Review of Senren * Banka
|Subject||Senren * Banka|
|By||Vote: 9.5dchsflii on 2021-02-26|
|Review||When evaluating a multi-route VN, I tend to put more weight on the strongest route. If the point of routes is to have variety, then it's natural to like some more than others. All the routes in Senren*Banka are enjoyable, and Lena's in particular is strong in its own right, but Murasame's is the true standout. It's one of my favorites in any VN and what made Senren*Banka such a memorable experience for me. My review is mostly about her route.|
To start, Murasame herself is such a great character. She's refreshingly bold and earnest without falling into the overdone "teasing older woman" trope. Her playfulness and childish whimsy form a lively contrast with her archaic mannerisms and grave responsibilities. But beneath all that is a compelling struggle. Weighed down by 500 years of isolation, Murasame drifts constantly further from humanity. Even so, she always prioritizes supporting those close to her with a smile. It's almost impossible not to root for her to find happiness.
When Masaomi is revealed to be the first person who can physically interact with Murasame, this is the spark that shows maybe her drift is not irreversible. And as the two grow closer, they show a great deal of empathy for each other. Masaomi takes thoughtful actions to show Murasame she is no less real or important than his human friends and family, and Murasame affirms the value of Masaomi and the life he has, even when it seems plain or trivial. At first Murasame is happy to indulge in what Masaomi offers, but eventually she she begins to realize: if she becomes a bigger part of Masaomi's life, will she not be cursing him to share her isolation to some degree? And even once the possibility that she might become human again is revealed, she is uncertain. Is it even possible to become human after 500 years of drifting away? Does she deserve to after closing herself off to those who would be close to her for so long?
Masaomi understands that, no matter how he feels, he can't simply "save" Murasame of his own accord. She must want to see herself the way he does--just as human and deserving of friendship and love as anyone else. He is sensitive to the weight of the burden she carries, at first choosing to simply offer his support rather than press her. And even when he does decisively share his feelings, he asks Murasame to consider them, rather than demands. In all, it makes Murasame's route a touching story of two people and the bond they share overcoming their challenges together.
Even at the more granular level, Murasame and Masaomi have impeccable chemistry. They tease each other with a great sense of fun and a back and forth that feels authentic. They can get shy or flustered, but clearly trust each other and don't end up in extended periods of awkwardness. The small details in the way they treat each other show that they care and enjoy spending time together.
I also felt that Murasame's route gave the most satisfying conclusion to the story of Hoori and the curse. Every route resolves the curse in some way, but the fates of the divine blade Murasamemaru and its caretaker are mostly tossed aside in the other routes. Returning Murasamemaru to the gods and releasing Murasame from her duty as it's caretaker feels like a definitive ending to the supernatural history of Hoori.
Finally, here is how I rate the various routes
Murasame - 11/10
Lena - 9/10
Mako - 8/10
Yoshino - 7/10
Roka/Koharu - 7/10