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The Stars Shine Whether or not You’re Looking at Them: Review of [151218] Miagete Goran, Yozora no Hoshi wo

Foreword: Well, this was actually quite an unexpected surprise. While expecting a full-on charage with themes of astrology, this game presents some pretty vague but definite symbolism which I didn’t find myself catching at first. Like with the previous title I’ve reviewed, Sakura no Uta, this title also seems to have a very poetic ring. This really makes me think that Pulltop is at least decent with producing games (as seen with a great game called Natsuiro Recipe)

Title: 見上げてごらん、夜空の星を (miagete goran, yozora no hoshi wo) [Lit. Trans: Look up, to the stars in the night sky]
Producers: Pulltop
Release Date: December 18, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v16560
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=842090
Game Type: Poetic Novel revolving around astrology and themes of “stars”

Summary: Akito hikes up into the forest to the abandoned train station, where he enjoys his morning coffee and looking off into space. Ever since he fought with his childhood friend Hikari and had a bitter separation, he decided to not go stargazing anymore, but always had this “morning ritual” before he would devote his day to schoolwork and part time jobs at the Sawotome Convenience Store.

It’s been 6 years since that day when Hikari disappeared, and the friends around him suggest that he move on. The truth is though, Akito is still hesitant and scared and would rather be called that one “Astrology Member who never looks at Stars”.

This is when he receives an invitation to visit another school’s astrology club from his own club’s head. Mostly heading over to politely decline whatever they had to offer, the president offers to recruit him into the Mutsurashi Conference, or a group of people who want to share the beauty of the skies with everyone.

The “leader” of said Conference, Orihime

Story Length: Moderate (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: The first choice of what to do with the letter splits the game into two arcs; one with Saya and Hikari, the other with Corona and Orihime. The route then splits again into said heroine routes, so I don’t think anyone would have too much trouble.

Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 6/10
Protagonist Rating: 3/10
Game Quality: High
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: A mediocre game, which has its goods and bads, so let’s try to go through them.

First Character Design. Generally well done, I enjoyed the various plethora of subcharacters who worked as support characters throughout the game and within routes. This especially worked well since other heroines still participate in each route (with the exception of Hikari who completely disappears in the Corona/Orihime arc). While the main heroines seemed a bit more generic (osananajimi, tomboy, senpai/kouhai), I still found them to be more colorful than what I would find a normal galge with traits that I’ll discuss later in the character sections.

Story is decent at best. Sure, there are those scenes where the game “teaches” its readers about the various stars, shapes, and technology used in astrology using highlights within the main game, but that’s really all there is to the story. The rest is essentially the same old “club activity” storyline prevalent in a lot of other galge. If at all, I gave story a bit of a higher score because of the poetic ring, the ambiguous symbolism at the end, and maybe the love triangle that Pulltop attempted to pull off (pun not intended) in the Saya/Hikari arc.

Protagonist is really what makes this game go into the gutter more than anything else. Seemingly normal, the only thing that separates him from any other male astrology club members was his past history with Saya and Hikari. If at all, while he does have the insights of an astrology member (and maybe the diligence), it wasn’t particularly outstanding, nor was he a great of an individual for the game to attempt to have a full-on love triangle for.

Basically, Akito was too normal and boring as this game’s protagonist, in addition to several other designs ultimately creating a minus more than anything else (e.g. his firm determination to never look at stars but changes his mindset at the beginning of the game without much happening). Even within the game, the heroines are never given that “romantic transition” with Akito, making this game also have one of the worst types of romantic development; aka, none.

Character Summary:

So despite how the game presents the characters, it’s actually recommended to go through Orihime and Corona’s routes first, since the producers put a lot more effort into Hikari/Saya’s arc.

So Orihime. She’s the club head who calls out Akito after hearing he was the “club member who never looks at stars” and tries to convince him to join the Mutsurashi Conference due to him having a great amount of knowledge for astrology. As an upperclassman 2 years older than Akito, she’s ironically shown to be more childish and playful than what we would normally expect from a “senpai” archetype, and loves anything to do with astrology or horoscopes, seen by her using tarot cards to create a first impression on Akito the very first day they meet.

Voiced by Tono Soyogi, I thought this was a very good match for Orihime’s character; mature but playful. The entire character needed a relatively serious, but cheerful atmosphere, for which I think Tono Soyogi was a perfect fit.

Orihime’s route mostly involves how she is approaching graduation, but never really “created a legacy” as she hoped to do during her school-days. She had gotten her love for astrology from her mother, but always compared herself to her, causing herself even more distress than she needed to.

Next is Corona, the younger sister of Takeichi and as the readers will quickly see, she has a huge crush on Akito from since their childhood since she compared her brother to the calm and solemn protagonist. Even more childish than Orihime, this is to be expected since she’s younger than Akito. In addition to this, Corona expresses her disdain for Saya quite liberally, which is answered in her own route.

Despite this, it is shown that Corona is heavily protected and very intelligent. It’s always been a complaint to her that during every event that occurs in the game, she is left out purely because her mom wouldn’t let her go out and play with friends, and instead made her study at home. Also because of this, Corona is relatively ignorant about the outside world, and has no idea what she wants to do with her future.

Overall, routes for both Orihime and Corona really lacked impact, and both heroines did better as a subcharacter than heroines themselves. Especially for Orihime, who outside of her own route, was “graduated” and never really made a contribution anyways.

Despite how it seems like Hikari is the main heroine, it’s actually Saya who’s considered the “Central Heroine” since she plays a role within all four routes unlike the tomboy heroine. Immediately recognized with the gold/blue heterochromia, this has been her taboo since she was young, but in my honest opinion, heterochromia is pretty damn sexy.

My perverted opinion aside, it seems that Saya has been with Akito for as long as they can remember, from when Saya transferred to their kindergarten and up until high school. From a third-person’s perspective, she almost looks like Akito’s girlfriend, often bringing him food to the school she doesn’t even attend (they attend different schools) almost to the point Saya accepts and becomes fond of the title “Traveling Wife”. In reality, it’s obvious that a girl so loyal holds a very large amount of affection for the protagonist, who doesn’t really think of it too much until much later.

As mentioned previously, Saya and Hikari are involved in a full-blown love triangle which is prevalent in both routes (so this is a good trait!), but it’s neglected to a large extent in Saya’s route much to my disappointment. Instead, Saya’s route focuses more on the past of her and Akito, which then becomes the implied symbolism for Saya’s route; that “Stars are the representation of the Past”.

Overall, Saya as a character was pretty adorable, though like with all the other heroines, the transition of the romantic interest on behalf of Akito was completely lacking and even Saya herself had only flimsy “past events” which kept her being so loyal (which was rather unrealistic). She plays a role in all the other routes making her the “central heroine”, but the game makes it so as if Hikari is the “main heroine”. While ambiguous, I think this works well because of the love-triangle present in both routes.

Now only if Akito would have been more of a protagonist than he was >.>;;

Hikari is the red-haired tomboy who fought with Akito in the past and disappeared. Despite this, she was essentially Akito’s motivation to live and go stargazing, so after her disappearance, Akito felt betrayed and disappointment for this character more than anything. However, as fate turns out, Hikari returns to the town with her father’s continuous changing of jobs (I like how this game pulls in the parents to play a part in the story, but it’s more as a “restrictive” role more than an encouraging one for their children), and both Saya and Akito are completely surprised to see the return of this character who they never thought would be able to see again.

With the return of Hikari, Akito seems to be more willing to go stargazing again, and starts to become involved a bit more. While I generally thought this was a good transition, Hikari’s route also involved the crappiest transition to romance with a large portion of the mid-section being Hikari refusing Akito’s confession multiple times because of feeling obligated to Saya, but changing that mindset suddenly after a certain scene. To be honest, I thought Hikari’s route had the romance with the LEAST amount of validity because even for characters like Orihime and Corona, Akito never really had that “negative emotion” of feeling betrayed suddenly transitioning into love for absolutely no reason. While said “past conflict” was explicitly resolved at least in her route, there should have been much more taken for the two characters to slowly regain that trust they once lost for each other, and thus the romance seemed abrupt and crude.

In addition to this, Hikari herself disappears permanently within two of the routes anyways, so I thought it was pretty damn retarded for Pulltop to “try” to make her a main heroine as such (via making her more conspicuous on the cover, etc…) Regardless, Hikari’s route itself has a bunch of conflict going on which made it at least worth reading. The resolution felt awfully convenient though, but people who have already went through the game can debate about this a bit more.

Let’s also debate whether Saya or Orihime make the better “Traveling Wife”!

Sexual Content: Moderate

Comments: So some comments. I actually quite like how in the beginning, there were “animated” backgrounds pretty much right off the bat. This really enhanced the “visual” feature, and it doesn’t stop there; the game also uses various highlights to mark some of the constellations, which was a big bonus since it teaches the readers about what the characters are discussing.

Some of the negatives might be that other than Saya/Hikari, Orihime and Corona as a whole seemed very insignificant. It’s almost as if the writers simply attached them as somewhat of a “bonus” to the main storyline, although it’s true that these routes briefly touch on the identity of specific subcharacters and necessary in that sense. Both deviate quite heavily from the symbolism of stars and may not even hold a “quote” as the writers included for Saya and Hikari. For the reference, they are as follows:

Saya: The Stars represent the Past and History

Hikari: The Stars represent the Infinite Possibilities (thus the future)

The possibility of being able to explain this scenario without looking absolutely ridiculous? Near zero

Which actually worked pretty nicely in contrast… though on the other hand, it seems that this is the only “symbolism” that the game expresses at all, making the entire game seem like a charage. I say this because within the game, there’s very little seriousness and/or conflict. Sure, there’s that love-triangle, but it’s never resolved well, and problems arising from Project Starlight also gets resolved relatively conveniently: my impression as I finished the game was that it was all pretty anticlimactic.

In all honesty, I don’t think this game really warranted a fandisc (which was released quite recently). It involves characters who weren’t so important, so I think I’ll pass anyways.

…Now that I think about it, I think I may have had too high of an expectation after Natsuiro Recipes LOL

I don’t know if it’s because of the string of doujin/nukige I’ve been going through recently, but I was half-expecting a “harem” route of some sort.

I seriously think Akito’s design was quite unfortunate. I generally liked his traits of being so diligent and knowledgeable about astrology, but I really hated how he suddenly used the fight with Hikari as an excuse to not look at stars, came back to stargazing after seemingly not much conflict, falling in love with heroines for almost no reason and without a good transition (especially with Hikari), and generally not having impact on heroines in general.

Affection for the Characters: Moderately Low

CG Score: 8/10. Added a couple of points for all the animations to be honest, which really worked to the game’s benefit more than anything else
Music Score: 5/10. The game does have some nice soundtracks, but they never really added a mysterious or darker soundtrack as it would have been appropriate to represent Akito’s “uneasiness” when he went stargazing.

Addictiveness: Low

Conclusion:

Pros

  • The game includes various animations to enhance visuals as well as various highlights to teach the readers about constellations, if he wasn’t familiar with it already.
  • There is a definite attempt at one of the most difficult story elements; a love triangle. That in itself is worth a praise.
  • While the game does have archetypical character design, each heroine does have something unique about her that allows originality.
  • Subcharacters are well utilized to create conflict, act as support, and offer connections between main heroines or the protagonist
  • There are “flashbacks” well-placed at certain points within the game allowing for a good flow and pace.
  • Symbolism for the theme of this game (Stars) exist in the main routes, although it’s possible to argue that the lack of thereof in other routes also makes this a negative trait

Cons

  • Protagonist, while very diligent and admirable for the most part, is also someone you can’t really become too immersed with since his beliefs are rapidly overturned in the beginning of the game and he makes little impact on the heroines.
  • Romance is absolutely terrible in this game, and seriously makes me wonder why the producers even bother with it in the first place (I know it’s for H-scenes but still =_=)
  • Two of the four heroines are greatly insignificant and more of a “filler” than anything else

Overall, I would consider Miagete goran to be one of the “more decent charage”. I can’t really say it’s worthy of being a “good galge” because of its flaws in romance, protagonist design, and maybe even story to a certain extent (e.g. not having significance outside of “teaching” the readers about constellations). Because of this, I also cannot understand why there would be a fandisc for it in the first place, but then again there are inevitably people who are screaming that this is the best game ever (Protip: Twitter gives you cancer).

I would only recommend this game to players who actually enjoy storyline revolving around constellations and/or astrology, and advocate that if this isn’t the case, there are better options available.

Okay, I might go through the FD for Saya

Academic Stars! Review of [120127]Gaku☆Ou

Foreword: Before I get into the review, let me first apologize for being late with the review. I’ve been playing MMOs and nukige a bit more recently, and summer classes are being really hindering as well.

It also really doesn’t help that NINE (9) new games were selected TODAY to be of a worthwhile series, so I can’t see myself getting into the older games for a while… (Oh my gosh, how I wish for more time)

Anyway… Gaku Ou, which I chose over all the other Lump of Sugar games because of its “relations” to Magical Charming, was also a very disappointing title. I’m guessing that Lump of Sugar’s Tayutama series was just THAT good, and being the first LoS game for me, that title essentially set the standards.

Title: 学☆王 -THE ROYAL SEVEN STARS- (Gaku☆Ou) [Translates into “School King”]
Producers: Lump of Sugar
Release Date: January 27, 2012
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v7772
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=718586
Game Type: School life romance Novel with slight elements of fantasy

Summary: Hiroto is a prince from Eleutheria, who came to Earth in order to learn more about this world. While technically being an alien, Hiroto looks and behaves like a normal human; except he may have knowledge missing that a normal person might have. His trip was a disaster as he arrived near the Earth’s surface, and he manages to abandon his ship just as it trailed across the sky like a shooting star.

Along with some trouble with Akari, who is a girl he will now live with, Hiroto soon finds out that the school he imagined isn’t what he thought to be; there are only seven students including himself, and the only teacher present is a freaky hologram.

The students are soon oppressed with “Master Exams” by Jyunesis that threaten their school. In order to protect their school and environment, the seven students form an allegiance called “Royal Seven Stars”!

Story Length: Slightly Short (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: There are very little choices to be made, and most of the interactions by the player involves the “spacebar” (or the enter key, because haters gonna hate) to choose continue the story or in the later portion of the story, choose between heroines. Make sure to choose Akari if your target heroine is not available, as the story will sidetrack into each respective heroine once you choose her. Since you can’t really “save” at the choice making portion of the game, I recommend saving at the part where Hiroto meets Shou at the yakisoba stand during the School Festival.

Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: Again another inferior game by Lump of Sugar. As always, character design is very nicely done, but the story is lacking in SOME department. Of course, I’ll try to explain this in detail further below. I really appreciate that the introduction of “side characters” like Shou or Ero-ken (LOL) add quality humor to the story; this caused character design to rise in points. However, each heroine’s “conflict” seemed unrelated and insignificant to the overall theme of the story, so the story rating went down.

Character Summary:

Right onto character summary, starting with Akari, who is arguably the main central heroine. Akari is your typical tsundere character, and even has an appropriate CV to perform that task for her. Akari’s first encounter with Hiroto wasn’t a really pleasant one; Hiroto was unconscious in the bathtub when Akari walks in naked, and Hiroto accidentally pushes her down and lands on top of her. This first impression made Akari act a bit cold towards Hiroto.

Akari is very intelligent. She has been eyed by Jyunesis for a long time because Jyunesis wants her on their side. It is originally Akari’s existence that causes the Master Exams in the first place, and Akari feels great responsibility for this.

Akari, despite being extremely talented, is very indecisive. Unable to make proper decisions even when she is most involved, much of the beginning scenes involve Hiroto making bold suggestions in lieu of her. This decisiveness, along with Hiroto’s cheerful personality captures the heart of this girl, who soon fall head-over-heels in love with the prince after his determined promise to “protect her”. After that, Akari realizes how much of an impact Hiroto had on everyone, and realize that she wants to become like him.

From a long time ago, Akari’s motivation was Suruga-sensei, whose existence is currently unknown. However, Akari explains that he was a great teacher who was extremely intelligent and was great at teaching. Suruga-sensei’s actual identity is Mr. King himself, and it is implied within Akari’s route. In addition, it also seems that Mr. King is the biological father of Hiroto, which seems to answer why Akari felt that the two were so similar.

Akari’s route presents a conflict, where a particular individual named Saya comes to challenge her to a mock GAT  (Generalist Aptitude Test), which is similar to the real world’s SAT (Generalist is a title given to a particular individual who masters all the topics of academy that Jyunesis has to offer). Akari falls short at 97 points, while Saya gets a perfect score. What’s horrifying is that Saya is actually “Master One”, and if this was a master exam, he would be able to do anything he wanted with these students. Saya leaves, mocking the crew, and even while destroyed, Akari sees that Hiroto, despite the large difference in ability, works hard himself to fight Master One in this GAT exam, and gains confidence as well. The route ends with Akari confessing to Hiroto that her “role model” has switched from Suruga-sensei to Hiroto.

Akari refuses to become a Generalist, and instead works at a daycare center, and receive support from Hiroto, who is now a Generalist-candidate at the same school he studied in, few years ago.

Uzuki is next. Excelling in athletic abilities, it is rather unfortunate that this beautiful girl is quite lacking in the academic fields. However, she takes pride in her abilities to move her body swiftly, and is arguably greater than Akari in this aspect.

The irony of Uzuki is that she is actually the daughter of a very wealthy and influential group, the Tenguji Corporation. With buildings over 60 stories high, it is arguable to describe this tomboy as an “ojousama”. Uzuki doesn’t like such a title, however, and prefer to keep her personal stories private.

Uzuki’s story involve her being hesitant about accepting Hiroto’s feelings when he confesses to her. This is because she seems to be afraid of restricting Hiroto from doing what he wants to do, and along with the sudden announcement of arranged marriage, Uzuki becomes very frightened and uncertain.

However, Hiroto refuses to give up, and continuously pursues Uzuki, by training himself physically, as an effort to make Uzuki look at him more. Of course, readers will realize that there’s really no need to do this (because Uzuki is already in love with him), but such actions soon convince Uzuki that Hiroto is someone “who will make things work out somehow”, according to Akari.

After Hiroto’s announcement of engagement to Uzuki in front of the marriage party, Jyunesis kidnaps Uzuki and confines her in a room. To save her, Hiroto must play a game with an unknown opponent and win; just like how he did with the Master Exams.

However, as Fate would have it, his opponent is none other than Uzuki herself, who is also promised freedom if she wins against an unknown opponent of her own. Soon realizing that the tactics her opponent displayed was similar to Hiroto’s actions during the Master Exams, Uzuki continuously send signs to him, using numbers 2, 1, 7 (February 17 is Uzuki’s birthday) and the number 7 (for Seven Royal Stars).

Hiroto immediately notices these signs, and realizes that his opponent is Uzuki. Analyzing the situation carefully, he and Uzuki finally achieve a draw, where Mr. King admits defeat from the fact that the two were able to beat him at his own game.

Uzuki’s route ends with the couple becoming even more closer than ever, and Hiroto soon being dragged away to training, to become Uzuki’s husband and the successor to the Tenguji corporation.

The youngest of the seven students and a native-Swiss student, Annamarie (often affectionately shortened to Maruru), is a cheerful girl who loves culinary arts. Like Uzuki, she is slightly lacking in the academic department, but her innocence and desire to be of assistance to all the other members (as well as her huge bust size) is enough to compensate for her flaws.

Maruru’s story begins with the sickness of Hiroto, where Maruru and Akari nurse him back to health. However, when Akari leaves the room to make something for Hiroto to eat, Maruru gives Hiroto a paizuri (emulation of sexual intercourse with the female breasts), thinking it was necessary to help Hiroto become healthy again. Hiroto, despite enjoying this act, soon finds out that it was Maruru’s misunderstanding of Hinayu’s instructions, also realize his own feelings that he admired this young girl who always tried to be of assistance to people around her.

Maruru, on the other hand, become so embarrassed about what she did, and continuously avoids Hiroto. However, with the help of his friends, Hiroto soon gets a chance to talk with Maruru, and solve any misunderstandings. At this point, Maruru requests Hiroto to teach her about various topics that she doesn’t understand in class, but it can be implied that Maruru simply wanted to spend more time with Hiroto.

Hiroto readily agrees, and while he struggles with how to confess his love to Maruru, time passes by. Just as it seems as if his confession would work out, Hiroto accidentally confesses to the wrong girl. This girl, whose name is “Erika” is a new “Master” and has a huge crush on Hiroto. She first takes out Maruru using dirty tactics, then challenges the rest of the group to an online game battle. The students each practice, and again, it is Hiroto that takes out Erika and passes the exam. It is after this that Maruru and Hiroto become lovers.

Maruru’s story involves an ultimate test, where Shinobu (the manager at Curio) assigns a Master Exam for the group, to have a representative to create food for the six “Masters”, who would then need to give their approval to pass. Naturally, Maruru is selected for the representative, and each member come up with their own plans on how to tackle this problem. Soon, they decide that it is most effective to create various kinds of dishes, than creating just one.

The exam is a success, and Maruru gets a chance to ask Shinobu for essentially anything. However, even as she is offered culinary education in France, Maruru refuses and instead requests personal tutoring of culinary arts from Shinobu herself, because Maruru remembers that Shinobu could create Eleutheria food. Her desire, as revealed at the end of her story, is to go to Hiroto’s home country and become a chef there.

The route ends with the two making final preparations for this long trip.

Hinayu, who is the loli character of this game, is ironically also the most intelligent in the entire crew. While being on par of knowledge as Akari herself, Hinayu is very weak in other fields, including athletics (which she’s the weakest out of the seven students). Despite this weakness in physical attributes, Hinayu always carries around a scalpel, which she uses without hesitation to attack Ero-ken when he makes a perverted comment.

Despite all her features, Hinayu is actually certified as a doctor, and work in the hospital of Geo-Universe (the underground). Hinayu is intelligent enough to become the students’ teacher for various topics such as chemistry and math, and unknowing to everyone except herself; Hinayu is also Master Seven. It is her master exam that the students come in contact with first, which sets the background for other “Masters” to challenge these students.

Hinayu’s story mostly revolves around a background history, where a medical accident caused her mother to fall in a coma. This event took place in the hospital she worked in, and to this very day, Hinayu blames Jyunesis for this accident.

However, it is revealed in her route that the accident was actually caused by herself, and her desire to gain revenge only stems from her uncertainty to do what’s right–simply put, Hinayu is confused about what to do, now that her mother is in a state of critical condition. It is also revealed that Hinayu joined the ranks of the Eleven Masters because of her desire to take revenge.

The majority of Hinayu’s conflict is resolved during one of the times when Hinayu and Hiroto are returning from school, where Hiroto immediately jumps into the river, after a child who fell into it. While Hiroto saves the child, he barely makes it alive himself, and is ultimately rescued by Hinayu, who nurses him afterwards. This event is very significant, because in this event, Hinayu acts similarly to the time when her mother was in a critical condition; panicking, unsure, and afraid. Hiroto soon confesses to Hinayu, and skipping a bit of conflict in between events, the two finally become lovers.

Hinayu’s growth is tested when the couple as well as a pregnant patient is trapped in the elevator. Hinayu panics as always, but with Hiroto calming her (and also bringing her the tools she needs), Hinayu successfully helps the mother deliver her baby in the trapped elevator.

The alpaca also makes an appearance in Magical Charming.

Sexual Content: High

Comments: Most of Lump of Sugar’s games receive a low score solely because of one reason; unexplained factors. Presented above is essentially the entirety of the game, and there is very little interaction between many of the subcharacters, including Ero-ken, Shou, Ms. Butterfly/Mr. King, and many more. It is also shown that despite being called “Eleven Masters”, there are only 8 or 9 that ultimately make an appearance.

This doesn’t include the fact that there is no explanation about Sorano (Hiroto’s younger sister, and the direct heir to the throne), or Geo-Universe, which is the underground research facilities. Because of many of these “factors”, I expected a true route, but not only did the game not have one, its fandisk wasn’t too great either.

Affection for the Characters: Low

Hard to believe this girl is a tomboy… O_O;

CG Quality: Moderate
Music Quality: Moderate

Addictiveness: Low

Conclusion: A highly inferior Lump of Sugar game, that has many unexplained elements. However, its character design is on the more superior side, so for a Lump of Sugar fanatic, this game should be on their list to play.