Utawarerumono (うたわれるもの?, lit. Those who are Sung) is a Japanese adult AVG+SLG (S-RPG) visual novel by Leaf which was released on April 26, 2002 for the PC. A manga version was created in 2005 and was first serialized in Dengeki G's Magazine. An anime adaptation aired between April and September 2006, containing twenty-six episodes. The American rights to the Utawarerumono anime were initially held by ADV Films, who completed a full DVD release of the entire series. In July 2008, Funimation announced that the license to Utawarerumono (and other titles formerly held by ADV) had transferred to them.
Much of Utawarerumono's gameplay requires very little interaction as most of the duration of the game is spent simply reading the text that appears on the game screen, which represents either dialogue the various characters or the inner thoughts of the protagonist. At times, the player will come to a "decision point" where he or she is given the chance to choose from a single or multiple options. Unlike many other visual novels, these choices do not affect the final outcome of the story. The time between these decision points is variable and can occur anywhere from a minute to much longer. Gameplay pauses at these points and depending on which choice the player makes, the plot will progress in a specific direction. As game progresses, the player will come across sex scenes depicting the protagonist, Hakuoro, and various female characters having sexual intercourse or related activities.
Utawarerumono features a tactical role-playing battle system that centers around the player moving a group of characters through a square-based grid during turn-based battles in order to achieve an objective. The objective of the battle, displayed in the upper-right hand corner the screen when viewing the actions available for a specific character, comprise of the player either defeating any number of enemies or moving one or all characters to a specific location. During each character's turn, the player may choose to have the character move, attack, or cast magic, of which only moving and attacking can be performed in succession, in that order. When a character attacks an enemy character, the player is given a chance to add additional attacks should he or she time his or her mouse click by clicking while a yellow circle is present on screen that disappears shortly after appearing. The number of attacks that the player can add to a character's attack is randomly generated and affected by each individual character's abilities, and the total number of attacks that the player can add attack varies from character to character. After adding a certain number of attacks to the character will perform a special finishing attack should they have the required abilities. As characters defeat enemies and participate in battle, they gain experience points at the end of battle which are used to "pay" for increasing the character's abilities.
At the start of the game, the player is given a choice of four different difficulty levels from which to choose from which affects the difficulty of the battles the player must participate in. After completing the game once, the player is given an additional two even more challenging difficulty levels to choose from and may choose to skip the dialogue.
Utawarerumono is a story centering around the masked protagonist, Hakuoro, who one day is found by a family of two girls and their grandmother in a nearby forest close to their village. He is badly injured and is soon found to have amnesia, so they take him to their home and treat him until he is well again. Hakuoro is soon accepted into their village where he stays and lives with them, but before long Hakuoro finds that life in this village is being oppressed by the greedy emperor who rules over the country their village resides in. Soon after, these negative actions taken towards their village result in him leading a rebellion against the emperor of the country which later lands him to become emperor of a vast new country which is named Tusukuru, after the well-respected woman who helped save his life.
After becoming emperor and things begin to calm down, Hakuoro soon finds out that peace is hard to maintain and finds himself constantly in battle in order to protect the peace of his country and his people. Eventually, he is led into many bloody battles in order to fight for the freedom of all those residing in Tusukuru. Along the way, Hakuoro meets several other strong warriors from several other countries and tribes who are fully accepted into Hakuoro's growing family. Many moments of hardship and laughter ensue as time continues but with Hakuoro leading the way, all others are confident in his ability to lead.
The story's genre is at first a fantasy-style story with heavy Ainu influence, though later develops science fiction themes towards the end. Indeed, it first appears to take place in a fantasy world full of magical beings and interesting new species of humans, but it is later revealed that it takes place in Earth's distant future.
In the present age, an archaeological expedition unearths a mysterious fossil, a fossil of a disfigured beast. Unknown to the archaeologist, the fossil is the embodiment of a forgotten god, known as Witsuarunemitea. Another scientist, his superior, stumbles in, and after some confrontation, the mysterious stranger explains that humanity isn't ready for this Missing Link, the gap in evolution between men and apes. To prevent him from talking, he shoots the archaeologist. As the archaeologist slowly dies, his blood touches the fossil, and the forgotten god awakens.
Witsuarunemitea, a shattered and forgotten deity, sees opportunity in the dying archaeologist. He offers the archaeologist life, in exchange for becoming his vessel, so that Witsuarunemitea can finally find the sleep he so desires. Time passes, and eventually he becomes frozen in ice.
With Witsuarunemitea still bound in sleep as his mask, the archaeologist re-awakens many years into the future. He finds himself in an underground research facility, where he is being studied as an ancient human specimen. The archaeologist learns from the researchers that humanity is now unable to exist outside of a greenhouse environment, and hence the remnants of humanity now live underground.
Mizushima, a researcher, is assigned to the care and study of the archaeologist, who is now referred to as the Iceman. Upon discovering that the 'Iceman' can withstand the bacteria on Earth's surface, the researchers look to harness his unique genome and emulate the invigorating characteristics of his mask. Of the thousands of creations, only a select few prove to be viable, including experiments 3510 and 63. Experiment number 3510, a beautiful young girl, is given the name Mikoto by the Iceman; as is experiment number 63, a girl with black wings, whom is given the name Mutsumi. Mutsumi, acknowledging she has come from the Iceman's DNA, addresses him as "father".
The genome project encounters some problems, however, and the researchers in charge decide to re-freeze the Iceman for later study. Mizushima, aware of the human side of the Iceman, urges him to run, and gives him the facility's master key, a plain-colored ring recognized by the facility's doors.
The Iceman runs from the facility, taking Mikoto with him, whom he has fallen in love with. After a few years have passed, Mikoto gives birth to a daughter. The researchers, however, put on environmental suits in order to pursue the Iceman and recapture both him and Mikoto. Mikoto is dissected for further research, but while Iceman is being prepared to be frozen, his rage awakens Witsuarunemitea.
Outraged by the treatment of Mikoto, a new side of Witsuarunemitea begins to form. Filled with rage, Witsuarunemitea destroys most of the facility. Appalled by what the humans would do to obtain immortality, Witsuarunemitea grants their plea, transforming them into immortal gelatinous beings. Eventually, the great god accrues so much rage as to split himself into two halves: one which seeks destruction, and another, which seeks only to be destroyed.
Suddenly, Mutsumi appears, and empowered by Witsuarunemitea's divine blood, she puts both halves of Witsuarunemitea to sleep. Meanwhile, the few successful genetic experiments from the research facility begin to repopulate the Earth's surface, as the original humanity slowly dies out and is forgotten. The research facility is sealed away forever, and the people are told it is Witsuarunemitea's holy land.
Years later, a shift in the world awakens the two halves of Witsuarunemitea, who begin to combat each other; the destructive side wanting to help the populace of the world reach new height through wars, and its opposite through peaceful cooperation. The empress of Kunnekamun (whose people; the Shakukopuro, are being massacred) seeks out the destructive side, and is granted with a power called the Avu-Kamuu, massive bio-mechanical constructs covered in platemail, allowing them to exist in the world of war and hegemony.
Eventually, the fighting of the two halves causes a great earthquake. Arurū, a young girl of Kenashikourupe, is in the process of climbing a tree to recover a beehive when the earthquake strikes, and falls, becoming greatly injured. Erurū, Arurū's sister, prays Witsuarunemitea to heal Arurū, and promises, in exchange, her body and soul. Witsuarunemitea obliges.
Both halves of Witsuarunemitea are heavily injured in the battle, and both halves are put to sleep. The destructive half was found by Dii, a scholar of Onkamiyamukai, who fuses with the demigod. The half that wishes to be destroyed retains his body, and is found in the woods by Erurū.
The events of Utawarerumono then take place.
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In Utawarerumono, there is a wide range of characters from several different countries that appear throughout the story. The main characters are all connected back to the male protagonist, Hakuoro, a man found injured in a forest who wears an irremovable mask and has lost his memories. He is a charismatic man who has the power to rally people under him for a cause when it comes time to fight. After earning much of the respect from the people who served under his command, Hakuoro was appointed emperor of the newly founded country Tusukuru, named after the grandmother of the woman who initially found him - Erurū. Erurū is a physician in training who often helps Hakuoro in much the same way a secretary or even a mother would. She has a forceful, but caring personality which is how she acts most of the time, especially around her younger sister Arurū who she cares for deeply. Arurū is a playful young girl who is shy and quiet, usually only saying a word or two when spoken to. After the god of the forest, Mutikapa is killed, Arurū raises her child as if it were her own, naming it Mukkuru. Since Erurū was the one who initially cared for him, Hakuoro regards her and her family the closest thing to a family of his own.
After Tusukuru is founded, Hakuoro gets many warriors under his command. The first is an impulsive and zealous dual-sword wielding former-bandit named Oboro. Dori and Gura are his two twin archer servants. Oboro has a younger sister named Yuzuha who has been sick with an unknown illness since birth, and is usually bedridden because of it. The next man to join Hakuoro is Benawi, a strong warrior who carries with him a calm and logical personality, though often gets irritated when Hakuoro ignores his duties as a ruler. His right hand man is Kurou, whose strength is comparable to Oboro's. There are several strong women who fight for Hakuoro as well. Urutori of the winged Onkamiyamukai race comes to Tusukuru as a priestess sent to look out for the country's welfare. She, and her younger sister Kamyu who follows Urutori to Tusukuru, have powerful magic abilities akin to those of their race. Karurauatsūrei, whose name is shortened to Karura for simplicity, is found having slaughtered many soldiers from another country who were holding her prisoner. Hakuoro decides to have her join his cause and she agrees. Karura carries a ridiculously heavy, black personalized blade only she can wield and has an affinity towards sake. Touka of the Evenkuruga tribe initially fought against Hakuoro under a false pretense though later joins him after her previous lord Orikakan is murdered by another emperor, Niwe, a common enemy of Touka and Hakuoro. Touka is very protective of Hakuoro, acting as his bodyguard. She usually has a serious personality though sometimes she is shown to have a tsundere personality.
The Utawarerumono series was first released as a Japanese video game for the PC on April 26, 2002 by Leaf and Aquaplus. A DVD-ROM edition was later released on December 12, 2003. Unlike most turn-based strategy games, the story is linear and there is no voice acting in the PC version. A PlayStation 2 port, featuring a new battle system by Flight Plan (of the Summon Night series), was released on October 26, 2006 in Japan. The PS2 port included voice acting and several other changes to enhance gameplay. The adult graphics and scenes were removed from the PlayStation 2 version, which was rated for ages 15 and up. The game was never released outside Japan, however, a complete fan translation patch for the PC DVD version of Utawarerumono exists.
The Utawarerumono manga, illustrated by Arō Shimakusa, was serialized in the bishōjo magazine Dengeki G's Magazine between September 30, 2005 and November 30, 2006. Two bound volumes were released compiling the entire manga story.
The Utawarerumono anime aired in Japan between April 3 and September 25, 2006 and has twenty-six episodes. With the first DVD release of the anime on August 23, 2006, a short omake episode lasting only about seven minutes was also included. The official region 1 DVD of the first volume from ADV was released on January 16, 2007. Two pieces of theme music are used for the anime series; one opening theme and two ending themes. The opening theme is "Musōka" by Suara, the first ending theme used for the first twenty-five episodes is "Madoromi no Rinne" by Eri Kawai, and the second ending theme used for the final episode is "Kimi ga Tame" by Suara.
A three-episode Utawarerumono original video animation series was developed by the creators of the anime. These episodes focus on side stories from the game which were not covered in the TV series. The first OVA was released on June 5, 2009. The OVA's opening theme is "Adamant Faith" by Suara and its ending theme is "Yume no Tsuzuki" by Rena Uehara. In the first OVA, the episode focuses mainly on Urutori's relationship with the child rescued from Niwe's attack, and how she refuses to give up the child to another family, going so far as to attack her friends.
A now retired series of eight plushies based on characters from the series was available for a short time in 2005 in Japan and could be obtained from UFO catcher crane machines and several hobby outlets. Some gashapon figurines were also produced after the release of the original PC game, including uncolorized versions, and rare adult versions of some figures. Availability on the international market of any Utawarerumono merchandise is extremely limited, but as of 2005, both new and collectors' Utawarerumono merchandise was still readily available in Japan (notably in Akihabara).
On March 28, 2004, an isometric scrolling fighting game for the PC, based on the Utawarerumono characters and storyline, was released by Leaf. A downloadable patch available on the official website adds additional characters to the game.
Across the semi-monthly chart of top 50 best-selling bishōjo games sold nationally in Japan, the PC version of Utawarerumono ranked 1st in the last two weeks of the April 2004. It ranked 2nd in the first two weeks and 27th in the last two weeks of May. It then ranked 16th and 29th in June before dropping out of the chart. The PlayStation version of the game sold over 82,000 units in three days.
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- Leaf/Aquaplus game page (Japanese)
- Utawarerumono at Tokyo MX (Japanese)
- Utawarerumono at VAP (Japanese)
- Utawarerumono (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia