Every now and then you stumble across a series which fill a space you didn’t even know was there, but which you can’t imagine how you went so long without filling it. This year I discovered Utawarerumono. Previously my entire experience with the franchise was seeing some minor buzz around the second game’s anime a few years back, which faded away fairly quickly and that was that. Aside from seeing a handful of mentions of the games on twitter in the intervening years it remained firmly in “thing which a few people seem to like a lot but isn’t really on my radar” territory. Around the start of the year I ended up picking up the two PS4 games on a whim really, because all those vague mentions I’d seen since were positive, and I like me some SRPGs.
Because I’d been so isolated from the series until that point I wasn’t prepared for just how much it would grab me. It’s not an understatement to say it’s shot up to being one of my favourite franchises. One of the advantages of discovering an overlooked favourite is that there’s often more to it. After tearing through both games I couldn’t resist moving straight on to the original’s anime adaptation (see, this is totally a post about anime, shh) and loved it just as much.
What grabbed me about the franchise more than anything is how much it treats its cast as a family, and the success with which it does so. Both the games and the anime consistently maintain the sense that these characters genuinely care for each other to the point where it’s impossible to not get invested in them. Events aren’t just happening to any one character, they happen to everyone collectively, this often makes the stories more tragic turns all the more devastating, but also serves as a support network, everyone might be suffering but that just means nobody has to suffer alone. Even at its darkest Utawarerumono never loses sight of this hopeful tone and it’s all the stronger for it.
Discovering a new favourite is always wonderful. Tomorrow though we’ll be revisiting another old one through a new lens.