Sakuya Nijo | Character Review | Norn9: Var Commons

What do you get when your future is shackled by a childhood promise and adult responsibilities? Sakuya Nijo and his romance with Mikoto Kuga.

This route is the heaviest we’ve seen so far, and you can feel that weight whenever you see Sakuya and Mikoto together. But only once you hear their inner thoughts can you truly understand how they’re continuing the cycle of pain with themselves and each other…

Game Name: Norn9: Var Commons
Developers: Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS Vita
Genres / Vibes: Otome, Romance, Sci-Fi, (Psuedo)Historical
Price: $49.99 (USD)
More info: Website, Aksys Store, Nintendo Store

Otome Bookclub

Bookclub: For those who don’t already know, we have a weekly Otome Bookclub at the Sweet & Spicy Discord Server! For Norn9, so far, we’ve had meetings for Kakeru, Heishi, and Sakuya – with Senri coming up next on Wednesday 3rd May, at 6pm PST. Everyone is welcome, whether it’s to join the bookclub or simply say hi and gush about your faves ❤ You can check out our server: here!

Next route: Senri!


Sweet 3/5: This star-crossed love is undeniably romantic, but more bitter than sweet.
Spicy 1/5: There’s no tasting Sakuya’s paradise in this route, poison or otherwise.
CD 4/5: Sakuya’s strength is in his dynamic with Mikoto, but he falls short on his own.
Story 4/5: A mature take on the obsessive love of an immature couple.

Addicted To You

They don’t know that they’re toxic…

Name: Sakuya Nijo
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: Bad, Tragic, Happy
Voice Actor: Saiga Mitsuki (斎賀 みつき)
Tropes: Childhood friend, yandere-lite, star-crossed lovers, as pretty as porcelain (and just as delicate)
Dynamic with MC: A toxic relationship that only began to heal when they turned outwards.

While Norn9 has brought us some angsty stories already, I was not prepared for the amount of heartache and doom and gloom that I found in Sakuya’s route. Two childhood friends who by all rights should be close were strangely distant when alone with each other.

An inability for either to speak what they were truly feeling, or communicate in a manner that was befitting the people they were expected to be. The ultimate star-crossed lovers story where admitting your love ensures an ending steeped in tragedy…

I love it. Tears sustain me, and I need a little heartache in my life to remember that I’m alive.

From a technical standpoint, the flow of the story seemed a bit disjointed at times. I was willing to forgive these hiccups because I assumed the writing team chose to discard the bits that weren’t important to the overall story they were trying to tell. The dependence that Mikoto and Sakuya had on each other was more important than explaining when others were informed in order to get involved in the resolution to the major conflict of the route.

While I would have loved to see these character interactions, the sense of isolation that was built up by keeping group interactions to a minimum certainly helped propel this story forward. When we did get some group dynamics, it was much more impactful, because that’s when things started going right for the couple.

Relying on others and eschewing that co-dependence in favor of more heads and more hands getting involved really felt like the point of this route, to me. Because as much as we think that forging ahead on our own means we don’t have to be let down, no one lives in a bubble, and everyone is affected by those around them.

The Endings

Recommended ending order: Tragic Ending ➜ Happy Ending ➜ Bad Ending

There’s something cathartic about indulging in the angst of a tragic ending to a star-crossed romance. Ending with a Happy Ending tends to bring hope back to a story after you’ve already seen a depressing conclusion. On top of that, Sakuya’s Happy Ending is somewhat underwhelming compared to the others I’ve played so far, and I would have felt disappointed if I’d read that first and interrupted the flow into his Tragic Ending.

For this reason, I recommend playing his Tragic Ending first, for a bittersweet finale that feels like the natural conclusion to this ill-fated romance, followed by his Happy Ending to end on a lighter note. However, if you don’t care for heartache, skip the Tragic Ending.

There is a Bad Ending earlier in the route that isn’t included in the walkthrough we used, by Otome Kitten, but it is a quick ending with no real purpose, and I think it actually removes some of the beauty of the route if you play it. Make a different choice regarding the candy in the route to reach it. Thank you Fawn for discovering this!

Mikoto Kuga

Oona and RJ were in agreement with most impressions of this route, except when it came to Mikoto. If you’ve played at all by this point, you’ll have realized that Mikoto comes across as stuck-up and pretentious at first. And while she does have some character development and we get to see into her inner thoughts, her outward attitude doesn’t change much.

For that reason, we’re split on how much we appreciate Mikoto as a protagonist.

Mikoto is certainly flawed – as are all the characters in this game – but she has a proactive attitude, and it was refreshing to play as a protagonist who naturally assumes the role of a leader. There are plenty of brave, proactive, intelligent protagonists, but not so many who are leaders in their own story, or authoritative in some way.

She certainly has reason to believe she can and should shoulder the world’s problems. Her power has incredible defensive capabilities, and her rough and tumble, no fear childhood were the perfect catalyst to shape Mikoto into a character who knows how to take charge, and who commands respect from those around her.

It’s only when we get a look at Mikoto’s inner monologue that we see that she is yearning for a companion that she can share those burdens with. Let’s face it, any child who has such responsibilities as big as protecting the world thrust on them is going to feel a sense of responsibility to live up to those expectations – their failure literally spells doom for the world.

This unique situation afforded us an interesting perspective from the Mikoto that she presents herself as, which was clearly in contrast with the secretly lonely, sometimes desperate and uncertain, Mikoto she has always harbored but was never able to reveal.

She’s a significant departure from the archetypal otome protagonist we all know and love, so regardless of whether she speaks to you on a personal level, it’s undoubtedly refreshing to experience a love story from such a different perspective.

Final Thoughts

Sakuya won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. His dynamic with Mikoto is inherently harmful, and while they do take steps to work towards a healthier relationship, it’s likely to be off-putting enough in the beginning to put some players on guard, which then makes it difficult to connect with a character, even if they are later redeemed or justified.

However, if you can stomach some initial flaws, this route is absolutely captivating. Sakuya and Mikoto confront the harsh truth of the cycle they have fallen into – of hurting and being hurt by each other, yet also remaining completely incapable of letting go.

Mikoto said it several times during the early chapters of her route, that they were stuck in place because of the promise they had made. Fittingly, she called it a ‘prison’ or ‘shackles’, rather than a promise, because promises tend to bring hope, and this only brought them pain.

Both characters bring out the worst in each other as they struggle with their overwhelming desire to protect one another, knowing that moving forward in that fashion would drive them apart forever. Rather than the expected unconditional support, they were keeping each other locked in a cage of their own making. It’s a unique take on the childhood friends trope, and fascinating to read.

You’ll like Sakuya Nijo if you like: the taboo thrill of being close enough to touch, but never touching; outwardly composed, kind, and quiet guys; pining (so, so much pining); the hedgehog dilemma; fighting fate; and pretty men.

Game Info

Game Name: Norn9: Var Commons
Developers: Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS Vita
Genres / Vibes: Otome, Romance, Sci-Fi, (Psuedo)Historical
Price: $49.99 (USD)
More info: Website, Aksys Store, Nintendo Store

About the Authors

Oona Tempest

A yandere, flirt, and DILF enthusiast with a passion for problematic ikemen, melodrama, and all things fae. Pronouns are She/They.

Streamer, writer, and founder of Sweet & Spicy.

Fun fact: Colour blind, but only for red flags.

RJ Mercy

Late blooming romance lover living the dream of playing games and writing about 2D men. Pronouns are They/Them.

Obsessive content consumer, awkward streamer, and casual reviewer.

Fun fact: I sleep with several men in my bed at night.

Thank You

~☆ Patrons ☆~

SSR – Annie

SR – Teryarel

SSR – Meghan

SR – RJ Mercy

SSR – John

R – Vilicus

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