Part 1: Seal, Part 1Video: Book of Shadows Intro
The game starts with a brief cutscene. This cannot be skipped the first time you load up the game, which is really nice for making sure you don't miss it, but it's really obnoxious when you start the game half a dozen times trying out different recording methods.
The scene comes across a lot better in motion, so you should watch the video version.
Natsumi: She hasn't set one foot outside her room today either. And she's still talking about that...friend of hers.
Natsumi: And when I do, she gives me such a stare! I've never seen her look at me that way before. Never! Please... She was always such a bright and cheery girl...
Therapist: Please, try to stay calm. This matter must be handed with the utmost care. Remember, your daughter has it even rougher than you right now. We mustn't think of her as a lost cause or she'll never get the help she needs. Rest assured, I'll do everything in my power to assist you. Let's work together to bring that happy little girl of yours back.
Natsumi: Yes. Yes, you're right. Thank you. I feel better just hearing you say that.
Therapist: All right. Be careful, though. Try not to say anything that might upset her.
Natsumi ascends the staircase to her daughter's room.
Natsumi: Naomi? Have you gone to bed already? It's your mom. I'm coming in.
Background Sound: Ominous Hum
Natsumi: Naomi? I can't believe you're still in that same spot. Standing all day must be killing your legs. Why not have a seat on the bed?
Natsumi: You know, I had a really lovely encounter today. I was out shopping, and happened to notice an adorable little kitten at the pet shop. You've...been begging me for a cat, right? It was a beautiful auburn Fold. It just kept staring at me. I could barely pry myself away from it!
Natsumi: Your teacher said it was okay for you to skip school if you want. So why not ditch class and do some shopping with your mom, hmmm?
Natsumi: Doesn't that...sound nice? Come on, Naomi. Why are you just standing there?
Natsumi: Is...someone with you?
Background Sound: None
Natsumi: I just want to ask about your friend. I want to know more about her.
Natsumi: That girl, Seiko, from your class... How long has she been there?
Natsumi: And...what class is it, again?
Natsumi: Yes. That's right. You've always said it's a wonderful homeroom, where everybody gets along beautifully.
Natsumi: ...The thing is, no one else from your class...
Background Sound: Ominous Hum
Naomi: Why did you even come up here? Why pretend you care when you don't even believe me? You think I'm crazy, don't you?!
Sound Effect: Thump Thump Thump
Naomi repeatedly slams her fists against the wall.
Natsumi: Listen, there's no such person as Seiko! You have to pull yourself together! Please!
Naomi: I am together! It's everyone else who's gone mad!
Natsumi: Please, you need to calm down!
Naomi breaks her window.
Natsumi: Naomi, please, I'm begging you, just calm down! Please!
Natsumi: It's all right, Naomi. It's medicine! It'll help you relax!
Naomi: No! NOO!
Natsumi: Naomi! Take the medicine! Take it!
Music: Jingle (A)
Video: Book of Shadows Intro ends here.
Video: Book of Shadows Opening
Music: Hana no Saku Basho
The opening credits play. There's no story or anything important in this video, but I recommend watching it anyway.
After the opening video, we're brought to the title screen, and we begin the first chapter: Seal.
It's worth noting that the intro cutscene, while important, does not directly lead into the events of chapter 1.
...The spirits seem unusually active again, though. And there's that old sense of unease, too. The same one Ayumi and I have been feeling all our lives...but stronger than ever. I don't like it one bit. I can sense...its presence. It's gotten very, very close. But that's preposterous...right? I'm probably just imagining things.
I only hope nothing bad happens...
Being a straight Visual Novel, Book of Shadows has a lot of narrative inner-monologue. In-game this is represented with grey speech boxes. I'll be putting transcribed narration in plain text, with no mugshot.
These were my familiars. The familiar lighting, the familiar patterns I know so well, and that familiar stain in the corner... I remember when my dad made that stain. It was my fifth birthday, and he'd just opened a can of soda I'd been shaking.
And I'm not talking about the general act of lying in bed and looking up, but a more specific sense that I'd experienced this unique moment in time once before.
So congratulations, Nakashima! You may be a whole new person now! Hee hee...
Usually, if I pay too much attention to every little thing I do, I begin obsessing. And then I just give myself a headache and end up calling it quits. But this deja vu was real, and it was far stronger than it had any right to be. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill spooky feeling. It was all-encompassing.
Sound Effect: Knocking
Music: The Everyday
I swear, Seiko, doesn't it feel like this has all happened before?
You, sleeping over here. And then the next day, we were both like, hey, let's go clothes shopping...don't you remember?
Ahaha! Surely you jest! Long have I sought to capture thee and infiltrate the walls of this holy temple...but today marks my first successful conquest.
Mm. Yeah, I guess that isn't the sort of thing I'd half-forget quite so easily. Must just be my imagination.
You bet. This is going to be lots of fun! ...Erm, but what's all this about a flag?
Oh, I think you know! Hee...hee...heee...
And so began my first ever slumber party with Seiko. The moment fifth period ended that day, we tore right out of school and loaded up on all the junk food and drinks we could carry. Seiko and I had been friends forever, but neither of us had stayed at the other's house before, so we were both pretty excited. This was going to be fun!
Sure, go ahead. Do you need to use the land line?
No, no, my cell phone will be just fine. I just worry about poor little Yuu, you know? He'd be so sad if I didn't at least call.
No problem. You do your thing, and I'll take a quick bathroom break.
The mere thought that there'd be a friend waiting for me in my room when I got back was just so...exciting! Oh, the things we could talk about that night... Where should we start? What stories should we tell?!
Give all my love to the others. And make sure you all tuck in tight tonight so you don't catch colds! Take care, Yuu.
Heh. They holding up okay?
Sure are! Which means I've got nothing to worry about. I can enjoy my time with you to the fullest!
Sounds like you're ready to have some fun.
And I'll bet you are to.
So, what should we talk about?
Anything you'd like! I'm just glad to have this blissful opportunity.
I really can't say why I felt so shy and embarrassed. The two of us were always together, after all. Changing the setting from school to my personal space just seemed to bring us a lot closer. I found myself staring at Seiko's face, as if studying it. Did she always look like that? This was someone who regarded me as a friend. All kinds of inane thoughts were swimming through my head, and for some reason, they were making me really nervous.
Music: The Everyday
Do I?! Just try and stop me!
I took out the bottle we'd purchased and poured its fizzy contents into two cups. It had the faintest tinge of chocolate color, but was otherwise clear. As it hit the bottom of each cup, that familiar, comforting sizzle of carbonic acid rising from liquid echoed forth amidst a froth of bubbles.
Well, it's sure a pretty color, but what do we do with the rest of it if it sucks?
Hey, that's a good idea! ...All right, here you go, Seiko.
Thanks. Okay, let's drink it down on the count of three!
Sounds good. One, two...three!
We smiled and laughed and felt joy at all the same things. Spending this time together, we could each forget all our troubles for awhile. This was the kind of friend that comes along only once in a lifetime...I was starting to get really sentimental, and I had no idea why. I certainly couldn't admit it to her, though, or I'd never hear the end of it!
I just kept thinking to myself. I really hope Seiko and I can be friends like this clean into adulthood. For the rest of our lives, even. Maybe it was that same weird sense of camaraderie one tends to feel during overnight field trips. I don't know.
Natsumi: Heehee. Thank you. You two certainly are close, aren't you!
Natsumi: I've heard so much about you, Shinohara, that I felt I simply had to meet you one of these days.
Ooh! Naomi's been talking about me, has she?
Natsumi: Oh, all the time! During meals, you're always a hot topic around here. She never fails to have some story about where you two went or what you did.
Ohh ho ho ho! So I've been accepted by the family, then? My tears of joy overflow at the prospect. I must be red as a beet right now!
Natsumi: Oh, and it's not just you. Naomi also loves talking about that Satoshi Mochida boy. Whenever he comes up, she just gets so excited! I think she likes--
Music: Fun Times
Natsumi: Heh. Sorry, dear.
Oh, don't worry. I know all about her feelings toward her beloved Mochida. Naomi may seem like a strong girl, but she's really quite the shy one!
Seiko? Stop. Just stop.
Natsumi: Well, you're certainly well-informed. What say you and I have a girls' night out sometime? I'll treat you to something good, and in return, you tell me everything you know about Naomi from school.
Sound Effect: Shine
Hey, come on, now!
Natsumi: Hahaha! Well, then, have you two gotten sufficiently stuffed? I've drawn a bath, so you should head in while the water's still warm. I assume you'll be okay going in together since you're both girls, no?
Damn straight! My flag is firmly planted now. The day is totally won!
Huh? What are you talking about? Are we really going to bathe together? And seriously, what's all this flag business about?!
Never mind that, just come on! Mrs. Nakashima, we're going to borrow your bathroom!
Natsumi: Roger that. Make sure you two get nice and warm!
I still felt a little uncomfortable, so I suggested we bathe separately after all...but Seiko just mumbled that resistance is futile, and set about taking my clothes off. With only a few swift movements, she had my whole outer uniform stripped away in no time at all. She was a bonafide pro. A real expert at taking people's clothes off. Disturbingly well-practiced.
Oof, no kiddin'! The hot water at your house doesn't mess around!
Yeah, Mom likes to run the world's hottest baths. I keep telling her that when you're soaking, lower temperatures are better, but she never listens.
What's this? Is your boddy feeling chilled? Well, then...take this!
Sound Effect: Small Splash
You're going to catch a cold if you're not careful. You've got to be quicker at taking off your clothes, Naomi! Come on, don't be shy. Here, look this way.
Sound Effect: Splash
I think you're un-shy enough for the both of us. I mean, you're the one who tore off all my clothes like they were paper!
Hmm-hmm! Well, I go bathe my little brothers every day, so I've gotten pretty good at speed-stripping other people.
Ahh, okay. That makes sense, actually.
Anyway...you need to loosen up! Let's take this opportunity to deepen our friendship.
Yes, yes. You've thoroughly broken me out of my shell. Now, how about I wash your back? Have a seat.
Oh-ho, yes, please!
Music: Good Friends
Naked anime women, barely covered by steam and soap bubbles
Right out of the gate, the game hits rock bottom in terms of fanservice. It's all uphill after this scene.
I lathered up a brand new silk towel with body soap and began washing Seiko's back, marvelling at her perfect complexion. I never noticed before just what a classic beauty she was.
I bought this special just for you, so I hope you're enjoying it! How's it feel?
Nnng...mmmm... Y-Yeah, that's it...right there...
And that's when all language broke down, and the sounds emanating from the bathroom began resembling strange animalistic cries rather than human speech.
Pfft. Cut it out! You sound demented!
Rrrng...just...a little farther...u-up, please...
Rrrrng, y-yeah, right...there...oooooaaaaaaahhh!
I made you itchy, I'll bet. All right, hold still.
It didn't take long for Seiko's back to become completely enveloped in soap suds, but I could still detect a...reaction...to my every touch.
Hmm? Don't tell me you're ticklish...?
Heh. Guess the secret's out. I'm really, really ticklish!
Well, in that case...it's a thorough washing you shall get!
G-Gyah! So you're on the offensive today, are you? ...W-Wait... StoooOOOOOoooop! KYAH!
What was that? I couldn't hear you over the sound of my furious fingerwork!
I was "on," for sure. And nothing was going to stop me from giving Seiko's back the full treatment! After all, homeroom today was spent setting up for the culture festival, so we both got pretty dusty. A nice scrubbing is just what we both needed.
Haha! Stop squirming. Hold still!
Are they? I can't really see them, so I wouldn't know. But for you, it's all about that sexy, sexy, collarbone!
The same CG as before, but Seiko has a different expression on her face.
Whaaat? You sound like an old fogey or something.
But...so beautiful...and so...big...
I, um, don't think that's my collarbone you're staring at...
As I gazed at Seiko, staring at my chest with hungry eyes, I suddenly had another flash of deja vu. An uncomfortable one. My eyes drifted to her neck. There was some sort of mark there. A bruise that wrapped all the way around.
Seiko? What happened to your neck? Did you scratch yourself or something?
Hm? Something there?
It's pretty faint, but there's a red mark.
Hmmm... Don't remember injuring myself or anything.
The bruise on her neck, though slight, looked less spotty than you'd expect if it were made by human hands. It seemed more even, like it came from cloth. Probably a result of wearing her kimono cord tight around her neck all day for the red bean soup stand. What a shame to see her pure, white skin so damaged.
I hope it heals soon, whatever it is.
I can't hold back any longer!
Huh? What now?
More anime boobs.
This CG has a good view of Seiko's neck, if you want to see the mark.
I've just gotta grab dat ass!
Aah, Seiko! Seriously, cool down, girl! I think you've gone totally mental on me!
Background Sound: Crickets
You know, we do have a spare futon...
Hmm-hmm! Don't worry, I'm fine right where I am.
Two people sharing a single bed would make for a warm night, but if either of us rolled over, the other was going to wind up clean on the floor. I offered the bed to her, and was perfectly willing to spend the night on a roll-out futon, but she wouldn't have it.
Well, as long as you don't feel too crowded, I guess this is fine.
Huh-uh. It's all warm and cozy. I love it. If only I could kiss you like this, I'd die a happy woman.
With that, she puckered her lips into a shape resembling the number 3 and looked at me expectantly. What had gotten into her?!
Ah. Damn. Hoisted...
I was just thinking, this is really fun.
It was around that point when I'd started to realize the truth about Seiko. After all, if an outsider were to witness her blatant act of harassment and my complete dismissal of it, they'd assume we were more than friends too.
I just thought of her as a very dear friend, and figured this closeness we had was pretty normal. It seemed natural, in fact, that our behavior would lead to a third party misunderstanding every now and again. And I'd just have to set the record straight! But honestly, even when situations like that arise, they were pretty fun in their own strange, silly sort of way.
You know, this is the first time I've ever had a friend over.
Hee hee. This is my first sleepover, too. Sure beats lying in bed alone, I'll tell you what! Hee hee hee...owww.
Ooh. You okay? I might have slapped you a little too hard back there...
You sure did put your back into it, slugger! But don't you worry, I'm just fine.
Seiko was rubbing her face lightly where I struck her, but smiling from cheek to cheek.
Ooh, I say yes, yes! That way I can introduce you to the little ones! You are absolutely welcome anytime!
The moonlight crept its way in through my bedroom window, giving the whole room a dreamlike glow. Soon enough, I was beginning to nod off. Where was I? Was I dreaming? ...No, it was just my room. I could feel Seiko's warmth next to me. Or maybe I was somewhere else entirely, and this whole world -- all of my life's experiences -- were just one big dream. ...Man, it's hard to form a coherent thought when you're dead tired.
You said it. From a sleepover, right into a culture festival. We're true challengers.
Heh. Don't you dare oversleep. If you do, I'm pulling back the blankets and putting an ice pack on your stomach.
Oh, don't you worry about that. I'm such an early riser, I put middle-aged women to shame!
I'll hold you to that! ...Anyway, good night, Seiko.
Background Sound: None
Seiko must have been exhausted. I could hear calm tell-tale grunts and rhythmic breathing signifying that she was out cold. And it was contagious. I couldn't get over just how much warmth her body was generating. The previous night was so cold, but this was perfect. She was like a hot water bottle.
Mmmm. So warm...
Whoa! You're awake?!
I can hear your voice even from the deepest sleep, Naomi. You've experienced that before during class, remember?
Is that some kind of ESP or something? ...And wait, you were sleeping during class?! That's not good!
Hey, I have a question.
What? Of course I will! Talk about a bolt from the blue...
For true. I mean, we're friends, you know? Through thick and thin. And we always will be.
Man, you're really a spaz sometimes, you know that?
Let's always be together.
Heehee. You bet. Good night, Seiko.
We were both so happy, but there was another side to the coin. There was a certain awkwardness as well. It was a strange sensation.
Soon enough, Seiko began moaning and breathing heavily for real. She had fallen fast asleep, facing me, curled into a fetal position. As I lay there staring at her head, my hand moved of its own volition and began gently stroking her hair. Strangely, it didn't feel awkward or embarrassing at all, perhaps because I knew she was asleep. It just felt natural. I slid my hand more toward her back and continued rubbing her head gently, like a mother would her child's.
Mm. What a lovely shape her head was. Perfectly round. I just kept stroking her hair, thinking about this and that...
Suddenly, she clung to me and buried her face in my chest. Hmm... Was she still half-awake? Heh. What a strange scene this was! But just for tonight...I was willing to let it slide.