Pray to become starry sky tomorrow…
So finally, after about 50 years, here’s another write-up of a visual novel (
I fully admit that I’m absolutely damedame). The title of the day is Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star-, a moege/charage by Favorite and one that is available with a fan-translation (by Staircase Subs).
I have to say that the art is simply gorgeous. The delicious illustrations are, of course, drawn by Shida Kazuhiro. He’s really good at drawing absolutely heart-melting loli characters and cute females in general, and honestly provides one of the strongest aspects that Favorite brand visual novels have going for them.
Also, beware. There will be major spoilers (even if I don’t go too deep into them and mostly just share my thoughts).
Visual Novel Structure
Like every other visual novel, the “gameplay” consists of story-based text accompanied by visuals, with choices sporadically placed throughout. For Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star, the game starts out with a prologue that leads onto a Common Route, which is essentially the beginning story bits that generally remain the same throughout all your playthroughs, that branch off into different alternative routes depending on the occasional choices you make (the decision being based on common sense choice, really – just be extra affectionate to the person whose route you’re trying to get on). There are a total of seven character routes: Minahoshi Ausho, Isuzu Aoi, Hisasaki Komomo, Hisakaki Kosame, Kogasaka Chinami, Ototsu Yume and Mare S. Ephemeral.
The first three routes I mentioned could be accessed at any time right from the beginning when you first download the game. Kosame’s route can only be accessed once you completed her twin sister’s route (Komomo’s route), while Yume’s route (which, in my point of view, seems to be considered the True Route) can only be accessed after completing almost every other route before it. Mare’s “route” is essentially a alternate branch within Yume’s route, so you have to complete Yume’s route in order to experience some shinigami cuteness.
For basic plot synopsis, see The Visual Novel Database‘s entry:
“The story begins with the protagonist, Kogasaka Yoh, moving back to his hometown, which he left behind several years ago. Upon arriving, he stumbles into an abandoned, sealed observatory, whereupon he encounters a mysterious girl who looks exactly like his childhood friend did years ago. She introduces herself as Mare, a shinigami who reaps nightmares.
Meanwhile, back at school, Youh ends up joining the astronomy club, which is in desperate need of new members. At night, he continues to visit Mare at the observatory, all the while trying to remember a certain someone’s name...”
-The Visual Novel Database
(Wow, the first sentence sounds strangely reminiscent of Kanon… in space.)
The main character you play as, Kogasaka Yoh, is a pretty likable guy who manages to sidestep all the idiocies moege protagonists usually have. On top of being compassionate and caring, he’s actually pretty smart and has every potential to be an honor student, though he’s modest about it. He comes off as independent, but far from a Gary Stu – as you progress through the story and learn more about his past and family life, especially in the True Route, you’ll realize that the things that make him a good human being can also double as hindrances. But overall, he’s totally Kogasaka Broh when he’s not picking on his little sister. I could actually identify with him more-so than, say, your typical harem protagonist.
Also, he’s well-equipped for H-scenes – I call him the Destroyer of Chastities. A schoolgirl does not simply walk away from an H-scene with this guy without being both satisfied and forced to walk with a limp.
After the prologue is over (which is when Mare “reaps” Yoh’s nightmare), a really well-made opening sequence is played:
It’s a crime that they didn’t update this with the goddess that is Yume after you unlock her route
The Common Route mainly consisted of slice-of-life fun with the Tenkuru (Astronomy Lover’s Circle) and is actually longer than the individual character routes. As you complete each character route, you gradually unlock a few new scenes that are added to the Common Route consisting of brief encounters with a “mystery girl”, Ototsu Yume, and once you get them all, that signifies the unlocking of her route. Also, although I’m assuming the game has no real bad ends (I never got any), I have no idea what the hell happens if you avoid raising flags before you have access to Yume’s route. As another tidbit, as you get closer to completing all the routes, the time of day on the title screen changes, the last one being a beautiful starry sky – it’s pretty neat.
Without further ado, I’ll share my thoughts on the individual character routes! Yes, I’m doing the H-scenes too, which I feel really awkward about, but I’m doing them anyway. \o/
CV: Samoto Fuuri
Asuho is the Genki Girl of the Tenkuru and also serves as its Vice President that has a totally obvious, albeit shy, crush on Yoh. If Mare and Yume didn’t exist, it’d be easy to start up this game and assume that she’s the main girl upon first glance, even though she isn’t. Just look at her overall character: her significant role in the club, her “I knew you when you were child” relationship with Yoh (aside from Yume, Mare, and his sister, Chinami), her obsession and enthusiasm with the stars (astronomy being the main backdrop of this visual novel, if the title didn’t give it away – she really goes well with the VN’s creative usage of astronomical myths), and her extremely romantic route (more-so than the other “regular” routes) would easily make her fit the role of “main girl”, especially since she’s made to be pretty eye-catching in the opening sequence and some promotional materials. That, and apparently I hear her route’s the default route from some sources (I’m not sure though, so if someone could clarify for me, that would be sweet).
She’s a really friendly and cheery character, and it was always a treat to see her on-screen and interacting with the other characters, especially during the club meeting/comedy bits and when she would fangirl about astronomy. Get her started on Tanabata, the zodiac constellations, etc. and she’ll be rambling to you about the romantic myths of the stars all day! Her seiyuu really manages bring out her character in the voice acting: her voice is just so crisp… full of life and sugar. Even so, while that may truly be in her nature, she actually has some bottled up feelings that she hides using that cheerfulness as a front. The main conflict of her route starts with her making the decision whether or not she deserves to be with Yoh any less than the girl from his childhood, and revolves around her partial deafness (which, I must add, is nicely foreshadowed before the reveal) and how it affected her dad and his career. Overall, Asuho’s route was essentially about facing her past and insecurities, and the emotional baggage that came out along with it.
While her route pretty much completely fails to expand on any of the supernatural elements that were present in the Common Route, so do about half of the other routes that aren’t Yume/Mare. As a slice-of-life, it was a pretty well-written route and people could easily relate to the emotional conflict that Asuho and (maybe even) her father were going through.
Thoughts on Asuho’s H-scenes (perversion/lewdness warning):
CV: Azuma Karin
Hoshimemo’s token… well, I dunno. It’s hard to classify her. She’s similar to a kuudere, but isn’t one. She’s definitely not dandere (like our resident Wahfuu). And she’s totally not a tsundere (at least of the flanderized variety). She’s just very… mean, but not evil nor detesting. The words that come out of her mouth is just so blunt that it would make The Rock cry. She does develop into a much warmer character as her route progresses, though, because under that cold, cold icy personality lies a girl that’s pretty much lost. Personality-wise, she’s cute in her own way.
TO BE HONEST, if it weren’t for her… interestingly poisonous “friendship” with Chinami (who, inversely, loves the shit out of Aoi) that develops into surprisingly heartwarming levels in her route, she’s pretty useless overall. Don’t get me wrong, I do like her presence strangely enough, but her route is totally irrelevant to the grand scheme of things (though it has a few plot points that connect it to Chinami’s route). Her character overall feels like her only purpose is to fill up the space that the Tenkuru needs to be qualified as a legit club. She does add to some of the more comical scenes in the twin’s routes, though. Aside from that, her route does have some tearjerkers and is good on its own. There’s a bit of forced drama here and there, but it wasn’t much of a painful experience.
Her route did have the first appearance of Ren (at least in my own route order), so there’s that.
Thoughts on Aoi’s H-scenes (perversion/lewdness warning):
CV: Miyazawa Yuana
Here we have the first half of our twincest bridgade, miko daughters of Hibarasaki’s local Seitenguu shrine. It isn’t until Komomo’s route that anything relevant to Hoshimemo’s supernatural, astronomical elements (embellished with some fantasy “science”, sort of) actually start to play a part in a character’s arc, and we get to know a bit more about Hibarisaki and some of its other characters. The background story between the two twins is really where they start to throw hints and explanations that allude to the fantastic effects emitted from meteorites and their contribution to the earthly existence of “grim reapers” like Mare. The supernatural aspects that utilize astrology/astronomy motifs are some of the unique things that make Hoshimemo an attractive moege< to me, so the amount of relevance a route had to those were basically equivalent to my extra enjoyment.
Komomo herself is as much of a tsundere as she is a bombshell. For reasons explained in her route, she hates the stars, and is a student council member that often butts heads with the Tenkuru, although she joins the club later on to “keep an eye on them”. She’s everything a character you’d imagine in a student council would be, plus all the kicks in the face and (cute) angry reactions to embarrassment. I swear, getting kicked in the face by a tsundere should be its own fetish by now.
…well, anyways, I felt that her character was somewhat similar to Yoh’s (or Kogayoh, as she likes to call him) in the fact that she’s extremely independent and refuses to rely on anyone. She, of course, steadily grows out of this during her route by learning to depend on Yoh (oh, and by the way, she has a hate/love relationship with his princess carries). Komomo’s route revolves around her constant nightmares of falling under a scarlet red sky, and dying, which she presumes happened during her childhood. Basically, she thinks she’s already dead. The VN sort of took me for a loop a bit here when they reveal what actually happened during the incident in her dreams, and I like how it expanded a bit more on that revelation in Kosame’s route.
Overall, while Asuho’s route was plenty cute (it’s Asuho!) and had its own fair share of heartwarming moments, Komomo’s route managed to be a tier above it by focusing on the cool astronomy-related supernatural appeal Hoshimemo has going for it and expanding on the setting.
Thoughts on Komomo’s H-scenes (perversion/lewdness warning):
CV: Kusunoki Suzune
Kosame’s the other Hisakaki twin, and the token sadist troll character, though she always manages to be friendly and supportive. Out of the entirety of the “regular” girls, I found her one of the two to be the most amusing (we’ll get to Chinami next) – she takes pleasure in teasing her friends, especially her sister, whom she shares several yuri-ai moments with as the Tenkuru’s only weapon of resistance against the student council (Asuho being the victim of her yuri-ai raep when Komomo isn’t available). Plus, I never get tired of her “ei! ei! ei!” head-chop gag. She gets a notable scene in the Common Route where she seemingly tries to send Mare off with the Seitenguu’s naginata, and I applaud the writer for successfully slipping some good red herrings in and also a tastefully-inserted yuri-ai kiss between the twin sisters.
Much of her predicament is explained in Komomo’s route, and since you can only enter Kosame’s route after completing Mokomoko‘s route (as Mare [probably intentionally] calls Komomo – she calls Kosame “Komame“, if I recall correctly), I felt that Kosame’s route served as kind of a “different point of view” omake than anything. Obviously it’s still an alternative route, but they don’t bother to do much of a retake of the revelations made in Komomo’s route because you’ve already seen it. Plus, it’s pretty short in comparison to Komomo’s route, and Komomo’s route is as long as all the other routes, which are way shorter than the Common Route.
The romantic bits of Kosame’s route uses the familiar “I don’t deserve to be with you because I’m ____” conflict as Kosame’s story arc, which honestly isn’t too much of a bad cliché if they approach it in the right manner, which I feel the writer successfully did. The concept itself could be cringeworthy to some, but it’s a real emotional conflict that people deal with, so I think it’s a legitimate story aspect used in fiction that unfortunately ends up being muddled up into a pile of turd at times. With Kosame becoming one of Hibarigaki’s supernatural phenomenon (a being not unlike that of Mare and Ren due to the shrine’s meteorite) after basically falling to her death during the twins’ shared background story, the route has a strong focus in Kosame dealing with the fact that she’s nothing more than a ghost (in essence, at least) who has to keeping lying to the people she cares about, and will eventually be sent off one day. There’s plenty of decent drama in the route, though I feel the ending portions feel a bit rushed – to be specific, the epilogue felt anti-climatic after all the panicky stuff that happened towards the end, like Yoh cutting himself for instance. It would have helped if the route was the same length as the previous girls – Kosame’s route was way too short, even though it’s one of the good ones.
Oh yeah, there’s plenty of gratuitous nudity in Kosame’s route.
Thoughts on Kosame’s H-scenes (perversion/lewdness warning):
CV: Mizuhara Kaoru (VN alias: Minazuki Ren)
What every moege apparently needs to have, to the point where it seems to have become a running-joke: an imouto route. And a blood-related one, at that. Well, only partially blood related since they have different dads. That’s right, folks. Not a sister, not a step-sister, but a half-sister. What a tweest!
Chinami’s the only focus female that isn’t part of the Tenkuru, instead, she joined the Okaken (the Occult Research Circle) because she seems to have an obsession with aliens. Chinami, as a character, seems to produce split reactions. Some people find her obnoxious and annoying, while other folks like me find her to be an amusing and funny presence, and feel that if you don’t find her at least a little endearing, you must lack a soul. I actually enjoyed her antics and loved watching her get bullied by Yoh, though I do fault her for being purely a gag character most of the time. Oh yeah, and her cooking is inhumanly terrible.
ONII-CHAN ONII-CHAN ONII-CHAAAAAAAAN
And yes, she’s voiced by the same seiyuu that did Misao’s voice in Lucky Star. Was kind of surprised, yet kind of not at the same time. She really brought out the kusogaki out of Chinami’s character.
The best part of Chinami’s route is honestly all the information given about Yoh’s family background – it’s always good to know more about the main character and his past. Her own emotional struggle when it comes to, well, herself and how she thinks that she’s a burden to her family members (tracing all the way back to the death of their mother and even the circumstances of her birth), made for a decent read. But the part that dragged Chinami’s route down was that the romance felt so tacked-on and didn’t feel necessary to the route at all. Like, the romance bits seemed like an after-thought and only put in there because it’s an eroge and all the routes need to have some catalyst for sex scenes. The romance didn’t integrated into the story very well at all, and you could basically take that part out and still have the same story, only without forced incest.
Despite that, I appreciated that it provided an explanation about Yoh’s family background and even gave Shino some time to shine as a character. Even the minor “best friend” character, Asuka, gets to show some hidden depths for a second when he mentions the disappearance of his own sister being related to the purpose of his club.
Thoughts on Chinami’s H-scenes (perversion/lewdness warning):
CV: Touno Soyogi
Finally, after completing all of the above routes, you finally get to do the True Route – Ototsu Yume, Yoh’s childhood
She’s right up there next to Mare as my favorite Hoshizora no Memoria character. Not only is her character design simply gorgeous and refined, but she has that oneesan quality to her as well as a funny, childish side that’s… I dunno, it’s awesome, especially coupled with her voice, which has this ethereal and lullaby-tinge to it. I could listen to her for hours.
Her route is easily the best route in the whole VN, though it’s really painful to go through since it’s so depressing and quite a few things are admittedly cringeworthy just for being what they are. While there were good attentions behind it and she learns that “cruel kindness” (as the characters put it) isn’t the way to go about things, it was hard to see her constantly push Yoh away (she wasn’t very good at pretending, either) so she could die alone without burdening him. At the same time, this was one of those times where I really disagreed with Yoh’s approach to things – personally, I would have tried to find out what her disease was before her time was even about to come. I mean, come on, without knowing what’s crippling her enough that she’s lived in the “YOU’RE GONNA DIE” ward of the hospital for seven years and sneaking her out to places anyway, knowing her disease would really be helpful in avoiding any fatal damage to her condition.
“I’m sure I like you… and that will never change.“
There were plenty of great things about her route though. Say what you will about Star Cancer (cousin to Key AIDs) and how much sense that makes when we’re constantly being assaulted by whatever the sun emits to some extent whether indoors or out, but when it came down to the moment when she’s on her deathbed, I was nearly on the brink of being an emotional wreck (I wasn’t crying, but I was certainly tearing up somewhat). And, oh god, Mare’s sacrifice in order to keep her alive. I love how it ties up some loose ends that were presented in some of the other routes – we even get an appearance of Chinami’s father, albeit in “grim reaper” form, to further exemplify the parallel between Yume/Yoh’s situation and his and Yoh’s mother’s situation of the past. And I loved how the True Companions relationship between the Astronomy Club members of old and new (the Tenkuru) were played up to the max compared to other routes, even Asuka gets a significant bro moment with Yoh.
While it does tie up loose ends from some of the previous routes, the route itself ends on an unsatisfying note by leaving a bunch of its own loose ends. We see Mare being sent off in order to rid Yume of her Star Cancer, the credits roll, and then we see a married Yume and Yoh, along with what appears to be a reincarnated Mare as their daughter, being a happy family and stargazing. Hooray for happy ends! Thing is, we never see what happens in-between. The part where Yume is actually cured from her Star Cancer, the part where Yume and Yoh form a real happy romance, the part where Yoh fulfills his promise to find Mare’s meteorite and bring her back, etc. is never seen. I forgive it to an extent, because apparently a lot of these things are shown in the After Story fandisc (Hoshizora no Memoria -Eternal Heart-), but these are points to consider since the fandisc was released waaaaay later – a year after people had already completed this VN. As-is, it left people with an empty feeling, and that’s the biggest thing that drags the True Route down from being perfect.
Did I mention that it’s a crime that Yume has no chibi artwork? I mean, I’ve heard that she gets some of those chibi CGs in Eternal Heart, but apparently those are inferior to the chibi art from the original game. I can see why they would want to keep those kind of things away from spoiler-y characters (like how Asch from Tales of the Abyss never got chibi artwork despite being considered a technical party member), but damn, it bothers the living hell out of me. She also gets a princess carry in the story, but it wasn’t a CG. Bah.
Thoughts on Yume’s H-scene (perversion/lewdness warning):
Mare S. Ephemeral
CV: Kadowaki Maii (VN alias: Mitsu Anzu)
My other favorite character. Before Yume actually had presence in the visual novel, she was my only favorite character.
In Mare’s route, Chinami said something about plans to organize a cult based on Mare. For your information, I’m a part of that.
She’s tsundere, though not in the same way as Komomo. She’s the rebellious kind of tsundere in that she will deny almost everything because shinigami don’t agree with Yoh-kuns. hnnnnnng
Sorry, was being cringeworthy there. I apologize.
Anyways, she’s a focal character in the story – a self-proclaimed grim reaper who sends off nightmares with her scythe and is accompanied by what appears to be a baby dragon named Kaabou. She’s a fairly petite girl that also looks exactly like the younger Yume (Yume was stated to be 19 in the story, so subtract that by 7 and give or take a year), because of Yume and Yoh’s wish on Mare’s meteorite effectively “creating” her appearance. Or something (also, I don’t think anyone knows how old she really is). Most of Mare’s more emotional moments happen in the Common Route and Yume’s route rather than her own exclusive content (one notable instance is during Kaabou’s “death”, which was absolutely heartbreaking).
Her route is just sort of an alternate end to Yume’s route and is pretty damn short, ridiculously short – it’s only about 30 minutes long, practically just an omake! It’s pretty disappointing, but at the same time it was nice in its own way… her route was just her being cute, sweet ol’ Mare. The real substantial Mare route is apparently in the fandisc, and that’s also all about her being cute, but it’s longer, so… that’s a good thing? Jeez, I’m contradicting myself. Welp, cuteness in a moege is a good thing, screw y’all.
Admittedly, the romance was a tad bit uncomfortable to watch coming right out of the Yume route. C’mon man, it’s weird to see Yoh romancing and smashing a girl who you just saw as his daughter only 30 minutes ago. Her route is pretty fun for what it is though – all the lighthearted lolicon-shaming that’s done to Yoh in this route honestly made me laugh. I’m also pretty sure that the budget for Hoshimemo counted Yume and Mare as one character, because both of their miniscule amount of CGs combined is about equal to the amount of CGs one “regular” girl receives.
Thoughts on Mare’s H-scene (perversion/lewdness warning):
Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star- has some pretty likable side-characters. The two that really stood out to me was the Club President, Haruto Okaizumi, who is obviously voiced by Koyasu Takehito despite the pseudonym (Aizawa Fami). His “SHIIIIIIIT” and overall eccentric personality really stood out to me. And while not a major character, Asuka Mirai did bring up some intrigue and hidden depths in both Chinami’s route and Yume’s route, regarding the disappearance of his little sister. It’s not elaborated on much further, but it’s pretty clear that in some routes, his sister makes some brief appearances as the Seitenguu Main Shrine’s assassin, Asuka Ima. Apparently, she gets a lot of focus in Mare’s After Story in Eternal Heart, and even gets a sprite (she doesn’t have one here, though the game likes to act as if there was one with an awkward space that’s clearly meant for a character).
Ren needs no explanation. ダメ人間… クスクス…
After completing every single route, you unlock the “Bustshot Mode” in the Album menu, that allows you to play around with the background settings and the different character sprites as well as their different costumes. It’s pretty fun to tinker around with.
Look, it’s little Yume at school! Now, if only they allowed you to tinker with multiple characaters on-screen. Little Yume + Mare going to school would be a killer combo.
Slice-of-life can be hit-or-miss, especially nowadays where one hardly has to try in order to find a certain variety of slice-of-life: the ones about cute girls doing cute things. There’s at least one every anime season, a handful of modern Japanese video games highlight their adorable female characters (THE iDOLM@STER and the Atelier series being some of the genuinely good ones), and moege really isn’t hard to find at all in the vast sea of products available in Nippon’s glorious porn novel library. In fact, I kind of think the familiar visage of cute girls doing cute things clogs the ever-living fuck out of Japanese fiction in general.
But hey, having cute girls isn’t a bad thing. It’s never a bad thing. A slice-of-life story relying on the cute female cast, however, can be hit-or-miss. The characters have to have a certain oomph to them. In essence, slice-of-life is a genre in which the characters and gags have to be able to carry the show, or else everything falls apart like a soggy oreo cookie. Lacking those, if it doesn’t have its own style and visuals that look nice, what else is there to it? Of course, that particular oomph that I mentioned varies from person to person, so a slice-of-life character that appeals to me may not necessarily be appealing to you.
Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star- ended up being very appealing to me due to its art style, endearing characters that pull through the way they’re intended (for the most part), and the solid character interaction. I didn’t particularly have high expectations for it other than for it to be a fun experience, since that’s what a moege is to me in the end. It’s nothing amazing, but in the end, for what it is, I’d say it’s an above-average experience. The gags felt like they were being beaten with a stick at times, but I never actually got bored of them and the comedic moments always gave me chuckle, at least.
Like a lot of VN fan-translation projects that aren’t Grisaia no Kajitsu (well, probably fan TLs in general), the fan-translation for Hoshimemo leaves a lot to be desired in a handful of spots – thanks to the voices, it’s really clear when the dialogue gets treatment not unlike that of dubtitles. That being said, it’s good enough that I’ll say if you don’t know Japanese, the fan-translation will suffice. Just be prepared to have your jimmies rustled with words like oniichan and big brother alternating, since you don’t need to know Japanese to get pissed off by that (pick one or the other, dammit!).
True to its title, Hoshimemo consistently mixes a plethora of astronomical facts, myths, and legends into its narrative and I feel like that’s one of the VN’s biggest strengths and also its main appeal. No matter what the big plot point is, everything all comes together under one roof – the beautiful, starry sky. The theme of overcoming the past and looking towards the future is recurrent in each character route, which really complements a motif as timeless as the starry sky. The music also complements the themes and settings, as there were rarely any tracks that didn’t completely fit the mood of the scene accompanying it. But, most notably, a majority of the BGM gave me a sense that I was really out there looking up into the night sky that many of the characters seemed to treasure. For example, tracks like “Futari no Mirai” were really atmospheric, and when that particular track was accompanied by the scene where you take Asuho out to the lookout for the first time, it gave me an almost unexplainable feeling inside. The feeling was tingly – both chilling and somewhat warm.
The artwork, as I said, is simply scrumptious. The characters and CGs are really well-drawn and are undeniably cute – I especially like the super deformed segements and shots of the starry sky. Aw man, the starry sky, those shots were absolutely stunning. One point of criticism is that Hoshimemo has a lot of panty shots placed at the most inappropriate of moments… but meh, it’s an eroge. Plus, the girls have very nice taste in undergarments.
Here’s a picture of Mare in a delicious kimono
tl;dr Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star- is a visual novel that I ended up falling in love with. It was an endearing experience that managed to etch its own special place in my heart –
along with Mare and Yume. I haven’t read the fandisc yet, but I plan to read it all in Japanese at some point. I want to see more of these characters again, even if it’s just mostly them being sexy and cute.
From now on, I’ll be by your side, always.