Review Visual Novel

Reimei no Gakuen – Review | Dawn of a New Hope

Featuring six love interests, more than 30 side characters, and approximately an 80-hour long playtime, Reimei no Gakuen is easily one of the most ambitious indie otome Original English Language visual novels (OELVN) I’d come across to date. Developed by Raikon Kitsune, Reimei no Gakuen was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2018 and released for PC (Windows, Linux, macOS) in February 2022. For such a grand project, this plot-heavy fantasy otome game did not disappoint. Indeed, prepare to join a group of teenagers on their eventful journey where the mysteries of twenty years slowly unfold in the midst of light-hearted school slice-of-life moments and intense life-or-death battles.

Intended for an audience aged 13 and above, Reimei no Gakuen’s content warnings include blood, bullying, child abandonment and neglect, death, fire/burning, pyrophobia, kidnapping, mild language, loss of a loved one, suggestive themes, violence, and weapons (blades and guns). On top of infrequent gunshot sounds, there are also momentary screen shakes and white flash effects used.

Aurora Academy’s Secrets

Reimei no Gakuen takes place in a world where fairies, witches, demons, beasts, and other supernatural beings live hidden beside everyday humans. Twenty years prior, a shower of colorful stars lit up the sky one night — a mysterious event later known as the Hoshi no Ame. Since then, some humans are found to be born with special abilities or Shin which also brought them misfortune and tragedies. While many of these shin bearers fell victim to their poor fates, those who managed to survive are eventually led to Aurora Academy, the only place with a special department catered to protecting them.

Reimei no Gakuen - Sheryl Shiganori

Currently a member of Crystal Rose, Aurora Academy’s special department, Sheryl Shiganori (name cannot be changed) is one of such shin bearers. Playing from Sheryl’s perspective in Reimei no Gakuen has been enjoyable with how decisive and strong she can be in a setting where those characteristics are important for survival. The numerous heart-stopping, unpredictable battles are certainly spiced up by the protagonist’s presence as she is a highly capable but not infallible sword fighter who puts her heart and mind into the fights. Truly, Sheryl is not only consistently quick on her feet but quick to think on her feet as well. When she is not fighting for her life, she can be found munching on chocolates and sweets alone or in the company of other shin bearers at the Crystal Rose dorm. Being one of the first Crystal Rose members since the academy’s inception, Sheryl is a senior whom the newer members automatically look up to for guidance even though she hardly sees herself as a leader. She tends to keep an inexpressive face and doesn’t talk much, but she thinks about plenty of things and has a reasonable grasp of the others’ personalities, behaviors, and even romantic intentions. With her cool-headedness and sometimes cheekiness, Sheryl is a comfortable and amusing protagonist to play as.

The story of Reimei no Gakuen takes place during a particular academic year when 17 new shin bearers joined Aurora Academy as Crystal Rose members. Including the five existing seniors, the special department is seeing its largest cohort yet. The sheer number of Crystal Rose members is pretty daunting and although I couldn’t fully remember everyone’s names until my third playthrough, their introductions were surprisingly not overwhelming. Moreover, the writing devotes adequate time to show various shin bearers’ relations and interactions with one another, and brilliantly splits everyone into smaller manageable groups under different routes to further highlight their individual characteristics. The portrayal of the shin bearers is handled with enough care and quality that they each stand out on their own not just by virtue of their unique Shin, but also their different backgrounds, personalities, kinships, and friendships. The bonds and moments they share with one another are not at all shallow. As a result, Sheryl’s school days feel especially vivid and lively even in the absence of earth-shaking events during the peaceful moments.

Reimei no Gakuen contains seven routes: one Common Route and six love interest’s routes. All the routes are available from the first playthrough and while they share the same overarching plot and reveal similar plot information, some routes actually reveal a little more than the others. In addition, this otome visual novel makes use of a slightly different branching order where instead of branching into an individual route straightaway by the end of its third chapter, it will branch into a love interest pair’s (i.e. Lagi/Hiryuu; Aito/Sin; Fraser/Osamu/Common) common chapters before further branching into the selected route at a later chapter. Thus, for the play order, considering both plot revelation and efficiency in completing the routes, I’d recommend going with Lagi first, then Hiryuu, Aito, Sin, Fraser, Osamu, and finally the Common Route.

Reimei no Gakuen - Gallery

Despite the numerous choice menus present, getting a particular love interest’s route is more or less straightforward. In contrast, the two endings of every route — which will only be revealed in the final chapter — can be tricky to unlock, especially with the lack of an audio or visual cue indicating the “correct” choices. For some routes, in particular Osamu’s, the Good End is hidden behind a specific final choice that is nested within some other set of choices. Hiryuu and Lagi’s routes have more stringent criteria for unlocking their Good Ends too; if you make any three choices incorrectly in Hiryuu’s route, you automatically get the Bad End. I was able to obtain most endings without repeated trial and error but for the sake of saving time, it would be best to refer to the walkthrough guides on Reimei no Gakuen’s page.

Shin Bearers and the Six Love Interests

As mentioned, at the end of chapter 3, the story makes its first branching off to a love interest pair’s common chapters. This unusual branching may be confusing to new players but it certainly helps to center the spotlight on a particular pair of love interests and the shin bearers close to them before the story eventually branches off to the individual love interest’s route. Instead of introducing everyone in a lengthy common prologue that would likely never seem to end or conversely, in a superficial and brief manner, Reimei no Gakuen manages to cleverly introduce its cast of love interests and shin bearers in enough detail without taking up too much time and bogging down the good pacing. While some characters are relegated to minor roles as the others take the stage in different chapters, everyone ultimately gets their share of appearance time. Still, there are shin bearers who tend to be more memorable than the rest, such as Dain, a funny fellow whom I took quite a liking to and wished was a love interest but kind of forgot about until he had a more involved role in the Common Route. Or Remi and Rishou whose sibling dynamics remind me of myself and my elder brother.

Lagi Blanc the Fiery Redhead

It would be difficult to not notice Lagi, one of the incoming shin bearers for the new school year. Besides being the first love interest you can potentially meet, he has a personality that is as loud as his striking red hair. Lagi is sincere and cares fervently about his family and friends. Literally and figuratively, he radiates warmth like the fire he can summon with his Shin. However, he is pretty clueless in picking up and connecting other people’s unspoken thoughts and body language, which led him to a number of misunderstandings and clashes with Sheryl who happens to be a person of few words.

Reimei no Gakuen - Lagi

While Lagi’s boisterousness grabbed my attention, his willingness to accommodate Sheryl in spite of his burning desire to be closer to her is what touched my heart. The two have a rough start to their relationship and the wedge keeping them apart is something neither of them has any control over: Lagi has a fire-based Shin and Sheryl has pyrophobia. Nevertheless, both of them keep trying to work around what they can to reach out to the other, which is incredibly heartwarming to see. And like Lagi, I was pleasantly surprised to learn Sheryl has a mischievous side to her through her interactions with him. There is maturity in the writing’s approach to Sheryl and Lagi’s relationship development, and I enjoy how the couple’s road is inevitably bumpy but is filled with sweet and comical moments nonetheless.

Hiryuu Raikatuji the Grouchy Student Leader

Hiryuu heads the Aurora Academy’s Student Council and is one of the senior members of Crystal Rose. Diligent and serious about his duties, he is often seen buried in work. Hiryuu is also strict about keeping to the rules, so anyone who breaks the rules will soon find themself facing his trademark intimidating scowl. Even Sheryl, his longtime friend, is not exempted from his disciplinary methods; he would personally drag her to the Student Council office if he found out she had skirted her portion of the paperwork.

The dynamic between these two close friends who understand each other very well never fails to bring a smile to my face. Although only a small snippet of their shared past is shown, the way they interact with each other on a daily basis really brings out how deep their bond goes. Moments where Hiryuu understands the reticent protagonist perfectly just by observing her facial expressions or the emotions in her eyes especially make me squeal internally in joy. I also love the little physical touches Sheryl initiates, like a concerned poke at Hiryuu’s bandaged arm or a rebellious chomp on his nose that shows Sheryl’s different sides and at the same time depicts how comfortable the two are in each other’s presence. With their perfect chemistry, it is no wonder they are my very favorite pairing in Reimei no Gakuen. Not to mention, the very end of Hiryuu’s Good End has a totally unexpected but appreciated surprise too.

Aito Momotani the Quiet Observer

Part of the normal department of Aurora Academy, Aito is a quiet boy who prefers to hang around on his own, with the cats, or with Ran, his close friend. His tendency to close himself off coupled with his heterochromia often cause him to be the target of his classmates’ gossip. And if he were ever hurt by his peers’ rude remarks, he never really showed his feelings openly. After all, Aito is a kind-hearted soul who would not have thought to confront the others.

I’d described Sheryl as a person with few words, but Aito is someone with even fewer words. Yet he makes me feel thoroughly comfortable. There is no malice in his silence and he is not judgemental in spite of his keen observation of those around him. In fact, it melts my heart when Aito takes notice of the little things about Sheryl, e.g. what she likes or dislikes, through mere observation during his encounters with her. He shows his concern by offering a helping hand and is never nosy even if he may not fully understand Sheryl’s situation. Besides having a love interest I personally vibe very well with, Aito’s route has been enjoyable thanks to its Good End featuring what I believe is the best and most hopeful outcome as well.

Sin Knightray the Distrustful Guard

Another shin bearer newly enrolled at Aurora Academy, Sin is someone who gets friendly with those he deems trustworthy but is totally defensive against anybody else. Luckily for us, Sheryl falls into his trustworthy category and we are spared from dealing with his rude outbursts and open disdain. However, the friendliness he shows towards Sheryl is not all good news either as Sin has the tendency to jump in to protect Sheryl when the latter neither requested nor needed any protection. While he has acted out of good intentions, he has also acted out of turn, which annoys Sheryl.

Reimei no Gakuen - Sin

Sin is a rather interesting love interest. When he is all nice and sweet towards Sheryl, it is easy to like him. But his coldness towards his fellow allies and unwarranted overprotectiveness over Sheryl can be off-putting. Still, Sin puts in the effort to understand Sheryl’s point of view, consider her advice seriously, and change his behavior. Sin caring about Sheryl enough to improve himself is touching, though I still find their romance to be somewhat lacking as it gets overshadowed by the main plot. Despite that, Sin’s route is my favorite route because it is where everything gets immensely exciting when it comes to the main plot. I was fully invested in the team’s investigation work and the anticipation every time they are on the cusp of finding an answer felt great. Furthermore, unlike in the other routes where Sheryl has to passively wait for events to happen, she now has some extra agency, taking things into her hands and could make a move before certain things happen for once. This does not discount how much of a pity it is for the pair to be spending plenty of time together investigating and not having more intimate interactions, but it is a trade-off I could live with.

Fraser Welf the Bratty Bunny

Fraser, presumably the youngest love interest in Reimei no Gakuen, is almost always spotted around his two troublemaker friends, Aiz and Blake. Everywhere this infamous troublesome trio goes, they can be caught causing mischief. Not surprisingly, Fraser and his friends’ apparent lack of seriousness soon aggravates their peers in Crystal Rose. To most others, they are a bunch of immature brats but to themselves, they are a group of fun-loving friends.

Reimei no Gakuen - Fraser

In spite of his inclination to fool around, Fraser has an adorable side to him that even his friends enjoy teasing him about: he likes wearing accessories that have bunnies on them. This bunny boy (as Aiz and Blake dubbed him) is easily flustered whenever anyone mentions his penchant for bunnies or claims he is cute, be it in terms of his reactions or looks. One of his pet peeves is people treating him like a child, though he also pretty much fails at convincing them to not see him as such. Frequently behaving childishly, Fraser is simultaneously infuriating and loveable. I get why several Crystal Rose members are furious at his blatant disregard of the rules and lack of consideration for his and the others’ safety, but I also can’t help feeling sorry for him when everyone, including Sheryl, has the wrong assumptions about him. Granted, I did not have a good first impression of Fraser but his determination manages to impress me in the end. The romance between this pair of silly teenagers also left me chuckling since the bunny boy can only pout in jealousy when he is too prideful to confess his feelings, and the protagonist has her own childish antics up her sleeves too. Nevertheless, Fraser’s Good End ends on a beautifully bittersweet but dangling note and feels kind of unsatisfactory with how little the challenges to the troublesome trio’s friendship were addressed.

Osamu Ookami the Mysterious Stalker

Osamu is the newly appointed student president of Black Cat dorm, one of the dormitories in Aurora Academy designated for the normal department’s students. A final-year high school student, he tries to lead a low-key school life but his mysterious disposition manages to attract more than a few pairs of eyes. Sheryl, for instance, finds it strange that Osamu often appears and disappears out of nowhere and becomes wary when she realizes he seems to know her more than she knows about him.

Reimei no Gakuen - Osamu

According to the developer’s notes, Osamu’s route is a hidden route that is the hardest to get. But whilst aiming for Fraser’s route, I instead got Osamu’s route in one attempt without help, so I’m not sure if his route is actually difficult to find or I’m so smitten with this love interest that I instinctively knew how to get to his route. (Alas, my love for Osamu is not great enough to obtain his Good End even by the nth try; his Good End is terribly tricky to get — that I’ll concur.) Now, Osamu stood out to me not because of his unusual necktie with v-neck shirt outfit coordination, but because of his mysteriousness. Or maybe more precisely, creepiness. He has the talent of popping up around Sheryl, usually watching her from a distance with a smile, when she least expected it. With such constant dubious actions, Osamu is the kind of character you don’t have to wait for Hiryuu’s warning and would naturally feel guarded against. Though from time to time, he also unwittingly reveals unexpected sides of him that make you curious to see just what is the deal with this oddball. And the answers are not exactly far away either for Sheryl who is easily fed up with their cat and mouse chases, and will not hesitate to confront Osamu directly when the opportunity arises. I only wished Osamu would get his act together and face Sheryl properly as the suspense in that bittersweet Good End’s ending is a little too much for my heart to take.

Common Route, the Other Way Their Story Goes

Spoilers aside, there is another reason why I’ve yet to talk much about the plot while discussing the love interests’ routes. The main plot is more or less the same in all the routes; the same major events happen in approximately the same time sequence, with the biggest difference stemming from who the major participants are. The Common Route is no different, though I really hoped it would have been different.

Although the main plot is repeated in all seven routes, the experience still feels fresh each time. Really hats off to Raikon Kitsune for pulling off such a feat of retelling the same main plot in seven equally exciting and engaging ways. Some fight scenes may feel more intense than the others, but there is not a dull moment and the ever-changing circumstances on the battlefields continuously kept me on my toes. More importantly, there are countless character deaths but they do not always get dulled just because I was repeatedly reminded, route after route, about the shin bearers’ life-threatening situations. It is a total angst fest where the character deaths could actually hit harder the more you play.

For that reason, I hoped the Common Route would have been a grand finale route where the accumulative angst of previous routes could be balanced off by more happiness instead. That said, the Common Route is still another decent, albeit noticeably shorter, retelling of the young shin bearers’ arduous pushback against their unfortunate destinies. While not a mind-blowing route, it serves as another closure to Reimei no Gakuen and shines a spotlight on the final group of shin bearers who have not appeared much in the other routes.

Other Thoughts about the Writing

In general, the storytelling is fabulous but the script could use more proofreading. The majority of the issues I found are minor typos but there are also small story inconsistencies introduced by inaccurate tracking of time or the events themselves, e.g. an event that happened a few days ago was said to have happened yesterday, and Sheryl claiming not having met someone before when she actually did in an earlier chapter. On two occasions, I came across short segments that are missing some relevant context and thus became too cryptic to make meaningful sense. In the Common Route, there are rare instances of strange dialogue repeats, such as Dain telling Sheryl the exact same thing a few lines apart. But perhaps the most baffling thing to me is how everybody refers to the pair of uncle and niece as siblings; I’d have thought “relatives” is a more accurate term.

Reimei no Gakuen - Choice

Story inconsistencies are sometimes introduced through the choices as well since the bulk of the story is written under the assumption that the “correct” choice has been selected. One memorable instance is when Sheryl proceeded to sheathe her weapon regardless if I had previously chosen to take the weapon out or not. Needless to say, this is a weakness of Reimei no Gakuen’s choice system. The choices, while aplenty, essentially affect only the scene occurring immediately after the choice menu and are not always corroborated by the later narrative. Nonetheless, there is effort in making some of the alternative choices worth choosing by having them reveal additional information that the “correct” ones do not.

On the topic of choices, I’m surprised to see a few timed choice menus implemented in Reimei no Gakuen. However, they tend to be buggy when they appear for the first time. The mouse cursor would not show up for some time when the timer starts counting down, thereby making it difficult to actually choose an option right away. This problem is worsened by the choice menu’s poor response to keyboard controls. For some reason, the up and down arrow keys could only cycle through every alternate choice in any given choice menu in this visual novel. Thankfully, rolling back to the previous line can easily reset the timer and make the mouse cursor work again the next time the same timed choice menu comes up.

In addition to the sensible discussions on different questions about life, the various characters’ growth over the story is another highlight of Reimei no Gakuen’s writing. Sheryl and the love interests, in particular, have their own mountains to climb and it is wonderful to see the couple supporting or helping each other up in every route. Side characters are not forgotten too; most of the shin bearers grew more thoughtful, more confident, and more resolute during their time as Crystal Rose members. Though I wished there were more insights into the antagonists’ changes too.

Reimei no Gakuen - Rosaline

As for the endings in Reimei no Gakuen, I find the Good Ends considerably better written than the Bad Ends. While the Good Ends feel heartwarming and exude a captivating energy of gentle hope, the Bad Ends do not quite feel heart-wrenching or dark. Perhaps it is because they are too short to leave an emotional impact, or drowned out by the overall angsty storyline, or in the case of Osamu’s Bad End, too clichéd for me to be properly immersed in the scene. If not for the purpose of completing the CG Gallery, I personally do not find the Bad Ends worth playing through.

The Visual Aspect: Art and User Interface (UI) Design

Reimei no Gakuen comes with a tranquil Title Screen where little yellow globs of firefly light shine softly under the starry sky. All its sub-menu screens have custom UI designs that use a consistent red and yellow palette with good contrasts between the font and background colors. Creatively designed to reflect both the “Crystal” and “Rose” parts of the name “Crystal Rose”, the UI looks neat and is generally easy to read with the chosen font sizes. One tiny detail I like is the inclusion of the current speaker’s portrait at the right end of the text box, which makes it very convenient for me to keep track of who in the group is speaking. My only complaint is the prompt text’s off-alignment in certain confirmation pop-up boxes.

If the number of characters in Reimei no Gakuen has been impressive, then the number of character sprites present is even more impressive. Despite everyone being fixed to a single but unique pose, they are still complete with various facial expressions and up to three different outfits to suit the narrative. What’s more, all the sprites look equally polished with careful details in their lineart and coloring.

Similarly beautiful is the background art with its vibrant colors, excellent perspectives, and elaborate architectural and interior details. Several venues have day and night variations and a few have different seasonal sceneries too. Both the character sprites and background art work in perfect tandem with the descriptions in the writing, except for a handful of occasions where Sheryl and Remi changed their outfits in the middle of a conversation, and the Crystal Rose’s main corridor suddenly turned from totally dark to only dark outside and then totally dark again within the same scene.

There are a total of fifty-six CGs and eight chibi insert illustrations in Reimei no Gakuen. Almost all the love interests have eight CGs and one chibi insert illustration each. While I find some characters depicted better than the others in certain CGs, most of the CGs make nice use of varying perspectives, colors, and the characters’ facial expressions to convey the desired emotions of the illustrated scene. Sadly, there are hardly any action-filled CGs to accompany the most intense fight moments. Some of the funniest slice-of-life moments are highlighted through the cute chibi insert art, however.

Animations are sparse given that the character sprites do not have eye or mouth animations. Besides some screen shake effects, there is a neat minimalistic chapter screen that uses simple text animations to introduce the chapter’s number and name.

The Audio Aspect: Background Music (BGM) and Sound Effects (SFX)

Though the soundtrack of Reimei no Gakuen is only partly original, the BGM tracks used are generally coherent in theme and style. I don’t have too much of an opinion regarding the opening song but I absolutely love the ending song. Every time the ending song starts playing at the most amazing closing moment in the Good End, I really just want to sit back and listen as I recall the entire past route and soak in all the emotions experienced thus far.

The library of SFX is not huge but they are paired appropriately to the story — you may be woken up by gunshot sounds from Victoria’s weapon or feel chills down your spine upon hearing the alarming howl of a beast on the hunt. SFX are used as audio cues on the various menus too; a crystalline jingle can be heard whenever you hover the mouse cursor over a choice or menu button.


With a tragic but hopeful story filled with heartfelt emotions and a large cast of complex and loveable characters, Reimei no Gakuen meets several aspects of the kind of plot-heavy otome visual novel I enjoy. And with such a good production quality, from the amazing art to the beautiful BGM, observed throughout this 80-hour long game, I won’t hesitate to say:


Platforms: PC (Steam, Itch)

If you would like to see more Visual Novels, you may be interested in our review of Cupid ParasiteOr how about checking out some of the other top visual novels for this year on our Top Visual Novels of 2021 list.

Many thanks go to Raikon Kitsune for a PC review code for this title.

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