Romantic Visual Novel Review: If My Heart Had Wings
Written by Timbo Slice, edited by Otaku Apologist
“If My Heart Had Wings” developed by Pushtop. A hentai visual novel published in English by MoeNovel. First released in Japan on May 25th, 2012. English localization was released on June 28, 2013. Available at JLIST for $14.99. Requires a download patch to restore adult content. Mosaic censorship over genitals.
The story follows Aoi Minase, a high school student who transferred back to his hometown after a bicycle accident left him injured. His dreams of being a professional cyclist are destroyed. On the first day back, he runs into Kotori Habane, a young woman who lives her life in a wheelchair after an accident. Kotori has a flat tire. Aoi, in all his handiness, happens to have an air pump with him.
This begins our story as Aoi takes Kotori back to her student dorm.
With this sweet set up, Aoi begins his new life in his old hometown. On the way to school, he meets up with his childhood friends, including his best friend Ageha Himegi, a fun loving girl that quickly welcomes him back into his home town.
Kotori settles into school life, wrestling with questions like which school club to join. After joining up with Kotori and Ageha, they meet Amane Mochizuki, a genius who purposely repeats year after year because she wants to build a glider.
The characters decide to restart the Soaring Club with the dream of flying through a cloud phenomenon known as the Morning Glory.
This game is best described as a slice of life romance. The focus is on the little subplots and the day to day actions of the characters. There are five characters to date. The game takes place over the span of two years as the group keeps building towards their dreams.
The main route focuses on Kotori Habane. She is a black-haired beauty with a sharp tongue and a “don’t fuck with me” attitude. She ended up in a wheelchair after falling out of a hot air balloon during a family vacation and the isolation she has felt since has left her bitter and closed off.
After finding a diary in her dorm room, she takes up the diary owner’s dream of flying and assists in building the glider with her new friends. Over time she starts wanting to fly the glider but because of her legs, she can’t work the rudder. The crew begins figuring out how to get her in the air, angering her family who are still traumatized by her hot air balloon accident.
The second route focuses of Ageha Himegi. She is an energetic redhead who fiercely cares for her friends and wants to help everyone. She is a robotics expert and causes a lot of trouble with the Robotics Club as she tries to leave for Soaring Club. She serves as the group’s chief engineer and builds most of the glider’s frame on her own.
Her route focuses heavily on the strained relationship between her and Aoi. Before he left for a new school to focus on his cycling, he had confessed his love for her only to be turned down. Upon his return, she seemed to act like she didn’t care about it and the two begin a complicated back and forth where they both have trouble expressing their feelings. The closer Ageha gets, the more she runs away and the more Aoi pressures her in his quest to understand her, the harder she runs away.
By completing Kotori’s route, you unlock Amane Mochizuki’s route. She is the genius of the group and serves as the Club President, despite being a massive food loving klutz. She has a fantastic personality. She is passionate about her dream and loves the members of the club dearly.
Her route is a nice follow up to Kotori’s because as much as it focuses on Amane’s character, it also answers a lot of questions concerning the source of the diary and why Amane obsessively pursues the Morning Glory.
After these three routes, you unlock the remaining two which focus on the identical twins Asa and Yoru Kazato. They don’t join the story until after the midway point where they join the school as first years. Despite being identical, they are almost polar opposites. Asa is the fun-loving, airheady one to Yoru’s reserved genius routine. Both play off each other for comedic moments and in their routes you have a unique opportunity. Choose Asa, and you are treated to a fun story with a fun character. Choose neither and the story makes you date both!
GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE STORY
The story is beautiful as it deals heavily with themes of loss, both physically and emotional. Everyone is searching for something and the Morning Glory serves as the plot device. You almost feel like part of the crew right there helping them.
The romance itself is also done well, if a little cheesy at times.
BAD THINGS ABOUT THE STORY
This story will lecture you. Like settle in and grab a notebook. It feels like you will need to write an exam at the end of it. Flying and freedom are heavy themes in this story so it is only natural for people making a glider to discuss flight and engineering.
The cheese in some routes (looking at you Kotori!) can turn you off from the story and Ageha’s route almost becomes a chore.
The translation suffers from massive editing problems. It gets fixed a bit in the patches but it can be distracting.
If My Heart Had Wings is a visual novel. You click the screen to “turn the pages”. There are some choices that affect the events and the ending, but it’s mostly a straightforward experience. If you want to access a certain character’s route, keep choosing her until the route is locked. The game has multiple save slots to save your in-game progress.
The art is professionally done. There’s even animations thrown in during flying scenes to enhance the experience. Characters have multiple poses and expressions. Even if they are the same expression but a different pose, it at least makes the characters feel a little more alive to see them shift positions. Kind of like the relief you feel when you can finally move after hours of sleeping.
Backgrounds are top notch and feature many locations. A lot of areas are shown repeatedly (slice of life after all). Much like the CGs, that focuses heavily of showcasing the flight of the glider and the view from the sky. There’s also random CGs for key emotional moments.
The soundtrack features 27 songs and they range from happy moments to heartfelt tense moments. Every time the soundtrack needs to set up the right emotion, it is right there with the best song for that moment. Re-listening to the songs after you’ve read the story fills you with all the memories of each memorable scene. If the soundtrack sounds a little massive, that’s because this story is 30-50 hours long. The soundtrack is large enough to help keep things from getting too repetitive though very often, you are almost waiting to rehear your favorite song.
VOICE ACTING AND SOUND EFFECTS (SFX)
The game is fully voiced in Japanese except for the main character. Which is quite handy because if you’re going to be lectured on the facts of flight, why not have cute girls say the words? The voice acting is professional quality with many veterans of the industry lending their voices and other noises to the characters. Like, for example, if a character is eating, you know damn well they are going to talk to you with their mouth full. The amount of times you’re being taught something while Amane has a mouth full of spaghetti is uncountable.
The main characters is a sex fiend. The man completed the Trifecta: One load per hole (mouth, vagina, ass) in a single girl in one night. The guy doesn’t look it but he’s insane in the bedroom. He plows through the girls multiple times per route.
The CGs are well done with a lot of detail and occasional acrobatics. Aoi may be too injured to ride a bike, but not too injured to hover over her like Spiderman in the weirdest 69 I’ve ever seen.
The subject of Kotori’s disability is done tastefully during each sex scene. They even get creative with using a bath and putting her in water to play around with positioning. Ageha’s scenes help keep you going for her route (she’s the lucky girl to receive the Trifecta). They do the whole song and dance, but once the floodgates open, they are fuck each other like rabbits.
Amane’s route shows how playful the writers can be with the subject of sex. Thanks to her airheadedness, she tends to be straightforward. There are scenes where she is watching porn for studying material and Aoi walks in on her.
I didn’t do the last two routes with the 18+ patch. The routes include lolicon.
If My Heart Had Wings is a story first, hentai second. The game takes its time. Unlocking a route takes up half the gametime before you’re treated to any hentai. The story is long, it loses track of itself and gets carried away. It’s sloppy with the English translation and likes to showoff a little too much of the writers’ knowledge about gliders. I would describe this game as a hot mess of joy.