[Update 11/01/2011] An overview of this game was written at Listless Ink. Note that it contains spoilers.
Much has been discussed of the first game in the series since it was translated. Some reviewers have even gone out of their way to provide insights on the following four games, all as of yet untranslated. However, the sixth is rarely discussed outside of a CG link. I admit I don’t have much experience with it myself, but I couldn’t help but notice that no one else ever brings up its place in the series other than it’s a direct sequel to the first.
I’ve had a very slight suspicion that the reason the sixth game is overlooked is its timing. The fact that their story did not get a sequel first is probably why those who play the games in order don’t have the time left to write impressions by the time they got to it. Furthermore, whereas the other couples have an unusual factor or character type driving their relationship, Yuuna and Nanami have no such draw. There is a possibility that the decision to make the seventh game focus on a student-teacher relationship is just what the series needed to revitalize itself, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
It may seem that I’m implying that Fuguriya intended to respond to perceived staleness by bringing Runa and Takako’s story to the same level as the games, but the fresh change of pace brought about by them certainly helped more people notice the series and current fans to adjust expectations. The original story started in September 2007, well before its visual novel adaptation in December 2009, a full year after the release of the sixth game. I can’t guess how long this plan has been in formation or even if this was intended from the start. Erisu and Shizuku helped even more, albeit in a different way, even though–or perhaps because–they’re probably the safest couple of all as far as the age of consent goes. Third game notwithstanding, Fuguriya seems to treat all of their products with the same esteem, so it’s unfair to say that one game should be more controversial than the rest. That said, it’s even more unfortunate for the games between the first and last three. It’s been observed that the middle part of a trilogy is often the least discussed, and I’m seeing a similar effect here.
Then there’s Hanahira! All things considered, I’m genuinely concerned about its future. I hope that it’s lucky enough to have anywhere near the number of sequels its predecessor has. That should give us plenty of time to translate the games that came before it.