Last Day Of Spring by npckc is a short visual novel set in contemporary Japan. It tells the story of a cisgender woman, Erika, and her attempts at organizing a birthday for her trans woman friend, Haru, whom she had met during the events of npckc’s previous game, One Night, Hot Springs (npckc recently announced a third game in the series will be out at the end of the month). While Haru served as the player character there, Last Day Of Spring is told entirely from Erika’s perspective, even as it focuses on Haru.
This, in itself, should raise some alarm bells. It has been a longstanding criticism from trans activists and creators that not enough trans people are allowed to be the stars and speakers of their own stories. There is a tendency for depictions of trans lives made from a cisgender perspective to lapse into insensitive exoticisation of a “strange” person (a man who was a woman!), voyeuristic fascination with misery perceived as a trans fate, or an objectifying treatment of the trans life and body as a sexual fetish. At the end of the day, such representations end up being more about cis issues – anxieties, fascinations and desires as projected onto a trans person – than about lived experiences of trans people themselves.
And yet, Last Day Of Spring shows that a story of a trans life can be told through cis eyes without privileging them and their gaze.