It was said that long ago, horrifying spider-like creatures known as the tsuchigumo roamed the land. Although they have been mostly wiped out by humans, there is one single piece of land that still belongs to the creatures of the olden times. The land we know as Japan is split in two by an ocean that runs down the middle, and on the eastern side of the island country is uncharted territory that is, to this day, still home to the tsuchigumo. Expeditions were made 300 years ago to acquire the eastern land and erase these creatures deemed as “outsiders,” yet none were successful. Worse yet, survivors of the expeditions seemed to have brought back “filth” and gave birth to “distorted” humans. No further expeditions were made, until recent political situations pressure for subjugation of the land.
Under Imperial presence, a battle was held between representatives of various noble families to determine the supreme commander of the new eastern expedition. While there were indeed many strong fighters gathered, one cannot help but hold a sense of discomfort in the scene. After all, they have no soul. Strong they may be, and there is no doubt in their fighting abilities, but they have little regard for life or death. Not a single fighter is capable of leading the eastern expedition, for they do not know fear, and by extension, cannot see the value of life. The battle is like a dance of the dead, with no soul, no weight, nothing on the line. The nobles on the sidelines who watch the fight like an afternoon entertainment show are no good either. Nobody is capable of thinking about anyone but themselves, and for this reason is why the eastern expedition from 300 years ago was a disaster. No one here is fit for the role of commander.
That is, with the exception of Koga Rindou. For some reason, she has always felt disgust at the world around her. The humans are plagued by the philosophy of loving only oneself with disregard for others, and the concept of bonds and spirit is but an obscure, nearly unknown relic of the olden days. Yet Rindou feels affinity with such an “outdated” philosophy, and decides to take the role of commander while belittling the fighters for their lack of soul. She will embrace all of them, and show them the importance of bonds and souls through the eastern expedition. While none of the fighters agree with her words, her representative emerges and defeats all the fighters on the field. With this, Rindou is recognized as the supreme commander of the eastern expedition, set to commence in Spring.
Kajiri Kamui Kagura takes place in what appears to be old Japan during they days where they closed off international trade, yet there is something very off with the setting. The first hint that this isn’t ancient Japan at all is the fact that the island is divided into two. The second is that the world follows the egocentric philosophy of loving only oneself, without a care for others. Rindou, who speaks about bonds and spirit, is seen as a weirdo at best and lunatic at worst. Even if it is not apparent at first, KKK is a if-sequel to Marie’s route in Dies Irae. It should be quickly revealed that the “outsiders” who roam the eastern lands are not ruthless monsters, but remnants of characters much more familiar to the reader than any of the protagonists.
Unlike the single protagonist, multiple heroine approach that most eroge take, KKK instead follows four pairs whose stories branch off later on. It is mostly linear, and also much shorter than its predecessor. Previous attachment to the Dies Irae cast also makes it difficult to root for the new protagonists (especially when a certain chuu2 protagonist from before becomes several levels cooler) initially, combined with the fact that they begin off much less sympathetic due to the universe they are born under. The situations, desires, and the backstories that led to said desires for the Dies Irae characters were clear, easily understandable, and acceptable if not relatable (for the characters who are not off the deep end). After all, no matter how messed up or foolish their motivations and desires were, they were still very human. The KKK cast, however, was born under foreign universe with a strange philosophy. Filled with self-love and failing to comprehend the need to care for others, the reader gets to slowly see them be exposed to and take in the concepts of KIZUNA and TAMASHII. While they eventually gain the sense of camaraderie and, KKK should have been longer and further expanded on their growth and development. Ryuusui, for instance, doesn’t feel like she has changed all too much.
Everything turned out alright as the KKK cast did grow on me. The story sticks to its themes and has good pacing, although the final battle should have been longer and few fights reach the climatic levels of Dies Irae. It does clarify a lot regarding the setting of the Throne, and was a very enjoyable read. The base in Japanese folklore combined with Buddhist powerlevels also make it more fun, but also more painful to look up compared to Dies Irae’s Third Reich and alchemy powerlevels.
The most central pair is Koga Rindou and Sakagami Habaki, the latter of which is the former’s representative in the Imperial battle. Falling in love with Rindou on first sight, Habaki’s motivation is to have Rindou marry him when the expedition is over. While he is somewhat of a template dumb pervert character who is constantly at the butt of jokes but is cool during situations that matter (in this case, battles), he makes for quite an entertaining protagonist. Rindou is the exact opposite in that she is serious and goal-orientated, which makes her a good contrast to Habaki. Her charisma as a commander, and the speeches about SOUL and BONDS are fun to read.
The Mibu Soujirou and Kujou Shiori pair is perhaps my favorite, due to a particular fight scene at the end that completely won me over. This is a pair where both characters truly shine during battle, yet it bothers me that there weren’t enough battles to show them off in. Soujirou is a guy with a girly face who wants to become the strongest swordsman in the world, and initially cares little about anything else. He is also bad with girls. Shiori has a tomboyish personality and fights with her fists, and also has an extremely overpowered ability. She is perhaps the most difficult character to grasp as it seems like Masada found her hard to write, but the baseline is that she seeks to be the best possible herself, and has a strong hatred for being underestimated or dismissed due to her gender/appearance. They have the coolest chants, and their final battle is perhaps the most erotic thing in this eroge.
Kyougetsu Keishirou and Kyougetsu Sakuya are siblings from an infamous bloodline that lives in a town hidden from the outside world. The pair is like a delinquent big brother and a gentle, elegant younger sister on the surface, but in reality, Sakuya is by far the most twisted one. Keishirou gets a really 熱い fight somewhere down the road, and this pair has a strong relation to a certain someone in Dies Irae. Keishirou is also probably the character who shows the most obvious development since the beginning.
The strangest pair, by far, is that of Mikado Ryuusui and Madara Yakou. The latter is powerful, but a pervert and a creep (as recognized by other characters), and the former is a little girl who loves said creep. Their route is the one that reveals the majority of the truth behind what happened since Dies Irae. Despite having the most interesting content though, I’d have to say that character-wise this is the most static pair and Ryuusui, despite having the most potential for growth, lacked screentime.
The four routes run parallel to each other, and thus when they join back up together for the grand finale it creates a strong sense of teamwork and bonds of friendship developed over time. The grand route is rather anti-climatic compared to the grandiose finales of Dies Irae’s last two routes, but the ending is nice and satisfying.
The music lacks the over-the-top grandeur of its predecessor, but is nonetheless pleasant to the ears and the battle music does a good job of heating one up. The visuals, meanwhile, are a beast on a whole different level. Featuring a unique coloring style and distinct character designs that are visually attractive and fit the setting, G Yuusuke’s art is a sight to behold. Kajiri Kamui Kagura stands to be one of the most visually distinct eroge I’ve played.
Masada’s writing was fun to read, and for some reason I found Kajiri Kamui Kagura easier to read than Dies Irae despite the kanjispam. A good if-sequel that further explains the setting of the Throne. Even if the characters are rather plain compared to its predecessor, they grew on me by the end. Certain members of the Dies Irae cast became really cool, to a spotlight-stealing degree. The setting was neat and the presentation is top-notch. Could have been benefited from being longer (no need to be a monster of 4mb, though). Overall a fun and enjoyable read. While I think Dies Irae is the more solid title, I did appreciate the symbolism and Buddhist concepts in KKK. This was probably the first eroge that made me go and look at 20 Wikipedia pages concerning a religion. The things that the characters say, and the nature of the ultimate villain become much more interesting with knowledge in Buddhist concepts.
The non-ero version (Akebono no Hikari) adds a gaiden about Ryuumei and a super happy gaiden set after the ending. Ryuumei is clearly the best girl. Okay, “girl” is stretching it real far…