What a fantastic route this was, probably my favourite yet. It has some slight issues, but overall I thought it was an amazing experience. It’s a bit funny, in the common route Lucia was my least preferred character; she just seemed so bland. But after reading her route, I’ve been well and truly converted to Lucia-ism. Another A-grade performance by seiyuu Risa Asaki, who did a fantastic job portraying all of the different and varied emotions of this character. A great character, and an amazing route; probably one of the best Key routes I’ve read. And what do you know, this happens to be the one Ryukishi – maker of the When They Cry series – wrote. Admittedly I’m a huge fan of his work, but I’ll try not to gush too hard in this post, ahaha. He did a great job working with Key to deliver a great route – the quality of his writing shines here. And man, there’s a lot to talk about with this route.
The common route branch begins with Kotarou finding out about Lucia’s past – that she once had an incident which caused her to believe that her hands were toxic and caused things to die just by touching them. Chihaya and Lucia keep getting into fights over Lucia’s apparent obsession with cleanliness, and Kotarou keeps trying to help them make up, but the efforts continue to damage their relationship despite their mutual desire to make up. One of the characters (can’t remember who, maybe Kotori?) likened the situation to the hedgehog’s dilemma. Kotarou keeps making new attempts to bring them back together, but the results are often less than favourable.
Lucia’s route itself begins with an investigation into a new mystery for the occult club. Kotarou takes it up on his own, to investigate the curse of a girl named Haruka Asahi. The rumour is that Haruka drained the life away from anybody around her, and strange occurrences like windows cracking happened in her presence. If anyone tries to investigate the curse, they’ll incur her wrath. Noting this as suspicious, Kotarou begins to investigate the curse, starting with Yoshino who reveals there is truth to the rumours. But as he continues the investigation, various strange, supernatural things start happening around him as if to warn him. It begun with a sheet of paper being printed out with the words “Don’t wake me. Or else you’ll” written in a girl’s handwriting ending up in Kotarou’s hands. Shortly after, he notices a crack in the window and begins to grow concerned. It’s at this point that Lucia offers Kotarou her help to solve the mystery, as she feels empathy for this Haruka character, believing that she was just a victim of misfortune like she was, and had to deal with the label of being cursed all her life. Together they begin solving mysteries one by one, starting with the printer and later by calling the classmates of the boy who died. During this time however, Lucia encounters the girl by herself in the city, and grows very frightened. I feel Ryukishi’s presence in this story; an examination of supernatural and the horror aspect of the mystery that surrounds it. Is the curse real, or is it just an illusion? As with Ryukishi’s other works, nothing is ever as it appears. But damn, the horror is pretty heavy from this point on. All of the people Kotarou calls are freaking out about him awakening Haruka from her sleep, and Lucia starts pleading with him to stop. After Kotarou persists that he has to continue, Lucia is shown having an encounter with Haruka, in which she inherits Haruka’s curse and her hands become as filthy as her nightmares.
At this point I felt like this would’ve been a great first route to play. Lucia’s route is the only route that begins before the incident in the forest, before any supernatural stuff starts happening. With Ryukishi’s writing, we are gradually eased deeper and deeper into the world of the supernatural, trying to determine the truths behind it all. This route starts out as a horror mystery before delving deeper into the other side. It’s a great transition, less abrupt than the leaf monster battle, but still very impacting. Kotarou tracks down the last person to investigate Haruka’s curse, and learns of how it almost got him killed. As they continue talking, all the light bulbs in the restaurant start breaking, and everyone starts getting really panicked. Done investigating, he leaves the restaurant and soon encounters Haruka – possessing his friend Lucia’s body – outside the restaurant in the rain. As they talk, the streetlights around them start shattering one by one as Haruka insists that she doesn’t need anyone trying to help her, and that she really is cursed. Kotarou insists that, much like Lucia, a bunch of coincidences of things dying around her caused her to earn the title of ‘cursed’, regardless of the truth. Kotarou couldn’t stand for the injustice of being bullied like that, and continued to oppose the belief that she was cursed. Despite how many of these occurrences happen around him, he continues to dismiss them as coincidences, so he can fight to destroy the rumours and let her be at peace.
In retrospect, this whole ordeal is kind of tragic. Kotarou is fighting to deny the rumours of the curse, but in the end his attempts are all in vain. That night Lucia reveals how Haruka’s curse has been passed onto her, and she breaks down into a fit of crying, how she’ll never be close to anyone again. I guess it’s a pseudo-confession, revealing her true feelings to Kotarou while maintaining the façade. A last attempt to get him to stop pursuing a solution, to just let her be. It must’ve been at this time when he started suspecting what was really going on, as the next day he ended up leaving for the orphanage to confirm Haruka Asahi’s identity. Kotarou plays the role of detective, identifying the culprit and explaining his reasoning for this. Turns out the curse was real after all, or at least the part about killing anything she touches and causing glass to shatter.
Kotarou understand Lucia’s feelings now: her isolation and despair, her desire for human contact, and her wish to just be left alone. But Kotarou chooses to fight that fact, and uses his rewriting power to change into something which can withstand her poison. Unable to accept her power, Kotarou embraces her to prove it to her. Hesitant and panicked at first, Kotarou vows that he will be with her forever under the light streaming through the chapel, and Lucia submits to his embrace, letting tears of relief stream down her face.
Following that, Kotarou is abruptly introduced to the other side of the world, as he’s surrounded by Guardian agents examining his body to see the effect the poison has on him. After being taken to hospital, Kotarou is introduced to Guardian, and later the war they’re having with Gaia over the fate of the world. My first indoctrination to Guardian, and I’m definitely finding myself empathising with the Guardian side a lot more so far. In Chihaya’s route, even then Kotarou didn’t agree with Gaia’s ideology and methods, so it’s not like I have anything to suggest that Gaia are the good guys in all this. It’s unique of Key to provide different perspectives on something like a war through the different character routes, I like it. But I’m wondering if Akane’s route will end up changing my mind about Gaia? Time will tell. Soon Lucia’s past is revealed, how she was part of the Next Generation of Humanity Project, and her experiences being made into a Future Human. It’s here we enter the darker side of Rewrite again, portraying the end of the world and the atrocious experiments Lucia endured as a child. It’s quite horrible to read, definitely not for the weak of heart.
After that revelation though, the story goes into moe mode, to lighten things up a bit. The relationship between Kotarou and Lucia becomes the focus, and they organize a date together to begin their new relationship as lovers, following their confessions in the church. I’m not always a fan of this stuff, but it was executed incredibly well here. The whole date starts out ‘tsun’ but really deeply fleshes out the ‘dere’ of Lucia’s personality. Oh man Ryukishi, I didn’t know you had it in you. You created a date scene so incredibly adorable that even I had a hard time avoiding contracting diabetes. Man oh man, we’re talking category 6 cuteness here. It showed how naive and weak-hearted Lucia is deep down, and it just struck the right paternal nerves. It also helped flesh out her character a bit more, with explanations for her glass-shattering ability revealed, and her role in Guardian was given attention. The date ends with the scene overlooking the skyline, where they cement their feelings of love for each other. Kotarou reveals that his feelings of sympathy had become feelings of genuine love, and Lucia returns that love. So damn beautiful U_U Ryukishi you know how to write love stories, you magnificent bastard. This was probably the most convincing romance I’ve seen so far from the game.
But of course, all good things must come to an end. All of this is juxtaposed by the political trouble Guardian is in. Following the scene on the rooftop, some time after Shizuru finds herself once again infected by Lucia’s poison, and Lucia is taken in by Guardian to try and find out why her poison is affecting people again. She’s confined to an isolation chamber where it’s discovered that her poison is running out of control. She descends into despair, complaining to Kotarou that her life holds no purpose; that she only exists to cause others to die. When the Next Generation of Humanity Project existed, while it could be viewed as a horrible thing, it also gave her purpose in life. By going to the future and saving humanity, she might be able to see her poison as an honourable gift to humanity rather than such a burden. Guardian’s situation worsens as Gaia attacks, taking out a large number of their agents at once, and almost taking out Kotarou as well. Guardian’s options are running out, and they need to act to prevent the salvation. On the brink of madness, Lucia learns of her condition, and yearns to go to the future to spare her from the pain of living in the present. As if in answer to her prayer, Brenda McFarden, one of the researchers of the Next Generation Humanity Project, invaded the facility to proclaim that she had a job that only Lucia could complete. Lucia goes missing after this, and Nishikujou frantically tries to deal with the situation. Kotarou hangs around school in despair waiting for some news, until eventually he encounters Lucia outside of the school. He takes Lucia on a date to the curry restaurant, where she reveals more about herself to him, and they enjoy what Lucia would believe to be their last moments together. Meanwhile Guardian is storming Brenda’s base to find Lucia. Unfortunately, the Vatican has already made plans with Brenda and Lucia to eliminate the threat of salvation. They amplified Lucia’s powers to turn her into a weapon of mass destruction, and let loose her poison upon Kazamatsuri, unleashing devastation in it’s wake. The city of Kazamatsuri is now a graveyard, and not even Kotarou could stay conscious for the assault.
Lucia had found her purpose in being asked to destroy Kazamatsuri, in order to eliminate Gaia and the Key before they enact salvation. Kotarou awakens in the park, rewrites himself again to withstand the poison, and discovers the city is riddled with corpses. Here in the city, the greatest act of terrorism in human history has just been committed. I feel like the impact was underplayed a bit too much, but I understand that they had to focus on the story. Of course, Kotarou takes the news of the event very hard, but upon realizing that Lucia is responsible, he tries to push all the guilt and sadness to the back of his mind. He focuses solely on finding Lucia.
She has lost all hope for a cure to her poison, and instead is desperately searching for a reason to exist. She concludes that her purpose is either to fulfil the role as the Key and destroy the world, or be destroyed. When Kotarou finds her, she insists that Lucia is gone, and that she’s back to being Haruka Asahi now. Kotarou begs her to come along with him to find a cure for the poison, but she continues stating that it’s useless. She asks what purpose she has as long as she is producing poison, and Kotarou is unable to answer. Kotarou insists that he’ll do whatever he can to save her, but she doesn’t want any of that. Lucia has thrown away her own life, and accepted her fate. She has no choice but to continue to play the villain, and engages in battle with Shizuru. And my, what a battle it was.
Here’s to the best damn action scene so far. Ryukishi’s descriptions are so adrenaline-pumping, once again reminiscent of Umineko’s action scenes. I can’t really describe how epic it was to watch, but if you’ve seen it I’m sure you can relate. Rewrite couldn’t leave all the action to Chihaya’s route after all! Chihaya explains how Kotarou was forgetting something more important than the poison and finding a cure, and Kotarou racks his brain trying to figure out exactly what she means. It’s the most obvious answer, isn’t it? Unable to convince Lucia to stop, Lucia ends up seriously wounding Shizuru. Chihaya saves Lucia from a lethal fall, and ends up being infected with her poison as a result. Lucia is unable to accept it, and ends up deeply regretting her actions. Feelings incredibly conflicted, she flees to the rooftop where she is confronted by Kotarou. She believes herself to be the most miserable person in the world, and submits herself to either her death at Kotarou’s hands or the death of the world if she survives. Kotarou insists that she’s stupid for thinking she’s so miserable when she has so many friends trying to help her, and that resolve manifests into the aurora, protecting him from her blade. (This is the first time the aurora appears in this route, it would probably be a great introduction to it if this was the first playthrough!) Kotarou decides to be selfish, he realizes this encounter isn’t about what Lucia wants, it’s about what he wants. What matters is that he loves her.
Lucia completely loses her resolve after this confession. It’s the words she had been longing to hear. She wanted Kotarou to accept her as she is, not as she was. Accept her and her poison, knowing full well that she may never be cured. She was even afraid of being consumed by guilt over causing the deaths of over 200,000 people, but in the end it was an unavoidable outcome. She was not the one who brought destruction to Kazamatsuri, she was the tool the real villains used to enact it. And nothing she could do could change that. Kotarou promised that he’d share the burden of all those lost lives with Lucia, and use that as motivation to keep fighting, for their sakes. The group retreats to a shelter, and the city is nuked, preventing the spread of the poison.
After what appears to be months later, Kotarou arrives at a new shelter with Lucia. Together they are living a life hidden from the outside world, but safe and comfortable. Guardian have made arrangements to provide all their needs inside the shelters they live in, to live in relative comfort while researchers continue to try and find a cure for Lucia’s poison. They may never find it, but the outcome isn’t so bad any more. They’re still sad about what happened, but they’re able to live happily together for the rest of their lives regardless of whether or not a cure is found. I think that’s a pretty nice ending, despite all that happened along the way. A lot of bad happened, but in the end Kotarou and Lucia got their happy ending after all.
Lucia Route complete. Result: Good-ish End.
There was a lot of tragedy to this route. A lot of bloodshed. It was largely unavoidable bloodshed, but bloodshed nonetheless. The world was saved, but at what cost? After the episode ended, I couldn’t help but wonder about the fates of Akane and Yoshino. It was hinted that Kotori survived, so I won’t worry about her so much. But dammit, what about everyone else? Compared to the others, this route feels pretty self-contained and doesn’t concern itself with much of the story outside of it.
But, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. This route knew it’s focus and stuck to it. That is, Lucia, and her relationship with Kotarou. That single point was it’s greatest strength, and it focused on it very intently, creating a beautiful and amazing route. Ryukishi handled the task given to him with incredible finesse. I’ll be honest, when I first heard Ryukishi was working on Rewrite, I got really excited. Two of my favourite Visual Novel developers working together? It’s like a dream come true! And Lucia’s route didn’t fail to impress at all, if anything it exceeded my expectations. Wow, what a route. This is definitely my favourite so far. As I’ve mentioned, it has it’s failings, but overall it’s a very solid route. Maybe too solid, haha. If people did in fact read this as their first route, the bar might be set too high for future routes! Haha, time will tell if the other routes can match this bar or not. I really loved it.
Lucia’s route started as a horror mystery trying to establish the truths behind the veil of the supernatural, and later delved into a politically charged context surrounding a powerfully emotive love story. As Kotarou realised in the end, all that really mattered was that he loved Lucia. That love turned out to be the only thing that could save her. It is nice when the simple answer is the only answer. And despite the simplicity of this message, it was executed in a deeply satisfying way. Bravo, Ryukishi. You’ve done it again.
Coming up next: Shizuru route reflection!