It can be difficult to find time to finish a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our biweekly column Short Play, we suggest video games that can be started and finished in a weekend.
Last Day of Spring is a sequel to one of my favorite games from last year, One Night, Hot Spring. The original visual novel followed a 19-year-old transgender woman named Haru as she goes on an overnight hot spring trip for her oldest friend Manami’s 20th birthday. It deals with a lot of Haru’s experiences about not being treated or seen as the woman she is and the anxieties those experiences create. While parts of the story can get heavy, things generally turn out well for Haru. One of the reasons for that is Erika, Manami’s other friend who joins them on the trip. In certain endings, Haru and Erika end up spending a lot of time together talking, which leads them to become close friends after not knowing each other at all before the trip.
Last Day of Spring picks up a few months after one of those endings with the player now following Erika. It specifically starts on April 1st of this year when Erika is watching the announcement of the new Japanese Imperial era’s name. She learns from Manami that Haru’s 20th birthday is coming up in a few days. Erika decides that they should do something special. The game unfolds with her trying to plan a spa day for the three of them.
Like a lot of other visual novels, there are multiple endings, many of which are “bad” endings. For example, in One Night, Hot Spring, a “good” ending might have Haru spending time with Manami or becoming friends with Erika. In a “bad” ending, she might leave the hot springs alone because she’s too worried about how the staff will treat her. In Last Day of Spring, there is one good ending that involves Erika getting to do something for Haru’s birthday and one effectively bad ending where Erika doesn’t get to. But there are multiple points where you can get the bad ending, which changes how or why the birthday plans fall through based on when it happens.
Since seeing all of the possible conclusions, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the story and its structure are trying to say. All of the bad endings involve Haru backing out of the plans for one reason or another, while the good endings are essentially Erika refusing to let her do that. I think an unkind interpretation of Last Day of Spring would say that, to be supportive, you need to force introverted or anxious people to talk about their issues so that they can get help from friends to work through it.
However, Erika is insistent that she doesn’t force Haru to do anything against her will. While writing this, I happened upon the Human Rights Campaign’s page on how to be an LGBT ally, and the way Erika acts seems to fall squarely within those guidelines. That is perhaps why the game’s bad endings don’t necessarily feel bad: they are still about supporting Haru.
Last Day of Spring serves as a strong companion piece to One Night, Hot Spring. The first game was about giving players one perspective of what being a transgender woman is like. In the sequel, you can use that newfound knowledge to be a more supportive friend.