REVIEW: Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ from Nitro+CHiRAL

In the years following a third world war, a devastated Japan is divided between two rival factions with no hope for reconstruction in sight. Caught between East and West, Tokyo has degenerated into a brutal, crime-ridden wasteland.Like many of those reaching adulthood in this dark new world, a young man named Akira seeks some kind of meaning in the violent street fighting contest Bl@ster. But even as he rises up the rankings, he feels almost nothing. Is this all there is?

In Toshima, a district of Tokyo ruled by the mysterious syndicate Vischio, the blood sport Igra makes Bl@ster look like child’s play. Competitors have the chance to win control of a drug empire worth more than in their wildest dreams, but losing a bout means losing your life. When Akira is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, a strange woman appears with an even stranger offer: he can regain his freedom if he fights his way to the top of Igra and destroys Vischio from within.

Warnings: Noncon, dubcon, graphic depictions of violence, guro, torture, cannibalism, necro

Category: M/M

Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ is a Japanese BL Visual Novel, released originally in 2005, and only recently officially translated and released on Steam in English. It follows characters in a post WW3 Japan, all thrown together in a Battle Royale style death tournament amidst the ravaged city of Tokyo. It’s an action packed story full of violence, drug lords, angst and sex. Not for the faint of heart, this is a gritty narrative that doesn’t pull it’s punches, and has a heavy focus on hurt/comfort. There is a manga adaptation, a light novel sequel, and an anime that removes most of the torture and all of the sex.

The story, on it’s own, is a fairly generic action flick. It involves a drug lord, a government conspiracy, and a broody antihero who gets in a lot of fights with thugs and drug users. Certainly an edgy little number that will have you on the edge of your seat and is exciting enough, but if that was all it was it would be a little forgettable. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the anime adaptation, which combines pieces from various routes to make a singular narrative and misses the complexities of the story. The anime is forgettable; the game is not.

Where visual novels and choose your own adventure books can really shine in the story telling department is in the way that you can pull pieces of a story together in layers via each possible outcome. As you follow the branching paths of the game, each route you can take the characters on reveals more and more aspects of the plot. Only reading through one version of the story will not reveal all of the details; instead, it’s in seeing how the story could unfold in various ways that will showcase the complete narrative. And that narrative is full of resonance and recurring themes. Overarching, the theme of the story is moving on from trauma, and forging new paths in life after events that change you.

If you are a fan of drama and angst, there is plenty to spare here. As a hurt/comfort title, the characters undergo extensive traumas in various ways, and then work to pull themselves and each other together again afterwards. It has such a heavy focus on healing and forward thinking that you can’t help but become invested in the characters and their experiences, even if at times it can veer a little bit into over the top territory. It may ring a little corny, but it’s sentimentality is earnest, and that has a lot of charm of it’s own. Akira begins the game as a man who barely feels any emotions, moving through life robotically and without and reason for living, curious about death. By the end of the story, learning about death has allowed him to finally appreciate life. That kind of narrative can be very emotionally compelling, even if in the beginning Akira can come off as a fairly bland, blank slate of a main character. It’s the growth from there into something more nuanced and multifaceted that makes the story rewarding, especially watching how his relationships can develop with various of the romancable characters, all of whom also have their own angst filled backstories as well to discover and unlock.

This is a post apocalyptic world, full of ruined cities and fractured populations and governments. It’s more or less ruled by drug lords and crime bosses, while the remaining scraps of government rush to try to regain power. The concepts themselves are not especially new or innovative, but the way the story unfolds it’s setting and it’s politics bit by bit is very well executed. The conspiracies and the wars are all backdrop to the interpersonal relationship drama, but it’s a backdrop that serves the plot very well and has a lot of it’s own twists and surprises to pull. What’s especially intriguing is the ways in which what relationship the main character ends up in changes the outcome of the political field, based on who lives and who dies. If key players in history had died prior to accomplishing their biggest legacies, how would history have changed? This is especially apparent in the routes that the player can take with Shiki, and it’s fascinating to watch unfold.

When I say that Togainu no Chi is not for the faint of heart, I very much mean that. The very first explicit scene in the game takes place as Akira arrives in Toshima, and is disturbed to witness a man raping the body of his dead opponent. This gives you a pretty good picture of what sort of content you can expect from this game, depending on which routes you take. There are some purely vanilla romance routes, but then there are also routes where Akira is turned into a sex slave. The host of content in this game covers torture, guro, mindbreak, sexual slavery, necro, age gaps and cannibalism. Granted those things tend to happen on the “bad” endings rather than the “good” ones, but be mindful that this is the kind of content that is common in this story. And it is incredibly sexy, if you’re into those harder kinks. I was blown away by some of the endings, especially on the Shiki routes. While the prose isn’t overly descriptive, and the art is suggestive rather than outright explicit, a lot of the sexual appeal comes from the voice acting. Akira’s breathy whimpers, choked sobs and stuttered moans are gorgeous, and I couldn’t get enough of them. The dynamics between him and various characters are also very well explored, and there’s even a side pairing involving some really hot mindbreak and body modification kink that had me absolutely melting.

This is a very emotionally nuanced narrative that will appeal most to fans of both angst and hard kink and fetish content. It will be a bit much if you like your porn vanilla, I will warn, but if you think the idea of someone being fucked while also being eaten is ridiculously alluring, this is a game that you wont want to miss. It has a cult following for a reason, and while you can technically experience it’s story without the gruesome and troubling content via the anime, I would insist that the anime lacks a lot more than just the sex; it also lacks the complexity and heart of the story, which is so deeply steeped in trauma that you really can’t divorce the healing from the pain and come out with something as beautiful as this game turned out to be.

Have you played Togainu no Chi? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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