By William Haderlie / October 11th, 2019
|Title||Farther than the Blue Sky|
|Release Date||September 19th, 2019|
|Genre||Eroge Visual Novel|
|Age Rating||Adults Only|
Content Advisory: Farther than the Blue Sky is Adults Only and all associated links are 18+ and potentially NSFW. This review is also potentially NSFW, but steps are taken to minimize that risk. The game itself features consensual sex that is mostly vanilla, what I would call French Vanilla. In other words, it is a little spicier than vanilla, but nothing that most adults would consider too kinky.
Farther than the Blue Sky is the second eroge visual novel that I have reviewed from Chuablesoft. The first game I reviewed from them was If You Love Me, Then Say So!, which is a game that I liked, but didn’t love. So it was with some trepidation that I approached the review for this newest VN, although I always do my best to give each game its own shot. And I’m truly happy I reviewed it. Every complaint that I had about the previous title was corrected in Farther than the Blue Sky. That alone made it a much better experience, but then on top of that they tackled a subject that I’m also passionate about, rocket engineering. If you are at all interested in pleasant relationships with cute girls, with some good sex, and a lot of genuine science/engineering, then I strongly suggest that you just go ahead and pick up this game now. You can read the rest of the review while it is downloading.
I’ll get into the specific ways that Farther than the Blue Sky improves on the experience of If You Love Me, Then Say So! later in the review. But the most personal way that it was a better experience for me has to do with rocket engineering itself. There was a time when rocket engineering was going to be my chosen career path, with the intent to end up at JPL or NASA. In fact, one of the books that I carried around with me the most in High School was a technical book about Soviet rocket engineering. I read that one quite a few times while imagining that career for myself, but I ended up following the nuclear engineering route for nine years and then went back to school for astrophysics and cosmology. So I never did get around to that interest, although I did keep up with it as a casual observer. One of the best things about Farther than the Blue Sky is that there is a lot of genuine engineering here, and even when they fictionalize something, it’s not that far outside of our current reach.
That might sound a little intimidating for some people who are just wanting a pleasant romantic story with sex. And that is indeed a tough task to make the story technical enough to please those like me who have a genuine interest in the material, but not make it so technical to completely lose those with no interest in science and engineering. One resource that they built into Farther than the Blue Sky to help mitigate that issue is a very well implemented Glossary. The Glossary also clearly denotes which terms are specific to this game only. Mostly they are specific companies and products that would be tied to this fictional area of Japan, or near-future technology that makes sense in order to fit in with the themes of the story. There is no space magic or far out-of-reach science and engineering here. Another nice thing about the Glossary in Farther than the Blue Sky is that you can mouse click on any of the terms within the chat box and it will take you right to the definition, and you only need to exit out of the Glossary to go right back to that scene. It makes the implementation a lot more seamless and much more useful.
My history with eroge visual novel protagonists is a rather rocky one, but thankfully Otoya is not a member of the growing trash heap. While I certainly don’t get his idiot side, I’m similar to the girls, he does have many redeeming qualities. The most redeeming quality he has is that if he is really interested in something, he will work his tail off in order to excel at it. That is an especially important feature for anyone who could catch the eye of the girls featured in Farther than the Blue Sky, due to the subject matter. If he was unable to be taught, there would really be no realistic avenue for him to enter into their lives long enough for romantic sparks to light. He is, not so affectionately, nicknamed Shun by his peers. And, initially, he is an all around blockhead. But, he is also the reader’s entry into the world and the way the writers have to explain the material to the audience without halting the story completely for an instructional period. Even more than most VN protagonists, he is the audience avatar. Another redeeming aspect of him is that he’s not one of those herbivore Japanese male tropes that have all but worn thin. He knows he likes sex, he has a porn stash in his room just like any teenage boy wants, and once romantic feelings are apparent, he is willing to pursue them. It would be a little extra sad if he was oblivious of those things along with already being the weakest link on the rocket engineering front. So, they avoided that potential issue.
There is one exception to the Shun needing a route into the romantic life of the girls, and that is his childhood friend Honoka. She’s a year younger than he is, so they have spent a year apart as she was completing middle school. That has caused a temporary strain on their relationship, but when he comes to her with the idea of joining the rocket club he’s recently joined, Byakko, she agrees pretty quickly. The childhood friend character in Farther than the Blue Sky does bear one similarity to the one in If You Love Me, Then Say So!, and that is her dirty mind. Since that character was my favorite one in that game, it stands to reason that Honoka would be in this game too. Honoka has a less dirty mouth, she normally just alludes to sexual acts and makes Shun fall for her tricks, but there is no doubt that she knows what she is doing. And one area that they definitively improved on was the reason they have never been in a romantic relationship, it is actually very realistic and well-written (but is a spoiler, so I won’t say here). The strange thing is that she’s not far and away my favorite character in this game, she’s actually my least favorite of the four romance options. The reason that is strange in that it’s not because I don’t like anything about her, in most eroge she would be my favorite. It’s just that all the girls are extremely appealing in Farther than the Blue Sky. Her character route starts off a little slow and exasperating, full of romantic misunderstandings like an old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicle (for example Swing Time or Top Hat). But it really picks up after that and ends extremely well. She also has some of my favorite sex scenes in the game, so she is by no means a weak link.
Nazuna, or Natsu, is my next favorite girl overall, but she is probably tied with the next one realistically. Not that there is a wide gap in any of them, thankfully the issue with Farther than the Blue Sky is too many great girls instead of the opposite. Natsu is quirky with a capital Q, and that is even underselling it. But that ends up working really well for her both for the story and for the initial context. Like the other girls, she is also a trope, being the ditzy tall blonde Western-looking girl with large breasts. Of course, the normal problem that comes with that trope is imagining why in the hell she doesn’t have boys crawling all over her. But in this story you can easily imagine why. Not only is she a rather extreme pyromaniac, just this side of the law, but she also has a rather extreme obsession with rockets and a severe communication problem. You can just imagine the first 5-10 boys trying to get into her pants and striking up a conversation only to run away within 5 minutes, and then all other boys just knowing to not bother. They don’t even need to tell that story, just by how well she is written and performed, the backstory writes itself. She also happens to be extremely wealthy and well-connected as the daughter of the chairman of the rocket industry across the island. But that lifestyle also fits well into her personality and the things that she is totally oblivious to. Much like with Honoka, Natsu transcends those tropes and becomes someone truly special. And while her large chest does play into the relationship a little, and the sex scenes, it is actually her communication issues that come to the forefront. That almost made her my favorite character.
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