When I was originally playing through the common route of If My Heart Had Wings, I was quickly put off going for Kotori’s route. For the most part in this section she wasn’t a likeable character at all – this decision however, was a poor one.
If you take nothing else from this post, remember that you if you decide to play If My Heart Had Wings, play Kotori’s route first. So far I have only played Kotori and Ageha’s routes and while I didn’t not enjoy Ageha’s story, I found I got so much more out of Kotori’s.
Habane Kotori is the poster girl and main heroine of If My Heart Had Wings. She is the first person Aoi encounters on his return to Kazegaura and is generally the reference point for the entire cast, regardless of which route you play. Generally, the story follows Kotori as she develops from a cold, insular girl ready to give up and quit school through to a character who desperately wants to achieve her dream.
I really, really enjoyed playing her route. It took me a fair while longer than it did for me to completely Ageha’s (roughly 15 hours to 10) and the story really benefitted as a result. The story focuses on Kotori’s battle caused by her disability towards flying a glider through the legendary ‘Morning Glory’ cloud. This only really scratches the surface; so much happens in order to get to this final destination.
Firstly, the biggest problem that stands in the way of Kotori is her family. Her accident, somewhat understandably, has made her parents and older sister protective of her – this ends with Kotori leaving almost to miss the Morning Glory. The threat of Tobioka is much more prevalent in this route compared to what we saw in Ageha’s, with the teacher even resorting to vandalism in his attempts to stop the Soaring Club getting off the ground. At no time however does it feel as if these problems get in the way of one another – without a doubt there a moments of deep darkness here, but by the end the story becomes one of intense hope and redemption which helps to move certain aspects of the issues to one side.
We also get to see Kotori’s personality to it’s fullest extent here. In other routes it is clear that the ‘Cool Allule’ persona that she creates in the early stages of the game is just what she wants people to think about, rather than what she actually is. In Kotori’s own route however we get so much more nuance to the specificities of her character – it’s clear that she loves attention, and to be given praise, but only because she’s not confident in her ability to do things other people can do easily: hence her desire to fly the glider.
Alongside the great development of her character, and the problems that help make Kotori’s journey a great story, I also felt the route had a very convincing romance. After playing the common route and Ageha’s route, Kotori seemed like the natural partner for Aoi. While Ageha and Aoi’s relationship felt like an 8 hour game of let’s play hard to get, Kotori is all too happy to accept Aoi. Hence, after it’s early reveal, we actually get some time to see their relationship develop along side the progression of the rest of the story – the aim of If My Heart Had Wings isn’t to get yourself a girlfriend, it’s to fly a glider through an amazing cloud formation and I really felt that here.
A note on the 18+ aspect
While this is often the main reason people stay away from visual novels, I have to say that on the whole the H-scenes in Kotori’s route actually added to the story. It is absolutely the case that if you find these scenes offensive you won’t lose out on the story (as you do in Ageha’s route). That said, the majority of the H-scenes we’re presented with (I say majority because the last one is completely pointless) could be seen as representative of part of the relationship many 16/17 (Aoi and Kotori’s age) years might be expected to have. Generally, I thought these scenes brought the two characters closer in their relationship in a relatively natural way.
Though if you take the approach all H-scenes in visual novels are dark, unnecessary, misogynistic and pornographic representations of children, I will accept your hate in the comments.
TL;DR – Sex scenes are actually worth watching as part of the game as they feel genuine and bring Aoi and Kotori closer together in a natural way.
Some final thoughts
Of the three parts of If My Heart Had Wings that I’ve so far played (Kotori, Ageha, common routes), Kotori’s route is by far the best. The plot development is well grounded and structured and problems for the characters are genuinely concerning making which makes you feel so much better when they over come them. The relationship between Aoi and Kotori is far better written compared to that of Aoi and Ageha and generally feels much more believable. From the paper plane to flying through a brilliant cloud, this is surely the story the writers truly intended to tell.
Overall, I really enjoyed playing through Kotori’s route. I’m not sure if the remaining three can match up to this, but here’s to hoping. Also – this game has been out five years, where is the mandatory anime adaptation?!
Thanks for reading! 😀