Umihara Kawase

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Umihara Kawase
Developer(s)TNN/NHK SC
Studio Saizensen
Marvelous Entertainment
Natsume Inc.
Agatsuma Entertainment
Platform(s)Super Famicom, PlayStation, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows
First releaseUmihara Kawase
Latest releaseUmihara Kawase Bazooka!

Umihara Kawase (Japanese: 海腹川背)[a] is a series of platform games starring the sushi chef Kawase Umihara[b], who has become lost in a world of surreal salt-water and fresh-water creatures. The series began with Umihara Kawase for the Super Famicom in 1994, which was followed by Umihara Kawase Shun in 1997, Sayonara Umihara Kawase in 2013, Umihara Kawase Fresh! in 2019, and Umihara Kawase Bazooka! in 2020.


The game was an independent collaboration between developer Kiyoshi Sakai, illustrator Toshinobu Kondo, and several others.[1] It was published by TNN, "Think about Needs of Notice for human being".


The game world of Umihara Kawase is constructed from a set of interconnected levels known as fields. Each field connects to one or more fields deeper within the game via doors.

Fields are enclosed areas containing a number of static and moving platforms, ladders, spikes, enemy sea-life and one or more exit doors. The doors are often positioned in hard to reach places and it is the player's goal to plan a safe route to one. Each exit door in a field takes the player to a different field, and the goal is to find a safe route through the fields and arrive at a final exit door (at which point the credits scroll and the game is over). Each of the Umihara Kawase games contains multiple routes through the fields and multiple final exits. Using shortcuts and optimised door routes can allow the game to be completed within minutes in the hands of a skilled player; however, enjoyment of the game typically lies not in merely making it to the first or easiest final exit door, but in exploring the game's many routes and mastering the challenging rope physics.

The Umihara Kawase games have simple controls. The eponymous player character is able to run, jump, climb onto ledges, climb ladders and, crucially, throw her fishing line. When thrown, the fishing line will hook onto nearly all surfaces within the games. When the line is firmly hooked onto a surface or an enemy fish the line is able to take her weight. From here Kawase is able to swing between platforms, lower herself down to other ledges and swing herself up to higher ledges. Due to the flexible nature of her line she can also catapult herself great distances by stretching the line to breaking point. The line can also be used to stun fish and reel them in, and once reeled in Kawase will store them in her rucksack and score points in doing so.

While the controls are simple and responsive, an uncompromising physics model means that graceful control of the game's swinging techniques will not come immediately. Out of this, though, comes great scope for advanced techniques through full utilization of the physics. Perfect execution of techniques such as the one- and two-step rocket jump are required both in later fields and for those who intend to improve their field completion times.

The games contain 1ups in the shape of Kawase's pink rucksack but no other collectibles are present.

Umihara Kawase[edit]

Umihara Kawase
Developer(s)TNN/NHK SC
Director(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Designer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Yukiko Fukaya
Programmer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Artist(s)Satoshi Higashida
Norio Makino
Eiji Yamashita
Junko Kawahara
Composer(s)Masahito Nakano
Atsuhiro Motoyama
Shinji Tachikawa
Platform(s)Super Famicom, Microsoft Windows
  • JP: December 23, 1994
  • WW: November 2, 2015
Genre(s)Platform game

Umihara Kawase is the first game in the series released in 1994 for the Super Famicom. It was originally in development for the X68000.[2][3][4] Umihara Kawase contains a total of 49 fields of which four are exit fields and six are boss fields. The game makes good use of the SFC's colour palette for digitized photographic backgrounds. The rope physics sometimes strain the Super Famicom's CPU, leading to slowdown, but this is rare. The game permits saving speedruns, establishing such play as a principal feature of the series.

The game, along with Shun, was ported for PC in 2015. The slowdown from the Super Famicom version is no longer present though the game remains largely the same with the addition of a practice mode.

Umihara Kawase Shun[edit]

Umihara Kawase Shun
Director(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Designer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Programmer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Artist(s)Toshinobu Kondo
Hideyuki Yamashita
Junko Kawahara
Composer(s)Atsuhiro Motoyama
Shinji Tachikawa
Platform(s)PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
  • JP: February 28, 1997
  • JP: January 1, 2000 (second edition)
Microsoft Windows
  • WW: November 24, 2015
Genre(s)Platform game

Umihara Kawase Shun (海腹川背・旬 Umihara Kawase Shun; shun means "in season") is the second game in the series released in 1997 for the PlayStation and developed by the same team as the original. The move to a 3D side-on game world with the PlayStation launch of Shun opened up the fields to more complex layouts using a great deal of angled and jutting blocks. The move to a 3D game world was not universally welcomed, however, as it decreases the ease with which the player can identify the exact point in space where platforms begin and end. Slightly adjusted line physics (the rope is shorter, but more elastic and springy), along with no presence of slowdown, are the other main notable changes from its predecessor.

Umihara Kawase Shun ~second edition~ Maruan Series 1[edit]

The second edition was launched almost three years after Shun at a lower price as part of the Maruan series and contains some notable changes. This release contains five additional fields taking the total to fifty five. The game's cut-scenes have been replaced with scrollable, static art of the protagonist, however, due to the removal of all Mitchell branding. The defunct Japanese magazine TECH PlayStation Extra contained three new fields in each of its June, July and August 1997 issues' demo discs, along with guides to complete them.

Umihara Kawase Portable[edit]

Umihara Kawase Portable
Developer(s)Rocket Studios
Platform(s)PlayStation Portable
  • JP: March 27, 2008
Genre(s)Platform game

Although another re-release of Shun, Umihara Kawase Portable nevertheless disappointed fans[5][unreliable source?] and critics[6][7] alike on release, due to a bug-ridden physics engine, which differed in crucial aspects to its predecessors. Further criticism was leveled at the new visual perspective, which sometimes interfered with play. On July 14, 2008, it was announced that the game would be coming to North America under the title Yumi's Odd Odyssey,[8][9] however, this release never came about. It would have been the first Umihara Kawase game to have been released outside of Asia.

Umihara Kawase Portable was not developed by Super Famicom and PS version developer, Kiyoshi Sakai, instead being developed by Rocket Studio. Many Japanese fans felt anxious about Umihara Kawase Portable prior to release, and were disappointed and angry afterwards.[10][unreliable source?] Accordingly, they protested Marvelous Entertainment sales agency and Motion Bank, and staged a boycott.[11][unreliable source?]

Umihara Kawase Shun ~second edition~ Kanzenban[edit]

Umihara Kawase Shun ~second edition~ Kanzenban
Developer(s)Suzak, Studio Saizensen
Platform(s)Nintendo DS
  • JP: October 29, 2009
Genre(s)Platform game

A DS Umihara Kawase compilation was released on October 29, 2009. Both the SFC and PlayStation games are present, along with some extra levels, and wireless exchange of data is also supported.[12] The development of the port was overseen by original designer/programmer Kiyoshi Sakai, with additional artwork from Toshinobu Kondou.[13] The DS port has been far better received by fans of the series than the PSP port, as it is a much more faithful conversion.[14]

Sayonara Umihara Kawase[edit]

Sayonara Umihara Kawase
(Yumi's Odd Odyssey)
Developer(s)Studio Saizensen
Publisher(s)Agatsuma Entertainment (2013–2015)
Degica (2016–present)[15]
(3DS version)
  • EU: Agatsuma Entertainment
(3DS Version)
  • EU: Strictly Limited Games
(PS Vita version)
Director(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Producer(s)Yasuo Nakajima
Designer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Kenshirō Fujii
Programmer(s)Kiyoshi Sakai
Artist(s)Toshinobu Kondo
Muneki Seki
Aya Sasaki
Hisanori Saito
Composer(s)Atsuhiro Motoyama
Shinji Tachikawa
Platform(s)Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows
ReleaseNintendo 3DS
  • JP: June 20, 2013
  • NA: March 20, 2014
  • PAL: April 24, 2014
PlayStation Vita
  • JP: April 23, 2015
  • NA: April 21, 2015
  • EU: April 30, 2015
Microsoft Windows
  • WW: October 6, 2015

A third game in the series called Sayonara Umihara Kawase (さよなら 海腹川背, literally "Farewell Umihara Kawase") was announced in March 2013, likely a response to the more successful Nintendo DS compilation release of the first two games. Half of the original staff were involved in its development . The game includes a cast of playable characters including a younger Kawase, her classic self, her future descendant named Noko Yokoyama, and her childhood friend Emiko. The gameplay is similar to past games. It was released in Japan on June 20, 2013, for the Nintendo 3DS.

The game was also released outside of Asia;[16] it was the first game in the series to do so. Natsume Inc. confirmed that they would release the game in North America under the same title they originally planned for the PlayStation Portable release: Yumi's Odd Odyssey.[17] It was later confirmed that Agatsuma Entertainment were to publish the game themselves for the European market under its original Japanese title, unlike the North American release.[18] The game was eventually released in North America, Europe and Australia exclusively for Nintendo eShop on March 20, 2014, and April 24, 2014, respectively.

The 3DS version was eventually ported to the PlayStation Vita as Sayonara Umihara Kawase Chirari (さよなら 海腹川背 ちらり). This version also included the first game in the series. The port was published by Agatsuma in Japan in both physical and digital format, while American and European releases were digital only on PlayStation Network. Agatsuma also dropped the Yumi's Odd Odyssey name, calling it Sayonara Umihara Kawase + in western releases on its release in April 2015. A version for Microsoft Windows has also been announced for October 2015. In addition the previous two titles in the series will also receive ports.[19][20]

In November 2018, publisher Strictly Limited Games released Sayonara Umihara Kawase++ for the Vita. This version, denoted by the extra "+", features even more extra content in the form of artwork.[21]

Umihara Kawase Fresh![edit]

Umihara Kawase Fresh!
Developer(s)Studio Saizensen
Director(s)Toshinobu Kondo
Koji Nakajima
Producer(s)Shinya Nagatomo
Designer(s)Koji Nakajima
Kenshirō Fujii
Kazuaki Matsuo
Artist(s)Toshinobu Kondo
Amika Minato
Writer(s)Toshinobu Kondo
Koji Nakajima
Koichi Mitsuboshi
Kazuaki Matsuo
Composer(s)Atsuhiro Motoyama
Shinji Tachikawa
Takanori Masuko
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
ReleaseNintendo Switch
  • JP: April 25, 2019
  • WW: July 9, 2019
PlayStation 4
  • JP: April 23, 2020
  • EU: May 15, 2020
  • NA: October 30, 2020
Microsoft Windows
  • WW: May 28, 2020

On September 5, 2018, Success announced a new game in the series, entitled Umihara Kawase Fresh!, for release on Nintendo Switch in Japan on April 25, 2019.[22] It was released in Europe and North America on July 9, 2019, from Nicalis. A PlayStation 4 port was subsequently announced on August 9, 2019.[23] It was released in Japan on April 23, 2020[24] and May 15, 2020, in Europe,[25] and on October 30, 2020, in North America.[26] A Microsoft Windows port of the game was released worldwide on May 28, 2020.[27]

Other media[edit]

  • Umihara Kawase Hyper Technique guidebook (ISBN 4-7962-0273-0. Publication: 29 March 1995).
  • Stray Sheep Volume 5 - Happy Angel (Toshinobu Kondo Personal Works). This edition of the Japanese illustration magazine contains works by Toshinobu Kondo, many of which are of Umihara Kawase (cover included).
  • Umihara Kawase Shun Capture Guidebook (ISBN 4-900700-37-1. Publisher: T2 Publishing Co. Ltd. Publication: March 31, 1997). Full colour guide book includes gameplay basics, enemies, field maps with routes and "Toshinobu Kondo presents" artwork section.
  • Umihara Kawase Shun Perfect Guide Book (ISBN 4-88199-337-2. Publisher: Shinseisha. Publication: March 1997). Full colour three part techniques section, monochrome field maps and guide.
  • TECH PlayStation Extra CD-ROM magazine. The June, July and August 1997 issues (SLPM-80100, SLPM-80108, and SLPM-80117) of this Japanese publication contain 3 new fields each along with information on techniques required to complete them.
  • Kawase, Noko and Emiko appear as playable characters in the crossover fighting game Blade Strangers. A second version of Kawase, "Summer Kawase", became playable in a later game update.
  • Kawase appears as a playable character in the crossover puzzle game Crystal Crisis.


  1. ^ The name is written as four kanji characters: umi, hara, kawa, se meaning sea, belly, river, back. This is an extraction from a Japanese kitchen idiom "Sea fish are fat in the belly; river fish are fat in the back".
  2. ^ Though her given name is Kawase, her surname Umihara comes first in the game's title because of the conventions of Japanese name order. However, it is often assumed that Umihara is her first name in English contexts, and one localization changed her name to Yumi.


  1. ^ "Umihara Kawase for SNES (1994)". MobyGames. GameFly. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  2. ^ k sak (17 November 2018). 海腹川背の歴史 プロトタイプ1~2. YouTube. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  3. ^ k sak (11 December 2018). 海腹川背の歴史 プロトタイプ3 パート1「ショートカット」編. YouTube. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  4. ^ k sak (11 December 2018). 海腹川背の歴史 プロトタイプ3 パート2「正規ルート」編. YouTube. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  5. ^ Forum thread discussing Umihara Kawase Portable
  6. ^ Parish, Jeremy (April 9, 2008). "Umihara Kawase Portable". Ziff Davis. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Japanese reviews
  8. ^ Natsume Inc. (July 14, 2008). "Rune Factory 2 and Princess Debut Among Titles to Make First Public Appearances At Show" (Press release). NewBay Media. Games Press. Archived from the original on September 16, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-12 – via MCV.
  9. ^ Yoon, Andrew (July 14, 2008). "Umihara Kawase becomes Yumi's Odd Odyssey". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved 2015-09-12.
  10. ^ Umihara Kawase Portable Yobo Matome wiki Problems page (Japanese)
  11. ^ Umihara Kawase Portable Yobo Matome wiki (Japanese)
  12. ^ Umihara Kawase DS (Japanese)
  13. ^ details on the game
  14. ^ Japanese fan site
  15. ^ Prietsman, Chris (26 January 2016). "Umihara Kawase Returns To Steam On January 28th". Siliconera. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  16. ^ Ishaan (April 8, 2013). "Farewell Umihara Kawase Is Planned For Overseas Release". Siliconera. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  17. ^ "NATSUME ANNOUNCES YUMI'S ODD ODYSSEY FOR NINTENDO 3DS". October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  18. ^ McFerran, Damien (2014-04-15). "Yumi's Odd Odyssey Is Coming To Europe Under Its Original Japanese Title, Sayonara Umihara Kawase". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  19. ^ Agatsuma Entertainment (9 September 2015). "Sayonara Umihara Kawase - Video gaming history coming to PC October 2015" (Press release). UBM Tech. Games Press. Retrieved 2015-09-11 – via Gamasutra.
  20. ^ Sayonara Umihara Kawase Coming to PC in October
  21. ^ "Sayonara Umihara Kawase++". Strictly Limited Games. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  22. ^ "Umihara Kawase Fresh! launches April 25". Gematsu. 25 January 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  23. ^ "Umihara Kawase Fresh! coming to PS4". Gematsu. 9 August 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "Umihara Kawase Fresh! for PS4 launches April 23 in Japan". Gematsu. 30 January 2020. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  25. ^ "These are your new PlayStation Store releases this week". PlayStation Blog. 12 May 2020. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  26. ^ "Umihara Kawase Fresh! for PS4 launches October 30 in the west". Gematsu. 2020-10-15. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  27. ^ "Umihara Kawase Fresh! coming to PC on May 28". Gematsu. April 30, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.

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