Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, known in Japan as Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm (蒼の彼方のフォーリズム Ao no Kanata no Fō Rizumu , subtitled Beyond the sky, into the firmament), officially abbreviated as Aokana (あおかな) and translated as Four Rhythm Across the Blue, is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by Sprite and released for Windows on November 28, 2014. The game was ported to the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. A manga adaptation began publication in Comp Acemagazine in October 2015. A spin-off mobile game was released in October 2016, while a sequel and a visual novel spin-off were announced for production but have since been put on hold. An anime television series adaptation, produced by Gonzo, directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki, and written by Reiko Yoshida aired between January and March 2016. Crunchyroll and Funimation co-released the anime on Blu-ray in North America in 2018.
Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue is a romance visual novel in which the player assumes the role of Masaya Hinata. Much of its gameplay is spent on reading the story's narrative and dialogue. The text in the game is accompanied by character sprites, which represent who Masaya is talking to, over background art. Throughout the game, the player encounters CG artwork at certain points in the story, which take the place of the background art and character sprites. The game follows a branching plot line with multiple endings, and depending on the decisions that the player makes during the game, the plot will progress in a specific direction.
There are four main plot lines that the player will have the chance to experience, one for each heroine. Throughout gameplay, the player is given multiple options to choose from, and text progression pauses at these points until a choice is made. Some decisions can lead the game to end prematurely, which offer an alternative ending to the plot. To view all plot lines in their entirety, the player will have to replay the game multiple times and choose different choices to further the plot to an alternate direction. Throughout gameplay, there are scenes with sexual CGs depicting Masaya and a given heroine having sex.
In an alternate universe, shoes with anti-gravity properties are invented called Grav-Shoes, which allow people to fly freely. This leads to the development of a sport known as Flying Circus, where participants either race from one buoy to another or touch the opponent's back to score points. Masaya Hinata is a student at Kunahama Institute, which is located in a four-island archipelago south of Japan. In the past, he was active in the sport, but quit due to an overwhelming defeat. His life changes when a cheerful girl named Asuka Kurashina transfers to his school. There, Asuka becomes interested in Flying Circus, and despite being unfamiliar with the sport and a newcomer to the use of Grav-Shoes, she manages to score a point during a match with the Vice-Captain of a powerhouse school, which is a truly amazing feat. This leads Asuka and Masaya, together with their classmate Misaki Tobisawa, a first-year student called Mashiro Arisaka and siblings Shion and Madoka Aoyagi to form a Flying Circus team, with the goal of finding success during the Flying Circus summer tournament. At the tournament, the world of Flying Circus is rocked by a new technique known as Birdcage, which leads to defeats for all the participants by a relative newcomer, Saki Inui, becoming the tournament's champion. As a result of her defeat, Misaki temporarily quits Flying Circus, and the club thinks of a strategy on how to beat Saki at the fall tournament. At the fall tournament, Asuka manages to defeat Saki during overtime, and Saki and the club members become friends.
Development and release
Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue is Sprite's second game after their debut title Love, Election and Chocolate. The game's producer was Akira Sakamoto. The project's planning was headed by Nachi Kio, who also contributed as the main scenario writer alongside Ryōichi Watanabe and Ryūsuke Mutsu. Artist Suzumori served as the art director and co-character designer with Itsuka Yūki. The background music was produced by members of Elements Garden. The game was released on November 28, 2014, as a limited edition version, playable on a Windows PC. A PlayStation Vita version of the game was released on February 25, 2016, and a high-definition version for the PlayStation 4 was released on January 26, 2017. A Nintendo Switch version of the game was released in late 2017. The game has been announced for an English release by NekoNyan in 2019. A smartphone game titled Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm: Eternal Sky was released on October 5, 2016, and a sequel titled Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm: Zwei was announced at the AnimeJapan event in March 2016. A fandisc titled Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm: Extra 1 was released on June 30, 2017. Due to Sprite going on hiatus following the release of a fourth anniversary edition in 2018, development of Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm: Zwei and a second Extra fandisc has been put on hold.
A manga adaptation illustrated by Hideyu Tōgarashi began serialization in Kadokawa Corporation's Comp Ace magazine with the December 2015 issue sold on October 26, 2015. The first tankōbon volume was released on January 26, 2016.
An anime television series adaptation, produced by Gonzo, directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki, and written by Reiko Yoshida aired on TV Tokyo between January 12 and March 29, 2016. The anime series is licensed in North America by Crunchyroll, which arranged Funimation to release it on home video with an English dub on September 11, 2018. Although there are romantic plot lines with Masaya and each of the four heroines in the visual novel, this is averted in the anime adaptation, and the view-point character is Asuka instead of Masaya.
Here is the list of Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue episodes:
|1||Episode 1 - I'm Flying! I'm Actually Flying!||11 January 2016|
|2||Episode 2 - Udon...?||18 January 2016|
|3||Episode 3 - I Just Got a Little Fired Up||25 January 2016|
|4||Episode 4 - Meat Makes Me Happy!||1 February 2016|
|5||Episode 5 - Yeah. Keep Calm and Carry On.||8 February 2016|
|6||Episode 6 - Is That All You've Got?||15 February 2016|
|7||Episode 7 - Sting Before You're Stung!||22 February 2016|
|8||Episode 8 - I... Can't Fly Anymore||29 February 2016|
|9||Episode 9 - The Answer Is Up in the Sky!||7 March 2016|
|10||Episode 10 - Is That For FC, Too?||14 March 2016|
|11||Episode 11 - I Refuse to Lose!||21 March 2016|
|12||Episode 12 - Let's... Keep Flying!!||28 March 2016|
Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue has seven pieces of theme music: one opening theme, one insert song, and five ending themes. The opening theme is "Wings of Courage (Sora o Koete)" (Wings of Courage ～空を超えて～, "Wings of Courage (Beyond the Sky)") by Mami Kawada. The insert song is "Infinite Sky" by Kotoko. Each heroine has her own ending theme, starting with Asuka's theme "Sora Koi" (空恋, "Sky Love") by Misato Fukuen. Misaki's theme is "Sense of Life" by Azumi Asakura. Mashiro's theme is "Millions of You" by Nozomi Yamamoto. Rika's theme is "Night Flight" by Madoka Yonezawa. The main ending theme is "Sky is the Limit" by Kawada.
The anime's opening theme is "Contrail ~Kiseki~" (Contrail～軌跡～) by Kawada and the ending theme is "A-gain" by Ray. The single for "Contrail (Kiseki)" was released on January 27, 2016 and the single for "A-gain" was released on February 17, 2016.
- Official Website (Japanese)
- Official Website (English)
- Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm at Sprite (Japanese)
- Official Anime Website (Japanese)
- Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm at MyAnimeList
- Anime News Network encyclopedia
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