If you’re an otome fan, and you’re so lucky as to go to Japan, and want to find some cool/fun/awesome otome stuffs while you’re there, this guide is for you!
First off, if you don’t know Japanese, here are some key terms to look for:
女性向け： Josei-muke – Targeted to women. You’ll see this on store maps and section titles and it’s helpful when you’re in a multistory place like animate.
同人誌： Doujinshi – well, you know what this is.
家庭ゲーム・TVゲーム ・ PCゲーム： Katei game/TV game (console games) / PC game
乙女ゲーム：Otome game – if you read this blog you know what this is too!
漫画・コミック： Manga / comic – they usually use the second (katakana) version, but sometiems you see the traditional ‘manga’ used
特典・とくてん CD： Tokuten CD – a special CD, usually refers to preorder or limited edition bonus CDs. Places that sell used games/CDs often have these separate from the games.
If you have something specific you’re looking for, I totally recommend writing it down, in Japanese (and in the alphabet so you can say it as well), and if you don’t have much time, giving that to store staff – I always found them to be super helpful and nice. Also write down what it is – a PSP game, drama CD, etc. When you give it to them, you can say, “Sumimasen (Excuse me), kore o sagashiteimasu kedo…” which means, “I’m looking for this…” or “Sumimasen, kore ga hoshiin desu kedo…” (I want this), and usually that’s enough, they will know you’re asking for help. If they shake their head or apologize (something starting with “sumimasen” or “gomen nasai”) it probably means they don’t have it.
I’d totally do this in specialty stores like animate (I’d try to get to the right floor first), I’m not sure if bigger stores like Book Off would know their games that well (I did ask in a Book Off about finding the Violinist of Hamelin manga and they found it for me). Oh, and if you’re looking for doujinshi, especially if it’s a big series like Hakuouki, One Piece, or Prince of Tennis (テニスの王子様 or Tenipuri テニプリ）, it can’t hurt to write down which characters you’re looking for as well (if you want a pairing), or if you want an ensemble (オールキャラ or All-Chara), or you want BL or non-BL (which they call ‘normal coupling’, even though I think there’s way more BL doujinshi). Here is what the shelves of a Mandarake or doujinshi store look like. The tabs sticking out are the guide to the genre – some series like Tiger and Bunny and Uta no Prince-sama will have whole shelves (more than one) to themselves, and the tabs will be orderd by the couple – Otoya x Tokiya to use one example. Now, when I was in the Mandarake (I think it was), I found the general otome game section (the pic is from K Books) near the back and just went through like a madwoman. It wasn’t too big, maybe half a shelf once you remove the Hakuouki and Uta Puri stuff, but that’s still a few hundred doujinshi to go through.
Ah! One thing you should look out for if/when buying doujinshi – there are also a lot of doujin novels, which are great if you’re fluent in literary Japanese, not so great if you’re hoping for comics. The katakana for novel is ノベル, or its traditional name shosetsu ( 小説 ), and you can distinguish them because their covers usually don’t have a picture on them.
They’ll also have a Drama CD section, hopefully organized by title, but not always. Apparently Book Offs have a drama CD section too, I don’t think I ever noticed.
For games, I found the best deals in Book Off, and probably Lashinbang (also nice because Lashinbang is small), and maybe Trader (4 stores in Akihabara, 1 in Shinjuku). Mandarake was also great, although in some places the volume of stuff to sift through is huge.
Once you’ve gotten what you want and take it up to the cash, they’ll total it all up. If you’re using cash, great (by the way, you can use ATMs at any 7-11 with your North American bank debit card (any that have Cirrus(or maybe Plus, I can’t remember)! It’s awesome!), if you’re using a credit card, they’ll usually ask you something – I believe it’s to ask whether you want it all together or in separate charges. I don’t really know the reason behind this, I always just say “Ikkaku de”, which means all in one. Once you’re all done you might want to say “Doumo” or “Arigatou” in thanks, and then try not to be too obvious while you giggle and skip away in happiness.
Tokyo – Ikebukuro
This is the dream spot for otome fans. There are other places with several of the same stores, but none are as targeted to female fans as here – Otome Road. Check out my guide for the basics, but there’s actually even more around there that I totally missed during my trip *cue sobbing*. Besides the K Books stores, Mandarake, Lashinbang, Book Off, and animate (7th floor is drama CDs, 8th is games, and 5th and 6th is character goods), there is:
Meikido 明輝堂: a great doujin store for women, and according to my shopping guide the physical store has used games and CDs as well! Using extreme patience and virtual scouting with Google Streetview, I now know where it is – it’s not surprising I missed it since it has very little signage. It’s across from the Mandarake (not where the K Books store is but the street behind), on the 4th floor behind a Family Mart (convenience store). The signage it has is small but bright pink, and it’s in kanji.
Tora no Ana とらのあな: This is actually right off the main street, Sunshine Doori, leading to Otome Road, on a side street which has a KFC on the corner. It has doujinshi, but also games and CDs.
Gamers ゲーマーズ: This is on the side street right before Tokyu Hands. However, looking at their webpage I wouldn’t go here unless I had lots of time.
Stellaworth: Can’t believe I missed this, I thought it was only online but this store is all for women (and they always have really good special items with games). I think it’s on the same street as Gamers.
And for anyone who’s going later than November 17, the animate is moving out of Otome Road! It’s moving closer to the station, further north. There are good directions at the animate site for the new address.
(if you want it bigger just save it, the original size is twice what shows here)
Info on other anime/manga/game stores:
Kyoto: Animate – this is actually pretty near Gion if you’re doing sightseeing. If you’re walking down Shijou (四条） along to Gion, about two blocks west of Gion there’s an entrance to a pedestrian mall called Shinkyogoku (新京極）. About 125m in there’s an animate on the right (you might have to go up stairs to the door, I can’t remember).
More animate locations – they even have one now in my old suburb!!
Mandarake has stores in Shibuya, Umeda (Osaka), Grand Chaos (Osaka, near Nanba/Shinsaibashi), and their huge complex in Akihabara – as well as their several small stores in Nakano (Tokyo), which are totally fun
More links if you’d like to check stuff out before you go(this isn’t their whole selection):
Bookoff Online: if it works that goes to their PSP adventure games – many many otome games there. Now you won’t find that whole selection in one Bookoff but I usually found a couple games to buy.
Mandarake *new* doujinshi
Mandarake games – the part in brackets is which store it’s at
K Books online doujinshi store – the otome game ones are in the bottom right
K Books’ Ikebukuro store blog, where they post often about new collections they bought from collectors. Lots of BL but a bunch of otome as well – you can also see the range of prices.
Tora no Ana CDs Game Doujinshi by Title and PC Games (Princess Side)
Bookoff interactive map of locations – there is ALWAYS a Bookoff nearby, wherever you go.
Oh, if you’re looking for cute souvenirs or just cute things in general, I higly recommend Kiddy Land – their flagship store is right in Harajuku.
Hmm, what else can I say…if you have something specific in mind, some stores are searchable online before you go. Otherwise, it’s a lot of fun to just go and browse. Also, if you have trouble finding a place, there will often be neighbourhood maps around. Remember that addresses in Japan are done by blocks, from big to small, so an address would look something like: 東京都 豊島区 東池袋 1-22-10 – Tokyo-to (city or region), Toshima-ku (city section), Higashi Ikebukuro (area), 1-22-10 (neighbourhood, block, and building number respectively). That’s the address of the Book Off near Otome Road. If you have more money than time, you can take a taxi – just give the taxi driver the written address and they’ll take you there (taxis in Japan are really nice). Also good for when you’re loaded down with otome stuff! (That’s one place where being a game otaku has a huge advantage over being a manga otaku – the goods are WAAAAAYY lighter. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve lugged around 20 kgs of manga in my backpack)
If you have any other questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer!
Finally got some more info on Kamigami no Asobi, so that will have its own post with pics etc. If you can’t wait, I posted a pic of the foldout poster on my tumblr, it’s quite nice (the guy in the middle totally reminds me of Noel from Wand of Fortune even though the artist is different).
On to the news!
So Toki no Kizuna is totally supposed to be a historical prequel for Hakuouki. At first I didn’t believe it, because the artist is different and Otomate doesn’t usually link their games (of different titles), but yeah, once you play it it’s pretty obvious. I don’t know how I feel about that…I’m pretty tired of them milking Hakuouki, but it stands by itself at least.
The game starts out with the heroine, Yukina, scouting around the edge of the hidden oni Yase village, which is protected by barriers to keep out humans. She’s the chief of the Suzumori clan (none of her clan have shown up in two routes though, so I don’t know if she has one or is just alone), who protects the oni princess Yase, who’s supposed to be kind of a leader of all the oni clans. Yase-hime has called all the chiefs of the Ten Oni Clans to the village and Yukina runs into two of them, Chitose (CV: Itou Kentarou) and Kazuya (CV: Kamiya Hiroshi), who test her fighting skills out. Of course (can’t have a heroine be on par with the heroes right?) she fails, although the narration assures us that the chiefs of oni clans are even stronger than regular oni, who are much stronger than humans. But so far, I’ve never seen Yukina in a fight which she won.
Anyways, they all head back to the village and a couple other clan chiefs have arrived as well, Kazutake (CV: Nomura Kenji) and Shin (CV: Hino Satoshi). It’s the first time Yukina has met any of them, and none of them seem very impressed by her. She knows almost nothing of what’s going on in the world outside, and they ask her mentors, three old oni chiefs, why they’ve ‘spoilt’ her so much. The old oni say she has no need to know about the outside world. In this scene Yukina comes off as very serious about trying to be a good clan chief and lacking a sense of humour (which is pretty much her personality throughout). I didn’t mind this so much; although she comes off as a little slow, I blame the old oni chiefs who want to keep her ‘innocent’ (read naive).
Though there are some southern clan chiefs missing, the princess decides there’s no time to wait for them. She comes out and asks if any of the chiefs have had contact with humans, which is strictly forbidden among oni. All of them say they unavoidably have some doings with humans, and she asks them not to get too involved in human affairs. Then she goes back to her room, leaving all the oni chiefs bewildered, and they declare they’re surprised she called them all here urgently just to say that. Yukina is concerned about the princess, and talks to her privately. The princess says she’s seen a vision of an oni chief, one of the ones in the next room, fighting in a human war and dying, and that she wants to stop that. (Why didn’t she just say that?? I don’t know). She asks Yukina to stop the oni chiefs from dealing with humans, and Yukina agrees.
Part of the reason I didn’t like the setup was that all the oni chiefs, even though they’re supposed to be incredibly loyal and dedicated to Yase-hime, they completely ignore what she says and pretty much act like they’re not part of a larger oni clan family at all. Why do they even bother to be part of the Ten Clans, when they seem to not care about them as a group at all? It made the whole intro seem fake and honestly cheapened the whole idea of Yase-hime being their leader, who only showed up for a few minutes near the beginning to tell them all not to get involved with humans (a rule all of them had already broken, by the way). Yase-hime as a character wasn’t great either, she’s basically a deus ex machina to get the oni to stay in the village for a while and give Yukina an excuse to get out of the village and chase her attackers.
The next day the princess is attacked by a mysterious figure, who Yukina catches in the princess’s room. She attacks him, but he stops her easily with an unknown force and is in the middle of attacking her when an Chitose arrives and drives him off (one more time that Yukina loses easily to someone). The princess is unconscious, and though she doesn’t seem injured, she’s in a deep coma-like sleep and won’t wake up. The old oni chiefs keep the young ones in the village for as long as possible to investigate, but after several months they all leave one way or another, saying they’ll come back after they clean things up in their areas.
One thing I didn’t like was that this period, between the princess being attacked and the oni chiefs leaving, is almost totally skipped over. This is a time when Yukina probably saw them almost everyday and I would’ve liked to see her get to know them during this time, but no, there was almost nothing. She goes out a couple times with a group to investigate, but it’s all just to see the human regions getting ready for war, and to bump into the mysterious figure (which they figure out is an oni) a couple more times and get beat up again.
Anyways, after the oni chiefs leave (all except one actually), there’s another month lapse until Yukina decides to go out after one of them and try to bring them back. This is where the routes diverge.
I did Chitose’s route first – I love Itou Kentarou, and Chitose seemed like the default choice (he’s the front guy on the nice pic above). Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like Chitose’s love story was believable. For half the story he treated Yukina like an annoying companion, and even when they met after being apart a month he didn’t show any hint of fondness. This scene was especially obvious because his childhood friend came back as well, and they had a very happy reunion. Compared to that, his reaction to seeing Yukina was lukewarm. And then, with no other development between the two of them, and just a few scenes where they’re again teased by his childhood friend and then fight all in a group, he suddenly cares deeply for her and wants her to stay safely in the village? No. It didn’t feel at all realistic to me.
The second part of the route was better, in that it had some moments showing that Chitose was falling for Yukina (Yukina doesn’t think about her own feelings much, and doesn’t recognize them when other people ask her). But the start of the love story wasn’t done well.
Now I’ve also finished Kazutake’s (far left in the top pic) route, and while I think it works much better, it’s more because I could believe in subtle developing feelings without Kazutake being obvious about it, because he’s much more mature than the others and is better at hiding things. It still wasn’t very romantic, but by the end it feels like Yukina and he have a strong bond and care deeply for one another. Also, Kazutake treats Yukina with respect right from the beginning, so Yukina doesn’t seem like a doormat when she runs after him and sticks with him no matter what. Kazutake’s and Yukina’s relationship held together better, but Chitose’s isn’t really bad, the romance just feels unnatural. I’m kind of afraid to do Kazuya and Shin’s routes – I might do the last one (Senkimaru) instead.
Overall, I think this game tries too hard to be like Hakuouki in aspects that I wasn’t crazy about – the lack of romance, the way the bonds between the heroes felt stronger than between the heroine and the hero for 90% of each route, and – oh yeah I forgot this – the battle descriptions. Lots of war strategy talk between side characters, and diagrams showing whose armies are where. Not too interesting to me honestly, I usually skipped right through these. Thankfully though, I don’t think the routes are as long as in Hakuouki.
I can’t say I dislike it though – the characters themselves are pretty good, and now that I don’t have to play through the long, annoying intro part, I can try to forget how jerky they act in the beginning. The art makes up for a lot too, even the side character designs are really nice, and the seiyuu cast is amazing – Hiyama Nobuyuki is Chitose’s friend!!! I so wish he had a route or sidestory or something. He was actually playing Cupid for Chitose and Yukina, halfway through I wished he would give up on Chitose and go for Yukina himself. Yukina herself got better by the end as well – stronger and more assured, although it was more obvious in Kazutake’s route. There are several other characters who seem like they would have interesting stories as well, but apparently only the five main chiefs have a route. Oh, the music is ok. Not as good as say, Nise no Chigiri (to compare it to another Sengoku game).
Anyways, this sounds like a big gripe session, but Toki no Kizuna isn’t a bad game – it’s just not what I was looking forward to. If you like the low level of romance that’s in Hakuouki, you’ll love this. And I’m sure Otomate will release a fandisk for this, so I’ll pin my romance hopes on that.
Now, I think I’ll go back and play another route in Sangokuren Senki ^_^
I’m sitting here watching Toki no Kizuna scroll by (almost done two characters and going to post after that), and I thought I’d post these vids as well.
Grimm the Bounty Hunter
I haven’t quite finished Adolf’s route yet, but it’s pretty fun.
Issho ni Gohan
This is really cute, too bad it’s unfocused.
I’m really hoping this is good, although recent games have lowered my expectations…I just love the character designs.
Yay! It’s as fun as I remember, and the new art is definitely nicer. For me it strikes a nice balance between gameplay and story.
Toki no Kizuna
Going through this now – as you can see the art is gorgeous. And I love the voice cast.
This is actually available through the PlayStation Network! If you’re in Japan, that is.
Edit: The Butterfly vid was removed, so here’s another treat – a preview of Hana Awase!
One route per game, I hope it’s worth it. It seems to be targeting a more mature crowd, maybe there’ll be lots of adult drama.
24ji no Cinderella
I got 12ji just to play this, and I really enjoyed it, so I can’t wait for this one! Already orderd the deluxe set.
Oh, one last link to a vid – the VitaminZ fandisk!
And that’s it for now!
I’m writing a big long post on Toki no Kizuna – right now the bad is outweighing the good – and thinking of Hiiro no Kakera. Thinking about things that didn’t make sense – and it occurred to me again (don’t think I ever mentioned it here) that it makes absolutely no sense for Tamaki to be chased after by you-know-who (minimum spoilers) to give up her life. If she dies, who’s going to be the next Tamayori-hime? Pretty short-term thinking there.
Toki no Kizuna post will be up by tomorrow! And I’m getting magazines this week so an update post on Kamigami no Asobi and other new games is coming.
I haven’t even done the latest news post, I’m sorry! I’m actually doing a lot of gaming right now, and I think I’ll only post once a week until September, when I’ll start heavy rotation again (3+ posts a week). This month’s magazines didn’t have much news, no new games, but next month will be the seiyuu announcement for Kamigami no Asobi, which I’ll definitely post on.
I was working on 12ji no Cinderella – I’m almost done already! Then I was enjoying the Arcana fandisk a lot and playing Bakudan Handan, which is fun, though I’ve only done four routes so far. And I got Sangoku Rensenki PSP a few days ago, and can’t help but play it, I love it so much. Also started Toki no Kizuna (pretty but the start didn’t grab me), Grimm the Bounty Hunter, which I’m enjoying and am almost finished Adolph’s route, and Arabian’s Lost, I’ve finished Tyrone and Curtis. After playing that, I felt like trying out the new Wizard and Master, which is MUCH better than the original (I think the events are roughly the same, but it’s just much faster to play – the old one had major transition/load time issues. However I still find it a lot harder to win than other Quinrose games – even though you have 200 turns, it seems pretty strict as to how often you have to visit each character and place. I got assassinated in turn 159 on my first try. Now I’m trying to follow a guide and things are happening which aren’t supposed to, which is frustrating.
Still haven’t started Brothers Conflict, and L.G.S. is on its way as well.