Let me preface this review with a brief look in the mirror. As you may know, I’m a busy bee managing projects here at Fuwanovel, Visual-Novel.info and elsewhere. Consequently, I’ve had a difficult time picking up a visual novel that interests me and reading it through to the end.
But yesterday, on July 13th, I finally managed to binge-read a medium-length game from start to finish: the fifth installment in the Biman series, Bishoujo Mangekyou -Tsumi to Batsu no Shoujo-.
Bishoujo Mangekyou -Tsumi to Batsu no Shoujo- (or Biman 4 for short) is actually the fifth title from ωstar, formerly known as CROSSNET. When they rebranded, they debuted with the Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo games and then rolled out their popular Bishoujo Mangekyou series from 2011 onwards. As it stands, there are currently six titles, with Bishoujo Mangekyou -Kotowari to Meikyuu no Shoujo- closing out the series. However, next month, a new Bishoujo Mangekyou “saga” will launch with the release of Bishoujo Mangekyou Ibun – Yuki Onna.
The entire series is written by the same team, with Kichijouji Dolores as the scenario writer, Rokudou Rinne as the director (curiously, there’s no confirmation of Rokudou’s return for the newest game yet), and Happoubi Jin as the artist, providing the lovely artwork. His previous works include Boin and Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo ~Sanshimai to no Dokidoki Kyoudou Seikatsu~, two popular entry-level hentai OVA (1 & 2) based on eroge.
Bishoujo Mangekyou 4 was first released in Japan on July 28th, 2017; as of present, an official localization for the Biman titles hasn’t been considered yet. However, the fan translation group Euphemic Translations released a full English translation for Bishoujo Mangekyou -Norowareshi Densetsu no Shoujo– in 2018. Interestingly, this translation came from a Finnish one.
Earlier this year, a fan translation of Bishoujo Mangekyou -Katsute Shoujo Datte Kimi e- became available. It was a collaborative project between Euphemic and Daybreak Translations (known for their Akatsuki no Goei projects).
We also know about a stalled effort by Eschasintra to translate Bishoujo Mangekyou -Wasurenagusa to Eien no Shoujo- that never saw the light of day. Fanmade translations for the other two titles haven’t been considered yet.
Although there is no enforced order to experience the series, there is a frame story that continues until Biman 5. At that point, the frame story takes center stage.
The game I’m going to review today, Biman 4, has an ongoing fan translation project with 2/56 (approximately 4%) scripts completed. It’s not coming any time soon, so I’ve been reading the Japanese original. Without further ado, let’s open this bird cage!
If you’ve never played a Biman game before, there are a few things you should know in order to understand its narrative structure. The protagonist, Fukami Natsuhiko, is an author of occult novels whose star is rising. On his search for inspiration, he ends up in a ryokan—a Japanese-style inn—and meets two beautiful ladies. One is the hostess, Inamori Haru. The other is the mysterious, doll-like Renge.
Renge possesses a magical kaleidoscope that transports the reader into each narrative in the series. After experiencing intense stories thanks to the Kaleidoscope, Fukami returns to the ryokan again and again. Renge teases him about this, but continues to show him more stories.
The original description is as follows:
Kannagi Yuuma was admitted to a hospital after a certain incident that caused him to be absent from school. Now, he’s living together with his twin sister Kannagi Yuuri under one roof. But he harbors a sinister secret that he can’t possibly reveal, not even to her.
The truth is, he’s undyingly in love with her. Once this secret comes to light, this love may turn into madness and descend its claws upon him…DLSite (translation)
Biman 4 has several choices to make within the story, but its narrative structure is simple. There is a total of three endings: two are bad ends, and one is the true end that resolves a large chunk of the plot. The conclusion is satisfying, but deeply worrisome for Yuuma and Yuuri. The start and the end of the game are fixed, with no deviations in the text.
All the games in the Biman series use the QLIE engine (Dev) and feature both static and animated backgrounds/H-scene content. The game defaults to a fixed window size, but the window can easily be resized with irregular aspect ratios.
In total, there are twenty-five different H-scenes to collect. Some are animated, while others are static.
The UI is simply designed. The text appears at the bottom center of the screen. Instead of being displayed in the corner, characters’ upper body sprites appear in the middle as part of a given scene. I really like how the game allows the player to open the backlog by scrolling up with the mouse.
Because all of the Biman games were produced by the same team, we can enjoy Happoubi Jin’s beautiful artwork. In this game, there are many bright colors used; the central characters are both blonde and clad in white. Most H-scenes are set in a bright environment. For example, the sun illuminates the scene, or halogen lamps appear in the bathrooms. This design choice fits the game’s sexual nature.
Jin also uses color to indicate who the protagonists are. Both Yuuri and Yuuma have distinct green eyes, making them stand out from the rest of the characters.
The quality of the background artwork is consistently good throughout the game, but the landscapes are especially beautiful. Take a look for yourself!
There are twenty-seven music tracks within the game. The OST explores a variety of genres and styles, but there’s only one vocal track. It’s not even an intro song/PV, which is a bit disappointing. The ending song is one used in the earlier Biman titles.
If you enjoy piano arrangements, you’ll be very satisfied with the OST. Some standout tracks are Tanoshii Wagaie (楽しい我が家) and Bokura no Hibi ni Kanpai (僕等の日々に乾杯). For fans of more sinister music, there’s the Halloweenesque Kokoro ni Hisomu Mono (心に潜むもの) and Kyouko’s character theme, Kokkei na Doukashi (滑稽な同化師).
The subtitle for Biman 4 is Tsumi to Batsu no Shoujo — a clear reference to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read the classic novel yet, so I’m sure most of the references to it flew over my head. I managed to find Japanese translations of quoted passages, but for the most part, I only understood the connection made between the novel and the game as it relates to narrative structure. This doesn’t really matter, though, because the title is also a reference to the game’s sexual themes.
One recurring motif in the game is the image of a bird/lilies inside of a cage. Because of their abusive upbringing, Yuuri and Yuuma are caged birds themselves. They’re also caught up in an intense, incestuous love for each other. Finally, Yuuma is trapped inside himself, for his love for his twin sister is so strong that he feels he must dress as Yuuri in order to keep her as close to him as possible.
Yuuma’s fascination with crossdressing also sets a trap for him at school. If his true identity is exposed, he will face serious consequences.
From the start, I understood that Yuuma cannot be trusted because of his obsession with Yuuri, so I waited for him to have a psychological break.
While the poems and literary references—which use an older form of Japanese—may be difficult for most readers to understand, I had fun looking them up. The quotes and poems appear frequently within the text, usually as transitions between scenes or during running dialogue. Here’s a Japanese version of Crime and Punishment for reference.
Compared to other nukige, the Biman series tries to be more intellectual, so readers are presented with poetry, many literary and semi-fictional name drops, and quotes from famous works of literature.
Like the other Biman titles, this game uses a moderate amount of ornate prose to create evocative scenes. In a departure from previous games in the series, there aren’t many allusions to Japanese culture, like flower language or folklore – with the exception of a brief explanation about the Kojiki (Japanese Ancient Records).
Some parts of Biman 4 are quite untranslatable. For example, there’s a discussion about how Yuuma uses the pronoun boku (僕) which makes Kyouko refer to “her” as a Bokukko.
The H-scenes use all the Japanese dirty talk you can think of, which I enjoyed.
The fact that Yuuma and Yuuri are romantically involved while being biological twins is the biggest elephant in the room. It’s also why some people may choose to pick up this title. Yuuma’s obsession with his sister even extends to his own image, so I’m left wondering if an indirect mention of selfcest is appropriate here (shoutout to Sydsnap).
Anyway, the origins of the incestuous relationship are sufficiently explained.
The title Tsumi to Batsu no Shoujo‘s double meaning is explicitly explored in-game. In the first scene, Yuuma masturbates to his own mirror image using the panties stolen from his sister’s drawer. The story emphasizes that Yuuma’s every action is shameful and profoundly disturbing.
Throughout most of the game, Yuuma is a submissive person. Therefore, most of the H-content depicts him being coaxed into sexual situations by women. Yuuri is a particularly devilish sexual partner, so she constantly encourages and teases him.
There are also several intimate scenes set in brightly lit public spaces, adding something for fans of voyeurism. In contrast, the truly romantic H-scenes, or scenes featuring full consent from both parties, occur in secluded, dark places or bedrooms.
In addition, no one suffers lasting physical injury, so it’s probably appropriate to call certain H-scenes light BDSM.
Contrary to what is depicted in most power fantasy fiction, the women in Biman 4 are sexually dominant and experienced. Fetishes like pegging (F x F, M x F) and orgasm denial are included in some H-scenes. Most of the time, Biman 4‘s women are tops, using their hands, feet, and breasts to give and receive pleasure.
To a person unaware that Yuuma crossdresses, Biman 4 might appear to be a yuri game. The game even satirizes itself when Gotenba, the lewd yuri freak, suggests that intimate relationships between women are commonplace at the school. But once Yuuma’s cover is blown, the supposed lesbians are very easily convinced to hop on that phallus just because Yuuma’s cute.
In a later scene, Gotenba also indicates that crossdressing boys are better than the women she worships. Unfortunately, this revelation kind of ruined her character for me.
In order to fully understand the parallels drawn between this game and Crime and Punishment, I’ll have to read Dostoyevsky. I imagine that once I do, I’ll have a eureka moment. However, I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to do so in order to enjoy this game. The Biman titles are still nukige at the end of the day. It’s possible that a reader could interpret the story in a way that adds more depth, but it’s primarily intended to be porn containing a justification for twincest. If this is up your alley, go for it!
I’ll probably review the rest of the Biman series… eventually.