Just gonna jot down the plot and my thoughts on the secret cow novel for the less than a handful of people who might want to know about it.
Five is a fantasy eroge made by a number of Key’s core staff. Funnily enough I compare it to Rewrite most of the time even though they don’t share any staff. The novel borrows heavily from Ainu culture and mythology which made it really interesting. Ultimately, I wouldn’t actually recommend it as a standalone. A lot of the time, it’s funny and has good presentation, but the story is ehhh.
Full plot and impressions
Protagonist, Inaba Takahiro, has come to the frozen hellscape of Hokkaido with his pet cow, Airi (He does actually refer to her as such at one point). The siblings are the best part of Five; it’s not even remotely close. Their banter is absolute gold, and I’ll get back to that. Anyway, they’re staying at their father’s friend’s farm. Okina Kaede is the second heroine and ehh. She’s a Xmas cake who ships the siblings and is very weak to TV-shopping. Takahiro finds an old motorbike (Kai likes his bikes okay) and travels to the nearby town. There he meets-oh god kill me now-Orito Honoka. I am now eternally resistant to annoying characters because of this girl. Their first encounter involves Honoka wetting herself while Takahiro is carrying her. The game likes to remind you that she’s “18 years old” even though she acts about half of that. The final heroine is Orito Nene, Honoka’s elder sister. She’s a pretty typical Yamato Nadeshiko just a bit scatterbrained. Not much else happens in terms of common story. The routes split off from each other very early. We do get introduced to the Koropokkuru. They’re a type of nature spirit; they’re little green men with santa hats that communicate solely through kaomoji.
Best girl, best route, but it’s pretty inconsistent with the rest of the narrative. For the most part, the story is just them being at each others’ throats all the time, and it’s amazing. Airi is super fun to bully, though she’s not just a punching bag like Komari. The main joke is that Takahiro treats her like she’s a cow cuz of her massive tits.
Takahiro "Yo, Airi, I could tell it was you from your hair color."
Airi: "You should see that right away!"
Takahiro: "Dumbass, you shouldn’t judge people by their looks"
Airi: “You were talking to a cow!!”
They are spectacular together. The plot starts with Airi wanting Takahiro to teach her how to draw because he’s pretty good at it. And then a whole lot of nothing with a side of sexual tension happens for like two weeks (Days are very short in this game). At the point when Airi is about to go back home in a couple of days, the story take a sharp turn into the twilight zone. We meet Shino who looks even younger than Honoka and talks like she’s fucking 4, but “she’s totally 19.” She’s voiced by Tamiyasu Tomoe and talks by replacing all instances of ‘su’ with ‘shu’ (You can see my live reactions in Discord by searching “I found Rin”). Takahiro is out driving alone when he finds Shino by the roadside. When he talks to her, she starts having chest pains and asks Takahiro to press on her chest. He does so, but after a while his hand goes from pushing to fondling. He tries to stop but can’t; the colors go inverted and he blacks out. When he regains consciousness he’s kinda having an out-of-body experience where he sees himself brutally fucking Shino’s brains out. He eventually regains control and is understandably shocked and confused as to what to do next. Shino says that it doesn’t count as rape if they become a couple, so he brings her to the farm and introduces her as his new girlfriend. Are you confused and uncomfortable? Get used to it. When they’re back at the farm, the perspective switches to Airi and we get to hear how weirded out she is by this development. Takahiro and Shino start fucking indefinitely regardless of time and place, but Takahiro is basically in a trance the whole time. We switch back to Takahiro’s perspective as Airi is leaving. After her taxi leaves, Shino suggests they go to her house. Smash cut to them fucking in her room, but Takahiro can’t stop thinking about Airi. Takahiro’s distorted perspective clears, and we’re shown that they’re actually fucking in the middle of a snow storm. Shino starts talking annoyedly about how he’s dragging it out and should just die in blissful ignorance. So it goes on for quite a while that he’s literally being fucked to death. Airi shows up and sees what’s going on. Shino explains that she’s the spirit of an old tree that’s been corrupted. Tamiyasu’s performance in this scene is amazingly creepy. Airi goes to cut down the old tree which kills Shino (She had some Ainu name, I forget). Airi brings Takahiro back to the farm. When he wakes up we get our wincest sex scene, but afterwards Takahiro realizes something is wrong about the whole situation with Airi being there, and we go into a flashback. It’s about a year before the game’s start and Takahiro is visiting Airi in a hospital. This Airi is very sickly and not busty at all. Apparently she drink lots of milk to grow her breasts. Takahiro visits her many times, but she can never talk for too long. One day she’s not in her room, but he find a diary in a drawer. It talks about how she’s constantly in pain and can’t keep food down. On a snowy day, she’d written about how she wanted to play in a snow field. A nurse notices him, and we find out Airi’s been hooked up to a respiratory device. Takahiro basically goes into shock, and in order to “save his sister from the machines” he actually pulls her respiratory tubes. The events get very vague after that, but he was like sent to court and proven not guilty because of some technicality. He went into depression, and we hear that the dad just wanted him out of the house, so that’s why he gets sent to Hokkaido. On his way to the farm, he falls and hits his head on a rock. While falling, we see a quick flash of a Koropokkuru. Literally the first scene of the game is him waking up from that fall, and Airi is there. Back in the present, we have a final talk with Airi. She says that Takahiro saved her from the pain, and she leaves him a picture of a flower (remember she was learning to draw). We’re told that the floriographical meaning of that flower is hope, and roll credit.
AAAAH I can go on for hours about how fantastic this route is. There’s so many call backs to stuff from the beginning of the game, and they flip jokes into feels. Too bad none of its peers are even close. Also the idea of Airi being a ghost is not well represented in the other routes. But this story, while clearly inspired by Kanon and stuff, manages to be its own unique thing and takes advantage of being 18+. You could never make Shino as creepy without the sex, not a chance. I’m so sad it’s attached to the other 4.
I did Honoka second because I knew she would be the biggest hurdle. So she has her moe cry which is “honyo~” and then she also ends every sentence in “-nano.” OTZ…… Her story is about her and Takahiro going out to play in the woods. Thing is that Honoka can talk to animals and the Koropokkuru. A large part of the story consists of them playing with the animals, and Takahiro also learns how to sort of tell what the animals say. Shit hits the fan when this absolute cunt called Suzuki finds them in the forest while poaching. He is the son of a rich family that basically run the town and he has a crush on Honoka. He calls Honoka a whore for hanging out with Takahiro, and Takahiro smacks him in the face. After that he uses his dad’s authority to harass the Orito family. They like write shit on their house, throw garbage bags onto their porch etc. Takahiro gets them out of it by putting his face to the ground and apologizing. We get more playing with the animals. This route introduces a whole slew of “kamui” the Ainu word for god, and they all have whacky names. They first stumbleupon the Wen Kamui which is just a mass of hatred and sadness. It chases Takahiro and Honoka, and they’re saved by Honoka’s giant wolf friend Setoru (who also has a weird god name revealed later). While the two gods fight, they stumble into a magic clearing in the forest ruled by Shirikoro Kamui, the forest god, who shelters animals from the Wen Kamui. The friendly bear of the group brings his new wife to the playtime, and then Suzuki shows up again. His hunting party brutally kills the female bear but are scared off by the male. Takahiro asks why the bear only scared them instead of attacking them. The bear answers that it is the law of the forest that if anyone hurts a human the humans will retaliate which hurts the whole forest. I’ve never been hit so hard by an environmentalist message, ouch. There’s a lot of environmentalism in Five. Anyway, in town Suzuki is bragging about killing the bear, so Takahiro punches him again which starts up the harassment again. It gets worse when Honoka sees that Suzuki has gone back to the forest to kill the male bear too. She breaks down crying, and the town is instantly buried in a snowstorm. Takahiro gets her back to the house, but she’s in a coma. She wakes up after a few days, but is almost immediately taken away by this guy called Okikuru who is actually the snow god and Honoka’s father (She’s adopted and not actually Nene’s sister). The big climax of the route is about convincing Honoka to stay in the human world instead of going with her father. Unfortunately Suzuki comes along again-now possessed by the Wen Kamui- and kills Nene’s dad while they’re talking to Honoka. Honoka frees Suzuki by being kind to him, but then Okikuru is also possessed. Nene has a magic sword to hurt gods which they use to defeat him, but it drains life force, so the route actually ends with everyone dying.
My biggest problem with Honoka is that she’s written as a romantic target. There’s only one sex scene, and it’s before the female bear is introduced. I would actually be really fond of Honoka had she been written more as a daughter character and was like 12. She don’t have to change anything about her because she already acts that age.
Basic info, Kaede is very strict about not letting the siblings go out in snowstorms, and her husband is working somewhere else. The route starts with one of the cows being pregnant. One night Kaede goes and Takahiro go out to check on her. A snowstorm traps them in the barn where they fall asleep. Takahiro wakes up in the middle of the night and sees like a black cloud sucking life from the cows. Next morning Kaede is sick, and the calf ends up being a stillborn. After Airi leaves, they have sex once. A while later, Kaede gets a letter that had like been lost in the mail for some time. It’s from her husband’s parents telling her he died in illness. Apparently his last words where her name. I forget the details, but Kaede goes out in a snowstorm because she hears her husband calling her. Takahiro follows, and she gets angry with him because she cheated on her husband with him. At this point she’s possessed by the Wen Kamui, and she tries to strangle Takahiro. She snaps out of it in time to bring him back inside. The route ends with Takahiro in a coma and Kaede taking care of him while his consciousness seemingly is inside a Koropokkuru.
Spoilers, this is the only route where the heroine is alive at the end. Uhhh, next!
So in general Nene does wifey things, is a forest miko, and likes sex. Every other heroine gets a single sex scene, but she has 4 for some reason. She’s really weak to sales and extra prices. I don’t remember the story a whole lot other than the climax and the 4 climaxes that were before that. Similar to Honoka’s, the story teaches us a bunch about the mystical powers of this world. Nene’s family are like protectors of the forest; the women become mikos and the men become warriors that defend them. However, Nene has discarded that duty to just have a normal life. Takahiro and Nene go to see a flowerfield from Nene’s childhood, but it’s been turned into a industrial waste dump. Nearby they find a deer caught in a trap. It’s beyond saving, so Nene sings a miko song to stop it from becoming a Wen Kamui. They also find an owl which Nene calls Kotan Kor Kamui; its cry is said chase away evils. They starts taking pictures and investigating the dump site. When they look at the pictures, there’s a weird black smoke in them that they didn’t notice in person. When they go back, they’re assaulted by a woman that looks exactly like Nene except she’s extremely fast and strong. She doesn’t follow them outside the forest though. We find out the woman is Nene’s guilt from abandoning her miko duties taken shape and corrupted by the Wen Kamui. Between encounters with the Guilt Takahiro and Nene talk about restoring the flowerfield and starting a family. Of course she dies in the final battle. It turns out the god owl is an endangered species, so the area becomes protected. Years later Takahiro has restored the flowerfield, and he imagines taking Nene and their daughter there. Roll credits.
Not a whole lot to say about the plot, but I do like Nene; she’s really cute. Again, environmentalist as fuck. At this point in the reading, I’d also figured out that none of the routes have happy endings, so you brace yourself automatically. This route did have an animated blowjob (if you count going back and forth between two frames as animation.)
So the true route is simply called 5, and it’s like in Little Busters! where you get locked out of normal routes until you complete it. The title screen also changes with every route completed: the heroine you complete is removed from the title screen picture. The true route goes way back in time telling the story about Honoka’s parents. Perspective character here is a Koropokkuru, though Chitose, Honoka’s mother, is the actual main character. Even though she’s a normal human and has no relation to the miko’s family, she’s like naturally loved by nature. She happens upon the Miko(Nene’s grandmother) and quickly learns how to talk to animals. She also talks a lot with the snow god, and she’s the one who gives him the name Okikuru. So things seem fine since we only see what happens in the forest, but after a while we learn of how Chitose has it back in town. It’s pretty much a copy-paste of what happened in Honoka’s route. The rich cunt Suzuki(one generation up) is harassing Chitose because she doesn’t want to marry him. Chitose is of course very remarkable for dealing with all that shit on her own. At some point we also get the perspective of the Wen Kamui who sees how all the forest loves Chitose and wants to corrupt her with its hatred. Chitose and Okikuru spend a winter together, but he can’t manifest without snow around, so they’re separated for the rest of the year. The next winter she eventually invites him home, and that’s how Honoka is conceived. Suzuki sees her get a pregnancy check and effectively chases her out of town for baring the child of some unknown outsider. She ends up living in a shack in the forest, and that goes pretty well with some help from the miko and Nene’s dad who’s the miko’s guardian. The Koropokkuru tries to help, but he’s pretty much doomed to be the useless observer. Fast forward to when it’s almost winter again. Honoka has been born at this point. Suzuki starts a witch hunt throughout the forest. A thug finds Chitose and just feels like raping her before handing her over to Suzuki (because everyone in this town is the scum of the Earth apparently) but Nene’s dad saves her. The thug says they have people planning to attack the Orito house. Chitose tells Kunie to go save his family and take baby Honoka with him. After a while she encounters Suzuki who’s possessed by the Wen Kamui. It tells Chitose it basically orchestrated the whole thing by growing everyone’s hatred towards her. It basically wants Chitose to feel hatred because that would affect everyone around her, but she doesn’t. She also tries to snap Suzuki out of it like Honoka did, and she succeeds but not before getting shot by the Wen Kamui. Then snow starts falling which means Okikuru can manifest again. They talk for a bit, but Chitose collapses. The Wen Kamui then convinces Okikuru to give into his hatred and take revenge on the humans, so he like goes on a rampage. Now things get confusing. The koropokkuru has to help Chitose to catch up with Okikuru and show that she’s okay, but he also starts seeing different scenes from what happened to Takahiro. Those sad stories like motivates him to succeed because he sees that the Wen Kamui was like the source of everything or something. So they make it in time to stop Okikuru, and they can’t destroy the Wen Kamui because it’s born from negative emotions. They’re way of defeating it is to like split it and accept this darkness inside them, and that just works. The Koropokkuru watches Chitose and Okikuru hold Honoka, and then we’re brought back to Takahiro. This is a short epilogue with Airi explaining that they’re on their way to Kaede’s farm which they’ve done tons of time, and Takahiro notes that the person he loves is waiting for him.
Ohh, this ending is such a cop-out. Not to mention just how much they had to have been looking at Maeda’s homework while writing this. Airi being alive also doesn’t make any fucking sense. I also don’t get the Wen Kamui as a villain. It’s born from humans hatred, even says it didn’t want to be born in the first place. But then it’s a conscious thing that manipulates humans in return and needs to be accepted to be dealt with. Like, this is a perfect example of a Key magic ending. Just throw in whatever bullshit “fixes” all wrongs.