Clock Zero (PSP) seemed to fall nicely after Shinigami to Shoujo (with similar ideas of time and stuff, with quite a heavy dash of sad moments), so I decided to do this first. I went after Kanou Riichirou (CV: Maeno Tomoaki) first since many said he’s a fitting first choice. He’s the obligatory childhood friend but as compared to some of the childhood friends in other games, he’s not as annoying (lol) and despite acting all cool in the beginning, he warms up quickly and has plenty of sweet moments later in the game.
The beginning of the routes all start off pretty similarly for whichever character you go after. The heroine, Kurou Nadeshiko, goes to private school – literally for rich and important kids. Everyday she goes to school with Riichirou, fetched by his family’s chauffeur, and for his route, you would probably choose for Nadeshiko to walk back home after school with him too (once his tea club activities are done). Being that the school environment is full of rich and important kids, naturally everyone, including herself and Riichirou, are somewhat more mature and intelligent than your usual 12-year-olds. In fact, what’s interesting is that both of them are rather individualistic in that sense and can’t seem to mingle with any of the students since they are too honest for their own good and don’t quite see the point of socialising. Therefore, they pretty much only have each other despite both of their ‘bad’ personalities, but they both use the excuse that “If I weren’t here for you, as your childhood friend, you’d be so alone” lol. SPOILERS AHEAD
Still, there’s nothing rocky about her school days. In fact, Nadeshiko starts musing over how it’s rather boring. However, she soon starts to see dreams of an alternative world, a world that’s broken and collapsed with rather lifeless people who never seem to be able to see her. Besides that, a transfer student called Kaidou Takato gets transferred to the same class as her and Riichirou. He’s bright, friendly, smart, and gets popular quickly. Though he seems to have a keen interest in Nadeshiko, and hence gets close to her, and Riichirou (but unwillingly on his part). Pretty much at the same time, her form teacher, Kaga Akira, gets her, Riichirou, and four other “problematic” students together for after-class lessons: Hanabusa Nakaba, Hanabusa Madoka, Saionji Toranosuke, and Tokita Shuuya. Their main problems are that they don’t socialise well with the other students due to…various reasons. Soon after, due to a turn of events, Takato also joins them and unofficially, they name themselves “Clock Zero”, after a project Takato is working on (stopping time).
As such, part of the game involves meeting up after school to complete certain “homework” in pairs. You can choose who you wanna pair up with. Since this is Riichirou’s route, you’d naturally go with him. After each “homework” you’ll have to input two answers to two questions respectively. These answers can come out if you pair up with the right person (or, just follow a walkthrough lol). But once you’re done with the first route, instead of inputting you get multiple choice answers. Along the way, you get to know each member’s quirks, and the CZ members are really quite cute. However, Toranosuke, as the rebellious type, hardly turns up for any of these after-school meetings. Hence, one of the spontaneous “homework” Nakaba comes up with is to get him involved. And due to a turn of events, they all end up cooperating to play a game of hide-and-seek with Kaga-sensei lol.
Here, Nadeshiko finds Riichirou, who isn’t even bothering to hide lol. They reminiscence and you quickly learn that Riichirou used to be quite the crybaby when they were young, who often got bullied. Nadeshiko protected him quite a bit. You also learn that whenever they played hide-and-seek back then, Riichirou would always hide at places where no one else, but Nadeshiko count find him. Hence he often ended up crying still since everyone except Nadeshiko left him behind lmao. Nadeshiko also promised Riichirou when they were young, that she would always stay by his side and be in his favour. However, she forgot what he promised her in return pfft.
As mentioned, you can choose who you’d want Nadeshiko to walk back home with. So far, it appears that there are 7 times you can do so throughout the route. Each time, you can choose to talk about 3 different subject matters (interests, school, likes/dislikes). If you get to talk about one of them 3 times, you get a CG. So it’s possible to get 3 CGs like below. I guess most people find the first half of the game (the present day school days) a bit mundane and boring, but I actually found it rather cute ‘cos you get to know the characters. The only problem I guess is this stretches too long before reaching the climax.
So while all of these are happening, Nadeshiko continues dreaming of the broken world, and she starts meeting people who can see her. She also realises that her body in that world is one of an adult. Everything is still quite a mystery to her though. At the same time, she also receives a bunny stuffed toy from Kaga-sensei, called Rain. He calls it a high-quality robot who can converse with you…’cos it does so lol. If you choose to talk to it often the rabbit will turn black. If not, it will turn white. This is important depending on the character you’re going after and their “preference” for white/black.
Also, Nadeshiko soon starts seeing the people she saw in her dreams in real life too, including a Wanderer whom reminds her of someone she knows in real life. He seems to know her though, and what he usually says to her is that he will protect her. The other people include a Bishop, whom Kaga-sensei seems to know, as well as Waka, whom seems to be an acquaintance of Shuuya. She’s also dragged out by Shuuya to meet Waka, who explains to her that they are from the “future”, or the broken world she keeps dreaming of. He goes on to say that there are people after her, though there are unsure of their real motives. He comes from an organisation which is against those people and hence they have their eyes on her too.
The climax comes when one day, Rain speaks out to Nadeshiko and tells her if she could bring him near to the clock tower of the school. She agrees and there, she meets Shuuya who tells her to destroy Rain. This alarms Rain and he starts connecting to another person, calling for help. This calls in Bishop and allows Rain to continue his initial plan, which is stopping time of their current world. This freezes everything, except for the people who didn’t belong to the world originally, as well as Nadeshiko and the CZ members who were always around her. This is because, someone was manipulating her “quantum” such that she was started to synchronise with her future self in the broken world. Apparently some of these effects rubbed off the CZ members too.
Soon after, Wanderer and Waka come in. Waka tells Shuuya to leave first and return to the other world before it’s too late, and also knocks out. Bishop also claims that there is nothing that they can do since time has been stopped already. Kaga-sensei also enters the scene and it is hinted that this is all his doing. Kaga-sensei tells Bishop to leave with Nadeshiko and in comes a conversation between Kaga-sensei and Waka – it is revealed that Waka was just stalling for time and his organisation, Yuushinkai, have already captured Nadeshiko’s adult body in the broken world. Hence, even if Bishop brought this younger Nadeshiko to transfer her consciousness to the other side, the resultant body’s location is an Yuushinkai.
Nadeshiko wakes up at the other side, in her older body, after seeing a flash of
CGs memories which seemed familiar yet not hers. She finds herself in the broken world, or more specifically, in Yuushinkai. She meets the Wanderer, Waka, and an unfamiliar guy who claims to know her. They later explain that their actually the older Riichirou, Toranosuke, and Shuuya, in the year 2020 (10 years after her own world). Both Toranosuke and Shuuya “jumped” through time. Shuuya apparently sent his consciousness to his younger self in her world using stolen technology from the government, which was why his memories were all messed up as the technology isn’t perfect. However, Nadeshiko used the government’s reliable technology so she didn’t experience as much trouble, but still needs time to adjust. They also explain that her older self met with a fatal accident in 2011, and fell into a coma ever since. A few years before 2020, her body disappeared from the hospital. In addition, it was only a few years before 2020 did the world become the way it is now – it looks like an explosion happened at the school from the after-effects, affecting all other parts, yet nothing quite like an explosion really happened.
Reality hits Nadeshiko further as Riichirou and Toranosuke are not the same people she knew back in her world. Shuuya is, however, he and Toranosuke are carrying out activities for the sake of Yuushinkai, which is an organisation opposing the government. Riichirou is pretty much a loner and often takes off on his own, but the head of Yuushinkai takes interest in him. Still, being childhood friends, they share common childhood memories and Nadeshiko finds comfort in that. Riichirou also hands her a communication device so that they can stay in contact.
Still, most of what Riichirou is really doing, wandering around, is in the dark. Riichirou’s route also does not reveal much about why the government (or Kaga-sensei who is really the head of the government, King) wants her. The only plot-related fact we get at this point in time is that the temporary head of Yuushinkai, Osa, tells Nadeshiko that they’re taking her hostage, in order to try and bargain with the government (for them to step down), as they do not agree with the autocratic approach they are taking. If necessary, they’ll do the necessary harm to her to shake the will of the government, but won’t kill her. Naturally, all of this terrifies Nadeshiko, but she still does her best to remain calm and attempted to ask Osa for a trade-in for her to return to her world if she cooperates. But as mentioned, this doesn’t go with their intentions for her so she’s helpless and can only stay locked up in her room.
Nadeshiko grows frustrated and berates Riichirou for not being there at the critical moments, and only showing up to see her every once in a while, even though he promised to protect her. He apologises but still does not budge in telling her his plans. Shuuya does help them though, and plays the unexpected love adviser role lol. This Riichirou is also a lot more honest than his younger self, so we get lots of lines of how Nadeshiko is the most important thing to him, and how he’ll always protect her.
However, he also carries a heavy burden as he keeps blaming himself for the situation the older Nadeshiko met with – the accident, and then her body suddenly disappearing.
Nadeshiko starts to feel confused and hurt, as she gets the feeling that the Nadeshiko Riichirou is looking for is the older one that has lost consciousness, not her, the 12-year-old in the 22-year-old body. Moreover, this Riichirou has past 10 years unknown to her. Riichirou pretends not to notice this and claims that Nadeshiko is herself no matter what. Shuuya detects this uneasiness of Nadeshiko though, and drags her out (even though he shouldn’t lmao) to where Riichirou is, who is in the middle of “jumping” to another time and space. Shuuya literally pushes Nadeshiko over to Riichirou and the two of them jump through time together.
Nadeshiko finally learns the truth after constantly pursuing Riichirou for it. Apparently, Riichirou was mysteriously called in to work for the government previously (and given the title “Knight” pffft, apparently if you’re given a title you’ve some status). However, what he did was pretty much general security stuff. He decided to leave with a few other people, stealing the government technology along the way. This is also why Yuushinkai has it and Riichirou can walk in and out as he likes. He believed that they would do no harm to Nadeshiko while using her as a bargaining chip, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, he has been jumping back to different times to try and find a way to stop her accident. However, each time he has failed and keeps seeing her die (cue major heart-breaking lines). He didn’t want to tell her about this as it wasn’t anything pleasant.
After taking cover from the rain, they walk around some more and unfortunately, they see her younger 13-year-old self, and witness the accident. Nadeshiko is both shocked at witnessing it, and at the fact that Riichirou seemed to act on instinct and wanted to save that 13-year-old Nadeshiko even though it would only be a futile effort. After going back to the broken world, she starts to feel uneasy again.
Riichirou reassures her and reminds her of the childhood promise they had made: she had promised him to always be at his side and in his favour, while he promised her that he would get strong enough to protect her in return (which she had forgotten lol). He also reassures her of her uneasiness: that he had been acting without thinking through, after constantly trying to stop her accident all these years, and hence never really saw and cherished the Nadeshiko who was right here by his side.
However, at the same time, Yuushinkai received response from the government that they’ll accept the agreement. Hence, they are stricter on Nadeshiko and even tie her up. They also lock up Riichirou, and Shuuya (since he’s been constantly helping them leave the quarters). However, Riichirou still reassures her that he’ll save her no matter what. True to his word, he comes to save her, even though over the communication device, Nadeshiko insisted otherwise. Riichirou brings her to the laboratory, where there are a few scientists whom he had escaped from the government with. He tells Nadeshiko that he’s sending her back to her world and to not worry about anything since she will no longer remember what happened in this world upon her return, and ends up leaving the room. This then splits into two possible endings.
Stay: Nadeshiko struggles away and runs after Riichirou. She says that there is no way she can leave him behind, knowing that he had been searching for a way to save her all these years. She goes on further to guess that he must’ve found a way to avoid her accident, and possibly unfreeze time in her past world. Riichirou can find no come back, and being in the open where everyone is looking for her, he gives in and drags her away. After they managed to escape for now, Riichirou explains that Shuuya found a common point across all the times when she met with an accident, and when she didn’t.
Riichirou and her jump back to time and in front of the school. They see that a foreigner is about to approach Nadeshiko’s younger self and Nadeshiko confirms that she did indeed met such a person before. Riichirou goes to stop the foreigner and then to confirm their beliefs, they jump back to 2020 and met with a very different scenery. It is no longer the broken world but one that looked like the old world.
They go back to their homes hesitantly, to confirm that beliefs (and change out of the very suspicious-looking clothes lol). Their families welcome them back as per normal, except that Riichirou’s sister took photos of his ‘cosplay’ for memory’s sake haha. In the epilogue it shows Nadeshiko clinging onto Riichirou while he’s reading. He starts telling her to not bother him so much and she replies that he’s been acting cold even though she’s used to it. Riichirou then answers that he has been holding back all this while and that if she says it’s okay to let go then he will, and so cue the lovey-dovey stuff pfft.
Return: Nadeshiko is forcefully transferred back to her original 12-year-old body where she wakes up to see a worried-looking 12-year-old Riichirou. Time seems to have been unfrozen, so the older Riichirou must’ve done something. However, she knows that she will gradually forget him, and that first bittersweet love too. However, she also looks at the current Riichirou and tells him honestly about how they’ll always be together and starts crying on his shoulder too, much to his surprise and embarrassment.
The epilogue shows them 10 years later, and Riichirou proposes to Nadeshiko, while recalling their childhood promise.
Bad ends: One bad end is when Nadeshiko’s uneasiness gets to her and she voices it out, Riichirou and her can’t seem to see eye to eye and suddenly it says that he never came back after that. That was…surprising. The other one is when Nadeshiko tells him over the communication device to save her, after being tied and locked up. He comes and Yuushinkai members are alerted, he has no choice but to take her and jump through time to escape first. Thing is, he did not calibrate the device properly and by coincidence, they’ve come back to the time when Nadeshiko met with the accident. He lets go of this Nadeshiko to go and save the younger Nadeshiko, and meets with fatal injuries himself. It was really heart-breaking ‘cos he constantly kept asking of the safety of the younger Nadeshiko and never looked at the Nadeshiko who was by his side the whole time, all the way till his death.
Extras: Each CG has a voice-over where Riichirou comments as if reminiscing the times with Nadeshiko. There is also a Q&A with both the younger and older Riichirou, as well as a bonus ご褒美 image for completing everything (Riichirou is dressed up as a host and he says a few short lines too).
In addition, there is a short novel told in Riichirou’s point of view which basically shows them at 22-years-old, and him taking Nadeshiko back home and being lovey-dovey, as he’ll be leaving home for a while for matters which I suddenly can’t recall. /kicked That is before they were interrupted by her dad who is apparently quite an 親ばか and extremely protective of his daughter. He tells Riichirou to come in for a game of chess and that if he wins he’ll approve of him, if not, stay away. LOL. Apparently this happens quite often but Riichirou obliges anyway since he’ll do anything to be with Nadeshiko. I think the PSP addition everyone is eyeing is the after stories for each ending though.
In the Stay after story, Riichirou has a nightmare of losing Nadeshiko. He wakes up to find her next to him, asleep, but she soon wakes up and he asks what she was doing in his room. She says it’s nothing much and just that she was praised by a strict teacher on her work. Riichirou reads into the deeper meaning and asks if she really did not regret staying with him, since she lost 10 years of her life just like that. Nadeshiko reassures him and asks if they can study together tomorrow.
The next day, Riichirou calls Nadeshiko to tell her not to come over, as his sister had interrupted his room. She suggests him coming over instead and he agrees, even though he’s doesn’t really want to see her father either lol. They spend the time quietly, till he asks her for a dictionary and she passes it to him. However, Nadeshiko also chances upon a photo album showing their elementary graduation photos, and in it was a Riichirou on the brink of tears pffft. She muses over how it’s a memory which she didn’t have, and asks what happened. Riichirou tells her that on that day, she had asked him to hold hands but he refused out of embarrassment, and in the end Nadeshiko’s dad scolded him till he teared up. However, he also asks her what would she have then in the same situation. She answers him and apparently it’s pretty much the same words she had said back then. Riichirou reassures her that even though they may have been different, but deep down they are the same and unchanged (the Nadeshiko and Riichirou from different times).
After studying, they leave to have dinner outside and Riichirou’s sister is there, looking for Riichirou to accompany her for a dinner. He rejects her outright, even after she threatens to let out the photo of his “cosplay” haha. She then comments on how he hasn’t changed at all since young, and that even though he’s openly holding Nadeshiko’s hand now, he’s still hiding his embarrassment anyway~
In the Return after story, the main highlight is that Nadeshiko returns home to see her father apparently drinking and entertaining some guests. She wants to avoid the hassle and sneaks back to her room, while wondering about Riichirou. She receives a phone call from Riichirou then, and hears a rather…drunk voice asking if she’s home and if so why didn’t she let him know. He adds then he’s going over immediately and hangs up. Literally seconds later, he comes into her room, locks the door and jumps on her onto the bed LOL. Behind the door, Nadeshiko hears her father knocking on the door, asking if she’s alright and demanding her to open up.
Nadeshiko can only conclude that Riichirou was the guest her father was drinking with, and obviously the two of them are drunk, even though she knows Riichirou can’t hold his alcohol. Riichirou explains that he did so as her father said that if he accompanied him he would hand his daughter over lol. Riichirou proceeds further into his drunken babble, asking if she loves him to how much she loves him, to how he loved her since young and how he often got jealous when she kept receiving confessions, to how they only got together in high school and how he couldn’t sleep that night they got together. He even calls her “cute” outright, something he has always denied when sober due to embarrassment lol.
Nadeshiko is surprised to hear all of this as he always acted cool and calm, but also is secretly happy since this is a rare side to Riichirou. She reassures him, only to find out that he had fallen asleep, while on her, halfway through. The next day, Riichirou is unable to remember anything and asks if anything happened. Nadeshiko only tells him that he said a lot of things but refused to go into the details pfft.
Overall: Riichirou’s route full of bittersweet moments! In the earlier parts ‘cos he was too busy acting cool, there were only a few cute moments when he becomes more honest. However, in the later parts in the broken world, the older Riichirou is so dedicated it’s heart-breaking. I can’t say if I prefer the Stay or Return ending. The Return ending certainly feels like the more perfect one (plus it has such an adorable after story). But you can’t help but feel for the older Riichirou who spend almost half of his life despairing over losing Nadeshiko. And in that way the Stay ending also felt like salvation for him, as emphasised in the epilogue and after story.
I liked all of his CGs, and I think Maeno Tomoaki did a nice job voicing both younger and older versions. I may sound sadistic saying this but, his lines as the older Riichirou when he sounded so broken as he recalled how he kept losing Nadeshiko time and again were the best. /bricked And I think it’s quite obvious but I loved how Shuuya played the love adviser role, he’s a really caring character. Even though Riichirou’s route didn’t reveal much plot-wise, it felt okay as the first character to go after as a lot focused on the gap between Riichirou and Nadeshiko, minus the usual, trivial childhood friend drama.
You can check out the Clock Zero tag on my tumblr for more screenshots and corresponding translations.
The next post will be Shuuya’s since I just finished his route. But…this post took so long, who knows when I’ll get to Shuuya’s.