Beginners Guide to Otome

A Beginners Guide to Otome Games: Part 3 – Common Character Archetypes

Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, its been a while since the last ‘A Beginners Guide to Otome Games’ post. I’ve been slowly working on bringing this blog back where it was before I took a break, so expect more of my post segments to start cropping back up… eventually. Since its been so long since the last post, I figured this is as good a time as any to explain what these posts are…

A Beginners Guide to Otome Games post series is a crash course on all things otome games, but in a way that’s easy to understand for newbies and folks unfamiliar with the genre. When I started playing otome games I pretty much just spent most of my time figuring things out as I went along and even then I had a lot of questions. So, I wanted to create a series of posts that answers some of the basic otome question to kind of give you guys a feel for different aspects of otome games. This series is for you guys, so at the end of each A Beginners Guide post I’ll have a poll where you, the reader, can vote on the next topic I cover! Last post, you guys voted and I listened, so for Part 3, I’m going to cover  Common Character Archetypes!

*Also, if there is something in this post that you think should be expanded or needs more clarification, please let me know and I will update this post accordingly!


Types of Characters in Otome Games

Otome games are story driven games geared towards women. While they cover a wide range of topics and subject matter, the main draw of otome games is the ability for players to foster romantic relationships between an in game female protagonist and one of several male protagonist (some games also feature female romantic partners). While the number and types of romanceable characters vary from game to game, otome games tend to have the same aforementioned set up.

1. The Heroine (The Player Character)

Heroines

In otome games the player takes on the role of the MC (short for ‘main character’), also referred to as the Heroine. This character, usually female, serves as the player’s in game proxy through which they experience the events of the game. Typically the Heroine does not have a well defined personality or backstory in order to allow players to insert their own personalities and thoughts onto her (ie. self-insert character). Though there has been a trend in more recent games where the Heroine character is given much more agency in her thoughts and actions. There is limited customization of this character with a few games allowing for name alterations and in some cases adjustments to appearance (though the latter is not common). Note: Most otome MCs are not voiced, even when they have a defined personality/design.

Types of Otome Heroines

  • Self Insert: Complete blank slate character with now distinguishable personality or backstory. Simply a placeholder for the player to insert themselves into the game. Most tend to be eye-less.
    • Examples: The Heroine (Amnesia Memories) is a perfect example… no discernible personality or name.
  • Non-Self Insert: Have a well defined personality and characteristics. They usually have a plot relevant backstory, mission, or goal that sets the events of the story in motion. Typically they have a canon name (that can be altered) and more agency in their actions.
    • Examples:  Saki (Sweet Fuse) has both a personality and a great deal of agency in the progression of the plot.

2. Love Interests

Love Interests

In otome games players are given the chance to interact with a wide range of characters some of whom are romanceable. These characters are called love interests. How many love interests a game has and the types of love interests vary from game to game, but most otome games have a few common archetypes which I will get into later on in this post. For now, love interests are typically male characters with unique personalities that players can romance. 

3. Side Characters

Amnesia side characters.png

Other than the Heroines and Love Interests, some otome games have non playable or romanceable characters that the player can interact with. The role these characters play in the story varies, with some serving as antagonists, family members, friends, extra to help fill out a scene, etc.

The designs of side characters can also vary from full character sprites, modified character sprites (ie. no eyes), or no visible sprites at all.


Common Love Interest Character Archetypes

So, those are the characters that you’ll encounter most often in otome games, but we can still break these groups down even further. There isn’t one set type of otome heroine nor do all love interests have the same personality traits, rather otome games feature characters from a wide range of character archetypes.

Archetypes are images, themes, tropes, characters, and symbols that are considered universally representative of some aspect of human nature.

Character Archetypes can also be referred to as stock characters, or trope characters. These are characters that can be boiled down to a handful of recognizable traits or attributes. These are usually recurring general themes or patterns that are universally recognizable. Of course a character doesn’t have to be completely defined by one set personality trait, but it is common for said trait to be the dominant or most noteworthy part of their portrayal.

In otome games there are anywhere from 5 to 12 (or more) love interests, each with their own specific character traits and personalities. Some of these aren’t restricted to personality, there are some that refer to a physical attribute (ie. megane). Also, there are some characters that embody several different archetypes in an attempt to give more depth to that particular character. However, there are common general character archetypes that show quite a bit in otome games. I tried to include the “most common” archetypes in this post, but if you have suggestions please feel free to let me know in the comments section and I will add them to the list.

Oresama

Oresama (俺様) is an arrogant and overly self-important way of saying “me” in Japanese. These types of characters are often narcissistic and over confident, with just a dash of a superiority complex. Oresama characters think they are god’s gift to mankind, usually due to extreme wealth, intelligence, or some other talent. They can be very charismatic and charming, though their arrogance overshadows those aspects of their personality. However, it should be noted that their self pandering is usually the result of deep seated insecurities.

Key Bio Descriptors: arrogant, alpha male, dominant

Examples of Oresama Characters:

  • Miyabi (Enchanted in the Moonlight)
  • Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane (Hatoful Boyfriend)
  • Jumin Han (Mystic Messenger)

Kuudere

Kuudere characters are usually cold or distant at first, but this is only a self-defense mechanism used to protect themselves from getting hurt. While they can be blunt and very direct in their manner of speaking they can be very caring and affectionate once you melt through their frosty exterior.

Key Bio Descriptors: cool, aloof, calm, or cold-hearted

Examples of Kuudere Characters:

  • Yoru (Re: Birthday Song)
  • Saito (Hakuoki)
  • Sakuya Nanahoshi (True Love, Sweet Lies)

Childhood Friend

The childhood friend is someone that has a very close relationship with the Heroine, that has spanned several years, usually starting in early childhood. These characters are often a little older than the heroine and viewed as a big-brother figure,  someone that the heroine can rely on, or more times than not a protector. Childhood friend characters are know to have developed unrequited feelings of love for their respective heroines.

Key Bio Descriptors: loyal, comfortable, kind, brother

Examples of Childhood Friend Characters:

  • Hino (7’scarlet)
  • Sakuya (Norn9)
  • Hayato (Spirit Parade)

Shota

Shota are younger male characters that often have a childish personality. These types of characters are prone to being extremely innocent and naive, and their romances tend to be much purer than those with their more mature counterparts. The age of a shota character can range from just a year or two younger than the MC to borderline jailbait territory.

Key Bio Descriptors: child-like, immature, cheerful

Examples of Shota Characters:

  • Yeonho (Nameless)
  • Wataru Asahina (Brothers Conflict: Brilliant Blue)
  • Orion (Amnesia)

Mature/Older Man

These characters are the complete opposite of the shota character archetype. Mature characters are usually much older than the heroine (anywhere from 30s to 60s) and are much more experienced in the ways of the world. These much more mature love interests are often seen as supportive father figures, that guide the heroine through tough situations.

Key Bio Descriptors: mature, father figure, experienced 

Examples of Mature Characters:

  • Johji Chakura (Dreamy Days in West Tokyo)
  • Ikkaku Amanohashi (Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side)
  • Any of the LI’s in Seifuku No Ojisama

Dandere

Dandere is often confused with the kuudere character type, as both archetypes describe characters that are perceived as being distant. However, rather than being openly cold and hostile, dandere are more quiet and reserved, due to shyness. They are very slow to open up to people, especially strangers and it can take quite some time for a dandere to warm up to a heroine. Dandere are often described as being gloomy and may have a low self-esteem.

Key Bio Descriptors: anti-social, shy, gloomy

Examples of Dandere Characters:

  • Senri (Norn9)
  • Meoshi (Sweet Fuse)
  • Kyo Aizawa (Butler Until Midnight)

Megane

megane character is simply put, an attractive guy in glasses. This isn’t so much a description of their personality so much as it is a reflection of their appearance. However, megane characters are typically described as having attributes of several other archetypes including: studious, intelligent, stoic, and nerdy. Most megane characters are either kuudere or dandere, but, have been known to be arrogant with respect to their perceived intelligence.

Examples of Megane Characters:

  • Kent (Amnesia Memories)
  • Axel (OZMAFIA)
  • Reiji (Diabolik Lovers)

Tsundere

AKA Mr. Hot and Cold. Tsundere is a term derived from the terms tsun tsun (ツンツン), meaning to turn away in disgust, and dere dere (デレデレ) meaning to become ‘lovey dovey’. These characters tend to be cold and hostile towards the heroine at first, but gradually warms up to her, becoming much more affectionate as time passes. Tsundere characters are known to switch between their hot and cold personalities at the drop of a dime, most notably when embarrassed. However, when the heroine is able break down their walls, most tsunderes are sweethearts. They also  tend to be the most devoted and loyal love interests.

Key Bio Descriptors: hot and cold, mood swings

Examples of Tsundere Characters:

  • Rod (Cinderella Phenomenon)
  • Takeru Sasazuka (Collar x Malice)
  • Libera (Period Cube)

Yandere

Yandere is derived from the Japanese words yanderu (病んでる), meaning insane or sick, and dere dere (デレデレ), meaning affectionate or loving; so a yandere character is someone that is literally “lovesick”. These characters are a bit controversial for a number of reasons, but most prominently for their dangerously obsessive behaviors. A yandere’s desire to possess the heroine, body, mind, and spirit is ultimately what drives these characters and their compulsive behaviors. While their actions stem from overwhelming sense of love and devotion, these characters are prone to jealousy and will do everything in their power to ensure that nothing comes between them and their love, even violence towards other male characters. 

Yandere can be very forceful in their affections and may resort to entrapping the object of their affection in a misguided attempt to protect them. Some yandere have been known to lock their heroines in cages and in extreme cases may be mentally or physically abusive.

Key Bio Descriptors: possessive, obsessive, intense, devoted

Examples of Yandere Characters:

  • Isora (7’scarlet)
  • Toma (Amnesia Memories)
  • Lawrence (Dangerous Fellows)

Genki Guy

‘Everything is awesome~’ Genki (元気) means healthy/energetic in Japanese and these types of characters are a seeming well of good-natured playfulness and joy.  These lively, animated, and bombastic guys are always the life of the party, quick to laugh and ever optimistic. You’re bound to have a good time when you’re with a genki guy! Beneath their upbeat personality these characters tend to hide deep traumas and dark pasts, however these rarely affect their cheerful attitudes as they’d much rather look on the bright side of life. Also, most genki guys tend to have red hair to match their fiery personalities.

Key Bio Descriptors: upbeat, energetic, fiery, optimistic

Examples of Genki Characters:

  • Impey Barbicane (Code Realize)
  • Red (Nameless)
  • Haginosuke (Ayakashi Gohan)

The Flirt

It’s just like the name implies, flirty guys are the ones that are all over the heroine right from the start. With their cliche pick up lines, lewd comments, and overly flirtatious demeanor, these guys waste no time trying to get into the heroine’s pants (albeit unsuccessfully). But, what they lack in grace, they more than make up for in determination, flirts will always find an opportunity to try and put the moves on the heroine, much to the annoyance of everyone around them. Flirty guys are usually just posturing peacocks, with very little romantic experience (despite claims to the contrary). But, if you’re willing to look beyond their ridiculous flirting, these characters are usually pretty charming and earnest… when they aren’t putting on airs.

Key Bio Descriptors: flirty, charming 

Examples of Flirty Characters:

  • Zen (Mystic Messenger)
  • Rumpel (Cinderella Phenomenon)
  • Go Okubo (Irresistible Mistakes)

The Playboy

Playboy characters are just flirts with experience. Suave, charismatic, and handsome, these characters have no trouble getting dates. Women (and some men) are usually chomping at the bit for just a moment of their time and it’s not uncommon to see playboys surrounded by throngs of squealing fangirls and admirers. Like a busy little bee these guys flit from flower to flower without any regard for the trail of broken hearts he leaves in his wake. When a playboy comes a knockin’ trouble is always right around the corner. Whether it’s jealous fangirls or your own insecurities, these guys tend to bring out the worst in people. However, if you manage to tame his wandering hear, playboys are fairly loyal and devoted… but, there will always be someone out there trying to steal him away from you…

Key Bio Descriptors: ladies man, suave, handsome, charismatic

Examples of Playboy Characters:

  • Ikki (Amnesia Memories)
  • Eltcreed (Steam Prison)
  • Takumi (Storm Lover)

final thoughts 2

In this post I covered the most common character archetypes in otome games. I only looked at the character types for love interests, if you guys want I can also do the same for heroines in another post… if there’s enough of a demand.

As always, this is just an overview, there’s loads more about otome games I didn’t really go into, but if I put it all in one post, it’d be a bit overwhelming. But, fear not, I’ll be releasing more of these Beginners Guides to Otome Games fairly regularly on specific aspects of otome games and their associated media. So, if there is a topic you want me to cover, please feel free to let me know (either in the comments section, the contact page, or drop me a line on Twitter) and I’ll make sure to write something up!

As of right now, I have four potential topics for Part 4 of the Beginners Guide to Otome Games, and while I could just pick a topic and be done with it, I want to add a bit more reader engagement… so, vote in the poll below and the topic with the most votes will be the next topic I cover! Also, if there is something in this post that you think should be expanded or needs more clarification, please let me know and I will update this post accordingly!

Welp, that’s all I have for you guys for now. I’m going to try and make this a regular thing, but I’m still working out the kinks with this one since it wasn’t exactly planned. So, feedback is greatly appreciated! So, I want to hear from you guys… Have any ideas for future posts? Suggestions? Just wanna chat? Let me know down in the comments section and as always, THANK YOU GUYS FOR READING!! 

 

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