Ayakashi Gohan is the new game coming out for the PC by honeybee.
There’s a little restaurant somewhere deep in the Japanese mountains which serves tasty meals to ayakashi (spirits) as well as humans, called “Ponpokorin” near a village called Momojimura. It was opened by a kitsune in human form whose motto is “Eating delicious food together makes everyone happy.” One day, the heroine is brought to live there by the kitsune because she’s just lost her parents. She meets with the owner’s almost 7-year-old son, a pair of twins, and starts helping at the restaurant. The story is about her getting to know them and the customers of Ponpokorin, as well as some classmates from school. Her school, by the way, is a typical country school except that some ayakashi attend (in human form), slow-paced and not standing out in club or sports activities. For a while it was going to be closed, but a high-profile designer was contracted to redesign the uniforms, so they’re pretty stylish, and apparently it worked and more students are slowly joining. (Does this work, by the way? Do Japanese students really decide to go to a totally rural highschool with no distinctive features because they like the uniform??)
Anyways, the big theme of this game is about making food together and eating together as a way to develop relationships. Let’s take a look at the characters:
You start the game when the heroine is 7 years old, and depending on your choices during this ‘shoujo’ period, the heroine develops one of two personalities, changing the possible routes (I love this idea). If you end up on the ‘human’ route, the heroine is shy and reserved, and the story is about her learning to enjoy eating with people she loves. If you end up on the ‘ayakashi’ route, the heroine is outgoing, and the story is about her teaching someone to enjoy eating with those they love. I think it’s a really interesting way to change the story up.
The human-side routes:
Inushima Uta (CV: Shimono Hir0): The older twin. He talks roughly but always means well, and he’s popular with the ayakashi like an older brother figure.
Ibuki Haginosuke (CV: Mizushima Takahiro): The human son of a priest who’s fascinated by ayakashi but doesn’t understand them very well. Like the heroine (in this side), he’s not very good at eating with other people.
Hana Suou (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki): A cat spirit transformed human who attends the heroine’s school. He dislikes humans, but actually wants friends. He’s always cold so he sleeps in the sun a lot, and has a sensitive tongue (cats and all that) so he can’t eat too hot food.
The ayakashi-side routes:
Inushima Yomi (CV: Kaji Yuuki): A cold poet who hates humans, he’s very lazy and unemotional. He does enjoy learning things, so he reads a lot of books. His older brother Uta usually performs his poems.
Serigano Manatsu (CV: Okitsu Kazuyuki): A local shopkeeper’s son who often delivers ingredients to Ponpokorin. He’s 25, and the local elders always push him towards omiai. He enjoys having tea after making deliveries to P0npokorin, and ends up listening to an ayakashi’s problems and giving them advice.
Kimura Asagi (CV: Ishida Akira): A mysterious student who loves playing pranks on people. It’s unclear whether he’s human or ayakashi. Because he’s never been far, he dreams of travelling.
Other characters are the owner, Gin, his young son, Tsuzuru, who’s very shy and always hides behind his father, and Kamisama, the village spirit.
Once you get past the ‘shoujo’ chapter and have gone onto either the ‘human’ or ‘ayakashi’ side, you go through a shared route for that side, and your choices in that chapter either decide on a specific character’s route, or a bad end. Within character routes, they all have a best end, a good end, and a tragic love end.
The atmosphere seems quiet but soulful. I like the routes splitting along personality lines, and the setting is unusual – the only other games series I remember being set in a contemporary isolated village (not just the school either) is Hiiro no Kakera. Unfortunately I can’t find anywhere to order this (Amiami doesn’t seem to have it) so I’ll have to wait until I go to Japan to get this.