The Corpse Party games are character-driven endeavors. They succeed because it’s easy to connect with the victims of the curse. These high schoolers have known each other for quite some time and tossing them into such a desperate situation allows us to see them at their best and worst. Their lives were in our hands with Corpse Party. With Corpse Party: Blood Drive, the focus shifts in the hopes our feelings for one specific character will compel people to play.
It’s a gamble, but one that pays off for a number of reasons. Ayumi Shinozaki gets all the glory, for better or worse, in Corpse Party: Blood Drive. Two specific character traits provide ample motivation to stick by her side as she attempts a near impossible task – the resurrection of Mayu, Morishige, Seiko and Yui, the four characters who died in the original game. It’s an unexpected and necessary elevation of her status, one needed since she wasn’t the most popular character in the series outside of Japan.
Ayumi Shinozaki is an underdog and classic example of the final girl. For those unfamiliar, it’s a theory that suggests one woman will be alive to survive the horrific events of a traumatic experience, with the people following her tale identifying with her. Such a character typically begins as someone who needs to constantly be protected or rescued, but grows into a more formidable force throughout the adventure due to acquired or inherent knowledge.
Ayumi turns out to be related to Sachiko, the malicious antagonist of Corpse Party. All women in the Shinozaki bloodline possess an exceptionally strong affinity for magic. This is to Ayumi’s detriment in the initial game. Her fascination with the occult makes her more knowledgeable than the other characters, but the psychic and magical predispositions lead to her often becoming possessed. Her classmate, Yoshiki Kishinuma, typically needs to come to her aid to help save and snap her out of it. If she isn’t saved, you don’t get a good ending.
By the events of the following titles, Book of Shadows and Blood Drive, Ayumi has pretty much become the witch she was meant to be. In the former, she attempts a ritual to resurrect Mayu, one of her deceased friends. It doesn’t go well, but shows she’s grown enough in power to use the Book of Shadows, an artifact handed down through her family line. With the latter, she’s learned to fight off any attempts at possession on her own and is far more comfortable with arcane procedures.
This progression creates a character Corpse Party: Blood Drive players can root for. We’ve seen Ayumi as a naive, innocent child. We watched her grow in strength and ability until she reached a point where it might be possible to right the wrongs in the first game. She starts as someone we want to protect as we play and ends up admirable.
Her role as the final girl would have been enough to make her a compelling heroine, but Corpse Party: Blood Drive takes it a step further by making her inflicting her with survivor’s syndrome. With everything that happened, it’s difficult not to feel bad for her and admire her sense of honor.
The whole reason for the events of Corpse Party was Ayumi’s desire to perform the Sachiko Ever After ritual. Ayumi believed it would grant her and her friends a wish and the charm would bind all of them together forever. Performing it incorrectly takes people to Heavenly Host to face Sachiko’s wrath. The blog where Ayumi found the ritual purposely provided incorrect instructions, the group was sent there, and Mayu, Morishige, Seiko, and Yui died and were erased from the memories of everyone who wasn’t directly involved in the incident. She was the impetus and knows it.
Compounding that is the knowledge that Ayumi’s older sister died protecting her and Naomi from that ritual that might have resurrected Mayu. Ayumi still nearly died from the incident, but comes out of it with a new found desire to do things right this time. Once again, she’s the whole reason the events of a Corpse Party game are taking place. Her story deserves witnesses.
Especially since it feels very possible her plan won’t succeed. There’s really only one character who seems to have Ayumi’s best interests in mind in Corpse Party: Blood Drive, and that’s Yoshiki. Everyone else obviously has ulterior motives. Combine this with her mental and physical state. She still bears the scars from Book of Shadows and is obviously depressed. When things don’t seem to go right, she turns to self harm as an outlet. She withdraws from the only person thinking sensibly, Yoshiki. There are red flags everywhere.
The vulnerability and evolution of Ayumi as a character are impressive. By showing us a character realistically effected by such unimaginable horror and allowing her to grow into a capable woman with some hope of handling the situation, Corpse Party: Blood Drive gives players the heroine they deserve. She’s an underdog, but one who might have a chance, however slight, of accomplishing her goal. Those who have stuck with the series will appreciate seeing how her journey ends.