stuff by them.