Hashihime of the Old Book Town Append Review – Down the Rabbit Hole

    Title: Hashihime of the Old Book Town Append
    Developer: HuneX, ADELTA
    Release Date: December 16, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: HuneX
    Genre: Visual Novel

Hashihime of the Old Book Town Append is a Switch version of the cult BL game originally translated by MangaGamer. Though its developer, ADELTA, is small, this is a notorious title in the fandom that gained some traction with its surprising English release.

Hashihime tells the story of a young man known as Tamamori. Along with his childhood friends Minakami and Kawase, he moves to Tokyo to join its prestigious university. However, he failed and became a “roninsei,” a repeat student who needs to give the exams another try.

Instead of giving it his all, Tamamori is a slacker, and when he’s not just having fun, he spends his time writing book manuscripts. He dreams of becoming a writer and has a very imaginative, fertile mind. So much so it’s difficult for him to figure out what’s real and what’s a delusion.

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Working at an old book store only during rainy days, Tamamori has a simple life. His routine includes meeting his friends, giving them new stories to read, and going to the public bath. One day this structure is turned upside down by a mysterious death.

While trying to figure out what’s happening, Tamamori ends up on a desperate journey with time-traveling shenanigans. This mystery plot is quite intriguing, with great twists and a fascinating cast. However, keep in mind that the story follows a linear structure.

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As expected of a BL game, Tamamori has the chance to get more intimate with a bunch of men, including his childhood friends. In addition, the order of the routes is fixed, adding a single choice to the story every time the player concludes a route. That means it starts as a kinetic novel, and every new option will lead to an alternate string of events.

The first story offers a fascinating explanation of the events. It ties into local legends and Taisho era Japan’s social and political context. There are also literary discussions of the publications of that period and some weird, psychedelic situations. The following routes reveal other aspects closely related to Tamamori’s boyfriends’ backstories.

Some of these aren’t as developed as the others, making the complete experience a little mixed compared to its proposal. A few characters needed to be further fleshed out, with Hanazawa’s route suffering the most out of them. The Switch version also has a double-edged situation to the story, as it can’t feature the sex scenes but has extra short stories that help expand the endings to each route.

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There are a few typos here and there, and at one moment, I found a dialogue box in which text overlapped and another that seemed to be lacking the text entirely. However, the text translation in Hashihime of the Old Book Town Append is solid, so these complaints aren’t enough to impact the overall experience.

Besides the story, the visual and sound directions are particularly striking in this game. Despite some of the main characters looking a little too similar at first, it’s mostly a matter of getting used to it. There are multiple CGs, which are very colorful and expressive. Further, the epilogue stories also feature special scenes with new visuals that I’m sure fans will enjoy. To top it off, the soundtrack is jazzy and evokes a period atmosphere that makes the story feel lively and inviting.

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Hashihime of the Old Book Town Append is a game that deserves its cult following, offering an intriguing mystery story with multiple layers of interpretation. Though not all routes are as well developed, this is a visual novel that all BL fans should give a try. Now that it’s available on the Switch, there’s more reason to head down the rabbit hole of this mysterious adventure.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.