It’s time to review yet another JAST Blue boys’ love (BL) visual novel localization! After being thoroughly engrossed by Sweet Pool (there are still scenes that remain vivid in my mind a year later), I couldn’t wait to see what Nitro+chiral’s first release, Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ had in store for me. I soon found out that that would be another bleak narrative with a solemn protagonist and serve of Fight Club, post-apocalyptic Tokyo, and drugs added to the mix.
Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ centers around Akira, a young man who lives in post-World War Three Japan. Like most children his age, he was taken from his parents at a young age and trained to be effective in war, but when it ends before he and the others can join the fight, they find themselves with little knowledge of or interest in anything but fighting.
This results in the rise of organized street fighting, dubbed Bl@ster, which Akira participates in and excels at because he frankly doesn’t know what else to do with himself. He’s basically going through the motions with no drive to do much of anything, but when he’s framed for a murder he didn’t commit and told by mysterious figures that they’ll release him from prison in exchange for his participation in a deadly game, Akira chooses to join the game.
That game is Igura, a version of Bl@ster on steroids run by Vischio, where participants must fight each other to the death to gain the right to challenge the champion of Igura and leader of Vischio known as Il Re. Akira is sent to take part in Igura to kill Il Re and effectively disband Vischio, who also happen to be spreading a drug called Rein that gives its users superhuman strength and abilities, making them nearly unstoppable in Igura until they eventually overdose and die.
If that doesn’t sound confusing enough, I haven’t mentioned the fact that all participants in Igura are given a random set of dog tags engraved with the designs of playing cards, and the only way they can gain the right to challenge Il Re is by obtaining certain sets of tags… Frankly, I can’t really remember the details and luckily it wasn’t all that important.
After Akira reaches Toshima, formerly known as Tokyo, and finds his childhood friend Keisuke has followed him there, the two strike out into the city. In their quest to beat Igura, they encounter characters ranging from a drug lord who keeps mutilated young men as pets to a katana-wielding killing machine decked head to toe in leather, all while facing death, rape, drugs, and even more death.
Despite the two rather unsavory individuals I just described (sorry, I am not a fan of Shiki), the characters were definitely my favorite part of the game. Akira is sullen and seemingly uncaring at first, but he grows significantly over the course of the game, and with that, my interest in him also grew. He’s also great at witty one-liners!
Motomi was my favorite of the supporting characters, with his route offering both interesting story development, a satisfying romance, and a pretty hot sex scene. Speaking of romance and sex scenes, Togainu no Chi is, in my mind, much more of standard BL game than Sweet Pool, which I can’t help but compare it to as the only other Nitro+chiral game I’ve played to completion.
While Sweet Pool is a horror game with pretty horrific sexual encounters that are fitting for the narrative, Togainu no Chi is a thrilling story of men killing each other in post-apocalyptic Japan with plenty of male-male romance and sex, both consensual and non-consensual. There are both horrific routes and heart-warming routes, deeply unsettling sexual violence done to Akira, as well as the aforementioned hot – and, frankly, heart-warming – sex scene with Motomi.
Unfortunately, while it’s easier to recommend Togainu no Chi as a BL game than Sweet Pool, I found the overall story to not be very engaging, and the ending was a major letdown in every route. For all the worldbuilding, which meant it took quite a while to get to the real meat of the story, the endings feel rushed and more focused on showing Akira’s relationship with the character who’s route you’re playing than wrapping up the overall narrative in a satisfying way.
This probably could’ve been partially avoided by cutting some of the bloat from the setup – for example, the dog tag Igura mechanic I mentioned earlier is pretty unimportant to the plot overall, and the explanations could have been removed in favor of focusing more on what really mattered to the development of the characters and the story.
Togainu no Chi also looks a little rougher than Sweet Pool, which received an HD release for its 10th anniversary, meaning the visuals look fantastic on a modern computer. Again, I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it if I hadn’t played Sweet Pool first, but I couldn’t help but wish Togainu no Chi got the same treatment. In addition, sometimes the CGs and certain characters were a little offputting, as they were clearly drawn in a different style from others, making the experience feel less cohesive. That said, I need to take a moment to praise the localization, which once again is a top-notch job from JAST Blue!
I never would’ve imagined I’d say this, but I guess it’s pretty hard to follow up something like Sweet Pool. While I could more easily recommend Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ to someone interested in playing a BL game in English, the overall experience left me feeling rather lukewarm. Unfortunately, the story just didn’t grab me, and I didn’t really care about the plights of men endlessly fighting one another.
However, there were some legitimately great sex scenes, which is more than I can say of Sweet Pool! If you’re looking for a lengthy BL game and can handle the more disturbing themes (be sure to check the content warnings), Togainu no Chi ~Lost Blood~ should scratch that itch until the next Nitro+chiral title is localized.