Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (あかやあかしやあやかしの)
A preview of HaccaWorks* supernatural visual adventure
Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (also known as AkaAka) is a visual novel and the second game produced by HaccaWorks*. AkaAka has a unspecified release date and two demos (in Japanese of course) available for download on their website (free and legal!). There is very little information about AkaAka in English and this preview will fill some of that gap. The following information was collected and distilled from the two demos by myself, so there’s some room for interpretation, but it’s a good look at what we know so far. Hopefully this preview will introduce AkaAka to even more people, encourage or help those thinking about playing it, and most of all, find someone else to wildly fangirl with me about it when it’s released!
This monster post is broken up into three sections: general impressions, character information, and general information. I capped all the screens myself and they can be viewed at their original size when clicked.
AkaAka is the long-awaited second game from the same group who produced Hanakisou, which sets a high bar–beautiful art, some of the best music found in visual novels, and a storyline not shy about veering into darker territory. For not being a professional studio, they sure delivered. First impressions suggest AkaAka will be more than capable of living up to these standards and could easily surpass them.
HaccaWorks* illustrator Yumekagami Misaki returns and seems to have leveled up her artistic skills. Not that they weren’t gorgeous before, but they seem more refined. One immediately striking thing about the visuals is the color pallete, which is very bold and vivid. The character designs are certainly appealing to the shoujo/otome crowd, with tall, slender bodies and long, thin limbs. Even in these short demos, you get a good feel for personalities through the varied reactionary faces and poses. There’s also a lot of texture in the character models. I often don’t like a “filtered” look in CGs, but it’s done very well here and everything meshes. The backgrounds seem varied and rich with detail. Even the menus and icons are cute and everything fits cohesively into the overall Japanese supernatural motif of the game. I love it–it’s one of the best-looking, stylistic visual novels I’ve seen to date.
The music might be a worrying factor since Shikata Akiko is performing only the theme song and not the whole score this time around. However, after hearing a few tracks, I think we’ll get another excellent soundtrack. The tracks so far complement the Japanese folklore feel of the game very well. There are no voices in this release, but perhaps like Hanakisou, AkaAka will get a formal console release and full-voice treatment. Here’s to hoping!
The story of AkaAka begins with a dream filled with red camellia and the passing of a strange mask. The owner of this mask is a young boy named Yue who lives at a temple populated with rather unusual residents. The nearby town Utsuwa (空環) is holding a winter festival. Kurogitsune, his fox spirit friend, decides it’s the perfect opportunity for the sheltered Yue to experience the sights, sounds, and most of all–the food! Even though Yue is forbidden to ever leave the temple, they sneak into town, not realizing what they’ve set into motion…
The main theme of AkaAka seemingly revolves around the term “shokuji” (『食事』), or “meal.” For a spirit, there is a perfect “meal” among humans and it is instantly recognizable because otherwise, most humans appear as faceless shadows. In order for a spirit to mature and become more powerful, they must “eat” that person. There’s a sinister undertone to this practice, as it’s likely the source of rumors of disappearances and even serial killings. Thus “prey” might be a better term. The main game will likely focus on Yue finding his own “prey,” although he is seemingly unaware of the practice or repercussions for that person.
If you’re interested in trying out AkaAka, the HaccaWorks* website has two free demos available. I suggest starting from the second demo because it seemingly covers the beginning of the game. It follows around the main character Yue, introducing and outlining relationships between characters. The first demo follows around three goldfish spirits and is mostly an exploration of the “mechanics” and lore of AkaAka’s world with some brief character appearances. Don’t forget to play the omake in this demo, which completely breaks the fourth wall and allows the characters to introduce themselves. Despite being a main character, Sagano is left out for the most part in the demos, but he’s often shown opposite of Yue in key images, thus will play a large, possibly antagonistic role. For more specific information and many pretty screenshots, see the character guide below!
The protagonist is a carefree young man, living life at his own pace. Having never left the temple he was born and raised in, Yue’s norm is filled with the supernatural, such as shape-shifting fox spirits and talking, flying fish. He is often tired and notorious for sleeping while standing and even passing out in random places. However, he’s troubled by dreams filled with red camellia. Yue always carries a fox mask which was supposedly given to him by Kurogitsune.
Kurogitsune (literally “black fox”) is a feisty and excitable fox spirit usually found in the company of Yue. He can take either a fox or human form, although he retains his ears and tail. As a resident of the temple, Kurogitsune’s role is to protect Yue. He clearly knows something about Yue’s past, but casually deflects any questions. Unlike Yue, Kurogitsune occasionally descends from the mountain into town alone. However, he is not fond of humans, only their food.
Akiyoshi is a high school boy who is sensitive to the supernatural. Thus, he fancies himself as a protector of the town. In reality, Akiyoshi is an awkward boy who wears a mask to curb his allergies. Believing he senses a fox spirit inside of Yue, Akiyoshi is wary, yet still drawn to him. To Yue, Akiyoshi appears as a distinguishable human being, meaning they share a special fate…
Tougo Tsubaki (灯吾椿)
Tsubaki is a high school boy who hates the red flowers he was named after. He lives with his younger sister Hina in a house surrounded by camellia. At the winter festival, Tsubaki stood out from all the faceless people and caught Yue’s interest. Both Tsubaki and Kurogitsune seemed nervous about this encounter, but Tsubaki quickly recollected himself. Aloof to a fault, Tsubaki keeps everyone at a comfortable distance. Sagano offhandedly commented that Tsubaki is a liar, even to himself.
A mysterious man with elaborate facial markings who casually dons what appears to be a bloody fox tail muffler. Sagano seemingly knows a good deal about both Yue’s identity and the source of Yue’s troubled dreams, but he discloses no information. Sagano is often seen with a cold smirk on his face. Kurogitsune notes that the only time Sagano doesn’t appear dangerous or threatening is when he’s eating.
The keeper of the temple is a well-mannered man who likes cleanliness. Satou raised Yue like a parent and keeps watch over many of the local spirits. He is a stern man and the others, particularly Kurogitsune, are scared of crossing him. He reportedly loves sweet things.
Mikoto (ミコト) / Miko-sama (ミコ様)
The god of the temple. Although she looks like a young girl, Mikoto is an old, powerful spirit. She has 8 tails visible, one short of being a nine-tailed fox spirit. Mikoto’s orders are absolute to the temple residents. However, she dotes on Yue. When she learned Yue found people of interest after he snuck to town, Mikoto retracted her ban. Her new orders are for Yue to become close to those people, ominously stating they are a necessity to Yue.
Suisen (水仙), Gyokuro (玉露), Kiimun (祁門) / Kingyo (キンギョ)
These three goldfish spirits are usually found flying about Satou. Their individual names are Suisen (red fish), Gyokuro (black fish), and Kiimun (yellow fish). As spirits, they seem young and immature, but they are capable of taking the form of children. They are curious and flighty in nature, but also blunt and even cruel.
A calm and serious mouse spirit that takes care of many household matters around the temple. Although normally cool and polite, Ranchuu will take a (usually deserved) harsh tone with Kurogitsune.
Abesan-tachi is a friendly spirit(s?) that helps out at the temple, selling fortunes and charms. Even though he has two sets of independently moving arms, Abesan-tachi claims to be only one being.
Suzuki Sora (鈴来宙)
Sora is a friendly, regular high school boy and Tsubaki’s classmate. Sora’s biggest worry is deciding on a future career; he’s torn between working as a police officer like his parents and his personal interest in studying folklore. What’s even more worrisome is the fact that the goldfish spirits see Sora as a unique human and they want their “prey…”
Saku (朔), Nagi (薙)
While they appear to be cute, young girls, these two are strong spirits who will forcibly drive anyone out of their territory. The black-haired girl, Nagi, is calm and quiet, while Saku is more mischievous and teasing. Although they don’t care for the temple residents and act independently, they are both fond of Yue.
Tougo Hina (灯吾灯奈)
Tsubaki’s little sister. Hina looks like an ordinary young girl, but she’s attuned to the supernatural and sensed the true identity of the goldfish spirits while in their human forms and vaguely warned Sora of the danger. Inexplicably, Hina also lied to keep Sora from meeting her brother.
Seen giving his mask to Yue in his dreams.
This odd cat hangs around the electronics and antique shop district. The presence of two tails suggests it is a nekomata spirit. It showed a passing interest in Yue and the goldfish spirits are very scared of it.
Akujiki are spirits who ate someone that wasn’t their own “prey.” As a result, they become uncommunicative and hostile towards other beings.
Normal humans generally appear as indistinguishable, unappetizing shadows to spirits.
Summary of General Information:
- Title: Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (あかやあかしやあやかしの)
- also known as AkaAka (あかあか)
- Official site: http://haccaworks.net/aaa/akaaka.html
- Circle: HaccaWorks*
- Platform: PC (XP, Vista, 7)
- Release Date: May 2011
- Character Designs: Yumekagami Misaki (夢各神ミサキ)
- Theme Song Title: Akakakushi (朱隠し)
- Theme Song Performance: Shikata Akiko (志方あきこ) (Ar Tonelico, Hanakisou, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Shadow Hearts, etc)
- Ending Song Performance: coo:ya (空夜coo:ya)
- Not voiced
- Demos work readily with AGTH/Translation Aggregator
If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. I hope others will take the opportunity to dive into AkaAka’s world!