Foreword: First off, a formal apology to my friend gangrelion for being so late with the Clover Days review. I picked up this game exactly 4 days ago and was absolutely hooked from the beginning, and couldn’t find the time to finish the review as I promised. Sorry!
But yep! Finished in four days, we have a splendid game for a change! Considering how I was always hitting a kusoge for the past month, this is a great change.
Just because I feel lazy to explain it on the respective sections, Hikoukigumo means “contrail” according to Google, which is the phenomenon that makes the stream of clouds behind a plane. This occurs due to a high amount of moisture in the atmosphere, and allows some people (including our protagonist) to predict rain when he sees it.
Title: ひこうき雲の向こう側 (Hikoukigumo no Mukogawa) [Lit. Trans: The other side of the plane cloud]
Release Date: March 28, 2014
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v13711
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=786032
Game Type: Pure Love Romance Novel with symbolism relating to rain and contrails
Summary: Kouji drew a picture when he was younger: a picture of a girl who was smiling with a hikoukigumo clear in the background. This picture was so beautiful, that it encouraged a very popular girl named Satou Risa to come and confess to him.
Kouji is surprised by this confession, and doesn’t know how to reply. Finally asking for a week to think about his decision, he then constantly worries about how to answer this student council president who is smart, good-looking, kind, and overall “too good for him”.
… This isn’t my story… Kouji mutters as he looks away from Risa, who also turns away to hide her tears.
Little did he know that this event would make him more close with people who are like him: They want to love, but do not know about it. They say likes flock together, but are they really the same? With his new environment, Kouji will learn more about himself, and hopefully romance.
The girl who confessed to Kouji and started this story: Risa
Story Length: Slightly Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Slightly Difficult
Comments: A fairly long story which wasn’t that bad to go through. Game difficulty is considered “difficult” because even as you get to heroine routes, there are choices that give you different choices which seem to make an impact on the CGs you are given…
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 8/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: A superior game indeed! The game does lose valuable points that would otherwise make it a kamige. Of course, why this is will be explained as I go along, but this game puts a great balance between the story and character design rating. Great flow encompasses the entire title, and all the symbolism match up flawlessly with each character theme as well.
While there was very little to no “sudden revealing” elements involved, the greatest flaw was that for some routes, the character unfortunately seemed to fall in love randomly. Of course, this isn’t as conspicuous as other games that literally have characters being friends one day to having sex the next. I just find it strange that this kind of “spontaneous attraction” wasn’t present in some of the routes, but in others.
Let’s start with Eiri. A cheerful and friendly girl from the start, you can definitely realize that this girl is up to something with her constantly bothering Kouji during class. Her real side is shown after a “water gun fight”, where she reveals pretty much everything about her goals and why she approached him in the first place. This is also an unfortunate timing which allows her to half-blackmail Kouji into joining her “Romance Observation Club”, and while Kouji is reluctant at first, joins this group of friends who cannot love.
Obviously, Eiri plays an important part in all the routes. She is so intelligent to the point she acquires 1st place on the 7 exams of the 8 in school, but admits to Kouji that even studying and athletics are boring. This has recently caught her attention to learning more about Romance, which she has no idea about, and seeing how Kouji was an individual who rejected Risa, Eiri’s curiosity reaches its maximum as she does everything to get her hands on this protagonist.
Corresponding to Eiri’s intelligence, she uses a lot of puns in the game. She has a confident smile every time she uses one, and me liking puns in general, I found them to be pretty hilarious. I’m not the only one: watch Mina’s reaction when Eiri makes a pun!
Eiri’s route is also very interesting. It shows the similarities between her and Kouji in the greatest detail using specific words may seem the same, but ultimately mean different things. As corresponding to her personality, Eiri becomes a “tsundere” character who rapidly becomes extremely jealous of Kouji not spending time with her.
It is also implied that Eiri also falls in love with Kouji even in other routes, and “receives divine punishment for giving trials to other couples”
I kinda wished she would express this emotion (jealousy) more clearly, at least to the reader, though… I was expecting a clear-cut dramatic love triangle, but the game only presents a vague one.
Next is Iroha. A strange girl who doesn’t speak often, the first encounter with this girl is the day after Risa’s confession, where Kouji bumps into her. Even afterwards, they eat lunch at the same place (from pure coincidence), and Kouji’s knowledge on this girl is enhanced by his friend Tetsuya, who tells Kouji what he knows about this “mystery girl”.
As Kouji joins the Romance Observation Club, he realizes that Iroha is similar to the other members–she is incapable of love, and is actually supporting the club by writing up reports about the celestial body that’s published in a famous magazine monthly. This is why such a club that doesn’t seem to do anything can get by every month, and throughout all the game, many comical scenes involve conflicts with the student council on this very subject.
As ironic as it sounds, this quiet girl is probably the most colorful in terms of personality. Iroha loves cute things, and it is shown that the small flag that is included with Kouji’s lunch is what really brings the two together initially. In her route, she also admits that she likes planes (or anything that flies for the matter), and spends her money on anything related to such things.
Iroha’s route is also very interesting, as it displays a relationship that Eiri hates the most: romance that starts from physical touch. Along with this element, the game is specific to why Kouji finally comes to love Iroha, and this kind of storyline was one of the best I saw: worthy of the utmost praise.
A story is not complete without a central heroine, right? Mina is the younger sister of Kouji but they’re actually not blood-related. At first, they were actually childhood friends, but due to Kouji’s father and Mina’s mother getting married, they became siblings by law.
The drama within this scenario is that Kouji was in love with Mina from a very young age (10 years ago as represented by the story), and it was the very day he tried to confess that Mina tells him:
I need to call you “oni-chan” from now on
Which is the beginning of the story, and Kouji’s initiation for drawing the artwork “Hikoukigumo no Owari” that’s shown at the very beginning scenes.
Kouji’s romantic attraction towards his sister is shown by displaying siscon features, along with the fact that because he is embarrassed about being attracted to his own sister, Kouji often bullies Mina in return. Despite this, the two siblings are very close.
Mina’s route features Kouji’s affection for Mina growing by the day, and involves the very subcharacter Tetsuya, who is shown to have lots of affection for Mina as well. As expected from such a situation, a love triangle (or should I say a love square…? Props if you can guess who the fourth character is) is created.
However, this very storyline which I would normally give the highest score for has a couple fatal flaws. One is that Aya is knowledgeable about the relationship between Tetsuya and Mina, and is actually contradictory! If you missed this, you need to go back to Mina’s route and take a look at it again. The other fatal flaw is that within Mina’s route, it has the aura of an NTR story. If you don’t know what NTR is, google it. In this sense, Mina’s route was “the suckiest” because of these two flaws.
Nonetheless, Mina’s route branches off to Aya’s route.
Iroha is actually pretty cute… What? You want to see her with her eyepatch off?
Too bad. You’re only going to see that if you play the game :)
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: So we have a great game that actually started out REALLY strong. No, seriously. It was the best I’ve ever seen: just enough humor to get the reader interested, but a climactic plots that have the reader itching to continue with the story, I genuinely lost track of time as I was playing this game a few days ago.
Lots of symbolism relating to how rain follows the hikoukigumo, lots of foreshadowing, and lots of subtle elements that bring out the attractiveness in each character. Despite the fatal flaws displayed in Mina’s route, I still couldn’t bring myself to hate her.
There IS something considered as the true route, which is marked as “Extra” on the main screen. Despite this, it seems more like “Risa’s route” since it’s where Kouji accepts her feelings and achieves inner peace of mind (aka, lets go of his emotions towards Mina), and it’s also where Eiri directly confronts the reader about pretty much the core theme of the game.
I love Eiri’s expression on this sketch. It’s almost as if she’s saying “Hey bucko. Come here and move this stuff”
Affection for the Characters: Very High
CG Score: 6/10. Average artwork, and it’s nothing too special. The extra point is given from the “sketches” that are included with Eiri Route Ending.
Music Score: 9/10. Love the music. Soft and gentle melody is always a plus, but there are a variety of soundtracks and even some special sound effects (you’ll understand what I mean if you’ve played it xD) that greatly enhances the entire game.
Conclusion: A very good game from Flat that did have some fatal flaws, but was overall enjoyable due to large amounts of symbolism and foreshadowing.
I want YOU to play this game!