Root Film, Mystery Adventure Following Root Letter, Announced for PS4, Switch
Story and character details on Root Letter's successor Root Film, whose main cast is voiced by idol seiyuu unit i☆Ris, of PriPara fame
Kadokawa Games fully revealed Root Film at the Kadokawa Games Dai Kanshasai 2019 on October 19. Root Film is the official title for “Root Letter 2“, the next entry in the Kadokawa Games Mystery Series which was announced back in 2018. Root Film will launch on PS4 and Switch in Spring 2020 in Japan, for 6800 yen (tax excluded).
Here’s Root Film‘s translated story pitch:
A TV Drama is being filmed at Matsue, in Shimane Prefecture. Titled the “Shimane Mystery TV Drama Project”, it will work as both as a mystery drama and as a touristic promotion of Shimane.
The original pilot was filmed ten years ago, but the project was suspended for unknown reasons, until now.
Three movie directors are competing on who will get the project, each filming with their own selected lead actress. Among these three directors is promising filmmaker Rintaro Yagumo.
As Rintaro and his staff start their location scouting, multiple murders occur…
We first have two protagonists:
Rintaro Yagumo, the protagonist, voiced by Wataru Komada. Rintaro is a movie director, with his own small agency named “Studio Yagumo”. He has some financial problems though, as his sole jobs are directing low-profile TV commercials and small horror movies released on DVDs. He’s dissatisfied and feels like he isn’t improving at all. However, he recently won multiple awards at events such as the “6 Minutes Festival’ and the “Asia Movie Competition”, making him recognized as a rising filmmaker.
RIHO, the other protagonist, voiced by Himika Akaneya. RIHO is a lively and cheerful girl who was scouted during her high school days. She moved to Tokyo and transferred to a high school there, and became an actress at 17 years old. Seeing it was with a small agency, her debut didn’t make waves, but her high acting skills are slowly getting recognized.
Next, we have five main characters:
Aine Magari, voiced by Yuu Serizawa. Aine is a foul-mouthed girl working as an assistant at Studio Yagumo. She’s excellent when it comes to movie-related software and equipment. It seems like she was a delinquent back at school, but she’s definitely a good person. She’s caring and helps Yagumo a lot.
Hitoha Amakata, voiced by Miyu Kubota. Hitoha is an idol from a small agency. She’s one of the three lead actresses picked by one of the three directors competing for the Shimane Mystery TV Drama Project. She’s, in fact, the lead actress Yagumo picked, and they are currently traveling in Matsue together as partners.
Kyoichi Kanade, voiced by Azuki Shibuya. A cameraman who often works with Yagumo. He’s still in training but has the guts and sense needed for a cameraman. He’s the silent-type and always looks like he’s sleepy. During the reveal event, Shibuya Azuki talked about how Kyochi has a catchphrase with how he ends everything he says with “-su” or variations of it.
Mie Aoto, voiced by Yuuki Wakai. Mie is RIHO’s best friend from their high school days. She moved to Shimane back when entering high school, and she’s currently in her first year at Shimane University, studying Lafcadio Hearn‘s works. Mie really admires her father but can also act strictly toward him. She’s cute but has zero fashion sense.
Ayane Kotoshiro, voiced by Saki Yamakita. Ayane is from the prestigious Kotoshiro family of Shimane. She has an innocent and friendly personality, but can also show herself to be unyielding and selfish. She’s currently dating one of her servants, Kazuya Makida, and hopes to marry him.
Lastly, Arisa Noto, who was MC’ing Root Film‘s reveal event, will also be voicing a character in the game. Her character wasn’t revealed yet however, and she didn’t record for it yet.
As for the game systems, Root Film will include a new “Synesthesia Mode”. During conversations, the protagonist will visualize important words said by their interlocutors and remember them. Root Film will also include a completely renewed, and seemingly much better-exploited version of Max Mode from Root Letter. In a battle of arguments, the main character will be able to use the keywords remembered through “Synesthesia Mode”.
The game’s GUI was also completely reworked compared to Root Letter, and it has the aesthetics of a movie.
Root Film‘s Producer is still Yoshimi Yasuda, as the creator of the Kadokawa Games Mystery Series Root Letter was part of. The character designer is still “Minotaro”, who now decided to use the pen name “Minoboshi Taro n°2”.
Lastly, Root Film‘s Director and Scenarist is Hifumi Kōno, the Director of the Clock Tower point & click horror games. Root Film does have a bigger horror feel to it than Root Letter. During the event, Hifumi Kōno most notably said “Root Film is a mystery, so some characters will inevitably die. The game’s story and themes depict how the surviving characters will keep on living despite the murders.” On Twitter, Hifumi Kōno also shared “I believe Root Film will be my greatest masterpiece”.
Root Film‘s cast (from left to right): Azuki Shibuya, Yuuki Wakai, Yuu Serizawa, Akaneya Himika, Miyu Kubota and Saki Yamakita are the six members of the idol seiyuu unit i☆Ris. Even since it was announced i☆Ris was handling “Root Letter 2“‘s theme song, titled “Utakata no Hikari”, it was fairly obvious they would be voicing the game’s main characters as well.
Shibuya Azuki voicing Kyoichi, a male character, is nothing surprising either. (Kyoichi was officially confirmed to be male during the reveal event, triggering applause from the audience). Female seiyuu voice male characters all the time in Japan. The opposite, male seiyuu voicing female characters, happens fairly regularly too.
i☆Ris most notably voiced the six main characters of PriPara, and Yuuki Wakai’s PriPara character, Reona West, is a crossdressing boy. You might have never heard of PriPara, but it’s one of the biggest anime/arcade games in Japan. PriPara is part of a bigger franchise named Pretty Series, which also contains Pretty Rhythm/King of Prism and Prichan. Pretty Rhythm is, in my opinion, the best anime of the decade. Pretty Series as a whole is also the best recent franchise by far when it comes to good queer representation, so you should also check it out if you’re interested in this aspect.
The first print copies of Root Film will include a DVD with footage of the i☆Ris concert at Kadokawa Games Dai Kanshasai 2019, and a making-of video showing the dubbing of the game. Those who preorder Root Film will also get a lottery ticket to participate in an event on March 27, 2020, with Miyu Kubota and Yuu Serizawa.
Root Film will definitely release in the west at some point seeing Root Letter‘s popularity even led it to get a Holywood adaptation. Root Letter actually isn’t popular in Japan though. A Japanese guy I follow on Twitter was bewildered about how it’s getting a follow-up. In Japan, Root Letter sold around 16,000 copies on its first week of release, and its updated version Root Letter: Last Answer released earlier this year sold less than 3000 copies on its first week. However, Root Letter somehow ended up selling more than 400,00 copies worldwide, explaining why it’s getting a sequel.
Lastly, thorough the week, before the reveal event, Producer Yoshimi Yasuda on Twitter teased Root Film‘s reveal multiple times. He most notably shared the visual above. It shows fictional actresses AYA, SHIORI, and YUKARI. These three appear in Root Letter. It seems like RIHO is one of those new fictional actresses, and Root Film is set in the world where Root Letter was shot, if that makes sense. Anyway, I’m pretty hyped for Root Film, if only to hear Yamakita Saki’s voice, and I’m sure Kadokawa Games won’t make the same mistakes as with Root Letter and deliver us a proper ADV this time.