What is an “ideal society”? In a world where crimes are punished through fitting “obligations” which must be followed, this is the question that everyone asks. If an obligation is broken, the criminal is sent to a concentration camp where they often die before even finishing their term. There is no capital punishment, only the Maximum Penalty, where the worst criminals are forced to live as if they have never even existed.
This is a society where crimes are shared through association, where even the families of criminals are pained with obligations. In a society such as this, can justice be achieved? Can the people overcome the burden of “society” that has been forced on them?
Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo (Wheel Country, Sunflower Girl) is a visual novel by AkabeiSoft2, the same company which produced G-Senjou no Maou and A Profile. It follows the story of Kenichi Morita, a young man who has set out to become a Special High Class Individual, a person who holds absolute authority over those burdened with obligations. To reach this goal, he returns to his hometown in order to reform three girls who have been burdened with obligations, two of them have been his childhood friends. Can he succeed, or will his ambitions prove too far to be reached?
AkabeiSoft2 delivers another masterpiece of a story. While Sharin no Kuni shares similar themes of family and society with G-Senjou no Maou, they are fundamentally different in execution — Sharin no Kuni is an alternate society, a “utopia” if you will, which focuses on the setting and how it affects the characters, as opposed to G-Senjou no Maou’s action and plot-centric story.
The direction of Sharin no Kuni’s main story is excellent. While it is not an action novel, Sharin no Kuni’s main appeal is how each character deals with their respective conflicts. It is the main character’s job to rehabilitate each of the girls burdened with an obligation, and the conflicts which come with resolving each obligation are more complicated than it initially seems. As the novel unfolds, each character reveals a twist in their personality or their obligations. And the main twist has a fantastic execution and a great use of the visual novel as a medium.
While Sharin no Kuni lacks the charismatic main heroine of G-Senjou no Maou, the protagonist makes up for this. Kenichi Morita has the same kind of charisma and possesses the “somewhat manipulative, but still kind-hearted” kind of vibe which he pulls off very well. The main antagonist, Masaomi Houzuki, is voiced by Norio Wakamoto, and while he is not the same “large-and-in-charge” and hammy character that he usually voices, he is a fierce and truly magnificent villain who seemingly pulls every string in the story and is generally always one step ahead of everyone.
Since there is a lack of an imposingly clear main heroine (although canonically, it’s Natsumi), it is probably the player’s preference as to who is the best heroine. As for myself, my personal favorite is Sachi Mitsuhiro, since I can relate to her obligation the most, and I happen to like her personality. The route branching system doesn’t change much except for the ending CG that you get, and if you care for the sex scenes with the heroines.
I don’t have much of an issue with the graphics, as they are rather well-done, but special mention goes to the sunflower field, which is a great example of “scenery porn”. It’s to be expected though, since the sunflower is the big motif throughout the entire game.
Compared to the soundtrack of other famous visual novels like Umineko and Fate/stay night, there aren’t many tracks which stand out in SnK’s soundtrack. It’s not exactly much of an issue, but the soundtrack is simply average and could have been better. But then again, it could’ve been worse.
Overall, Sharin no Kuni, while it requires copious amounts of suspension of disbelief, is a good read. It poses some interesting questions about society, crime and punishment, while having some great twists here and there. It is most definitely not a waste of your time.
Sharin no Kuni has a fandisc, Sharin no Kuni, Yuukyuu no Shounenshoujo (Wheel Country, Children of Eternity), which is notable for expanding on Houzuki’s backstory and motivations. If you liked the main story, the fandisc is very much worth a read.
Overall Grade: 9/10
Possible turn-offs: Vastly different society with different definitions of “crime” and “punishment”, sexual content