Review: Time Princess - Taishō Adventures

Barely even a week after their Phantom of the Opera visual novel came out, the Time Princess app released Taishō Adventures, an original story set in Japan that could not be more different than Phantom. This is the first new story that had more than one chapter since I started playing Time Princess, harkening back to its original three visual novels. It takes place during the Taishō era, a period of Japanese history that lasted from 1912 to 1926. Since this the same time period that Gotham Memoirs takes place, there is some overlap of the clothing styles. The setting in Taishō Adventures also incorporates some classic Japanese fashions including colorful kimonos and beaded floral accessories as well as many Japanese cultural references including idioms, fairy tales, and architecture. It delivers a satisfying resolution no matter which story path you take, which is more than I can say about Helen of Sparta or Shadows of London.

Taishō Adventure Book Cover

It takes a little while to grasp the story in Taishō Adventures. The book cover and opening chapter imply that it's about a group of small-time thieves who are trying to run an orphanage. The more the story unfurls, the more it starts to feel like a Japanese version of Don Bluth's Anastasia. It's even set around the same time period and has some similar fashions. Yuko Sato, a hopeful orphan girl, is haunted by a Japanese lullaby that she keeps hearing in her dreams. She believes the voice belongs to her mother but has no memories of her childhood. When she teams up with a con man named Akira Suzuki to impersonate a missing noblewoman named Yuko Karasuma, she realizes that she might have more in common with the lost princess noble than she ever imagined. The rest of the story involves Yuko and her friend following a series of schemes set into place by Akira that eventually allow her to meet with the grandmother of the lost noble.

Kuroko encourages Yuko to get money for the orphanageMasya Hino's sincerityYuko plays her new role for Akira

One area where this story differs from Anastasia is Yuko's best friend, Kuroko, who pretends to be her maid to help her run schemes for the orphanage. Kuroko is the closest that Time Princess has ever gotten to including a female love interest. The visual novel drops several hints that she has feelings for Yuko as more than a friend and allows the player to choose between her and Akira as the love interest for one of the endings. An earlier ending matches Yuko with Masaya Hino, who is the default love interest no matter what choices the player makes with him. Most of the visual novels in this game have a "nice guy" and a "bad boy" character to choose between, but this one is less black and white. Even though Masaya is supposed to be the "Prince Charming" character, he lies about his identity to Yuko when he first meets her and has less depth to his personality than Akira or Kuroko. I was surprised when I got his ending because I hadn't been trying to romance him with my choices. The novel encourages players to put in the additional effort it takes to unlock the final level so they can be with one of the better-developed love interests.

Yuko and Masaya HinoYuko and Kuroko enjoying fireworks togetherYuko dancing with Akira in stunning sparkling dress

During the Taishō era, Japan inherited some fashions from the western part of the world. As a result, the outfits from this story contain a mixture of eastern and western designs. Yuko's signature blue gown with long white opera gloves reminds me of the dress that Anastasia wore when she was reunited with her grandmother for the first time except more elaborate with swirling silver beading and lace patterns that are similar to the version of this dress from the musical. I love the different colors and patterns on the kimonos in this story, ranging from purple to pink to yellow. They are authentic to the setting and provide an opportunity to experiment with clothing from different cultures. This visual novel allows you to craft three Japanese-inspired fashions and three western-inspired ones with opportunities for other kimonos patterns from the Lucky Jerry lottery system. I had a hard time crafting everything for this book and still haven't finished obtaining every available outfit. Taishō Adventures is twice the length of the other ones that came out within the past few months and therefore twice as difficult, but it's worth it for those who are willing to put in the effort.

Yuko in an elaborate royal blue gown resembling Anastasia's opera dressYuko in a traditional pink kimono with beaded floral decorations hanging from her hairYuko in a black '20s style dress that's a mixture eastern and wester fashions

Overall, Taishō Adventures is a breath of fresh air after Time Princess's whirlwind of half-finished stories over the past few months. It is a great opportunity to learn about Japanese history and fashion and explores the story of Anastasia in a new setting. Taishō Adventures is also the only visual novel besides Gotham Memoirs and Magic Lamp to have a clear-cut villain, which creates a strong feeling of suspense throughout the story. I enjoyed the depth and mystery behind Kuroko and Akira's characters, but I did think that Masaya was a bit shallow. My favorite thing about this story is the opportunity to add traditional Japanese outfits into my ever-expanding wardrobe in Time Princess.

Taishō Adventures Story Map - LeftTaishō Adventures Story Map - Right

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