48Tentacles

The Blog by someone with tentacles

Greetings, everyone!


First of all, in case you missed my previous entry, Happy New Year! This time around I have the moral obligation to deliver good news and bad news: The bad news is that today I can’t offer you much of solid update in what I’m working on, at least not yet. The good news is... expect more characters in the near future! If so far you liked the designs of my characters in my previous entries and you want more, you’ll definitely have them in time!


I can’t say the exact date of the release of the designs yet, because while some of them are ready I still have to do proper drawings for this website, and the other half are in progress, filling me with questions like “Should she wear a miniskirt or very tight shorts?”


Knowing this, I don’t like leaving entries empty in terms of visual content, so here you go: a Fanart I made.



Hey, you, you can do it! *wink*


She’s Aoi Kagami, from Aokana (Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm). Best teacher ever. And I’ll soon explain why, although by the title of my entry you must’ve figured it out already.





Today I’d like to talk about Aokana, Four Rhythms Across the Blue. Is it a shooter? Is it a danmaku? Is it a AAA-budget by David Cage? Nope! It’s a visual novel. Except for some friends around until this moment, I didn’t reveal here that I love visual novels. They are normally cheaper to produce (depending of many variables and budgets, of course), but they often offer greater stories and characters than the average AAA plus preorder bonuses around and even a single movie. Plus, they’re more accessible to potato laptops than the average non-flash game you find online.


I’m going to try to do something weird here. First I’ll make a TLDR version and then I’ll do my best to describe Aokana, in case you’re in a hurry or you’re not too interested in visual novels.


TLDR: Sport-Romance visual novel that tells the story of a former player of a scifi sport who becomes the coach of any of the girls in the sport club and starts a relationship with her.



From left to right: Aoi, Rika, Mashiro, Misaki, Asuka, Madoka, Prez, and Masaya.


Now to the what it could also be called review. There are no spoilers, so if you want to know any details you’ll have to play the visual novel on your own, or game, call it whatever you want. :P


In the near future, there are the Anti-Graviton shoes, a popular invention that allows anyone to fly, which also gave birth to the new sport Flying Circus. FC is a two-player sport, there are 4 buoys floating in the air over the sea, forming a square; you score by touching your opponent’s back or by touching a buoy, and a game lasts 10 minutes. These are the fundamental rules, and while there’s more details like categorizing foul plays this is all you need to know.



The game doesn't waste time in teaching you the rules in a few lines.


Aokana tells the story of Masaya Hinata, a former player of FC, he was once considered a prodigy years back, but in one moment he quit playing the game for some incident that happened in his childhood.


Years pass, in the present, Masaya is attending the Kunahama Academy, an education center in Kyushu, Japan. In a matter of a few days since the start of the game, he meets various people who are interested in the sport of FC for one reason or another: the clumsy yet honest and promising Asuka Kurashina, the FC-experienced yet seemingly carefree Misaki Tobisawa, the energetic and joyful gamer Mashiro Arisaka, and well-mannered model student Rika Ichinose, this latter from a rival school.



The comedy parts are genuinely funny, capable of creating absurd events unexpectedly.


The point is in Kunahama there is a new club, it needs members and is dedicated to FC, a topic that Masaya was afraid and avoiding for years, so he naturally says “No” to any request of him joining to the club. The homeroom teacher Aoi Kagami was half guilty of telling the club members one or two things about Masaya’s experience. However, Masaya finds one final reason to change his mind and join the club not to become a player, but to become a coach.


From this point, the real deal begins. You’ll need to see the rest on your own if you want. And it’s up to you how to finish it.



The narration is mainly in first person, and while there are some parts in third person, the story goes well.


In my experience, I finished the routes of Asuka, Rika, Mashiro, and made the After Story of Mashiro in Aokana EXTRA 1, in that order. With the intention of finishing the Misaki route, the Bad Ending route and the True Ending route, I can gamble confidently and say that every route is satisfying, I’m even having trouble deciding who is “best girl”, everyone is lovely and each girl has her desires, fears, backstories... And I was skeptical of this plot to a certain point that I was, let’s say, being a try-hard on looking for any mistakes like crazy, but the most I could find was simple yet tiny amount of grammar errors, something that you could experience and say “eh, that grammar error is nothing in comparison of how good this story is” before the era of ebooks came around (because you can’t add a patch to a physical book made of paper). Everything in the story makes sense, and the provided first person narration helps a lot by telling us how Masaya thinks about the circumstances.



As a soccer fan, I can say the FC matches are entertaining to watch.


Aokana is a story that completely surpassed my expectations. I previously mentioned that the manga and anime industry often do their works with the positive messages and meanings, however I must say within my experience that I haven’t seen many examples of stories of main characters with a very pessimistic mindset or harsh conditions (in deconstructed tropes, at least). This is one of them. Masaya isn’t an optimistic boy to say the least, and that’s difficult to write about. I like success stories about characters who were losers with a disaster story, but I like more a success story of someone voluntarily screwing his life up, one day deciding to not be a loser anymore and gets his act together with a good mindset. These are my favorite stories, and Aokana is one of them.



Moments of frustration are common for every route. Have kleenex in hand just in case.


Let’s talk about the duration. There are some visual novels that I finished and while I’m not an expert on the VN multiverse I will be a bit conservative and say that a visual novel by average lasts 10 hours in one route, lasting naturally more if you want for the rest of the routes. This one lasted me 35 hours in one single route, and I enabled the auto-play feature on top of that to fully enjoy the voice acting of each character without hitting “Enter” over and over. The Extra 1 After Story with Mashiro lasted me 15 hours. If you are looking for something long this is a perfect choice, even if you are a beginner in visual novels.


Oh, and the FC matches? Simply spectacular. The average outsider tends to think that visual novels are nothing but static images and words. In Aokana the FC matches go one step beyond that, because while the static images are shown there are certain tricks to make it look like you are watching some piece of animation with sounds and the tremendous music. Yes, the music helps, making the matches so spectacular that they’re even included in the Extras section, unlocked when you finish your game at least once.



For a visual novel, Aokana delivers a ton of extras than the average VN.


The soundtrack? Outstanding. It perfectly portrays a slice of life morning, or an occasion of tension, or a dramatic conflict, or a determined resolution, or comedic shenanigans, or a series of sexy lovin’ rounds yet filled with love... The first minutes the music will sound and may appear like the average VN, but the further you play the more you’ll discover that this is nothing like anything else.



Put yourself some Paulstretch and you're good to go.


By the way, Aoi Kagami is what every 19 year old future teacher aspire to become. She’s very skillful in all kinds of sports, her looks and clothing seem very rebellious but in a cool and beautiful approach, she’s willing to help by giving advice and hints indirectly to let her students find the solutions by themselves, and she’s responsible but in a rogue way without being harsh. And on top of that, the voice of the character sounds very gorgeous but also frank and direct as if she was your teacher in real life giving tips to you, Aoi’s seiyuu Megumi Ogata voiced this character perfectly well. Good job!



YES I LIKE YOU GO OUT WITH ME


If you are a newcomer in visual novels you probably are thinking something on the lines of “oh, it’s just another dating simulator”. A few words about this term. There are visual novels with mechanic and systematic elements like friendship points, money, skill points... things like that, these are requirements for a dating simulator, and of course there are romantic VNs with a proto-mix between story and dating simulator mechanics. Making Lovers has a bit of dating simulator because you can freely select where to take your couple in your dates. Fureraba has a bit of dating simulator because you need to build affection points by picking conversation topics with your girl of choice and hope she likes these topics. But Aokana is not a “dating simulator” per se, it has choices that lead to one route or another for narrative purposes, and that’s it, there is nothing mechanic or systematic about it. It simply tells a story of a boy named Masaya falling in love with a girl of your choice while he confronts his inner demons to keep moving forward in FC.



This is how you make a badass adversary


Besides, there are interesting themes presented in Aokana, such as:


How would you polish your abilities within your limited capabilities?

How would you motivate someone to work harder with discipline?

How would you convince someone to not quit when they feel blocked and struggling?

How would you deal with your past and traumas without opening your scars too much?

How would you say to someone to not get discouraged in the decisive moments of their journey?

How would you do all of this without being forceful on yourself and others?



Just because you're a faceless protagonist doesn't mean you're a Gary Stu. Problems will arise, you know.


In the end of the day, Masaya is human. He’s like you, me, and everyone else in this Earth. He has his skills but also his flaws. And like us he needs time for introspection and reflection on his actions not to just “be better”, but to allow himself to rely on his friends and loved ones without giving up. He shares his vulnerable side with his love because that is a sign of trust, as his girl shows hers as well. All that while happiness invade their minds. A romance isn’t about redefining societal norms or making cheap misunderstandings or responding with unhealthy passive-aggressive comments, or having a superficial sexual relationship or creating drama. It’s about how a character genuinely connecting with their significant one despite the sets of problems both face while they achieve their personal goals with a satisfying happy ending.



There are after-sex scenes, and even in these there are many small details that make them a tender experience. It's not a simple "we'll bang ok?" kind of game


I’m just writing words out and it’s becoming more into a fanboy open letter than a proper review, because for some reason it’s more difficult to express how much you love something than expressing how much you dislike something. It’s a very good game with many layers of detail and depth in the story and in the visuals, backgrounds included. You can tell this work was crafted with love.


Buyers beware. If you are looking forward this experience, take note. While one of the newest ports came for the Nintendo Switch I don’t have any guarantee that you will find it censored or uncensored. For the PC users that’s easier and you have a few ways: buying it in Steam (and if you do that, downloading the R18 patch) or buying it in the shop of NekoNyan Soft directly. If you want my personal recommendation, get it for PC for the full uncensored experience, and if you get it in Steam remember to get the patch and follow the installation instructions.





Aokana is a story that teaches you to live your life to the fullest. It’s a story about finding your enthusiasms in the most unexpected ways. It’s a story about how to deal with fear when it’s a danger sign to your progress. It’s a story about breaking your limits when you’re faced with adversity. But most importantly, it’s a hopeful and uplifting message where you can learn how to love your passion again after abandoning it, no matter how much time has been passed.


Until next time!

48Tentacles

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  • 48tentacles

Greetings, everyone! I hope everything is going fine with you. Let’s get this show started, shall we?


So I was staring at Red Girl’s personality overall body, in particular one of the first drawings I made for her and I began to see what it would seem to be a big flaw in her weapons. I’m going to do my best at explaining, since I haven’t done the visuals to illustrate you.


So she has laser sabers on her arms, but the aperture where the beam comes out is, let’s say, dangerously close to her arms and even her hands. If by any chance Red Girl turns her hands up while she has the sabers activated she can cut her hands accidentally and I have my engineer friend yelling at me “This is a potential life hazard and risk of injury”.


So it’s time for me to redesign her weapons. To the lab! The changes on her appearance aren’t big so you can rest easy and still appreciate her female beauty.



Behold her new blades!


First of all, it’s a redraw of one of my first drawings, with the updated design (like the shoulder armor)... ah, wait a minute. These aren’t beams, are they? And do they have lighting? Are these auras? What is going on?


Allow me to illustrate:



1st Figure: Not activated blade. 2nd Figure: Activating blade. 3rd Figure: Blade operating


So in the first figure you can see Red Girl’s arm. The difference with the previous design is found right in the middle: her metallic elbow is no longer pointy but round, and there’s a red mark. I’m bad at naming things, but there’s more. In the second figure, every time Red Girl has to use her blades, there’s forming energy generating from that red mark, it’s not a final process but you don’t wanna touch there. Finally, in the third figure, you can finally see the blade completely generated. This time it’s no longer closer to Red Girl’s hand and on top of that, the blades are able to adapt their forms slightly to the combat situation.


Why is the red mark designed like a ring? Because that way will allow Red Girl to generate her blades towards any angle as long as the energy is generated from any area within that ring: above her arm, under it, or at one side, making her very polyvalent and allow a variety of skills against her enemies.


Disclaimer alert, I might have to ask for feedback around to improve the design of the red ring, or at least make the metallic a bit thicker than the ring. So in this regard the design is not definitive yet.


However, I felt like making one more drawing of Red Girl with that new design. Everything in practice comes into RL skill points. I hope you like it!



Time to attack!


On a final note, on these times I should give you a heartwarming message. I hope you are doing fine, you are taking care of yourselves, doing what you love, being happy... While I believe it’s not much, I want to send you this little nice thing below as a gift for this year 2021. Thank you for following me in this crazy journey of mine, and I hope we stick together on this.



Hashire sori yo / Kaze no you ni / Tsukimihara wo / PADORU PADORUUUU


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Until next time!

48Tentacles

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  • 48tentacles

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

Greetings, you! Kept you waiting, huh?


First before talking about my project, I must apologize for another long wait that I did not want to happen but had to happen anyway. It’s not a decision by me, as we all know RL is not something we can control. My computer had the great idea of damaging itself up that I had to send it to repairs. Luckily nothing permanently bad happened, so you can all breathe well, even when I’m aware that I showed little about my project.



Happens to the best of us


By the way, something important that had to be pointed out in a single smaller paragraph: if you visit this site and you happen to read the lines that happened to read “Something isn’t working, please refresh again” that means the site is bugged, if that happens let me know via email that is 48Tentacles AT protonmail DOT com with a screenshot (via attachment, not uploaded in any server, because for some reason webpages dedicated to upload and share images have too many requirements for cookies to infiltrate your computer)


After setting things up and getting ready to advance in my project, RL decided to annoy me once more with the following phrase I swore not to hear in a very long time:


“You still have this thing to do...”


Since the RL events became relaxed enough to let me continue doing what I love- Well, that’s what happens every time you think you are in a good way as you planned. Something else happens.


Okay, let’s not sing the funny game over theme that we all know about. I’m not as free as a bird as I’d like to be. In what these should be the most extraordinaire two months of my life instantly became the most annoying two months and one day of my life, with that number being increased I might add. The silver lining side of all of this is that at least I don’t have to sit in front of boring giant books anymore, I feel more comfortable reading manga or books in front of a screen which brightness I can fully customize to avoid burning my eyes. And tutorials in video teach much, much better than a boring book approved by a committee formed by faceless corpos who desire constant witch hunts looking for stories only to get more funding or sales of their books.


And everyone wonders why the educational system is failing, but enough ranting. You could probably imagine my face of disappointment when I learned that my RL situation was not over yet. Fine. As long as I don’t have to read the giant stupid books anymore, it’s probably gonna be more tolerable than before, just let me be a multi-tasking creature with tentacles in front of my computer, please. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.


Now about my project.


I managed to do some things. A few things that will definitely help me in the long run, like a specific manual that I wrote for myself, with references that only I will understand in a simple way in a document file rather than watching a 50 minute video every time I am struggling with something tiny. A simple document file is always faster than a video, I tell you what.


However, a few of these things became a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I have enough resources and assets to do what I want to do with this, the problem was how to use these assets in particular in a proper way that doesn’t result this thing in a disaster. One of the first problems I encountered was, without being too specific, finding out that these assets were not labeled, or at least not labeled enough to be properly functional by applying those and that’s it. So I had to do the hardest thing a lazy man of culture could do: trial and error and label as much as I can and make them properly functional.


And that was exactly what I did. I labeled some parts of the assets, tested them, make the necessary corrections, and repeat until everything was cool with one set of assets. Now I have to repeat the same process for more sets. Dear music player, in moments like these is why I love you that much.


Onto a more positive light, I can finally show something that will appear in the project. Or at least I can show something that it’s going to be close to what I have in mind, because keep in mind it’s a work in progress, and I already dedicated an entry about this. I know it’s not much after all this waiting, but at least I prefer to show something.



NOOOO YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRAW GROINS UNDER THE TEXT BOX!!1ONE1!1


I know the black bars with the screen size seem unfitting with each other, but that is something I can fix and prevent in the future. On the positive side, this allows me to get feedback with some partners. Matter of fact right now, I’m considering in increasing the text size because it’s smaller in comparison with the regular visual novel you read around.


Things are advancing better than I expected, plus I only needed to do this labeling thing at least once as long as everything’s going to plan. Now it’s time to think in long-term mode. There is no guarantee that RL is considering stopping plotting continually against me, the words “I better get going as soon as possible” from now on will become more relevant than any other set of words or phrases I’ve said in the past.


There are several steps of my plan, the problem is that it’s barely a concept, meaning that I have some things written, but not everything. I need to solidify my plan as fast as possible, and schedules can greatly help. There are too many complications to solve at the same time so for now I’ll do step by step and take care of the current issue that I’m getting used to: labeling the assets. The good news is that I finished with a few sets, precisely the ones that I needed to do to make the first scenes and maps. The bad news is that I don’t know when all the sets are gonna be finished.


I better get going as soon as possible.


Until next time!

48Tentacles

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