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"Will you love me forever?"—Tagline in the trailers of the game, said by the main heroine, Maria
Sampaguita (サンパギータ) is the third entry in the interactive anime Visual Novel series Yarudora, produced by Sony Computer Entertainment, and developped by Sugar&Rockets and Production I.G. The game was initially released in 1998 on Playstation 1, then re-released in 2005 on Play Station Portable.
Autumn, in Tokyo. In the middle of a rainy night, the main protagonist (i.e. the character controlled by the player), an Ordinary University Student, comes out of a mixer party organised by his fellow comrades of his part-time job. The train and bus services are long over, and there's no taxi around: he has no choice but to walk his way home, bemoaning on how his friends manage to get girls so easily while he doesn't.
Suddenly, a police car comes his way. Thinking about it, there were an awful lot of them moving around the station... The policemen in the car ask the protagonist if he has seen a South Asian-type individual nearby, to which he answers he didn't. The policemen let him go while asking him to call them in case. A few minutes later, in a dark backstreet, the protagonist has a chance meeting with a girl. She clearly is South Asia-typed, has a wound at the forehead, she's limping, and has lost her memories: the only thing she remembers is her name, "Maria Santos". Touched by her plight, the protagonist carries her back to his home.
Once there, they examine the girl's belongings. Inside her bag, they find two photos; a wad of cash; a make-up set; a cassette tape... and, to their surprise, a small, but real handgun. Maria being cleary in shock and tired, the protagonist puts her to bed. The following morning, the protagonist goes to his work, assuming that Maria would have slipped away when he would come back in the afternoon. Instead, he finds his flat cleaned-up and Maria still there. "I have nowhere else to go..."
And thus begins the protagonist and Maria's cohabitation, as they go on a quest for her identity. As time passes, their relationship blossoms into romance. But their love will soon be put to test, as a mysterious man from the Philippines will appear, and the Yakuza, the Triad, and the Japanese police will come after Maria, and not for good intentions...
The "Autumn" title of the four original Playstation 1 Yarudora games, Sampaguita was directed by Mizuho Nishikubo (Ghost in the Shell movie, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Patlabor 2 The Movie), and the character design is courtesy of Shirow Masamune (Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed) and Takayuki Goto (Blue Seed, Please Save My Earth OAV).
BEWARE, this game is very story-driven. DO NOT HIGHLIGHT THE MARKED SPOILERS BELOW if you want to keep the full experience of the game. You Have Been Warned.
This game presents the following tropes:
- Action Survivor: The protagonist, when going in Good End 2 route. He's really out of place in the middle of the climax's Storming the Castle event, being an Ordinary University Student with no firearms or fighting skills, and awfully scared. It's only his love for Maria and his determination to rescue her that drives him forward.
- Adventure Game
- Badass: Boy qualifies for it big time. See Knight Templar Big Brother, Neck Snap and We Have to Get the Bullet Out below.
- Big No: Maria, if following the Good End 3 route, when the protagonist dies in her arms after Taking the Bullet for her.
- (Beautiful) Brown Eyes: Maria's distinctive physical trait, as the game's cover above testifies.
- Canon Name: While the game lets you name your protagonist, in the Drama CD, the player protagonist is named "Ryousuke Tsugihara". This is a trope of note, as the Drama CD's story follows the Good End 3 route: see Someone to Remember Him By and Dead Guy, Junior below.
- Conspicuous CG:
- The buildings in the background, during the sequence where a car is running on a highway (said sequence is the very first scene in the game's 1st opening).
- The airplanes in the very last scene of Good End 2.
- Cutting Off the Branches: While the game has many Endings, its official derivative works went with specific Endings for their respective canon:
- The Collectible Card Collection went with Good End 2 as the main storyline, while Good End 3, Normal End 2, Bad End 1, and Bad End 9 became Parallel Stories;
- The Drama CD went with Good End 3.
- Dead Guy, Junior: In the epilogue of the Drama CD, Maria gave her baby boy the name of his deceased father, the protagonist Ryousuke.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: One of the Triad members does this at the game's climax. The scene where he cocks his shotgun is also viewable in the game's 1st opening, without the cocking sound however.
- Ending Tropes:
- Bittersweet Ending: Good End 2 and 3. The former is on the sweeter side; the latter on the more bitter side.
- Happy Ending: Good End 1.
- The Hero Dies: In Good End 3. He takes the bullet in order to save Maria.
- New Child Left Behind: In Good End 2. The protagonist kills the Yakuza boss while defending Maria; assuming his crime, he turns himself to the police, and gets jailed for 5 years. He serves his prison time and reunites with Maria, who now has a 4-years old boy born from her and the protagonist, concieved during the time they were cohabiting.
- Someone to Remember Him By: In Good End 3. The protagonist dies protecting Maria. He awakes as a ghost two years later, and after wandering for a little time in Japan, he decides to go search for Maria. He finds her, and discovers she has a baby, born from her and him. The baby is able to see him; feeling happy and at peace of mind by seeing them safe, the protagonist decides to watch over them from now on, musing that being a ghost is not too bad of a thing.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The main protagonist and Boy eventually become this, after the protagonist saves Boy from an assassination attempt by the Yakuza.
- Flower Motif: The sampaguita, or Jasminum Sambac. Not only it symbolizes Maria, a delicate, exotic flower lost in the middle of an unknown country, but it also symbolizes the relationship between her and the main protagonist, as it has a meaning of "a promise of eternal love between two people".
- Gamer Chick: Maria, who's really good at arcade games.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Played straight for the heroic characters: neither the protagonist nor Boy get graphic representations of their deaths in Bad Endings, the camera focusing on their killers' faces instead. Averted for the Big Bad characters though, who are killed with graphic shots to the head or blade slashes.
- Hot Mom: Maria becomes one in Good End 2 and 3.
- Identity Amnesia / Quest for Identity: Just like in the other Yarudora games, this is the driving force of the game, as not only the protagonist and Maria are searching for her memories, but the bad guys are also after her for said memories.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: They may not be blood siblings, but Boy considers Maria as his little sister, and is very protective of her. They're actually in Japan as a condition for letting Maria go off the Chinese Syndicate, as he vehemently opposed to making her work in it and dirty her hands. He's extremely hostile to the protagonist and the relationship he has with Maria until the Fire-Forged Friends event; and the Yakuza soon learn the meaning of suffering when he rescues Maria from their clutches.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If Maria recovers her memories, she'll tell to the protagonist that, the day before she went to Japan, the old man who taught her Japanese told her fortune, and said the following (which the player will see and hear firsthand via Flash Back sequence):
- Multinational Team: To rescue Maria from the Yakuza, Boy (a Filipino) assembles a strike team consisting of himself, of 8 Chinese members of the Triad who have a life debt towards him, and eventually of the protagonist (a Japanese young man) too if you're following the Good End 2 or 3 routes.
- Neck Snap: Boy does a graphic one to a Mook at the beginning of the Storming the Castle event.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Discussed by the protagonist after he has become one, in Good End 3:
- Regarding Flight:
Protagonist: "There's something I understood when I became a ghost. Even when you become a ghost, you don't fly in the sky like in mangas. Things like gravity and the law of inertia are still in full effect. When you have to travel to a faraway place, you still have to use means of transport after all. That said, nobody will be angry at you even if you don't buy a ticket..."
- Regarding Dreamwalking:
Protagonist: " When you become a ghost, something that's inconvenient, is that you can't talk with ordinary people. But, if you enter in those people's dreams..." [Cue the protagonist entering in his brother-in-law Mizushima's dream, and having a conversation with him about what happened during the last two years his soul was in limbo, and in which Mizushima informs him about Maria and her whereabouts.]
- Regarding communication:
Protagonist [as he has arrived in Manila and is about to meet Maria]: In my happiness [of being about to meet Maria], something surprised me. What everyone were saying... I could understand all of it! I don't know why, but I could understand the language of that country!! Is that because I'm a ghost? If that's the case, then being a ghost is not that bad of a thing.
- Photoshop Filter of Evil:
- Pinky Swear: In the Drama CD, the protagonist, Ryousuke, introduce Maria to this Japanese custom (who takes the "if you break your promise you'll eat a thousand needles" bit literally and panics, telling Ryousuke would die if he does that), and makes a promise with her to go to a Japanese festival the next week. Ryousuke later makes with Maria another Pinky Swear of going to the Philippines on Christmas to see the festival there; unfortunately for them, the Drama CD follows the Good End 3 route... He however ultimately keeps his promise, making Maria aware of his presence via a power outage and the help of the wind.
- Shrinking Violet: Maria suffers a chronic case of this, ever since her childhood days. Because of her shy nature, she hardly was able to make friends; when she was in the Philippines, it's only via Boy, who went and befriended her, that she could make some friends.
- Storming the Castle: The event that gives the "Action" label to the game, as well as the warnings of graphic violence on the game's box. At the game's climax, Boy and the Triad members who owe him a life debt go and storm the Yakuza's headquarters in order to rescue the kidnapped Maria. The protagonist can join the battle as well in Good End 2 and 3 routes.
- Stuff Blowing Up: During the Storming the Castle sequence.
- The Triads and the Tongs: One of the antagonist factions after Maria. Or, this is what the trailers and the Attract Mode video would make you believe; they're actually on Boy and the protagonist's side, as they're here to repay the life debt they owe to Boy, by helping them saving Maria from the Yakuza's clutches.
- Upperclass Twit: Hikaru Sato is a prime example of this trope. Being born and raised in a very rich family, "A human being's value is decided upon his wealth, his power, and his beauty" is his motto, and he's such an unsufferable Jerkass the protagonist is the only person who can (barely) stand him.
- Visual Novel
- We Have to Get the Bullet Out: Boy does it to himself after he escapes an assassination attempt by the Yakuza thanks to the protagonist. With a knife, lots of cotton, a bottle of disinfectant, and bandages. And he manages to be healthy enough two days later to kick some major Yakuza ass during the Storming the Castle event.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Maria abhors cockroackes.
- Yakuza: One of the antagonist factions after Maria. And they're not above hitting a girl, much less killing those who stand in their way -including the protagonist.