The stars have always been a source of fascination to mankind. Up in the vast night sky, they are unreachable jewels sparkling in the darkness of night. This fascination has given birth to numerous stories and legends surrounding these stars since time immemorial.
Hoshizora no Memoria is a visual novel revolving around romances which bloom under the vast sea of stars, a light-hearted comedy-romance with a dash of those fantastic legends surrounding the night sky.
Protagonist You Kogasaka returns to his hometown after seven years of being away. Upon his return, he remembers the promise he made to a childhood friend to reunite in a certain lookout under the starry sky. While the lookout has been closed to outsiders, he makes it inside and meets a child who looks almost exactly like his childhood friend seven years ago. She calls herself “Mare”, claiming to be a grim reaper of nightmares. Mare then reaps the name of You’s childhood friend from his memories.
During his stay in his hometown, You makes new friends and joins the school’s astronomy club so that it won’t be disbanded. As he makes new friends and memories, he continues to try and remember the name reaped from him by Mare.
Much of the game’s themes can be deduced from the title — a huge theme of the novel is the characters dealing with their pasts and their memories. Each character is burdened with something from their past — childhood friendships, first loves, broken families — and each route shows the characters overcoming their past. Along with the theme of “past and memories” is the motif of the starry sky: the unreachable light of the stars and the legends surrounding them.
One of the game’s biggest strengths is the way it ties its motif and themes together; the legends and stories surrounding the starry sky, as well as the modern outlook on them, are all important in enriching the story’s atmosphere. One such motif is the ever-present legend of Tanabata in Japanese mythology — the star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi — representing the protagonist and his childhood friend. Hoshizora no Memoria blends the fantastic and scientific elements of astronomy; indeed, the story references several myths and legends surrounding the starry sky — both Japanese and Western legends, as well as many scientific facts and advancements connected to the stars.
Hoshizora no Memoria has a variety of characters — the bratty little sister whose idiotically-optimistic outlook garners her a plethora of friends, the sharp-tongued freshman living next door who doesn’t hesitate to drop death threats every now and then, a girl from the protagonist’s childhood who will do anything to get closer to the stars, the shrine maiden twins who are as different as night and day, the mysterious girl and the protagonist’s childhood friend, and the childish grim reaper at the lookout — all of them possess a certain charm that gives the reader a strong impression of their character, whether it’s love or hate for the character.
The VN’s character art goes for a somewhat “moe” style. For the more comic situations, it shifts to a super-deformed, cutesy style, fitting for the situations they appear in. While the character designs are as anime-style as it goes, the depictions of the starry sky are fantastic to look at — the game is excellent at capturing the atmosphere of the night sky with its graphics and the detail of the starry sky depictions is almost as good as the real thing.
The game’s music goes for a nostalgic, atmospheric mood with its soothing tracks. While some of the music is high-tempo for the wacky school hijinks, a majority of the music provides a nostalgic and somewhat melancholic atmosphere befitting of the starry sky. In fact, it won’t be surprising if the music is made for stargazing — the music makes the reader feel as if they are gazing into the starry sky, recounting the legends behind the constellations, or traveling the vast emptiness of space.
While there are a lot of good things about this game, there are some things that could have been done better — the true route’s execution could have been less confusing and far-fetched (which bewilders me, since Komomo’s route did the fantastical aspect extremely well, while I think it falls apart during ***’s route), and ***’s character might have worked better if she had more participation in the common route. The game’s sex scenes also touches upon uncomfortable relationships — incest and lolicon in particular.
Hoshizora no Memoria is a fantastic VN in more ways than one — it is a fantastic love story and a journey through the fantastic night sky. Don’t expect deep, complex mysteries from it — HoshiMemo is simply a high-school romance with a hint of drama and fantasy. Enjoy it for the great atmosphere and light-hearted romances — HoshiMemo will surely brighten your reading like the stars in the vast night sky.
Possible turn-offs: sexual content, incest, lolicon