I will be bringing up Asphyxia several times during this review for the sake of reference for readers who were also introduced to ebi-hime and her group’s work via that game rather than comparison.
UPDATE: At the end another link has been added for the Steam version of the game with exclusive bonus content.
Genres: Drama, Romance, Yuri
Length: Short (2-3 hours)
Plot Summary: Toma Andrews, aged 14, has always felt like an outsider. She enjoys spending time in graveyards, and feels more comfortable among the dead than the living.
That is, until Toma meets a strange girl in her local graveyard.
The girl asks Toma if she will stay for a while and listen to a story. A story about a girl called Emmeline Burns, who died a tragic death back in 1851.
Toma is compelled to listen, but at the same time, she feels uneasy.
The charm in ebi-hime’s writing lies in how strangely relaxing it is to “plread” her stories regardless of the subjects, usually gloomy, she covers. Emmeline Burns is a bit different than her other stories that made her an indie star. This latest entry from her deliciously wicked cranium was promoted as being not as dreary as her more famous work. For the most part this claim is accurate as EB is not as gloomy as say Dejection: An Ode. However, make no mistake, the tone and themes are vintage ebi-hime so keep this in mind while reading.
Like the aforementioned Asphyxia, EB’s characters, setting and writing are based on historical European authors with a little dose of present day modern conveniences. Obviously the titular story takes place in the late 1800’s so no Youtube there.
For readers who have played Asphyxia both the art style and music will be familiar. For readers who have yet to do so this would make a great introduction to ebi-hime’s more fascinating style, or how I see it anyway. The art style remains as well drawn as the aforementioned commercial release with its Victorian style backgrounds, European storybook caricatures and relaxing piano score. Like I always say, yuri and classical music go together hand in hand.
There are three prominent characters in the story. Toma, our leading lady whose conception, familial ties and maternally imbued fascination with graveyards has made her feel like both an outcast and someone with an identity crisis, or rather someone searching for an identity. Otherwise she’s a lovely social outcast. The mystery girl on her right has a similar personality to the titular Emmeline Burns, a fluent speaker with a playful personality specializing in wisecracks and teasing who (supposedly) also had a strong sense of honor or pride, whichever the reader deems best. Obviously their meeting was not mere coincidence or as Toma put it at one point “because of medium eyes”.
The titular story itself is the main draw and also the source of the kinetic novel’s yuri. Without giving much away EB and her beloved almost as fluent tsundere girlfriend’s love life is witty, amusing and adorable. And for returning Asphyxia players this one is most certainly more yurirific. As for the title it is both accurate and not at the same time.
Overall The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns is another wonderfully written work by ebi-hime. It is visually appealing, the characters are amusing, both Toma’s little journey of self-discovery and the titular story are worth investing in, the yuri is pleasant and ebi-hime’s vintage “hime-ness” is somewhat toned down compared to her other big time works. Readers who enjoyed Asphyxia are recommended to give this title a go. Viewers who did not out of fear of gloominess may find this one a bit more accessible. As always if what I wrote interests readers give the source topic a go.
Basically I’m now an ebi-hime fan…I might even give her non-yuri games a go at some point.
Get the game for free here.
Get the Steam version with exclusive bonus content here.
The Steam version got some tweaks and the aforementioned bonus content. Since the itchi.io version’s already a pretty good game and the Steam version’s been slightly improved there’s little reason for players who liked Asphyxia to skip this one.
Visit ebi-hime’s lair here.