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Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no 遥かに仰ぎ、麗しの [Pulltop]


kivandopulus

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Foreword: Every time I start a slice of life charage I really want to like it. But too many companies follow the same trends and present the same product. For praising reviews please refer elsewhere 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.

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Synopsis: Tsukasa starts to work at a girl's high school after graduating from university. But the school is located at the edge of peninsula, no house around. On his first day of work, he gets out of a bus and walks to the school. And he is surprised to see the school building, a huge western building. Soon after he knows several facts, that this is a branch school, and students are isolated from society for personal reasons. He doesn't know them but it's too late. His life as a teacher starts...

Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AybmlGKC84&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv-xsNOvH0rFGxruMUt5Kifd

Game type: School romance

Character Design rating: 6/10

Protagonist rating: 6/10

Story rating: 6/10

Game quality: 7/10

Overall rating: 6/10

There are so many English reviews that I don't need to elaborate on details. My personal impression is pretty bad, far below masterpiece level. So I'll just ramble about things that worry me here.

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The biggest mystery for me is some super-positive reviews and great overall score on VNDB and EGS. EGS gives overwhelming median value of 85. The majority of votes on VNDB are for the 9 score followed by 8 with a narrow margin. But let's look at actual reviewers scores from reddit. Out of four reviews there three readers give 7.5 score and one gives 7/10. There are also very critical reviews like these ones (1 2) What's going on here? 

The answer is hype. This game won the 2007 Bishoujo Game Award as the best pure-love genre game among the voters. But Japanese readers read the game in original and understand all the details, so they can't be wrong, ne? But reality is very different. I noticed it on multiple occasions in the past that Japanese readers don't understand shit. They constantly obstruct plotge and adore moege. They are the real destructive force that turned industry in a moege fest. And I see three reasons why this particular title has such good votes from Japanese readers. They are...

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Lolicon, teacher taboo, sex tilt. Basically, a seemingly traditional pure love game becomes a cradle for multiple fetishes that suit nukige much more than a normal bishoujo game. Seriously, do you remember any other bishoujo game before 2006 with teacher at all girls school as a protagonist? Any sexual relations with students are immoral, but here all the heroines are students and all are active participants in sexual relations. Some heroines might look more or less mature, but some like Misaki are absolutely childish. And by some twist exactly our lively prankster Misaki is a sex-addict in a very late stages. Her route has like six H events or so (I did not bother counting), but here is where our final trait starts to shine. H events in this game are colossal by length. Last time I remember something like that was Tsuyokiss. And by a sudden twist of fate it's yet another title super-popular in the East and moderately unpopular in the West. In both these games H scenes don't exist as isolated skippable pieces at the end of the individual routes. Instead, they start at the beginning of individual routes and take the majority of the route time only occasionally being interrupted by conventional life events. Moreover, these scenes are interrupted by dialogues and then continued again very often. So H events pierce the whole reality, they become the reality substituting any school life. School starts to be treated as just another place to have sex among many others. It's tiresome to edit such routes because every time H event seemingly ends, it may either continue after couple minutes talk or new event starts in couple minutes. So there is always a dilemma to cut this whole mega H event taking majority of the route or cut actual action with leaving midterm dialogues - and in this case there would be too many cuts with too many skip scene notice displayed. 

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But there can't be everything wrong with this game. What's good about it? Actually, there are two games in one here. I don't care which of two writers wrote which routes, but it's evident that one writer wrote Miyabi, Tonoko and Shino routes while the second one those horrible sex-tilt routes of Misaki, Sumika and Yuuna (Yuuna route to the lesser degree as there only some three H events). First three routes are traditional ones - short, relatively fun and with just one short H scene in the end. And exactly these routes are usually positively assessed, especially Tonoko and Miyabi ones. I played Miyabi route as first one, and it was of masterpiece level due to two reasons - natural continuation of common route, plus tsundere personality. Common route is the most important and often most entertaining part of any game. And in Haruka ni Aogi common route is all about chibi principal Miyabi. Most of jokes are based on her tsundere behavior. So her individual route is almost same funny and pleasant. Tonoko is kind of main heroine for those who can't stand tsundere and like serious girls with good personal stories. 

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So this game is very controversial. It tackles dubious theme of love between teacher and students very differently in first three routes and last three routes. And while first three routes make up for a touching school love story, second half of routes should just burn in hell, seriously. And another proof of that is the stalled translation project. Three normal routes are translated in a flash, and last three are so weak and H tilt that they made translation stall indefinitely. I'd really hope to see partial patch with only normal three routes in it. Misaki, Sumika and Yuuna routes should never have been a part of this overall not bad game.

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I am of the same opinion. Only the part (main school) written by Takehaya is great and the partial patch should just be released for everyone to appreciate Miyabi's greatness. I loved her path and would give a 9 just for her. Unfortunately, the VN isn't only about her, which bring down the whole thing. Though I think most of the good reviews are people rating the good side of the VN instead of the bad.

By the way, while Miyabi's route and without question my favorite from the VN, I always give a special mention to Shino for saying one of the most romantic thing I have seen in a H scene.

Spoiler

SPOILER_unknown.png

 

EDIT: Wait, just noticed you linked me in the critical reviews. lol

Edited by Riku
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I guess Harugi here really become the medium for the writer to show off their capability instead of working together to write a good VN there, which is interesting to note. Even the common routes here really separated between the Main's writer (Takehaya) and Branch's writer (Marutani Hideto). For more elaboration here, Main's heroines did consist of Miyabi, Tonoko, and Shino, while for Branch's heroines it should be obvious who are they (For the answer it's Misaki, Sumika, and Yuuna). So yeah, we can say that the main writer for Harugi here would be Takehaya, and I think people more or less just vote it as the best VNs for Takehaya's writing while at the same time giving Tsukihime anime treatment (You know what I mean) to Marutani's writing.

For the translation, actually I would really like to see the English patch for this (Not only for Main, but also for Branch as well). Although apparently it's impossible to do as of now because the team really busy as of now, if not losing interest with this. The translator for Main route is Ittaku, and the Branch route translator is Hasa who apparently being busy as of now. The last time they have updates was months ago, and currently it's stuck. So yeah that's too bad here.

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Haruuru's translation of the Main routes is long-since done.  I was mostly working with @ittaku in an advisory capacity (details, colloquialisms, other stuff that requires a ridiculously long background).  It is true, and we both agree, that the Main route is much, much better than the Branch route.  Not only are Tonoko, Shino, and Miyabi much better heroines, but everything from the protagonist's personality to how the heroines' emotions and characterizations are handled are so dramatically different in quality that there is no possible comparison.  The only real exception is that Yuuna's route has some good drama/story, probably more as a coincidence than anything else (Misaki and Sumika's routes were... basically somewhat above average charage fare at best).  

I don't quite agree with the reviewer in this case, as I always reviewed based on the Main path and ignored the Branch entirely, simply because my first experience of it was enough to put me off permanently.  The Main routes have some truly epic feels, great character interactions, and are the truest to the 'nature' of the school's purpose, which is confinement and segregation from the larger sister school's population and the general population in general.  This is ironic, since the Branch school girls are supposedly more of an 'embarrassment' to their powerful families, whereas the Main School heroines are supposedly only problem children after the fact.  

Perhaps the way the Branch school's writer screwed up the most was that he quite simply didn't manage to match two of the three heroines to the school's purpose.  Neither Misaki nor Sumika had any business being in the Branch school at all, considering that they were both capable and had personalities that were not necessarily 'embarrassing' to their families (in both cases, they are loved deeply and don't have any traumas or major issues that should have resulted in them ending up there).  

Yuuna's route stands out from the other two Branch routes... to a degree that you have to wonder if the same writer had anything to do with it.  It is also the most overtly morally distasteful of the paths (not in the teacher-student relations sense though), which is probably why it has such impact.  Yuuna's presence there also makes a great deal of sense once you've done her path, which is different from the two redheads.

Miyabi's path tends to get deified by fanboys, which I can understand.  Tsukasa's actions, the characters' reactions, and the feels are all so well coordinated that it is impossible not to cry numerous times throughout the path.  However, it needs to be said that both Tonoko and Shino's paths are of the same level of quality, if having someone different tracks (the last part of Shino's path had me rofling, though).

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I agree with @Clephas. Shino's route is equally as good as the other other main school routes, and the reviewer has conspicuously left out details about Yuuna's route. To me, her is route is also excellent and stands out for being completely different quality to that of the rest of the branch school heroines, and even completely different tone to that of the rest of the game, with quite a dark story by comparison, but still has that uplifting resolution required of a nakige. Lumping it in with the other branch school heroines is ignoring another exceptional heroine route that is on the same quality as the main school ones. The branch school needs to be translated just for her route alone.

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Yuuna route was the last from branch routes for me, so I basically ignored it with all the irritation accumulated. Surprisingly worthy and unusual story with a fresh horror feel. Thank you for pointing it out. Still can't understand how it's possible to enjoy Pulltop games after playing AXL games that feel revolutionary even nowadays, let alone in 2006. 

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On 4/6/2020 at 3:37 AM, kivandopulus said:

Yuuna route was the last from branch routes for me, so I basically ignored it with all the irritation accumulated. Surprisingly worthy and unusual story with a fresh horror feel. Thank you for pointing it out. Still can't understand how it's possible to enjoy Pulltop games after playing AXL games that feel revolutionary even nowadays, let alone in 2006. 

Pulltop has been getting crappier every year though... their unwillingness to hire writing talent is sabotaging them.  Natsuiro Recipe was their last truly enjoyable game... 

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