The following will be a review/overview of the series as a whole to give readers an idea of what to expect should they choose to pick it up. This is Kuro Irodoru Yomiji‘s Ne No Kami: The Princess Knights of Kyoto.
Genres: Action, Drama, Romance, Supernatural, Yuri, Kinetic Novel (with some Visual Novel elements in Part 2)
Themes: Alternate History, Japanese Mythology, Deities
Length: 10-15 Hours for both Parts 1 and 2 (Give or take)
~At dawn, the moonlight illuminates the old capital enveloped in fog. Guided by fate, bound by their thoughts, the maidens dance. Amid a spiral of despair, the beloved princess and her guardian knight overcome their fear. Gazing up at the dawn sky, the princess of the earth gently averts her eyes. Descended from the heavens, bearing her dreams. Scooping up the ripples from the water’s surface. The princess of the sun gazes, and contemplates. Light dwelling in their cerulean eyes, and with a will that can break down the wall of fate.
The dancing maidens of the old capital become the princess knights.~
A large earthquake rocks Kyoto at its core, unsettling the balance of the world. Through television and radio, news of absurd behaviors and emergence of cults became frequent, and demons sightings were reported all throughout Japan. But with the passage of time, society’s belief in the supernatural was fading and the people’s interest would eventually return to the mundane, regular life. The demons were no longer seen, and the world has become “peaceful” at the surface. Not long thereafter, the events of the earthquake were all but forgotten. Len has been living her entire life as a regular high school student. But suddenly, she is reunited with Shinonome, her childhood friend from long ago, and receives the ominous message-
“Len, you are going to abandon this town… and die—today”
Since her reunion with Shinonome, Len’s life is thrust into an all new “reality,” and the curtain which hid the “truth” of this new world is been lifted. Len and Shinonome must tempt fate and face a world in which reality is all but blurred, as the truth of this world comes to light.
To explain the plot of Ne No Kami on the surface it is a faction war that also involvs gods and demons. The two most prominent ones are the Kunai Organization and the Ayakashi. Think of the KO as a super secret government employed task force sent to deal with supernatural enemies too powerful for human military weapons to combat. The Ayakashi are essentially a group of yokai, from oni grunts all the way to the elite kitsune, with the goal of releasing their sealed god. However, as I said that is only the surface level of the story. Underneath the exterior it is a tale of friendship, trust, loyalty, beliefs, ambitions, mystery and of course love with a few surprises and twists thrown in for good measure. All of that with a dash of Japanese mythology and even a pinch of Norse mythology for good measure. Expect to learn about a lot of different Japanese deities/divine entities and locales. There is even a glossary menu where highlighted terms mentioned throughout the story can be found and the interested can learn more about.
I mentioned in my Sacrament of the Zodiac (The leads there get small cameos in this series) that Zodiac was a game done in the style of the A Kiss for the Petals franchise. I also mentioned that Ne No Kami would be Kuro Irodoru Yomiji’s take a on a grand story and that was exactly what we got. This time instead of exploring the relationship of a lesbian couple who kicked things off quick but came to a mutual understanding and love for one another “plreaders” (play-read) will get an expansive that goes into great detail explaining the setting, factions, ideals, beliefs from all factions, how things became the way they are etc. Alongside that is a love story that takes its time showing the heroines on one side falling in love and another covering the key points of their romantic tale.
Now this being a kinetic novel series there is not much to say about the gameplay. That is to say in Part 1. In Part 2 there are occasions where “plreaders” get to choose which scene to watch before proceeding to the next main story scene. That is because unlike Part 1 where most of the story is told through Len’s perspective (and later Shino’s) Part 2 switches perspectives though it still primarily revolves around Len and Shino.
Let us continue with the art style and special animation. The character designs look nice for both the small and big “gunns”…unless the “plreader” is not a fan of big “gunns”. The four leading ladies are adorable casually and look steamy during the few love scenes in both parts. The backgrounds feature straightforward countryside, woods and hills and an imperial palace. There are of course special locales but I will leave that for the interested to discover.
Next up let us go over the lead couples. First up Len and Uzume. This being a grand scale story their tale of love is not a simple one. First of all we have the spunky Len. She is a cute girl with an attitude who is not afraid to speak her mind (cussing on a few occasions) but is very kind. She lived an enjoyable life before being “drafted” as it were. Not only that but she eventually learned the feelings of the sister of her childhood friend she hung out with whenever she got to visit them during their innocent youths were that of eternal love. Let me put it this way, it took some time before Len saw the light/fully embraced the yuri. Uzume, put simply, is a lovesick puppy whose love for the spunky shortie knows no equal or boundaries. Her love is so great she would wait as long as it took for her beloved to hopefully return one day, which she did. When not going gaga for Len she is duty bound to her responsibilities. Her duty is ALMOST as important to her as Len, which of course will a play a role as the story progresses.
Then we have Shino and Ruka. Shino, like Len, has a sharp tongue but has more self control when dishing out comebacks or making witty remarks to lovingly tease her best friend. Shinonome, unlike Len, had less of a choice when she got “drafted”, being raised to be a warrior from an early age. Even so she has a chill attitude and is very friendly. This helped play a crucial role in winning the heart of the seemingly calm at first glance Ruka. Speaking of Ruka…let us just say “Do not trust the quiet ones” fits Ruka to a tee.
Besides the lead four most of the side-characters are cool. Personal favorites being Haku and Sana.
As far as the steamy yuri scenes go, as few as there are they are worth the wait and do serve relevant roles. During these love scenes, taking a page from Sacrament of the Zodiac, both girls’ thoughts are shown and not just Len or Shino describing how they feel throughout the scenes with their respective loved ones. Uzume and Ruka also get to share their thoughts.
Overall Ne No Kami is an enjoyable series that takes it time to flesh out an interesting tale filled with mythology, intrigue, lax moments, cool action scenes and of course wonderful yuri loving. I would recommend it to most yuri visual/kinetic novel fans. Patience will pay off.
There are plans to release a bonus DLC chapter that is set after the events of Part 2 so look forward to that after finishing Part 2.
One last thing.