Noritsune Taira | Character Review & Walkthrough | Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei

A spicy samurai take on the classic Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers trope — Noritsune Taira may hail from your family’s rival clan, but any romance fan knows that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

Character Route: Noritsune Taira (Heike Clan)
Game Name: Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei
Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory, Red Entertainment
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
More information: here!


Sweet: 3/5 – Noritsune’s route isn’t the fluffiest love story I’ve ever read, but all the drama along the way just makes the final payoff that much sweeter.
Spicy: 2/5 – This route is a slow-burn, and the spiciest scenes do fade to black, but there are still some passionate scenes to enjoy along the way.
Story: 4/5 – Aside from a minor gripe, this was an exciting, dramatic, and deeply romantic love story that consistently kept me on the edge of my seat.
Character Design: 5/5 – In terms of rewarding character growth arcs for rivals-turned-allies, Noritsune gives Zuko a run for his money.

Character Design

It is intensely difficult for me to compare Noritsune to any other otome love interest, or even figure out which tropes and archetypes he falls into. I’m sure I could put him in a box or two if I tried, but I’m writing this review immediately after reading his ‘Happy Ending’, and I’m just too deeply invested in his character and journey to try and reduce him to a few key words.

Noritsune shattered many expectations I had for his route – and I mean this in a good way. For example, I was expecting a romance with a samurai from the enemy clan to be a classic enemies-to-lovers story, but it ended up being a ‘rivals to… still rivals, but also lovers’ story. Which, by the way, I absolutely enjoyed.

Noritsune is a determined man of principles, dedicated to becoming his ideal version of a warrior.

Furthermore, Noritsune’s introduction made him seem like a cocky, spitfire tsundere who’d never heard the word ‘no’ before. I thought he’d be arrogant, spoiled, and immature — and he was, to start with. However, he quickly became much more.

Since this route takes place over an extended period of time (I’m not certain exactly how long, but I got the impression it was at least a couple of years), both Noritsune and Shanao have plenty of opportunities to grow, learn, and become mature young adults – allowing them far more believable character growth than a story that takes place over a shorter timeframe.

Which is exactly how Noritsune’s one-sided rivalry could become a mutually-competitive relationship with Shanao that pushes both of them to be better and fight for the lives they wish to lead. Their natural chemistry led to a deeply passionate, emotional romance that made them seem like soulmates. I haven’t played the other routes yet, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time imagining Shanao being with anyone else!

I love the way they’re standing back-to-back while they fight together, surrounded by enemies!

They were so deeply connected that I could practically see the red strings of fate pulling them together and it’ll be strange to start the story from scratch and pursue someone else after feeling like they were literally perfect for each other.

I don’t think I’ve ever read such a passionate romance where the two sincerely see each other as their true match (in both strength and love), so it’s safe to say this route absolutely captivated my heart. I was there with them on their ups and downs, and I’ll miss watching them overcome adversity to defy destiny and fulfil their star-crossed love.

Artist: Koji Haneda is the artist and animator responsible for the character design in ‘Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei’. I’ve consistently been impressed with the visuals in Birushana – most notably, the character sprites. They’re not only aesthetically appealing, but also have so many variations that they can effectively engage in dynamic battle sequences and otherwise appear in, and move around, the screen in an emotionally-evocative manner.

For example, there were some comedic scenes that were made all the more funny when characters would suddenly appear behind Shanao’s back, only to have her dart away from them to the other side of the screen. In general, it’s clear that a lot of thought was put into the visual elements of Birushana, so I wanted to highlight it here (at the very least to heap on the praise for the alternate ‘traveling’ outfit that Noritsune wears throughout his route!).

Voice Actor

Kawanishi Kengo (河西健吾) – also known for voicing:

  • Nansen Ichimonji (Touken Ranbu) – Video Game
  • Takakage Kobayakawa (Sengoku Night Blood) – Video Game
  • Harumi Makino (Lover Pretend) – Video Game
  • Ritsu Soma (Fruits Basket) – Anime
  • Muichirō Tokitō (Demon Slayer) – Anime
  • Roland Fortis (The Case Study of Vanitas) – Anime
  • Gen Asagiri (Dr. Stone) – Anime
  • Nahoya Kawata (Tokyo Revengers) – Anime
  • + more!


Content warnings: War, death, and themes of sacrificing oneself or one’s personal desires for the good of the family/clan. Individual content warnings have been provided for the ‘Tragic Ending’ and ‘Bad Endings’, as necessary.

The Heian period setting lends itself well to a dramatic, action-packed story due to political turmoil and historical cultural values. I played without a guide or walkthrough – and with the ‘Love Catch’ feature turned off – which made the danger even more thrilling, as I had no idea if the characters would pull through, or if I’d stumbled into a bad end.

If you like drama and want to be on the edge of your seat for the whole game, I recommend playing the way I did to maximise the impact of any threats to the couple. However, if you’re aiming for a specific character and/or ending – or simply want the comfort of knowing where you’re headed, and that the characters you love will be okay – then I recommend playing with a walkthrough and/or love catch turned on instead.

I was eating up the drama the whole way through this route! This is also another example of the variety of facial expressions each character sprite has — even in the same pose, his face could be very different.

My favourite aspect of the story is the way Shanao and Noritsune took it in turns to be the spark that inspired the other, making their dynamic a two-way street in equal measure. I did think the ending unfortunately skewed a little towards Shanao making more sacrifices for Noritsune, but overall, their relationship was fairly balanced and mutually-beneficial.

There were some ploot hooks established in the shared route didn’t get resolved in Noritsune’s route, but the developers do recommend playing him first, so it’s likely that this is the least plot-intensive part of the game, and the remaining threads will be resolved with the other love interests.

Overall, this is an action-packed, thrilling story that will get your heart pumping. It’s not a cozy, relaxing romance to play on a day where you want to chill out and unwind, so I recommend it for when you’re craving something that will excite you, and maybe show you something you haven’t seen before.

If you’re not interested in using the walkthrough, you can use the button below to skip to the rest of the review:


Please note that this walkthrough is based solely on the choices I personally made to reach each ending. There are likely multiple ways to end up on any one path, so you may be able to achieve the same results via different choices. In general, you’ll need to boost both your relationship score with Noritsune and your ‘Strength’ stat to reach Noritsune’s ‘Happy Ending’.

It’s worth noting that I didn’t have the ‘Love Catch’ feature turned on – and I didn’t check my stats in the ‘Information’ screen – so I have no idea if the choices listed below are the most optimal ones, but I can confirm they got me to Noritsune’s ‘Happy Ending’ on my first try. I then used the ‘Flowchart’ feature to get his ‘Tragic Ending’, and I’ve included instructions on how to do this below.

The following guide takes you through my recommended play order for Noritsune’s endings, which is: Happy Ending ➜ Tragic Ending ➜ (Optional) Bad Endings 1 & 2

There are also two ‘Bad Endings’, although these do not unlock any CGs, so there’s no need to play them if you don’t want to. I got them accidentally while trying to work out how to get the Tragic Ending, but I don’t think I gained much from playing them, except sating my curiosity about how, when, and why they appear.

The Tragic Ending, on the other hand, I highly recommend playing. I said before that this story reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, so I was thinking throughout the game that this route would suit a tragic ending, and this one felt less like a “bad” ending, and more like an equally viable, alternative fate for the couple. I recommend playing the Happy Ending first to get the most satisfaction after such an exciting route, followed by the Tragic Ending to indulge in a bittersweet fate befitting star-crossed lovers.

  • Chapter 1 – Shared Route

    1-1: You really wish to restore the Genji?

    1-2: There’s got to be a way out of this…

  • Chapter 2 – Shared Route

    2-1: As a Genji, I must talk with him.

    2-2: But the Heike aren’t afraid of me!

    2-3: Don’t say you’d die for me!

    2-4: Our priority is to capture Benkei.

    2-4: We’re stronger together.

    2-2-9: You don’t need to apologize.

    2-2-11: I can’t allow this to happen.

  • Chapter 3 – Shared Route

    3-2-1: Why did you help us?

    3-2-5: I have to make up my mind.

  • Chapter 3 – Noritsune Route

    3-1: I’m just surprised.

  • Chapter 4 – Noritsune Route

    4-1: I wouldn’t lose.

  • Chapter 5 – Noritsune Route

    (No choices)

  • Chapter 6 – Noritsune Route

    6-2: Is it really worth it?

  • Chapter 7 – Noritsune Route

    7-2: Are you disappointed?

    7-2: I want you to live.

  • Chapter 8 – Noritsune Route

    8-1: We can’t lose…

  • Chapter 9 – Noritsune Route

    9-1: I was hoping I’d find you here…

  • Chapter 10 – Noritsune Route

    10-1: You can’t say things like that…

  • Chapter 11 – Noritsune Route

    11-1: What is it, Noritsune?

  • Happy Ending

    (Unlock CG + credits sequence)

  • To continue to the Tragic Ending, go to the ‘Flowchart’ and select Chapter 12-1. Then, select ‘Noritsune’, and set affection to ‘Low’, and all skills to ‘Low’.

    CW: Major character death, blood.

  • Tragic Ending

    (Unlock CG + credits sequence)

  • To continue to Bad Ending 1, go to the ‘Flowchart’ and select Chapter 9-1. Then, select ‘Noritsune’, and set affection to ‘Low’, and all skills to ‘High’.

    CW: Major character death, suicide.

  • Chapter 9 – Noritsune Route

    9-1: I was hoping I’d find you here…

  • Bad Ending 1

    (No CG or credits sequence)

  • To continue to Bad Ending 2, go to the ‘Flowchart’ and select Chapter 11-1. Then, select ‘Noritsune’, and set affection to ‘Low’, and all skills to ‘Low’.

    CW: Major character death.

  • Chapter 11 – Noritsune Route

    11-1: This isn’t like you…

  • Bad Ending 2

    (No CG or credits sequence)

Final Thoughts

Noritsune Taira seemed like he’d be a fairly standard, comedic-type love interest with some adorkable blushing and an unrequited rivalry with the protagonist. However, he ended up being a deeply intriguing character with a growth arc that had me rooting for him all the way. His journey was inspiring not only for Shanao, but also for me, and I admired both his direct attitude and unflappable determination.

He’s a passionate and intense love interest, but this just makes the romance with him equally passionate and intense. I loved the way the route continued to escalate in tension, before providing some incredible payoff towards the end, as everything they learned and had been working towards culminated in an unforgettable grand finale.

I also love that he’s basically canonically bisexual. The writers never use that exact word, but the way Noritsune treats Shanao – both before and after he learns she’s a woman – pretty much confirms that his attraction for her surpasses gender. Furthermore, the way Shanao’s gender presentation and Noritsune’s feelings for her were handled pretty well in general, and I think any gender non-conforming person would love to hear the things Noritsune says to Shanao once she reveals her secret to him – myself included.

Their rivalry pushed both of them to grow and become better people.

Overall, this was an exciting, action-packed drama that took my heart on an emotional rollercoaster – and I loved every second of it. My only complaint is that I did feel the dynamic shifted a little towards Noritsune towards the end, despite their balanced relationship being a key part of the route until this point. Despite the story telling me they were equals, the actual finale felt as though Shanao was choosing to be with Noritsune, rather than both of them choosing to be together.

Still, aside from the very final moments of the route falling a little flat after such a passionate and empowering romance, I absolutely adored Noritsune’s route in Birushana, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a deeply captivating story about finding purpose in the face of destiny, and how friendly, healthy competition can be the push you need to become your ideal self, living your ideal life.

You’ll like Noritsune if you like: Romances that progress from ‘rivals’ to ‘still rivals, but also lovers’; determined, passionate love interests with burning ambitions; the classic, honourable samurai who strives to be strong and use that strength to protect the weark; pretty-much-canonically-bisexual love interests; and love interests who want to fight by your side, rather than merely protect you…


Game Info

Game Name: Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei
Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory, Red Entertainment
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
More information: here!

~ Thank you to Idea Factory International for providing a review copy of ‘Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei’! ~

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