What would life be if we didn’t have a goal we aim to achieve, or a milestone we hope to surpass? Surely it wouldn’t be very satisfying and to us, defeats the true purpose of life as a whole which is to pursue happiness in doing what we love. Shining Song Starnova reflects that in a big way because it’s all about overcoming your past, looking towards the future, and working hard to get live that life you’ve always dreamed of. Anyone who loves visual novels will most definitely find Sekai Project’s latest title to be a truly satisfying ordeal, with a large cast of characters all of whom have their own colorful personality and really bring the game to life in a wonderful way. The game also sheds light on the idol industry in Japan and just how stressing it can be to even make it into that field, and so we’ll discuss that in more detail later in the review. For now, get ready to live the life of an up and coming producer who aims to create the best idol group of all time!
What to Expect
Shining Song Starnova is everything a visual novel should be, one that’s filled with ups and downs, strong character bonding and multiple endings that really help to shed light on the whole plot of the story. The version we played was the 18+ version which includes some pretty lewd scenes and some touchy areas pertaining to domestic violence, but it actually helped to paint a much better picture of just how taxing things can get for those looking to work their way up that idol ladder. It’s certainly controversial in a lot of ways but once again, it’s important to provide a realistic look at an industry that for many looking from the outside, see it as just a form of entertainment while those actually performing undergo a lot of stress to keep everyone smiling. With that being said let’s jump straight into the heart of the game.
The story kicks off with you losing your position within a notable agency due to unforeseen circumstances, but it hasn’t deterred you from living out your dream as a producer and creating the number one idol group. You come across a group of women all of whom have their own distinct history and experiences, so it’s now your job to bring them all together and show the world that age is nothing but a number and success can be attained with hard work and passion.
A lot of visual novel titles recently have really stepped up their game considerably, and Shining Song Starnova is no exception in that area. The game looks very sharp and well detailed, especially the background designs and the characters. The overall UI is well designed and allows you to customize the look of things by for example, creating a more transparent background for the text so that you can see more of the character while reading. All of this together just creates a nice balance and brings everything together. The game also takes place in a fictional Tokyo, just to give you a heads up as well.
While the game is partially voiced, it still does a solid job of capturing the emotions of each character you encounter within the game. Each girl has its very distinct personality and is appealing in her own way, and so you’re constantly trying to deal with multiple attitudes over the course of the game. The music is quirky and upbeat at times but then shifts to a more sombre tone when things get a little more serious, which blends quite nicely to give players a unique experience.
Shining Song Starnova follows the visual novel archetype, where you’ll be doing a lot of reading and coming to understand just what’s happening within the story. What’s sort of different from the more conventional visual novels is that, while most try to paint a very picturesque world, Shining Song Starnova touches on topics that are still very relevant in our society and how they have a direct correlation with the idol industry. As you get to know more about each girl within your group, it becomes very clear that these girls are by no means perfect. Some have gone through very hard times dealing with domestic abuse, while others continue to suffer from drug abuse and battling inner demons. We’re not trying to paint a negative image here but rather trying to show you that Shining Song Starnova, in spite of its stunning visuals and voice acting, really tries to emphasize just how real things can get in life at times.
In Japan, the idol industry is one of the biggest and contributes a great deal to that of the otaku culture where it’s seen as a sort of celebration. It’s catered mostly to the male demographic and so there tends to be a lot of responsibility placed on the girls to perform at a high level consistently. Entering into the idol world isn’t just a walk in the park either as the game describes that agencies are very stringent on appearance and any sort of imperfection like facial moles, scars or anything that would nullify that pure and pristine image is refused. For that reason, many girls often succumb to the effects of drug use or find themselves being taken advantage of by executives just so that they can climb this supposed ladder to success.
Your idol group is full of girls with their own personal issues, but it’s your responsibility to ensure that they perform professionally and not allow their demons to outshine them on stage. It’s actually very intriguing to know more about an industry that often paints a pretty picture but really below the surface, has a lot of kinks that need to be ironed out. You get this inside look on just how things really are for idols and just what they have to endure just to be on that big stage performing in front of thousands. The success rate is incredibly low, and those who often do make it through all the screening and results-based testing are put through a lot of work just to maintain that position. It’s highly competitive and the moment you start to slack off you’re booted on the spot, never to be seen again.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We know, this all sounds really disheartening for a game that looks so pretty on screen, but in a way that just emphasizes the point we just made about how things always look nice from the outside until you dig deeper to see the truth. There are definitely some humorous moments and feelings of elation throughout the story which are fun to experience, so there’s a nice balance between it all. It’s a prime example of hard work truly pays off and while the road may be rough to get there, only those with a tough skin can make their dreams a reality and shine brighter than any star in the sky. Dealing with the harsh realities of life can be a draining feeling but when you want something so bad that you can taste it, then you push through all of that in order to create reality that works entirely for you. That’s really what Shining Song Starnova is all about, starting from the bottom, seeing all of the hardships that come with success and fame, and coming out on top to not only be an idol but an example to other aspiring idols out there. A truly beautiful and compelling visual novel that we highly recommend to anyone.
Very powerful narrative that speaks of the truths behind the idol industry.
Talented voice acting that brings all of the characters to life in a great way.
Visually well polished and animations are smooth.
A long game that’s not only stimulating but informative as well.
There are certainly a lot of controversial topics within the game that may rub some people the wrong way.
The game is partially voiced so that may turn some off as well.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you found our review of Shining Song Starnova to be informative and insightful, giving you a better idea of what to expect and hopefully you find just as much joy in it as we did. While the premise itself is quite intimidating we ask that you come into the game with an open mind and really try to explore the game from every angle. Don’t just get offended by things but ask yourself why things happen and educate yourself. The game is meant to be fun and interactive and so we encourage you to play it that way, while still paying attention to what the narrative is trying to teach you. It’s all worth it in the end.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!