The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling (Koezaru wa Akai Hana) was originally released in Japan as an 18+ otome, and later released as a slightly watered down version for the PS Vita a few years after that. The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling is a Switch port of those versions—and as is the trend with more mature otome localizations comes with the sexy scenes significantly toned down. Western otome fans want their smut too. But, that aside I figured I’d give the trial a try and see if Crimson Flower is worth picking up.
- Genre: Fantasy | Romance | Drama
- Rating: ESRB M (17+)
- Developer & Publisher: Operetta Due & Dramatic Create & Hunex
- Where to Get the Game: Nintendo eShop | Steam
Will Naala’s future be one of subordination, or…?
The story unfolds on a continent where the number of women has drastically decreased due to an incurable disease known as “The Rot.”
A young girl, Naala, lives in the southern country of Rus. Her mother is abducted by the northern country of Nasla, leaving her as an orphan.
Her childhood friend Auri, the next king of Rus and someone whom she adores like a brother, supported her through her hardships.
Several years after that nightmarish night…
Naala was welcomed into the royal family, and began to feel at ease in her life as Auri’s bride to be.
The nightmare begins again, as a decision will have to be made in front of the Nasla army that is kidnapping women.
A fictional world that’s full of exoticism. This is a romance adventure game for women that depicts rich romantic relationships that involve the character’s countries, along with conflicts and beliefs.Official Synopsis
Naala | VA. Megumi Tateishi
An honest girl who, despite being the adopted sister of the king of Rus, Auri, does not give off any impression of being haughty.
Her father died when she was around five years old, and her mother was taken by the northern country of Nasla, leaving her all alone at a young age.
She was to marry Auri soon, but she was abducted by Nasla army…
Main Route Love Interests
touya | VA. Shinnosuke Tachibana
The king of Nasla, who ascended to the throne just one year ago.
In accordance with a law that his father, the previous king established, he kidnaps many women from Rus (including the heroines) in order to prevent their bloodlines from dying out.
However, he also established the Nasla Selection Law, preventing things such as violence against women. With policies that differ from the previous king, he spends his days thinking about ways to protect women’s feelings.
Suren | VA. Eiji Miyashita
Nasla’s military commander. On the battlefield his authority is second only to the king.
As his attitudes towards the opposite sex are pompous and coercive, he is feared by the Rus women, but his subordinates trust him immensely.
Contrary to his crude appearance, he is quick-witted and very astute.
Nohl | VA. Chihiro Suzuki
The king’s most trusted vassal, in the political arena his influence is second only to the king’s.
While he may seem kind and agreeable, sometimes his cold-blooded side can be seen in his stance of putting the country above all else.
He doesn’t seem to have any interest in romance, dodging the issue with a smile even if a woman asks him about it.
Branch Route Love Interests
Naran | VA. Noriaki Sugiyama
A lively guy who thinks of Suren as an older brother, and is always following him around.
His personality is straightforward and pure, but this sometimes makes him clumsy emotionally.
On a certain route, he provides emotional support for the troubled heroine.
Ruzi | VA. Masatomo Nakazawa
A young man that the heroine comes into contact with normally as everyone around him is embroiled in competition to find their bride.
He is a pacifist with a relaxed nature, who does not anger easily.
Through his profession as a doctor, he is extremely popular among both men and women, and often acts as an arbitrator.
On a certain rule, he will work together towards the same goal.
Cef | VA. Toshimitsu Oda
The only son of the minister of the opposition forces. Currently he serves as the minister (his father’s) secretary…officially at least. He is a troublemaker who doesn’t care for taking a wife and doesn’t take anything seriously.
Under his philosophy of “don’t get into conflict with anyone” he has lived an idle life.
However, on a certain route, he’ll be inspired by the heroine’s recklessness and bravery, and little by little…
Esta | VA. Hideki Makino
Nohl’s secretary. While he executes his job flawlessly, normally he’s indifferent and unfriendly.
It seems that he is entrusted with other jobs as the political assistant’s right-hand man.
Strategy Route Sub-Character
Jigi | VA. Tetsuya Kakihara
One of Esta’s subordinates, but unlike Esta, he does not work as one of Nohl’s secretaries. He accompanies primarily when Esta has “another job” for him.
He adores Esta, who once saved him, and has very little regard for anything else, often speaking in scathing tones.
The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling First Impressions Review
Right off the bat, Crimson Flower gives me reverse Yoshiwara vibes (or if you’re a BL fan Lamento); due to a mysterious illness called “The Rot” that disproportionately affects women, the neighboring country of Nasla has taken to kidnapping women from Rus for breeding stock. Way to start off an epic romance… At the tender age of 5 the heroine, Naala witnessed her mother being taken by Rus forces, so she spends the next 13 years as the adopted daughter of the current king of Rus. Not wanting to suffer the same fate as her mother, Naala has spent these past few years training in swordsmanship (cus she’s not like the other girls) and preparing for her marriage to her childhood friend, Auri, the next king of Rus.
But, before she can settle into her happily ever after
the Fire Nation Nasla forces attack and in the chaos, she and a number of women are taken hostage. Instead of being shipped off to the brothels like I assumed they would be, Naala and the women are told they are free to choose any man in Nasla as their husband. And while they are not free to decline this offer, the king of Nasla, Touya does promise that no harm will come to them so long as they are in his country… and they pick a husband. Because Naala isn’t like the other girls, she immediately tells them to shove it where the sun don’t shine. Of course her pluck is an attractive quality and she catches the eye of the brutish military commander, Suren, who proclaims her to be his woman.
Now at the mercy of the enemy, Naala must decide if she will submit to her handsome captors or fight to return to the home she left behind. Spoiler alert: She lets the sexy men seduce her.
I will admit I wasn’t expecting all that much from the demo, I’ve seen one too many “exotic” Arabian styled romance games in my day, so I was fully expecting this to read like a discount bin romance paperback. And it does, but, I can’t say I hate it. Crimson Flower rehashes a lot of the tried and true otome topes—a strong, independent Queen finds herself at the mercy of a group of dangerous men, only to learn that they might not be as bad as she originally thought and gradually falls in love. We know the drill. But, there’s something intriguing about this world that really has me invested. Sure the appropriation of Middle Eastern culture for an “exotic romance” has me rolling my eyes, but that aside, it’s clear that the writers put a lot of thought into the worldbuilding and the characters. I genuinely want to learn more about this world.
There’s a lot going on in Crimson Flower, the obvious political issues brought on by the casual kidnapping practices of Nasla being the biggest thing. Moral implications notwithstanding, it’s made very clear this is a last ditch effort by Nasla to help revitalize their population against the threat of The Rot. Which the demo hints my have otherworldly origins, so there’s a whole spiritual element to the story too. Of course, this could be hot mess in the full version of the game, but, I’m curious to see how everything is explored in the final release regardless.
As for the characters, the demo definitely introduces all the major players and I would be remiss in saying I wasn’t a little worried seeing that there are eight love interests you can pursue. Historically, otome games with a lot of LIs tend to have a hard time fleshing out the individual stories and characters in their own routes. But, it seems Crimson Flower has a sort of tiered system, to alleviate that a bit. Touya, Suren, and Nohl serve as the main love interests routes, with branches in those paths for Naran, Ruzi, Cef, Esta, and Jigi. So it looks like those paths will be an extension of the “main” stories, which could help with pacing and story flow in the long run.
Of the love interests, I found that I consistently made choices that were favorable for Touya, so I guess he’s my soulmate in this game. He seems sweet enough, a benevolent king that kidnaps women to save his people, the appropriate amount of red flags there🚩🚩🚩. At least he gives them the choice of which man they end up with…a true man of standards. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say Suren is the character that left the biggest impression on me. He is the biggest jerk and I kind of love to hate him. He is the absolute worst (not counting Nohl’s sneaky ass) but, like I can fix him. The other guys are alright I guess, Ruzi is pretty and Esta looks like he’s seen some things. So, there’s variety.
As far as heroines go, I really like Naala, she’s like a cross between Cyrus from Steam Prison and Shanao from Birushana. Yeah, she’s a badass warrior woman, but with just a dash of naivete so she’s not too OP on her own. She claps back when the dudes get mouthy, and she isn’t one to go down without a fight—she took out like five Nasla soldiers on her own before she was eventually captured. And while in captivity she selflessly offers her self up to protect those around her. Also, you can’t go wrong with a voiced heroine in an otome.
From what I’ve seen, the localization seems okay. There were a few minor typos, but nothing egregious. Though, I will note that the translation is a bit rough in some places and not as fluid as I’ve come to expect from other localizations. There’s also an attempt to modernize the text a bit, like there’s a scene where Naala calls Touya a “weirdo” that kinda felt a bit out of place given the setting.
In this new Switch port the devs have included additional content such as newly written after-stories for each of the eight romanceable characters, including new event CGs. There are also new POV episodes that give insight into the thoughts and feelings of the love interests, which we do see in the demo.
Will I be playing The Crimson Flower that Divides Lunar Coupling on release?
Yeah! I had a lot of fun with the demo, the art is gorgeous, and the story is interesting enough. I am a bit disappointed about the toned down sexy times, but from what I’ve seen things will still get a bit steamy (think Olympia Soiree). So yeah, I’ll be giving The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling a play when the full game drops on February 23, 2023!