The Hakuoki franchise is one of the most successful otome game series, spanning several main series games, spin-offs, a 2010 Studio Deen anime series, manga, and two films. Hakuoki Demon of the Fleeting Blossoms was one of my first introductions to the world of “mainstream” otome games, and with Idea Factory cranking out a new game every few years there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The most recent English localizations being Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms.
If you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, Hakuoki is the name of a historical romance otome game series that takes place in the Bakumatsu Era ( final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate ended) and follows the members of the special police force known as the Shinsengumi. Since I absolutely suck at history, I’ll just leave a link to the Shinsengumi wiki, here. Like you’d expect from an otome game, you get to romance the members of the Shinsengumi while helping them defend the shogunate. There’s more historical details, but, the long and short of it is you get to romance hot swordsmen.
The Hakuoki franchise remains one of my favorite otome game series, I mean come on good looking swordsmen, battles, historical references!! But, after finishing Edo Blossoms there was this void left that I absolutely needed to fill, so I compiled a list of five otome games like Hakuoki. Each of these games either A) focuses on the Shinsengumi or B) is set in the Bakumatsu Period. So, for those of you wishing for more time with Hijikata, Saito, Okita, and the rest of the Shinsengumi crew, look no further, I’ve done all the hard work for you!!
If you guys remember, Isami Kondo was one of the routes I was most looking forward to in this game! My usual go to are tsunderes and megane intellectuals, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself drawn to the mature types more and more. Well, in Era of Samurai: Code of Love the good humored Shinsengumi leader, Isami Kondo definitely fits the bill!
Isami Kondo wasn’t a playable character in Hakuouki, so I didn’t quite know what to expect this time around. So, I was basing everything on his portrayal in the prologue and in each of the other routes in the game… and you know what, Kondo is pretty consistent across the board.
When I first saw Soji Okita in Era of Samurai: Code of Love, he scared me a bit. He just looks like someone who’d kills indiscriminately, but after playing Hijikata’s route my opinion changed. He seemed like a genuinely okay, if not a little too playful, guy. So, when Voltage released his story earlier than expected I decided to buy it.
I take it back, I take back all of the cruel things I said about this guy. Okita was a much better character than I originally anticipated. I loved Soji in Hakuoki so I was expecting Voltage’s version to pale in comparison. But, what I got was a heartbreakingly sweet portrayal of a very tragic character. There is definitely more to this cold swordsman than his reputation would have you believe.
Hijikata’s route in Era of Samurai Code of Love is a journey. Toshizo Hijikata is the terrifying right hand man and friend of Shinsengumi leader Isami Kondo. His cold stare and commanding battle prowess have earned him the nickname Demon Deputy among the Shinsengumi men. He is a man of honor an dignity, willing to do whatever it takes for the Shinsengumi. Even if it means sacrificing something he holds dear. But is that all there is to the Demon Deputy? What does Hijikata the man want?
No matter which adaption of the Shinsengumi story you play. Hijikata is always the same. So I kind of knew what to expect from Hijikata before I even started this route. Well Voltage did not disappoint, he turned out exactly as I would imaging the Vice-commander of the Shinsengumi to be.