There are certain otome games in which the romance is absolutely there, but might not always feel like the main focus. For example, Hakuoki is absolutely romantic, but it also a thriller offering an alternate, supernatural take on the Shinsengumi and Bakumatsu period. Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei feels similar, due to it being a Heian period piece offering its own alternate take on the events after the Heiji rebellion. There are battles! Its heroine, posing as a man and last member of the Genji, is an incredible warrior! It can absolutely get romantic in routes. It’s just that the action and drama can feel just as important.
Rumor has it Yoshitsune Minamoto, the youngest member of the Genji clan, is around and still ready and willing to face the Heike and Taira. And it is true. That individual does exist, training alongside Shungen at Kurama Temple. However, rather than a man, this heir is a woman. She’s also about to step into her destiny. That can mean traveling alongside her vassal Benkei Musashibo and dealing with her Heike enemies Tomomori Taira and Noritsune Taira. Depending on the choices someone makes, she might find a happy ending or more violent, tragic ones.
Birushana is an otome visual novel. As usual, this means lots of text and reading as you go through. The localization feels like it is handled pretty well. The story is interesting. I noticed a few errors made it through the editing process. (For example, you may come across a “you’re” instead of a “your.”) But I really appreciate how approachable it makes the conflicts. It does so in the same way as Hakuoki did, which is encouraging.
It is also surprisingly complex! There are a number of things being taken into account when you make choices. Choices you make can influence Shanao’s stats and her relationships with different characters. The decisions in the introductory shared route determine who you split off with for the larger story. Decisions you make can also increase her strength, knowledge, or kindness instead of bring her closer to another character.
While Birushana features the systems you’d expect to track such things, like a flowchart, glossary, and log, there are two additional elements that help keep things clear. Different effects appear after making choices. So throughout the story, red means Shanao got stronger. Blue means she’s become more intelligent. Green is connected to kindness. But before that, a Love Catch system is in play. When enabled, as it is optional and on by default, flowers will appear in the common route. Five appear, each in the same shade connected to one of the love interests. When you make a choice, multiple flowers can “bloom” to show you’re inching closer to someone’s route. The bigger the blossom, the bigger the increase. Considering there’s a branch at one point in the common route that locks you out of certain characters depending on the choice, it helps a lot!
As I mentioned before, I suggested how active and dynamic Birushana is for an otome. It’s handled very well! Shanao, as a member of the Genji and trained warrior, ends up getting involved in conflicts. She also has an incredible sort of strength that can come up multiple times throughout the tale. I really appreciated how this meant her and her love interests had different portraits so we see them both in relaxed and while in battle. It means things feel more thrilling when we’re reading about a conflict, because we’ll see more aggressive poses from cast members as they fight foes or each other.
Also, Birushana feels like a really huge otome game. You have the happy and tragic endings for all five of the main love interests. Which is fairly typical and expected. Then, there are some additional supplemental characters who appear as “if” endings. For example, Shigehira can appear prominently in stories like Tomomori. But he’s not a main bachelor. You would need to unlock his “if” smaller storyline. There’s a lot to it, which is nice. It offers opportunities to get invested.
I’m genuinely impressed with Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei. It presents an intriguing take on historical events in an easily digestible way. It presents players with love interests who are interesting both due to their backgrounds and nature as warriors, as well as romantic partners. Shanao is a strong heroine. It looks great. Not to mention with the “if” routes, it ends up feeling even fuller. It’s another great Switch otome game.