Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani Otome Review

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani is a supernatural fantasy otome game developed by Otomate and localized by Aksys Games. Follow Shino Akitsu, a young woman who has been recruited by a secret government organization tasked with monitoring powerful supernatural beings known as ayakashi, in the land of the dead, Sakuratani. While on the job she meets quite a few otherworldly beings, like a fashion loving kitsune, a hikikomori tengu, a cat loving oni, and more.

Game Details

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani Official Synopsis

Ever since she could remember, Shino Akitsu has had the ability to see what others could not: spirits, apparitions, and indescribable creatures. As an adult, this talent leads her to join a secret government agency: The Occult Action Department. Her assignment is with the Sixth Special Preventions Office, and her job is to monitor the powerful beings who travel between her world and the worlds beyond.

From her office in Sakuratani, a town in a different dimension, Agent Akitsu meets several otherworldly individuals with vastly different personalities and abilities: a nine-tailed fox spirit, a mischievous oni, and more.

Part gatekeeper, part travel guide, she does her best to get to know these entities and keep them from getting into inter-dimensional trouble.

Characters of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani has six routes (five romance paths and one finale) that you can play through. Unlike most otome games the finale isn’t locked at the start of the game, so you could potentially play it first and work your way through the individual character routes. Chapters 1-3 cover the common route and aside from a handful of character specific scenarios, there’s a lot of overlap in the early half of the game. The character routes start from chapters 4-8 and follow stories specific to your chosen love interest. There are three types of endings you can unlock: Romance, Lost Love (Broken Love), and Friendship and while I liked the romance endings in most routes, I kind of felt like the Friendship endings were the “canon” ends for each route.

I recommend playing: Shiratsuki ➤ Hira ➤ Akuroou ➤ Shu ➤ Semi ➤ Final Route for the best story progression.

Shino AkitsuThe Heroine

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Shino Akitsu

A newcomer to the Ayakashimori who sought to find work in the government.

Current Concern: Am I really pulling my weight at work?

As far as heroine characters go, Shino was a bit hit or miss for me. Shino is the newest recruit of the Occult Action Department working under Tokitsugu Semi as an Ayakashimori, maintaining the between the different ayakashi liking in Sakuratani. She’s always had the ability to see spirits and things others couldn’t, so she pretty much eases into her role as an ayakashimori without much issue. She’s diligent and open-minded, always doing her best to learn more about the ayakashi she meets. She can be a bit of a stickler for the rules, but she also knows how to have fun. Shino is at her best under pressure and while she is still just a newbie she’s more than capable of dealing with whatever comes her way.

I’m going to be honest, Shino was just kind of boring. There wasn’t anything especially memorable about her and I really didn’t find her all that relatable. She’s just kinda there.

Shiratsuki

VA. Takahiro Sakurai

Shiratsuki Official Bio

Birthday: May 31 (734 year old)

“Hey, are you lonely? I’ll be your Shikigami. I am the best nine-tailed fox of all the kitsune.”

A calm, kind, and friendly nine-tailed fox who always has a smile on his face.

Current Concern: He’s worried about how Kokko has been waking him up without much care recently.

My Thoughts on Shiratsuki

Shiratsuki is a fashion loving nine-tailed fox and shire (leader) of Kikutsune. He’s quick to smile and as a kitsune he isn’t above playing a few practical jokes, and can often be found playing around with local kids or slacking off, much to the frustration of his assistant Kokko. He likes to keep things chill and upbeat, known by most as Shiro. He’s really into fashion, and is the self proclaimed fashionista of Sakuratani (though he can’t seem to button up his shirt properly). While he’s friendly to everyone, you get the sense that he keeps most people at a distance. He’s extremely powerful and in the past power hungry humans would attempt to capture him for their own needs, so he’s a bit wary of humans.

I kinda wanted more from this route, it was fun but there really isn’t much in the way of action, just Shino getting to know Shiratsuki better and growing into her role as an Ayakashimori. Even the main “conflict” is resolved fairly quickly so there’s never really any tension or consequences. The romance between Shiratsuki and Shino is cute, but IDK, I never felt like they were falling in love, just becoming really good friends.

Tokitsugu Semi

VA. Toshiyuki Toyonaga

Tokitsugu Semi Official Bio

Birthday: October 29 (26 years old)

“Oh, you even remembered my name? Good to hear.”

A very caring and friendly Ayakashimori senior.

Current Concern: He’s doesn’t like how his superior looks very young as it makes him look that much older.

My Thoughts on Tokitsugu Semi

Tokitsugu is Shino’s boss and the leader of the Semi Squad. He’s a capable Ayakashimori and a powerful onmiyoji from the prestigious Semi family. Tokitsugu has always known he was going to be an Ayakashimori and despite his young age has made a name for himself in the agency. He’s playful and can be a bit of a troll, who delights in teasing his subordinates–especially Yakumo, who has a raging crush on a cute cat-girl). He likes to rile Shino up and I think of all the love interests in the game they have the best chemistry and as her boss he helps guide her into becoming a better Ayakashimori.

His route focused more on the inner workings of the Ayakashimori, with the ayakashi taking on more of a supportive role in the story–especially Akuroou, who is apparently BFFs with Tokitsugu. This route kind of touches on something that is brought up in the common route, regarding Sakuratani being on the verge of collapse, but there really despite all the build up Tokitsugu’s route ends without actually resolving the issue.

Akuroou

VA. Tatsuhisa Suzuki

Akuroou Official Bio

Birthday: December 17 (1266 years old)

“Humans to humans, oni to oni.”

Acting like a father and a mother, he is very polite, takes care of his friends, and helps keep the peace in Makatsuhi.

Current Concern: He doesn’t like how his name makes him sound more than who he really is.

My Thoughts on Akuroou

Akuroou is an oni and the assistant shire of Makatsuhi, and while he isn’t the official leader, he is absolutely the HBIC of Makatsuhi. If he wasn’t around that place would fall to pieces since all the oni really care about are playing video games and drinking and Akuroou is constantly tasked with keeping everyone on task (read: bribing folks with toys and candy). Like the ayakashi in Kikutsune, the oni of Makatsuhi are really into human things, collecting figurines, game systems, cellphones–they’re kinda like hyper fanboys–even Akuroou has a cute obsession with kitty figurines which is at odds with his intimidating appearance. Really, Akuroou is a big old softie, his relationship with Shino is super cute and wholesome.

Akuroou is hands down my favorite route in the game! It felt the most put together of all the routes following a conflict that delved into the inner workings of Sakuratani and the Ayakashimori while also offering a satisfying conclusion regardless of which ending you get (though the Lost Love end is my favorite). I was actually invested in the relationship between Shino and Akuroou and loved watching them work through their feelings for one another. I wish the other routes had been like this.

Hira

VA. Yuusuke Kobayashi

Hira Official Bio

Birthday: January 19 (about 2500 years old)

“Quiet. I can hear you just fine.”

A reclusive tengu who doesn’t want to be bothered, and lacks any interest in things.

Current Concerns: He’s having a hard time finding the materials to craft feathers fans.

My Thoughts on Hira

Hira is a self proclaimed hikikomori and the shire of Amatsuna. He hates doing anything and more times than not can be found sleeping in his room or rolling around on the floor. Hira leaves the bulk of the day to day operations in Amatsuna to his attendant Takao (who honestly should be the one running things). Hira just treats everything and everyone like a huge bore, so Shino has to kind of coax him into doing his duties.

I love a good kuudere as much as the next gal, and I alway love the tengu LIs in supernatural romance games, so I was most hype for Hira’s route…and it was okay. I love Hira as a character, but I swear his route was just very by the book–Shino through sheer determination breaks through Hira’s defenses and he learns to open his heart to another person. There’s a conflict involving a human trafficking ayakashi for money in the real world but trust me when I say it’s all kind of just resolved without much fanfare.

Shu

VA. Ryouta Oosaka

Shu Official Bio

Birthday: July 24 (about 2300 years old)

“Tch. He caught us…”

A snake ayakashi that does what he pleases.

Current Concern: About how he doesn’t stand a chance against Orochi.

My Thoughts of Shu

Shu is the leader of Mitsuchi and not much is known about him. Unlike the other shires who are chomping at the bit to make friends with Shino and the Ayakashimori, Shu and his crew go out of their way to keep a low profile. Shino has to literally stalk Shu just to get any one on one time with him and most of her attempts to get to know him are met with snark and sass. Shu is the ultimate tsundere and your enjoyment of this route will solely depend on your tolerance for them. Sometimes he’s an annoying little shit and other times he’s a cute blushy baby you can’t help but tease. He does mellow out towards the end of the route, but he looks and acts like an angsty teen so it was hard for me to see him as an actual love interest–baby boy may be 2300 years old, but he acts 12.

Blerdy Otome’s Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani Character Ranking

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Character Ranks
  • Best Route Overall – Akuroou! It has the best balance and most satisfying pacing and storytelling.
  • Best Romance – Tie between Akuroo & Tokitsugu (though I like Akuro a smidge more) because they actually take the time to explore the relationship between Shino and the LI.

Gameplay and Features

Flowchart and Interactive Map

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani has a Flowchart feature that helps you keep track of your progress in the game. You can check the flowchart at any point in the story and use it to revisit specific chapters and try alternative choices. The Flowchart also lets you know what to expect from each chapter, displaying whether or not you’ll encounter choices or event CGs. This was super helpful if you’re looking to full clear the game, since you can see where story branches occur and replay only the relevant chapters. There’s also an interactive map that you can use to explore various locations around Sakuratani and interact with the love interests through special scenarios.

As if to add insult to injury, in order to fully clear Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani you will need to play through every single choice and scenario in the game. If you’re going through every end you’ll inevitably go through every choice naturally and you can check this fairly easily with the flowchart–fully completed chapters/episodes will turn from white to purple. There’s also the Completion Check menu that shows what percentage of each chapter you’ve completed. Once you have cleared everything you get a special reward CG (which honestly was not worth the effort).

Apprehension/Battle Mini Games

You can also fulfill your duty as an Ayakashimori by subduing rouge ayakashi during Apprehension/Battle mini games that occur throughout the common route (these don’t happen in any of the individual character routes). The battle phase is fairly simple and there doesn’t seem to be a difficulty level, but the faster you do it the higher your ranking (I never got lower than Superb, so don’t worry so much about it). All you have to do is pressing the correct buttons in the order they light up on the screen to draw a five-pointed star and complete the spell to capture the ayakashi (dark mist on screen). Note, these battle phases are only really important for locking in the Finale route.

Artwork and Soundtrack

After the technicolor explosion that is Cupid Parasite, the muted grey and purple tones of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is a welcome relief. The simpler backgrounds and toned down color scheme helped make the sprites really pop which worked well for the ayakashi characters whose designs are meant to stand out. Occasionally you’ll get a location that’ll have a pop of color that adds to the otherworldly feel of Sakuratani–like the ethereal pink and purple glow of the Fujizakura. The art in Dairoku was done by Suoh (Bad Apple Wars) and while I like the character designs I will admit that I was disappointed that all of the ayakashi you encounter in the game are human-like. I get it, maybe the team didn’t have a budget for additional sprites for side characters–but I would have loved to have seen more otherworldly ayakashi designs.

I have a hard time talking about music in otome games, because more times than not outside of the opening and ending themes I really don’t pay much attention to the BGM unless it’s absolutely awful. That said, I did really like the opening theme, “Oyozuregoto” sung by Tokitsugu Semi’s voice actor, Toshiyuki Toyonaga. The ending theme “Sakura no Tayori” also sung by Toyonaga (it has both a vocal and instrumental versions used during the ending movies).

Private Files

After finishing the Romance Ends for each of the routes you can unlock Character Private Files. These are additional voiced lines from the characters that give deeper insight into the likes and dislikes of the love interests. Some were hilarious, like hearing the LIs’s thoughts on other characters, but others are pretty basic like favorite color, food, etc.

Thoughts on Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani

Low Stakes Supernatural Adventure

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is marketed as “Men in Black meets Japanese mythology” and in some respects that’s true–the story follows a secret organization that’s tasked with maintaining the balance between humans and ayakashi. But, the execution is not exactly the sweeping supernatural fantasy I expected. What we actually get is a more lowkey slice-of-life affair involving Shino traveling around Sakuratani getting to know the ayakashi that live there through cultural exchange events. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I quite like the more relaxed vibes, but I feel like the writers limited themselves.

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Review

And then the routes themselves don’t really know what they want to be–each has a conflict specific to the love interest which range from learning to trust humans to trying to take over the world. While they’re interesting and explore unique ideas they never fully commit to the story they’re telling. Issues that I’d expect to take chapters to resolve are handled almost as soon as they arise or are just swept under the rug.

Romance? More Like Really Good Friends

The romance is about the same never fully committing to taking the relationships out of the friendzone. Most of the interactions between Shino and the LIs is strictly platonic, whether that’s planning a fun event for the ayakashi or just exploring Sakuratani, even after the characters start catching feelings it never feels like more than just a crush. I mean, Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is rated T, so I wasn’t expecting any sexy times, but damn, can get something more than a long meaningful look or awkward blushing.

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Review

Shiratsuki’s route is the worst offender, since he’s already such a playful character it was hard to pinpoint whether or not he was falling for her or just having fun. The other routes are better at showing the transition between friends to lover–Akuroou’s and Tokitsugu’s being the best in the romance department–but even then I was left wanting more than what I got. Hell I was more invested in the romance between Shino’s coworker Yakumo and the nekomata girl, Kinka (or hell whatever is going on between her boss Tokiwa and Tamamo, because there’s too much belligerent sexual tension between them for there not to be a story there).

References to Japanese Folklore

One of the aspects of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani that I was most looking forward to was the references to Japanese mythology and folklore and the game doesn’t disappoint delving into a lot of great lore while also giving it a bit of a modern spin.

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Review

The story largely takes place in Sakuratani so you don’t really see any interactions between the ayakashi and people aside from Shino and the other Ayakashimori–sure in Akuroou’s route they actually visit the real world but it’s a brief outing that doesn’t really go anywhere. In fact we only ever see the ayakashi interacting with human things. The kitsune are really into fashion and Shiatsuki and Kokko actively keep up with the latest human fashion trends. The oni regularly import human tech like cellphones and games and even hold game tournaments. It’s a cool idea to have ayakashi integrating human culture into their own, but without seeing human adapting ayakashi culture into their own it just kinda feels empathy and very one sided.

Translation and Localization

Translations and localization has been a big discussion in the otome community and Aksys’s localizations have been a bit hit or miss. Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani falls in that okay range–there are minimal errors and I was able to read it without any trouble. It wasn’t as fun or modern as the Cupid Parasite localization so it wasn’t as overly comedic or anything like that. Just a nice solid localization.

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani Trailer

Final Verdict – Is Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani Worth Playing?

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is an otome game that just kind of shoots for the middle, it’s not the best game I’ve played and it certainly isn’t the worst, but it’s not the most memorable experience. Where the game really works is when there isn’t anything going on, the small in-between moments where Shino works with the ayakashi to solve minor disputes or just paling around with Tokitsugu and the rest of the squad while working on paperwork. It’s the genuine character interactions that really makes Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani shine.

Now, do I recommend getting it? Eh, yeah, it’s entertaining enough and I would definitely recommend it for newer otome fans looking for something short and low maintenance to play. But, more seasoned otome gamers might not be as impressed with this low stakes supernatural adventure.

Thank you to Aksys Games for providing a copy of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani for this review.

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