Sword of Asumi is an embarrassment to itself. Not because it’s gross and exploitative, or because the art is horrendous, or because it seems to have been written by someone whose sole exposure to human interaction is anime. All of that is terrible in its own, agonizingly expansive way, but what is worst about Sword of Asumi is how little it tries to even pretend it’s anything but a pile of reeking shit.
Though its introduction says otherwise, Asumi and her narrative are as much about her life as an assassin as it is authentic in its portrayal of the Edo period (which in this universe is supposedly still in effect, despite absolutely nothing actually reflecting that). Sword of Asumi is instead then largely an excuse to strip down its constantly blushing cast (who unless I’m mistaken are also underage). The actual plot, impressively thin as it is, all takes place within the opening and closing five minutes of the game. The rest of the agonizing hour and a half or so is dedicated to carefully positioning the camera so as to best ogle your character while she inexplicably changes into dozens of outfits for the player’s enjoyment.
I don’t know if Sword of Asumi was designed with softcore titillation as its main “feature”, or if that was just something the developer felt they had an obligation to include, but the lengths they have gone to expose and embarrass every female character in the game made me sick. It apparently wasn’t enough for them to stop at the typical ridiculously large breasts and vacuum sealed clothing that plagues anime and by extension visual novels. Even upon giving Asumi a wardrobe which consists almost entirely of lace lingerie (why is a teenage assassin suddenly wearing a garter belt?) and having her lounge around in it as male classmates spontaneously barge into her room, the writer’s perverted aspirations remained unsatisfied.
So naturally the only thing left to do was create a subplot in which the principal of the school has been sexually assaulting first year students. And then have Asumi show up at his office wearing almost nothing, with the implication being she plans to offer herself up in exchange for information (which is never found, and which doesn’t matter in the end anyway). The scene is cut short before anything happens, but of course not before Asumi is stripped nearly naked and harassed by the principal (who is such a pointless character he wasn’t even given a portrait). It’s a disgusting, lazy plot device that goes nowhere and serves no function but to be another bullet point on Sword of Asumi’s list of exploitative tactics. I was legitimately flabbergasted then when the writer were able to make this subplot even worse, by bringing it up later on and painting the principal as a sympathetic victim of blackmail, in the process literally forgiving him of his crimes and going so far as to have Asumi feel sorry for him.
I was prepared to dismiss Sword of Asumi as yet another poorly drawn, terribly written, abhorrently exploitative visual novel, but it went beyond rudimentary objectification to a degree that caused me to detest its very existence. I can’t even assume the writer has any idea what a sloppy piece of trash he has produced, because Sword of Asumi is so poorly constructed that it just feels like a bag of ideas and tropes pulled from the depths of anime hell to be reconstructed into something that could potentially be passed off as original. I can’t in good conscious actually call it original, but it’s definitely the product of a very particular, insular audience and the creators which spawn from it, a group I can only hope one day wakes up to the messes they’ve made.