It’s time for another OWLS Blog Tour, most of you were directed here after reading Takuto’s lovely post about Sword Art Online Alicization and if you haven’t read his post I definitely recommend giving it a read!! If you stumbled upon this post by chance, welcome to Blerdy Otome! The end of the year is fast approaching and we’ve hit our 10th Blog Tour of 2019. For those of you just joining the party, OWLS is a group of bloggers and vloggers that hope to spread a message of acceptance and understanding through thoughtful community activism! We use our love of pop-culture and other media to discuss a wide range of topics. Each month we host themed Blog Tours where we discuss topics we feel are important to the greater fandom community.
For the month of October our topic is “Fantasy” I decided to discuss otome games (again) and how they portray romance. The appeal of otome games comes not from depicting realistic romance, but from the fantasy of what we wish romance could be.
In the month of October, we will be exploring the world of fantasy in pop culture. The genre of fantasy focuses on telling stories about our external and internal environments. There are many ways we can interpret the word fantasy. For example, we can talk about how a fantastical place could glorify what reality should be, or the dangers of ideal expectations. Fantasy could also be seen as taking a “wild journey” or a “hallucination,” and how that can affect our psyche and well-being. Additionally, fantasy can focus on our personal dreams and expectations, and how those expectations do not align with our reality. Overall, our posts will reflect on how we view the fantasy genre and what we can learn about these pop culture mediums.
– October 2019 Blog Tour Prompt
I’ll reference a few otome games in this post, but there shouldn’t be any spoilers since I intend to focus primarily on the concept of otome games rather than a rundown of a specific title.
The Otome Method: Crafting Your Own Romance
Otome games are aimed primarily at girls and women, and give its players the chance to craft their own romance experience. Players are presented with a scenario and a group of men, that she can befriend or romance. While otome games focus on building romantic relationships between the player character (the Heroine), and one or more of the male suitors.
In order to appeal to a wide range of women, otome games have their own unique stories and premises that cover a several different genres. Whether you’re looking to relive your school days with a nice slice of life high school romance or seeking exciting adventure with a sci-fi fantasy or hoping to be whisked off by a handsome samurai in a historical drama; there is literally an otome game for everyone!
Idea Factory’s popular Hakuoki franchise gives players the chance to romance members of the Shinsengumi, legendary swordsmen from the Bakumatsu period. While it does borrow from historical fact, depicting characters and events from Japanese history, Hakuoki is largely a fantasy. The Shinsengumi are re-imagined as good looking men in their 20’s and early 30’s and a fictional character Chizuru was created to serve as a self insert character for the player to use to experience the events of the game. The series ups the ante with an added supernatural element that brings demons into the mix.
But, if historical romance isn’t your speed, there are slice of life romances like Voltage Inc.’s My First Last Kiss, where you play as a normal woman who is given the chance to romance one of her childhood friends after she returns to her hometown years later. The story and premise is largely grounded in reality, focusing more on the obstacles the player character and her chose love interest face in their day to day lives. Conflicts can be the result from jealousy, work, or some incident from the characters’ pasts. The fantasy in this case comes from the characters and the various encounters the player has with the love interests and not actual “fantasy”.
Falling in Love with Your Fantasy Man: Love Interests in Otome Games
Sometimes in otome games the fantasy doesn’t come from magical worlds or exciting adventures, but rather the characters themselves. Otome games give players the chance to choose from several male characters, each with their own distinct personality that aligns with a specific character trope. While otome games tend to have a wide range of characters, there are a few stock characters that appear most often; the oresama (dominant alpha male), the kuudere (cold and distant), the tsundere (Mr. hot and cold), the genki guy (cheerful and upbeat), and the flirt/playboy.
In those cases the romance is spending time with a guy you normally wouldn’t pursue in real life. Maybe you normally go with sweet shy guys, but in an otome game you can go after a dominant alpha male like Eisuke Ichinomiya from Voltage Inc.’s Kissed By the Baddest Bidder or maybe you want a flirty playboy like Ikki from Amnesia Memories. In fact some of the most popular love interests in otome games are the “bad boys”. These dangerous men stimulate our wildest fantasies, exciting us, tempting us with scenarios we wouldn’t otherwise experience in our day to day lives. You can be or do whatever you like in an otome game, because it’s your story.
Otome games can be empowering giving players agency in how their story plays out, by allowing them to step into the shoes of someone else. Situations that might be terrifying or outright dangerous in real life, are rendered exciting and exotic in the game, because they tap into our imaginations. In 7’scarlet you are drawn into the secrets of a sleepy town currently at the mercy of a serial killer. Or take Period Cube where you are trapped in a digital MMORPG, forced to fight monsters and take on various quests.
But, otome games also tap into our vulnerabilities, leaving us at the mercy of strong powerful men, playing out secret fantasies that help us learn more about ourselves and our desires. Like in, Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, where the player finds herself up for sale at a black market auction run by wealthy controlling men. This isn’t to say that all women want to be dominated or at the mercy of men, rather, it’s a role we play within a limited environment that helps us as players establish their own sense of identity.
Exploring Your Deepest Desires
Otome games give players the chance to explore their deepest fantasies from the safety and comfort of their own homes. The fantasy lies in the control and power otome games bestow upon it’s many players. You craft your own story. You choose the characters you romance. You make all the decisions.
Most otome heroines are little more than blank slate characters devoid of personality so that players feel comfortable inserting themselves into the game through her. You are the heroine. You are the one being courted by ridiculously gorgeous men. You are the one with the agency and control. Even within the limited framework of otome games you are the master of your desires. It doesn’t matter who you are in the real world, in the world of the game you can be whoever you want and that is what makes otome games so appealing.
That’s my take on the Fantasy Blog Tour! I hope you enjoyed my post, but, I’m just one in a long line of OWLS blog tour stops! Don’t forget to stop by Crimson’s blog, Cute Boys Central tomorrow for what promises to be an amazing addition to the OWLS October 2019 Blog Tour! Also if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Official OWLS Twitter account @OWLSbloggers and the Official OWLS Blog, to stay up to date on all OWLS news and announcements!
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