So, I just finished Re:BIRTHDAY SONG today. I wasn’t actually planning to blog this game, but changed my mind since the main story turns out to be pretty good. As I wasn’t too fond of the school life part, I’ll only cover the core of the story.
One night, the heroine wakes up in the middle of the street with absolutely no memories. As she looks around in confusion, a talking owl approaches her and decides to bring her to a castle—which turns out to be a school for shinigami candidates. There he explains that she’s currently in the netherworld, a place for those who died with regrets and lingering attachments. As the principal of the school, he gives her the name “Cocoro” and offers her a chance to stay at the school—taking lessons to become a full-fledged shinigami.
Unfortunately, Cocoro isn’t exactly good at studying. Since shinigami work in pairs, the students have to take an exam to determine their partners… and Cocoro scores the grand total of 2. Out of 100. For all subjects combined. Needless to say, she fails to get a partner. Instead, she’s transferred to a “special supplementary class” for failures like herself. The school also sends her to live with them in a separate house, and there she lives with her supplementary class friends: Kairi, Yoru, Ame, Shun, and their homeroom teacher’s familiar, Yuyu. Unlike the rest of them, however, Cocoro has no recollection of her past life. She doesn’t know how she died, what regrets she had in her life, and why she ended up in the netherworld.
The reason behind this is because Cocoro wasn’t supposed to land in the netherworld.
The story actually starts a long, long time ago, with the lore of the netherworld itself. There used to be an ordinary man who had two treasures in his life. The first was the beautiful song he used to sing, and the second was his lovely daughter. Unfortunately, the man died of an incurable disease. Feeling sad to leave his daughter behind, he didn’t ascend and reincarnate to his next life. Instead, he landed on a space that wasn’t heaven nor hell. There he watched over his daughter until her life eventually faded away, and then he sang so her soul can reach heaven without getting lost along the way. Over time, the souls of people who died with regret landed in this space as well. Out of love, the man turned the space into a place for these souls to live in—a place that eventually became the netherworld. People worship the man as the very first head of shinigami, though no one knows how many generations have passed since then.
As you may have guessed, his daughter is actually Cocoro. After her father died, she eventually fell victim to the same disease and died at the age of 17. Due to her father’s song, her soul was supposed to go to heaven… but she actually had a big regret in her life. She never experienced love. Upon realizing this, her father used the power of his song—the power to grant wishes—to send her to the next life right away, hoping for his daughter to find love. For this reason, whenever Cocoro dies, her soul doesn’t have to queue up in heaven or hell to prepare for her next life—she reincarnates almost immediately. Ever since her very first death, Cocoro has reincarnated multiple times and fell in love with all sorts of men. Sadly, none of it worked out and she always ended up dying on her 17th birthday.
The first man Cocoro met and fell in love with was actually Nami, but let’s save him for later.
Ame’s real name is Shigusawa Hotaru, the son of a noble family who lived and died in Taisho period. When he was still alive, Ame suffered from a heart disease that eventually took his life. He’s never been good at social interaction, so Cocoro’s father gave him a certain power in the hope of helping him—the power to read people’s minds. Unfortunately, this only caused his family to get terrified of him. Out of fear, they locked him up in a separate building… and he spent his remaining days there. The only ones who came to visit him were his servant, his sister, and his sister’s fiancé.
Until one day, Cocoro got lost on her way back from an errand and ended up at the innermost part of Ame’s family estate—where she found him sitting on the porch. She mistook him for an angel, and upon learning that he was dying, she decided to be his friend. He mentioned that no one would feel sad when he dies, so she told him that—as a friend—she would cry a lot and mourn for him when the time comes. Since then, Cocoro kept visiting Ame and taught him various games to play. They made a promise to see fireflies together. She would come to pick him up, and they would sneak out of his family estate together.
Unfortunately, Ame died right on the promised day. When Cocoro came and found him dead, she was heartbroken and realized that she was in love with him… but it was too late. On her 17th birthday, she ended up dying too in an accident. Before he died, Ame realized that he was in love with Cocoro as well. He wanted to live and be with her, and that became the regret that sent him to the netherworld. During his stay in the netherworld, he has attended the shinigami school once. His partner got terrified of him when she found out about his power to read minds, so he broke off their partnership and stayed at a facility managed by the school—until Cocoro appeared in the netherworld.
For the graduation exam, Ame and Cocoro’s target for soul reaping is a boy named Aimiya Yuzu. He’s dying of a heart disease, similarly to Ame when he was still alive. Since Ame is pretty much ancient, he’s the only one whose target isn’t directly related to him. It’s also revealed that Rikka used to be his servant in their past life, and so Rikka still acts formally towards him even in the netherworld.
Shun’s real name is Shiba Haruto, born and lived in Showa period. His father died when he was small, and his mother had to sell herself in order to support the family. For this reason, Shun didn’t go to high school and started working after he graduated from middle school. Due to his scary face, people often mistook him as a delinquent and avoided him entirely… so he’s not exactly good at socializing. His mother loved singing, but after his father’s death, her singing voice became a tool to please her lovers. Shun grew to dislike songs because of this and often fought with his mother, even though he actually cared a lot about her. She often brought abusive lovers who would treat her violently, but when Shun tried protecting her, she snapped at him for chasing away her money source—out of frustration. Finding this unbearable, he often went to the park to escape the situation at home.
In Shun’s timeline, Cocoro was a high school student. She often saw him at the park on her way home, and while she was scared of him at first, she noticed that he looked really sad. Eventually, she decided to talk to him and they grew closer over time—with her coming to see him at the park everyday. On the day of Cocoro’s 17th birthday, Shun made some cookies for her and waited for her to come to the usual park. However, he saw one of her mother’s former lover heading towards their house. He got a bad feeling and ran all the way home, and there he found the man trying to kill his mother.
When Shun pulled the man away from his mother, the man totally snapped and lunged towards him with a knife… but Cocoro jumped in at the last seconds and took the hit for him. She actually saw him running off from the park, so she got worried and followed him. Anyway, Cocoro died from the wound. Shun was enraged and tried to attack the man, only to get himself killed as well. Ever since this incident, his mother lost her eyesight. Shun’s regret obviously comes from his failure to protect his mother, and that’s why he landed in the netherworld. Unlike Ame, Shun never came to the shinigami school before. He spent a long time living in the facility managed by the school—until the principal eventually invited him.
For the graduation exam, Shun and Cocoro’s target is Shun’s mother—Shiba Keina. Since the incident, Keina has grown old and spent her life all alone. Despite his attempt to keep quiet about his identity, she notices right from the very start that he’s her son. With Cocoro’s support, Shun manages to reconcile with his mother and apologizes for leaving her alone. On the last day, his mother’s eyesight returns—allowing her to see her son for one last time.
Kairi’s real name is Amari Takumi. He shares the same timeline with Yoru, as both of them lived and died in Heisei period… which is the current period we’re living in. Similarly to Shun, Kairi has a complicated family situation. His father is a really strict man, and his parents never really got along. After Kairi was born, his mother tried holding on for his sake. Still, they often fought in front of him, and hoping to lift the tension, he told himself to smile even when his parents are fighting. Sadly, this only caused them to get terrified of how calm he is… and her mother eventually left to marry someone else. Since then, Kairi suffered severe verbal abuse from his father—as if his father is trying to make himself feel better by taking it out on him.
Before the divorce, Kairi had spent his summer vacation with his grandfather at the countryside. During his stay there, he met a small Cocoro at a sunflower field. Cocoro had come to the countryside on a trip with her parents, and she got lost in the woods before eventually finding her way to the sunflower field. After spending their summer vacation together, Kairi and Cocoro grew really close. He adored her singing voice, while she loved the small airplanes he built. She told him to write a letter for his parents, and so he sent them one—even though he didn’t think they’d read it. At the end of the summer vacation, however, Cocoro had to go back home with her parents. Since she wouldn’t stop crying, Kairi promised to follow his dream to build airplanes so he’d be able to see her again one day… even though he knew that it’s a promise which would never be fulfilled.
…and so while Cocoro is Kairi’s first love and he was hers, she eventually forgot about him.
Anyway, Kairi’s grandfather couldn’t bear to see the abuse he had to endure and decided to take him in. Kairi then moved to live with his grandfather at the countryside, and it was the happiest time of his life… but sadly it didn’t last for too long. His grandfather died soon after that, and so his father came to take him back. However, Kairi refused to live with his father again. It was the first rejection he had ever shown, and out of rage, his father called him a “shinigami”—a death reaper who always brought misfortunes to the people around him. Kairi’s father came to regret this after a while and came back to see him again, only to hear a loud gunshot from the sunflower field. When he rushed there, he found out that his son has committed suicide out of despair—by shooting himself in the head. Kairi’s grandfather had a model gun in the house, and Kairi modified it himself to turn it into a real weapon.
Despite all of this, Kairi was actually worried about leaving his father all alone… and so it became the regret that sent him to the netherworld. Kairi arrived at the netherworld the year before. He entered the shinigami school right away and his grades were top-class, but his partner—Mitsugu—ascended during their graduation exam. Their target was Mitsugu’s younger sister, and Kairi started questioning himself because he actually doesn’t feel anything towards the reaping—in contrary to how emotional Mitsugu was. He’s reminded of this after partnering with Cocoro, who’s just as compassionate towards their targets, but comes to accept this side of him after she told him that it’s perfectly alright for him to remain calm in front of the deaths of others.
For the graduation exam, Kairi and Cocoro’s target is none other than Kairi’s father—Amari Keigo. He’s dying from a disease, but he’s been ignoring it thinking his life has no meaning anyway. At first he appears just as harsh as always, but they gradually learn that he actually does love his son. He kept the letter Kairi sent to him during that summer vacation, and he felt really guilty for Kairi’s suicide. Even though it was Kairi who pulled the trigger, he felt that he was the one who drove his son to that point. Kairi had always thought that his father was yelling at him out of rage and hatred just before he died, but it was actually out of grief—he was begging his son not to leave. After learning about this, Kairi finally reconciles with his father. On the last day, his father apologizes for being such a terrible father—admitting that he does love Kairi and wanted him to live.
Yoru’s real name is Sawa Yaichi, Cocoro’s childhood friend in Heisei period. They were always together, except for one summer vacation when Cocoro went to the countryside and met Kairi. Yoru has always loved Cocoro from when they were still alive, which is why he was shocked to see her in the netherworld. On Cocoro’s 17th birthday, Yoru was actually planning to confess to her. He had prepared a present for her and asked her to go home together that day, but then he was called to attend an emergency meeting for the library committee—which he was a member of. What he didn’t know is that she actually decided to wait for him at school.
Just before the meeting ends, a girl named Misaki Mei confessed to Yoru. She’s friendly and very popular at school, but his heart obviously belongs to Cocoro. However, Mei ran off before Yoru could answer with a proper rejection—afraid of hearing her answer. He was about to chase after her, but he was stopped by Cocoro at the door and she convinced him to walk home with her. Yoru didn’t know that Cocoro did this out of jealousy, as she didn’t want him to chase after Mei. Still surprised by Mei’s confession, Yoru got lost in thought and only gave Cocoro half-hearted replies as they walked home. This only caused her to become even more insecure, though at first she tried to cover it up by asking if he was going to date Mei. She pretended to be cheerful and said they’d make a nice couple, but since he still didn’t give her a clear answer, things quickly went south.
Cocoro admitted that she felt like Yoru was being taken away from her, and she didn’t like it. However, he answered this by saying that she was being childish—like a kid who lost her favorite toy. They ended up arguing because of this, until she finally snapped, told him to just be with Mei, and then ran off towards a crossing. Occupied by her own thoughts, Cocoro failed to see a car coming and got hit right then and there. Yoru grabbed her arm and tried to pull her back at the last second, but it only caused him to get dragged right into it—the car hit both of them, and they died at the same time.
Yoru’s failure to confess to Cocoro became the regret that sent him to the netherworld. He couldn’t find her anywhere in the netherworld though, and he decided to become a shinigami so he can search for her in the human world. Similarly to Kairi, Yoru entered the shinigami school right away and made it as far as the graduation exam. However, he didn’t get along with his former partner… and so their partnership was broken off right before the exam.
For the graduation exam, Yoru and Cocoro’s target is the girl who confessed to him that day—Misaki Mei. At first Yoru refused to see Mei, but from a picture in Mei’s room, Cocoro found out that the man Mei used to like is none other than Yoru when he was still alive. The moment Mei met Yoru, it triggered a severe headache for Cocoro and she ran off out of jealousy… towards the crossing where they died. She regains her memories after that, and the next day, Yoru went to see Mei and rejected her confession—to make sure that Mei can die without any regrets.
This is probably my least favorite of all the graduation exams, because on the day of Mei’s death, all of the jealousy and hatred in her soul come out to attack Yoru and Cocoro. She was jealous that they can be together even after death, revealing that she’s been putting on a mask for all her life. She was afraid of rejection and acted nice on purpose so everyone would like her, but her affection for Yoru is sincere—it has nothing to do with her desire to be accepted. Thanks to Cocoro’s song, they manage to calm Mei’s soul down and send her to heaven without destroying her soul.
So, Yoru and Kairi died the previous year. They landed in the netherworld right away, but Cocoro took another whole year before she finally appeared before them. What happened to her in that one year…? Well, that’s for the next character to answer.
Nami’s real name is Tsudahara Narumi, a scholar who lived in Meiji period. He was actually the first man Cocoro fell in love with, except her name wasn’t Cocoro back then—it was Sana. Both Nami and Sana had no relatives. They met in a bookstore when they reached for the same book at the same time, and they started seeing each other ever since. Since Nami never really took care of himself, Sana would come to his place to look after him. The following year, he confessed to her with the intention of marrying her. She accepted, and they got engaged. They weren’t planning to have a wedding ceremony, but they wanted to take a memorial picture together.
On the day of her 17th birthday, Sana waited for Nami to come to the photo studio. He was running late because he had some work to do. She was staying in the studio in her wedding dress when she heard a gunshot from outside. It was an attempted coup d’etat, and she was shot in the chaos that ensued. By the time Nami arrived, Sana was lying in her bloodstained wedding dress and quickly died in his arms. Nami himself died not too long after that, though he didn’t remember anything about it. Naturally, he landed in the netherworld and became a scientist for the government—where he spent his time looking for Sana’s soul.
After a while, Nami managed to track down Sana’s soul. Or rather, Cocoro’s soul. The problem was that due to her father’s power, her soul reincarnated so quickly he couldn’t get to her before she moved on to her next life. He eventually succeeded in snatching her soul, and this happened after she died with Yoru in Heisei period. Now, the government actually has another issue to face. The power of the first head of shinigami—Cocoro’s father—has been weakening after supporting the netherworld for millenia, and they need a new head of shinigami who can replace his soul. They soon figured out that Cocoro has the same power as her father, and so they want to make her the next pillar of the netherworld.
Nami, however, doesn’t want any of that. In fact, he wants to destroy the netherworld and build a new world just for him and Sana—a world where she doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. That’s why after he snatched Cocoro’s soul, he actually kept it with him for a while. She was unconscious during her stay with him, most likely due to the shock of having her soul snatched. The government eventually grew suspicious of him and decided to inspect his place, leaving him with no choice but to throw Cocoro out to the streets. Fortunately, she opened her eyes soon after that… and this is when the principal found her at the beginning of the game. From there, Cocoro fell unconscious again and didn’t wake up until a year later—which explains the time lapse between her and Yoru’s arrival in the netherworld.
Due to his desperate wish to be with Sana, Nami forced Cocoro to reap the souls of sinners and took her away from her supplementary class friends. The experience greatly traumatizes her, and she soon learns about her true identity from the principal. In addition, he also shows her that her father’s soul has been kept in the school basement for a long time—from where he supports the netherworld. Realizing that something is wrong with Cocoro, her supplementary class friends decide to help and arrange a plan for her to escape the school. After all, the principal might be planning to turn her into the next head of shinigami, while Nami is… well, like that. To make things worse, Nami doesn’t see Cocoro for who she really is. He only sees Sana in her, so her attempts to talk to him all end up in vain.
However, Cocoro eventually learns why her father created the existence of shinigami. It’s because those who died with regrets know how sad and terrifying it feels when one is on the verge of death, and their ability to sympathize make them suitable for the sending off—as they can reassure people that death is not as scary and terrible as they think. After Cocoro successfully reaps a man’s soul, Nami’s eyes is finally opened and he begins to see the current her—not chasing after Sana’s shadow anymore. From a conversation with Cocoro’s father, it’s also revealed that their power is not meant to destroy or create a world alone—their power holds the ability to grant wishes. In the end, Cocoro takes over her father’s power and becomes the next head of shinigami, finally allowing her father to rest in peace.
So how does this story end? Well… remember that Cocoro’s regret is that she never experienced love? In each character’s rebirth ending, Cocoro and her man reincarnate together and share a happy life. This finally fulfills her wish to experience love, as she finally gets the happy ending she’s been wishing for. At the same time, it also ended her looping fate of dying at the age of 17 and then speed-reincarnating to her next life… because her father simply wanted to fulfill her wish. If she decides to stay as a shinigami in the netherworld, her father will tell her to sing and use her power to grant her own wish. As long as she gets her happy ending, that nicely wraps up the story for her and her father.
Even in Nami’s death ending, where Cocoro stays in the underworld as the new head of shinigami, she leaves all the political stuff to the shinigami organization and chooses to lead a normal life instead.
In the epilogue, we hear Cocoro’s father thanking everyone: Nami, Ame, Shun, Kairi, and Yoru—in that order—for loving his only daughter even in death. He knows that she doesn’t need his song anymore, so he finally leaves her and her chosen man to be happy together.
“Today, too, the head of shinigami is singing somewhere out there. Not to pour power through his song, but to wish for the happiness of his daughter and the man she loves. A song filled with a wish for their smiles to last forever.”
Man, I’m so disappointed. ｡･ﾟ･(*ﾉД`*)･ﾟ･。 This game had the potential to be great, but it was all wasted on the school life part and the inconsistent writing. If you’re eyeing this game thinking “oh it might be like Hogwarts for shinigami!”, then throw that thought away—there is no such thing. We don’t get to see any of the lessons aside from the reaping itself. All of the studying, the exams, the magical details are skipped through. Instead, we get a singing festival, summer vacation, school festival, the netherworld’s equivalent of Christmas… basically all the things you can get from a normal school life game. I feel like the magical setting is wasted for the most part, and that’s really disappointing.
Also, the ending song. I like rock, okay. I really do. BUT. THAT ENDING SONG COMPLETELY DESTROYS THE MOOD. Some of the endings might make you tear up, but then the ending song kicks in and all the touching, emotional moments just fly out of the window. WHY? (⊙ω⊙✿) It doesn’t help that the game gets draining after a while, because it follows exactly the same template for all the routes. It basically goes like this:
Common route → a chapter of school life → school festival → exam → shinigami training → main story.
So once you’ve played one or two routes and experienced the main story, the school life part feels kind of draggy… not to mention predictable. Actually, the “grand reveal” is predictable too LOL. The moment they mentioned the netherworld’s lore, you can tell right away that Cocoro must be the daughter of the head of the shinigami. You’d think that with these hints scattered everywhere they would go straight to the point when it comes to it, but nope—they actually dragged it out for several chapters.
No ending summaries here, please go play the game for the characters. They’re pretty much what saved this game for me, along with their backgrounds and the story with Cocoro’s father. (´；ω；`)
But Rin, if you don’t like the game why bother fully completing it and even writing this post?
For KENN in Un:BIRTHDAY SONG, that’s why.