A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

Foreword: Merry Christmas, everyone! I wanted to include that statement with my newest review, so here I am 3 days after starting this awesome game that I give credit to akerou for having me go through; I don’t regret my decision one bit, except that I’m kinda scared that future games won’t match up this one!

Hm, now that I think about it, that whole “Christmas” thing wasn’t really that important… Oh well

Let’s get right into the review. Aokana, which is the shortened acronym for “Ao no kanata no four rhythm” was a great game. It’s unique in the sense that while it doesn’t look like it, it contains a lot of battle scenes, and to the great pleasure of players like myself, lots of symbolism and moral lessons.

Almost on kamige-quality, this title really did throw me off guard and had my blood boiling during some of its battle scenes! Quite unfortunately, it also had its bad portions, and I’ll be going through all of it during the review.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas, and I wish you the very best for the New Year to come!
Thank you all!!

P.S. Holy crap, this game already has a translation project going?

Title: 青の彼方のフォーリズム (Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm) [Lit. Trans: The Four Rhythm of the Blue Other Side]

Producers: sprite
Release Date: November 28, 2014
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v12849
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=810210
Game Type: Futuristic fantasy novel with themes of flying

Summary: Masaya was one of the best Sky Walkers of his era and age. He was known to be invincible with his Grashoes (Anti-gravity Shoes) when performing a sport called Flying Circus (FC), and everyone was calling him a “genius”.

However, this same praise had been crushing the protagonist for years and years, until finally, a certain event made the poor boy snap and destroy everything that he was living his life for.

Now, he is just a normal student with a few friends in school with no hobbies and nothing special. It is on one of these days when he meets a cute girl named “Asuka” who lost her keys on her way to school. Even though Masaya is able to quickly find the keys for the girl, they end up being even more delayed on their first day of school… Until Masaya breaks out his Grashoes and to Asuka’s surprise, they arrive at school in time.

The stunned Asuka turns out to be a transfer student who has never heard of these “Anti-gravity shoes”, and her interest inflates to the point she pulls Masaya into the thing he hated most with all his heart.

Masaya is reluctantly dragged back into being the coach for the thing he had long given up on; FC. However, to his fear, he finds himself enjoying himself as a coach, and perhaps with the help of the team and the people around him, he can get back on his feet and soar through the skies again.

Not gonna lie: this looks exactly like me running away from my huge, growing backlog.

Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Nothing too impressive, with a potential “bad end” at the very end if you pretty much refuse all four heroines after the “Summer Battle”… Oh crap, I think I gave out too much hints :|

Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 9.5/10
Protagonist Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Very High
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: Nearly perfect story rating, except that the game did miss that last 0.5 points that I’ll go over in the comments section since it’ll be more of a rant than anything else. Flawless transitioning, humor, and flow maintained during the entire story was enough to make this game have a score above a score considered “Excellent” (and trust me; I’m a bitch when it comes to rating games).

Character design was good, but not as good as the story. Relatively archetypical characters with “ichaicha” that wasn’t exactly to my liking, although each character was very colorful and would have been better if the game simply took more time to develop the relationship between the heroine and Masaya (this comment excludes Asuka)

Asuka’s route was nearly perfect o3o

Character Summary: In retrospect, the route quality was something like this: Asuka > Misaki > Mashiro > Rika

First is Asuka, and I’m pretty sure everyone else may agree, that Asuka is the central heroine perfectly complementary to the depressed protagonist Masaya. Her route was the one I visited first, and even after finishing the entire game, I can’t find ANY flaws except for the slight deus ex machina at the end.

Cheerful and innocent, this seemingly “sekenshirazu” character has some unique sides portrayed as fearful to other characters, and admittedly, it is.

Regardless, Asuka has large amounts of curiosity to the sport “Flying Circus” and Masaya confesses that she is “like me when I was younger”. Masaya’s continuous fears about her losing hope for the sport continues until he realizes that the girl has come to love the sport with all her heart.

While not very intelligent nor athletic, other players soon become fearful of this rapidly-growing character who catches the strongest players off guard, and while others ponder if this is simply “beginner’s luck”, Masaya and some others believe she can even defeat the rules of the game that restrict the players. (<– that’s a spoiler)

Outside of her route, Asuka is shown to have large amounts of affection for the protagonist, and creates a love-triangle which is (unfortunately) quickly disregarded. However, like her own route, she becomes extremely powerful and threatens many players with her skills.

Next is Mashiro, an adorable (?) underclassman tsundere heroine who is actually infatuated with another heroine, named Misaki. Being the tsundere character, she ironically had very little “tsun” within the entire story, and even I hesitate to label the character with that title because of the fact that she quickly turns “dere” within her route.

Mashiro is also considered the “weakest” of the entire crew, being even less proficient than the complete beginner, Asuka. The only reason why she joined the FC club was because Misaki was also there, but in her route, Mashiro becomes a highly dynamic character who shifts from a frail and dependent underclassman into a confident Sky Walker.

Next is my least favorite character for various reasons: Rika. At first, the meeting of Rika and Masaya is when she moves next door and brings over “Hikoshi Soba” (Move in Noodles; a common tradition in Asian cultures is to offer food, usually noodles in Japan, to their neighbors as a sign of courtesy and offer to befriend them.) to his family. However, Masaya saw her before, when he was admiring her flight, which he described as “beautiful”.

Naturally, this girl is also shown to be very talented with FC, and even considered as a regular (despite being a 1st year) within her school. (Strangely enough, Rika is the only heroine who is associated with a different school than the other heroines + Masaya). Despite this talent, the readers are shown that this talent is also her weak point, which is what Masaya thoroughly exploits within her route.

The reason why I liked Rika the least was because of her route being boring and anti-climactic unlike other routes. While there was also the fact that she insults him directly in his face, their “romance” was the most spontaneous and unreasonable, while the climax was also too convenient.

Last is Misaki, a relatively active character who ironically suffers from low blood pressure that immobilizes her in the mornings, it’s even more ironic to find out that Misaki is relatively apathetic to many things, which includes FC when she realizes that there’s a wall that she can’t overcome–a clear sign of running away and depression.

While Asuka was the complete opposite of Masaya, Misaki was the complete opposite of Asuka, or simply put, the same as Masaya. This makes the protagonist actually relinquish his position as the “coach” and to perform special training for this girl who has given up all hope. However, little does Masaya know that as he grows closer to this girl, he will have to face his own trauma in the past.

Yes, battle scenes are awesome.

Sexual Content: Low

Comments: So let’s get to my complaints first. The biggest one is that Masaya doesn’t really have a point where he is physically in action. By that, I wanted to see him battling someone and completely destroying the opponent (regardless of who it is) like a badass. Admittedly, I was hoping this opponent would be Rika in the beginning scenes when she pretty much treats him like trash. The only scene where this was done remotely was during Mashiro’s route where he performs a “speed race” with the unknowing Misaki with the bet that he’ll buy her food for a year if he loses.

With the beginning credits, I genuinely thought the “wall” that Masaya crashed into during his childhood was the girl “Saki”, but nope. It was someone else. Nonetheless, it would have been really nice to see him actually battling someone because you know… he’s probably going to be all words otherwise.

For the reasoning I have nowhere else to place them: here’s the “two Gods” of FC that Shindou mentions quite frequently.

Next comment is that the game actually has a few discreet but direct contradictions in some of the routes, which is answered in others. For example, the fact that two individuals can’t approach each other due to “repelling” effect is completely ignored in some scenes where Masaya and the respective heroine would hold hands or something. This “contradiction” was present in Rika’s route, but explicitly answered in Misaki’s route, which was weird.

Third is that the romance element wasn’t that great. Aside from Asuka’s route (which was essentially perfect), all the other routes seemed to have the characters unfortunately falling in love randomly and spontaneously, and that kinda knocked off points for the “Character Design” as well.

Which reminds me; Madoka gets abused heavily within all of the routes, which made me laugh and also feel bad for her.

But on the good side, there’s almost too many to list them all. As I said in the beginning, excellent flow, transition, and humor, which was supported very well with adorable SDCGs along with the other side of the game being high-tension battle scenes to have you on the edge of your seats. I also hope you’re not forgetting the music, which was on par with some of the best tracks out there.

Lots of symbolism and foreshadows to keep the reader busy and thinking about what’s going to happen next, the proper use of subcharacters made this game that much more worth your time (with some subcharacters completely betraying your expectations… … …) as both the heroine and Masaya work together to solve the problem that they face.

…Although I don’t think I can help Misaki with THIS problem

Affection for the Characters: Very High

CG Score: 8/10. Most of the points in this section comes from the very intricate CG display during the battle scenes. I also appreciate that it contains a lot of non-H CG, which has been so rare nowadays
Music Score: 10/10. GAME, WHY U NO HAVE A SECTION FOR LISTENING TO MUSIC?!?!?! FAAAAKKK YOUUUUUU *breaks out Master Otaku’s Toolbox* (Yes, the game’s files can be extracted with one of the tools in there)

Wings of Courage:

Wings of Courage (Slow Instrumental):

Addictiveness: Moderately High. This would have been higher if there were more “protagonist-in-action” as I mentioned in the “Comments” section.

Conclusion: An amazing game from sprite, for which I thank akerou again. Perhaps I’ll get to KoiChoco from this title, but considering how the romance relatively sucked within this game, I’ll take caution when approaching the first game from sprite. Lots of battles to keep the player interested (and really, that’s the point of this game), but if you don’t understand physics or certain words, you may as well be similar to Misaki in the following SDCG:

And yes, the game actually describes much of the mechanics of FC!

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Comments on: "Look up at the Sky; Your answer lies there… Review of [141128]Aokana" (13)

  1. […] usually tend to have one or two routes that just knock the points off regardless (See Tsukiyori or this title). However, as mentioned in the foreword, even this “perfect” storyline has a small but […]

  2. Did you play any of december release yet? Looks like TsuriOtsu2 , Himawari to Koi no Kioku and Kami no Ue no Mahoutsukai are really good according to EGS. All of them have have 85 median and most of the review seems to praise those games.

  3. I’m ready if my laptop just didnt broke… but it broke and then died… pity those 6 years of abuse was good… a lot of eroge reviews were made minecraft crashed and burned… not being able to play modern games…

  4. Damn… I really loved this VN. Probably the very first VN that got me pretty excited. The artwork was awesome too, with plenty of CGs. The music was the greatest of them all, especially the title page bgm. I felt Asuka’s and Rika’s routes were quite similar, while Mashiro’s route was more ichya ichya rabu rabu. THE GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT WAS THAT THE TRUE ROUTE WAS LIKE 5 MINUTES LONG. I really wanted to see Masaya kick some ass too, and I thought I would be SEEING IT IN THE TRUE ROUTE, BUT NO. Kuso… it stings my heart that this VN had to end so fast. I finished it within 4 days ;_; Now I’m having a hard time finding a VN that’s as good as this… Nekopara is kinda boring…

    • Great summary! It sounds really similar to my experience, although I’m more critical of it due to my nature, haha.

      In all, this game was pretty plain IF you take out the battle scenes. Music is godly, but CG seemed a bit normal too (this excludes how they create “animations” using cut-ins though!)

      True Route was indeed WTF, and there are apparently rumors that there is a high chance of a sequel to fill the holes that this story created

  5. Is it really that good? Even get anime announced before the real game come out? If so, I will try it out.
    For now it’s LN and replay Mario&Luigi series.

  6. Hmmm……..maybe I will try to play Aokana, but for now I will focus on games that I’m playing now. Already finished with The Evil Within and now I’m re-playing Gyakuten Saiban series (from Gyakuten Saiban 1 to 4) because of Gyakuten Saiban 5.

    P.S: Don’t forget that besides translation project, Aokana also has anime adaptation on work now and even its anime adaptation announced before its game released It kinda make me think that looks like they have a lot of confident that its anime will be a success.

  7. Glad you liked it. Personally, I have a thing for titles with some sort of a sky theme and different from you, I actually like Rika (It’s still Asuka>Misaki>Mashiro>Rika for me as well though), which makes me rate this game with a 9/10 overall. The fact that I tend to weigh the stronger routes slightly higher also plays a part in that since Asuka’s route was basically perfect. I vote Asuka for best girl 2014 ;p

    Apart from that, I can actually dissolve one of your complaints (holding hands when flying & stuff). At two points in the game it is mentioned that there is a practice called “partnering” (which you are only allowed to do with an instructor license that masaya holds) that is basically flying while enveloping both persons with the same membrane generated by one device. Supposedly, there is no danger of falling or anything, since the membrane renders it impossible for the persons to be further apart than a certain distance. Right in the beginning scenes, when he flew to school with Asuka she was first clinging to him, but it was later mentioned that after she calmed down a bit, they shifted to just holding hands, just like in Rika’s route.

    I felt exactly the same when I found that there is no section for listening to music x.x Some of the tracks are just so freaking awesome it gave me goosebumps during the battle scenes.

    All in all, I can’t say there is a game I enjoyed more than this one this year.

    • At first, I was wondering what you were talking about the membrane stuff, but then I realized what you were trying to say. In the beginning scenes, only Masaya had the Grashoes while Asuka didn’t, so “flying together” works out. The scene I wanted to point out was with Rika, when the two were flying independently, and soon come to “hold hands” without their grashoes clashing as the game says it would.

      It seems a little different with the rating of games, as for me, even a single “crappy route” is enough to knock down the score drastically. Of course, there are a lot more factors than just taking into account the number of routes that were good and bad. For example, this game would have gotten a 10/10 for story if it simply put ONE scene where Masaya overcomes someone in FC (which is something that will be proof that he’s not just words)

    • I’m pretty sure there was NEVER a scene in Rika’s route where they came to hold hands while flying. In all instances, they were already holding hands when the respective scene started and I remember all of them (there are 3 of such scenes).

      As for Masaya, I wanted to see him fight against someone for real as well, but I was kind of okay with how it was depicted in Asuka’s route. It was clearly shown that he was above Asuka’s level before the Fall Tournament and after it, it was very clearly indicated that he was leading when they were doing a dogfight match at the very end. The fact that he was able to fly without balancer on at the very least Asuka’s level is proof enough that there is no character in the game who could put up a fight against him, except Saki/Asuka.

      Maybe we’ll even get a FD with af’s that’ll show a Masaya vs. X fight. There are so many fleshed out characters (art/design wise) that were introduced and yet barely ever shown, so it’s very likely that sth like a FD is going to happen.

  8. Nah! I don’t have anything to fear about the future of Galges with titles like this one, since this really wasn’t a game for me.
    I despise every single character in this game (except for that one guy on the rival team) so, not even a Fan Disc would save this game for me. Their personalities, character-designs, backgrounds, developments, nothing of it got to me.
    Not even the fight scenes were able to get me into this. I didn’t find them awesome or anything like that. Maybe because in my case, I watched just too many high-level stuff, so games like this just won’t match-up. In my opinion, VNs shouldn’t even try adding action scenes. There’s an anime version coming out soon, so I would usually say “maybe” this could work in the anime, but there’s just too much silly stuff asking to be treated seriously here, which puts me into “suspension of disbelief” mode. A sport with flying abilities is not a bad concept by itself, but it was so poorly executed here in so many ways. It’s at least as silly as Quidditch, specially when you get to that design for their “battle dress”.
    “This reminds me the case with AstralAir, but with opposite results for us”. It’s what I would like to say, but I know how much this game means to you, while I didn’t actually care THAT MUCH for AstralAir (I even had to check the name). Well, it happens!
    Actually, I have been struggling to find a Galge I could really enjoy. All the Visual Novels that I really loved this year were not actually VNs. I hope I can find something good enough and soon enough in order to make me more interested in this genre again…

    • In a sense, you really have a point. “galge” really has been losing its focus. Proof? I rarely see any reviews from you nowadays, and all your “reviews” stem from straight-up games from consoles or handheld games.

      But alas; I have no access to them and won’t ever be able to know what kind of awesome battle scenes they contain. All I can do is just play my galge until I find that one game I can go absolutely nuts over (I do believe the first one was Mashiroiro Symphony, with the second one being White Album 2)

      Although I do kinda want to make a defense that with games like this, they explain the mechanics between the battles; unlike other console games where all you do is just read the manual, look at the combo list, and just repeatedly mash buttons with just the knowledge that the character “can fight” and win.

    • I’m not saying they didn’t try to explain their mechanics, but as I said before, it just didn’t convince me. Even Harry Potter had long explanations about how Quidditch worked, it just wasn’t…good. I’m sorry. I know how you love this game, but I really couldn’t take this seriously.
      But I guess I would be more willing to overlook this if they were a selfaware about it or if the characters were more likeable for me. This game was like a parade with my most hated tropes and character stereotypes…
      Also, in a world where even Dive Kick can have many complicated explanations about mechanics, you better not underestimate those type of video games…

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