Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi

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Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi
Hoshikaka game cover.jpg
Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi game cover art.
星空へ架かる橋
Genre Harem, Erotica, Romance
Game
Developer Feng
Genre Visual novel, Eroge
Platform Windows
Released October 15, 2010
Manga
Written by Feng
Illustrated by Kurumi Morisaki
Published by Kadokawa Shoten
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Comp Ace
Original run May 2011October 2011
Volumes 2
Anime television series
Directed by Takenori Mihara
Produced by Hajime Kamada
Makoto Ito
Takemasa Okamura
Yuuichiro Takahata
Written by Go Zappa
Music by Atsushi Umebori
Studio Dogakobo
Network AT-X, Chiba TV, Sun TV, Tokyo MX, TV Aichi, TV Saitama
English network
Original run April 11, 2011June 27, 2011
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Studio Dogakobo
Released December 21, 2011
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi (星空へ架かる橋?), sometimes shortened to Hoshikaka and also known by the translation A Bridge to the Starry Skies, is an erotic visual novel developed and published by Feng, released on October 15, 2010 for Windows. The story, a mostly comedic slice-of-life, centers on Kazuma Hoshino, an adolescent boy who moves into rural Japan with his brother, and the personal and romantic encounters he has with a handful of the female residents there. Though the game requires little interaction from users, Hoshikaka engages the player through a nonlinear plot that they are given opportunities to change the course of during play.

Feng announced work on Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi in May 2009 and marketed it through public venues and the broadcast of a radio drama throughout development. The game was postponed a total of nine times and released almost a year after its initial date but was met with relatively positive reception. On November 11, 2011 Feng announced work on a fan disc for the game, set to be released on February 24, 2012.

Following the game's release, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi made transitions into other media. Two volumes of a manga were published, as was an art book, audio dramas and several albums of music. A twelve-episode animated television series and direct-to-video (OVA) single release was also produced by Dogakobo.

Gameplay[edit]

Example of a scene in Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi. Here, Kazuma talks to Ui and Ibuki.

As a visual novel, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi contains extremely minimal gameplay. The game is presented in a traditional fashion,[1] with static backgrounds and moderately altered character poses viewed from a mostly first-person perspective. At predetermined intervals, the game stops, and players are presented with one to two responses or actions relevant to the scene in progress to make, or not make, on behalf of characters. Each selection branches the game's progress up to that point in an alternate direction, while also causing the player's love toward a character to blossom, plateau, or diminish, thus providing for a nonlinear storytelling experience.[2] Being an erotic title, relationships between characters may expectedly become sexual; scenes of this kind depict a varying combination of groping, oral sex and intercourse.[3]

Plot[edit]

Kazuma Hoshino is a young student who, in the company of his younger brother Ayumu, move from undisclosed urban Japan into the rural city of Yamabiko. On their way to Yorozuyo Inn, where they are prearranged to lodge, the boys get on the wrong bus, forcing them to wait out the next ride at a stop. Lounging around and passing time, a wild monkey mischievously steals Ayumu's hat, and an upset Kazuma gives chase into surrounding forest.

Minutes pass, and though scuffed and worn, Kazuma is able to recover the hat to the realization that he is lost. Ui Nakatsugawa, a schoolgirl, happens upon Kazuma and happily leads him in the direction of the bus stop, skipping across a river he'd passed earlier with ease. Encouraged by her to do the same, Kazuma lands wrong, causing him to tackle Ui to the ground with a kiss. Having been seen and scolded by her friend Ibuki Hinata, Kazuma leaves, disheartened that his time with Ui was momentary.

The following day, having moved into their room at the inn, Kazuma and Ayumu head to their new school, Yamabiko South Academy. Much to his surprise, it is during his introduction to the class that Kazuma meets Ui and Ibuki again.[4]

Characters[edit]

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi follows the life of Kazuma Hoshino, a teenage boy who moves into the fictional rural town of Yamabiko with his younger brother, Ayumu,[5] on account of Ayumu's asthma.[4] After getting himself lost in a forest, Kazuma meets Ui Nakatsugawa, a cute and cheerful, if airheaded, schoolgirl who he takes an almost immediate liking to. As they make their way back to where Ayumu is waiting, Kazuma learns that Ui is fond of cooking, has a refined sense of taste, sports a nearly insatiable appetite, and by extension, loves eating.[6] During their walk through the forest Kazuma also becomes acquainted with Ibuki Hinata, Ui's temperamental, spitfire of a best-friend.[6] In spite of his admirable efforts to make up for his faux pas, Ibuki does not hold a high opinion of Kazuma until much later when his genuinely positive and friendly qualities lead to her developing feelings for him.

After returning to Yamabiko, Kazuma and Ayumu become acquaintanced with a number of other people. Senka Yorozu is a friend of their father's and the landlady of Yorozuyo Inn where they stay. She is a gregarious woman, with a penchant for drinking.[5] During their walk to school the next day they meet Tsumugi Toudou, a down-home, third-year senior,[6] who familiarizes the boys with the town and its culture. At school Kazuma becomes friends with Daigo Minamikokubaru, a classmate of his with a fondness for online games (and son of their homeroom teacher).[5] He later meets Hina Sakai, a tall and quiet girl with a fondness for anything cute.[6]

On their way back from campus, Kazuma and the group wait for Ayumu to join them from his middle school. Ayumu arrives in the company of Kasane Toudou, Tsumugi's youngest sister, a sweet-natured girl known around the town for her interest in gossip.[5] In touring the community, everyone makes their way to the local Shinto shrine, where the miko and daughter of the priest, Madoka Komoto, is introduced to the boys.[6] Much to their surprise, Madoka runs off in a panic at the sight of Kazuma, something that happens again at school the next day. He returns to see her at the shrine the following afternoon and is interrupted by Koyori Toudou, the middle Toudou sister (younger than Tsumugi and older than Kasane). With a similar personality to Ibuki (loud and brash), Koyori similarly does not welcome Kazuma until his kindness shows through,[6] such as when he breaks her fall from a tree.

Development and release[edit]

According to D-Dream, a distributor of visual novels and domestic anime products, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi was officially announced by Feng on May 8, 2009.[7] The official website had also gone live around this time, and from September 28 to November 16, character profiles, sample artwork, and voice clips were added.[8][9]

On November 26, 2009, D-Dream reported that Hoshikaka had been postponed from its original release date on December 11, 2009 to February 26, 2010.[10] In the following month, on December 18, Feng announced that it would be attending the Akihabara Electric Festival on December 27 at the Akihabara Sofmap Amusement Hall to promote the game, selling phonecards and dakimakura cases.[11] From December 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010, Feng remained relatively quiet about the game's development, until on February 5[12] it was announced that the game had been postponed from February 26 to April 23.[13] More artwork samples were added from March 5 to 12, and on April 13,[12] the game was postponed for a third time from April 23 to May 28.[14] On April 30,[15] after adding more sample artwork, Feng announced that it would be attending Dream Party 2010, an anime convention, on May 23 at Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake, selling dakimakura cases and T-shirts.[16] After adding more sample art on March 7, the company postponed the game for a fourth time on March 14,[15] from May 28 to June 25.[17]

More art and voice samples were added from May 28 to June 11, with a fifth postponement on June 16[15] from June 25 to July 30.[18] On June 24, the company announced that it would be distributing free Hoshikaka posters the following day at the Sofmap retail establishment in Chiyoda.[19] The shortened version of the game's ending theme "Hiroga ru Yozora no Shita de" was published on July 2, and on July 16 the game's opening movie was released[15] along with a sixth postponement from July 30 to August 27.[20] A week later on July 24,[15] Feng posted the game's first collection of purchasable merchandise.[21] The company announced days later on July 30[15] that it would be attending Comiket 78 at Tokyo Big Site from August 13 to 15, selling dakimakura cases, wall scrolls, keyboard covers, cellphone screen wipes, bath salts, hand fans, towels and air fresheners.[22]

On August 12, 2010 Feng released a public trial of Hoshikaka.[15] The game was postponed for a seventh time on August 19[15] from August 27 to September 24.[23] A second trial was released on September 10, followed shortly by an eighth postponement on September 14[15] from September 24 to September 30.[24] This date change was then followed by a ninth postponement on September 22,[15] when it was changed from September 30 to October 15.[25] In the following week, Feng announced that it would be attending the Dream Party Autumn 2010 at Tokyo Big Sight on October 3, selling dakimakura cases.[26] With the absence of a tenth postponement, Feng announced on October 8[15] that it would be hosting a celebratory event for the game's release on October 15 at Sofmap retailers in Akihabara, holding a raffle and autographing copies of the game.[27] A third trial was released on October 10, and on October 15,[15] the game was released.

On the day of release, Feng published a patch for Hoshikaka, adding additional functionality to the game and crushing numerous bugs, bringing the game to version 1.01.[28] The following year on February 15, 2011,[29] Feng released a free, downloadable expansion to the game called the St. Valentine's Day Patch,[30] which added extra routes for Ui and Hina.[31] Feng announced Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi AA, a fan disc, on November 11, 2011,[32] set for release February 24, 2012. Getchu.com ranked AA in their 50 most reserved games for its time of recently announced titles.[33]

Media[edit]

Print media[edit]

A 128-page art book, titled "Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Visual Fan Book", was published by ASCII Media Works on March 30, 2011, containing character illustrations and staff interviews and commentaries.[34] A manga adaptation, illustrated by Kurumi Morisaki, was serialized in the seinen manga magazine Comp Ace between its May and October issues in 2011. Retelling the story of the original game, the first tankōbon volume was published by Kadokawa Shoten July 26, 2011.[35] A second volume followed, published December 26.[36]

Anime[edit]

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi was notably adapted into a twelve-episode anime television series by Dogakobo.[37] News of this first appeared on December 29, 2010 when Dogakobo announced via their blog that information about the show had been posted on its then-new website.[38] Stations participating in the broadcast included Chiba TV, Tokyo MX, TV Aichi, Sun TV, TV Saitama, and AT-X, the premiere of which would air on AT-X on April 4. From July 6 to December 7, 2011, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi was published into six DVDs and Blu-rays containing two episodes each.[39] The anime was streamed in North America by Crunchyroll, along with other titles such as The World God Only Knows and Deadman Wonderland.[40]

Dogakobo also produced one direct-to-video (OVA) episode of Hoshikaka. News of it was posted on August 12, 2011, mentioning that a new character would be voiced by singer-songwriter Yukari Tamura.[41] Updates were added from September 5 to November 28, and on December 21, the episode was released as a limited and regular edition DVD and Blu-ray.[42]

Audio CDs[edit]

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Original Soundtrack

From 2010 to 2011, five albums of Hoshikaka music were published. The "Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Opening Theme" single, containing the game's opening theme of the same name, the closing theme Hirogaru Yozora no Shita de (広がる夜空の下で?), performed by Nomico and Ringo Aoba, and their instrumentals, was the first to be distributed on December 29, 2010 at Comiket 79, published under Feng's own label.[43]

The following year, Pony Canyon published four albums. The singles "Hoshikaze no Horoscope" (星風のホロスコープ Hoshikaze no Horosukopu?), a four-track disc performed by Nomico, and "Dashed Cinderella" (だっしゅどシンデレラ Dasshudo Shinderera?), another four-track featuring the voices of Eriko Nakamura and Ai Shimizu, the voice actresses for Ui and Madoka, were released on May 27, 2011.[44][45] A month later, on June 27, the company released the game's original soundtrack,[46] and on August 3, the "Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Character Song Album", an eight-track album featuring music performed by the anime's voice actresses was released.[47]

Internet radio shows[edit]

Two internet radio shows have been produced based on Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi. The first of these, a radio drama called Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Radio, was streamed on a Japanese Internet radio network called Onsen during the visual novel's development, and was broadcast every Friday between October 16, 2009 and November 26, 2010. Ichigo Momoi and Kaname Yuzuki, who voiced Senka and Koyori in the visual novel, respectively, hosted the show. A total of fifty seven broadcasts were made. It was also published into two albums,[48] released October 3, 2011.[49][50]

Another internet radio show, called Radio Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Manz by Annex, was hosted by Shiho Kawaragi and Aiko Okubo, who voice Senka and Koyori in the anime, respectively. It was broadcast every Friday between April 1, 2011 and August 26, 2011.[51]

Reception[edit]

Getchu.com, a major distributor of visual novels and domestic anime products, ranked Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi as the number one visual novel sold for the month of its release,[52] but failed to chart any further. It was, however, ranked as the third most sold game for the entire year on Getchu.com.[53] Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi won a silver prize in the character design panel at Moe Game Awards 2011.[54]

The Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi anime was reviewed by Aiden Foote of THEM Anime Reviews, where he panned the series for having "cliché" and "terrible" characters, and a "generic" plot.[55] However, on the contrary, the first episode was reviewed by Chris Beveridge at Mania.com, where he praised the anime's "natural flow", and "appealing" production quality.[56] The Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi DVD sold 589 copies between July 4 and July 10, 2011 in Japan,[57] and the blu-ray release sold 917 copies during the same period.[58]

References[edit]

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  55. ^ Foote, Aiden. "THEM Anime Reviews - Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi". THEM Anime Review. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  56. ^ Beveridge, Chris (2011-04-14). "A Bridge to the Starry Skies Episode #01 Review". Mania.com. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  57. ^ "Japan's Animation DVD Ranking, July 4-10". Anime News Network. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  58. ^ "Japan's Animation Blu-ray Disc Ranking: July 4-10". Anime News Network. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 

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