By William Haderlie / October 11th, 2019
If I made a list of best girls before reaching the True Ending (Liftoff!!) of Farther than the Blue Sky, Arisa would have been the lowest on the totem pole. Not because she’s badly-written or in any way less than the other girls. Only because she has such a problem with being honest, a pathological problem with it. And that is especially true when it comes to romantic feelings. As someone who is autistic and is impossibly bad with reading intentions, this is extremely frustrating for me even within the context of reading other characters. There is still enough there to not make it so frustrating to pull me out of the story and Shun himself describes why he doesn’t believe her when she tells a lie. But her story is also the most emotional in many ways, so she has that going for her as well. As the person who is the Program Manager and also the person who firsts recruits Shun into the Rocket Club, she also has more story than anyone else. But the thing that turned me around the most on her was the True Ending because it focused so much on her. Instead of having a Harem route unlocked by completing all four story routes, you instead get an ending where everything turned out successfully but the protagonist didn’t have any romantic relationships. But that bonus ending does focus more around Arisa and it implies at the end that the canon story ended up with her and Shun together. It doesn’t state it outright, so you can still insert your own personal choice in there if you want.
I might just have to accept that I’m a Flat Justice guy. I do like breasts, quite a bit in fact (although I’m more of a cute butt guy), but most of my favorite girls in eroge visual novels happen to be the flat girls. And in Farther than the Blue Sky, that could not be more accurate. While all four girls are really appealing, Kaho takes the cake for me by quite a bit. It’s not really her flat chest, although I find it cute that she’s just a little insecure about it. It’s all about her quiet demeanor, her one or two word answers, and her amazing intelligence. I’m a huge fan of all those characteristics, especially the intelligence. I also really like that once she is into a sexual relationship, she isn’t shy about her desires or acquiesces to any false modesty imposed by societal structures. In many ways, she seems to be a bit autistic. And I suppose that also means that I tend to like girls who are like me, as narcissistic as that may be. More than any of the other girls, once she joins the club their ambitions seem like a true reality. All three other girls would be classified as genius to the average student, but Kaho is a genius amongst genius. And that is very important for any cutting edge science or engineering project. From experience (usually it was me in the Kaho role), it is very beneficial to have someone to run everything by to make sure that there are not any esoteric possibilities that cause ripple effects onto other parts of the project that you weren’t in charge of.
There is one very minor issue that carried over from If You Love Me, Then Say So! into Farther than the Blue Sky. The minor issue is that there are appealing girls outside of the four storylines that I would have loved to romance. Minori is a club leader for the very informal rocket club, Space R. They aren’t really in direct competition with Byakko, but their leader has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. She is nicknamed Bono by Arisa (someone who has a habit of making terrible nicknames for everyone), but if you look past her abrasive personality, there is a lot to find appealing. Another really appealing romantic choice would be your Club Advisor, Mrs. Oosumi. Not only is she cute in a business kind of way, but she makes it clear several times that she’s not in a relationship but wants to be. Of course, she’s much older than the protagonist, but there are many eroge visual novels that feature age gap relationships. And it certainly happens in real life as well. The last one that would be appealing, but would change the type of visual novel probably too much for the makers, is your sister Yui. Of course, there are many eroge that do that as well, but they are specifically in that sub-genre. Those relationships almost never cross over into the vanilla (or French Vanilla) Eroge that focus more on regular young romances. Still, Yui is very cute and there are plenty of opportunities where that route could have happened. A fan-disc featuring those side stories for Farther than the Blue Sky would definitely catch my interest, or they could even make a sequel. The story wraps up very nicely with the True Ending, but there is definitely still room for more if the development team chooses to.
The art design of this game was initially a little off-putting for me, but it ended up being a highlight for Farther than the Blue Sky. The day to day scenes and conversations are pretty average, to be honest. But, when it comes to the money shots, the art team truly excelled. Examples of money shots are; major romantic moments, sex scenes, and major rocket story moments. Another underrated part of the art design department for this particular game was all the charts and graphs showing the construction and analysis involved in rocket engineering. They are quite simplified from a technical drawing, but in a way that still clearly illustrates the point and is instructive to the reader. I’m not exactly a layman, although I’m not a professional, but I think they did a really good job at selling the story and the premise while possibly also teaching some people that rocket science doesn’t have to be as intimidating as most people make it out to be. The music also follows along with the art design, being regularly okay and non-offensive, and then really kicking it up a few notches for those important moments. There are a few songs among the 28 that I really appreciated having a menu Music Player option in order to play back any time I want.
The voice acting by the Japanese team was also truly outstanding, all the male characters even had voice actors. The protagonist is generally unvoiced, but Farther than the Blue Sky has moments where it switches perspective to the other girls and not only do you see Shun, but you also hear him. The translation by MangaGamer is also really good and features quite a few wordplay jokes that can be extremely difficult to translate across languages and cultures. There were a few grammatical errors that wouldn’t be caught by a spell check software and a couple spelling errors that would have, but MangaGamer has been dealing with some website drama and the cases were very few. So, either way, it’s not something that took me out of the experience or I would hit them too hard for. As a full price, $44.95 eroge visual novel, you also have to consider how much content there is in order to justify that price (although, for some reason, gamers often don’t expect the same from their AAA games). But there are no worries here. Not only is the quality great, but all told the story took me around 50 hours to reach the end of Liftoff!!. Farther than the Blue Sky has come out of nowhere, from a studio that I had reservations about, to rocket into my top 5 visual novels of all time. I’m as surprised by that as anyone, but I cannot recommend this title enough. If you have any interest at all, and the funds, you should purchase this game.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
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