Originally reviewed by Milkmaster.
After Katawa Shoujo, I was hungry for more. Searching around on the Katawa Shoujo forums, I learned that the most recommended visual novel was Kana Imouto (little sister), by Studio D.O. The forum-goers heralded it as legendary for being the saddest story of all time. Back then I didn´t have money to buy it, but I tucked away the recommendation in my mind.
Two weeks ago, JAST USA gave me a free license to play and review the updated remake, Kana Okaeri. Finally!!
First things first; Kana is a crying game (nakige), not a nukige (fap fodder). The difference of one letter matters!
You play as Taka, the older brother to the very sick and perpetually hospitalized 18-year old Kana. You try to make up for the years you teased her before realizing how ill and fragile she is.
(No, she’s not okay.)
I can´t disagree with the rumors; Kana is damn sad. You don’t think you feel anything for the characters, and then something happens to them. Suddenly you empathize with them, but unlike nakige like Clannad, it’s not just sadness. Personally, I was angry at characters for their negligence, guilty-ridden over mistreating my girlfriend, and jealous of a boy who sought to date my sister.
The story centers around a fatally ill girl, so naturally the theme is death, and people’s varying reactions and opinions on it. Kana isn’t the only one dying. When a mother close to Taka and Kana is on final stages of cancer, she wants to tell her daughter and Kana. Taka, however, disagrees.
Taka tries to shield Kana from hurtful things, even when those choices end up hurting her and others down the road. It’s up to the player to decide how he or she feels about Taka’s choices.
In my experience with more story-based eroge, such as Kanon, the sex scenes are usually tacked on. I´m guessing the studios include these scenes to improve sales. Ultimately though the sex often feels forced. Kana, on the other hand, delivers some of the hottest art I’ve seen in a nakige to date, and makes sure the scenarios actually tie in nicely with the story.
(Give first time to brother, then die. Sad fuck.)
The sex scenes aren’t many, but they are varied, with tons of positions and styles ranging from softcore half-clothed ecchi to bareback doggystyle. The art for the CGs is fantastic and would be great alone, but the emotional context adds to the experience. A nice touch is that the sex scenes are all animated, and look amazingly smooth, especially compared to other games with animated CGs, like Maman Kyoushitsu. I´m guessing it´s a superficial selling point for the game, but it looks so impressive, I’ll let it pass.
Now unfortunately, it’s not all hills and rainbows: The music is, frankly, standard and plain. It contrasts with the rest of the content. Shiroi Kietsu is still one of my favourite video game songs and you should listen to it right now, but the rest of the soundtrack is plain forgettable. It does its job, but when they compete with soundtracks from Clannad and Katawa Shoujo, I rather listen to those.
This being a remake, I read about the original for research. The updated version has cleaner CGs and sprites with a more modern artstyle. I kind of liked Kana’s original sprite, though.
I honestly cannot recommend this game enough. It’s got a memorable story, fantastic art, and H scenes that are just enough to get you up and finished while not putting breaks on the emotional ride. If you’re a fan of nakige and fantasize about incest, this is one of the best games you can play.