Hello! It’s been awhile (read: 6 months?) since my last post here and yes, I am still alive. I haven’t been playing many games at all since I went over to Japan for studying…and now I’m back home, so, let the reviews begin again.
Speaking of reviews, I’ve found another drama CD series I’d like to talk about. Nanakai Family is one of Otomate Records‘ newer titles, with its first volume released just in January. Unlike the other titles under the same label, Nanakai sets out with a slightly different theme than just simply romance: rather, it’s let’s become a family.
By that, I don’t mean “let’s get married and have babies” – Nanakai is a story about non-human existences such as youkai, ghosts or minor deities who have all experienced some kind of loneliness in their lives. At this point in time, everyone lives together in a shrine just off the road, managed by the karasu tengu Shuichiro (CV: Hirakawa Daisuke). The main character, the ‘girl’ (you) is a ghost without clear memories on her past, who is picked up by Shuichiro and offered a place to stay while she finds a means to move on to the afterlife. Nanakai is a series on her interactions with those at the shrine, and how she gains new family in everyone.
Love, after all, does come in many forms. See below for more details. I’ve cut down on the spoilers!
In Nanakai’s first volume, Shuichiro (the karasu-tengu) explains the setting, Izumo – a huge city whose development once rivaled Kyoto, and is now a metropolis. The ayakashi that once lived together with humans have stopped appearing before them as they used to, but still continue to lead their lives hidden amongst society. Shuichiro, likewise, is a karasu-tengu whose day job is a novelist. He uses his earnings to support the shrine, which he runs as a home to several other non-human residents. Put very simply, he’s like the dad of the gang and Hiradai is using that super kind, loser dad voice for Shuichiro ;_; oh my lord. Shuichiro picks up ‘you’, having found you lost/wandering around. You are unable to move on, though it is revealed that your parents have already passed on before you despite your young age. Shuichiro is troubled at the thought of you being basically stranded, and offers to let you stay at his place until you resolve whatever unfinished business you have in the living world.
Shuichiro is so cute ;_; He attempts to cook for ‘you’ but is a total failure at it, but he’s really nice and positive about it. Just please stay away from the kitchen omg. Shuichiro admits that he can’t really do anything in the kitchen and the most he can do to help is to fill up the sink…
The other tracks revolve around some slight interaction the girl has with Shuichiro, and the series’ overall pace is very relaxed and soothing. There isn’t any real “romantic” track, though there’s sakura-viewing at some point – more than anything, despite the limited length, it’s a CD that spends more time exploring the character’s past, and takes a very slow and (personally) more mature take to approaching one’s feelings.
What I liked about this volume was both Shuichiro’s character and the direction that the series chose. He’s a very nice person who doesn’t have any ‘hidden darkness’ or anything – in the past, he had gone through a very painful farewell. But as a result of that loneliness, he’d decided to take in those that are very much like how he was. Nanakai is a warm and positive series focused on how the characters provide for and support each other as ‘family’, which later on proves to be the most important point of the CD. Family is insanely important.
Shuichiro’s greatest wish is for ‘you’ to be happy and fulfilled. I really got the feeling that even before he realized he liked the girl, he already intended to help her in any way that he could. Your ‘unfinished business’ has something to do with your family, and while you wish to meet your parents in the afterlife once more, you are unable to do so as you’re stuck in the living world as a ghost. When Shuichiro realizes this, there’s conflict between the dual notions of “it’ll be lonely if she leaves” and “but I want her to be happy”. And the choice he makes at the end with regards to this totally surprised me ;; This fella just wants the best for this girl and it’s so OBVIOUS that he cares about her as a person. It cleanses my soul.
I loved listening to Nanakai’s first volume! I wasn’t expecting Shuichiro to make that kind of choice at the end, considering the “love drama” nature of most situation CDs. While I wouldn’t recommend the series to anyone who wants the “love drama”, this series is pretty much perfect for someone who wants something nice and family-themed with just a small sprinkle of romance. But that stuff totally isn’t the main point of the series, I gather. I hope they keep up this theme for the other CDs! (I saw someone say on Twitter that this would make a great game if you could chose between a ‘family end’ or a ‘romance end’…I’d pick the family end every time if I could HAHAHA)
And you know, I think that’s really fresh to see something that isn’t just purely about romantic love. We need that once in awhile. I’ll be looking out for vol.2 and onwards!