Review Visual Novel

Aoi Tori – Review

Aoi Tori (Blue Bird) is an erotic visual novel developed by Purple Software and published in English by NekoNyan. Though I’m not a veteran of Purple Soft’s prior works, the name caught my attention, and the premise seemed to suggest it had the potential to be intriguing. Let’s see if this bird can sing, and whether its song is worth listening to.

Ritsu talking to the Devil on the phone in Aoi Tori


Aoi Tori shares a universe with Purple Software’s prior title Amatsutsumi. As someone who hasn’t read Amatsutsumi, as far as I can tell you’re missing very little direct context without it. A couple of lines in Aoi Tori reference “kotodama”, a plot element in Amatsutsumi (as well as Kunado Chronicles), and certain parts of the story share themes around the importance of communication and words, but Aoi Tori otherwise felt pretty self-contained. 

Aoi Tori is a story where sex is inherently baked into it from a conceptual standpoint from the get-go. At the time of this writing, the only versions available are 18+, and you can check out our guide for more information on releases, particularly if an all-ages version ever comes out. If one does, we expect NekoNyan to release a patch on their website. 

As a disclaimer, the version I played had all the CGs fully uncensored. There’s some amount of fetish material (e.g. lactation, incest) present, although the majority of actual scenes are relatively vanilla. The story also touches on some darker themes, such as suicide, which can be a bit heavy for some people.

Ritsu thinking to himself

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Aoi Tori is a visual novel with only one choice in the common route, that being the choice that sets you on the route of each main heroine after the prologue. This leaves no player input outside of deciding which order to view the stories. An additional story is unlocked after completing each of the three main routes as are a variety of additional unlockable scenes as described in our guide.

Our protagonist, Ritsu Shiratori, is a young man living at an otherwise all-girls Catholic school in the mountains of Japan. He’s lived there all his life, confined to the school’s premises for various plot reasons (resulting in a story that mostly stays in one place). He has a mysterious power where he can remove negative emotions and bring bliss to those around him. This power is most effective during acts of sex, and he became a sort of a mythical figure on campus who can heal people’s woes via sex.

Though he can be lustful, he struggles to an extent emotionally with his role and his past. He has a hard time turning anyone who “requests his services” down due to immense personal guilt after the one girl whom he ever refused committed suicide.

You quickly come to see that Aoi Tori changes tone fairly regularly and dramatically. Sometimes the script is unrelentingly horny, others it’s trying to be funny and cute, and still others it’s either very philosophical or sad.

Ritsu referencing Shakespeare in Aoi Tori

Setting the Stage

Aoi Tori has a rather small cast overall, limited to Ritsu (the only male character), its main heroines (Mary, Sayo, Risa), a small supporting cast, and the “Devil on the Line” (the closest thing to an antagonist). Nearly every character in this story is introduced during the somewhat lengthy prologue. 

Early on, Ritsu receives a phone call from the Devil who proceeds to mock him and inform him of the dark nature of his powers, foretelling him of dark times ahead and setting in motion the events of the story. He then meets Mary Harker, a half-Japanese and half-British 99-year-old vampire who spent nearly a century traveling the world before returning to the place of her origin (where Ritsu’s school now lies).

Mary is the focal character of the prologue, and honestly the best character of the primary cast in terms of personality and story. She’s cute as a button, with an outwardly vibrant personality that belies a hidden sadness to the character. While her concept isn’t super unique, much of the drama around her is easy to empathize with emotionally, yet involves situations that made me think about “how exactly would someone deal with that” and “what would I say to such a person”. The climax of the prologue was surprisingly touching.

Once things start to settle, you meet much of the rest of the cast, who I discuss in the sections on each of their respective routes. From there, the direction of the rest of the story takes shape. Mary wants to present a Christmas play to the school, as she’s quite fond of theater and literature, with Ritsu and co. playing its characters. You’re given the choice of who you want to play the lead heroine across from Ritsu.

Mary after eating a cookie in Aoi Tori

Mary Route

As the focal character of the prologue leading into her route, Mary is by far the character you’re most familiar with going into it. Despite her old age, she’s a pretty inexperienced romantic at heart, which shows in her personality and desire to write a romantic play. She doesn’t actually expect Ritsu to pick her, and she’s very much new to a lot of experiences from romance to acting. She’s also pretty much the only heroine who doesn’t develop a romantic or sexual relationship with Ritsu right away, as they take a bit of time to develop some chemistry (which is still somewhat abrupt, but does pay off with a damn cute confession scene at least).

Her dedicated route has its share of drama and ties into themes about love and life. Mary herself is a generally fun and upbeat character, but one with her share of troubles and fears eating away at her. Sadly, the plotline around her play itself isn’t particularly interesting on its own (in this or any of the routes), nor does it facilitate much in the way of compelling events for her.  

Her route is overall fine enough though, outside of a couple of odd and frankly unnecessary scenes. It has some good parts and doesn’t overstay its welcome. If anything, I’d say the biggest problem with her route is that it shares many emotional story beats with the prologue, with diminished results that don’t really earn as much of an emotional response as the prologue does.

Sayo resting on Ritsu’s lap in Aoi Tori

Sayo Route

Sayo Kurosaki is brought into the plot by the previously mentioned Devil and is revealed to be Ritsu’s long-lost twin sister late in the prologue. Both had been abandoned by their mother during infancy. She has some similar powers as Ritsu, with more personal control but much less overall potency. She’s rather aloof and somewhat clingy to her brother, given he’s now really the only family she has. Her route deals with a lot of stuff relating to love and family.

Alas, her route is not very good. Setting aside the fact that much of her route’s appeal is twincest (which I’m not a fan of personally, but to each their own), her character doesn’t work very well as the focus of the story. She’s rather one-dimensional both as a character and romance option, and I found her difficult to like throughout her route. She also feels rather awkwardly placed on the whole, given how late she’s added into the story before her route. The drama in her route involving her relationship with Ritsu just doesn’t really work for me, and she lacks much chemistry with other characters here.

Development in this route is generally slow, and Sayo often contradicts herself. For example, she regularly alternates between wanting everyone to know about her love for Ritsu and being embarrassed to be seen romantically engaging with him, and it doesn’t feel organic. Most of the drama happens incredibly late in the route, with emotional gut punches that don’t feel earned. A lot of this resolves rather quickly and abruptly, leaving me rather unsatisfied.

Funnily enough, I felt Sayo does okay as a supporting character in other routes. While she’s still not the easiest character to like, her teasing nature allows her to fit into a group dynamic and bounce off others with more regularity.

Ritsu resting on Risa’s lap in Aoi Tori

Risa Route

Risa Akasabi is introduced late in the prologue as a substitute teacher and academy alumnus. Notably, she was the first person Ritsu ever slept with well before the start of the visual novel.

Alas, this is the worst and most forgettable route overall. Risa herself is a rather uninteresting character in terms of personality and how she fits into the plot, and she seldom shows up in other routes. The main intrigue going into her route is Ritsu’s awkward history regarding the time she took his virginity and how that shaped his life in the time after. However, the plot does next to nothing with this element, instead defaulting to an “I always loved you” angle.

Ritsu, Risa, and Mikako watching a film together

This route also somewhat doubles as a route for her sister Mikako, one of Ritsu’s classmates. Mikako is fairly involved in this route’s overall conflict, and her own role minor within the overall story of Aoi Tori involves a “friends with benefits” relationship with Ritsu. She’s emotionally pretty forthcoming, open to the point of being off-putting towards others, but generally not a bad person. She comes off as somewhat savant-like, with incredible intelligence and photographic memory, but somewhat emotionally stunted. Her being the only one who openly maintains a sexual relationship without romantic interest actually works fine within the story, though she’s an otherwise pretty minor (and arguably underdeveloped) character.

Much of the conflict with Risa and Mikako involves events from their backstories which are spoken of, yet barely shown. Risa makes an incredibly impulsive and consequential decision in the interest of trying to inspire emotions within Mikako, but it just feels unnecessary and badly handled. It felt like Risa wanted to fix a character who never came off to me as broken in the first place, which really soured me on her character and route. 

Similar to the Sayo route, most of the actual drama happens near the route’s end without much in the way of interesting buildup. When the route does finally get to its final act, it feels more like a bad soap opera than compelling fiction. The route’s resolution felt like a deus ex machina, and it even calls attention to this. This whole route felt something like a weird meta-commentary with how often the dialogue treats the story itself like theater, but this did not make it any more compelling. Risa’s route felt completely rushed and clumsily handled on the whole.

Ritsu thinking to himself

The Crux

Ritsu himself is a pretty by-the-books visual novel protagonist for most of the story. He’s introspective, somewhat snarky, kind at heart, generally inclined to keep to himself, and wants to live a relatively normal life despite all the circumstances around him. This type of character typically functions as an audience surrogate in other titles. However, I feel that his abilities, lifestyle, and general role in the plot do not lend well to the story. This problem is compounded by generally how weak the rest of the cast is, as he does little to elevate them.

Ritsu is in a position where narratively he’s frequently having sex with many different girls as emotional support, to the point of being pretty famous on campus for it. While he has the powers to cleanse people around him, his abilities eventually become as ridiculous as they are broad and vaguely defined while doing little to enhance his actual character. A recurring theme is that he can’t use his powers to truly fix his problems, but the actual actions he takes to solve them often still feel ridiculous and unsatisfying. 

His actions with several characters (Sayo and Mary especially) frequently don’t sit right with me. Ritsu often contradicts himself in all three routes to a frustrating degree, both within given routes and between routes. He’ll say one thing at one point and turn around and do another, or he’ll offer conflicting sentiments at different times. He does little to facilitate character growth around him, and his own arc lacks much to get behind.

Akari under the cherry blossoms in Aoi Tori

Akari Route

The final route focuses on the previously supporting character Akari Umino, and is unlocked after finishing the prior three. Akari is the first named girl in the story, the girl on the cover art, and one of the first people Ritsu sleeps with at the very start. A lot of what her route does is a spoiler, so I’ll keep it somewhat vague, but there’s a few significant changes.

Akari works as a foil to Ritsu more than anyone else in this story. While he’s someone special with a desire for normalcy, Akari believes herself to be painfully normal and desires to be special. Ironically, I found Akari’s route at its best when things are at their most normal. The dynamics between the main cast are honestly at their most enjoyable during casual conversations, and more so in this route than any of the others.

Akari herself is not particularly compelling. When she’s acting like a normal girl, she’s fine, and she has some interesting traits. Sadly, when she’s placed under the spotlight her arc and personality falter for me.

As the concluding arc, there’s a share of twists and major drama with attempts to close out certain key plotlines. Sadly, very few of them really landed for me. It tries big twists that I feel I’ve seen better executed even in other stories, and it tries to be more profound than it actually is. 

Risa admonishing Ritsu in Aoi Tori

Recurring Narrative Issues

There are some enjoyable parts and character moments in Aoi Tori, but the story has plenty of problems throughout several routes. 

For starters, it’s exceedingly face-up and obvious when it comes to foreshadowing most of the time, ultimately doing a poor job at it. A lot of upcoming events aren’t just alluded to, but explicitly spelled out, sucking out much of the surprise and anticipation.

Similarly, there are constant references to literature, especially Western literature. Characters discuss famous books and plays with some regularity, including the famous play from which Aoi Tori shares its name (Maeterlinck’s “The Blue Bird”). These discussions often spell out blatant themes rather than leaving them implied for subtlety. It also has moments of self-awareness that come off more as indulgent than meaningful, which eventually led to more eye-rolls than interest.

The story moves quickly, but its pacing feels rather disjointed. Several routes are backloaded when it comes to offering meaningful tension, without much of interest in between. There’s some levity here and there, but I rarely found interactions between characters all that enjoyable or amusing. The characters rarely develop in ways that clicked with me, if much at all. The way they act between routes is sometimes inconsistent as well.

Aoi Tori is woefully lacking in subtlety, while also never really sticking to a clear idea of what it’s actually trying to do. It’s pitched as a “story of life”, but only at a few points did it ever really leave any impact on me or get me to think about life much at all. Several of the girls throw themselves at Ritsu pretty quickly without much time to truly develop an organic relationship dynamic with him, leading to multiple romances that feel remarkably shallow, and a cast of characters I will likely forget pretty quickly. 

It’s not for lack of potential. There was plenty of room to explore themes of sex, relationships, family, meaning in life, and so on. However, outside of a couple of times it managed to succeed, this story just felt unconvincing in the way it approached most subjects. The story is a disorganized collection of ideas and themes, rarely feeling committed to living up to its ambitions, and comes off as trite or cliche at several points.

Much of the cast of Aoi Tori hanging out


Although Aoi Tori is a story with sex regularly mentioned in the script, there are only a total of 16 H-scenes throughout the main routes. This isn’t as many as I would have expected, given a plot that sounds more like the description for a nukige. There are an additional 9 “extra” scenes you can unlock and view in the gallery from the title screen by completing routes, plus plenty of CGs.

Visually, Aoi Tori is fine. Most of the character sprites look fairly expressive. The limited setting of the story means backgrounds are somewhat barebones and repeated very often, though scenes with falling snow or cherry blossoms have some nice motion effects. The soundtrack is also generally pretty decent. Few tracks stood out to me, and a couple have weird loops, but they fit nicely overall.  Some voice lines are also a bit too quiet, and end up largely drowned out by the music, though thankfully there’s plenty of volume sliders in the menu.

The translation is fine. Honorifics (-kun, -san, etc.) are usually kept, and from what I could tell from the voice lines, most of what is referenced stays the same in English. There were a couple of minor references which were changed from something Japanese to something English speakers might be more familiar with (e.g. a reference to a blind character as Zatoichi in the voiceover being changed to Daredevil in English), and there are a couple of typos, but these were rare.

I get why these occasional changes happen and didn’t mind them. If anything, it made me think Aoi Tori could have used a glossary or TIPS section to explain its references. I understood most references without a need to explain them in the main script, so I think this would have made for a less intrusive place for details. This would probably work well for both English and Japanese-speaking readers.

Ritsu contemplating the direction of the play


While bluebirds are historically a symbol of incoming happiness, Aoi Tori left me with feelings of ambivalence at best.

Aoi Tori tries to do a lot, but it doesn’t do much particularly well. Plot elements clash and leave the story feeling disjointed. Two of the four routes are just not good overall, and even the two better ones have significant pitfalls. It has a small cast of characters it focuses on, but outside of Mary I seldom found myself actually caring for or about most of them.

For as much as it is a story with sex as an active component, it has a lot of text in between the actual scenes, while also not doing that much to explore the topic of sex itself beyond a surface level. This makes it harder to recommend regardless of whether you want a “plot with porn” or “porn with plot” erotic visual novel. While Aoi Tori has some good ideas and gets some things right, I think this bird might have been better off left in its cage.


Platforms: PC
Purchase: JAST USA / MangaGamer / Denpasoft
Walkthrough/Guide: Click Here

If you are looking for another visual novel featuring the same Kotodama power, you may enjoy Amatsusumi or Kunado Chronicles. We have also covered a wide variety of visual novels both original to English and localized from Japanese, which you can check out here.

Many thanks go to NekoNyan for a PC review code for this title.

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