Foreword: A long time without a review! Most of my life is filled with MMOs nowadays, considering I’ve spent 60 bucks to purchase the Founder’s Pack for a game called “Revelation Online”, so that’s going to occupy me for quite a while. Newer releases haven’t really been tickling my fancy either, and I’m really just going through backlog unless there’s a request for a review for a specific game.
I actually thought quite hard about what I should do with Irotoridori Sekai, and ultimately decided to drop the game. I’ve already finished Kana’s story and thought it was deep and complex, but was put off with the excessive ambiguity, length, and inability to become immersed in the story. I MAY come back to it when I have time in the future (which I don’t see happening, quite unfortunately), but considering the bone-carving pain I’ve had with Astral Air in the past, all Irotori is giving me is that same impression which is biasing me anyways.
On to the review of this title! Quite a fun and light-hearted charage, it was on my backlog for quite a while and something I really needed since it was suitable to be played alongside my MMOs. Story was surprisingly well written as a charage, which threw me off in the beginning, but I’ll make sure to explain both the goods and bads of this game in the review.
Title: あおぞらストライプ (Aozora Stripe)
Release Date: August 30, 2013
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v12604
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=773551
Game Type: Fanservice Harem Charage
Summary: Shinya is an assistant cook at a hidden restaurant called “dens”, where he was pursuing his dream as a chef by learning from his master. One day, he is informed that his master’s friend has been injured and was unable to operate her own restaurant over by the beach called “Aqua”, and as a test for his skills, Shinya is sent to that restaurant to work as a chef and see how much he has improved.
Heading over, he immediately meets Kotone, the daughter of the restaurant owner who creates a lasting impression on him, and his new relationships will include Misato, Sakura, Sumire, as well as Satsuki who follows him to this new environment.
Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Comments: Relatively easy game to clear; all the choices have a heroine’s name explicitly, so I hope no one’s getting confused around here… I was pleasantly (?) surprised to see a route for both Kyouko (Kotone’s mom) and Mahiro (The idol who takes on the “part” of being rejected in the main story), since they obviously played big of a part within the main story.
Though their routes themselves are pretty shit; it’s just nice to see them at least having one
I would have been genuinely surprised if Mahiro didn’t have a route of her own
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 4/10
Protagonist Rating: 7/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: Overall quite a decent game, characters (heroine, subcharacters, and protagonist) were generally well designed. While more on the generic side, seeing a competent and responsible protagonist is always a plus when compared to “normal high school protagonists”. It’s just quite a pity that when it comes to the sexual department, he was like a middle school student who overreacts to anything, which really felt contradictory to his more adult-like personality and background.
Heroines are generic for the most part, though it should be noted that they each of their own unique trait displayed early on to differentiate them from other heroines you might see in different games. Their personality is clearly defined, and I really appreciated how each and one of them contributes to the large amount of cute humor used to build affection for each of them; such a trait is rare nowadays it seems. Subcharacters also improve the design of the game by adding more immersion, and it’s really nice to see more of them having a sprite + voice unlike games where they just skimp out on these the most. Some subcharacters only play minor roles while a couple play such big roles and are given “alternate” routes of their own.
Kotone: I demand you to provide Sprites and Voice Acting for Subcharacters!
Satsuki: Ha! In your dreams
Story is unfortunately more on the lacking side, which isn’t a surprise since this is a charage. The reason why it doesn’t dip below this score is because the game actually takes the time to organize the character’s thoughts in a monologue and show it to the readers, so the readers can understand what’s going through the character’s mind. This form of “synchronization” was something I found excellent considering it was performed for other characters as well, and saved the story rating from falling any more than it should.
The huge problems which was more of an annoyance to me was that many of the jokes were quite repetitive, as well as the entire game seeming to have more nukige characteristics.
I mean, you see pantie-shots in the title menu screen. What did you expect? By that, I mean the excessive amounts of fanservice scenes, blushed faces, and nonsense jokes didn’t do well to give this game any serious atmosphere, and most of the “ecchi” scenes worked to give the readers an incorrect impression on its genre; not to sell its characters. By the end of the common route, while I did find myself chuckling at the jokes, I didn’t really care too much about the characters; that would be what I would consider the difference between a charage and a nukige.
Kotone appears most prominently on the title screen but ironically has the least amount of impact overall. Her background and design as the “girl who never knew romance” was quite unique but unfortunate in the sense it wasn’t ever developed.
Cheerful and innocent describes this character, as she appears to have a mindset of a child despite having a rather sultry physique. Always willing to help, she quickly becomes fond of Shinya and almost immediately recognizes him as “family”, and eventually finds herself having a change of heart into seeing him as an opposite sex.
Kotone did have some unfortunate potential going to waste as that “heroine who could have had a bittersweet romance with Shinya”. She originally sees him more of as a father-figure or even an older brother, and the transition to seeing him as a romantic partner is pretty much absent for the most part. Her overall design also seemed to be contradictory to how she literally “doesn’t see any of her male classmates” as guys but Shinya is the exception pretty much because he’s older. It really would have been better if the game took the time to show her viewpoints in school being asked out by guys or something, which would have worked in synergy to how she notices Shinya to be attractive in her eyes.
Introduced quite early in the beginning of the game, Satsuki is the daughter of the owner of “dens”, who also works as a waitress even after graduating high school for some reason. She is very intelligent and capable, but decided to help with the restaurant and not attend college. Though she is generally very mature and calm, her reactions are greatest when the news comes that Shinya will be sent to a different restaurant. Implied to have affection for the protagonist, this becomes confirmed with later interactions between the characters and how she soon follows Shinya to Aqua to help out as well, and her charm mostly comes from her tsundere vibes she gives off liberally to contribute to the humor of the game.
Despite being more hardheaded than almost anyone else, Satsuki’s logic and reasoning gets thrown out the window when Shinya is involved, which added to her charm. Satsuki also has the great amount of “orz” moments, which somewhat made me feel sorry for this character by the end.
Misato originally works at an inn as a trainee to become its owner after her parents. Despite giving off the impression that she would prefer green tea over western drinks, her interaction involves meeting with Shinya who is looking for a coffee store, and soon reveal that this “Yamato Nadeshiko” has great interest in coffee brewing.
Gentle describes this character perfectly, who quickly befriends Shinya seeing how competent he is as a chef and soon come to admire the great bravery in the protagonist for being able to come to a new area to test his skills, while she herself was satisfied with the routine she has at home. Ultimately, Shinya creates a good of an impression on Misato’s father, who suggests that after seeing how she has interest in Shinya, she work at Aqua and lend her skills in drink services.
As the archetypical “Ottori” (Calm and relaxed) character, it was quite funny to see Misato having a different side to her. Otherwise, I think her route would have been quite boring.
Sakura and Sumire are twins who meet Shinya at different times, but come to like him almost at the same time. Completely contrary in terms of personality, Sakura is the older one who is super energetic and cheerful, while Sumire is the younger twin who is more quiet and has a frail body.
Sakura’s interaction with Shinya is from when she offers to work at the restaurant on the condition she will be able to produce the store’s uniforms, which Shinya agrees. On the other hand, Sumire offers herself after being rescued by Shinya when she was about to drown, but failing to properly thank him afterwards. Both twins soon realize that they love the same person, but generally have a good relationship with each other regardless of who Shinya selects in the end.
Game, why u no shimai-don route
Sexual Content: High
Comments: So I’m TRYING to call this game a charage right now, but that’s actually quite difficult considering the large amount of fanservice and the great focus on H-scenes once you get into a heroine’s route. As with Kotone’s design, I found this trait to be unfortunate since each character had so much potential to be give a splendid story, but in the end this game seemed more like a nukige instead.
I really REALLY hate the fact that this game pretty much had all heroines in love with the protagonist up until the route splits, then remove all of those blushed faces and monologues once Shinya chooses a heroine. This kind of design is unnatural, poor, and never a good one because you’re essentially saying 4 girls suddenly don’t feel that affection for the protagonist anymore. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the only game that does this, though…
This is almost obvious for Kotone, who already knows and feels affection for Shinya in the common route.
Also not a fan of how Shinya was this “mature and adult-like” protagonist, but doesn’t really seem such when reacting towards fanservice scenes or realizing the affection for each respective heroine. Simply put, he sees all the heroines as more of a co-worker and never has that “transition” to seeing them as a romantic partner, so the romance in this game just seems like crap.
I guess it’s a relief that each route did have a heroine-specific conflict. On the other hand, Shinya’s design and the heroine’s design rarely seemed to be coherent, meaning Shinya’s dream as a cook and whatever heroine’s goal was never created a synergy to becoming a good overall story. That was something I found to be bad.
Well shit, that’s a cute couple right there
Overall, however, I didn’t really see any super-detrimental flaws of this game. The humor works, the characters are cute, and while the story’s not that great, the entire game was designed and given the atmosphere of a nukige, so I ended up treating it as such.
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 6/10
Music Score: 4/10
- A very light-hearted game filled with cute characters with cute humor, it can be enjoyed by practically anyone.
- The game provides detailed monologues for each character, including subcharacters at times. This allows the player to become very immersed with them
- Protagonist is well designed for the most part
- Heroine specific conflict exists
- However, it should be noted that said conflict does not always utilize the traits of both Shinya and the respective heroine to the fullest extent.
- Most of the fanservice gets extremely repetitive and gives this game the atmosphere of a nukige.
- Romance is unfortunately not as high of a quality, especially considering other heroines become quite indifferent when you enter a specific heroine route
- While there exists routes for the subcharacters for Kyouko and Mahiro, they’re quite literally another “fanservice” route and doesn’t contain any good story
Overall, I approached Aozora Stripe with the expectations of a charage, and found that it met those expectations plus the sexual content of a nukige. It was obviously not one of the best games I’ve played, but one that I would advocate for players for a light-hearted galge experience, or even for learning Japanese in general.
…I haven’t even touched the October releases and I’m torn between whether I should finish Giniro Haruka or start an October game