Yumina Midorishita, a girl attending Jinbu Academy, is seemingly unable to improve her poor grades despite her earnest studying. Her school life is fraught with peril as she struggles to pass her tests and advance to the next year.
On the day of a very important exam, Yumina gets into an argument with her classmate Ayumu Akashima, and accidentally pushes him through a third-story window. Fortunately, Ayumu is unhurt, but in the confusion Yumina misses her test and is doomed to repeat the year.
However, Yumina refuses to accept her fate. Blaming Ayumu for her getting held back, she forces him to help her as she frantically searches the school for some way to reverse the decision. And then a mysterious upperclassman, Kirara Kurokawa, appears out of nowhere with an incredible offer.
Kirara recommends that Yumina enter the "Student Council War" to avoid her fate. The Student Council War is a massive election held to decide the student chairman, and the winner also receives...
"The right to freely change any single school regulation."
And thus, spurred on by Kirara's provocation, Yumina forcibly drags Ayumu along with her as she decides to enter the Student Council War...
Yumina the Ethereal (original Japanese title: 輝光翼戦記 天空のユミナ) is a hybrid RPG / Visual Novel developed by Eternal, a company made up of former employees of Xuse, the makers of Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword, and thus shares some similar elements. It's also an eroge, though some of the H-scenes are optional.
Originally released in 2009 in Japan, and localized and released by JAST USA in August 2013. The fandisc Yumina the Ethereal -Forever Dreams- was released in Japan a year later containing Nayuta's route.
This game provides examples of:
- A-Cup Angst: After days of investigation, and backed up by Rei's suspicions about Nayuta's body build, Ayumu finds out that Nayuta actually has a complex for her small breasts. Cue the Debate Club taking advantage of it and weaponizing her weakness as "Absolute Horizon" to be used by Ayumu in the final election against her.
- Ad Hominem: The debates aren't really about who is right or wrong, but rather who can sway the most people to their side with their will. Thus, if Ayumu finishes all the chapter heroine events he unlocks a special skill that basically amounts to using personal attacks in the middle of a duel to make them lose concentration and therefore the fight. He even publicly apologizes after the Nayuta fight for bringing up something totally unrelated to the argument that was quite hurtful to her.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The Celestial City on Algoda.
- The Ageless: Kirara and Rishane both due to traveling through dimensions.
- Assimilation Plot: Rishane is trying to forcefully unite every living being in the galaxy in the Ether Frame.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: When Sports Club United tries to ambush Ai and Ayumu during Chapter 2, they get more than they bargained for.
- Badass Crew: The Zelerm's crew, in the literal sense. The main party could also be considered this.
- Big Eater: Ai, to the point that in Forever Dreams she eats the student council into a 9 million yen debt.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Ayumu - it's stated that he intentionally just barely passes his classes so he can put in the minimal amount of effort required.
- The Chessmaster:
- Kirara, though her methods and reasons vary in different routes.
- Rishane as well, as lampshaded by Ayumu in Ai's Route. "It's as if this entire war... As if it was a game to Karales and Rishane, using humans and the Extra-Dimensionals as pawns on a board."
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience / Color-Coded Elements: In battle, each party member is assigned a color. Ayumu is red and has fire-based attacks, Yumina is green and has skills mainly associated with healing or support, Kirara is black and has skills associated with a Black Mage, and Ai is blue with water-based backyard attacks.
- Cool Starship: The Zelerm.
- Covert Group with Mundane Front: Jinbu Academy and the Student Council War is a front for the Galactic Federation to find the strongest Ethereals on Earth and bring them to space to fight the Extra-Dimensionals.
- Crapsack World: Algoda, with the exception of the Celestial City.
- Cross-Popping Veins: Both Yumina and Kirara display these throughout the game.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Using Veridadia's sword form causes a massive drain of life force from her wielder, unless they're the one perfectly suited for her. However, she's capable of destroying anything in a single strike.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Happens with all of Yumina's opponents in the Student Council War, though with Nayuta it's more of a case of Worthy Opponent.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Kurakawa, commander-in-chief of the Terran Army.
- Everyone Is Related: Although not connected by blood the main characters are related to each other in some form or fashion; Kirara fought with Yumina's mom before the story and had a very close relationship with her, Ayumu and Ai are both from Algoda and Rishane attempted to use them in his Assimilation Plot, Ai's father is Karales and Ayumu and Yumina are siblings due to Ayumu being adopted, though Yumina doesn't realize that even after learning who her father is until Naoto points it out in the conclusion.
- Evil Plan: Two different ones that vary by route. Karales, in Yumina and Kirara's route, plans to merge with the Thought Crystal in order to transcend consciousness and gain ultimate power, and Rishane, in Yumina and Ai's route, plans to use the Ether Frame to rule the universe and uses an Assimilation Plot to become A God Am I.
- Evolving Credits: The title screen changes to a picture of the Zelerm and Ayumu's Radiant Frame once the party gets to space. The title song changes as well.
- The Federation: Once the party makes it to space, they find that such an alliance exists.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: At first, it seems as though the debate battles are just a way to implement an RPG aspect to the game, even calling the two attack types "Logic" and "Spirit". But it turns out that Ethereal battles really happen this way, minus the chibiness, from flaming swords to translucent barriers. And it makes sense too, since Ethereal Power is governed by the user's will, which comes from conviction of spirit or logic, or even both. Naturally, both the characters in-story as well as the player would be surprised, especially with the sudden change in genre from high school comedy to Muv-Luv Alternative levels of war drama.
- The same can be said of the Ordacle.
- Government Agency of Fiction: The Japanese government is superseded by the Terran government, which is superseded by the Galactic Federation.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Several in Kirara's route - Zieda, the other Zelerm soldiers, Galeorn, and Captain Izel.
- Humongous Mecha: The Radiant Frames aboard the Zelerm and the Ether Frame.
- Intimate Healing: Ayumu is given the option after a Student Council debate battle to go into the loser's mind to gain their Ethereal power.
- Left Hanging: Of a sorts in Ai's route. When the party gets to Algoda, it is implied that Ayumu is more familiar with the place than he realizes. However, this is never brought up again. Yumina's route explicitly addresses this, but due to the extreme Story Branching in each girl's route, it is left ambiguous in Ai's.
- Meaningful Echo: Several examples:
- In Ai's route, Kirara mentions that Ethereals are typically from underdeveloped worlds that aren't in direct contact with the Galactic Federation. Late in the story, the party gets to Algoda (where most Ethereals are from), and sees how the the place actually is, in contrast to what they had been led to believe.
- Also in Ai's route, Rishane says, "Humans are strongest when they are united together." This has an obvious double meaning when the player finds out about his Assimilation Plot.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Only men are seen using Radiant Frames, though it's implied some women do it. However, it's justified on the Zelerm, since the named female characters are either best at support Ethereal skills, far more useful as a sniper, or a member of the bridge.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: More like an Eleventh Hour upgrade, but Ayumu's Radiant Frame gets a power-up near the end of Kirara's route.
- Mordor: The party is lead to believe Algoda is a place of incredible technological advancement - but in reality, this is what it more closely resembles.
- More Than Meets the Eye: As revealed in Kirara's route, Tilscied, the Virtual Reality training world is not virtual reality at all - it is a real world in an Alternate Universe.
- Parlor Games: Yumina suggests playing shiritori with Kirara while they're in a dungeon. Kirara doesn't respond, likely because Yumina is a known huge idiot.
- Raised by Natives: An interesting variation in Yumina's route. It's revealed that Ayumu was originally an inhabitant of Algoda who was brought to Earth by Yumina's father, a non-human, and raised as a human.
- Second Hour Superpower: If certain conditions are met in the Student Council War, Ayumu can learn a skill that deals bonus damage to the enemy leader.
- Shining City: Only superior Ethereals are allowed to live in Celestial City, though it's revealed in Ai's route that the Celestial City is more of a Crapsaccharine World.
- Spit Take: At one point in Ai's route, Ayumu does one when he sees what kind of books she is reading.I just sprayed my juice, and for a reason. When I passed behind Ai, I had a glimpse of what she was reading. I had a picture of a half-naked girl covered in a white-ish fluid, blushing with her mouth wide open.
- He and Yumina also do one when Tomori tells Rei that Ayumu is her boyfriend.
- Story Branching: The story for each girl's route remains relatively similar until Chapter 4; starting in Chapter 5, the paths differ dramatically, though some plot points remain the same.
- Suicide Attack / Taking You with Me: In Kirara's route, Galeorn uses the Federation's flagship to ram the Extra-Dimensional Command Unit, creating an opening for Ayumu and the party to attack.
- Later, in the same route, Kirara attempts to use Veridadia's sword form to destroy the Extra-Dimensional Command Unit. Ayumu intervenes and the two survive, but only barely.
- Super-Deformed: Several CG images, the 2-D plot sequences and the battle sequences use chibi versions of the characters.
- Tempting Fate: Zieda does this every single time he goes on a Radiant Frame. Ultimately, he does end up getting killed in Kirara's route. This is endlessly lampshaded by Ayumu.
- Twincest: If you unlock the ability to see the Sakaue twins' h-scene and refuse, Kirara states that the twins have to do it without him.
- Urban Segregation: Rishane and his Ethereals live in the Celestial City, whereas the rest of the Algodan population lives in something similar to a dilapidated shantytown and wear little better than rags for clothes.
- Whole Plot Reference: A light-hearted school romance with significant foreshadowing and a few serious bits that ends up becoming a serious sci-fi story about mechs fighting aliens? Are we talking about this game or Muv-Luv?