I love Goichi Suda’s work. For those who don’t know, Suda 51 was responsible for games like Flower, Sun and Rain, killer7, No More Heroes and Killer Is Dead. Although I have not played every single game the man was involved in (because that would require me a DS and I don’t have that kind of money of my pocket), but I safely say that I do love the man’s work. It comments, it needs to be analysed, it looks beautiful, it’s not afraid to dare and do things differently, almost in a Punk-ish kind of way.
Ranko Tsukigime is no expection although you can call it a very normal and short game for a Suda game, but it’s clear that is touch is found in the game despite its use of tropes very well known to anime.
Ranko Tsukigime is a normal teenager by day but a hired assassin by night to fulfill her objective of killing her father and avenging her mother. The game is very short, sadly so, because it is only part of an anthology of animation called Short Peace which goes into many different eras of Japan. Ranko Tsukigimi’s Longest Day represents modern day Japan. And like Japan, this game is a melting pot.
Like many main characters like her, Ranko tries to balance her real objectives with her life as a normal teenager, but that is never shown. Rather than showing the struggle of the balance, the game decides to show Ranko as a very normal teenage girl. She’s just as confused as the player by the ride that the confusing story is. She doesn’t fully understand what is going on for the most part and I don’t think there is much to understand. The feeling that I got is that the short game is meant to express the cultural mixture that Japan has become and poke some fun at anime clichés and tropes.
Ranko and her friends look and act much like anime girls would, but the exaggeration of the animation styles and the fact that this is (probably) not meant to make much sense, sort of forgives it.
And why only sort of? Probably because to me Ranko looks a little too close to Zero from Drakengard 3, and her friends Kirara and Moeko sound like they could exist in either Persona 4 or Danganropa. Not that I’m complaining about it, it’s just a personal nitpicking.
If you’re turned off by style over substance, I suggest that you don’t pick up this game, but if you do like a tight and good game, play it. The game is fast with very tight gameplay and constantly throws new twists and turns your way.
My favorite part of it is the side-scroller action that takes the majority of it. It actually gets a bit hard if you’re taking attention to the game or get confused by all the effects, but never enough to kill you.
Ranko is followed by a ghostly green mass of arms that she can shoot and if you get caught by it, it’s your own goddamn fault because you weren’t fast enough.
Sadly, there is not much info online about the game and it seems like it’s this small piece of lost Suda 51 writing that barely anyone knows about it. Because of it, I cannot confirm what I think the game is about outside of one quote by the director:
“[Suda] feels that current Japanese culture is one big mixture of a bunch of things,” Kataoka said at the time. “Tokyo looks like a great big mixture of everything. Because of that, there’s a bunch of creators involved in this one project. The animated parts kind of stand on their own, the scenario stands on its own, and the game stands on its own. All these different elements are glued together by that theme – that mixture.”
See it more as an experiment and you might enjoy it. I don’t recommend it wholeheartedly, but I did enjoy it.