It’s taking me longer and longer to finish otome games these days – besides feeling a bit burned out on them, I’m busy with Chromatic and my normal job. But I do still find time to do some gaming, often casual gaming or just mucking around in Skyrim or Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Sometimes I look for reviews for casual games, but a lot of people have different preferences than mine, so I’m going to start posting my thoughts on some of these as I play them. What I like are historical and/or fantasy-based settings, and no horror or thriller stuff. There’s a ton that are set in old hospitals, serial killers, etc., and I don’t enjoy them. My favourite series is the Dark Parables titles from Blue Tea Games they have a bunch of titles based on fairy tales. The first one is the Curse of Briar Rose. It’s very pretty, which is another preference of mine – I have no desire to play games with ugly/boring backgrounds and items.
The last week I’ve been playing the following:
Wanderland (Big Fish Games): This is a free to play hidden object adventure game, which means that after your first hour or so, you have to wait for your energy to recharge before doing much more. These can be annoying because the quests have tons of steps, all of which require several objects that may or may not drop when you do a HO scene, but they’re good to get a quick hit of gaming which you can’t draw out too long. This one is up my alley, being fantasy-based, with various characters walking around to get quests and items from, and portals to fairy tale worlds where you’re trying to solve the problems within (is it even possible to get to the end of these? I don’t know). It also has a twist in that enemies walk around too, and you can fight them and get different items.
So far I’m kind of enjoying this, but my experiences with Awakening Kingdoms and Midnight Castle (I got tired of them after my data and levels, items, everything got ‘lost’ a couple times) mean that my expectations are pretty low.
I’ve also finished a couple regular HO games, Mythic Wonders: Child of Prophecy and The Secret Order – can’t remember which one, which were ok. I usually buy any HO games set in locations or time periods which aren’t used often – I thought Mythic Wonders was set in China but it was Japan. It had bad ‘Asian’ accents in the voiceovers but the setting, plot and minigames etc. felt pretty Japanese.
Now I’m trying Dark Romance: Heart of the Beast which is a modified Beauty and the Beast story. So far I like it, you take turns being the heroine and the hero, and the games etc. are fairly easy but interesting.
I’ll probably be adding more posts like these on a sporadic basis, they’re much faster than a regular otome review (still working on Harutoki 6, eheh).
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.
Is it 2015 already? I have at least five posts in draft form, and so much calendar updating to do! I hope everyone’s 2014 ended on a happy note, and that 2015 is awesome. I spent the holidays very productively watching the whole run of Fairy Tail (it’s all rusky boz‘s fault, I was a longtime fan because of ulquihime and I couldn’t resist galevy anymore).
Also – did you know that Gintama is starting another anime run in April!!!!!!???? I’m so happy.
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!
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.
I have no energy for writing blog posts the last few days! I’m sorry,I’ll get magazines next week and will do the news for sure. I’m planning some preview posts for upcoming games as well. Let me know if there’s a certain game you’re interested in!
Whoops, I never did a post on Anime North! In the end, Anime North was tiring but a lot of fun, I even saw some otome cosplay (Utapuri, I don’t know why I didn’t ask for a picture!). I think getting our badges was actually the most frustrating part, it took at least two hours and trips between two buildings to get it done.
The otome gaming panel was great as well, there were way more people than I expected and several had already played or watched several games, like Utapuri, Hakuouki, and Togainu no Chi – I’m sure if we did the panel a year ago it would have been 95% people unfamiliar with the genre at all.
I also helped out at the Tokyo Demons table, where things started slowly but picked up speed throughout the weekend – that panel went great, and I got a print signed by their artist, rem! It’s really cute.
I think the best part of the con was finding other people who were into otome games who I’d never talked to before – it’s awesome meeting people who love the same things you do, and talking about them!
Thanks to all the people who came out and either chatted about otome games, or came to the panel – it was so much fun I think I’ll try and do it next year as well!
Just got back from the first day, things started slowly as they do, but got up to speed and I met some very cool people, including some fellow otome game fans and rem! Her art is so gorgeous. Tomorrow I’m bringing a ton of stuff to the otome/yaoi gaming panel, mags, extras, CDs/DVDs, and games. Because if I run out things to say, I can always wave pretty things around to get everyone’s attention again
May post tomorrow, or on Sunday if I’m too tired.