The Umihara Kawase games are known, perhaps loved, for their irrelevance. A woman stumbles into a jumbled word filled with huge, walking fish. She uses her fishing pole to catch these creatures and pull them into her backpack, as well as rappel her way around the world. Hair-pulling challenges ensue. Yet with Sayonara Umihara Kawase, it feels as though there’s something more there.
It’s all due to the inclusion of additional characters. Traditionally, Umihara Kawase games only star the heroine, Umihara Kawase. Sayonara Umihara Kawase breaks the mold by bringing in additional girls. Two nine-year-olds join in, in the form of young Umihara Kawase and her friend Emiko, as does a young woman named Nokko Yokoyama that’s supposed to be a relative of Umihara from the future. All of the additional, unlockable characters have special skills.
The key seems to be the manipulation of time. Standard Umihara Kawase has no unique abilities. She’s just a sushi chef that’s somehow found herself in an unexpected and strange world, reeling absurd fish into her backpack that are presumably delicacies to use in her restaurant. However, this is a strange world, one which she seems nearly unable to escape. Doors to more levels are everywhere. It’s crazy.
Yet young Umihara has minor time manipulation abilities, those shared by her childhood friend Emiko. Both girls are able to restart levels from checkpoints. Since older Umihara Kawase doesn’t have this ability, perhaps this was a power unique to Emiko, who realized something was wrong with her friend.
The character description for young Umihara says she doesn’t remember much aside from her best friend, Emiko. Maybe memory problems are a side effect of her older self falling into this other realm. Emiko may have taken the initiative to aid the Umihara she knew and bring her to this world, in the hopes of saving the Umihara we begin with. Young Umihara developed similar abilities in the process, which would explain how young Umihara has time-based skills older Umihara lacks.
This is supported by two facts. The first is that older Umihara is the one players have initial access to. It’s only after playing that younger Umihara and Emiko appear. One could suggest that, chronologically, they followed after her to save Umihara’s future.
The other is that Nokko Yokoyama, Umihara Kawase’s descendant, has time-based abilities far more advanced than any of the other characters. This can only be explained if, at one point in Umihara’s past, she developed these abilities. Since original Umihara has none, a little exposure from a friend who does have such skills would explain why suddenly she could, and thus pass them on to a member of her family. Since Nokko can manipulate the flow of time, even crossing time periods as an Inspector of Time, it shows a better understanding of and stronger abilities.
That all four characters can access this place suggests it exists outside of time. The original Umihara stumbled into it, while her younger self, friend, and descendant consciously went into it.
Sayonara Umihara Kawase could be a rescue mission. The original, 20-year-old Umihara stumbles into this strange world. Emiko, her 9-year-old best friend in the past, senses something is out of place with her friend perhaps due to some sort of ripple effect, and consciously shares her abilities with young Umihara so the two can also enter that realm. As for Nokko, well, she’s clearly more capable. She could happen to be in the area doing her job, maybe investigating the disruption caused by the original Umihara stumbling into this world and Emiko and young Umihara following her in.
So what do you think? Could this Sayonara Umihara Kawase theory make sense? The game is now available for the first time for Windows PCs on Steam, so you can always see for yourself.