Hmm…that took a while, didn’t it? I thought that I’d finish this right after Eden*, and then do 2 reviews about the world ending together. Anyway, I went into this game for the Ryo Ueda art, the I’ve Sound music, and the 健 速 scenarios. All three were different from what I thought they’d be, but all three were amazing in their own ways. Now I’m crossing my fingers for more Etude games~
Premise (stolen from VNDB):
A small island. There is nothing special but the shining sun, clear sea and verdant forests. The main character is Subaru. He is an ordinary high school student. His old friend, Hinata. His English teacher, Asahi. His cousin, Aoba. A new student, Minami. He lives a peaceful life with them. Everyone on the island believes their peaceful life will last forever…. Yes, until that day…. “A meteor will strike the earth in three months.” A sudden announcement. Only three months left. People get panicked, and they somehow try to keep their cool…. What will happen to them in the end…?
Subaru: all around nice guy. Responsible but not too much, laid back but not too much, honest, good with people, and quite angsty at time. In other words, like your average eroge lead, but without some of the bad stuff.
Hinata Yuuhi is that imouto character that is a bit TOO clingy and squeaky. She absolutely adores Subaru, whom she affectionately calls “Kan-chan”. Even though she seems like a clutz, she’s amazingly talented at just about anything. Her instincts are also extremely sharp, and she can detect changes in people where others would notice nothing.
It was really interesting to see the way that she broke down and stood back up again in her route, even if it was kind of going around in circles. Definitely the second best path.
Hinata Asahi is that obligatory older sister character. She’s also the teacher, the megane girl, and the one with the twin tails. That’s hitting quite a few stones there, ne?
Her route mostly deals with her relationship with Yuuhi (her sister) and her dead mother. I can’t help but wonder if all those moe points were there to compensate for the story, because I didn’t really like it.
Itsuki Aoba is your tomboy best friend character. Of course, there’s more to her than just that (she’s not my favorite character for nothing). But, saying more would too spoiler-ish, so I’ll stop here. Click on her name for a character post with a story summary.
Mizumori Minami is the sickly girl, and the only one of the characters who hasn’t spend most of her live on the small island. She’s quiet but quite perspective, wielding a lot of information due to her main hobby: reading.
Even though I like her character (a teasing Minami is the cutest), her story just wasn’t that good.
This is a slice of life which turns to the relationships between people later on. But first and foremost, this is a slice of life. I made the mistake of thinking that the slice of life was going to be short, or perhaps even just a front (like cross channel). This kind of leeched out the enjoyment of it after 4 days (in game time) of slice of life. I was kind of going “damn it, when is the planet getting destroyed? I’m bored!” Which just isn’t the right state of mind for it.The day to day actions are actually quite natural and fluid, with a nice flow, fitting the small island atmosphere.
However, the story does get serious. As people come to terms with the fact that all of them will die, through complete acceptance or complete denial, the things that they are driven to do are mesmerizing. I’ll probably never forget the moment where Subaru was about to rape Yuuhi and all she said was that it was fine.There’s this delicate sadness to the story, not because there’s this obligatory “sad thing here, cry now” event, but because it’s true that people can do these things. It’s true that people hurt others, and the fact that murder and rape makes a story seem realistic just seems so…sad. Is this what our society has become? Does these things act as necessities in our lives?
However, even with murder in the cities, even with alienation and suicide on the island, the people still try to carry out their own lives, to search for that everyday happiness. That makes the happy moments injected into their lives much more precious. The game also did something that very few games chose to have: a well planned, well written normal ending. Yes, when you don’t go down any of the girl’s paths, the story isn’t written off with a “so I continued with my life” kind of thing.
Each story had its good points, and some were definitely better than others. But a lot of its essence was in the “after” scenario. Don’t mistake this for Clannad though, this scenario is very short and shows what happened 30 years after most of humanity was wiped out. That one line, “We’ve been here” just brought me to tears.
To say that the art is “good” would be too much of an understatement. Ueda Ryo is a genius. Not only did he create the characters, he also designed much of the background art and the little shots of objects like this bundle of flowers. I also love the way that he captured the different personae of Aoba (oops, is that a spoiler?). The vivid colors are absolutely beautiful, and there’s nothing that I’d choose to change…
Okay, there ARE a few problems. Mostly, it’s to do with consistency.
See exhibit B. Notice the careful placement of light in the trees, notice-oh what the hell. How can you ignore the fact that the girl looks like a yandere ready to explode? And this is her normal happy face. Normal. Happy. Face. This doesn’t look normal. Or happy.
Well, I tend to pick on the small things when the art is really good, and seriously, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. There are also plenty of effects. The clouds MOVE in the backgrounds. There are shifting beams of light everywhere, and there’s often cinematic panning of the views (which were done a LOT better than Eden*, I might add).
When one mentions I’ve Sound. I think techno. And then I think of some of the catchiest tunes I’ve ever heard in my life. Yes, I’ve sound did an absolutely wonderful job with producing the music in this game, fitting the atmosphere and at times expanding on it. Amazing grace is a major insert song, with an instrumental mix used as BGM, a special remix for an ending song, and Yuuhi constantly humming it. The only problem is that the people singing are singing in Engrish, which really takes away from the atmosphere.
For the opening and ending theme songs, they brought out some great talent. We have eufonius, WHITE-LIPS, Nakahara Ryou, Kawada mami, and two people I’ve never heard off. And all the songs sound great. Ironically, my favorite song is the ending theme for Asahi, my least favorite character. White-lips sounds much better than she did in moshiraba, definitely.
The voice acting was also top notch, especially Aoyama Yukari. No, this isn’t simply because she voices my favorite character, Aoba, but also because of reasons I can’t type because they’re spoilers. Yuuhi was a bit too squeaky, and Minami’s seiyuu slips from her voice when she’s excited, but other than that there’s no problems.
Like I said before, lots of effects. The interface was sleek and nice. And for better or worse it made my computer lag a bit, reminding myself once again that I need a new computer. In the extra mode, we get treated to something a bit more creative than normal. We see the above image, with all the main characters seated, you can select the character you want and view their CG or scenes. It’s a small thing, but it’s the small things that really get my attention.
Total: 92.5/100 A
All in all, Asuseka wasn’t what I expected, but it was wonderful. The story’s an odd mix of Cross channel and Aria (without the extremes), and for some reason it works. It’s realistic, it’s touching, and everything complements everything else almost perfectly. I’d really really recommend this game for everyone.