Otome Game Review: Houkago Colorful Step ~Undoubu!~

Houkago Colorful Step ~Undoubu!~ is the first of two games about the daily lives of highschool girls (and boys). Kohinata Natsuko and Haruko are sisters, new in town. Transferring in their 2nd year into Tokiwa high due to their father’s job, the sisters take turns romancing six boys each in the two Colorful Step games. The sporty Natsuko seems to have no problem taking on the new landscape, while the quieter Haruko worries about making friends. IT’S OKAY! You’ll get your turn in the next game!

Basically, Undoubu is Natsuko’s game. A bright and outgoing girl, she gets along with her classmates and mixes well with people. The school has a reputation for its club activities, and all students are required to pick either a sports club or a cultural club to join. Natsuko can’t handle all the artsy fartsy stuff, and narrows down her options to two.

One, the track and field club. She used to run long distances in middle school, and believes running again would be fun. Two, the basketball club. It’s a guys-only team due to regulations but they’re in desperate need of a manager; Natsuko contemplates trying something new since AAH, YOUTH. There’s a general period of time before club selection, where you get to see Natsuko interact with all the guys to get a general feel of the game. Depending on which club she ends up choosing, she’ll be having lots of Quality Time with the boys associated with that club.

 

TRACK & FIELD CLUB – COMMON ROUTE
Each club has its own common route, which lasts up till around a later “training camp” segment. A lot of things happen when Natsuko chooses to run again! She spices up interactions between the club members because she balances out their personalities so well ehehe. Very quickly, here’s a rundown of the three track guys:

Tokitou Chikayuki (CV: Taniyama Kishou). THE BEST CHARACTER. I didn’t even think I’d end up liking this cornflake this much. Tokitou takes life as it comes and is easy with his words, fun-loving and teasing. He sits beside Natsuko in class, and they’ve become a source of entertainment for the class because Natsuko won’t take any of Tokitou’s flirty shit, which wounds him deeply. (´;ω;`) He’s apparently really good at long distances, but runs middle distances instead and never takes practice seriously. It’s worrying.

Kiryuu Nanao (CV: Yonaga Tsubasa). Natsuko’s adorable kouhai! He’s super passionate and pushes himself too hard during practice. A gifted runner with a background in the sport (his father is a pro who was in the Olympics at some point), Kiryuu takes his club activities extremely seriously. He’s very good at short distances. Due to his admiration for A Certain Someone, he wants to run long distance instead despite being considerably weaker in it. He’s also classmates with Sasagi, one of the basketballers.

Ninomae Kiichi (CV: Hirakawa Daisuke). Rock solid and steady captain of the team. Everyone relies on Nino-senpai to get shit done, and the amount of managerial work he does for the team is insane – especially considering the size of the club, which is said to be one of the largest in school. They’re like an army and he’s their commander. An all-rounded runner with a heart of steel, he never seems to be perturbed by anything. To an extent, he’s quite pure…according to Natsuko. He ends up worrying about Kiryuu and Tokitou a lot because they’re both problem kids in their own right.

All is well and Natsuko is now in charge of bullying Tokitou into going for club practices. She’s successfully cockblocking him from slacking, which is hilarious because Tokitou whines about it but follows her around anyway. (´・ω・`)

Shit hits the fan when Natsuko runs into an accident during training. She’s been really well-adjusted up till that point, when she suddenly suffers a sprain. It’s not life-ending or anything thanks to receiving prompt help from Tokitou and the school nurse, but Natsuko can’t train herself for the upcoming Interhigh seed races. She’ll have to wait till next year…Nino-senpai apologizes for not taking into consideration that Natsuko hadn’t run for an extended period of time before she joined the club. He’s such a nice guy, but Natsuko won’t be taking any of his apologies.

However, that doesn’t change how she feels sad about her injury. But Natsuko isn’t even CLOSE to the moping type. She starts to watch recorded videos of previous matches and famous race events, to sort of ‘study up’. Natsuko makes a comment about how running can be pressurizing if the hopes and expectations of the audience are all piled upon your shoulders. Nino-senpai, who’s there with her, asks what it means to feel NERVOUS, because he has a gut of steel or something. True iron snake, the man that never gets butterflies. Nino-senpai is a great captain though; the seemingly random question was because he wanted to learn how to support those club members suffering from pre-match anxiety (like Kiryuu).

Speaking of Kiryuu, his clocked timings have been really riding the proverbial wave lately and not in the good way. No one’s really sure what’s eating him, though nerves seems to be the best bet. But taking a detour from the Serious Business, there’s one scene where Kiryuu is napping under a tree and Tokitou starts murmuring embarrassing things like “if you don’t wake up, I’ll kiss you~” into his ear. (´・ω・`) Kiryuu’s so horrified he jolts awake and whacks Tokitou on the forehead instead HAHAHA.

Since Natsuko can’t take part in the Interhighs thanks to her injury, she’s working on fixing her running form so as not to put too much stress on her foot. She’s also helping Nino-senpai out with managerial duties, such as getting the equipment needed for the club to function, and taking questions from the club members to communicate to him.

During the qualifying district tournament to determine who gets to run in the Interhigh, Natsuko offers Kiryuu advice to help him get over his nerves. She tells him to imagine he’s chasing a snatch-thief who stole her bag, and if she doesn’t get it back she’ll be angry at him.(;▽;)Kiryuu easily passes the qualifiers, along with Nino-senpai. On the other hand, Tokitou…Natsuko notices his pace falling at a rapid rate, and it’s like he just can’t summon the effort to run seriously. Tokitou barely makes it to the Interhigh and an athlete from an opponent school confronts him about this, angry that he isn’t motivated. Tokitou just waves it off and resumes his joking smalltalk with his teammates as usual, but Natsuko isn’t fooled by that – she can see a hint of conflict in Tokitou’s expression, and it makes her wonder if this guy truly enjoys track or not.

Tokitou begins to skip practice again. Natsuko runs into him at a sports shop after school, on her way to get some equipment. He’s being yelled at by the same athlete, who seems to be a longtime acquaintance. It’s so Free! because of all this I’VE BEEN RUNNING TO CATCH UP TO YOU BUT WHAT HAVE YOU BECOME nonsense, and Tokitou spots Natsuko amidst the chaos…he pretends that she’s his girlfriend and uses it as an excuse to backpedal the heck out of that place. ʅ( ՞ਊ՞)ʃ Tokitou pls.

This subplot is abandoned for another one shortly after – Nino-senpai is in trouble. He collapses during practice one day and EVERYONE PANICS. It’s revealed in the nurse’s office to Natsuko that it’s due to a foot injury he suffered a long time back. It’s putting strain on him when he runs, and he isn’t sure when it’ll get better. Obviously the logical step is to retire from the Interhigh and go on rehab immediately if he wishes to continue his track activities safely, but Nino-senpai insists that he’ll be alright. Tokitou and Kiryuu were so concerned for him that they went to check up on his condition, and ended up overhearing this conversation. Tokitou doesn’t know why Nino-senpai must push himself so hard, isn’t it okay to just quit if it’s going to be painful? …This is where Kiryuu loses it and starts yelling at him for not understanding the passion and hard work Nino-senpai put into his running; belittling captain’s seriousness towards track is insulting. How can Tokitou say something like that? Kiryuu himself has always been waiting for Tokitou to get serious about running too. Kiryuu’s angry rant makes Tokitou feel a little embarrassed for himself, and he apologizes to Nino-senpai.

If it seems like the common route has a lot of Tokitou in it, it’s because IT’S TRUE, HE’S THE MAIN FOCUS. (´◉◞⊖◟◉`) Tokitou continues to evade club practice, however, and Natsuko takes it upon herself to chase him to club after classes. He’s usually bumming with his really goodlooking friends after school anyway (LOL). She nags him to come to club, and doesn’t take any of his sulking, even if it’s cute. His friends are so amazed someone actually managed to make him get off his butt, and comment that Natsuko and Tokitou really go well together~ even Tokitou wants to tease her about getting all flustered because to him it’s a huge compliment~ he’s interested in her after all~ www they’re so adorable together.

While trying to deal with Tokitou, Natsuko also tries to help Kiryuu improve his long distance timings. They go ask Tokitou for help in this area since it’s his speciality, but he just complains about how Kiryuu should just aim for the top in sprinting, and not bother about long distance because he’s not as good in it, right? Kiryuu calls him out on running middle distances too when it’s obviously not Tokitou’s forte, and the atmosphere drops by about 30 degrees oh man. Tokitou wants to leave already, but Kiryuu begs really desperately for him to teach him…because no matter what, he wants to run long distance. When he was in second year of middle school, he started long distance because of someone he admired…his strong feelings make Tokitou relent and now he’s Kiryuu’s teacher of sorts LOL.

Natsuko’s glad for Kiryuu, and asks him if he knows why Tokitou doesn’t main in long distance, since he appears to know the reason. After practice, he reveals their shared past to her. In middle school, Tokitou was this famous long distance runner who was amazingly fast. Kiryuu had this senior who was super OP and practically unchallenged until Tokitou appeared out of nowhere – a genius runner without a name. He trashed everyone in that race and it seemed like he was having so much fun. Since young, Kiryuu has been living in his dad’s shadow, practicing sprints despite not really enjoying it. He wanted to quit track for good until he saw Tokitou, and his gallant form stole his heart…this is really shojo. *✲゚*。✧٩(・ิᴗ・ิ๑)۶٩(・ิᴗ・ิ๑)۶*✲゚*。✧ It was the first time he’d seen someone enjoy themselves like that and he thought – he wanted to run like that, to have fun too…and started running long distances. It was hard to adjust to the switch, but whenever Kiryuu thought of giving up, he’d always remember Tokitou. While he’s not sure what’s up with the guy, he’s definitely hiding something personal and maybe this information would help Natsuko in some way.

Chasing this plot thread, Natsuko bumps into that angry athlete a few days later on her way home. She’s so caught up in her thoughts about club that she doesn’t even NOTICE him lmfofjdks. Anyway, his name is Higashi! She introduces herself to him. HE’S…PRETTY CUTE…WHY ARE ALL THE SIDE CHARAS IN THIS GAME CUTE!? Anyway, HIGASHI GETS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT TOKITOU and is all sadface when Natsuko is all uhm but he never told me about you 8D;; He was really happy when Kiryuu told him that Tokitou made it to the prefectural tournament. This guy is obviously that incredible senior Kiryuu was talking about. Higashi was really pumped to run against Tokitou again, but shit happened…and Natsuko asks him if he knew anything about Tokitou’s situation.

Higashi can’t be sure, but he heard that after Tokitou set that as-yet-unbroken timing during that race, the relationships in his club became strained. Perhaps everyone else grew jealous of his talent and were frustrated that they couldn’t be as good. A friend he was really close to ended up transferring schools because of this, even (whoa there, overreacting much?). Because Tokitou didn’t want anyone to be hurt by this anymore, he stopped running and hid his talent. Higashi is practically begging Natsuko to set Tokitou right, because he doesn’t want Tokitou to quit running. However, he’s not going to make it up till the Interhigh if he goes on like this, so Higashi doesn’t want Tokitou and his talent to just self-destruct here. Natsuko understands that Tokitou doesn’t really want to quit either…if he did, he wouldn’t even be in the club in the first place.

Training camp begins! Nothing much happens here. Nino-senpai’s foot injury isn’t 100% better yet, and Kiryuu is able to pass him in sprinting. Natsuko gets worried but chooses not to fuss over him. He can handle his own shit. She also walks in on the three guys half-naked after bathtime because a member of the club told her to pass something to Nino-senpai, and…uhm…stuff happens HAHAHA. There’s also a test of courage on the second day of the camp, with fireworks viewing right after (since it’s summer).

Also, I’m really biased but I’ll shove Tokitou’s snippet for the courage test here: when Natsuko gets paired up with Tokitou, he tells her she’d better protect him from any scary stuff because he’s scared easily~ Natsuko’s all “Isn’t it usually the reverse!? But okay, I’ll protect you.” and he’s like “Thanks, my prince~” CRIES ON FLOOR FOREVER ARIGATOU OUJISAMA INDEED. ( ・ิω・ิ) After this, the routes begin to diverge.

In the Track Club Bad End, no one makes it past the prefectural tournament. The game ends with a sad parting speech from Nino-senpai. But continuing into the other endings, Nino-senpai, Kiryuu and Tokitou are all still in the running for the Interhigh!

 

TOKITOU CHIKAYUKI

Breezy and seemingly a free spirit, Tokitou causes Natsuko no end of trouble. His route is really sweet with a good dose of drama! …Especially once Kiryuu gets into a car accident and has to be hospitalized. Tokitou and Natsuko rush to see him in the hospital, and they’re all aware that it’d be some time before Kiryuu can heal up. He probably can’t take part in the Interhigh like this. Kiryuu is frustrated, yes, but he’s even more frustrated at how Tokitou just doesn’t want to put his heart into running. He tells Tokitou that he’d always admired his running, and wishes for him to compete seriously once more. This puts Tokitou on the spot, and he has a minor outburst about how everyone around him will ~disappear~ if he does, and leaves.

Natsuko just won’t let Tokitou’s issues slide like this. In school, she won’t take his escapism bullshit and chases him up to the rooftop, where she demands to know what his true feelings are. Tokitou replies that though he does like running, it’s complicated. There’s a lot haunting him from his past experiences, and many hurtful words he doesn’t want to hear again. If he runs, he might piss someone off again. However, Natsuko thinks that stopping whatever he likes for the sake of his friends is complete rubbish. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Tokitou still isn’t convinced, and being hounded is making running seem like a duty. If he wants to run, he can just do it for fun in his own time. He decides to hand in his withdrawal form to the club through Natsuko, though Nino-senpai wouldn’t even accept it LMFAO.

Tokitou has a serious case of Can’t Make Up My Mind, especially apparent when Natsuko catches him watching the club during practice one day. He’s “just passing by” and makes to leave, but she yells after him that Kiryuu is giving it his all to return to practice. Even if he can’t make it to the Interhigh this year, he’s still hoping for next year because he wants to run with Tokitou. Natsuko adds that if anyone has a problem with him putting his heart into running, they better take it up with her. But there shouldn’t be a need for this anyway, since the track club is full of nice people, and wouldn’t hurt his soul out of spite/jealousy. But despite all these prime turning moments, TOKITOU STILL ISN’T BUYING IT. Σ ((유∀유|||))

It’s only when he visits Kiryuu again that he has a change of heart. Watching the younger boy practice so hard, he thinks his previous attitude is horrible and halfassed. He wishes to confront his past, and wants to stop being afraid. He wants to believe in Natsuko’s words, that she’ll always stand on his side.

His actions reflect this change of heart when Natsuko catches him practicing alone on the field early one day. Like this, he’s been able to confront his own lameness and cleared his thoughts while just having simple fun. Natsuko can see how Tokitou’s enjoying himself, and asks him again to return to the club. Tokitou expresses that he’s relieved – what would he have done if she’d told him that they no longer wanted him around? She calls him paranoid, and asks him to come back. Tokitou pauses briefly, before answering with a hint of satisfaction – yeah. U G H this game is so sweet. This whole part is so heartwarming, it’s like coming home. ;_; Tokitou also makes another confession to Nino-senpai about how he was a coward who didn’t dare fix what he had broken, but this time he won’t turn away because he loves running more than anything. Of course since Nino-senpai didn’t even bother turning in his resignation form, he welcomes Tokitou back to the track club!

Later on, Tokitou settles back into club practice. He also complains to Natsuko about his lacking love life (LOL) and she tells him that he can go out with her…for club practice (SNORTS) because it’s still with a girl HAHAHA. NATSUKO. Thus, Tokitou begins morning practice with her. His time has been improving; both Nino-senpai and Kiryuu (who has just been discharged) are amazed! Tokitou gets all shy about it lMFOFHKS he’s also really shy about Kiryuu being all glad he’s running for real again because of the I ADMIRED YOU SO I FOLLOWED YOU TO THIS SCHOOL, SENPAI thing and flees lmfofhjds. In the end, Tokitou’s running isn’t something that hurts people…it’s actually inspiring to them aaahh.

The day before the Interhigh, Tokitou calls Natsuko out to the park at night. He wants to take her somewhere, and grabs her by the hand. She notices that he’s trembling just a little…and realizes that he’s nervous about tomorrow. He takes her to a spot where they can overlook the whole town, and confesses that he just called her out because he thought of her when he was nervous. With her, he finds that he’s able to calm down. He thanks her for everything she’s done – if not for her persuading him to keep running, he wouldn’t be going to the interhigh. He wants her to cheer for him…without Natsuko, Tokitou admits that he’d be some useless human being.

The day of the Interhigh arrives! Tokitou finds himself thinking of the past, and admits to Natsuko that he’s scared because being here brings back old memories. She assures him that no matter what, she and the other members won’t change their attitudes to him – besides, Higashi’s been waiting all this time to run again with him. She tells him to just go out there and do what he likes! He wins the qualifying round for his bracket to the…finals, where he will finally face off against Higashi!! Natsuko makes Tokitou promise to teach her more about the stage he stands on – the level required for the Interhigh – because she wants to aim for it next year.

Before the final race,Tokitou tells Natsuko that he’s noticed the people around him who wish him to run, who’re supporting him. He’s realized that he’s been pretty blessed all this while. This time he’ll give it his best – for everyone’s sake, for Natsuko’s sake, and most importantly: for his own sake. Before he leaves, Tokitou tries to tell Natsuko something but can’t bring himself to…and then Nino-senpai calls him away to the race track.

Tokitou wins the 5000m race at the Interhigh! Suddenly he’s super famous so he’s been quite busy since then. He almost got a fanclub but managed to persuade them to disband, claiming that there’s already someone he likes. This piece of info bothers Natsuko just a bit, though she refuses to tell Tokitou why she’s all :T when they’re out together. Anyway…turns out Tokitou got scouted, but he’s still not 100% sure if he should pursue sports full time. He asks what Natsuko intends to do after she graduates, and she replies that she’ll likely go on to university. She wonders why he’s so interested in her future, and…TOKITOU STARTS BLUSHING LMFAO (⊙‿⊙✿)

He wants to head to the same university as her AWHWHHGDJ. Natsuko thinks he should go to the same uni as the person he likes (LOL) and Tokitou just sort of…gives up on beating round the bush. He lays it out and confesses to her; oh my god he’s so freaking cute bye.(;▽;)Natsuko accepts his confession, and reflects on the first day they met. From now on, they’d be able to see the same sights together. In many ways, she’s still at the start line of her school life, and the road ahead of her is infinite.

Love End 1: Natsuko finally gets to debut at the Interhigh, and Tokitou encourages her when she’s nervous by saying that all she has to do is to run as she usually does – and have fun. She’s glad she’s able to enter his ‘world’ like this, to stand on the same stage. Tokitou hugs Natsuko to stop her trembling, and says that he’ll be watching over her as she runs. Natsuko steels her resolve, and tells him to wait for her return! She got her dose of courage from Tokitou, who’s won the Interhigh on his end AGAIN. Tokitou replies that without her, he wouldn’t be here at all, so it’s all thanks to Natsuko. Their exchange mirrors the one they had the previous year before Tokitou headed off to his own race…THEY ARE SO CUTE WEEPS.ヽ(;▽;)ノNatsuko thinks about how her world has broadened up since last summer, and how from now on she’ll be with Tokitou and experiencing all these new things, chasing the same dreams together.

Love End 2: Before club practice, Tokitou’s off bumming in the garden. Natsuko finds him and he’s all “I was wondering when you’d arrive~”. I think it’s really sweet how they’ve settled into their love life without much difference in their friendship. Tokitou does the lap-pillow thing with Natsuko, and asks her if she’ll still do this for him when he’s an old man awwwh ;_; That’s still thinking really far into the future LOLOL but Natsuko says she’ll promise to do so in advance. Tokitou sneaks in a quick kiss before rushing off to club ahead of her HAHAHA (╯°Д°)╯︵/(.□ . )\

Friend End: Tokitou doesn’t manage to break past Higashi during the Interhigh, but the difference in their times is 0.2 seconds. Tokitou is really sad but Natsuko reminds him that he can always just challenge Higashi again next year! So…Tokitou gets himself all psyched up, and grabs Natsuko to go practice with him. ε=ε=\(òдó)/=3=3

 

KIRYUU NANAO

Cute little boy who looks like an Audino! He pushes himself a bit too hard. After the camp, Kiryuu seems to be getting more desperate with his training, commenting about how he ‘doesn’t have time left’. He overexerts himself and ends up with a sprain before the Interhigh. Natsuko is tasked to bring him out for a breather, and they head to the aquarium on a Sunday. There, Natsuko asks and finds out the reason why Kiryuu is acting this way – his father’s transferring away for his job, and Kiryuu has to transfer schools after the summer. Though he wants to see Tokitou run seriously, his time has been cut short. So if anything, Kiryuu wishes for himself to become faster, so he can challenge Tokitou into getting serious. But he’s frustrated that his time hasn’t been improving. (´;ω;`) Natsuko wants to help somehow, and offers to train with him since they’re both long distance runners.

After training together, Kiryuu’s improvement is so rapid that Natsuko urges him to issue a challenge to Tokitou. He does, and Tokitou wins…but admits that he had to put heart into it halfway through, or else Kiryuu would’ve stayed ahead of him. Tokitou agrees to train seriously, because there’s no way he’ll lose to Kiryuu!

However…the time finally comes when Kiryuu announces to everyone that he’ll be leaving, a day before the Interhigh race. This will be his final race in Tokiwa. The club members – especially Tokitou – are shocked, but they’ll support him in the Interhigh. Later on, Kiryuu admits to Natsuko that he’s terrified of what will happen during the Interhigh, fearing he might get nervous and slip up like he used to. Natsuko just grabs him into a hug right there, telling him it’ll be alright. (´;ω;`) She’ll be waiting for him at the goal line, so he should run his best and have fun. This gets Kiryuu to remember something he’d forgotten – that enjoying himself is also important. He thanks Natsuko for all that she’s taught him up till now, and stresses that he’s glad he met her.

The Interhigh arrives, and…Kiryuu places fourth for the long distance run. He’s really disappointed and frustrated, but he’s glad he got to run with Tokitou, to see him race seriously, and it was really enjoyable ;_; he starts crying awhjkgf baby!! (இдஇ`。) Natsuko doesn’t know what to say, and can only comfort him. There’ll be a next year, so Kiryuu can improve until then.

Love End 1: After the Interhigh, Natsuko and Kiryuu do some practicing together since there’s still some time left till the end of summer. During their practicing together, Kiryuu asks Natsuko to stay by his side always and watch over him. Matsuko agrees, and just like that…they begin dating. A year later, Natsuko enters the Interhigh as a participant. There, she sees Kiryuu, who has grown tremendously over the past year. He races with Tokitou again, and claims first place for the long distance race. Tokitou congratulates him on a job well done, while Kiryuu practically radiates with joy. (=´∀`)人(´∀‘=) Natsuko’s super happy for him too! The both of them affirm their feelings for each other, and from now on they’ll be racing forward~

Love End 2: Kiryuu moves away after the end of summer. Natsuko finds that long-distance relationships are a little lonely, and she misses Kiryuu terribly. She’s surprised and happy when he gives her a call, and tells her that he sent out a letter for her – it’d arrive by the time she gets home. What kind of speedmail is this!? Anyway…Kiryuu calls her again soon after, and turns out that he’d come all the way to Natsuko’s neighborhood to look for her because he wanted to see her again. She’s so moved she starts crying homg.(;Д;)In his letter are tickets to the aquarium, and Kiryuu asks her out on a date for the next day. Overjoyed, Natsuko agrees and it’s a Happy End for them both!

Friend End: Kiryuu reflects on his time in the club – it was short, but having met everyone…he really likes Tokiwa’s track club, and is really sad about leaving. Natsuko says he can always come over to practice with her whenever.

 

NINOMAE KIICHI

The solid team captain who’s a little hard to understand but is in fact really caring! Natsuko is largely in his care during her time with the Track club, and is really grateful that they have a reliable captain like him around. However, she does worry about his whole IT IS OK I GOT THIS attitude, especially when the injury with his foot happens. (´・ω・`)

It turns out that the reason why Nino-senpai is so independent is because he has to take up a similar role with his family. He and his brother were placed under their grandfather’s care due to their parents always being busy and away. However, their grandpa passed on and he more or less raised his younger brother on his own. His brother is rather sickly as well, and was recently hospitalized. Nino-senpai always worried about him, and didn’t want to trouble his parents by relying excessively on them.

Things take a turn for the dramatic when Nino-senpai collapses during practice. Turns out that his foot is almost at its limit. He heads to the hospital with Natsuko to check on his own condition, and the results are rather dangerous for him. At the same time, they pop by and pay his little brother a visit. The cute little thing is really excited to see his Cool Big Brother and is super fired up for the Interhigh because Big Bro will be running in it! ٩(◦`꒳´◦)۶ Big Bro is also the fastest person ever and he thinks Nino-senpai is just too cool for this world. Natsuko is all moved by this brotherly bonding and realizes that his brother is the reason why Nino-senpai is dead-set on running in the Interhigh.

What’s more – he’s finally closing in on his ideal time, and it’s his last year running for Tokiwa. Nino-senpai fully intends to quit running as a serious sport upon entering university, but that doesn’t mean throwing it aside. He wishes to be a P.E. teacher, so that he can teach kids the fun of running!

The days pass and the Interhigh is almost upon everyone. The day before the actual event, Nino-senpai calls Natsuko up to the school roof. There, he confesses that he was a little lost about the Interhigh because he doesn’t want the time he spends with her to end. Natsuko just tells him that it ain’t over till its really over – Nino-senpai can run whenever he wants to even after leaving the club, and he can call her out anytime to hang; that’s okay. She tells him not to worry, he can just move forward like he always does. Nino-senpai hugs her in thanks – truthfully, he’d been afraid he made the wrong decision to keep running with that injury but whatever man, YOLO. ╮( •́ω•̀)╭ =3

Love End 1: Nino-senpai does so well at the Interhigh that he squishes all his competition to win his race. Natsuko goes to congratulate him and he talks about how he is grateful for her constant support and presence by his side. If possible, he’d like her to stand by him forever. Natsuko is more than happy to agree to that proposal, and they start dating!

Flashforward one year. Natsuko debuts in her own Interhigh and wins her long distance race! Senpai has noticed her and he’s waiting at the end of the line by the stands with open arms. She flies into his embrace and he congratulates her on the win. She thanks him instead for the support he’s given her before being called away to the podium to receive her prize. Nino-senpai tells her to go off and have fun till the end! From now on, the both of them will run together towards the future.

Love End 2: It’s graduation day for Nino-senpai and Natsuko is feeling sad that he won’t be around in school anymore. She feels a little lonely and starts crying, but he promises to visit her often so please don’t cry! They negotiate with each other to call the other person by their given name, though Natsuko finds it hard to drop the ‘-san’ honorific from ‘Kiichi’ at this point. Soon, Nino-senpai. SOON.

Friend End: Nino-senpai’s injury acts up during the Interhigh and he only manages to place fourth. Everyone just cries a lot and congratulates him for putting all that effort into the club and into running. He did amazingly well out there and they’re all proud to have a man like him as their captain. Likewise, Natsuko is also a crying mess as she blubbers that she feels blessed to have Nino-senpai as a captain. She thanks him for all his help so far. (;▽;)  This is one of those “it was an honor serving with you” moments for both Nino-senpai and the club members.

 

BASKETBALL CLUB – COMMON ROUTE

These guys are incredible. If the Track club’s like an army, the Basketball club’s a family with Kuma-senpai as everyone’s dad. The aura surrounding the team is youthful and really bright; I wish my highschool life had been surrounded by people like them!

Kumashiro Daichi (CV: Hatano Wataru) or simply Kuma-senpai, is both team captain and team dad. He looks out for everyone and directs their practices singlehandedly. A loud and cheerful character who’s responsible and dependable. He’s just really great at lightening up the mood and is stubborn to a fault. HE’S SO NICE, HE’S SO NORMAL. I love Hatano as him, Hatano playing the happy kind of guy is wonderful. Kuma-senpai is also childhood friends with Nino-senpai from the Track club!

Tachibana Kou (CV: Sakurai Takahiro). I really enjoyed his character and his route, but truthfully…Tachibana’s a bit hard to describe. Superficially, he’s like Murasakibara from Kuroko no Basuke – he enjoys munching on stuff, is lazy, and appears to be slumping around on the roof a lot. He also isn’t exactly the sociable sort, and talks like he’s trying to swat flies away from himself. At the same time he’s also like a huge baby. Tachibana’s a genius basketball player but has distanced himself from the team due to a past incident, though they still consider him their ace despite him not coming for practices.

Sasagi Haruka (CV: Kishio Daisuke). A strict-faced pointy-eyed first year who is blunt about everything and is pretty much a Team Mom in the making. HE IS ALSO ADORABLE. Sasagi is fussy and matter-of-fact about everything, taking practices very seriously. He’s often at odds with Tachibana due to their vastly different attitudes, and nags the hell out of Natsuko when she stumbles with being new to her managerial role. At the same time, he still looks out for her and really means well despite his harsh words…he’s comically serious and also gets flustered WAY too easily.

Natsuko is new to basketball, so she’s determined to to improve by familiarizing herself with the rules of the game, as well as how to do the finger taping for the members. She’s not very good at first so Sasagi semi-scolds her LOHKJFS he’s so strict. Natsuko does some finger-taping practice on her own, but really needs someone to be her mannequin…so she grabs Tachibana who happened to be nearby. (ヽ´ω`)

Tachibana’s loner attitude continues to cause the atmosphere of the club to change dramatically whenever the members talk about him – some still hope he’d come back and become the ace, others feel like there’s no point playing with a guy who doesn’t take the sport seriously. Sasagi saw Tachibana play in a game during his last year of middle school, and thought he was really talented. After entering Tokiwa, Sasagi hoped to play with him but was disappointed to discover that Tachibana was such a slacker. His story sort of mirrors Kiryuu and Tokitou’s… (´・ω・`)

Kuma-senpai, Sasagi and Natsuko walk past the park after practice one day, and they bump into Tachibana there. Kuma-senpai tries to get him to return, but Tachibana rejects him and leaves. Natsuko wonders if there’s a reason behind Tachibana’s behavior, and Kuma-senpai reveals to her and Sasagi that Tachibana became the team’s ace last year, when he was still in his first year. However, before the Interhigh matches, he went into a slump due to something cropping up at home and wasn’t able to play well. His seniors blamed the team’s loss on him alone, that’s why Tachibana distanced himself and became reluctant to play in a team. (´;ω;`) Kuma-senpai doesn’t want to force him into doing something that he doesn’t like, but wants Tachibana to at least experience the fun of basketball. Later on, Sasagi comments to Natsuko that it seems Tachibana practices alone in the park everyday, so it seems he still likes basketball.

Before the prefectural tournament, Kuma-senpai calls Tachibana in after practice. He has a match against Tachibana – if Tachibana scores against him, he’ll stop asking him to come back to the team. But if Kuma-senpai can stop him, Tachibana will have to return. This shocks everyone because they weren’t expecting Tachibana to show up. He’s so OP, Kuma-senpai can’t do anything against him at all. Still, Kuma-senpai just keeps challenging him over and over again. He explains that he really is having fun playing against Tachibana, and the whole team proceeds to give the dude their best friendship speech SOB. Natsuko says that she wants to see Tachibana’s plays, to see him having fun too. But Tachibana isn’t moved by all of them and decides to leave. You poop (ᇂ∀ᇂ╬)

Even without him, the team triumphs at the tournament, earning themselves a ticket to the district matches – following that, the Interhigh. Everyone crashes at Kuma-senpai’s place (his family owns one of those home-restaurant places) to celebrate, until it gets really late. Natsuko is accompanied home by Kuma-senpai and Sasagi. They bump into Tachibana on the way back, who asks them how the tournament went…and asks if he can return to the basketball team. Everyone is stunned into silence, as Tachibana explains that he did a lot of thinking…and he thought that maybe he could aim for victory in the team Kuma-senpai built, because he trusts his words lohgkjdf (´;ω;`) Kuma-senpai is so overjoyed he grabs everyone into a bearhug and crushes Sasagi HAHAHA.

Of course, everyone on the team is really happy to have Tachibana back!! Welcome back!!!ヽ(;▽;)ノ Anyway, Natsuko has Tachibana escort her back home one day because practice ended late. While waiting for him by the school gates, she’s approached by a pretty older woman who asks if the basketball club has ended practice already. Natsuko is confused as to who she is, and replies that practice has ended and the members have already gone home. The woman thanks her, and leaves.

The basketball club’s training camp is slated to begin in a few days! The camp will serve as a crash course in strengthening up the members, as well as to pick the lineup for the upcoming district tournament. This gets everyone really nervous but also pumped up ohohoho. As expected, Tachibana and Sasagi make it onto the team. However, Sasagi doesn’t seem to be doing so well after hearing the news…Natsuko and Kuma-senpai both worry about him, but telling him to relax and just do his best doesn’t seem to help at all. And now, the road into the future diverges…

 

TACHIBANA KOU

He’s a huge slacker that can never seem to remember Natsuko’s name. (ᇂ_ᇂ|||) Haruko drops by the gym one day to let Natsuko know that she’ll be home late thanks to club, and Tachibana comments that he never thought twins could look so similar. The conversation steers to the realm of family, and he reveals that he’s an only child living with his dad. When he was in elementary school, his parents divorced. Natsuko doesn’t know what she should say…and Tachibana tells her she doesn’t need to say she’s sorry or anything – he’s already used to it.

The slew of problems isn’t over yet. Natsuko collapses from a cold midway through a later practice, and has to be taken home. Tachibana drops by to check up on her (under the captain’s orders) and Natsuko is glad for his company. Being alone is kinda lonely…hearing that, Tachibana sits by her bed and grasps her hand. When he was younger, he liked having someone hold his hand, because it made him feel as if he weren’t alone, and that put him at ease. Natsuko notes that he’s speaking in the past tense, and wonders if Tachibana means that he’s now too grown up for this…he looks as if he’s seeing someone else in her position. Natsuko tells him to look only at her since she’s the one in front of his eyes; she grips his hand back and falls asleep soon after. She bumps into him at school again and thanks him for visiting her, and Tachibana teases her about how eroi she is when she has a fever LMOFHJS (´・ω・`)

Tachibana walks Natsuko home one day and she bumps into the strange woman again. The woman calls out to Tachibana, begging him to come home, and Tachibana replies curtly that he has nothing to say to her. He drags Natsuko away, who demands an explanation. Tachibana replies that the woman is his dad’s lover. When his parents divorced, he was alright with his family as it was – his mom far away, and his dad nearby. However, he heard from relatives that his mom remarried, though he never heard from her directly. After that, his father got himself a lover much younger than he was. Tachibana didn’t want to be in the same place as her, and left home to live with his grandfather.

The next day is the district tournament (man it just never stops for these kids); both Tachibana and Sasagi are in a bad place for their own reasons. In the Basketball Club Bad End, they don’t even make it past this point. In every other end, however, Kuma-senpai and the other members barely manage to push their way to victory. Natsuko worries that Kuma-senpai may be taking on too much to compensate for the other two. (´;ω;`) SENPAI…! No one can be truly happy about the victory, though they’ve made it to the Interhigh.

Tachibana stops coming to club, and everyone gets worried about him again. Natsuko can’t sit still, and decides to pay him a visit at his grandpa’s house. On the way there, she bumps into the lady again, who introduces herself as Itou Kana. She wants to talk to Natsuko about Tachibana. Apparently she and his dad are getting married. Kana has known Tachibana since he was in middle school, and they were on pretty good terms back then. He only started rejecting her presence when she told him that she was getting married to his dad. Natsuko realizes that the slump Tachibana entered last year was because of this incident. Kana wants Natsuko to help persuade Tachibana to return home – she’s worried about him if left on his own.

Natsuko heads to visit Tachibana after speaking with Kana. Once inside, she checks to see if he’s doing okay…only he isn’t, he’s burning up from his fever. When she tells him to get to bed, he grabs her hand and refuses, telling her to become his. Σ(゜Д゜)Natsuko’s confused by the sudden change in mood here. Tachibana blabbers on that he’s always been looking at her since he was a kid…and Natsuko has NO CLUE who he’s talking about – only that his eyes look the same as that time, when he came to visit her when she had a fever. She doesn’t want him to keep looking elsewhere – she dislikes that he isn’t looking at her. Natsuko calls his name until he calms down…and he falls asleep on top of her. She doesn’t want to wake him because he really should rest (and he’s really heavy), so she ends up falling asleep in his room as well. (=´∀`)人(´∀‘=)

Next morning Natsuko flips when she finds that she fell asleep HAHAHA. Tachibana wakes her and hides her from his grandpa. Natsuko asks to stay anyway because she thinks Tachibana shouldn’t be left alone. But it’s kinda weird to request that, and she changes to say she’ll go home instead – but he stops her because he wants her to stay too. Good job making her skip school for you! ( ´ ▽ ` )ノ Natsuko offers to hold his hand as he sleeps (again) because he’s still sick…and he tells her to sleep beside him too bahhaha. Natsuko compares their time now to last night when he grabbed her, and wonders who Tachibana could be looking at. After the day’s spent, Tachibana tells Natsuko that he wants to talk about his family issues with her tomorrow at school – thinking about it all alone is difficult. Natsuko’s glad he’s depending on her, and tells him to come to her whenever he has problems! It’s her job as manager to support the team members…though he doesn’t seem 100% pleased that she’s doing this because she’s the ‘manager’ LAUGHS AT THEM (´◉◞⊖◟◉`)

After practice, Tachibana and Natsuko prepare to walk home together. Sasagi thinks they’re going out LOL but while Natsuko denies it, Tachibana comments that it’s not like he minds. (*ゝڡ •*) He keeps dropping hints that he likes Natsuko by now. On their way back, Natsuko waits for Tachibana to speak and thinks about him to herself…and realizes that she likes him, though he’s clumsy with his feelings he’s really a kind person. Her thoughts are interrupted when Kana arrives randomly. She tells Tachibana about her upcoming marriage to his dad, and begs him to at least attend their wedding. Kana starts to cry because she wants the three of them to return to how they were before, and Natsuko can feel how much she cares for Tachibana. Tachibana, on the other hand, just…runs away from the scene.

Natsuko chases after Tachibana and manages to catch up to him in the park. She grabs him and asks him outright if he likes Kana.(;▽;)THIS IS SO PAINFUL TO WATCH LMFAO POOR NATSUKO ;_; BUT /PLAYS ON. Natsuko thinks that the person who used to hold Tachibana’s hand while he was sick was probably Kana…she’s mature, pretty, and really treasures Tachibana – it’d make sense for him to look up to her, to like her. So when he heard about Kana and his dad becoming lovers, he probably couldn’t accept that. Tachibana denies Natsuko’s words, but she insists that she wants to become his strength, so he can talk to her. This causes him to cave and finally admit that yes – he’s always liked Kana. She came over often to play with him after his mom left, and he fell in love with her. When his dad announced the remarriage, Tachibana had never thought that his dad’s feelings towards his mom could fade. Feeling betrayed by his family and the resulting blame placed on his after last year’s loss at the Interhigh, Tachibana felt that there was no place left for him. This route is so dramatic…・゚・(ノД`)・゚・。

Natsuko counters that by insisting that there IS a place for him – the members of the basketball club all want him there, and so does Kana and his own dad; everyone’s worried for him. Tachibana may seem all my pace, but to Natsuko he’s a person that loves to be around people, and is loved by others in return. He returned to the club because he wanted to believe in Kuma-senpai’s words, he wanted to play basketball with someone again, right? Natsuko insists that he should return home, to talk to Kana and his dad – they’d listen to whatever he has to say. Tachibana takes in her words and comments that yeah, Natsuko’s a weird person, but…he likes that. ヽ(;▽;)ノ His words confuse her because she doesn’t know what he means by ‘like’, but Tachibana sends her home while walking hand in hand awhrjkgf.

The next day, Tachibana calls Natsuko out to talk mid-practice! It seems he went back home to talk to Kana and his dad. Watching his father panic over Kana crying, he understood how much he cared for her. Thinking about Kana now also brings up feelings more similar to familial love rather than romantic love, so he found himself able to genuinely support their marriage from the bottom of his heart. Tachibana thanks Natsuko for her help and hugs her. Natsuko comments that Tachibana has really grown into a fine ace of the team – getting along with everyone, and becoming more reliable. As manager of the team, Natsuko looks forward to seeing everyone work hard, and to conquer Japan!! \o/ Tachibana promises he’ll make that happen, because he’s not alone on the court this year. He has great friends around him now!

It’s their final match at the Interhigh! Tachibana has made rapid improvement and Sasagi has also gotten out of his own slump. OFF TO WAR, KIDS!!! Kuma-senpai says that he’s glad they got to make it so far and he’s already satisfied with the results so far…and Tachibana steps in to deliver his own shonen speech about how Kuma-senpai isn’t the sort of person so say such weak things! He knows more than anyone that Kuma-senpai was really down after last year’s loss, and even he’s not happy about it either. He wants to win! Tachibana even goes as far as to hug Natsuko awhile later and say that he’ll grant anything Natsuko wishes for. Naturally she wishes for the team’s victory, and he promises her that he’ll make it happen. Sasagi and the rest of the team catch them like this and a lot of flailing ensues. (=´∀`)人(´∀‘=)

TOKIWA WINS THE INTERHIGH. NOW THEY’RE THE NEW KINGS OF JAPAN! Everyone is so happy and crying all over the place hahhHAHAHA ♪♪(((≧▽≦)八(≧▽≦)八(≧▽≦)))♪♪ I smiled so much my face broke. Later, the team heads to Kuma-senpai’s place to celebrate – but before that, Tachibana calls Kuma-senpai out to talk to him. Curious, Natsuko makes up an excuse to stay behind and eavesdrops LOL. Tachibana thanks Kuma-senpai for getting him to return to the team. Everyone’s been a great friend to him, and these few months were really fun. If Kuma-senpai hadn’t reached out to him, Tachibana’s sure that he would’ve rotted away on his own. Kuma-senpai also thanks him in return for returning – he saw Tachibana’s plays last year and really respected him, so he was sad when Tachibana decided to distance himself. Now, his wish for him to return has been granted. Kuma-senpai goes on to say that more than anything, Tachibana should also be thanking Natsuko, who was always there for him. Sighing everyday while thinking of Tachibana, Kuma-senpai thinks that Natsuko’s like a girl in love HAHAAHHAA. Tachibana agrees, and says there’s something else he has to tell her…

…Then Kuma-senpai calls Natsuko to enter the room LOLFHSJK. GJ SENPAI! He leaves them both to their own devices. Tachibana thanks Natsuko for never leaving him alone, though he found that annoying at first, he grew to like having her around. He found himself thinking of her and wondering how she was, what she was doing, and realized that he likes her – so he’s asking her to go out with him. Natsuko answers his feelings with her own hhahahHHA and starts to cry from joy, to which Tachibana comments that her crying face really looks like a pig, YOU ASS! Σ(゚д゚//////)

Love End 1: The both of them start dating, and a year passes. Kuma-senpai graduates, and Tachibana becomes the captain of the basketball team. He’s late for club as usual, and Natsuko goes to drag him over. Sasagi and the rest of the members think that this is definitely some ploy of his to get Natsuko to be with him LOL. Anyway they’re mostly right…Natsuko finds Tachibana on the roof, and he gets her to sit beside him. Natsuko admits that she always comes to find him here because she wants to meet him. Likewise, Tachibana would be troubled if their alone time were taken away.

He talks about his future, that he’d go on to become a pro-player for basketball, and earn the means to support a family. After that, he wants Natsuko to marry him.(゜▽゜ )He never thought about such things after his parents’ failed marriage, but seeing his dad’s joy with Kana has made him want the joy of having family for himself. And there’s no one else besides Natsuko that he can see himself with, so he’s….proposing to her…oh man. Natsuko agrees – after all there’s no other girl nice enough to indulge in Tachibana’s whims besides her HA HA HA. It’s a good ending for them both as they run back to the gym together, after realizing that they spent WAY too much time on the roof.

Love End 2: After his confession, Tachibana hugs Natsuko and refuses to let go until she calls him ‘Kou’. Natsuko’s really embarrassed by this but she does it anyway – it’s something they’ll have to get used to now that they’re on ~closer terms~.

Friend End: During the Interhigh finals, Tachibana doesn’t make the last point and the ball gets stolen. The opposing team scores instead of Tokiwa, and the team doesn’t manage to land first place. Post-game, Natsuko swears to return back here the following year, and yells out her resolution to the empty court. She gets Tachibana to yell with her too, and he shouts that their team will definitely win next year. Until then, they’ll be in each other’s care. ( ´ ▽ ` )ノ

 

SASAGI HARUKA

A first year who’s extremely strict on himself and on others. Sasagi’s words come out harsh and his emotions don’t really translate to facial expressions, but he is really a gigantic dork. Sasagi also becomes Natsuko’s support of sorts, as she’s not very familiar with the job at first. He’s also a reliable junior that seems to have a lot of hidden talents – such as simple cooking. Sasagi helped Natsuo out with kneading onigiris during the camp, and explained to her that it was due to the really traumatic experience of always having to each his mother’s awful cooking that he learnt how to cook. He’s randomly really bad with art, while Kiryuu just laughs at him. (=´∀`)人(´∀‘=)

When Natsuko falls sick later, Huge Dork Sasagi visits her and starts conducting his own personal rituals to the God of the Body. It’s something a doctor said to him when he was young and it made a huge impression?? Like, praying to the god of your body would help the sickness go away faster or something like that. I just laughed a million years, WHAT A BABY.

However…drama kicks in when Sasagi’s condition post-camp continues to remain in the pits. Natsuko catches him training on his own after practice and his words express his insecurity about his own condition. He thinks he should be taken off the team if he keeps at this rate, and Natsuko tells him not to put himself down. He was chosen because the captain believed he could fulfill a role on the team. Sasagi thanks her for the encouragement, but wants to be left alone.(´Д`)

Kuma-senpai wants to take him and Tachibana in to give them some crash course training to get them out of their slumps. Just as Natsuko and Kuma-senpai are about to discuss the new training menus, Sasagi enters. He’s surprised to see Natsuko there, but requests to Kuma-senpai to remove him from the regulars lineup. As he is right now, he’s only holding everyone back. Natsuko insists that Sasagi can’t just leave like that – and heck if he’s giving up, she won’t give up. She makes herself Sasagi’s personal coach, so she can push him out of his slump homfhgjk NATSUKO. She doesn’t want him to give up on himself, because she’s aware of how hard he works. Kuma-senpai’s all YOSH I will leave it to you! And Natsuko tells him to do his best with Tachibana too…aaah these two!! \o/

However, Sasagi’s condition doesn’t seem to be improving despite his hard work. Natsuko ponders over this while on her way home, and spots Tachibana in the park doing some self-practice. She asks if he’s back to his usual self, and he replies that it seems so – his slumps are really on-off anyway (referring to Kana huh). Tachibana tells Natsuko that slumps are usually to do with the psychological, not so much physical condition of the player. This gets Natsuko thinking, and she decides that she’d better ask Sasagi for the reason behind his condition herself. Sankyuu Tachibana! ヾ(◜▿‾ 三 ‾▿◝)ノ

Kuma-senpai task Natsuko and Sasagi with spying on the players of another team. He’s heard rumors of a genius first year player there. Sasagi seems really uncomfortable about this, and it’s later revealed that they’re spying on Sasagi’s old teammates from middle school. The supposed genius player is really happy to see Sasagi’s sour face again, and greets him cheerfully. Sasagi seems a little awkward about this (laughs) but it’s still cute! Later on the way back, he finally tells Natsuko that he’s probably in a slump now due to something that happened back in his last major game. He was confident in his shooting skills, but perhaps too confident. He didn’t pass the ball and decided to gun for glory himself, and his play failed. The opponent team stole the ball and turned the game around at the last minute. Sasagi blames his own overconfidence for throwing the match during middle school, and is having difficulties now as a result.(´Д`)

Natsuko drags Sasagi out with her on a date to give him a break from basketball. They take neoprints together and Sasagi looks as if he’s about to die from embarrassment HAHAHA. Despite that, he had lots of fun and is feeling a lot better about himself. Post-recovery, he thanks Natsuko for helping him out all this time and…confesses to her. She’s stunned by this and Sasagi lets her know that this was just a rehearsal. He’ll confess to her again after he gets over his fear on the court.

The Interhighs arrive and SASAGI GETS REVENGE FOR HIS FAILURE AT THE DISTRICT TOURNAMENT!!! \m/ He’s doing really well and the team makes it to the finals. It’s the last 50 seconds and Tachibana’s marked by too many people to advance. So he makes the pass to Sasagi, who….

…does a three-pointer that GETS IN WOOHOO. Everyone yells in joy and Sasagi is so overwhelmed by the victory that he just bursts out crying. ・゚・(ノД`)・゚・。This sets everyone off (including Tachibana) into tears LOL. Sasagi cannot hold all his feels ad rushes up to Natsuko, grabbing her in a hug in front of everyone. He’s way too happy and excited over the victory to care about the public eye anymore…though he gets embarrassed when Natsuko points that out to him (LOL). Congrats, Tokiwa Basketball club!!

Love End 1: The Interhighs are over and life returns to normal. After Tachibana’s run as captain, Sasagi inherits the title from him. Natsuko comes to check up on how he’s doing one day, and Sasagi takes her to a quiet corner to talk to her. Tachibana was scouted by pros and Kuma-senpai went on to inherit his family business…all seems well. If there’s anything that has changed for them, it’s that Sasagi wants to call Natsuko by her name instead of ‘senpai’ LOLDHJKS– but he’s interrupted by one of the club members before he can tell her that, because the club advisor is looking for him cries. Natsuko asks him what he wants to say, but Sasagi refuses to tell her anymore because maybe it’s not fated yet HAHAHA. But Natsuko caught most of what he said before he got interrupted, and tells him that SHE wants to call him by his name anyway. They refer to each other by their first names and Sasagi kisses Natsuko for reverting back to using his family name by mistake (LOL). ♡٩(● ˙▿˙ ●)۶♡

Love End 2: After the final match, Sasagi and Natsuko are dropped off midway on the return trip to school because it’s late, and the senpais want their cute kouhais to get some rest and go consolidate their relationship (ufufu). Sasagi makes true his promise to confess to Natsuko for real, and does so. Natsuko agrees, and Sasagi is like “……EH” because he wasn’t expecting her to be willing HAHAHA. He’s kinda a brat, he’s almost too brutal for his own good, and he’s a worrying mom-type on top of all that – Sasagi thought Natsuko would refuse to date him for sure. Natsuko isn’t having any of his self-deprecatory nonsense, and tells him that whatever his flaws, he’s a hard worker and a kind boy and she thinks this Sasagi is great. Ever since she became manager, she’s always been looking out for him, she’s seen his flaws and his good points and she likes all of that! Her words floor the poor guy and Natsuko is like…OH….SO CUTE. They will support each other from now on, as manager and player, and also as lovers.

On their way back, Sasagi comments how he’s way too happy – Tokiwa clinched first place at the Interhigh, and he got the OK from Natsuko…he’s bound to get struck down by Heaven soon LOL. Natsuko thinks Sasagi is silly and hugs him for it hehehe. The timing seemed right for a kiss and she closed her eyes, but he didn’t do anything and she panics. When she opens her eyes, Sasagi is all HEY DON’T SUDDENLY DO THAT…he froze and didn’t know what to do because Natsuko was too cute. It’s his first time doing this and he is all I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. I’M SO SORRY. Natsuko tells him it’s fine, all he has to do is to get used to it. Sasagi’s a bit nervous as to when that day will come, but he’s really happy to be with her. He tells Natsuko again that he likes her, and kisses her properly this time.

Friend End: Sasagi doesn’t get to make the shot, and Tokiwa’s Basketball team misses the championship by a hair this year. Bummed by the loss, Tsubaki is unable to confess to Natsuko again even though she prompts him, due to the atmosphere…it’s not cool to profess your love right after a loss. However, he promises that if the team can conquer the Interhigh next year, he’ll confess to her once more.

…This is a Friend End?

 

KUMASHIRO DAICHI

Kuma-senpai (known as Kuma-senpai to his fellow teammates) is a bear of a man, ridiculously tall and prone to spurts of affection. He really enjoys patting the heads of others. (⊙‿⊙✿) His most common victims would be Tachibana and Natsuko, with Sasagi on the side. As captain of Tokiwa’s Basketball team, he’s been having trouble juggling paperwork, managerial tasks and his responsibilities as captain – which is why he’s overjoyed when Natsuko joins the club as manager, setting out to pat her head almost immediately.

When Natsuko falls ill, Kuma-senpai piggybacks her home and nags at her to rely on everyone else when she’s feeling unwell. She shouldn’t be hiding her problems – though her job’s important, she has to rest too! Rely on everyone else more! Best Dad Kuma-senpai…

Kuma-senpai invites Natsuko over to his place for dinner to celebrate her return to health! When she’s alone at the counter, his mom slides up to her and asks if she likes him LMFAO MOM. Natsuko is all ‘!?!??!’ and here we learn that Kuma-senpai intends to take over the family business after the year is done, so this will be his last year playing basketball. His mom heard from Tachibana (who really likes their food so he drops by a lot) that Kuma-senpai has the potential to carry on playing through university, but Kuma-senpai had already insisted that he take over the restaurant. His mom feels that she should help her son experience more fun things that can take the place of basketball, and so is quizzing Natsuko on her son’s boyfriend-potential. MOM… (⊙‿⊙✿)

Kuma-senpai interrupts their conversation asking what’s up, and they both reply that it’s girls’ talk HAHAHA. He sends Natsuko home after dinner, and talks about how he’d always wanted to take over the restaurant since he was young – it’s a place really important to him, and he loves it just as much as basketball. Occasionally he wonders which path he should take, but since he’s decided, there’s no way he’ll back down or turn back. His forward-looking words help ease Natsuko’s own uncertainties about her future, and she thinks that Kuma-senpai really is a reliable senpai AAAHHH. Yes, yes he is, he’s really the best. (´;ω;`)

After Tachibana and Sasagi enter their slumps, Kuma-senpai attempts to work ‘em both out of it. This places lots of strain on him, and Natsuko notices that he’s been looking down recently. She calls Kuma-senpai out for hiding his true feelings, and throws his own words back at him. As captain, the team is here for him too – he doesn’t have to suffer alone. If he’s tired, he shouldn’t be hiding it behind laughter or smiles. Natsuko wishes to help him somehow as the team’s manager, and suggests that they can collaborate efforts to help their two troubled members. ψ(`∇´)ψ And so, Kuma-senpai starts running Tachibana and Sasagi through special training until they sound like they’re dying LOL. The rest of the team want in on this level-grinding session and THEY ARE ALL JOINED TOGETHER IN SUFFERING.

During one of these practices, Natsuko heads out to buy equipment for the club. Kuma-senpai offers to tag along to help her carry the load, and everyone teases him because OOH, A DATE~? Sadly he’s so dense that he doesn’t get what they’re talking about HA HA HA. (´・ω・`) Outside, they bump into Kuma-senpai’s former seniors, ex-club members. They’re the ones who bashed Tachibana during the Interhigh last year for “causing them to lose” with his subpar performance. They’re still bitching about that despite Kuma-senpai’s insistence that Tachibana is a wonderful team player and that they should really stop badmouthing him. Natsuko can’t stand their bashing and explodes, chastising them for their shitty behavior because Tachibana has been practicing so hard and they have no right to say that he “lied about his slump” or “lost on purpose”. The seniors are all WHAT SAY YOU, NOISY WOMAN? (ᇂ∀ᇂ╬) and start to get aggressive when Kuma-senpai steps in. HATANO’S ANGRY LOW VOICE UNLEASHED. He tells them very nicely to piss off and they’re so scared of him that they actually scoot.

Kuma-senpai explains the whole situation to Natsuko. Back then, he understood that his seniors were jealous of Tachibana’s talent. He had tried to talk them through but Tachibana still ended up as the ‘bad guy’ despite all his hard work. As Tachibana started to distance himself, Kuma-senpai felt powerless to change the situation. So he’s just SO happy that Tachibana’s back this year and EVERYONE IS TOGETHER, HE WANTS EVERYONE TO HAVE FUN. ・゚・(ノД`)・゚・。

After practice, Natsuko goes to clear up some managerial stuff in the club locker room and she spots some kids approaching the sports hall. They’re not wearing the school uniform – SURPRISE, it’s the old senpais from before. THEY KIDNAP NATSUKO (???) AND PUT HER IN THE EQUIPMENT STORAGE, LOCKING THE DOOR FROM OUTSIDE. Holy shit what even!? All this is a plot to piss Kuma-senpai and Tachibana off enough to get them involved in a fight. Not only will this hurt them physically, if word gets out that they were involved in violence, the Tokiwa team may even get banned from the Interhigh.

Anyway, Kuma-senpai is contacted with Natsuko’s phone, which they snitched from her. Despite her fear, Natsuko bashes on the doors, telling Kuma-senpai to leave her and not listen to these jerks. This is like some yakuza shit omg, and the senpais call in their goons to lie in wait. Kuma-senpai and Tachibana rush to the scene! Kuma-senpai is all sad…he knows the senpais used to work hard and they all enjoyed basketball. He admired them, but they gave up in the face of Tachibana’s overwhelming talent, pushing all responsibility onto him alone. He implores them to stop this foolishness because talent is honestly only the starting point – hard work is what produces results.

Naturally, things don’t simply dissipate and it gets rowdy. The two of them break into the storage room, grab Natsuko and jet off. Kuma-senpai comforts Natsuko, and calms Tachibana down by saying that it’s not his fault either that this happened. The seniors didn’t hate him, they likely just hated their past selves that gave up on their dreams. Natsuko was involved and he understands if she wants to quit being the manager, because he doesn’t want her to be scared. 😦 But duh, she isn’t backing out so easily. Indeed, Kuma-senpai agrees that he wants her by his side and he needs her. Tachibana just…sort of…jibes that “oh haha it’s not ‘we need you’ but ‘i need you’ huh lol”. (´・ω・`) He tries to push them both to head home together but fails because they’re too dense to get the hint. Poor guy, his frustration is amusing.

The senpai appear not to have reported them by the time the Interhigh comes around. Natsuko thinks they were probably moved by Kuma-senpai’s words. The team decides to head to the summer festival after the Interhigh is over, as their dates are conveniently placed.

Basically, the opponents can’t break past Kuma-senpai’s defense in the finals and TOKIWA CLINCHES VICTORYYYYY. Everyone heads to Kumashiro to pig out. Kuma-senpai stays back in the sports hall’s court, and Natsuko remains with him out of curiosity. He’s just sitting there feeling grateful to the place – he’s been through all sorts of highs and lows in this hall. He’s feeling a little sentimental because he’ll be leaving this place upon graduation. Kuma-senpai also thanks Natsuko for supporting the team all this while. To him, she’s someone special – he confesses that he likes her. _(:3 」∠)_ Natsuko is so stunned she can’t even speak and instead holds Kuma-senpai’s hand to her cheek, hoping that he’d understand how much she likes his beautiful soul. /SINGLETEAR

Love End 1: They head for the summer festival with the team as promised. Kuma-senpai’s mind is blown by how cute Natsuko looks in her yukata. Honestly nothing much this ending, besides huddling in their own little world later as the fireworks go off, and Kuma-senpai plants one on Natsuko. Natsuko is so embarrassed because it’s a relatively public location, and makes him promise to do it again later…in a more private place. OHHHH BOY. (⊙‿⊙✿)

Love End 2: After the confession, they head over to Kumashiro holding hands to show off to the rest of the club. Upon entering they’re showered with party-poppers AHAHA it’s a party to thank Kuma-senpai for his leadership and to commemorate the Interhigh win! …Then everyone notices their joined hands and EVERYTHING EXPLODES. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The team congratulates them on becoming riajuu. Even Kuma-senpai’s parents get in on the act, getting all excited that he brought a bride home or something. GUYS!!!!!!

Friend End: In the Interhigh finals, the opponent team gets past Kuma-senpai’s defense and scores at the last minute. Everyone is so upset, but all Kuma-senpai does is smile – he thanks them and that this would never have been possible without the BEST team of friends he has right here. Before everyone preps to head back to Tokiwa, Tachibana seeks Kuma-senpai out and bows, thanking him for all he’s done for him, for bringing him back to the court, for teaching him the fun of basketball once more. He even apologizes for not being able to bring Kuma-senpai to victory ;_; However, Kuma-senpai is OK with just Tachibana’s feelings. It’s him who has to thank him for returning, because he shines brighter than anyone on the court. Kuma-senpai wishes for Tachibana and Natsuko to continue protecting the club in his absence.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

That was…very exhausting…I need to get down and type everything out in one sitting. /sweats OH MAN COLORFUL STEP IS REALLY CUTE BUT SO LONG BY VIRTUE OF HAVING SO MANY GUYS. I really enjoyed playing through them but I guess it’s hard to say I truly liked every character, though I loved the game overall. Characters like Kiryuu and Nino-senpai were good, for example, but were better as supporting characters in Tokitou’s route, which was clearly the whole Main Point of the Track Club. On the other hand, the Basketball Club was done better – Tachibana’s clearly the Main Point there, but Kuma-senpai and Sasagi also had very clear routes that developed independently, if a little short. 😦 More material for them would have been nice!

Fujiwara Ryou’s art is amazing. The CGs and sprites have a very solid, clay-like feel to them, I liked them! Colorful Step is just a very bright and happy game in general, and it did give me EXTREME FEELINGS over some portions. (・´з`・) It was fun to play, and a refreshing change from darker and more linear in-setting fantasies. Personally I was more excited for the Culture side of this game, which I am…halfway through clearing. More on that soon, hopefully!

P.S. Randomly I love the GUI, it is just so colorful and sleek. The gallery function is awesome as well, you can select a CG and listen to the guy of choice comment on the moment captured in the CG! (´ω` 三 ´ω`) SO CUTE I TELL YA. The title screen also starts out as silhouettes that get slowly filled in with color when you obtain one guy’s Love 1 End!

 

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12 thoughts on “Otome Game Review: Houkago Colorful Step ~Undoubu!~

    • Nerrin says:

      I’m glad to deliver 🙂
      Fujiwara Ryo’s art is amazing – and unfortunately no, though I’m sure some googling (through baidu maybe?) would bring up some links that may still be up.

  1. vui256 says:

    Thank you for reviewing. I think I love every guy, they look too hot >//<
    But as you said it's kinda too long though… I pass this game

    • Nerrin says:

      One route on its own is quite short! It’s only long if you intend to clear all 6 guys….even then, the game’s length is mostly because of the sheer number of people you have to go through.

      If you have any one character you’re interested in, do give it a shot!!

      • vui256 says:

        Hmm thanks for giving me more clear explanations.
        I think I’ll give it a shot, since the art looks great and TACHIBANA KOU really kills my little heart lol

  2. yaoidaisuki says:

    I’m thinking of playing this game. Is it really that long? D:
    Each route or the whole game?
    Tsubasa-san always voicing cute charas :3

    • Nerrin says:

      It takes a little long to go through everyone/the whole thing, but once you clear one route, the others should be completed in about 1-2hrs each! The bulk of the story is in the main route, and common events are skippable once you’ve seen them (bc they’re not character-specific)!

      If you’re interested in one or two characters or even the whole cast, I would definitely recommend Colorful Step B)

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