Aoi Shiro (アオイシロ), also known as Blue Castle in English, is a supernatural Girls Love mystery visual novel created in 2008, that takes place within the same universe as Akai Ito, also made by Success.This time the protagonist is a girl named Syouko Osanai, the new captain of the school kendo team. The kendo team goes to a temple for a training trip, but things start to get strange, especially when Syouko seems to remember coming to the place some time ago...Originally for the PS2, Aoi Shiro was eventually ported to the PC in 2009.
All There in the Manual: Wanna know about Momoko's secretly withheld romantic feelings for Yasumi? Want to see the oft-mentioned former president and vice-president of the kendo club? Better read the prequel manga found in Yuri Hime then, because you won't get any of that from the game.
Badass Normal: Syouko, but especially Munetsugu, an old man with the swordsmanship to behead bulls in a single stroke and take on superpowered oni moving at speeds even he can't follow. Only twice is he ever defeated in one-on-one combat: the first time is in the climactic fight against Kaya in her good end (for all of two minutes, after which he continues kicking ass); the second is in the Grand Route (entirely offscreenby Kaya, quite quickly).
Cool Old Guy: Yuukai. Munetsugu, too, when he's actually on the good guys' side.
Continuity Cameo: Turns out Sakuya from Akai Ito went to college with Aoi-sensei, in a less obvious one Aoi-sensei also mentions that an acquaintance of a friend has spiritual powers and is grade school age; Tsudura anyone?
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Although Aoi Shiro is not an eroge, all the blood-drinking scenes are EXTREMELY obviously stand-ins for sex. There's even have a special soft, romantic-porno style BGM track reserved for those scenes only. (This started with Akai Ito).
Also, the stretching scene between Syouko and Yasumi.
A non-erotic appearance of this trope is during Yasumi's Happy End: ShureliaNami/Yasuhime appears and sings EXEC_SUSPEND/.Umi Tsunami to seal Mirclose the <<Gate>>. EXEC_SUSPEND/. and Umi Tsunami are strikingly similar, and both are sung by Noriko Mitose.
Dojikko: Kaya, of all people. Kendo is pretty much the only thing that she's not clumsy with.
Do Not Call Me Paul: Kohaku would like you to remember that her name is not Torahime (not that Rouryuu listens). On a sadder note, she no longer uses Kurou-sama, either.
Eldritch Abomination: The Sea God can be considered one; you can even go mad just by looking at him.
Inverted in Migiwa's route, since blood can revitalize pretty much anyone.
Flower Motifs: White Camellia (tsubaki) grow all over the island, although they insist on calling them Sal trees (Shorea robusta), probably due to religious significance and its meaning in the language of flowers. They're also considered interchangeable because authentic Indian Sal trees wouldn't actually grow in the location the game is set in anyway. Red tsubaki are an equally important motif.
Gondor Calls for Aid: (manga only) Aoi-sensei calling her college buddy Asama Sakuya, and the Senba oni-hunters mobilizing to answer the call from the Suten, which at that point are recovering from Kaya's attack. Basically, in the manga version, the Akai Ito casts are The Cavalry for the Aoi Shiro casts.
Good Is Not Nice: In Yasumi's route mostly, Kohaku has a nasty habit of needlessly killing (directly or indirectly) Syouko, Yasumi, and anyone else who gets between her and the <<Sword>>. (Her way of dealing with a sinister ritual of human sacrifice, for example, is... to kill the sacrifices first.) Turns out in other routes that she's actually Migiwa's backup. Both Kohaku and Migiwa have their Kick the Dog moments, as well.
Heroic Sacrifice: Several endings, like Munetsugu in Kaya's good end and Yasumi in one of her ends.
Hide Your Lesbians: Despite advertising and playing up its Girls Love, the game does play itself fairly coy regarding any relationship confirmation. Yasumi's feelings for Syouko are blatant, and all of the main characters have some suggestive interactions with Syouko, but the closest Syouko ever approaches to romantic attraction is with Kohaku of all people!
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: The oni version, with Kohaku and her foster father Rouryuu, who turned her into an oni. Their first meetings always include her complaining about how her faulty body requires such length periods of sleep.
Ill Girl: Yasumi; turns out simple anemia is not the issue.
Idiot Ball: Not by her own fault, but rather that of the player, Syouko holds this quite often. She wanders around on sinking rocks, runs about in raging storms, and falls into the ocean... many, many times.
Intimate Healing - Blood is power, and there are some suggestive ways of extracting it, from Yasumi's naked out of body vampire sessions to Kohaku preferring Syouko's breasts to her neck. Even better is when Nami and naked-ghost-Yasumi do this at the same time.
Kick the Dog: Migiwa and especially Kohaku do this in many endings, usually killing someone irrevocably possessed by the Sword or some other sort of bad mojo. If you screw up your previous choices, Migiwa kills Yasumi (a rampaging vampire spirit at the time) in Yasumi's route.
Kimodameshi: Momoko organizes one of these for the club.
Lighter and Softer: While having more "bad endings" then Akai Ito, it's , quote on quote, so called "Good endings" are severely less depressing then Akai Ito's. Though the Normal Ones are just as sad. And the mood of the game is overall less dark. (Shown in it's Motiff. Akai Ito's is Blood, while Aoi Shiro's is water.)
Load-Bearing Boss: Matamu's defeat in Nami's route causes the sanctuary to start collapsing, for whatever reason.
Male Gaze: One of the beach scenes spends an awful lot of time zoomed in on Yasumi's breasts.
Ms. Fanservice: While Aoi Shiro is a rather tame game and Kaya is much much more than a pair of walking breasts, she never does learn how to button her shirt properly. At the end of Migiwa's route, she even fights Migiwa topless, with only a convenient miasma floating over certain areas.
Also, Yasumi, who ends up naked or wearing revealing clothing a lot more frequently than one would expect.
Multiple Endings: Fifty-six of them, in fact! Each route has one Happy End where you resolve the conflict, Normal Ends where Syouko survives, and Bad Ends where Syouko dies. (The normal "Possessed by the <<Sword>>" end in Kaya's route is the odd exception; every other time Syouko is irrevocably possessed, it counts as a bad end.) Completing all of the other routes unlocks the Grand Route, where all of the characters team up.
There are also a couple of non-standard endings. The most obvious being if you take the option of calling the training camp off because of the weather. It counts as a Normal End in the sense that Syouko survives but the story of which ever route you were in (the option occurs in all of them) being resolved.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ba Rouryuu. Subverted with Kohaku, who we're led to believe is a baddie for quite a while.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Migiwa and Syouko respectively; just look at their preferred colors. However, despite Syouko's cool exterior and Migiwa's playful one, Syouko's far more reckless.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kaya is really pissed off since she thinks Syouko is dead; her mission is to kill those who she deems responsible. Kohaku also in one bad end after finding out Yasuhime and Oyasu are one and the same decides to take revenge on the Nekatas and anyone in her way. Bad end, so that means you, too.
Rules Lawyer: Yuukai. Hence, being able to drink alcohol and eat meat in a Buddhist temple while technically not doing anything prohibited.
Scary Shiny Glasses: Aoi-sensei is prone to these when she's in the midst of a talking about a particularly gory legend or ghost story.
Scenery Porn: The CG is undeniably gorgeous. What takes the cake, is the Blue Castle. A stunning Lapis, almost Eldritch Location. The time you first see it in the Grand Route will take your breath away. By all means a beautiful game, that's on par with most high budget animes. However...
Scenery Gorn:..as is the fountains of blood, countless deaths of your character, decapitations, and Eldritch horrors
Secret Test of Character: Kohaku eggs Syouko (wielding the <<Sword>>) into a duel to see if she is capable of wielding it without losing her sense of self.
Sempai/Kohai: Syouko and Ayashiro are sempai to Momoko and Yasumi; both are also greatly admired.
Spoiler Opening: In case you never bothered to watch it, in order (and not comprehensive): Kaya is not dead, there is a forest of red tsubaki that will scatter, Nami is Yasuhime, Yasumi is Syouko's childhood friend, Nekata killed Kaya, various bad ends, and the appearance of the big bad.
Tsurime Eyes: Fittingly, Kaya and Kohaku; also, much less fittingly, Ayashiro.
Undead Tax Exemption: After the events in the game, Kaya is simply alive again in the eye of the society. She was even offered to continue her job as a cop. This despite missing for eight years without explanation, and looking exactly like she was the day she was missing , and possibly is an actual undead. Granted, there were some papers to be processed...
Updated Re-release: The PC version. It fixed a good deal of the CG, and added two mini-routes, along with the much larger grand-route.
Unwinnable: Not helping Migiwa when she falls into the water in Day Two of her route causes her to glare at you afterward but apparently nothing more... until the last scene of the game, where you are suddenly hit with a bad end.
More than one bad ending is a result of making some completely unrelated choice earlier in the game.
Villains Out Shopping: Syouko and friends meet a fairly-friendly Ba Rouryuu in the shopping district, though they don't know who he is at that point.
Wistful Amnesia: Syouko in the normal end "The Gap in the Shape of You in My Heart" in Yasumi's route, though "despairing amnesia" is probably a better term.
Wholesome Cross Dresser: Kohaku (who in her previous life was a double for her brother). Though not quite a Bifauxnen, there were some who (prior to the release of the game) were unsure about her. Considering the kind of game it is, though.
Worthy Opponent: What Migiwa and Syouko end up being by the end of Migiwa's route—this is even the title of her happy end, in which the two end up on opposite sides of the kendo tournament bracket and promise to meet again in the finals.