Aokana – EXTRA 1 Review – Happy Times with Mashironi

    Title: Aokana - EXTRA 1
    Developer: sprite, NekoNyan Ltd.
    Release Date: November 06, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: NekoNyan Ltd., HIKARI FIELD
    Genre: Visual Novel

Aokana: Four Rhythms Across the Blue is a great visual novel about a bunch of high school students playing a fictional sport called Flying Circus. As fans of sports anime would likely expect, it really explored the characters’ growth through hardships that made it easy to empathize and root for them. Aokana EXTRA 1 is an epilogue to the Mashiro route and focuses on her, as she was ranked second in the game’s popularity poll in Japan.

Aokana – EXTRA 1 is primarily a fandisc expansion of the original game’s silly antics, reducing Flying Circus to small mentions. Instead of the adrenaline of airborne matches, this story is all about spending more time with the cute and hard-working Mashiro and reaping the rewards of the relationship built on their previous encounters.

After the events of the Fall Tournament, Mashiro and Masaya are an official couple. However, they have been way too focused on their daily activities, like Flying Circus training and working on the udon restaurant. As the midterms approach, the two make a promise to have the best date possible after the exams are over. Though this is only part of the story, the overall themes revolve around how they feel about each other and do their best to bring joy to the relationship.

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Aokana – EXTRA 1 comes off more straightforward with this new focus and offers some decent moments of comedic timing, making it a fun time for anyone who enjoyed the original game. Besides Mashiro and Masaya, we also get to catch up with the other heroines, Asuka, Misaki, and Rika, and some of the sub-characters like Botan, Madoka, Hosaka, and Arika. Their presence contributes a lot to the scenes, exploring already established character dynamics to really show how Mashiro’s loved by her peers.

Another interesting factor is the bittersweet tone of the whole date situation. Neither Mashiro nor Masaya is experienced in the ways of romance, making for some very awkward dialogue. It’s fitting and drives home how they’re both desperately in love with each other, fumbling their way through this new reality.

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Considering the more comedy-focused tone of Aokana – EXTRA 1, it features a large batch of Super Deformed CGs. Those chibi characters were already part of the original, but here they’re the main attraction with some great animated segments that really help make it hard not to laugh at the scenes.

Not all of the CGs take on this visual style, with some looking exceptionally detailed and making up some of the more memorable moments. The date, for instance, features several of them that really emphasize Mashiro’s cuteness. Those scenes can also be seen in the opening movie, but reaching them makes all the difference.

Like the original, the music used in EXTRA 1 is honestly fantastic. It features several compositions, some of which weren’t in the original. The tracks are consistently noteworthy, fitting the mood perfectly, be it for zany comedy, slice-of-life, light-hearted romance, or the occasional drama. The voice acting, which is only available in Japanese, is also great to convey the characters’ feelings and give an extra punch to the humorous events.

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Aokana – EXTRA 1 is an excellent opportunity to see how Mashiro and Masaya’s love life develops. It doesn’t pack the main game’s exciting action, but it knows how to use the character dynamics in interesting ways. Its choice of focusing on comedy and the awkwardness of first love makes an engaging story for those who were already captivated by the characters.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.