Hashihime of the old book town is a Switch version of the cult BL game initially translated by MangaGamer. Although its developer, ADELTA, is small, it is a notorious title in the fandom that has gained ground with its surprising release in English.
Hashihime tells the story of a young man known as Tamamori. With his childhood friends Minakami and Kawase, he moved to Tokyo to join his prestigious university. However, he failed and became a “roninsei”, a student who repeats exams.
Instead of giving everything, 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 and fertile mind. So much so that it is difficult for him to understand what is real and what is an illusion.
Working in an old bookstore only on rainy days, Tamamori has a simple life. Her routine involves meeting her friends, giving them new stories to read, and going to the bathhouse. One day, this structure is shattered by a mysterious death.
Trying to figure out what’s going on, Tamamori finds himself on a desperate journey with time-traveling shenanigans. This mysterious plot is quite intriguing, with some great twists and a compelling cast. However, keep in mind that the story follows a linear structure.
As expected from a BL game, Tamamori gets the chance to become more intimate with a group of men, including her childhood friends. Additionally, the order of the routes is fixed, adding only one choice to the story each time the player completes a route. That means it starts out as a kinetic novel, and each new option will lead to a series of alternate events.
The first story offers a fascinating explanation of the events. It is linked to local legends and the social and political context of Japan during the Taisho era. There are also literary discussions of the posts from this period and some weird psychedelic situations. The following routes reveal other aspects closely related to the stories of Tamamori’s boyfriends.
Some of them are not as developed as the others, which makes the whole experience a bit mixed compared to its proposition. Some characters needed to be fleshed out further, the Hanazawa road suffering the most. The Switch version also has a double-edged sword situation in the story, as it cannot feature the sex scenes but does have additional short stories that help expand the endings of each route.
There are a few typos here and there, and at one point I found a dialog that overlapped with text and one that appeared to be completely devoid of text. However, the translation of the text in Hashihime of the old book town is solid, so these complaints aren’t enough to impact the overall experience.
Besides the story, the visual and sound directions are especially striking in this game. While some of the main characters seemed a bit too similar at first, it mostly comes down to getting used to. There are several CGs, which are very colorful and expressive. Additionally, 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 vibe that makes the story come alive and inviting.
Hashihime of the old book town is a game that deserves its cult, offering an intriguing mysterious story with several layers of interpretation. While not all routes are developed so well, this is a visual novel that all BL fans should try out. Now that it’s available on Switch, there is no longer a reason to head to the rabbit hole in this mysterious adventure.