Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm (蒼の彼方のフォーリズム) is also known as Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue or just Aokana. This anime series of 12-episode long is based on an adult visual novel developed by Sprite and was released back on November 28, 2014, for Windows. In addition, a manga adaption has started running on Monthly Ace Magazine since October 2015 and there’s also an upcoming release of the visual novel for PlayStation Vita.
Sprite itself is relatively unknown (at least to me) as there’s not much information on the internet of their other visual novel releases except Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (Source: VN DB)
Aokana is set in a world of where people can fly freely to the skies using Grav-Shoes technology and the story is based on an area called the Four Islands Archipelago. Grav-Shoes is mainly used for transportation purpose, for example, to go to school (instead of walking or riding a bike).
Aside for transportation purpose, it also has another well-known functionality or purpose and it’s used in a competitive sport called Flying Circus (FC). FC involves two persons from a different team trying to score as many points as possible by touching (four buoys in total ) and it has to be in a particular order, e.g. 1st buoy, 2nd buoy, 3rd buoy and 4th buoy then back to 1st. Alternatively, you can also score a point by touching your opponent’s back.
Our main heroine, Asuka Kurashina, is a new transfer student and is your typical klutz. She cannot fly properly using Grav-Shoes, however, she develops a keen interest in FC and improves her skills at terrifying rate each day.
Aside from Asuka, there are other main characters. Misaki Tobisawa, a 2nd-year student, who always looks so sleepy every time and she have to be woken up by her junior, Mashiro Arisaka, every morning. Masaya Hinata is another 2nd-year student who apparently quit FC a while back but developed his interest back in FC when Asuka joins Kunahama Academy FC club.
When I watched the first episode, I said to myself that this anime is just so “pretty” and just gives off that “visual-novel” feel. I didn’t know that this anime series was based on a visual novel until I did some research to write this blog post. This “pretty” feeling was similar to when I watched Nagi no Asukara. I believe the background, location, and characters are similar to Nagi no Asukara. Not to mention, Grav-Shoes and their FC competition look great and they are such an eye-candy.
In term of plot, based on first four episodes, the theme appears to be a newbie (Asuka) who knows nothing about FC sport continues to develop her skill as the story continues and eventually, I assume, she will become very good at it which is a very common theme in sports-related series i.e. underdog team or an individual becomes really good at sport they just start learning and win a national championship.
All seiyuu or VAs for the four main characters are veteran and have many main roles under their belt.
OP and ED songs are quite enjoyable as well as expected from Mami Kawada and Ray. They both complement the series well. Ray was previously involved with few OP and ED songs in Nagi no Asukara. I believe this is also the reason why this series gives that ‘Nagi no Asukara’ feel. On the other hand, Mami Kawada is well-known for her voice in various series such as Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins, Starship Operators, Shakugan no Shana. The OP really gets pumped up on watching every episode and the ED gives you calm and soothing feeling.
One thing that’s interesting to note is that Mami Kawada actually wrote the lyrics for OP/ED songs in Nagi no Asukara as well as Aokana, thus, they both have worked together on few occasions. Again, it’s another reason why this series gives that ‘Nagi no Asukara’ feeling.
Should this series be on your watch list for Winter 2016 anime season? Yes, I highly recommend this series especially if you’re a fan of Nagi no Asukara. Even if you’re not a fan but generally enjoy sport-theme anime series where the main protagonist is bad at first but eventually learn to play the sport well and win championships, you should definitely give this a try. If you’re neither of those groups but you do enjoy VN based series, I think this series is still worthwhile your time.