So after BWS, I was actually planning to do a fluffy or lighthearted game to get myself back into the otome mood… but screw that. I’m doing Hana Awase next, and it’s REALLY good. It’s painful and makes you cry, but beautiful. _(:3」∠ )_
Hana Awase revolves around “Kasen”, a card game played by using Hanafuda. Among all the players, only a few can bring out the power hidden in the cards. In Kasen National Academy, the students who possess this power are known as the “Five Brights”—the figures who are admired by all students. This is a story of the “Five Brights” and the maiden who dedicates herself to them. As the title suggests, Mizuchi-hen focuses on Mizuchi of the Koukoku Class.
• Prologue •
The story begins with the heroine, Mikoto, floating in a dream. A voice is calling her name, telling her that he’s been waiting for this day to come. They can finally meet. When she asks about who he is, the voice replies that he’s “Half Moon / 月の半身 / Tsuki no Hanshin”. They will have to part again soon, and so he asks her to see him again here, with the power of the moon that only she possesses. Mikoto is confused, but Half Moon only gives her these words:
“The reunion of the full moon needs miracles closer to ten thousand, further from a thousand. Even so, if the two are to meet, tens of millions of miracles will become one, and fate will be born.”
Half Moon tells Mikoto that she’s in hades, and her body will wilt if she stays here for too long. She has to return to her world. He asks her to close her eyes and grasp a certain hand when she wakes up. That hand belongs to someone who will guide her. She obediently closes her eyes, and Half Moon tells her to stretch out her hand—as if she’s reaching and grasping the light. She can see a crescent moon for a brief moment, and then everything is wrapped in a blinding light. He notices that she has found the light, and he sends her off with: “Goodbye, Mikoto. My precious, the other half of the moon…”
When Mikoto opens her eyes, she finds herself lying on a hospital bed. Her entire body is aching in pain. A tall man is standing beside her bed, asking if she has regained her consciousness. Noticing that she looks confused, he asks if she doesn’t remember him. For a moment she wonders if she knows him, but it can’t be true. He’s incredibly beautiful, and she would never forget someone like him. In the end Mikoto can only apologize, but the man simply answers that she’s hospitalized after getting into an accident. He was at the site of the accident, and so he accompanied her to the hospital. The doctors said her life isn’t in danger, so she should recover after resting for a while. Before Mikoto can say anything, the man silently turns around and leaves the room. He leaves a powerful impression on her, and she thinks he looks otherworldly… but more importantly, she hasn’t thanked him yet for attending her in the hospital. She didn’t even get the chance to ask for his name, though she does recognize his uniform.
Mikoto then notices something, and she finds a card lying on her bed—the demon card. She wonders if it belongs to the man, but her thoughts are interrupted when a nurse comes to check her condition. From the nurse, Mikoto learns that she actually got hit by a car, so it was miraculous that she only received minor injuries. The nurse also mentions that according to the rescue team, she was saved by a student from “Kaen / 華園 / Flower Garden”—how people refer to Kasen Academy. It’s the beautiful man from earlier, and he stayed beside her bed ever since she was brought into this room. He was holding her hand and watched over her with a heated gaze, so much that the nurse thought they’re lovers. It was different when Mikoto woke up earlier, but she feels even worse for not thanking the man. Especially after knowing that he saved her AND stayed with her in the hospital.
Not too long after that, Mikoto’s friends— Ai and Shou—come to visit. They’re both relieved to see her alive, and while he pretends not to care that much, it’s pretty obvious that Shou has deeper feelings for Mikoto. Ai also brought some change of clothes for her, but they have to go home right away since visiting hours are over. They’re just like a family, and they want her to rely on them without holding back. Inside the bag, she finds the clothes and socks Ai packed for her… along with some manga, games and a remote control that Shou dumped into the bag in a panic. After thanking Ai and Shou in her heart, Mikoto lies down on her bed and thinks about the accident. She doesn’t remember anything, but she doesn’t want to recall it either. She doesn’t want to make Ai and Shou even more worried, so she needs to rest and recover soon. Besides, she needs to return the demon card.
Mikoto knows it’s a card used in Kasen, and the man was wearing the uniform of Kaen—she saw it on TV before. She always thought that Kaen is a place way above her reach, and now she realizes that the people who attend the academy are indeed impressive. The man who saved her was so beautiful. Mikoto then falls asleep while thinking about how she has to check the location of school and express her gratitude to him. Meanwhile, in another place, a girl asks if Mikoto has regained her consciousness. The man who saved her nods, and the girl smiles saying she already took care of the procedures. Once Mikoto recovers, they can go and pick her up. The man wonders if they should call Mikoto to this place, but the girl reminds him that the contract has been made. There’s no need for him to worry, as it was a choice made by the card. The moon is already born. The girl is excited to see Mikoto, but the man remains silent.
After leaving the hospital, Mikoto goes to visit Kaen with Ai and Shou. The school building beyond the gate looks like a palace, which fits its image as the most prestigious school of Hana Utsushi—a version of Kasen. Since both Ai and Shou don’t really understand how the card game works, Mikoto explains that the players receive power from their “Minamo / 水妹” and draw out the power in the cards. Of course the players need to have high abilities themselves. The players who are blessed with exceptional power are known as “Kaei / 華詠”, and the title is only granted to a few people. Minamo are the supporters. They support the players or Kaei in Hana Utsushi, and only girls can become Minamo. Ai isn’t interested at all and points out at how the players always wear weird clothes or act all haughty, but Mikoto says they’re just wearing the formal wear for Hana Utsushi since it’s a traditional game. Besides, they won’t be able to defend themselves against the opponent’s attacks without the formal wear.
Ai quickly stops Mikoto from explaining further, since she can’t stand formalities or traditions. She actually doesn’t like being in formal places like Kaen, and she only came here because she’s worried about Mikoto. Shou also comments that Kaen is full of members of the royal family and people who are related to them. They live in a completely different world, and Mikoto should search for her lifesaver so they can go home as quick as possible. She shouldn’t push herself too hard either, since she just got released from the hospital. Shou pats Mikoto’s head and asks her to rely on them, but she protests and tells him not to treat her like a kid. Beside them, Ai giggles before telling Shou that it won’t do at all. Mikoto is totally dense when it comes to love and relationships, so she won’t notice his feelings.
While Ai is teasing Shou about this, Mikoto manages to find the entrance. She says they should talk to the guards first, but Ai already runs inside and she has no choice but to chase after her. Just then they hear a cheerful voice greeting them, and a pink-haired girl welcomes Mikoto to Kaen—mentioning that her arrival here is a miracle from God. Their fateful encounter must be greater than Adam and Eve’s! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ Mikoto is shocked and asks if she’s got the wrong person, but the girl says she doesn’t. She already heard everything about Mikoto from Iroha, who turns out to be the man from before. Iroha soon appears at the entrance as well, and noticing that Mikoto is completely confused, he tells the girl that they need to talk first. After apologizing for getting too excited, the girl introduces herself as Momotose. She’s a third year student in Kaen and the Minamo of Iroha, who is a Kaei.
Ai protests that they’re being too nonsensical by clinging to Mikoto all of the sudden, but Iroha points out that it’s not much different than entering Kaen without permission. Beside them, Mikoto notices Momotose looking straight at her. They’ve never met before, so she wonders why Momotose knows her name. Putting that aside, Mikoto thanks Iroha for saving and attending her in the hospital… but he answers that he didn’t do it for her. He was just fulfilling his duty. When Mikoto takes out the demon card and asks if it’s his, Iroha says it doesn’t belong to him anymore. The card chose her as its master, so now it belongs to her. Since the card came from Kasen Academy, this also means that she is invited to become a student at this school. She can even start from today, and she doesn’t need to worry about her current school—she can just transfer! In fact, Momotose already talked to her school the transfer. They won’t charge her for tuition either, and so there’s nothing to worry about. .+:｡ヾ(o･ω･)ﾉﾟ.+:｡
Ai finds this hard to accept because Mikoto is an orphan without any relatives, and she worked really hard to pay for her high school tuition—she’s different from rich people like them. However, Iroha coldly asks if comparing their backgrounds has any meaning. He asks if Mikoto has any debts or obligations towards her current school, and she admits that she doesn’t… so that means they don’t have a problem. The card chose her, and they gave her guidance. All that’s left is for Mikoto to decide, as the decision lies only in her hands. Once she has made up her mind, she can knock on Kaen’s gate once again. Shou and Ai drag Mikoto away saying that wouldn’t happen, while Momotose only smiles and says they will be waiting for her.
Despite her friends’ reaction, Mikoto is actually interested in the offer. Kaen is the most prestigious school of Kasen, so she thinks it’d be wonderful if she can do Hana Utsushi there. Ai and Shou remind Mikoto that the people of Kaen are looking down on peasants like them. They think the people in Kaen are only doing Hana Utsushi for fun, but Mikoto knows it’s not true. Hana Utsushi is a game, a competition, and there’s a lot of talented people in Kaen. Besides, Mikoto also wants to know why the demon card chose her. Both Ai and Shou can’t bring themselves to say anything after hearing this.
Back in Kaen, Momotose is impressed by the power of the demon card. She was thinking of picking Mikoto up, but fate has brought her to the school. Momotose thinks Mikoto is a wonderful person, and she leaves to tell the chairmen about this so they can prepare the ceremony. Iroha, who is left in the garden, remains silent for a while before whispering: “The one she chooses… should determine her fate. Hopefully… No, it’s a wish that cannot come true.” Then he recites the last line from the poetry that shares his name.
“あさきゆめみし えひもせず” — Iroha
We shall never allow ourselves to drift away, intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.
That night, Mikoto is wondering about what she should do. She has always admired Kaen and wants to go there, but she’s not sure if she should accept the invitation. Mikoto worked hard on her studies in order to enter the same high school as Ai and Shou, and going to Kaen means she will have to give up on the result of that effort. She also remembers that her grandfather told her the rules of Hana Utsushi in the past—you shouldn’t run from everything. The moment you run away, all the moon will escape from you. You are the one who decides the moon. If you escape, that will also be the end of your moon.
As Mikoto wonders if she should discuss this with Ai, she suddenly receives a call from Shou. He knows she will transfer to Kaen and nothing will change that decision, so he asks her to leave without telling Ai—who’ll definitely make a fuss over this. Shou promises to deal with Ai later, and he’s about to confess to Mikoto… but then he stops himself saying this isn’t like him at all. In the end he only tells her to come home anytime if things get too tough for her to handle, asking her to work hard and outwit the rich people in Kaen. When Mikoto comes to Kaen again, she’s greeted by Iroha by the entrance—welcoming her to the academy.
From there, Mikoto is given a uniform to change into. The skirt a bit too short for her taste, but Momotose won’t allow her to modify the length… so she obediently wears it to the auditorium, where they will hold a ceremony for her. It’s a ceremony to determine which one of the Five Brights does she belong to, as each of them is leading a different class. She will be put in the class led by the person chosen, and she will learn the techniques of Hana Awase in that class. Momotose further explains that the Five Brights are the players who can perform Hana Awase, the people who have completed the ritual of Kaei… and Mikoto is the moon who holds their fate in her hands. Mikoto finds this hard to believe, but Momotose smiles saying it’s alright for now. She then takes Mikoto to the auditorium, located at the end of the greenhouse. All the students of Kaen have been waiting for her to perform the ceremony, and Momotose sends her off once they enter the place—telling her that a world beyond her imagination is waiting ahead.
At the center of the auditorium, Mikoto meets the twin chairmen of the school—Kintokihana and Awahana. Now that the demon card has finally chosen someone, they’re looking forward to see what kind of result it will bring. However, they also notice that Mikoto doesn’t have the “full moon” which means that she’s not yet awakened. She might be a chrysalis waiting to emerge into a butterfly, so they think dying her with color will be worth it. Of course Mikoto is confused, but the chairmen simply ask if she has the demon card with her. They will now determine what she needs to do in this school, and they also inform her that the demon card can change into anything. When Mikoto points out that she only found the card on her bed, they reply that the demon card goes towards the person it chose. They received a report from Iroha that Mikoto has made a contract with the demon card. She has no idea when and how it happened though, and so she can only give them a a blank, puzzled look.
In any case, they have to proceed with the ceremony. After asking Mikoto to hand over the demon card, the chairmen asks the Five Brights—whom she thinks are very beautiful—to gather. The Five Brights are:
• Iroha of the Chisen Class
• Mizuchi of the Koukoku Class
• Himeutsugi of the Gekkou Class
• Karakurenai of the Ouka Class
What? There’s only four of them? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later.
The Five Brights are the ones who are granted the title of Kaei, and one of them will be chosen as Mikoto’s partner. The chairmen tell Mikoto to touch the demon card and make a wish, as the card will choose one of the Five Brights for her. When she sets her finger on the demon card, everything is enveloped in a blinding light… and when it fades away, the chairmen announce the answer. The demon card has chosen Mizuchi, who steps forward to welcome Mikoto into the Koukoku Class. Mizuchi also leaves a powerful impression, but Mikoto can feel that he has a different strength from Iroha. She feels a bit scared of him, probably due to the eyepatch covering his right eye. Mizuchi is really tall, and Mikoto can’t help but feel overwhelmed.
Behind them, the Minamo of Koukoku Class are making a huge commotion over this. They can’t believe that the demon card would choose Mizuchi, and they all feel sorry for him—believing that he didn’t want to be chosen. Mikoto can feel their hostile glares piercing through her, while the Minamo continue talking about how Mikoto should refuse for Mizuchi’s sake. The chairmen also note that they’re going wild, but it can’t be helped because the Koukoku Class is filled with enthusiastic Minamo who are following Mizuchi blindly… so this might lead to a storm. Despite what his Minamo are saying, Mizuchi states that he’s simply doing what he needs to do. Karakurenai laughs and asks what he can do since he has never touched a woman before, but Himeutsugi and Iroha shut him up since they’re in the presence of the chairmen. Ignoring this, he asks Mikoto to become his instead. She’s actually quite his type, mainly because she has a curvy body and looks comfortable to hug. However, Iroha tells him that the card’s decision is absolute. Karakurenai is obviously not pleased, and he leaves the auditorium before an “unpleasant sight” takes place.
Back to Mizuchi, the chairmen ask if he’s ready to accept the demon card—which he confirms with a clear “Of course.” When they order him to show the proof, Mizuchi says he understands and walks up to Mikoto. He apologizes for doing something like this to a lady whom he just met for the first time, but he asks for her forgiveness since it’s a part of the ceremony. Before Mikoto can figure out what he’s talking about, Mizuchi reluctantly asks her to close her eyes… and the moment she does, he leans in to kiss her on the cheek. All of the Koukoku Class’ Minamo are screaming in utter horror, but the demon card is glowing—it’s resonating, which means the ceremony is successful. However, this isn’t the real power of the demon card, and they’re looking forward to see how things will develop from now on.
Mizuchi immediately apologizes to Mikoto for the kiss, but soon they hear a girl’s voice saying: “Don’t stain Mizuchi nii-sama! How dare you touch Mizuchi nii-sama! I don’t care about the demon card! I’ll report this to grandfather immediately!!” The girl then leads all of the Koukoku Class’ Minamo to leave the auditorium, making it clear that they won’t accept this ceremony. Mizuchi apologizes to the chairmen for their behavior, but the chairmen know it’s because they love him to that extent. This is a trial that Mikoto and Mizuchi have to face, and the chairmen are hoping it can lead them to become even more devoted.
Before leaving the auditorium, Mizuchi apologizes to Mikoto again—this time for how impolite his Minamo behaved earlier. She tells him that she doesn’t mind, but she still doesn’t get what it means for the demon card to choose him. Mizuchi immediately turns silent upon hearing this, while Himeutsugi smiles saying he should explain everything to Mikoto. After all, they’re going to be lovers from now on. Mikoto is surprised, but Mizuchi answers that the kiss was only for the ceremony. They don’t have that kind of relationship. He wants to have a healthy relationship with her, but Himeutsugi points out that they just kissed in front of the whole school—there’s no way it can be healthy. ヽ(*´ー`*)ﾉ
Momotose soon takes over, and she explains that Mikoto is now the top candidate for “Senki / 泉姫” since she was chosen by the demon card. Senki is a Minamo blessed with abundant power, and it’s believed that Senki can draw out Kaei’s power even higher than the maximum limit. In other words, a Senki is a top-class Minamo. A Senki candidate has to choose a Kaei as her partner, and dedicate all of her power to him until he blossoms—she plays the role of “water” to make the “flower” bloom. In order to give that power, a Senki needs physical contact with her Kaei. For example, she can give him her power through kisses. The power will deepen as the “water” and the “flower” become one, so they can also do things which are even greater than kisses. Mizuchi quickly stops this though. They only have to touch, and there’s no need to go that far. Or so he says. Momotose is envious though.
Himeutsugi finds it unusual for Momotose to take a liking on someone this much, but Momotose only says that Mikoto is special to her. In any case, it’s every Kaei’s dream to be a Senki candidate’s partner… and the other Five Brights must have wanted Mikoto as well. Himeutsugi and Momotose then decide to leave them alone, since they need to talk and understand each other. They’re going to become lovers after all, though Mizuchi denies this and says they are simply partners. Since he doesn’t want to treat Mikoto as a tool, they tell her to just cling to him as much as possible. They shouldn’t keep any secrets, though Momotose thinks it’d be difficult because of Mizuchi’s refined personality. After they leave, Mikoto finds it hard to talk to him. She feels a bit scared since he looks angry, and she can’t look him in the eyes after the kiss earlier.
However, Mizuchi then promises that he will never touch Mikoto again. He asks her not to be scared of him, assuring her that it’s for his own sake too. He doesn’t want to rely on those “immoral conducts”, so she can give her power to him like a regular Minamo. For him, Minamo are blessed existence who give their power to the players… and she’s one of them. Mikoto might be puzzled due to her status as a Senki candidate, but Mizuchi wants her to work hard without neglecting her self-discipline. She promises to do her best, and he answers that he’ll be counting on her. Their conversation is interrupted when they suddenly hear a scream from outside, and they run out of the auditorium to find the greenhouse enveloped in darkness. Mikoto is shocked when she sees blood splashing nearby, but Mizuchi warns her not to panic—that will only make it easier for “utsurohi / うつろひ” to possess her. Utsurohi—the dark shadow forming around them—have locked the entrance as well, and their faint whispers reveal that they’re aiming for the Senki candidate.
Since utsurohi gain information about Mikoto really fast, Mizuchi thinks an “Adabana / 仇花” (means evil flower literally) must be involved… but Himeutsugi points out that there are no presence of Adabana in the area. The utsurohi here must have possessed a student, and it should be destroyed if they can defeat the possessed student. The problem is, they don’t have any Minamo in the greenhouse—all of them are locked outside. The only one who can directly give power to Kaei are only Momotose, so the only choice they have is to do Hana Awase. Momotose will support Himeutsugi as a substitute Minamo, while Mikoto can take the role of Mizuchi’s Minamo. Himeutsugi thinks it’s too sudden since Mikoto hasn’t even received any training for Hana Awase, but Mizuchi already has an answer… and he asks her to become his Minamo. Utsurohi’s target is her, but he promises that he’ll never allow them to hurt her—he’ll protect her with his life. Mikoto knows that it’d be terrifying to fight with Hana Awase, but Mizuchi believes in her… so she decides to trust him too. She agrees to fight beside him, and together they do Hana Awase to destroy the utsurohi.
Their victory chases the darkness away from the greenhouse, but Mikoto loses her consciousness directly afterwards. The battle drains up all of her energy, though she did a great job considering it’s her first battle—just as expected from the Senki candidate. A normal Minamo wouldn’t be able to endure the battle for so long. Mizuchi thinks her actions truly fit the Koukoku Class, but she’s just starting out. He’s expecting her to improve and become an even better Minamo from now on. When Himeutsugi tells him that they can’t just leave Mikoto lying on the ground, Mizuchi asks Momotose to take care of her—he’s going to get a stretcher and call some people. Momotose protests since it’s a man’s duty to lift a lady up and carry her in his arms, but Himeutsugi says it’s just impossible to ask for that from Mizuchi. He’s more stiff that she expected, and she wonders if he can be lovers with Mikoto properly. It seems like they have a long way ahead of them.
“花見ればそのいはれとはなけれども 心のうちぞ苦しかりける” — Saigyō Hōshi (68)
Upon looking at the flowers, for no particular reason, my heart is in pain.
Mizuchi has always thought that a Senki candidate is a legendary figure. He still finds it hard to believe that he met one, but he knows the same goes for Mikoto. He noticed that her legs were shaking during today’s Hana Awase battle, and yet she remained standing and fought until the end. He admires her courage, and he wants her to become a person who can be the role model for the Koukoku Class. Mizuchi then excuses himself and leaves.
• Mini Glossary •
Kasen National Academy. The most prestigious school for Kasen / Hana Utsushi. People who are attending Kaen are mostly rich people, members of the royal family and those who are related to them.
As the name suggests, people who play Hana Utsushi. Players draw out the power hidden in the cards by using their Minamo’s power, though the player themselves also need high abilities.
The support role which can only be done by girls. Minamo participates in Hana Utsushi by partnering with the players, and they provide the power needed by the players to use the cards. Minamo needs to remain pure in order to keep their power, and those who lose their virginity will also lose their power as a Minamo. If Kaei are flowers, then Minamo are the water.
A top-class Minamo, blessed with abundant power. Senki can bring out Kaei’s power even past their limits, and her power is strong enough to move heaven and earth—or even to change fate. Only maidens chosen by the demon card has the qualification to become a Senki candidate, and so their existence is legendary.
The title granted to players who has exceptional power. Most of them are men, and the title is only given to a few players. The Five Brights gain this title through a special ritual. If Minamo are water, then Kaei are the flowers.
The Five Brights (五光)
The title given to the Kaei of Kasen National Academy. In other words, the top five students in the academy. They are admired, worshiped and respected by all the students in the school. Each of them leads a class of players and Minamo, and they can only have one Minamo at a time. Naturally, the position is only open for five students who are still attending the academy.
A card game played by using Hanafuda. Like poker. For more details see Lore’s tutorial here.
Hana Utsushi (華うつし)
The regular and widespread version of Kasen. It’s a traditional and formal game, and so the players need to put on the formal wear when they do Hana Utsushi.
Hana Awase (華アワセ)
The dangerous version of Kasen, which can only be done by Kaei and their Minamo. By doing Hana Awase, they put their lives on the line. Hana Awase is usually never used unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Free Hana Utsushi battle in Kaen, done under the permission of the chairmen. Katou is a tournament and takes place in a virtual space, so no one will get hurt even if they lose. One can request a battle with anyone listed in the rankings. If the opponent accepts, the battle will begin.
A species of obscene evil spirit born from people’s negative emotions, such as obsession or grudge. They have their own consciousness and can possess people.
Kaei who have fallen into the darkness. They have the ability to control utsurohi.
A mission to “reap” Adabana with Hana Awase. This becomes important later on in the story.
Don’t worry if you’re confused or don’t understand what the hell I was rambling about. The terminologies are in the mini glossary above, and all the confusing details will make sense in the end. I promise. (´・ω・`) In order to avoid spoilers, other important keywords and their explanations will be posted along with the other routes. If there’s anything you don’t understand, just leave a comment and I’ll try my best to explain!