A loli with mysterious powers in a space pod crash-lands in the local park, gets plagued with amnesia, and starts living with the protagonist and tagging along in his club activities. A joke-tier premise, combined with the relatively unimpressive and inconsistent doujin game-quality art and mediocre first episode made me get stalled in the common route for the longest time. Aside from a few funny scenes here and there, the first “route” did nothing to grab my interest until some reveals at the end. Then the preview from the second episode kicked in. I began the next part of the story and never looked back.
Himawari is a sci-fi doujin VN that gained enough success to get a PSP port with added CGs and complete voice acting. Originally released in 3 parts, the PSP port combines them all together, as well as some side novels. I was lazy and liked to have all my stuff in one package, so I played the PSP port.
The story takes place in the year 2050, although it sure doesn’t seem like it. Society and consumer technology is still reminiscent of the 2000’s, the time of writing, but the technological advancement that goes on behind public eye is certainly advanced enough. Two years ago, the Saionji group’s passenger space plane landed in a disastrous crash, killing over 500 people. The sole survivor of the incident is Hinata Youichi, who has lost all memories prior to the crash. Two years prior to the story, Youichi became empty. He moves back to his ‘hometown,’ also home to the Saionji group, Japan’s leading organization for space exploration that gave birth to a ‘hero’ who landed on the far side of the Moon.
These days, he spends his time as the only other member of his school’s astronomy club (on paper), building amateur rockets with the eccentric club president to try and reach the Moon. One day, they witness an UFO crashing into their town’s memorial park for the 500+ deaths of two years ago, and inside was a white-haired loli named Aries, who has the power to heal wounds through physical contact and also conveniently has amnesia. She begins living with Youichi and tags along with him on his daily activities. However, as the club president warns, there are Men In Black (MIB) in the vicinity as well, looking for the opportunity to take Aries back.
As cliched as the premise sounds, the underlying mysteries are very interesting and well thought out, and the game talks about a variety of interesting subjects. The sci-fi level developments are engrossing because they are based off of relatively down to earth scientific concepts, even when it comes to the more abstract metaphysical topics that are brought up. The characters are all surprisingly human, with interesting and sometimes ugly sides to reveal under over-the-top comedy that starts things off. It works the other way around too, with some characters.
The majority of the revelations and heated “REAL DEAL” scenes happen in the middle routes of the game. At first, I thought the final route was anticlimatic compared to everything that happened before it, but it turned out to be a fitting conclusion that brings the story back to the protagonist. The final route is very thorough with exploring Youichi’s personal development, and is very satisfying in the way it wraps up its character arcs. That is, until the epilogue, which opens up a whole new world of questions to be explored in the side novels and fandisc.
I was skeptical of Himawari due to the mediocre first chapter, but it turned out to be a thorough work with plenty of heart and soul poured into it.
Hinata Youichi is the protagonist who has no memories before two years prior. As a result, he appears to be empty and is only following what others around him do. Despite that, he is set on looking only forward and reaching the stars, rather than trying to rediscover his past. Generally a good guy who has the ability to take action when the situation calls for it.
Aries is the amnesiac loli who crash-lands in the local memorial park. Her power to heal wounds leads the astronomy club to suspect her to be an alien. Normally innocent and prone to overreacting, she is also very frank and even brutally honest. Fun during the comedic scenes, but her straightforwardness combined with unexpectedly sharp intuition also has the potential to be quite antagonizing in the development of certain routes.
Saionji Asuka is Youichi’s pseudo childhood friend. They met two years ago at the hospital, so they are not technically childhood friends, but she was his first friend post memory loss, and she brings him food and acts like a childhood friend character. Despite appearing like an ordinary, slightly tomboyish girl, Asuka is actually a rich ojou-sama and the daughter of the president of the Saionji Group. She lives with her obsessive butler Johnny, but her father is rarely home and their relationship is sour. As a result, she isn’t very fond of Youichi and his club’s fixation on space. Possibly the least interesting of the heroines at first glance, and also the closest character to a “normal person.”
Aqua is actually the MIB Youichi encounters one night, and appears to know Aries. She is also masquerading as Asuka’s cousin to hide her true identity and objective. A dangerous young girl who carries guns under her skirt and always has her defenses up, but enjoys mischievously teasing Youichi and clingy when drunk. Her ability to keep her cool and think through most situations makes her a formidable ally, and she is probably the heroine with the best characterization, thanks to her time in the spotlight in the second episode.
Amamiya Ginga is the astronomy club’s president who dresses like a soldier and carries a replica machine gun to sleep. A loud and unrestrained character, his idea of fun is making Youichi and co. join him in survival games where they carry replica guns into their high school and aim to shoot down each other. He and Youichi have been building rockets to fly to the moon, and the ruckus they cause on school grounds attracts negative attention from teachers. His father is the deceased Amamiya Daigo, the man who landed on the far side of the moon and was touted a hero.
There is another set of characters that take the lead roles in the stage of two years ago, and they leave just as good as an impression.
The soundtrack is quite good, and manages to sound more distinct than the average moege, with a number of tracks that really set the mood. The art is, well, it’s a doujin game so I suppose it could be a lot worse. The standing portraits tend to look better than most of the CGs, which are inconsistent as hell. It’s very obvious as to which CGs are done first, as the artist improves and goes on some style shifts. There are some nice CGs, but there are enough awkward-looking ones to balance them out.
A good VN with compelling characters, a high degree of completeness and talks about many interesting subjects. Doesn’t hold back in its silly comedy either, and generally brings forth a good balance of everything. The writing is simple, but does a good job of absorbing the reader in, even during the various scenes that require a strong suspension of disbelief. Aqua best girl, Ginga best character of all.