Amatsutsumi is a visual novel by writer Mikage, whose previous works include classic titles such as Da Capo and ef. The drama story centers around powerful words known as Kotodama, which can bind other people to the user’s will.
The events of Amatsutsumi begin when a young boy named Makoto leaves his home in an isolated village in the mountain. Ever since he was a small kid, he had this lingering feeling, kind of like a voice telling him to leave the place. Once he finally fulfills this mission, he faints in the middle of nowhere because he has no plan, food, or water.
A young girl named Kokoro finds Makoto and decides to take him home and give him a place to stay in this new environment. While this backwater town may be quiet and nothing special, its liveliness is still leagues above Makoto’s hometown. He comes from an area that forbids communication entirely due to the risk of Kotodama.
The Kotodama is a unique power that commands people to do what its user wishes. It can mess with memories, make others do things they don’t want, and even affect physiological functions like movement, breathing, or the feeling of pain. So not only can it be used on others, but also to affect the user.
As this power is like walking or breathing to the villagers, they decided to avoid risks by not talking. As a result, the place ended up feeling eerie to the boy, who yearned for human interactions, emotions, and connections with people. In the new town, he finds a family and a place to belong, but he’ll also have to learn more about his Kotodama.
Soon after moving to this new place, Makoto decides to use his powers to become Kokoro’s older brother and go to school. By doing so, he hopes to fill a gap Kokoro and her mother had been feeling for a long time. While his power is terrifying, his nature can turn it into an asset to keeping everyone happy.
As the story progresses, players will get to know and fall in love with four girls, each of which has some complicated circumstances. The first one you meet is Kokoro, a pure girl who dreams of a shoujo manga romance and seems taken by the idea of forbidden love. She lives with her mother, Azuki, and cooks abominations. Living with them will allow Makoto to learn about familial ties and develop his sense of responsibility.
At school, he becomes friends with Kyouko, a shrine priestess who lacks confidence and talks to none of her classmates. He also has to handle her childhood friend and fiancé Mana, the most notorious Kotodama user from Makoto’s village. Each chapter of the main story focuses on what ails one of the girls, giving players the choice to move to alternate endings with them until we get to the True Route.
For the last stretch, we learn more about the cover girl, Hotaru, whose story can be considered the “main event.” She’s Kokoro’s best friend and acts like an idiot most of the time. However, whenever necessary, she has surprising insights, and the weirdest part is that Kotodama doesn’t work on her.
What’s most interesting about the game is how it conveys a story about human nature, the bonds between those characters, and the weight of this power, words, and promises. During the lighthearted moments or the more serious ones, Amatsutsumi manages to provide an intriguing outlook on its themes. Sometimes it can be a little too convenient, and some parts of the individual arcs feel a little too similar, but it all ties nicely in the end.
When it comes to visuals, besides the cute and expressive characters, the backgrounds are vibrant and detailed. There are even animations with running water in the background, a minor detail but “water” is a recurring symbol in the game.
Amatsutsumi is an excellent example of thematic strength in visual novels and a game I’d highly recommend to fans of the genre. While there are weaker story beats at times that may hinder the journey a little, it’s worth playing it and seeing how it all plays out.
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