Monday, December 3, 2018

VN Talk: 7'scarlet - Part 6: Yuzuki Murakumo

As I suspected it might, Thanksgiving weekend was jumbled enough that I forgot to set this to go up during my Sunday. If you missed the previous installments of my 7'scarlet series, you can catch up on the previous routes with this tag here. This week I'm covering Yuzuki, who probably has my favorite route from a character standpoint, if not a plot one.

Yuzuki's route doesn't begin like everyone else's in that you don't start with the common route. After you make your name selection, you're asked where you want to start and have to specifically select Yuzuki's route. After an expanded version of the prologue, it drops you right in on Day 3 of Ichiko's stay, which is the day of the festival.

But let's talk about the prologue first. In the baseline prologue to the common route, we see an unnamed woman feeling through the forest from pursuers in the middle of the night. Her hands are bloody. She ends up in town and runs up to a payphone only to discover she has no money to use it. Off-camera, a man catches up with her. He cruelly mocks her about her situation, comparing her need for coins with that given to the dead for passage to the underworld. He suggests that she would probably want to beg for her life, except that she doesn't have one to begin with.

After a playthrough or two, it's pretty obvious from the voice that the man is Yuzuki Murakumo and she is likely a revenant. We don't see the outcome of their conversation, but it's implied he kills her.

Yuzuki's route opens with the same scene, with the woman running through the forest, but then it expands once we get to the town. Though it ends in the same place, gaps in their previous conversation are filled. The revenant gives Yuzuki her name, Tsuzuri, even though he doesn't want to hear it, and she explains that all she wants to do it give her husband a phone call, then she will voluntarily expire without ever having taken a life. When Yuzuki doesn't budge she takes pity on him, saying that he must have never been loved or loved anyone in return. Then we get a cynical monologue from him before it's again implied that he kills her.

Once in Ichiko's POV, she's cleaning Yuzuki's office as part of her job to cover her room and board. That's when she discovers that the second door in his office is unlocked. As she quickly finds out, it doesn't lead to more of the hotel, but rather to his personal living quarters (which despite being called a detached house is very much attached so far as I can tell). Being an intensely private person, it doesn't take long for Yuzuki to kick her out, but according to Yuki, their accidental meeting must have gone well if he didn't get flat out angry with her.

Due to his ornery personality, the game pretty much has to conspire to find ways to make Ichiko come into contact with Yuzuki, as he is not part of the Supernatural Club. On other routes it often comes up that Yuzuki likely has the answers she's searching for, but that he probably won't tell her. Oddly enough, searching for those answers isn't why she ends up spending time with him.

It's a rather cliche trick, but basically Yuzuki gets sick, and because Yuki is so busy trying to get the concert ready at the middle school, he gives Ichiko the rice porridge Isora made and asks her to deliver it to Yuzuki in his place. This kicks off her staying overnight with him while he's feverish and bedridden. It does the job, and it's fun seeing her order him around and not put up with his crap (because, hey, he's sick and this is for his own good), but a part of me still wishes for something more original.

Having established that familiarity, she feels less anxious about dropping in on him, but that results in her getting kidnapped by someone who assumes she's his girlfriend. It's through this incident that she gets caught up in his and his family's business and the truth of the revenants and the Ensepulchers comes out.

One of the non-club side characters staying at the hotel is Chikage Karasuma, and it's clear from other routes that he's been investigating the town. It turns out that he's the revenant Tsuzuri's bereaved husband, and he kidnaps Ichiko to lure out Yuzuki, to get his revenge for Tsuzuri dying yet another time.

This leads to a replaying of the prologue scene past the previous ending, and we discover that not only did Yuzuki not kill her, but he gave her the change she needed to make the call to Chikage and say her last words to her husband. He also tried to hide her from the other Ensepulchers, so she could peacefully expire once her time was up, but he ultimately failed. She was killed and he was expelled from the group for not doing his job.

Meeting Tsuzuri changed Yuzuki and as a result he no longer sees eye to eye with his traditionalist father. Yuzuki's realized that revenants come back because they have something they need to do before they can let go, and if allowed to do that they no longer have to stay around and they would have no reason to rise again. He would like to send them back voluntarily rather than arbitrarily exterminating every revenant that comes along like his family has been doing for hundreds of years.

Admittedly, given his antisocial personality, there is something hilarious about the idea of Yuzuki giving post-mortem therapy to a revenant that can't let go of the life it left behind.

Once Yuzuki's purpose comes out, he and Ichiko begin a budding relationship, and he helps her look for her brother, like most of the other love interests. But the fun thing about Yuzuki is that because of who he is, he can pretty easily get the town's lone policeman to spill his guts and reveal that Ichiko's brother moved around town exactly like he knew where everything was, even though he was a stranger. Her brother even found the valley where the Violacias grow.

What's interesting about Yuzuki's route (and we see shades of it in Sosuke's) is that because he's a Murakumo, the other characters tend to assume he and his family are in lockstep about what they do. After all, Yuzuki is the only son and heir of the patriarch, and he's got an irritable personality that hates being questioned. Common sense says he's gotta be neck deep in everything.

On their respective routes, Isora warns Ichiko repeatedly against trusting Yuzuki, and Toa remembers Yuzuki from when the Murakumos used a questionable excuse to close his family's hotel. (Amusingly, Isora keeps up his warnings in the first half of Yuzuki's route. He's really got a lot of Murakumo hate.) But Kyouji Murakumo's opinion of Yuzuki is that he's worthless, he's setting himself up to be revenant fodder, and Kyouji bitterly complains about not having done a better job of raising his son. Tellingly, Yuzuki doesn't know everything, even before his falling out with his father, because Kyouji still wasn't satisfied with him as a heir.

Yuzuki and Ichiko have incredibly good chemistry with each other. While she's pretty passive on some routes, Yuzuki's grumpiness gets to her, and she gives just about as much as she gets. His route has the most assertive version of Ichiko as she has no problem calling out his dad for not seeing how much thought Yuzuki has put into the revenants. And to hilariously cap off their argument, she's the one who tells Yuzuki that they're leaving now (he listens), and she calls Kyouji "Father" as if she and Yuzuki were married before bowing and walking out.

Unsurprisingly, the route caps off with Tsukuyomi making another attempt on Ichiko's life, but she's saved by the timely arrival of Yuzuki and Sosuke, who plans on becoming a new kind of Ensepulcher under Yuzuki's direction. The two of them tag-teaming Tsukuyomi was pretty fun, because this is the first time any of the love interests actually catch the bad guy on their own. And because Tsukuyomi came back to life out of a lingering desire to kill, they plan to do the traditional extermination with him (since obviously the reason he came back is not one they want to fulfill).

But Tsukuyomi breaks free and stabs Yuzuki. He ends up dying anyway, thanks to the timely arrival of Karasuma, who sees this as repaying his debt to Yuzuki for letting him hear his wife's last words, and from there the Normal vs Good Ending split is determined by whether or not Yuzuki survives. In the Normal Ending he succumbs to his injury, and tragically (to hide the secret of what really happened), his death is written off as an accident rather than that he was trying to protect Ichiko.

In the Good Ending, he recovers and we get the closest thing to a marriage proposal. Yuzuki talks about how as humans live they accumulate more and more holes in their hearts as life and losses take their toll. He thanks Ichiko for filling the hole in his heart and offers to do the same for her. Though all the routes feature Ichiko falling in love within the span of a week and a half (give or take), I think Yuzuki's is the only one where it's clear that it's a "rest of our lives" arrangement. Normally I would be like "pfft" you guys have only known each other for a few days, but Ichiko and Yuzuki played off each other so well in the second half of his route that I couldn't help shipping it.

I wish we got a little more about their future plans in Yuzuki's epilogue though, since obviously his father still runs the town and Yuzuki is still on the outs. Unlike Sosuke, who learns the truth about his father's life and death, and comes to terms with what he wants for his own future, Yuzuki already knows what he wants to do. His character development, expulsion from the Ensepulchers, and falling out of his father's graces is backstory. The only development is really that Yuzuki is finally pushed hard enough that he outright rebels and refuses to obey his father even if it means getting disowned. His wish to help the revenants remains a nascent dream.

Since he's the only love interest who does not arrive from out of town, leaving this whole damn mess behind is not an option for him, and Ichiko says she wants to stay and help, which would have a lot of fallout given what we eventually learn about her. (This route is totally ripe for a fandisk that will probably never happen thanks to the true route, but that's getting ahead of myself.)

After playing all five love interests, we're still not done, because obviously we don't have all the answers yet. After the credits roll for Yuzuki's Good Ending, we given one half of a conversation of a phone call in which one of the Ensepulchers reports that Tsukuyomi was blamed for the death of Ichiko's brother, as instructed, but that he was not the revenant who killed Shinryu Tatehira, Sosuke's father. The Ensepulcher than agrees to keep watch for the other revenant for as long as a scarlet Violocia exists.

This is the first time the scarlet Violocia is mentioned, though we know the regular purple ones are the "corpse flowers" that call the dead back to life. And after this scene, starting a new game unlocks Toa's true route, which I'll cover next week!

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