Before reading this post, it’s important to answer one simple question: What exactly is an otome game? Generally speaking, otome games (shortened to otoge) are “story based video games that are targeted towards a female audience” (wiki). Typically, the plots of these games focus on fostering a romantic relationship between a female protagonist and one of several male (and in some cases female) love interests. While romance is the main draw for players, otoges have been known to cover a diverse range of subjects and topics. In the past, otoges were only marketed towards Japanese women, but in recent years their popularity has extended to the Western market. This new, growth has led to a rise in English-language otome games and an increase in the number of localized Japanese otoges. However, the market for otoges in the West is considerably smaller than that of the Japanese market.
So this past week I saw that Vogue had written an article about otome games…At first I was excited, this is just what we need, I thought, more exposure means more games…and what better way to get that exposure, than to have an article in an internationally syndicated medium, like Vogue. So like many of you, I retweeted and reblogged the article, but then I read it again and I noticed something I didn’t realize the first time. First, they assume all otoge players are women and two they generalize players…On the first count, Vogue is primarily targeted at women…so I guess I can let that slide, but the second point isn’t so easily dismissed. The article made it seem like women/girls who play otome games do so in order to escape the reality of not having a real boyfriend….
So after an unbearable amount of waiting and pinning, Voltage finally decided to release Shinichi Kagari’s route for After School Affairs…Okay, I know I’m exaggerating, but damnit he should have been the first released route to begin with! If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr you’ll know I was none to pleased with the decision to release Shinichi after Rikiya…but it was totally worth the wait! I couldn’t have been more pleased with this strict megane math teacher, he was more than I could have hoped for and the MC *sigh* I couldn’t be more proud of her! After playing Amnesia I can’t tell you how happy I am to have an MC that talks…and to actually have a personality to boot, I could cry!
Shinichi is strict and meticulous when it comes to his job, expecting nothing less than perfection from his students and coworkers. He starts off with a huge stick up his butt, quick to criticize even the slightest mistake. But, he only pushes people he sees potential in, so I guess it’s coming from a good place… On the other hand his home life is a mess..he reminds me of Tsugumu Kido from Our Two Bedroom Story in that respect. He is definitely not as strict with his home as he is with his school affairs.
*Disclaimer: I don’t own these images, they belong to Voltage…and this goes without saying, but there will be SPOILERS under the cut…*
Mushi-shi is a 10 volume manga series, released between 1999 and 2008. In 2005 the series was turned into a 26 episode anime series and a 20 episode second season was released in 2014, there are also two OVAs, a live action film (Joe Odigiri is awesome 😀 ), and an anime film. In a world of fast paced action shounen series and overly fluffy shoujo romances, the episodic occult detective series, Mushi-shi, is an oddity.
I love Mushi-shi, in fact it is one of my favorite series, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-watched the series over the years…it’s just so calming. From the open chords of the OP to the ethereal instrumentals of the ending themes, Mushi-shi definitely puts you in the mood for something mystical.
The story takes place in an imaginary period between the Edo and Meiji periods of Japan and follows Ginko a Mushi-shi (Mushi master) as he travels Japan solving problems caused by Mushi. It’s kind of hard to explain what mushi are, but for the most part mushi are primitive creatures more akin to fungi and bacteria. Usually, they co-exist with plants, animals, and human, without much problem, in fact they are imperceptible to humans, save for a few exceptions. Mushi are an integral part of nature, and rarely interact with humans, but when they do people tend to get the short end of the stick. The stories all range from bittersweet to downright Disney, but please rest assured that every person that comes into contact with mushi are changed in some way…usually for the better.
I usually don’t go for the childhood friend characters, but I really liked Shin’s character design. From the piercings to the jacket, everything about him seemed to scream bad boy, plus he’s a bit of a tsundere, which trumps everything. I actually really enjoyed Shin’s route, it had just enough mystery and suspense to keep me reading until the very end. I will admit that in hindsight the reveal was obvious, but at the time it took me a some time to figure it out. I had a really hard time getting the good ending in this route, first landing one of the bad endings which came right out of left field…I really did not see that coming at all, it was almost too random to be believable (especially when you haven’t played any other routes). Other than that the route was pretty good, everything lined up nicely plot-wise and Shin didn’t have a single out of character moment, all in all a solid route.
*Side Note: I will not have an MC/Heroine section in this review…I feel that there just isn’t enough about her to fill an entire section in this game. I was actually really disappointed by the MC in this game.
Kanata Kara, also known as From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa is a 14 volume shojo fantasy and one of my favorite manga series of all time! I can not tell you how many times I have reread this manga and I never get tired of it. Released between 1993 and 2003, From Far Away, follows ordinary high school student Noriko as she is propelled from her home in modern Japan to a strange magical world. Little does she know, her presence is the manifestation of an ancient prophecy that has the power to tip the balance in this new world. It has been foretold that the Awakening will arrive and awaken a monster known as the Sky Demon and bring destruction to the world. With mercenaries from every kingdom closing in, Noriko must rely on the handsome warrior Izark, for protection. But, there is a dark secret Izark is hiding, that no one not even Noriko can know about. What will happen to the two unlikely companions? And could Noriko be the Awakening?
Okay, so I will admit that the story is the typical girl gets transported to another world romance, with all the shojo cliches imaginable. However what makes this title stand out is that Noriko, unlike most fantasy stories where the heroine automatically speaks the language (be it magic or coincidence), has to learn the language gradually. So for the first couple of volumes Noriko takes the time to learn an entire language, and while she does get better over the course of the series, she still makes mistakes (though they are few and far between in the later volumes). This was the first time that I had ever seen something like this in a manga, and I wish more titles did this!
Blerdy Otome is an otome games and visual novel review site that runs on Black Girl Magic and Dreams. While I mostly focus on romance themed games, I’ve been known to cover a wide range of nerdy and otaku themed topics.
So, step right up and prepare your heart! Let’s talk about otome games!!