Bought this on a STEAM sale because why not, it’s a Key game, surely it will be REALLY GOOD and all the reviews on it are so positive! Sadly, I was disappointed so this isn’t gonna exactly be the most positive review. Our protag Takahara Hairi was on his school’s swim team but he ended up costing a victory for his team by messing up during a competition and robbing his seniors of their final year victory. He felt so bad that he ended up not going to school and getting involved with some bad kids and getting suspended after getting caught by the police. His parents then had constant fighting over him and while he was suspended they divorced. Just then he got a phone call that his grandma died and his aunt needs help sorting out her remaining memorabilia at her home in the turbo-country side island. Seeing it as a chance to escape his situation, Hairi heads to a the island to spend his summer. Remember to jump to my final thoughts to avoid spoilers.
Shiroha – Shiroha is the mystery white haired girl who often kinda wanders alone because she walls herself off from others due to an ability to see the future. She likes to cook and is really good at table tennis (?) but otherwise she’s pretty normal. She has a very strict grandpa who rages when he finds out that Hairi’s been hanging out with his granddaughter and forces him into a weird exercise regimen. At the summer butterfly ceremony Shiroha has to be a shrine maiden (and also fake marry Hairi or something) but at the lantern part some loli ends up jumping on a boat alone while there’s a storm. Everyone goes to rescue her but they fall into the water but thanks to Shiroha’s magic powers they’re all saved. And so Hairi’s summer comes to an end and he returns back home and goes back to school right after he and Shiroha confess their love to each other. I know she gets a true end route later in the game, but I feel like for a main heroine her general route was pretty disappointing? She didn’t even get a single kiss CG wtf. Ao gets to bang Hairi, but Shiroha doesn’t even get to kiss him yet AYY BABIES.
Ao – Ao is the tsundere template and her voice was so grating that I actually had to turn the volume down on only her in the game 😂. For some reason just in the prologue alone her entire route consists of weird lewd innuendos with Hairi and doesn’t help his first meeting with her involves him walking on her changing. (;^ω^) Hairi also ups the creep meter here when he has like an entire interview with her -while she is asleep- ranging from things about her boob size to about personal things about her family wtf. ಠ_ಠ He even literally sits there mentally discussing in his head before he goes and looks up her skirt while she’s sleeping in a tree smh. She’s bad in her own way though cause she mixes up the word “mango” with the word “manko” too honestly the whole route was an eyeroll. 🙄 This ended up killing my mood for the actual plot which is: Ao has a twin sister named Ai who has been in a coma at the hospital for like 10 years. The reason is when they were children, they got into a fight cause Ao was jealous of her sister, and then ran off into the woods. Ao chased her down, fell down a cliff and ended up in a coma. Ao then found out that if she finds her sister’s memories, in the form of a rainbow butterfly, she can wake Ai up.
So every night she goes into the woods, and tries to see the memories of all the butterflies until she finds her sister’s. Well turns out it was all a glorious waste of time cause Ao shut off her sister internally and only Hairi was able to find the butterfly lol. And so they bring the butterfly to Ao (which involves a yuri kiss for some reason) and she magically wakes up and tells Hairi he cannot date her sister. Well too bad for you Ao, while you were taking a 10 year nap, Ao and Hairi already kissed and banged in the woods caused Ao is horny 24/7 which then somehow passes on to Hairi and the 2 of them are like dogs in heat. Oh but then soon as Ao and Ai have their reunion, Ao also falls into a coma! YAY! ಠ_ಠ And while she’s in the coma of course she has to mumble about the time she and Hairi banged in the woods which pisses Ai off sigh. Anyway a few days later of having erotic dreams, Ao finally wakes up but oh well turns out she’s seen too many people’s memories so now if the next time she goes into a coma she’ll never awaken. And welp she goes into a coma and all the butterflies leave the tree and the ceremony’s over so he can’t catch hers again despite his attempt. So instead he waits a year, goes back to school and then returns to the island to tell his comatose gf about his part time jobs and looks for the butterflies of the newly bloomed tree. Eventually he finds Ao’s and she wakes up again. I was having dejavu to the Fujibayashi sisters from Clannad but ayy turns out the same person wrote their route too! So much for originality!
Tsumugi – Tsumugi is the template “half foreigner therefore has blonde hair” and in addition she’s the airhead bimbo too! She even has the token “phrase” Key loves to throw on to these types of characters, and this time it’s “Mugyu!” ( ´_ゝ`) She lives inside the lighthouse like some hobo so half the game you don’t even get to interact with her. What’s worse is they introduce her friend Shizuku who has huge boobs and then like the entire route becomes one giant boob joke fest all the way up to the friend calling Hairi as “Pairi” (which is literally like saying Boobri). Needless to say by the time things got serious, I couldn’t be assed to care because everything in this route was getting on my nerves. So then it gets weird when Hairi finds an old timey photo of Tsumugi that looks like it’s from the taisho era or something. The weirdness continues when Tsumugi appears & disappears out of the lighthouse and the fact that nobody even knows where she lives. They then go to the house she showed them, which happens to be her old house and find her old school diary. It’s full of entries about how she had no friends because she was half foreigner and so all the kids bullied/ignored her. Eventually she befriended Hairi’s grandma and then managed to make more friends thanks to her. But then she decided to elope with the lighthouse keeper, to avoid her parents’ arranged marriage, but on the day of the eloping she vanished and the lighthouse keeper kept looking for her and never found her until his death.
For a few days Tsumugi goes MIA but then she comes back to the lighthouse but she’s in the kimono and hair style that she had in the photo that Hairi found. Not only that but she has no memories of who Shizuku or Hairi is and then tells Hairi that the 2 of them have been spirited away. She confesses that she chickened out and on the day of the eloping she decided not to come to the lighthouse. She was never fully able to trust the guy she loved and ended up getting spirited away. Anyway after having a chat with her, he feels a breeze which allows him to return back to the real world. Old-Tsumugi says she can’t go with him because her indecision about her lover is what’s kept her spirit stuck inside the lighthouse but she’d rather be stuck there then ever have to decide (even though it’s way past that decision time lol.) Once Hairi awakens, his girlfriend (rather than old timey) Tsumugi is now back. Before she goes for real, they decide to celebrate every holiday together with her all the way up to Christmas. Everyone then shows up and celebrates her “birthday” as well. Turns out she was a tsukumogami who made its place inside of the real Tsumugi’s teddy bear. Her goal was to make everyone remember Tsumugi again and once she achieved it, with having Hairi meet the real Tsumugi, her mission ended so that’s why her spirit left the teddy bear. Anyway this could have really been a decent route because I actually like the story, but every second, up to the last 10 minutes – BOOBS. ಠ_ಠ
Kamome – Kamome used to be part of this Cat Beard Brigade in elementary school and they had left a buried treasure map hidden inside the elementary school shed. While she had no specific gross crap with Hairi, this route for some reason turned Umi into some oniichan-ko and there was a lot of borderline pedo shit from Hairi that made me vomit inside. Anyway Kamome and Hairi take a day trip to go into the cave where the “treasure” lies. While they’re walking Kamome admits that the reason she carries the suitcase around is because she has a bad leg and requires a cane to walk. However she doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her so she uses a suitcase instead to hide her disability. When they reach the end of the cave they reach an abandoned sailboat and that’s when Kamome remembers everything and returns to her true form – the memories of the real Kamome in the form of the rainbow butterfly. The next day he asks Ao, Miki, Ryouichi and Tenzen to come with him to the cave and they find Kamome’s suitcase and take it home. He opens it up and finds a book called Adventures of the Bearded Cat Brigade which he recalls reading in elementary school. He realizes everything Kamome had told him about her adventures lines up exactly with the events in the book, including to the details Kamome gave about herself vs the book’s protagonist. Hairi then finds out about someone living on a remote island off the coast of this one and goes there only to find her mother Sagi.
Sagi lies and tells him that her daughter went to study abroad in Finland 2 years earlier and is not here now. She also tells Hairi that she’s the one who wrote that book. Sagi tells him when Kamome was young she was often sick and couldn’t go out anywhere so she would often read books on top of her suitcase at her house. Inspired by child ramblings, Sagi decided to write a book for her about going on an adventure and finding a pirate ship. Kamome then told her mom she wanted a boat and found someone who would give them their old sailboat. She wanted to turn the boat into a “pirate ship” so they asked the old man to park it on the islet. Unfortunately they weren’t able to because 2 years earlier Kamome was sent to a foreign hospital due to her hereditary illness she got from her father. Her father died from this disease but Kamome continues to be in this mystical foreign hospital and she sleeps most of the time and awakens only once in a while. So while Sagi was sitting around one day, the suitcase had the rainbow butterflies around it, and then it vanished only to end up in the cave that Kamome imagined in her head with her adventures based on the catbeard book. Kamome also asked her mom to come to this island every summer along with the suitcase. She gives Hairi the key to the captain’s quarters in that sailboat and tells him to find Kamome’s greatest treasure inside. Inside he finds fan mail from children who loved the catbeard book including one that he himself had written. He recalls receiving a response but can’t remember what it says so he decides to call his parents and asks him to express mail his box of memorabilia to the island.
When he gets the box the next day, he finds the response from Kamome saying she’s happy to receive his letter and a fake invitation on an adventure 10 years later when the boat was supposed to be finished. They hid the keys and prepared the cave but never got to finish the boat. And so thanks to the rainbow butterfly she was able to go on the promised adventure so once that promise was fulfilled, she vanished back to her real body in Finland (or wherever). The names of all the kids were just made up memories based on names of kids who sent her mail – which is why one of them was named Taka. A couple nights later Kamome’s spirit returns to the boat area to tell Hairi goodbye because I guess her terminal illness has taken a turn for the worst and she’s going to die where her real body is. After this Hairi and the others work on finishing the boat and invite kids who are fans of the book on an “adventure tour” of the catbeard brigade. Kamome then magically appears again saying she’s been watching the whole time and is amazed they finished it. This route had less cringe than the previous but I think the damage has been done as I wasn’t able to feel as emotionally moved…or maybe it’s because it’s basically identical to Ayu’s route from Kanon (but replace fell off a tree with incurable Key Aids).
Alka – So as you are playing this game, there’s this 4th wall thing where Hairi also feels dejavu like he’s seen this damn game 4 times already. 😂 This route is focused on his 2nd cousin Umi and she acts very shy compared to her personalities in all the other routes and she’s been transformed into an utter moeblob imouto character. ಠ_ಠ Not only that but she constantly refers to Hairi as “dad”. A lot of the route is basically Hairi going through the entire game all over again, meeting the other girls, but basically hanging out with blob-Umi the whole time. Since Umi appears to be having sadness over not having a mom, Hairi gets Shiroha to pretend to be her mom for the summer and then gives her a picture diary to write her thoughts in so she gets out of her sad moeblob state. After this as Umi writes in her picture diary everyone tries to re-enact what’s in it like playing together, or building a water slide for her. Once Shiroha gets a clue that Umi knows of the events about to happen, such as Shiroha drowning in the water, she gets horrified and quits playing mom and starts avoiding them. The next day Hairi finds a letter Umi has from “her mother” that tells Umi to not hold back her sadness and to try to have a shoulder to cry on.
Just as she’s about to put the letter back a photo slips out which has a picture of Hairi and Shiroha and others – but dated before Hairi ever remembers taking this photo. Umi then says she came from the future to see her mom because her mom in the future is deceased. Like how Shiroha has the power to see the future, Umi has the power to jump back into the past for a little bit. Sailor Chibimoon flashbacks! 😂 Even has the pink hair!!!!! Hairi then realizes he’s Umi’s dad and Shiroha is his future wife, and Umi’s mom who died while giving birth. Umi wanted to visit her mother’s grave so she followed her dad to the island but he caught her so she ran away from him deep into the mountain and fell down a cliff. A rainbow butterfly appeared and she found herself being sent back into the “summer” of this game over and over like groundhog day because it was the summer that was in that photo. However every time she would go back in time, her personality would be warped which is why it felt different, like how she’d call him different names and how she became a moeblob in this one. They go to see Shiroha but first have to fight her grandpa so they duke it out in water sumo which is a test of Hairi’s swimming trauma.
After he wins, Umi tells him that Shiroha is her mom and Hairi is dad and he’s her grandpa. Gramps rages but then calms down and everyone jokingly says “congratulations” to them getting “married” which allows Hairi to accompany Shiroha on the boat during the festival. Similar to the first route, a girl jumps on the boat in hopes to “see her mother” but this time that girl is Umi. She falls into the water and both Umi and Hairi dive in after her to save her. After this incident Umi acts more and more infantile as if she’s mentally regressing into a baby. Not only that but memories spent with Umi this summer start to slowly fade out of Hairi and Shiroha’s minds. They even start to “not see her” even though she’s with them the whole time so Hairi decides to buy a disposable camera to take lots of photos together. A couple days later, Umi, Hairi and Shiroha sleep in the same futon together and the next morning they wake up and Umi is gone. The two of them also don’t remember why they were sleeping together or what they can’t remember and just then Ao comes to deliver the photos that finished printing. Unfortunately like in Back to the Future, Umi has disappeared from all of the photos. Hairi finds Umi’s picture book but can’t remember who created it. Additionally he also finds the paper airplanes they made together and while he and Shiroha remember making theirs, the 3rd one made by Umi is now rainbow colored and they don’t know who made it.
As they shoot it into the air they both start crying and when they see the fireworks together that evening they feel the “emptiness” even more. Suddenly Umi appears holding both of their hands and they remember everything. Umi says she’s sorry and everyone hugs and cries and as the fireworks end, Umi disappears and once again Hairi and Shiroha completely forget her and why they are covered in tears. After Hairi goes back home, he continues to return to the island to see Shiroha every summer. Eventually Hairi moves permanently to the island and Shiroha moves into his old grandma’s house together with him and they get married. Time passes and Shiroha is pregnant with Umi…but then has a vision of the future where she realizes she will die. She then suddenly remembers her memories with Umi that summer and starts to cry and apologize to her pregnant belly. And so on the day of her birth, as Shiroha dies, Umi wishes she could save her and is sent back to the past of that summer once more – but this time in the form of a rainbow butterfly. Just then it’s revealed that Shiroha too is groundhog daying it over and over because she doesn’t want Umi to gain those powers that she has. It’s also explained the reason Umi gained those powers was when she got lonely from her father neglecting her so she realizes that Shiroha probably had a similar incident that gave her the future seeing powers too. After this it appears like Umi’s soul basically fades into the afterlife or whatever.
Pockets – True End – So I was wondering why in the hell Shiroha’s route felt so empty but then realized that it’s because she’s like the Nagisa of this game and this is her “After Story”. So now that we found out both Shiroha and Umi are stuck in groundhog day trying to save each other, we gotta get them out of this cycle. The game takes place from a mysterious girl’s POV and she finds herself stumbling into Shiroha’s house – but Shiroha is is very young now and it’s 1 month after her father died in an accident and her mother vanished. The girl can’t remember much about herself so they decide to name her “Nanami” because all she can think about are “the 7 seas” and she stays at Shiroha’s house. She also teaches Shiroha about fried rice because it reminds her of her fathers, which we know passed down to Umi too. While her mother was MIA Shiroha’s been cleaning their restaurant in case she comes back one day. Unfortunately her mother actually died due to the powers in the family and gramps has been trying to keep Shiroha away from the store so she wouldn’t be “trapped” in the past. So now Shiroha wants to go “see her father” and if she goes to that tree where the rainbow butterflies come from, she will awaken the powers that trap her in this time loop. In order to stop her, Nanami shows Shiroha memories of her “future self” that we saw in Shiroha’s route.
After this, Nanami’s job is done and she vanishes after telling Shiroha goodbye. Also Shiroha figures out that Nanami is actually Umi, despite changing her image (but I had a feeling because her eyes were the same color.) Nanami-Umi admits that she just did it because she wanted to save her mom and so she used the powers Shiroha gave her at birth. Gotta say I pretty much held my composure most of the game but the scene of Umi disappearing from existence in Shiroha’s arms sent me bawling. (´;ω;`) In the epilogue, Umi is no longer there so the way Hairi meets Shiorha isn’t at the pool, but at her parents’ old restaurant where she makes him chahan. However Hairi spends most of his vacation just cleaning the shed and not really socializing with anyone on the island. He has a short lived memory lapse of Umi, but soon as she vanishes, he forgets about it immediately and finds a “nostalgic” rainbow paper airplane that he sends flying. Right as he’s about to depart on the boat home, he sees Shiroha and feels the urge to talk to her so he jumps off the boat and runs to her. The first thing he does before even asking her name is ask her if she can teach him to make her chahan. 😂 Disappointed that there was no true happy ending for Umi like there was for Ushio in Clannad though. (´・ω・`)
I didn’t think much of it when I heard Jun Maeda was only doing the music for this game but boy what a difference writers make! The 2 routes I utterly hated (full of middle school sex jokes) were written by 2 different people who looked like they just worked on dumb eroge/galges. The 2 routes that appeared to mostly be story focused as well as the true end, were written by the same person and it was painfully obvious on how different they were compared to the others. I guess I assumed all the writing in Key games would always be the same since the 4 that I liked were mostly written by the same person…but I was wrong. I’m always willing to give new writers a chance of course, but it just felt like copy pasta from other key games I’ve played or had so much dumb crap written into it that it ruined any of the mood the game was trying to convey. (Unless it was trying to convey a horny protag coming to the island to find a hot summer love and nothing else??) I liked how in Shiroha’s route they would often focus on the protag’s story about how he quit the swim team and his struggles to get over his fear of swimming and returning home. I thought that was really interesting and made him stand out beyond just a Gary Stu….but of course in the other routes it was barely touched upon and he became the standard Gary Stu surrounded by stereotypical galge bimbos. That’s the other thing that bothered me is how degrading the game felt towards some of the heroines…maybe it was just the English translation? Maybe it was all the dumb sex jokes that felt so degrading? Maybe I’m just getting old. It just felt so insulting and disrespectful to me, and for all I know this may have been in other Key games I played but maybe it didn’t jump out to me as much because I played them in Japanese. In English it was painfully obvious and just stuck out like a sore thumb. Some examples can be found in my twitter moment.
All the endings felt so “assume they ended up happy” that it just felt so inconclusive and unsatisfying. This especially hit home in the true ending because of the similarities to Clannad I wanted the ending to be happy like it was in Clannad…but it wasn’t. For all I know they added some after story bits or maybe concluded it properly in their re-release of this game, but I played the original one that was translated into English on steam so I will never get to find out lol. (If anyone who played it please let me know – I need to know if Umi got a happy end 😭)
I probably just expected too much because of how high the bar was raised by Clannad/Air for me, that since the game was more “moe galge style” than story that it completely missed me as an audience. I’m sure there’s players out there who thought Tsumugi’s
boobies route was the most hilarious thing ever. Unfortunately I came in expecting a bit more serious/focused story and I only really got that with 3 of the routes (and 2 of those are the same character….). While the illustrations were pretty as far as coloring, a lot of the anatomy was really off from the lopsided boobs to extremely tiny hands to every single guy in this game having 8 pack abs like they spent their entire life at the gym. Just what kind of radio exercises are they doing at this island anyway? 🤣🤣🤣 Aside Umi and Shiroha, I really liked the side character Miki and the 2 dorks Ryouichi and Tenzen. I got so irritated in Tsumugi’s route I would have almost just gone for some BL ending with them instead of her 😂.
Anyway overall I don’t really recommend it honestly. If you’re looking for the usual Key tearjerker, you’ll find yourself disappointed like me I think. Unless you can stomach all the terrible degrading humor, it’s just gonna be painful to sit through. A lot of story themes also overlap with things I saw in Air, Kanon and Clannad and if anything I would just recommend playing those instead anyway. The one thing that absolutely is in line with Key quality here though is the music. I absolutely loved the soundtrack and it’s definitely the one thing I’d recommend out of all my complaining about it lol. That said, I think this will be my last Key game for a long time…it seems like they have changed their general writing direction and it’s just not my cup of tea.