You may know that I used to be a huge shoujo manga fan – I used to spend even more time on shoujo manga that I do now on games, and since I was in university, time was one thing I had lots of. In fact, that’s how I leveled up my Japanese past my classmates.
Anyways, way back when I studied abroad in Japan, manga was juuust beginning to take off in North America. Like, this was before Shoujo Beat, before Smile, before scanlations even. So when I moved back to Canada, I was determined to bring as much manga as I possibly could (weight restrictions were also better back then :P) And then everytime I went to New York, when I went to visit friends in LA, and the couple times I went back to Japan, I would bring back tons more manga.
Nowadays, I don’t read that much, and I buy even less – I get digital when possible, so I might buy about 10-20 tankoubon a year. But I still have those boxes and bookshelves full of shoujo manga from years ago. I was never sure whether I wanted to get rid of them, but I finally found a way that they could be useful to someone – I’m going to donate them for sale by a local Japanese centre next month.
So that means I’m getting rid of a LOT of manga. I thought I would post what I’m planning to give first here, in the slim chance that one of my readers is a) interested in hard copies of Japanese manga, and b) close enough that they can either pick them up, or that shipping wouldn’t be too much (Canadian postage is expensive y’all) – I live in downtown Toronto. I’m also going to be at TCAF and possibly Anime North this year if you’re willing to wait that long.
Here’s what I plan to give away, if you want them please either comment or email me. Some of the ones that aren’t complete, I may find more later and add them here.
CDJapan has some good deals on right now, if you don’t have these games it’s worth checking them out!
Ignore the title on the CD Japan page which calls this Chemical Shingakki, the game is actually Kimi Kare Shingakki.
I don’t know how many people know this, but I’ve been working on something big, and it was finally announced a few weeks ago – some friends and I are starting up an online magazine, Sparkler, and our company name is Chromatic Press. This has been in the works for a long time, and I’m really excited we can finally talk about it. Sparkler’s first issue will be this summer, and I’m really busy with making sure it goes well and we have a great lineup of stories to publish, so I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like to. I’ll still be around here though, posting otome game news and some reviews and previews.
Sparkler (twitterid:@sparklermonthly) will include illustrated prose stories, comics, and audio dramas, all serialized and targeted to young women. Our first official ‘appearance’ will be at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May, and if you’re around, please come visit, it’s free!
The first series we can confirm is the continuation and completion of the original English-language manga, Off*Beat, by Jen Lee Quick. This series was originally published by Tokyopop, but only two out of three volumes were published before Tokyopop closed its English-language publishing arm. We really wanted this story to be completed, and happily we were able to get the rights for the first two volumes, and are going to serialize the last volume in Sparkler!
More announcements to come!
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!
Sorry for the long break! Things have been busy, but I should get B’s Log soon so lots of news coming. For now, a non-otome game post.
Recently, I did something very bad. I got into Bleach. After reading the whole manga in a very short time period, I came to a few conclusions:
I can see how people reading little by little might not see it, but when you read everything at once the plot holes and such are pretty obvious.
What does this mean? Apart from the mess that is Bleach canon, which I may still read in bursts just to keep up, but will never defend, it means opportunity for fantastic fandom. Why? Because along with the enormous base of interesting characters that Kubo Tite made and gives only hints of interesting backstory for, there is also a ton of foreshadowing and plot points that are never dealt with, or dealt with in such a cursory/stupid way that they beg for a better treatment from fan artists/writers.
Anyways, I don’t usually go against canon in my shipping, because it’s just frustrating rooting for a couple that will never get their canon ending. However, in Bleach relationships are so vague that you can pretty much pick whatever couple you like. For me, I always was kind of annoyed by Ichigo – I liked him and Orihime, but in the last half or more of the series that doesn’t seem likely (and even if it ends up that way, I don’t think it should), and his personality is underdeveloped in romance, so it almost feels weird to ship him with anyone. And anyways, there are much more interesting pairings to explore – my favourite are (don’t laugh) Orihime and Ulquiorra, and Orihime and Grimmjow. Two pairings that are almost totally impossible, yet I love them because before Tito Kube wrote the horrible (IMO) endings of their character arcs, I could totally see them developing a relationship with her in various shoujo/otome plotastic ways. So I’ve been having some fun exploring fanfic and fanart of these pairings, and can I just say, I’m so happy to live in a time when fandom is so big that almost everything has a niche fandom?
Anyways, for anyone strange enough to also enjoy Ulquihime, here are some good links:
Fanvid （fans of Utena will probably enjoy this too):
Hilarious vid if you can read Japanese:
Bittersweet fanvid, Japanese not needed but spoilers for the end of the arc
Gorgeous fanart (was missing this link before):
And yay, a picture that I would totally love to read/watch more of!
This artist does a bunch of great Ulquihime (ウル織) art.
Some fun 4-coma manga:
Sorry for the non-otome post, this pairing has just sucked me in recently. When I’m not playing FFVI (finally!) or Renai Banchou 2, I’m checking out pixiv and nicovideo and AO3 way too much. I think I’ve seen most of what’s out there – online at least, there is TONS of doujinshi.
If you follow me on Twitter, you might’ve noticed my retweets about Tokyo Demons. It’s an online serialized novel (I’d call it sci-fi/drama/action) that my friends Lianne Sentar and Rebecca Scoble are writing, and not only is it REALLY good, it’s free to read online. Once you get into Chapters 2-3 (Chapter 1 is setting the story up and establishing characters, it’s not as fast paced) you’ll probably be sucked in for hours. AND. There is an audio version, with character voices, which is also free to download and listen to! (This may or may not include moi somewhere). Not to mention the totally gorgeous illustrations by rem (see that new banner ad on the right?)
Tokyo Demons is only the first volume of a trilogy, and it’s almost done – I believe Chapter 8 is the final chapter, and it’s mostly up. There is actually a Kickstarter online to fund Book 2 – more money means the novel and audio drama are done faster because they can take time off from work to write, plus giving some breathing room for art, sound effects, and lots of other fun stuff (including getting started on Book 3!).
I thought I’d do a little interview with Lianne and Rebecca to provide some teaser info and background on the characters and story.
ED: What is Tokyo Demons?
Lianne Sentar (LS): It’s a serialized prose and dramatized audio book, in the Japanese light novel format, with manga style illustrations. It’s about supernatural teenagers in underground gang war in Tokyo. And the heroine turns into bees.
ED: Describe the main characters – Ayase (the main heroine), Jo (the main hero), Sachi and Kiyoshi (two kinda-main male characters)?
Rebecca Scoble (RS): Ayase is a very quiet introvert who turns into bees.
LS: She’s your standard mild-mannered shoujo heroine, but with tremendous battle capability.
RS: And Jo is a likeable asshole and a vain pickpocket with street smarts.
LS: He’s a slick street kid who’s self-centred and cowardly. Sachi is basically the third wheel love interest from a shoujo manga for 12-year-old girls – the “genki” upbeat guy with his own secret power. And Kiyoshi is the damsel in distress. (laughs)
ED: What’s the basic story?
LS: The characters live parallel but separate lives, but are brought together through crazy circumstance. Both Ayase and Jo are loners for different reasons, and Tokyo Demons, the first book especially, is about them learning to work with other people and each other. It’s basically a coming of age story.
ED: Describe the current situation in Tokyo at the start of TD.
LS: There’s a web of different organizations, some driven by supernatural powers or superhuman drugs, and Ayase and Jo get pulled into things as a power struggle comes to a head.
ED: Okay, tell us about some of the different groups.
RS and LS:
Byakko: one of the street gangs, mostly high school kids. They’re into petty theft.
Seiryuu: Byakko’s rival gang, also mostly high school kids.
Core: A mysterious crime syndicate that controls its members with a certain steroid-like drug.
The Church: A multifaith organization that uses its knowledge of supernatural phenomena to deal with threats. Some operatives have been sent to Tokyo to deal with the rise of Core.
Kiri: We can’t tell you anything about them without spoiling everything.
ED: Describe the relationships. (Note: there’s a pretty cool relationship chart on the website for all of us who like diagrams :D)
LS: Ayase gets trapped between lots of men, and there is lots of romantic tension. It’s complicated.
RS: Jo is in love with himself. (lots of laughter)
LS: Ayase and Jo are based on shoujo leads and shounen leads. Shoujo (Ayase) is full of tangled romantic relationships, and shounen (Jo) is mostly goal-oriented. The first half of Tokyo Demons: Book 1 is more about Ayase developing, while the second half has more development for Jo. Jo and Ayase work together – we were trying to combine the best of shoujo and shounen, and improve on their weaknesses (eg. having a more cynical, self-aware and powerful heroine than most shoujo, and a smarter hero than most shounen).
ED: Where did the idea for TD come from?
LS: We first designed it ten years ago. It was a combined effort with Rebecca and our friend Adam Ford. Rebecca designed Ayase, Adam designed Jo, and I designed the world. We created the story together.
I hardly ever (once a year maybe?) read fiction online (nowadays most of my reading is done on the PSP ;P) but I strongly recommend trying out Tokyo Demons. It has a strong plot – there are some things I only know because I get insider knowledge but I can’t wait for the fans to figure them out from the foreshadowing. The characters are also well-written – Ayase is awesome, and I can’t help but like Jo even though he is totally a cocky teenage boy. I read most of the book before first listening to the audio drama, but now I can’t wait for the next chapter to come out – it’s excellent, and it just keeps getting better.
So check the website out! If you want to know more before jumping in, there are teasers, trailers, extras, – and then the novel and drama will pull you in and never let you go (mwahahaha!).
Kickstarter vid and general awesome rundown of Tokyo Demons
And I’d love to hear what you think about it – so to encourage you, I’m going to give away three of the bookmarks available with rem’s lovely art on them to commenters on this post – if there are lots then I’ll take the first three who correctly answer the following:
And you can pick whichever bookmark you like and I’ll send it to you, postage included.
[Edit: I realized after seeing the first comment that I can’t approve any till all three winners are there, because otherwise someone could copy answers! So I’ll wait a day or two before approving the current comments, but I do see them!]
I’ve been so focused on Hakuoki (one friend already downloaded it and is playing through it intensely, I love it), I haven’t been doing too much new gaming, though I picked up Uta no Prince-sama again and am finally working through Otoya’s route. I tried to find a PV for the new game coming up, Debut, but couldn’t find any. Oh well! Since I did upcoming PV’s last week, I thought I’d put up some vids that are a little different.
Party games! I’m thinking of putting out my only “party” otome game (now I wish I’d bought the Hakuoki one!) but I’ve never actually played it.
First, Hakuoki Yuugiroku – after the 1.5 minute mark it shows more of the games:
And B’s Log Party, which I have:
Hah, does anyone remember Hanayoi Romanesque Ai to Kanashimi: Sore wa Kimi no Tame no Aria? It was interesting.
I thought Takuyo Mix Box would be good too, but it seems that it’s only an intro of several of their games. Too bad, because their games have some fun mini-games.
Speaking of Hiiro no Kakera (you watched the last vid right?), my friend reminded me of the futuristic Hiiro no Kakera last night. For anyone who’s played Hiiro no Kakera, the seiyuu for #1 and #4 are the same, but they REALLY change their voices (except Sugita, his is similar ^_^). I remembered a vid I saw that actually shows their voices to compare – I wish the clips were a little longer, but it does the job.
Hiiro no Kakera Koe Kurabe
Lastly, did anyone ever watch Rurouni Kenshin? It was one of the first anime I really got into, and I got ALL the fansubs – way back when they were on VHS! Picture my shock when I hear that, after all this time, they’re making a live-action movie for it. And even more shocking, it looks like it might be decent!
Kenshin movie trailer
I also found a bunch of Hakuoki fan vids, I might put some up later, although most require Japanese ability to understand.
I actually thought about doing this while I was on my trip, but I didn’t have time. I had a really tough time finding Otome Road, but once I got it down (took a couple times), I thought it would be great to have a photo guide because there are some good landmarks for it. This guide starts from Ikebukuro station since you’d have to be crazy to drive in Tokyo.
Now, one of the simplest ways if you’re ok with asking people directions (and they either don’t know, or you’re shy about asking where Otome Road or animate is), is to ask how to get to Tokyu Hands. The Tokyu Hands store is a hop skip and a jump away from Otome Road, just on the near side of the highway overpass.
If you’d rather find it yourself, here’s a guide.
First, a linkie to a Google Map of walking to the Ikebukuro Animate. If this is enough, fantastic. However, when I went, I had the Otome Shopping Guide with a diagram that looked pretty similar to this, and I TOTALLY got lost. Partly my own fault for thinking I could wander around and find it.
Anyways, start off in Ikebukuro station. Depending on which train/subway line you take it will be different places, but once you exit you’ll likely be underground. Now, if you can, use exit 35. This is the closest to the street you need to go down to get to Otome Road. It may feel like you’re walking underground forever, but it makes things easier!
If you can’t, you may end up going out the main entrance. You want to cross the big road in front of you, and start going the road that looks like this.
The red box is the Exit 35, you want to be on that side of the road. Notice on top of the building above it, the red cube with the Bic Camera (in Japanese) on it.
Now,once you get to exit 35, turn around and look back, you should see something like this:
Tuen back around and continue going down this street, but not far. There will be a crosswalk, and two roads going off to the left. Don’t go down the first one, but the second – the Lotteria should be on your left.
Leading up to the turnoff.
See the red box? That’s the Lotteria, you should go on the road to the right of it.
Now if you see this before you, you’re practically there!
Lotteria on the left, Sanrio on the right. Now just keep walking down this road, past a Denny’s:
Past Book Off (it took me a while to find this as well, since in addition to being recessed the sign is orange instead of yellow!):
Actually if you have time check the Book Off out, it`s pretty good.
And finally you`ll get to Tokyu Hands – almost there!
Now, see the overpass? You’re going to go under that, and get to that glass building, the Toyota Amlux building..
(This pic is shown from where you end up across the street.) Admire the cars inside – just kidding, we have otome shopping to do! Now at this point, you can either go straight from the crosswalk, or you can turn right. Both choices are good, but I’m going to go right. Just ‘cuz. So follow those mini trucks!
Hmm, what’s this 7 story building? It’s Animate! You have now arrived at Otome Road, dance, jump for joy, whatever you feel like!
Now, Otome Road can both feel small and big. When you first see it, it seems small. Yay an animate, yay a K Books. But don’t be fooled. Let’s take a tour of all the otome shops (or at least the ones I went to).
Once you’re done with Animate, keep going down the same road. Two doors down past a ramen shop, there’s Lashinbang:
If you find out what the deal is with the name, please tell me. This has games, DVDs and CDs, and I’m not even sure what they have on the second floor.
And look what’s right beside it! K-Books Anime. Enjoy this as well.
You may be thinking, “Is this it? Is this all of Otome Road Lijaka?” NO. NOT AT ALL.
Continue down the road.
I didn’t go into this K Books, because I think it’s mostly cosplay and I was on a serious game mission. But I’d love to go and explore. And hmm, I see a red sign on the right, what could that be?
Hm still can’t see very well.
Oh yes, the holy of holies for doujinshi, Mandarake. This may not be the multi-story monstrosity in Akihabara, but it is almost ALL for women. Rock on.
You may feel an urge to stop here. Animate, Lashinbang, K Books Anime and Premium, and Mandarake can take quite a bit of time. It seems like this might be the end. But I think we should keep going. Don’t turn around (in fact I would save Mandarake for later to browse at leisure), but keep going down the same road.
Focus on the red box. Let’s get closer…
K Books Doujin. This is the ONLY place I found doujin otome games. They had one small shelf upstairs for games, and I found them there. If I could go back right now, that’s one of the first places I’d go.
Surely, you’re thinking, that must be it? But don’t you feel like something’s missing? I can’t quite place it, so let’s go down just a little further.
K Books Comic. Just in case you haven’t gotten enough otome stuff, this can probably fill some empty spots in your bag (and empty some of your wallet). They had back issues of otome gaming mags here…very tempting.
So those are the stores that I found on Otome Road. Mandarake and K Books Doujin alone took hours of my time, and I think I ended up visiting Otome Road three or four times (in four days, I was getting a little embarrassed by the end because they recognized me).
If anyone is heading to Tokyo, I hope they find this useful – I wasted hours looking for Otome Road, but once you figure out the basics it’s very close to the station, and oh, such awesome shopping!
Otome History 102! Not nearly as many otome games set in ancient China, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up more often. There’s SO MUCH history there. I’m still playing and loving Sangoku Rensenki, and Jyuuzaengi is coming up soon from Otomate, which is also set during the Three Kingdoms, not to mention all the Dynasty Warriors games (totally not otome, but still!). [Edit: I forgot S.Y.K., which is based on a story, Journey to the West, or Saiyuuki, set in the Tang dynasty, AD618-907.] Commenter Julia was nice enough to send me this awesome overview of this period of ancient Chinese history, known as the Three Kingdoms. It’s from roughly 184-280 AD, and is well-known in Asia partly because of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a hugely long, semi-historical piece of Chinese literature written in the 14th century. So here we go! From now on, this is verbatim from Julia, except for some ed. notes I put in parentheses.
Basic overview of the time period is that it’s the end of the Han Dynasty, a 400-year reign of awesome like the Roman Empire, and eunuchs and warlords have taken too much power from the throne, leaving the masses to be oppressed. The droughts and famines really aren’t helping. Suffering peasants join a former-official-turned-religious-zealot named Zhang Jue (often romanized as Zhang Jiao for some reason) and form the Yellow Turban Rebellion to take down the Han. Warlords assemble to repulse the movement, several (Cao Cao and Liu Bei are among the most important later) proving themselves capable and gaining official positions as rewards. The warlord Dong Zhuo is a jerk and decides to take the last Han Emperor and make him into a puppet ruler. The other generals assemble once again and try to take him down while carving out their own spheres of influence. Dong Zhuo eventually gets assassinated by Lu Bu, but the power of the dynasty has been irrevocably lost, and the empire devolves into a bunch of states ruled by warlords beating the crap out of each other, with three kingdoms eventually becoming the main contenders for the imperial throne.
Anyway, quick rundown of major players in otome games (there’s a ton of stuff so don’t worry too much about unfamiliar names and such; I am always willing to sperg more about the Three Kingdoms):
Okay, to fix any confusion, Sangokuren used the style names of all the characters (excepting the women, who probably had them but generally weren’t recorded). Style names (generally designated with 字, read azana) were given to adults when they came of age in China (not unlike something the Romans did, I think)(Ed. also the Japanese, after guys came of age (genpuku) they got a different name e.g. Oda Nobunaga’s childhood name was Kippoushi) and were used in public settings as signs of respect. Japan is weird about style names in their Sanguo stuff; when used in manga and games, they often take on a more private/affectionate nuance, so I’m not 100% sure about this. Buuut it’s not like historiocity is a big concern for this stuff…
Cao Cao, styled Mengde (Moutoku) is the big badass of the Sanguo period. He was a brilliant politician, cunning strategist and gifted poet who knew how to surround himself with the best men available. He eventually gained and held sway over most of Northern Imperial China (much smaller than modern China but still pretty huge) as the leader of the kingdom of Wei. He was also kind of a huge jerk (for pragmatic reasons, but still), which gets played up in just about every media representation of him ever. (He is one of my very favorites. Even though I have like 20 favorites in the Sanguo period alone.)
Generals operating under him include his cousin Xiahou Dun, styled Yuanrang (Genjou, aka the guy they’re actually adding a “route” for in the PSP version because he is so awesome), best known for eating his own eye out of filial piety in operas/the novel, Xiahou Yuan (Dun’s agile archer cousin, featured in Jyuuzaengi), Xun Yu Wenruo (Bunjaku, who was one of Cao Cao’s most loyal and able administrators and secretly Miles Edgeworth if Sangokuren is to be believed [don’t ask]), Zhang Liao Wenyuan (don’t think you’ll have to know it, but Bun’en), who almost captured Sun Quan singlehandedly at the battle of Hefei, and many, many more. The eventual patriarch of the victorious Sima clan, Sima Yi, worked under him and eventually usurped the throne from his descendents (who themselves had stolen it from the last of the Han).
Liu Bei Xuande (Gentoku) kind of came out of nowhere as the leader of a volunteer army against the Yellow Turban rebels. He claimed to be a descendent of a Former Han prince, and thus tried to restore the Han throne, eventually founding the southwestern empire of Shu-Han around what is now Sichuan. His particularly Chinese sense of honor and humanity (meaning these virtues don’t necessarily match up with modern Western interpretations of the words) are played up in media to contrast with the “wicked” Cao Cao. (One of his most popular scenes is when he actually takes his people with him by their request while being chased out of his domain by Cao Cao.) He’s also often presented as kind of a naïve dweeby coward, but historically was pretty damn savvy. He got married off to Sun Ren (aka Sun Shang Xiang) as part of a political ploy, but they split up when tensions between Wu and Shu got too strong.
In operas and the in novel, Liu Bei swore brotherhood with Guan Yu Yunchang (Unchou) and Zhang Fei Yide (Yokutoku), both of whom were supposedly warriors worth a thousand men. Guan Yu was known for his long, beautiful beard (Cao Cao seriously gives him a beard bag in the novel) and is often depicted with a guandao (the big blade-onna-stick) and the horse Red Hare. He actually ended up becoming by far the most popular of the brotherhood, and is now one of the most worshipped gods in China.
Zhang Fei got drunk a lot, was really strong, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. Oh, and in the novel, he held off thousands of soldiers at Changban Bridge so his brother could high-tail it away from Cao Cao. (I like him okay, but he was seriously as dumb as a brick at times.)(Ed. Figures he’s one of my favourites, I tend to love strong dumb guys in otome games)
Zhao Yun Zilong (Shiryuu) operated under both Yuan Shao (I think) and Gongsun Zan (both of whom were warlords eventually defeated before the three main kingdoms were established) before pledging himself to Liu Bei’s cause. He was pretty boss in both the novels and history, being both a scary competent tactician and an excellent warrior.
The most amazingly overpowered character in games tends to be Zhuge Liang Kongming (Koumei), who supposedly agreed to join Liu Bei after the latter visited him three times and turned Liu Bei into a viable contender. Great strategist (sadly a bit overrated in general) but where he really shone was in domestic administration. Also had a pretty awesome wife by all accounts (Lady Huang was so smart she apparently made cooking robots and stuff), so I like him a lot.
Wu is my least favorite kingdom, so I can’t give you much info on them that isn’t laced with “and I hate this guy so much because blah blah blah.” (For me, Shu will always be the best kingdom, followed closely by Wei, so Wu is my default bad guy.) The ruler Sun Quan Zhongmou (Chuubou) was the little brother of the man who actually founded Wu, and Zhou Yu Gongjin (Koukin) was a brilliant strategist who gets character-assassinated in the novel (which I find pretty hilarious but your mileage may vary). Zhou Yu is always popular because he was historically known to be very attractive, but he’s no Sima Yi or Kongming because he’s dead by age 35. Lu Su was the best character not named Lu Meng and I almost wish he had a real route.
Unaffiliated people you may see: Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu were warlords (either brothers or cousins) who wanted the imperial throne for themselves. Lu Bu Fengxian was a Zhang-Fei-esque asshole who betrayed everyone he ever served but was such a badass warrior that nobody could call him out on it. Dong Zhuo was a tyrant who was later betrayed by Lu Bu and totally deserved it. Diao Chan as far as we know didn’t actually exist, but in the novel managed to move Lu Bu to betray Dong Zhuo.
For what it’s worth: Guan Yu and Cao Cao have an interesting relationship (no not like that… okay maybe) in the novel, meaning that there is fodder galore there for Jyuuzaengi. Actually, they chose the capturables really well, since they all have some interaction with Guan Yu in the novel. (I’m especially looking forward to Zhang Liao’s route since he was a certified badass. Though maybe not as much now that I know he’s played by Yusa Kouji… D:)(Ed. Hey now, I love Yusa Kouji! Mostly because of Guido in Lucian Bee’s.)
Thanks so much Julia for this, it makes me love Sangoku even more, and I’m looking forward to Jyuuzaengi! Yay historical games!
What the bleep, this was set to publish on Friday, in fact it still says publish on Jan 6. >.<;; Sorry for the delay! The second straight post on English releases, is this a sign of what's to come in 2012?? Anyways, I might be the last to know (I am sadly late on English news), but DMP Publishing is releasing the Starry Sky comic! Volume 1 comes out in April.
Apparently its genre is shonen (…lol).
(sorry for the shortness of the recent posts, this thrice-weekly schedule is hard! But I’m almost done routes in Angelique, Beyond the Future, and one other game to put up as reviews)