(Note: Review Code provided by Ebi-Hime)
Here we are again talking about the Shrimp Princess and her team’s latest yuri creation for everyone to enjoy. The question is how enjoyable is it? Join me as we go over Rituals in the Dark and find out.
Genres: Drama, Yuri
Length: 3-5 hours (give or take)
Six months ago, Aspen Draper’s elderly neighbour, Mrs Leigh, died from a heart attack. Aspen was the last person to see Mrs Leigh alive, and she was the first person to find the old woman’s body.
After this unfortunate discovery, Aspen becomes something of a celebrity in her dreary seaside home town, Scarborough. She’s bombarded with intrusive questions about Mrs Leigh’s death every day, and her friends are insatiably curious about the incident. Despite Aspen’s best efforts, she’s unable to move on from the past, even as time passes.
The winter months segue into the summer, but Mrs Leigh’s home remains unsold. Eventually, the house is boarded up, and rumours begin to spread that it’s haunted by her restless ghost. Then, during a sleepover with her friends Pippa and Lakhi, Aspen is made to confront her fears all over again. Pippa dares Aspen to break into Mrs Leigh’s home to search for this elusive ghost, and Aspen is too weak-willed and anxious to refuse.
Under the cover of the night, Aspen returns to Mrs Leigh’s home – but she doesn’t find eerie spectres awaiting her arrival. Instead, she meets a strange girl called Althea, who seems to know more about Aspen than any stranger ought. Aspen soon finds herself enchanted by the beautiful Althea, and she resolves to discover who (or, indeed, what) she really is.
Put simply it is an engaging tale of a timid girl haunted by the day she witnessed the passing of an elderly woman, being forced to return to the house where it happened and then be mesmerized by a mysterious beauty. That is the surface story. Naturally there is more to it, such as Aspen reminiscing of her younger years, her time as an “aspiring” ballerina, her friends and family and most importantly her thoughts on Mrs Leigh and Althea, the two who changed her life most of all. The former was someone she was not exactly comfortable being around but ultimately did not fully dislike the time they spent together before the elderly woman’s passing.
Then there is Althea, a most intriguing and beautiful enigma. From the moment she revealed herself out of nowhere to the day the truth about her identity was revealed she came off as a “Just when you think you know the answers, I change the question/s” kind of lady. She is something of a trickster, living up to her introduction of a mysterious beauty confusing Aspen and readers in the long run, making everyone wonder what she is saying is truth or made up. Some of her claims are truthful but most of the words coming out of her mouth are difficult to discern their validity. She is a mystery and likes it that way. Naturally throughout the story clues are given from both Aspen and Althea on what is true about her and what is fabricated. Expect red herrings but one thing is certain, there is an interesting connection between Aspen, Althea and Mrs Leigh.
The side-characters, friends and parents of Aspen, have one thing in common: They are nice people but have wronged her in some way. Some more so than others but as I said they are good people. While they do not play a huge part in the main story they serve their purpose of expanding Aspen’s background and growth alongside her secret encounters with Althea. Besides the cast the rest of the story features what is expected from an Ebi-Hime production: References/influences to/of famous/legendary authors and literature, dark sense of humor and a calm yet gloomy atmosphere.
Speaking of atmosphere, the presentation, as usual for an Ebi-Hime production, is wonderful. Aspen I find especially adorable despite her repeatedly belittling her appearance. As mentioned the backgrounds are calm yet gloomy. The soundtrack is enjoyable (Has a Nancy Drew feel to it. Do not ask what I mean by that) and the character art delightful.
As seen in the above CG Aspen and Althea’s relationship becomes somewhat intimate. Do not expect any 18+ imagery but let us just say Aspen’s interest in the blonde goes beyond wanting to figure out who/what she is.
Overall Rituals in the Dark is yet another excellent yuri tale courtesy of Ebi-Hime and her team. The presentation is great and the best parts revolve around Aspen and her relationships with Mrs Leigh and Althea. Not saying her interactions with the side-characters are not interesting as they serve a purpose but the meat of the story are the aforementioned relationships. It is a relatively quick and very enjoyable read.