A Beautiful Melody: May Sky Review

by eternal on January 20, 2009


With the conclusion of al|together 2008, eager English-speaking visual novel fans from around the world clamored to play the latest batch of doujin VNs, hand picked by the translation community and brought to us legally for free. While I haven’t played anything close to all of the translated VNs out there (although I have played quite a few things that no one ever mentions…and I can see why no one mentions them), there was one game this year that stood out in my eyes. It was nothing particularly special – nothing intriguing like Ballad of an Evening Butterfly, nothing dramatic like True Remembrance, nothing tear-jerking like Narcissu – but it was a fun experience nonetheless. It served as an excellent reminder to me that stories don’t have to be revolutionary to be good, and though May Sky was far from revolutionary, it was certainly good.

Read on for my spoiler-free review of the game, and a final statement on why you shouldn’t overlook it.

The main reason I decided to make this post spoiler-free is because there’s little more to be said other than what has been said here. Even aside from the well-written analysis put out by the altogether staff, however, I don’t believe that May Sky holds very much depth to it. It’s ultimately a very simple story, about the problems we face in life and the challenges that seem irrelevant to all but ourselves, and it’s not the kind of thing that can be deconstructed. Instead, it’s the kind of thing that the reader simply understands.

And that’s exactly what happened to me while reading this story.

A simple but powerful statement that, within context, none will ever be able to prove true or false.

To start, I should draw attention to the sound track of May Sky, which was utterly beautiful. From the credits, it looks as though several groups were involved with composing the music, and it’s no surprise considering the sheer amount of quality contained in each song. I don’t know enough theory to analyze them separately, but the voice of the piano – ranging from delicate to fierce – accompanied the story perfectly, and there were many times where I almost felt like closing my eyes and simply listening. Perhaps it was because the lack of voice acting allowed the composer(s) to go all-out with the songs, but it was one of the few cases where I actually stopped reading for a minute or two simply to listen to the music. It was superb, to say the least, and I’m tempted to say that you should play the game just for that.

But no one plays visual novels solely for the sound track, and thankfully, the remainder of the game is good enough to back the music up.

Quite a lot of songs for a game that takes less than 5 hours to complete.

As you’ll notice when you start the game, the art isn’t exactly spectacular, but there are a few solid CGs. The more I played, the more the character designs grew on me, and by the end of the game I found myself praising the art more than criticizing it. It’s far from perfect, but it’s better than some of the stuff I’ve seen.

Most importantly, however, is the dialogue. Filled to the brim with sarcasm and boasting a healthy dose of, for lack of a better word, “Kyon-style narration”, the writing is simply beautiful. Those of you who are particular about grammar might find it unappealing, what with its often half italicized (caps, same thing) sentences, but so long as you don’t read too deeply into it, you should find it entertaining. I know I did. The characters speak their minds very well, and the use of a thesaurus is hardly needed; the most common, everyday words are put together in a way that makes the story entertaining. And that’s what the game is: entertaining.


Ultimately, I stand by what I said in the beginning: May Sky is not groundbreaking nor revolutionary, but it’s fun, and there’s nothing saying that a good story has to be deep. Ranging from the bittersweet, almost maudlin take on everyday life and the challenges of fitting in, to the sheer moe-moe of the bonus story and the suggestive comments made in the main character’s head, the game covers its bases well. It’s about as generic as a doujin VN can get, but it’s the good kind of generic, and much like A Dream of Summer, I found myself enjoying every minute of it, even though I felt as if I had seen it a million times before.

And for what it’s worth, May Sky isn’t all generic: the girl is in her teens, and the guy you play as is in the working world. Go figure.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

super rats January 20, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I’ve never played a VN…downloading.

super ratss last blog post..Finished Kanon


M12 January 22, 2009 at 3:38 am

I’ve been reading May Sky for a while. The story is quite uneventful, but there’s something pleasant about it. Anywho, nice review. My favourite VN from Altogether 2008 has to be Crimoness. It’s so random!

M12s last blog post..Departure 3koma – 2


FlareKnight January 27, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Wow this really was enjoyable. Sure you can say it isn’t revolutionary, but it was a really nice story. Think at the core that’s the important thing. Just enjoyed seeing the leads interact and eventually build what is their relationship. Maybe I don’t read these enough but some points had me wondering what would happen and a couple things caught me by surprise.

Overall I just liked this. That’s probably the most important thing in the end. Nice music and good characters came together.

FlareKnights last blog post...hack//Link Pre-Release Thoughts


Kona January 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

I am still reading/playing this though, just somehow, I take quite a long time to finish a VN, lol.
Yep, the music is very beautiful indeed. I have some favourites when I haven’t even finish playing it yet. XD
Story-wise…so far, quite ok. And lol, he does sound a bit like Kyon. ^o^
Have you noticed that the colours and their shades are quite nice on the character? Especially when the setting is in the evening. They did quite a good job on that~
Good work on the review. ^^


Owen S February 9, 2009 at 7:19 am

Ah, I remember twitting about this. Glad to hear you liked it as much as I did. There was a refreshing freshness (sic) in how something so simple could be made just that much better from a lack of complication.

And by complication I mean none of that moegic magic realism/supernatural bullshit/tragedy we’re all so used to in VNs of its ilk, of course.

Owen Ss last blog post..Developer’s Diaries: Fate/Meta Narrative


Mccurry March 10, 2010 at 5:12 am

I know this is so late off the mark (only recently started getting into VN’s), but thought I had to say this, mainly cause it is this post that made me read/play this VN.
I believe its one of the better VN’s I’ve played, sure the story is simplistic, but this simplicity suits the short story, keeping it fresh, without the need as Owen S said for random “complications”. Also, I disagree, I think the writing has a sort of innovative feel, at many points it felt so much more poetic than anything I’ve read really suiting the mood. And yes, it would be a crime not to praise the music, an absolute aural delite, that adds so much feeling to the simple story.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents (or more correctly 5 cents from where I am). In short, great post and I hope it encourages more people to take a look at May Sky.


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