8 reasons to get excited for Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei is set to release in Europe on July 1, 2022, a few days after America receives it on June 28, 2022. It’s the second biggest localised otome release of this year after Variable Barricade – at least physically, since the hotly anticipated even if TEMPEST is coming out exclusively on the Nintendo eShop this week!

So without further ado, here’s a handy rundown of why you should be excited for Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei as the next high-profile otome localisation!

Similarities to Nightshade and Hakuoki

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Many of the names involved in Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei were also involved in the development of Nightshade. Most notable is director Ai Ito, who is very well regarded for having directed not just these two titles, but also Kenka Bancho Otome and Juuzaengi ~Engetsu Sangokuden~, both being highly rated otome titles that, to date, remain exclusive to Japan.

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei has also been said to be similar in structure to Nightshade and plays out like a spiritual successor to it. And if that’s not enough, the game shares many similarities to one of the most popular and famous otome of them all: Hakuoki. Both are set in old Japan and feature real, historical wars and figures, a heroine who hides their true identity by disguising themselves as a boy — specifically a genderbent Yoshitsune Minamoto — plus a villainous love interest who chases her down at every turn, and feature supernatural twists in their traditional settings.

As far as my own early impressions go, Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei feels like a more progressive and modern Hakuoki. It stars a strong-willed, warrior fighter maiden who, unlike Chizuru, repeatedly cuts down her enemies — and is perfectly capable of standing her ground against her male co-stars and love interests.

The love interests and voice actor line-up

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Let’s face it, this is the main reason most people pick the otomes they want to play. The run-down for the love interests are as follows:

Childhood friend Shungen is voiced by Soma Saito, who was previously seen as Mineo Enomoto from Collar x Malice and Levi from Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk. Shungen’s temperament as a character is nowhere near as genki-esque as Saito’s previous two roles, providing a nice change of pace for western players.

Jun Fukuyama voices bad boy Tomomori no Taira. He’s previously been credited as Aido Hanabusa from Vampire Knight, Kairi from Re:Birthday Song and Mozu Nile Shepherd from BUSTAFELLOWS, and once again he’s going against the usual roles we’ve seen him play in previously localised titles.

Noritsune no Taira is Tomomori’s cousin and the heroine’s rival-turned-lover. He’s voiced by Kengo Kawanishi, previously mostly seen in anime here in the west — you might recognise him as Tokito Muichiro from Demon Slayer, Rei Kiriyama from March Comes In Like a Lion and Shigeru Yahaba from Haikyuu!!

The more mature and “older” love interest – he’s only 30 but that stills counts (hey! — 41-year old Ed.) – is Benkei Musashibou, voiced by Yuuichiro Umehara. He’s previously played Canus Espada in Café Enchanté, Demento in Period Cube: Shackles of Amadeus and Sage in NEKOPARA: Catboys Paradise), and he’s certainly shown he can excel in the role of a big-hearted hunk such as Canus and Sage. Demento was a completely different experience, mind!

Finally, there’s the stoic and mysterious Yoritomo no Minamoto, who is voiced by Makoto Furukawa. He’s previously played Lugus in Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk, Adage in Steam Prison, Allan Melville in Cupid Parasite and Crius Castlerock from even if TEMPEST. I probably don’t need to comment on him being probably the most eyed-up voice actor in the listing – “Our honey” lives rent free in my head for all eternity, after all.

While many of these characters are based around common archetypes, it should not be underestimated how much each gives to the plot. The rivalry between Noritsune and the heroine is particularly worthy of note as an uncommon and refreshing dynamic. Better yet, each love interest gets fleshed out more than simply being a one-note typical example of an archetype. Their backstories explain why they behave the way they do, breaking conventions that they might initially appear to embody and instead appearing far more human and nuanced.

Another shelf-pleasing limited edition from Idea Factory

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Idea Factory International do great and affordable limited editions for all their players, including otome fans, and this pattern thankfully continues with Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei. A very welcome sight after their stunning release of Cupid Parasite, for sure.

The package includes a physical copy of Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei with a reversible cover sleeve, a steel game case, the official hardcover art book (including five short stories with the love interests), the audio drama set, soundtrack CD “Ballad of the Rising Flower”, a five-piece double-sided bromide set, plus a collector’s box to keep it all in, and the trading cards that Idea Factory International have been throwing in with their releases for a while now..

Pre-orders have opened up for the product on Idea Factory’s store pages.

Samurai sword action

It’s worth noting as a point by itself that Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei puts a ton of effort into its sprite work, particularly ensuring that the swordfights and warfare action that goes on throughout the narrative is well depicted in the visual novel format — which can sometimes be quite limiting when it comes to action sequences.

Sprites are continually changing in pose and position, and there are plenty of additional animations to show swords clashing, strikes landing and the tides turning between fighters. It really helps sell us on the nail-biting, high-tension situations throughout the story.

Affection level is not the only meter you need to be watching

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Rather refreshingly, along with the standard affection meters to keep a track of, the heroine possesses three character attributes, each with their own separate levels that can alter the story’s progression and end result. The attributes of Strength, Knowledge, and Kindness must be balanced out to get through the common route unharmed — while simultaneously maintaining enough affection points towards the love interest whose route you’re aiming for, of course.

These three attribute charts are just as important as the affection meters throughout the story, since reaching the game’s best endings requires the delicate balancing of all of your attributes whilst continuing to appeal enough to your chosen love interest.

Getting your money’s worth

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei appears to have a pretty lengthy playtime. On vndb, a player recorded around 70 hours reading at normal speed to fully complete it. Each route offers four endings: one tragic, two bad and one good. The common route is short at three chapters long, while the character routes are far longer, reaching nine chapters each, which is often a selling point for potential buyers in itself.

Then there’s the replay value inherent in unlocking additional CGs and endings, as well as “what if” scenario endings for various supporting characters, but more on that shortly. It’s safe to say that Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei will keep you well and truly entertained before more heavy-hitting otome releases arrive later this year!

Highly rated

The game sits comfortably on a current average score of 8.40/10 on vndb as of now, making it the sixth highest rated otome when compared to the other exclusive Japanese titles’ totals. Then there’s Famitsu’s score of it at a total of 33/40 (8/8/8/9) — very respectable.

We’re feeling confident that this will be yet another otome that will leave a big impression. It’s already had good scores, after all, and existing fans of the Japanese release are already gushing over it. This also happened with Cupid Parasite, and that turned out pretty well when it finally came west!

Side characters get their own “what if” scenarios

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

Quite possibly the most exciting and unusual element of the game is right here, where the troublesome side character syndrome gets addressed for once! What a blessing this’ll be!

The “If Endings” of Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei present new endings involving side characters in romantic scenarios that become available after clearing the good endings of the main love interests’ routes. These take certain chapters and events in an alternative direction based on what might happen if the heroine were to put more (or all) of her attention towards a certain side character.

While these are short and fleeting segments, the joy one will feel in seeing their favourite side character getting their own time in spotlight is sure to be a truly satisfying experience — and quite unlike anything we’ve previously seen in localised otomes.

So there you have it. Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei should be well and truly on your radar at this point — if it wasn’t already! — so be sure to check it out either digitally or physically on Nintendo Switch when it releases very soon!

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Lilia Hellal
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