Developer: Sumikko Soft
Release Date: 22nd December 2016
Age Rating: 18+
Length: 20+ Hours
Links: Official Website, VNDB
In Hokkaido exists the town of Rururan, which is a little bit odd. After being subject to attack by a quantumn bomb, the entire town lost all of its potential and is stuck in an everlasting loop. The town’s inhabitants now possess the form of strange slime-like creatures and are known individually as a WSP. The town is currently under control of the government and few people are able to actually visit Rururan as a result.
However, in this universe there are also humans whom have had their DNA altered in order to give them special abilities – this artificial DNA is known as XNA. As is typical with humanity, a war ensued involving XNA “holders” and the survivors were to be punished as a result. These young men and women are sent to study in Rururan Academy until they are no longer deemed to be a danger to society and can graduate the academy.
Whilst brainstorming, the group of unlikely students come up with the idea that acting out a typical high school romantic comedy might be the key to graduating. While there may be a few rough spots, their love story starts here…
Chihaya is the protagonist of this story and is the person who suggests the romantic comedy after reading a manga with the same theme one day. He’s definitely one of the more level-headed members of the class.
Ihashi Ayumi (CV Arisugawa Miyabi)
Ayumi is Chihaya’s childhood friend and the two maintain a pretty close relationship, although it became strained because of the war. She’s a pretty level-headed and pragmatic girl who is always striving to be the best, so can get competitive. She enjoys photography and often carries around a camera. Her XNA ability allows her to sense radio waves.
Kodaka Yuzuki (CV Anzu Mitsu)
Yuzuki is a kind and gentle character, although she can be a bit of an airhead at times. She could be considered the moodmaker of the group and is typically involved (inadvertantly) in most of the ecchi situations in the romantic comedy. She doesn’t talk alot about her past or what brought her to Rururan but she dislikes Ayumi at first because of her views on the war.
Doori Kiss (Cv Sawasawa Sawa)
Unlike the other students, the reason for Kiss being in Rururan is less clear – she is a XNA holder but was not involved in the war and spent most of her adolescence in and out of hospital. Her XNA ability pertains to the fact that her brain is ever-expanding by making more and more connections within itself. This means that she is the most intelligent student and enjoys hobbies such as building railguns. Kiss refuses to be a member of Chihaya’s harem so frames herself as a protagonist in the romance comedy and dresses in the academy’s male uniform accordingly.
Sasaki Saori (CV Kazane)
Saori is a mysterious girl whom accosts Chihaya shortly after his arrival in Rururan. It turns out that she’s a fellow student but she refuses to live in the dorms so takes up residence in a local bar. It further transpires that Saori was a particularly prolific serial killer but she claims to have no memory of her crimes. She is quite clingy towards Chihaya and is a little anxious towards the others at first, she also has a problem with drinking too much when she gets stressed out. Saori always carries a knife on her person.
The artwork for this game was handled by the duo of Ichiri & Sasai Saji, which was the same as the previous game in the series (Natsuyuru). The SD artwork was handled by Hizuki Yayoi.
Opening: roop ~Tooi Sekai no Kimi ni Okuru Tatta Hitotsu no Koi no Uta~ – Rita
Ending: Vector – Rita
The game’s BGM was composed by the trio of A-dash, Shiina Harumi & TGZ Sounds.
Akikuru has 6 character routes – the 4 main heroines & 2 sub heroines (imouto Mihaya & classmate Noa). Unlike Natsuyuru there’s no episodic story progression but on your first playthrough you can only get Ayumi, Kiss or Yuzuki’s routes. After one playthrough the 2 sub routes are unlocked. Upon completing the other main heroine routes, Saori’s route is available to play & finishing her route unlocks the game’s true ending – which is available to play as the “epilogue” from the main menu.
My opinion on the first two games in the four seasons sci-fi series basically boils down to the overall story being pretty good but I personally didn’t like the humour a lot. Therefore, my expectations for the third game, Akikuru, were muted. Did it manage to improve on its predecessors underwhelming aspects or was this much the same as the previous entries in the series?
Unfortunately, I found that I had pretty much the same complaints with Akikuru that I had with Harukuru & Natsuyuru – enjoyable overall story with interesting sci-fi elements but there’s just so many dirty jokes in the story that it makes the game almost impossible to read through. I understand though that humour is 100% subjective and that others must enjoy Watanabe Ryouichi’s writing style for him to have worked on so many games. My theory about his style was confirmed after reading the route he wrote for propeller’s Sukima Zakura to Uso no Machi and it easily being my least favourite (whilst still retaining some of the aspects I dislike about his writing in this series).
However, there were definitely some glimmers of light within this game – I actually thought that (despite the wild setup) the way the game parodied the romcom genre was pretty fun in the common route. Although it quickly crosses that blurred line from romcom to ero comedy.
The main heroines were as quirky as you’d expect from these games, with Kiss being my personal favourite of the four. Her positioning as a “rival” to Chihaya’s harem was actually pretty bemusing and the fact that she is the only heroine who isn’t head over heels for the protagonist makes her more interesting than the others. It’s worth noting that the game actually spoils a plot point of her route in the “perspective change” screen – not sure if it was intentional or not but I guess the devs didn’t expect anyone playing the game to know English. As far as the other main three heroines go, they weren’t too bad. I also liked Yuzuki quite a bit but her route was simply weird.
The two sub routes were extremely short and essentially consisted of a H-Scene for said character with a small surrounding story. These routes were definitely more of a bonus for fanservice than for plot. I’m actually kind of diappointed that the teacher Sari didn’t get a route because she was super cute.
The artwork was of a pretty decent standard, although a tad inconsistent. I did enjoy the animated SDCGs. There’s a serious lack of non-H CGs though.
Akikuru’s BGM was decent, although nothing outstanding. I liked the opening song quite a bit though. Voice acting was good but not particularly noteworthy.
My Score: 7/10
Despite my (subjective) problems with the game’s overuse of 下ネタ, the actual story segments of the four seasons games continue to be gripping and enjoyable to read. I actually really like the fact that the games in the series share some themes but are self-contained and would probably still recommend them provided you’re aware of the writing style.
I originally planned to move onto the final game Fuyukara, Kururu straight after finishing this but because of my mixed feelings on the games, I decided that I’d rather wait for the game to go on sale before purchasing it. I do still plan to get around to it eventually though and am interested to see a game in the series finally get a budget it deserves.
Thanks for reading!