Summer Pockets - Ao Sorakado Route & Character Discussion

Discussion topic for Ao’s arc & character in Summer Pockets. Feel free to discuss anything from the route, but mark any comparisons to events outside of her arc and the common route with the [spoiler] tag.

What would you rate this route?

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“People are determined when they have a clear goal.”

This is my second route as I’ve decided to playthrough in the order that the heroines appear, and it really feels like a perfect follow up to the Shiroha route. Upon starting a new game it was nice to see an option to skip the loooong prologue… Though I wonder what that does for all of the prologue humor that carries through into the latter parts of the game.

The route is at times amazing and at times underwhelming. It was a nice 5-6 hours long in my experience, however the time isn’t perfectly managed. The sometimes-slow pacing messes with the tension of the route, and since the route itself is a sort of mystery story, that tension is very important. Luckily there is also an amazing romance story in here, and that aspect really holds the story together.

Ao’s personality is weeeird. She’s very submissive, but in a very assertive way to the point where it feels like she has control. She’s a shy girl that comes across as very extraverted and loud. She does a lot of screamed punchlines where the camera suddenly zooms in on her face… I’m not a fan of that. It’s not very funny. Some of the humor hits though. The shrimp trauma needs to be spread.
The further into the route I got, the more I liked her… And that’s weird, because she never really changed. Maybe I just liked how romance-focused the route was…
Anyway, I’m coining the term Aodorable.

The route has a small amount of downtime during the map segment. Ao often isn’t available so I ended up filling the gaps with the weird animal fighting minigame which I obtained after visiting Umi on the first day. Very fun little game. If it wasn’t for that, the route would be relatively short I imagine…

Ao’s earlier scenes are a bit boring to say the least. The sleeping scenes have some interesting information in them, but they’re kinda weird… The part time job scenes are nice however.
I couldn’t help but notice that—although Hairi spends a good amount of time with Ao—Ao herself doesn’t spend much time with Hairi. The two surprisingly don’t talk much for a long duration of the route.

Inari, our weird blue digimon fox, gets more and more screentime the more you read. I really grew to love Inari. At first it didn’t really do anything, but it kinda became the bro of the route. Hairi and Inari work together both comedically and seriously, and they have a good dynamic (despite Inari only being able to say pon.) Some of the jokes Inari sets up are adorable too. The hand holding scene is great.

And then we get to the real meat of the route… A mystery-esque search for answers within a limited amount of time.
I have to say, I’m really impressed with how well this route is tied into the rest of what I’ve read so far. (Very light Shiroha spoilers.) It not only shares elements with Shiroha’s, but it actively answers questions that were prompted at the end of Shiroha’s route. And since Hairi got a lot of development in Shiroha’s route, he can fully go into exploration and observation in Ao’s route.
I was expecting these things to not show up until the very end of the game. I was expecting some kind of plothole ridden route format such as in Rewrite. I wasn’t expecting Summer Pockets to follow up on the greater lore of the setting during the routes. Because of that, this game feels less like a series of routes and more like a single book.

There’s this one song that plays a lot in this route, and it sounds like some kind of 28 days later track, and I love it.

Eventually the mystery elements enter the story, and gradually our duo of searchers begin to run out of time. Every day feels less hopeful; the effects of the searching start to have an effect on our characters. This progression, or maybe it’d be best called a regression, is thrilling to watch… Or it would be if not for the interspersed moments of downtime. Part of me wonders if this development may have been a bit too gradual. They could cut out a day or two of events to make it a bit snappier. Because of such pacing, the route starts to feel predictable in various ways which is a shame.
Still, the route’s main plot point remains intruiging.

Eventually we hear about Ao’s backstory, and we get this CG of Ai, and I really like the CG; even though it portrays a nice deed, the CG is drawn in a really creepy way. That’s interesting because it makes the reader get into Ao’s mindset: Despite this being a moment of good, it certainly isn’t an appealing one.

The tension, rather strangely, starts to die down. The mystery isn’t solved or anything, but the route switches focus rather heavily to Hairi and Ao’s relationship. I’m not sure whether I like this switch of focus. In a way it feels like they gave up a promising aspect of the route… But on the other hand we get a great romance story out of it, and I’m a sucker for romance stories.

Then the route comes to a close, and I find myself truly loving the central relationship. Hairi gets a lot of alone time in which we learn about his feelings. Ao gets a lot of alone time in which we learn about her feelings. The two get a lot of time together. At the end of it all, I feel so much more appreciative of—and closer to—Ao!Hairi and Ao (and even Inari) than I ever did with Shiro!Hairi and Shiroha. I really really enjoyed this route.
But something about it feels wrong. Something feels missing. It’d be interesting to see if anyone else felt that way about it.

Regardless, this is definitely my favorite route so far, and I could easily see it being my favorite route of the entire VN. It has a wide appeal. If you like Higurashi, or AIR, or any Bishoujo game, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this route. Also if you’re Kanon, you’ll like this route.

And now have some screenshots~

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To begin with, I’ll express my regret at having not come up with this first.

With that out of the way, I’ll give some very basic impressions I had of the route without going into details of the happenings. I’m bad at reviews after all.

Although the route itself remained relatively predictable throughout most of it, what truly sells this route is undoubtedly the interactions between Hairi and Ao. If you like thinly veiled flirting in the form of silly back-and-forth slapstick exchanges, this route will certainly entertain you. There were times where I almost questioned whether this was really a Key novel. Such open displays of affection seemed rather removed from what I usually expect from Key routes after all.
Other than that, the lack of other characters present in the route is as expected from a Key work. Aside from Inari, there is no other regulars in this route until near the end, and as much as I loved that little furball wingman, it still felt largely like they were the only two people on the island much of the time.
All in all, I enjoyed it quite a bit since I am a sucker for little romances like this, but I can only give it a 3 after taking everything into consideration.

The girl is asleep half the time, it’s no wonder you can’t find her on the map!

Other VNs which utilizes the map and date system has trained me to focus on a heroine and just skip everything extra. Everytime you don’t see her on the map, just go to Tenzen but not play table tennis with him, or go to the time and make a wish. Doing this is as good as skipping a turn and keeps your mind focused on the route.

As like you said, the route feels quite short, since the plot is quite direct. I think this is fine. Some of the tension built up already seems like a drag, if the route is any longer, readers will be bored.

Could you elaborate on this? Everything was resolved at the end, no?

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I think its just the way the route set up an interesting mystery story and then completely cut it off with some sex jokes and basic slice of life moments. I feel like something could’ve been done with that aspect of the route rather than abruptly dropping the importance of it towards the end.

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Can someone please explain how Ao fell into a coma as well? Was it cause she took in too many memories of other people and then she got too tired?

Hmm, I’ve been using notepad files to scribble some notes and such while reading Summer Pockets’ routes so that I can remember better what crossed my mind. The thing is, it was only about two thirds into Ao’s route that I realized I hadn’t filled half a notepad page. I think this really says a lot about this route. Nothing stands out, the story just happens.

One thing I noticed is that the story keeps on a cycle. Everytime the story started flowing it was suddenly stopped and stayed still for some time before starting to flow again and being stopped. This constant change in pace got quite tiresome and boring after some time. The first map scenes were basically repetitions of each other. Kai’s writing seemed a little stucked on repeat. Some things were not explained very well too, I’d say.
It shocked me how much more ecchi this route was too. It was just kind of unsettling for Summer Pockets sometimes. Honestly, I think this was the ecchi-est route I’ve ever read from Key (not really complaining).

Now, despite everything I said until now I think you could say I enjoyed this route much more than the others. The dull, ordinary moments here are written a lot better, in my opinion, and while I would say the story is quite weak and predictable, the characters really make it more interesting and better even. The comedy is really good too, this is probably the route I laughed the most.
Ao is undoubtedly my favourite heroine. For some reason, she just sounds a lot more natural than the other heroines. She doesn’t have a personality where just one adjective could describe her perfectly, that’s probably what makes her more credible and relatable.
Hairi functions better than ever in Ao’s route too. In the other routes you can feel that they either focus more on the heroine or more in Hairi, but here it’s just really well-balanced.
It’s interesting how similar the mood is between this route and Kamome’s towards the end. While story-wise I prefer Kamome’s, Hairi is a lot better and feels more true in Ao’s.

About the music, 虹の蝶 is pretty much a magical track. The first time it started playing I got really excited and just couldn’t stop reading. It’s easily one of the best tracks in the game (I don’t like the “action-directed” variation though). Deep Blue Blue feels a little filler, the little riff it starts with really draws attention but the rest of the song doesn’t live up to it.

Between some ups and downs, Ao’s route is definitely interesting. I wish some things were done differently but whatever… I just really need an Ao After.


I wonder what Tsumugi would think of this.

Just finished her route. Although I liked how they reveal the mistery behind the glowing butterflies of the island, I can’t help but feel like I expected a little more.

(Spoilers from the route from now on)

The plot mainly consists in Ao and Hairi searching for the lost memories of Ai in order to wake her up from coma. Although the nights spent on chasing iridescent shades together were very interesting to read, I wished they showed more of the couple having fun during the day as well, especially messing around with Ryouchi, Tenzen and Nomiki, who appeared only for brief moments during the route.

Another thing that bugs me is that the route started to get predictable at some point. I mean, while they were searching for Ai’s memories, there were always one single buttlerfly who wasn’t attracted by the light, but instead of taking a look, Hairi and Ao just ignored it for days. That was so frustating…

For me, the best moments of the route were Ai’s past and the memory from the guy who was the lover of Tsumugi. As someone who has read her route beforehand, it was pretty nice to catch that reference.

Overall, it was a good route to read. It’s a shame that they didn’t show Ao and Hairi having fun together as couple, as they were focused on waking up Ai, but the moments of them chasing iridescent shades made up for it. It may not be the most touching route of Summer Pockets, but it’s surely memorable.