Kindred Spirits on the Roof was first released in Japan in 2012, but only came to Steam for the rest of the world in February this year. It follows Toomi Yuna, a second-year student at Kokonotsuboshi Girls’ Academy of Commerce, who one day discovers two ghosts – Sachi and Megumi – on the roof of one of the school’s buildings. The two spirits are lovers (of course), and both are girls (naturally). The reason they’re still hanging around instead of moving on to the afterlife is because they wish to have their “first time” with each other – but they don’t know how to. So they rope in Yuna to help them fulfill their wish, by playing Cupid and helping out girls with hidden feelings in order to nurture yuri couples at the school so that they can create a “Yuritopia” and gain the knowledge needed for their wish through their observations.
So yeah, they want to create these couples because they sincerely want girls with hidden feelings to express them and hopefully get together with their crush, and also because they want to see them get it on.
The plot isn’t just about Yuna helping the spirits and the other girls though. It’s also about each and every one of these yuri pairings, with many side-chapters and extra chapters showing things from their perspective and fleshing them out further. It’s also about the development of Yuna’s character, who starts off as a relative loner but gains new friends and a new outlook along the way.
It’s quite a well-told tale, and one that I didn’t fully anticipate given that I bought it with simple expectations of fluffy yuri romance. Regarding that, there’re definitely sweet and fluffy yuri moments to be found in each pairing, but there’re also worries (including the “but we’re both girls!” concern, which is taken seriously but isn’t delved into too deeply, which is fine) and small conflicts that affect the relationships. They don’t turn Kindred Spirits on the Roof into a super-serious drama or in-depth character study, but they do add a welcome dose of depth and realism.
The realism is aided by the fact that the story spans the course of over six months. So there’s no relationship that feels formed in a rush and no conflict that is effortlessly and quickly-resolved. All of these take time, which makes things more believable. It also makes it satisfying when the pair you ship finally gets together.
There’re six of these pairs, if you exclude the spirits and another which forms much later, and each are markedly different from one another. Some of these include a kouhai-senpai (junior and senior student, basically) pairing, a trouble-maker and a strict disciplinary committee member, two seniors and co-captains of the track team (who are the only pre-established (living) couple in the VN) and a student-teacher pairing. Yes, there is a student-teacher pair in here, which may understandably be a bit off-putting to some. Personally, I found the relationship to be a bit weird for me, but it was still sufficiently well-handled and didn’t come across as being creepy or unsettling. I guess it helps that the teacher looks really young (and is probably pretty young as well).
The pairs – as well as some girls who don’t get involved in any romance – are well-written characters overall. That doesn’t mean I liked them all equally though. I found Sachi and Megumi a tad dull, while the contrasting personalities of Youka and Aki – the trouble maker and disciplinary committee member respectively – made them one of my favourite pairings to watch. My favourite individual though is without doubt Hina – Yuna’s childhood friend and a freshman student. I actually found her personality to be a bit 2-dimensional for much of the VN, being adorable but not much else until later on, especially when she eventually gets some chapters from her POV. Thankfully, she’s really adorable, and that’s what made her character thoroughly endearing throughout the story despite some of her quirks feeling slightly repetitive at times.
One important thing to note is that there are multiple choice to make throughout Kindred Spirits on the Roof. They don’t affect the story – save for some lines of dialogue – but each choice unlocks a different extra chapter, and unlocking all of them nets you an extra ending which is very satisfying to read.
The art-style is, I suppose, slightly more realistic then in A Kiss for the Petals: Remembering How Met, offering smaller doses of very bright colours and not makind every character look very cute. As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty good, albeit repetitive. You’ll be hearing the same tracks over and over, and you’ll especially come across this track a lot:
Fortunately it’s really catchy (and is my favourite track in the VN) and somehow doesn’t feel grating, although it almost does occasionally. There are other tracks which I enjoyed listening to, and others which I didn’t, but all are of good quality and play at the appropriate scenes and moments.
There is also voice-acting in the VN, and it’s good, but there is a catch: it’s only partial voice-acting. So we have scenes with voice-acting and others which don’t. I found that to be a little disappointing at first, but it didn’t take long to accept that fact and get used to it, and ultimately it didn’t feel like the experience was ruined because of that. Furthermore, all of the important or more significant scenes (from my perspective at least) are voiced, so there’s a silver lining.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Kindred Spirits on the Roof has H-scenes, but they’re not very explicit and are pretty tame and tasteful, which explains why it’s fully uncensored on Steam (it’s known as the first fully-uncensored visual novel on Steam). They’re also far from the focus of the VN – it took me 12 hours before I encountered the first H-scene.
I won’t go into details, but some of them are enjoyable, some are a bit dull, and others a bit awkward (probably suitably so, as that’s probably what the characters were feeling at the time too). My biggest complaint is that a number of them feel repetitive or similar to some degree. Most of the couples are new to this admittedly, so it’s kinda understandable, but I do wish that their varying personalities and relationship dynamics would make each of the scenes stand out from each other more. It’s a bit disappointing since these scenes are supposed to be the culmination of Yuna’s hard work and the pairings’ respective arcs.
Ultimately however, the H-scenes aren’t the selling point, or the reason you should get this. It’s everything else – the plot, the characters, the art and the music – that make this a visual novel worth reading. I spent almost 60 ringgit on it at launch, and the experience and length were well worth my money. I give it a thumbs up.