Last Day of Spring is the sequel to npckc’s LGBTQ positive visual novel, One Night, Hot Springs—which followed Haru, a 19-year old transgender Japanese woman as she goes on an overnight trip to a local hot spring for her oldest friend Manami’s 20th birthday. The game focuses on Haru’s experiences during the trip and the affect they have on her—One Night, Hot Springs delves into many of the anxieties Haru has over not being treated as the woman she is and while it does have its fair share of heavy moments, the game is ultimately very positive.
During the trip, Haru meets Manami’s friend Erika and while they have a shaky start, there are opportunities for the two to spend more time together and eventually become friends. Last Day of Spring, picks up a few months after the first game and follows Erika, who at this point has become really good friends with Haru. At the start of the game Erika learns from Manami that it’s Haru’s birthday and decides they should do something to celebrate. So she sets out to plan a special spa day for her, Haru, and Manami.
While the first game took us through Haru’s personal thoughts and feelings related to her own gender identity, Last Day of Spring shifts the focus to her supportive friend, Erika. It’s a unique opportunity, that you don’t see often in games that focus on the LGBTQ community—where the story revolves solely around the experiences of someone within the LGBTQ spectrum. Here we see things through the lens of an ally, who while not directly impacted by many of the struggles members of the LGBTQ community deal with daily, is sympathetic to her friend’s situation and needs. While Erika is not perfect, she does her best to ensure that Haru is comfortable regardless of what they ultimately decide to do, however the rest of the world is not as supportive.
Much like in One Night, Hot Springs the task of finding a spa for the trip, proves to be difficult as Erika struggles to find a venue that will accommodate Haru’s needs. However, unlike in the previous game where the staff at the hot springs were largely considerate of Haru, when Erika attempts to book a spa for their trip, she is told that Haru will have to use facilities more in keeping with her legal gender. Frustrated with the lack of consideration for Haru’s feelings and comfort, Erika decides to plan an at home spa day for Haru. However, things don’t go as planned when Haru, attempts to back out of their plans.
Erika does her best to get Haru to talk through her insecurities surrounding the trip and while she may seem a bit insistent at times, she never forces Haru to do anything she is uncomfortable with. Rather, she helps her friend talk through her feelings and thoughts, always putting what Haru wants first. Last Day of Spring is ultimately a story about how to be a supportive friend and ally. Each of the game’s endings is focused on supporting Haru, whether that means giving her a safe and fun spa experience or ultimately not—but regardless of which of the outcomes you achieve, Haru’s comfort is always at the forefront.
Last Day of Spring is a fitting follow up to One Night, Hot Springs that gives even more depth to the characters introduced in the first game. While the story is largely told from Erika’s perspective, Last Day of Spring always remembers to keep transgender rights at the forefront of the narrative making for an thoughtful and emotional gaming experience.
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