I’ll start by saying that it was pure hell to get my hands on a copy of this because of the time needed for Hakuouki to actually get imported and I don’t even want to mention how expensive the shipping fees were, but oh well, this game deserves it all, also for being one of the rare otome game/visual novels completely translated to English and the first OFFICIAL otome game exported to North America. It was released by Aksys Games, so God bless them for trying to bring otome games outside Asia. If you enjoy this series, please support Aksys Games and creators and BUY THE GAME. If request from the public is high we might just get ourselves other Japanese->English otomes (Aksys have already been very open to the western player’s opinions about what could work outside Asia). SO GO BUY NOW!
Chizuru Yukimura heads to Kyoto to search for her father, who went away on doctor business, but of whom she didn’t receive any news from. While in Kyoto, she witnesses a fight between blood-thirsty white haired men and some young, handsome blue-coated samurai she later discovers are members of the feared Shinsengumi. She is taken into custody for apparently “seeing something she didn’t have to see”, but once learning she is the daughter of the doctor they are also searching for for a reason they don’t want to reveal, they decide to keep her close at hand. From then on Chizuru follows the Shinsengumi in their battles to help the shogunate.
I saw the anime before playing the game and I was quite disappointed because for somebody that has never watched historical animes, I found it hard to understand and at some parts boring for always throwing Chizuru back and forth while she herself is an useless…little kid. But the game took me by surprise. The narration is easy to understand, Chizuru is nowhere near that annoying as in the anime (her inner comments were quite funny actually) and at least she didn’t stay in everybody’s way with a sword she always keeps on but can’t seem to handle. I also found some differences in the characterizations. The truth is in the anime I didn’t have enough time to get attached to the characters. I feel like they weren’t deepened enough, so the game was a nice way to make me understand that I should have actually cried at each death I saw in the anime. In the game I cried. Believe me, I cried. So if you’re a sensitive person like myself, prepare your tissues. After the game I actually re-watched all death scenes and cried my eyes off for actually understanding what was up with those guys! xD So overall, I really enjoyed every bit of it. If there would be a bad part about it would be that Kazama’s character changed from one route to another, from being a complete sadistic, egocentric bastard to a lazy, nice guy you could actually tease and after that escape with your neck still on your shoulders. It was a bit weird, seeing these changes just for the sake of giving the guy you chose to date a major heroic aura. But I personally just felt bad for him, he’s so adorable. xD
The soundtrack is beautiful, fully gives off the feelings every scene needs and the drawings,omg I love the drawings!
-Miki, Shinichiro- (Hitomi from Code;Breaker; Kaiki Deishu from Nisemonogatari)
….or the so said Demon Commander of the Shinsengumi. xD He is quite known for his determination and strategic techniques, as well as for his skills and power to make everybody obey him. He is respected by the other Captains and admired by his men. He’s handsome like an actor and seems quite classy compared to the other samurai, but actually he comes from a really poor family and knows what poverty and suffering means.
No offense to anybody, but Hijitaka’s route is the one I enjoyed less. Besides the fact that I usually tend to dislike main guys, I really thought I’d like him. He can make you laugh with his tsundere-ish attitude and he’s cool when he gives off his death glare of doom which makes everybody cower in fear, but in my opinion his route was quite exaggerated from the point of view of his power. Yes, he should be the strongest swordsman in the Shinsengumi, but looking at him and his fight with Kazama at the beginning, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes later on when he went stronger and stronger to the point of killing an outraged, completely outraged and at the maximum of his power, demon Kazama in one blow, while wounded! Just no. No.I understand he was supposed to be the Demonon of the Fleeting Blossom so maybe the exaggeration was needed but I would have wanted some more deepening there. or maybe I’m Kazama biased.. or something…I don’t understand why they involved Kazama as if he was the main antagonist all along. The emperor’s armies were the main enemy, not Kazama. It just seemed they threw them there for more screentime I kind of got bored whenever there wasn’t anybody he could clash with. I don’t know, he just had no appeal to me whatsoever besides his looks which are totally my type and his tsundere or troubled attitude.
-Yoshino, Hiroyuki- (Debito from Arcana Famiglia; Inukai from Starry Sky)
Heisuke is the youngest member of Shinsengumi, more or less the same age as Chizuru. He tends to be picked on by the other members because of his height, but in battle he can be as good as any of them. Heisuke is the childish, reckless, impatient type, but is one of the first to get close and be nice to Chizuru so his and Harada’s friendliness will play a big role in all routes and a big role on Chizuru’s self esteem. That’s why Heisuke is one of the easiest guys to get whether you want it or not (personally, I got it really easily somehow..). Anyway; I can’t say i didn’t have fun in some parts of his route, it made me smile, but overall it was mediocre. The best parts were how we manage to see a different side of Kazama, maybe a bit sweeter, or maybe a bit kinder, or maybe just plain funny and how Heisuke changes at the end of the route. (he phisically gets cuter too *coughs*)
It’s also one of the routes where Chizuru gets some guts and actually manages to make Heisuke wake up and think better about everything happening around them, and that was also very nice. But this route really made me dislike Sannan for obvious reasons. xD Besides that, I really have nothing else to comment about it, besides “fine,average”.
Sanosuke “Sano” Harada
-Yusa, Kouji – (Jolly from Arcana Famiglia, Lau from Kuroshitsuji)
Harada is one of the most cheerful of the Shinsengumi, He is usually making jokes with his friends and loves to make other smile in a climax sometimes full of sadness and pain. He is very quick to get angry when he sees injustice, but also very loyal and friendly. He prefer the spear to the sword. Sanosuke serves Kondo as personal adviser, in fact he always is been informative of everything and is a fencing master. He has a very proud determination but he’s also just one of those big spirited people who enjoy living life and loves to make people around him be happy and at ease.You will always see him hanging around with Shinpachi and Heisuke since they are really good friends, and because of their wild personalities, they were named: ‘The comedian trio’ by the other members.
Shortly, Harada is one of the sweetest guys in Hakuouki and he’s kind from the beginning to the protagonist, he is usually always the one to try and cheer her up and give her a push when she needs one. But that’s the way he is; Harada will always show simpathy for the weak and for the poor and will always stop in his steps to show a helping hand and a smile. Sometimes he also thinks about others more than he thinks about himself, making him have quite a low esteem of himself and of his life despite him wanting to one day make a family. Harada is the only one that will never be changed to a fury (resetsu) so consequently he also doesn’t have a bad ending. (correct me if I’m wrong!)
Overall, I really enjoyed his route, it was sweet, nice, Chizuru was kind of cute worring about his impression of her, Harada was cute too when he tried to make his point to Chizuru too. I played his route the last because I didn’t think he was that interesting, but it in the end it brought a smile on my lips, so Harada gets third place in my general ranking.
-Toriumi, Kousuke – (Asahina Azusa from Brothers Conflict, Sakamaki Shuu from Diabolik Lovers)
Saitou Hajime is the leader of the third squad of the Shinsengumi and a master of the left hand sword technique. He is silent and a taciturn but also very loyal, polite and wise. He often analyzes the situation before attacking to figure out which actions are necessary to complete the mission. Saito is one of the strongest samurai in Hakuouki and you can also categorize him as cold, in the way he almost calculates his moves and puts them in order of which option would bear more fruit.
(I have plenty of time to introduce the coldest character, in a completely different way, later. lol) Secondly, you should not expect this guy to initiate any romantic behaviour till after the second part. xD Sure, he shows the initial interest, but in the first part we just mostly learn to know him and how he never seems to do something if he considers pointless, but at the same time is ready to help his friends get out of trouble by inventing perfect lies said with a straight face.
Once his feelings for Chizuru start to show up, we finally start to realize how inexperienced and almost clumsy he is about it, which makes it especially cute towards the second part. His good end is probably one of the best and while not showing a whole deal of developing through all the route, I realized there was nothing to complain about since Saito initially is a guy that coped up with everything he needed to in his past, so it was already enough when he managed to get his peaceful life with Chizuru. I just had a small problem with his strenght and with Kazama again like in Hijitaka’s case, but I don’t think it especially ruined anything. Saito gets my second place in the Hakuouki ranking.
-Morikubo, Showtaro- (Sharkkan from Magi, Shikamaru from Naruto, Kotobuki Reiji from Uta no prince-sama)
Okita Souji is the captain of the Shinsengumi’s first squad and he’s also a lieutenant along side Hijikata. Okita has a laid back and nonchalant personality and also likes to tease Hijikata, who does get quite annoyed by it. It seems them both, together with chief Kondou, are much closer to each other than the other Shinsengumi members as they have been Shinsengumi (or better yet, Roshigumi) for a longer time than the others and also trained in the same place.
Okita is also hinted to be the best swordsman in the Shinsengumi, maybe more than Hijitaka himself.
Firstly, I must say that I probably understood and analyzed Okita’s character more than the rest, maybe because he was my absolute favorite from the first time I layed my eyes on him so I payed particular attention to his character. He’s a deep one and maybe one of the most developed characters I’ve encountered in an otome game. At first, he’s not especially kind to Chizuru, maybe even cruel and often sarcastic, he really enjoys teasing her and doesn’t look like he has a special interest in her if it’s not for using her to have his fun
(it’s not what you think, guys xD) or to obtain something (refference to Sekkaroku here. I’m trying not to get off track xD). Okita will always seem a bit different than the rest for his carefree way of taking things. Remember when I said there was another seemingly “cold” character besides Saito’s analytic coldness? Well, that’s Okita Souji. He’s “cold” in the way that he’d kill an army and everything that stands in his way without even blinking, and he’ll keep hinting how “killing” is one of his favorite hobbies. Despite all this, he’s not a psycho. I always thought he’d hide his real self behind this cold threatening barrier which Chizuru manages to crumble to pieces when she discovers his secret and when, later, she has the guts to affront him directly, making him reveal his weak sides, one by one.
Okita’s route, like Heisuke’s, stops dealing with the war not even halfway through. After that, they have to deal with Kaoru, which will be the main antagonist of the route and, sincerely, the biggest pain in the a** I’ve ever encountered (though I quite liked him in the anime).
Overall, Okita’s route is mostly tragic, it starts pretty cheerfully, we have our fun, Okita starts to show his flirty attitude too and then, suddenly, everything gets sucked in a deep bittersweetness and a tension that won’t let us breath till the end, our emotions getting sweeped away by the train of feels. Okita’s bad end is especially sad, Neko cried rivers and finished a whole pack of tissues while playing it, while the good end isn’t what I would call “happy” either. We were left with the same bittersweet feeling and a kind of dark uncertainty that pulled at my hearstrings. Definitely one of the best endings in all otome games I’ve played.
Chikage Kazama/Normal Route
-Tsuda, Kenji- (Mikoto Suoh from K, Spanner, Lambo and Lampo in Katekyo Hitman Reborn)
Kazama is of pure demon blood and he’s the head of the Kazama family that reigns over the west. The reason why he’s after Chizuru is because she too is of pure blood, and if they “mated” it will result in an even more powerful demon child.
It is revealed that he’s a man with a high sense of honor, and the reason why he sided with Satsuma was to return the debt for protecting his clan during the demon extermination issued by the shogun. It’s also stated that the reason why he attempts to kidnap Chizuru only when she’s under the protection of the Shinsengumi is because he wants to shame the Shinsengumi after defeating them in a clean fight (or that’s how it was supposed to be, excepting Hijitaka and Saito’s routes.)
Firstly, yes, Kazama is one of the characters you can end up with. After all his effort to kidnap Chizuru, I find it only logical the poor demon had to get something too in the end xD And in my opinion he got way too little: some quick, short events if you actually bother to interest yourself in him while being completely ambiguous with the Sinsengumi guys. That will most likely get you on Kazama’s route. His path follows the normal route, meaning that Chizuru managed to be ambiguos enough with the Shinsengumi guys and eventually loose their protection and she will have no choice but to follow Kazama who just HAPPENS to be there at the right time. *coughs* Whether he’ll help her deal with her father while he accompanies her in search for the Shinsengumi, bases on your choices. Doesn’t matter if you’re on the normal route or Kazama’s route, there’s the same ending that was supposed to happen if Chizuru never met the Shinsengumi, it’ll just follow the normal flow of the history of Japan and the Shinsengumi without altering it (maybe excepting Heisuke that died early reading a bit of their real history, but in the game he gets saved by getting turned to a fury). The only exception would be Kazama’s farewell to Chizuru: in the normal path he’ll just go, leaving her alone, in Kazama’s route, he’ll make her choose, in quite a sweet way, whether to follow him where she really belongs or stay back with her precious humans. I really liked Kazama, despite everything he has done in other routes. His path just showed how he can also be kind and caring, but I couldn’t insert him in my ranking because there was just so little material, which was a real shame because I saw a lot of potential here.
This is it. I really spent a lot trying to get this review done. I had trouble with my wording in the beginning but I think in the end I managed. Again, please try to support Aksys Games and you should check out some other of their games too such as Hakuouki Warriors of the Shinsengumi, the 3DS Hakuouki Memories of the Shinsengumi and also Sweet Fuse and Zero Escape: 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors (999)