The Dual Perspectives of Saya no Uta

by eternal on August 3, 2009

Saya no Uta

I won’t bother praising Saya no Uta outright: a quick glance at its ratings should tell you a thing or two about the quality of the story, without even factoring in its reputation. My Nitro+ experience is currently limited to this game and the Chaos;Head anime, which most people would rather forget, so I’m not sure how Saya compares to their other stories, but suffice to say it does a good job of electrocuting the mind more efficiently than a Satoshi Kon film.

In retrospect, however, the story contains a strange kind of tenderness to it; a sort of delicate interior beneath the harsh, rotting-flesh-coated exterior. Most wouldn’t notice it initially – or at least I couldn’t, considering my sanity was severely compromised at the time of playing – but there’s a bit to be said about the game after one has finished it, and after they learn the startlingly innocent truth behind the game’s namesake.

Saya no Uta (4)Don’t ask. Just don’t.

I don’t think I need to say that the game is scary. The definition of “scary” would vary from person to person, I suppose, and there are probably a few of you trained from horror movies that are willing to bet that you can read through the entire game without so much as a cringe; and who knows, you might be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the game is twisted, disturbing, and the heart-pounding suspense as your hero descends into insanity is easily the greatest attraction of it all.

While we’re on that topic, it’s worth pointing out that the game’s punch to the gut is made much stronger by the fact that the story is shown from two perspectives. At first, Fuminori appears to be the victim of a horrendous tragedy – which is nothing but the truth, really – and that, combined with the fact that you play as him, leads the viewer to see him as the “hero.” He certainly is the main character, but hero is an ambiguous word in this game. The constant switching back and forth between perspectives allows the player to maintain at least some sense of reality, forcing them not to see things from Fuminori’s narrow perspective (or, from that matter, solely from the humans’ perspective). That’s what leads to the first decision point being one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen, in this game or elsewhere: whose side should you choose? Does the demon return to the human world, and be cast out from society? Or does he live on forever in his own twisted universe?

Saya no Uta (1)
If you knew what he was going through, you wouldn’t blame him for looking like that.

Vaguely reminiscent of Raphael’s story in the Soul Calibur series, to pull a random reference, I’d say that Fuminori’s descent into insanity is the crux of the story. Without that, the suspense wouldn’t exist. Without the discovery that he ate his friend’s flesh and enjoyed it, there would be no terror. And, of course, without his decisions made near the end of the game, there would be no need for the viewer to change their opinion or question their decisions. It’s a well-crafted story, when you think of it, considering that it could have degenerated into a simple gory horror if the writers chose to force you into Fuminori’s (or worse yet, Kouji’s) shoes; the distinction between Human and Monster would kill the game’s psychological tension.

But enough about Fuminori. He’s crazy, and he’s got his reasons for being crazy, but we already know that. What about Saya?

Saya no Uta (5)

Saya is where things really get interesting, because the reader hardly notices her during the game. True, she has her dialogue and her H-scenes, but beyond the initial mystery of who the hell is she and why does she act so human?!, she doesn’t get much development. Most of the story falls on Fuminori’s shoulders, with Saya acting as the glue to hold everything together. But when you find out what she really is, the story changes in ways that are completely irrelevant, yet intriguing.

Look at it this way: Saya is an alien. A plant-monster, if you will, or maybe a demon or a mutant, or whatever suits your fancy, but the point is, she’s a living being from another world. Sounds familiar? It’s only been done, I don’t know, a few thousand times in science fiction. The monster from the space, the beast that begins as an innocent child, until it matures…and when it reaches its final stage of evolution, it develops the power to destroy the human race and steal the Earth’s resources for its home planet. When you look at it literally, Saya no Uta is just another variation of your average sci-fi movie.

However, this is where things change. Much like with Fuminori’s insanity, which is bolstered by looking at the situation from two distinct perspectives, Saya’s life as a “monster” is deepened by perspective. In this case, we don’t get to see anything of her homeland, but we already know their goal: just like the human empires in the old days that raced across the Earth, killing in the name of land, these foreign creatures want nothing more and nothing less than to conquer. They’re not all that different from us, probably. And that’s just it: they’re not all that different from us, especially if one of them were raised among us! Scientists have discovered some interesting things related to Feral humans, right? Maybe Saya isn’t all that different. As a matter of fact, it’s hardly even a theory; it’s a proven fact within the story that only becomes evident when you look back on it with a clear mind.

As they said, Saya was a child, first and foremost. An alien, yes, but also a child. She wanted to learn. She wanted to do her duty. But what have us humans been theorizing for centuries? Something about blissful ignorance, and the innate evil within the human mind? I think evil might be the wrong way of putting it, but the point is that Saya absorbed the ability to think when she studied human culture. She evolved – or devolved, depending on your perspective – and she was unable to perform her duty and reproduce mercilessly in order to seize control of the planet.

Before she could reproduce, she wanted something. She wanted the same thing that humans want.


Saya no Uta (3)

I’ll try not to jump on this one too hard, but it was a sweet thought at the end of such a cruel, tumultuous story, to think that the destruction of the planet was a result of love. Perhaps “sweet” isn’t the right word, but when you’re struck with the thought of watching the human race being wiped out day by day (an instance in which the ever-present Bad Guys win, something that doesn’t usually happen in generic sci-fi), it’s hard to not feel a shred of emotion when you realize that there are two people on the planet that have never been happier. And, truth be told, they were both perfectly sane. Fuminori was crazy by the standards set by human society, but in reality, his brain had forced him into a different world: all he did was adapt to that world.

In the end, the picture above describes Saya perfectly. It’s oddly fitting that her grotesque self was portrayed as an innocent young girl, beyond the obvious lolicon factor, because the thing is, that’s exactly what she is. When she became “human”, she was cast away, because she was an alien in their – our – world. She was alone, just like any homeless girl on the street, without anyone or anything to rely on. That was why Fuminori came as such a relief to her: she saved him, in a sense, but he undoubtedly saved her. They were two aliens in a cold, dark world, but together, they were able to create a world just for themselves. It was unfortunate for the human race, I suppose, but since when was nature kind? How many species have human beings wiped out, and how many were destroyed before we even arrived?

But in the end, like with most visual novels, the bittersweet aftertaste lies with the characters. At the end of Fuminori’s twisted journey, we’re left with a dystopia for one race and a utopia for the other. Once more, it’s all about perspective (something that Nitro+ appears to be quite good at). The hatred and fear for Saya’s kind burns out by the time the credits roll, and after seeing her as the innocent child that she is portrayed as, I find it hard to look back at her with dismay. She was merely a girl who wanted to be loved, and Fuminori was a lost man in need of salvation. Together, they created a perfect world.

That’s what the game is, really: distorted on the outside, but sweet on the inside. Just like Saya herself.


{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Kona August 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

A very nice review, honestly. With the way you described the storyline and emotions of the characters in detail, made me quite hooked to this post. XD
I did contemplate on whether to get this or not, since…it has H and there’s quite some gore which I heard of. But still…I think I won’t get it, hahaha. Not sure whether I can stand the gore…and I am afraid that I might get a bit mixed up with who am I etc. after reading/playing it, lol.
But still, thank you for this post, it was really intriguing. ^^


Martin August 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I have to say I’m intrigued by this one…perhaps in part to the dropping of Satoshi Kon’s name into your description. The idea of what’s scary as being something very subjective is interesting – I recall having a discussion about Fate/Stay Night and how the gore didn’t affect me much (working with blood day in day out must’ve made me desensitised to it I guess) but I’m much more likely to be unsettled by thematic and psychological stuff.

Anyway, I like contrasts in stories, such as light/dark, different perspectives on morality and bittersweet resolutions and so forth. Chances are I might actually like this…


Tsubasa August 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm

It really was bittersweet for a “true” ending. I still haven’t decided if I would have liked it better if Saya herself would have survived with Koji to see the new world…


ETERNAL August 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

@ Kona: It’s an excellent game, but if you don’t feel comfortable with it you should probably hold off. It’s a lot worse than most violent anime I can think of. Still, it’s not going anywhere, so you might want to try it later on.

@ Martin: Nitro+ isn’t too different from Type-Moon; I think TM works more with fantasy and elaborate in-universe webs (the Nasuverse as a whole is…massive), and Nitro+ focuses more on the psychological stuff, but they’re similar in enough ways that you’ll probably like both. Saya no Uta definitely has its violent moments, but I think the scary parts are mostly in the mind, which, as you said, can be infinitely more terrifying.

@ Tsubasa: I think that would have been a happier ending on their part, but I still can’t bring myself to truly wish for the characters’ happiness. It’s bittersweet in retrospect, but given the choice, I personally can’t change the fact that Fuminori’s sheer insanity was too much for me to think about normal things like happy endings.


erre September 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

It’s a great story. The viewpoint of the different characters adds well to the story and in the end it’s really hard to tell which ending is the best. All 3 endings have their good sides but also leave some sadness in you.


Angelus July 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Late comment, much? Still, you’re getting things wrong. First, Saya wasn’t only from another world, she was from another dimension/universe – Dr. Ougai brought her to Earth accidentally during one of his experiments with alchemy. Second, the human race wasn’t destroyed, just transformed. To the transformed humans, the world was just as beautiful as before, and what’s more, it was a place where Fuminori could live. Third, Saya wanted love not because love is some magical universal force, but because Dr. Ougai said she needed it in order to reproduce. She was exploiting Fuminori solely in order to achieve her ends, but then, who wouldn’t want to be exploited like that?


ETERNAL August 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm

All right, this makes sense… though I admit that I’m having trouble remembering the finer details of the story since it’s already been a year. I can’t help looking at Saya/Fuminori’s world as the opposite of the real world, but I can see why, technically, their ending together wouldn’t necessarily be a bad end. Whenever I think about it, though, I realize that my opinion hasn’t changed much. It might do me well to read over the plot on a wiki or just replay the game.


Eminya Agnam February 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

@Angelus- I originally had some concerns that Saya was exploiting Fuminori for the purpose of reproduction, and if that were true it would have diminished the romance in this love story for me, however Saya does a few things that shows her concern for Fuminori as well as put his well being before her own.

The first is after she learns how to alter the human mind, after this messy incident Saya gives him the option to be able to see the the world as it was before the accident. Knowing that doing so may cause them to be apart.

Secondly is when Saya turns Yoh (a girl who likes Fuminori) into something like herself so that Fuminori would have more people to feel comfortable around. (a little off topic) I personally enjoy this part because we get to see a jealous Saya. Saya’s other reason in using Yoh was to let Yoh know her place in this “family”/relationship.
These don’t feel like the actions of a girl who wants to keep a man to herself.

If there is an instigator exploiting others, it is Saya’s initial instinct for reproduction. Even exploiting Saya’s loneliness and want for companionship making her as much a victim as Fuminori.
Finally, Angelus if I have misinterpreted your use of ‘exploiting Fuminori solely in order to achieve her ends’. I am very sorry and would like to apologize.


edoodle January 26, 2011 at 4:36 am

So Im on like..episode 19, i think, i honestly cant stop but i dont get something..when he looks in the mirror, would he see a monster thing or himself? I dont know o.o


eternal January 31, 2011 at 6:28 am

He would see… himself, I guess? His brain is screwed so he perceives the world as monstrous, but I imagine his senses wouldn’t make him view himself like that, otherwise he’d have mentioned something in the narration when he first, say, washed his hands. I don’t think such a scene occurred in the game so I’m assuming he still sees himself as human.


Eminya Agnam February 14, 2011 at 6:22 am

I know I’m late on arriving on this but I wanted to give my two cents.
I very much enjoyed this game and love/agree with your description of it;
‘distorted on the outside, but sweet on the inside’

And to the people who are interested but feel that they can’t handle the gore, always keep this title in mind and when you feel that your minds and stomach can handle it a try. It is worth it.


Evangeline13 March 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I have a question: why is it called “Saya’s song”? What’s the meaning behind it?


joshua June 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

I think you have a nice review.the monster?the beauty girls?it is forbidden to think about it.Just to feel their’love.It’s full.


choux June 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

One day, I was browsing through a chinese forum. I saw a topic about how “foreigners” see Saya no Uta, and turns out it was a translation of this post. Check it out.


eternal February 25, 2012 at 1:36 am

Huh. Now that’s fascinating. Thanks for the link! One of these days I’ll ask you what they were saying, heh.


Phobiaslave December 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

Exactly how I see the story. I look back on this game as one of the sweetest and most powerful romance stories I have ever read, or likely ever will read.


Tristan January 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

WOW ! Awesome ! Really.
Just finished playing it and I have the exact same advice and feelings toward this game !
Good job ! ;-)


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