[Review] Aokana: Four Rhythms Across The Blue – Nintendo Switch

Written by Joachim Ziebs
  • Developer: Sprite
  • Publisher: PQube
  • Release Date: 21/08/2020
  • Price: £24.99 / $29.99
  • Review code provided by PQube
  • Version reviewed: 1.01

Introducing Aokana-Four Rhythms Across The Blue Switch Review

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of visual novels: Those where you are limited to following one linear thread of story without any possibility to influence what’s happening and those where your decisions count, because they influence the story by letting you choose different threads of the complete weave. This way, you get to learn about alternate story parts and have a much better understanding of what is going on both with the characters and their story. Aokana is one of the latter visual novels.

Aokana’s setting is present day Japan with a slight twist: By using Anti-Graviton Shoes, humans can fly. Needless to say that our species got fired up about this technological wonder and not only uses it for personal transport but also quickly created a popular sport: Flying Circus.

Note: Reviewing visual novels always threatens to spoil the story, so I will do my very best by talking about the story and not narrating it for you. That’s what the game is for, after all.

Trope, Trope, Trope and Trope!

You’re Masaya Hinata, a sophomore at one of the local high schools. You chose this high school for its lack of a Flying Circus club, because you carry around a dark baggage of memories connected to this sport. (Trope 1: Main character with hidden dark memories that will come to the light in the course of events.)

In the story you’ll meet Asuka Kurashina, a fresh transfer student (Trope 2), Misaki Tobisawa, your best friend from primary school (Trope 3), Arisaka Mashiro, a reluctant girl (Trope 4: Tsundere!) and Rika Ichinose, your next door neighbour (Trope 5). All of these are your potential love interests and have a route in the visual novel. Together with the usual bad ending, in case your choices do not lock you into one of the other paths, there are five different endings for you to discover.

Oh, and of course there is the manly man (Trope 6: Muscles!) who is the Flying Circus Club’s president together with the sarcastic club advisor/teacher (Tropes 7 and 8). You’ll be forgiven if you think that the story is boring, because it relies so heavily on clichés found in nearly any anime/manga set in a Japanese high school. It actually isn’t. Sure, you know what’s going to happen, but the way the story is told turns Aokana into a humorous coming-of-age-story that doesn’t take itself too serious and also is full of quirky writing. Of course, given that the protagonist is male and there are four different girls he can set out to befriend, there is an abundance of panty here, panty there dialogues and situations accompanied by fanservice imagery.

As a result, Aokana might not be a game to play on public transport, but it never crosses the line into the distasteful. It’s cliché and full of tropes, but that’s the way these kinds of visual novels are set up. Also, you’re warned right at the beginning that all people depicted are over 18 years old. (No idea why they are still going to high school, then, though!)

Customary for visual novels of this kind, you’ll unlock various artwork and voice lines by playing it.

Panty, panty, panty and fanservice!

Aokana features a beautiful anime aesthetic. The backgrounds are detailed and colourful, the characters are well drawn and equally well-animated. It’s definitely nice to look at. What’s even more important, the text is well readable and neither too big nor too small. Take note that even if there are frequent scenes of fanservice, there is no nudity. Strategically placed steam, etc. takes care of decency. Still, there are quite a number of unmentionables both on display and spoken of.

While we’re on the topic of speech, let it be known that the female characters are fully voice-acted, albeit only in Japanese. Given the nature of some conversations (see above) this is perhaps for the best. The background music is pleasant and doesn’t break your focus on the, uh, story.

Uh, what did it say?

Apart from some grammatical errors and typos, nothing will hinder your enjoyment of Aokana.

Conclusion

Even if the story itself is based on every cliché available elsewhere, it is nonetheless enjoyable to experience. The light-hearted humour together with the quirky writing turn Aokana into a precious visual novel.

Pros

  • Story of self-discovery and sportsmanship
  • Fanservice (if that is your thing)
  • Adorable characters
  • References to a certain monster hunting game

Cons

  • Fanservice (if that is not your thing)
  • Abundance of clichés

Verdict
Aokana is a solid visual novel that doesn’t tread new ground, but still does wonders to all the different tropes it happily mixes together.

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