Otome Novice - part 1: Shackin' up with the Shinsengumi

As my college graduation looms in the near future, I am struggling with a personal dilemma: how do I spend all this new time I’m going to have? I’ve been a student for about 19 years, so how will I find my purpose and life and feel like a worthwhile person, now stripped of this familiar role? The answer is clear. Ignore those things, and romance a bunch of 19th century Japanese swordsmen.

I’ve never played an otome game (a game targeted to the female market, usually with melodramatic stories and a focus on developing a romance with one of many male characters), but I’ve been curious for a while. What better time than the present? So I treated myself to Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi.* This seemed like a pretty easy entry point into the genre, since the game is available on the 3DS and part of one of the biggest otome franchises ever. It’s also about the Edo period, which I am on the record as being a fan of. So let’s get to it.

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*The Shinsengumi were a special police force formed in the late Edo period to combat anti-Shogunate forces. Though they were ostensibly there to protect the city of Kyoto, they also had a reputation for just being glorified thugs. SO BASICALLY THEY ARE ALL BAD BOYS.

^This is the girl onto whom I am to project my hopes and dreams, Chizuru Yakimura. As you can see, our heroine has a bit of an every girl look. Mild, innocent Chizuru has come to Kyoto from Edo in search of her father, a Western trained doctor who has fallen off the radar. Right off the bat, we are told that Kyoto is full of danger!! and ronin!! and murder!! It doesn’t take long for those things to find Chizuru, as she is chased by a group of ne’er do well ronin. But wait! The Shinsengumi are here to save her. Or not, because they seem to be vampires or zombies. Then the real Shinsengumi show up and kill the vampire zombies, but are also considering killing Chizuru, because she saw things.

The intimidating (but handsome) men of the not undead Shinsengumi decide to tie me up at their compound while they decide my fate. Oh, by the way I am disguised as a boy. After much talk of how they cannot possible let me live and how a man should know when to accept death, I crack and blurt out all that stuff about looking for my father, and not actually being a man. It turns out the guys are also looking for my dad. That considered, it might be a bad move to kill me. As it stands, I am stuck as the prisoner-guest of the Shinsengumi. Actually, I just got clearance to go on patrol with them so I can actually GTFO of the compound. The guys are already starting to show their quirks and soft sides. Except the commander that is. Speaking of him, let’s go over our options.

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Ok so this guy is clearly “main guy.” He is also not getting dere, not even a little bit. He is all tsun. But, as Chizuru has noted, he has an undeniable charisma and and an intense aura like falling flower petals or something (?) I can dig a hot, blunt, hard to get sword guy, but I am not completely sold on going for Hijikata yet.

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This guy has two main qualities: he is a brilliant swordsman, and he is constantly smirking. Something about him reminds me of Reno from FFVII. As I also have a soft spot for attractive but utter douchebags, he could turn out to be a good option. He has not distinguished himself one way or the other, though. Maybe he isn’t even a douchebag at all, and that’s just how his face is, man.

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This is the youngest leader of the Shinsengumi. He is very energetic and prone to blurting things out. He is also way not old enough for me, sorry!

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Harada is rough around the edges and survived an attempt at harakiri when he was younger. That is really all I know about him at this point. Nothing too special here...yet.

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OH MY GOD IT’S HAJIME SAITO. My romance bar has actually moved just a smidgen with him, probably because I drew my sword at him to prove myself and he said my sword has an honest heart, or I can sense the heart of the swords. I don’t know. We had a moment. But I’m pretty pumped because I never thought I would get the chance to romance this surly bastard:

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Yeah, before he grew up to light a fire under Himura Kenshin’s ass and pick up a smoking habit, Hajime Saito was this stoic pretty boy we see above. Of all the guys, he also seems the most honest thus far. He’s pretty serious and soft-spoken, but he also doesn’t bullshit. That’s because he’s HAJIME SAITOOO!!!!

Oh, and I think there is a vaguely conceited looking blonde guy that I haven’t met yet. He’s not Hajime Saito ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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When will Hijikata be nice to me? Where’s my dad? What’s up with the zombie vampires? You’ll just have to go on this wild ride with me to find out.

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