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 finally finished a route in Jyuzanegi yesterday, and it’s pretty heavy. I think it’s fairly realistic for the time period, and heavy. Not too angsty as such, but just…a lot of things happening and it takes a LOT of effort and time to get a happy ending. I did Chouki first (the other cat boy that’s not the white-haired one), and I liked his character a lot. Ishida Akira’s little catboy Ryuubi also was not as annoying as I expected, so I’m having a hard time choosing what route to do next. I want something totally different, so I’m thinking maaybe Sousou (another country’s general, who’s the first person to force the cat people to leave their secluded village.
The story is set in the times of the Three Kingdoms of ancient China, and the heroine, Ka-u (Ka-un?), is a half-cat person (who are called Maozoku) living in a small village of cat people, hidden away from human civilization. They’re discovered by Sousou’s army when he’s looking for the Yellow Turban Gang (anyone who’s played Sengoku Rensenki is familiar with them, but I believe here it’s their early thuggish days), and he seems to know of them, and demands they come along and help him search or he’ll destroy the village. The strategies and warlords in this game are mostly as ruthless as you’d expect, and there’s no question that he would actually do it. The cat people are also viewed as lower than humans by most people, who call them ‘Juuza’ in reference to the story about their being left out of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac (anyone remember Fruits Basket?). The racism is fairly realistic as well for an openly intolerant time.
Ka-un is the strongest warrior of her people, and has an overdeveloped sense of duty, partly because she’s grateful to the cat people for accepting her when she’s only half-Maozoku. Chouki’s route didn’t go into her origin story too much, although there are hints near the end. I think I know which route would lay it totally bare, but I won’t spoil it.
I loved how she was strong, and yet not really a natural leader – she did get impulsive and overeager to fight sometimes, especially when Ryuubi, who’s the Maozoku’s ‘leader’, is in danger. I wish there were more scenes of her actually fighting – there is a very small battle system based on timing, but in Chouki’s route it’s only fully used a couple times. I hope it’s used more in other routes.
I don’t know how much of the plot is common to all routes, but there is a lot of going back and forth between warlords and countries and armies – by the end you really feel as if Ka-un deserves some rest and happiness. I’m looking forward to doing other routes, but I actually needed a break in-between – I felt tired by the time I got to the end of Chouki’s route. I also haven’t done his bad ending yet – I think I’ll need to cheer up after doing that.
Other things I noticed – the music is pretty good, but there’s not as much animation as in the PV, at least that I saw. CGs seem to be weighted towards the end.
I’m already excited for Genroh, especially now that the seiyuu have been revealed! There’s no release date yet, but I’m going to guess September or October. It’s set in the Heian era, 1179, the exact same timeframe as Harutoki 3, with some of the same characters.
Going from right to left: Heroine, Yoshitsune, Benkei, Kotarou, Tsugunobu, Tadanobu
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke) – The son of the Minamoto clan. His deepest desire is to beat the Taira clan, and he fully believes in his older brother Yoritomo in Kamakura. His mother gave him a flute which he keeps with him at all times, and he watches over the heroine.
Musashibou Benkei (CV: Tsuda Kenjirou) A former monk of Mt. Hiei who now works for Yoshitsune. He’s intimidating without even trying to be, so he often scares people. He likes to cook and seeing people enjoy food makes him happy. Though he doesn’t show much emotion, he’s actually good at looking after people. (I am totally doing his route first. I knew I would like him, and I love his voice actor too!)
Kotarou (CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) – A quick, nimble young man who’s good at talking to people, he has his own reasons for working for Yoshitsune. He has a complex about being short and is determined to become even bigger than Benkei one day. He can’t seem to help being mean to the heroine.
Satou Tsugunobu (CV: Miki Shinichirou) – Yoshitsune’s comrade who lives with him in Hiraizumi. He’s very loyal, and is almost too straightforward in his moral code. He also loves swords so much, he does some blacksmithing. He sees the heroine as a younger sister.
Satou Tadanobu (CV: Suzuki Yuuto) – Tsugunobu’s younger brother who’s an archery expert, and is seen as a bit of a womanizer. He likes to tease the heroine and watch her reactions.
Mikage (CV: Koyasu Takehito) – Yoshitsune’s mysterious teacher, he actually tries to kidnap the heroine.
Sangoku Rensenki was originally a PC game, the first ever put out by publisher Daisy². When I first saw some pics for it, I thought it looked cute, but figured it would be one of those quiet releases that mostly get ignored, especially after it was delayed a couple of times.
To my surprise and joy, not only was it released successfully, but it steadily got really good reviews, despite still getting minimal press, and was consistently on the list for most-wanted to be adapted for consoles. It finally was adapted for the PS2, and will soon be released for the PSP as well. I wasn’t able to get a copy until I went to Japan in October, and I’m finally playing it now – I thought I needed to have a good chunk of time to get into it, and I was right.
What’s it about? Well, it’s a time travel story, normal high school girl gets transported to chaotic era with lots of attractive men. Sounds pretty familiar. The specifics are that Hana, the heroine, is working on a history assignment when an old book about the Three Kingdoms (ancient China) sucks her back in time, I think to AD207. She gets picked up by one warlord, Gentoku, but throughout the game is kidnapped by Moutoku, the current most successful warlord, stays with the last major warlord Chuubou, and also goes even further back in time for a bit and sees the origin of the current situation.
The first time through, you can’t “win” anybody, Hana has to go through the story trying to figure out why she’s there and what she wants to do. Unlike many other time-travel/AU stories, Hana isn’t a legendary priestess and her arrival wasn’t foretold; most people don’t even know that she’s from another world, just that she’s foreign. When she first arrives, a voice tells her to go meet Gentoku and tell him that she’s an apprentice of Koumei, a scholar and strategist. That’s how she gets treated as a guest. The book she read comes through with her, and when she tries to read about what’s going to happen, it’s blank. That is, until she figures out what she wants to happen, and then the book will show how that could work.
I think the game is excellent in a few ways that aren’t common – first, Hana not being expected or treated as a “savior” until she proves herself (by using the book to figure out strategies). Even then, she’s just respected as an advisor, she’s not expected to do any magic or anything. Second, I found that her reactions are very relatable – the first time she’s in the field of war and witnesses people dying, partially due to her own strategy, she’s shocked and almost can’t handle it. Afterwards, it takes her a long time to reconcile what she’s doing and come to grips with the deaths that war causes, which is totally realistic for a young teenager who’s never seen violence up close and is totally unused to war. She continues to struggle throughout the game with moral questions like whether it’s right for her to help with strategies that might cause large casualties for the other side. It’s also really nice how the warlords all have their own moral code – for example, Gentoku is very strict, and will never take existing land from a present lord or heir (this agrees with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms apparently). Hana has to try and stop the war while dealing with everyone’s competing principles, which I thought was much more realistic than many other stories where once someone is convinced, they do whatever the hero/heroine suggests.
There’s also a bonus that I adore during the credits of each route – it shows extra scenes around important storylines where you get to see the guy’s side of it. It’s really great, and I’m glad that it’s shown after everything. There are even CGs just for the credits!
While playing through, I kept trying to find exactly what it was that made this game so good (because it’s good, it’s very good). What makes me want to play through again and again, getting different routes, even though I skip through a bunch of the strategy when they talk about tactics and generals and old Chinese place names? I think in the end, it’s the characterization, of Hana and everyone else. Not only do you have interesting romanceable characters, but lots of minor characters get enough details that they’re sympathetic as people and not just cliches or cardboard placeholders. When I first went back in time the second time and realized it was before the main story (so none of the romanceable characters are around), I was annoyed because I thought it was just a distraction from the main story. But the people you meet there are important in some of the routes, and they’re all memorable, and honestly it was really cool how the writers established how different the atmosphere was in the area just 10-20 years before the main story because of the different political situation.
SO, to make a long story short, I hugely recommend Sangoku Rensenki! Now I’ve gotta go, I have a warlord to romance…
My copy of Musketeer FINALLY arrived, thank you Canada Post for the lockout which delayed packages (I had FIVE games in the mail) by weeks! *grumble grumble* Anyhow, now that I have it I’m playing it like mad, so I have a summary of the intro and some early thoughts to share!
Intro: It starts off a bit slowly, with the heroine D’Artagnan living with her father in a small cottage, apparently a bit far away from the nearest village. The setting is kind of AU 19th century France – there’s a mention in history class about the start of the French Revolution, so it’s after 1789, but they’re still only using candles etc., there’s no electricity or steam technology. It also seems to be inspired by Rose of Versailles in terms of outfits, hairstyles, etc., and of course the idea of a female swordsman!
At the beginning of the game, D’Artagnan is living a happy, simple life with her father, who enjoys looking at the stars. One night she wakes up after having a strange, forboding dream, and her father explains to her a very rare occurrence that will occur this year – the alignment of the sun, the moon, and Venus. She comments that it must be very lucky for such a thing to happen, and goes back to sleep. Her father doesn’t tell her, but thinks that actually it’s an extremely bad omen.
The next day D’Artagnan heads out to the village to bring some books back to the library. She gets a bad feeling and rushes back home to find her father being attacked by some kind of black monster! He kills her father, and is about to attack her, when she’s saved by a man with red eyes. He tells her he came to warn her father, but was too late. He knew her father and studied under him at the Chevalier Academy years ago. D’Artagnan is shocked, as she had no idea her father was a teacher, and is even more surprised when the man, Trevile, says the attack was likely an attempt to get something back which her father took from the school when he left. Trevile invites her to join the school, where she might find out why her father was killed and by whom. D’Artagnan accepts.
Some time later, D’Artagnan arrives at the school. The driver of her public coach asks her to delivery a letter to Athos, and says he’s well-known so she should have no trouble finding him. Walking through the halls, she drops the letter and it’s picked up by a beautiful young man with long blond hair and blue eyes. He thinks she did it on purpose, but she corrects him and goes looking for Athos. After finding out which room is his, D’Artagnan knocks on his door and opens it when there’s no response. She finds another young man inside, and assuming him to be Athos, tries to give him the letter. He says he’s not Athos, and she leaves to go searching again, finally finding him in the library. After going to so much trouble, she’s a little annoyed when he doesn’t even thank her, but says she could have just left it on his desk.
The next day, she’s surprised to find out that all three guys she met are the Musketeers, which is like the school’s Student Council. They’re very important, have a lot of power and influence, and are admired by the other students.
Discussing with Trevile how best to find out who killed her father, Trevile says that the best way would be to get the Musketeers’ help. However, they’re unlikely to care if D’Artagnan just asks point-blank, so Trevile suggests that if she can beat them in duels, they will have to swear loyalty to her (a tradition at the school), and will then help her. The hitch is that they’re the best swordsmen in school (a school famous for having elite students from the country’s aristocracy and talented scholarship students). So D’Artagnan starts to train, first with Trevile, and when he’s not available, Constantine, a young man who thinks she’s cute.
That’s the beginning 15 minutes or so.
Characters: I didn’t think I’d be interested in Aramis (the blondie) but he’s actually charming me. Not as much as my first interest, Porthos, who is just the type that I usually go for in otome games. Athos is fine, but hasn’t really shown much personality so far, just been the commanding, strong, quiet type. I really like D’Artagnan, she’s quite interesting. The guys have a discussion early on wondering why she’s so unemotional, and she is. It makes total sense considering that she just saw her father die violently, and is trying to find his murderer. Most of the characters are pretty well done, even the side characters like the students. I haven’t seen much of the school head Richelieu.
I finally got Harutoki 5!
Two hours sounds like a fair bit for the average game, at least enough to know most of the plot points, but as with most RPGs, it’s barely scratching the surface in Harutoki 5. So far I have:
* been in a plane crash;
* travelled to historical Japan (around 1863??);
* almost got killed by Takasugi Shinsaku (CV: Yasumoto Hiroki), who should end up being one my guardians, and tried to save Genbu (one of the four Guardian Beasts);
* travelled back to modern Japan and found out that Japan (and maybe the world?) has apparently been annihilated except for my house and my cousin’s (there are also no people left);
* fought two onryou (monsters);
* got sucked back to historical Japan again;
* tried to free Suzaku during a battle and then fought it;
* and got sent back to modern Japan.
All I want to know is, when is something *exciting* going to happen?? Heh.
I’ve encountered five hachiyou, but only one, my adopted brother Shun (CV: Terajima Takuma), has been with me for (almost) the whole time. The rest were one-time meetings. It just went from full-voice to non-voiced (boo!), and the heroine even had some lines (only when she was alone and reflecting on her situation, it was a bit strange).
Right now it seems like there are hachiyou on either side of this war, those supporting the existing shogun (Okita Souji （CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko), maybe Ernest （CV: Shitanda Michael), and those trying to reinstate the emperor (Takasugi, Chinami (CV: Abe Atsushi). It’s a little bit like Harutoki 2 that way. Will I have to choose a side? Will things end up the way they did in our world? (Since the other world is similar to ours but not the same, they theoretically could).
I don’t know much yet, although I think I’d like to get going and stop switching worlds for a while. I want to get into the character’s stories! So, not much else to say right now, but I’ll update soon-ish.
I like history, but most of what I know, I learned through historical romances, anime, and otome games. I thought taking a short primer on the periods in Japanese history might be useful, and ended up making a post about it for anyone who’s interested. Especially now that games are being made in several different periods (not just Heian and Bakumatsu anymore!), keeping timelines straight can be confusing. So with thanks to Wikipedia where I got the dates and some of the general historic info from, here is a rough outline of Japanese history.
Pre-history: Paleolithic Period
Western calendar: 35000-12000BC
Well known figures, games set there: None – this would be cavemen and hunter gatherers, probably not much chance for romance (just watch, the next otome game will be a Clan of the Cave Bear remake)
Still prehistory: Jomon Period
Western calendar: ~12000BC-300BC
Well known figures: this is when a lot of Japanese mythology is set; for example, Japan was supposedly founded by Emperor Jimmu, a descendant of the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, in 660 BC.
Games set here: none that I know of, though Suzue Michiko (Glass Mask mangaka) wrote a series called Amaterasu! EDIT(thanks miruki!): Mirai’s R18 otome game Hoshi no Oujo 3 is set here, with the whole main cast as demi-gods/gods/spirits and the entire thing being very mythological.
Western calendar: 300BC to 250AD
Well known events/figures: Bronze and iron are introduced…probably lots of myths/folktales are set in this time as well
Games set here: Harutoki 4 is probably either here or in the Jomon period
The first written history
Western calendar: ~250-538AD
Well known events/figures: not that I know of
Games set here: no otome games
Western calendar: 538 to 710AD
Well known events/figures: Buddhism was introduced
Games set here: no otome games yet!
Western calendar: 710 to 794AD (short period!)
Well known events/figures: Fujiwara clan rises in power (remember the green-haired guys in Harutoki 1?), lots of historical writing about Japan
Games set here: Ayashi no Miya might be set here, or even a little earlier
Otome games ahoy!
Western calendar: 794 to 1185AD
Well known events/figures: Hoo boy, let’s see: the Tale of Genji is written, the most powerful clans are the Fujiwara(Takamichi and Yukitaka), Taira (Katsuzane in Harutoki 2), Minamoto (Yorihisa/Yoritada in Harutoki 1/2, not to mention Eisen and Motomi), and Tachibana (Tomomasa in Harutoki 1). Most famous onmyouji ever Abe no Seimei
Games set here: Obviously the biggest are the Harutoki series – #1 is set around the end of the 10th century, #2 is set around 100 years later. Harutoki 3 is at the very end of the Heian, during the end of the Gempei War in 1184/1185. Miyako is also set in the Heian period. Also, Hoshi no Oujo ~Uchuu Ishiki ni Mezameta Yoshitsune~ is set in the same time frame, with the heroine as Yoshitsune!
Feudal Japan (1185-1603)
Western calendar: 1185-1333
Well known events/figures: The beginning of the shoguns’ rule and the Mongol invasion.
Games set here: none that I know of
Western calendar: 1336-1573
Well known events/figures: The period was ruled by the Ashikaga shogunate. The first contact with the West occurred in 1543 when a Portuguese ship landed in Japan. The last 106 years is also called the Sengoku Jidai, or the Warring States period. That’s when Oda Nobunaga finally overthrew the Ashikaga and brought in the next period. Also, ninja start to be recognized as separate from regular mercenaries/warriors that specialized in spying and sabotage. The first ninja were from Iga and Koga, and the famous ninja Hattori Hanzou was from Iga. One famous ninja clan is the Fuuma clan.
Games set here: Nise no Chigiri (1561), probably also Yo-Jin-Bo, and Towa no Sakura has a Muromachi route.
Western calendar: 1573-1603 (another short one)
Well known events/figures: This is the end of the Sengoku Jidai, with Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and finally Tokugawa Ieyasu working on uniting Japan. Nobunaga started the tea ceremony, and Hideyoshi was the one who codified the samurai as a separate social class that was inherited, and forbade non-samurai to carry swords.
Games set here: Tenkaichi Sengoku Lovers, where you can go for all the big names – Nobunaga, Ieyasu, Mitsuhide, Takeda Shingen AND Uesugi Kenshin (who are in Nise no Chigiri).
Western calendar: 1603-1868
Well known events/figures: Also called the Edo period because the Tokugawa ruled from Edo (Tokyo). Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints and the ancestor of manga!), kabuki, and bunraku (puppet theatre) were developed. Christianity spread, especially among peasants, and a rebellion by them in 1637 was crushed. This led to a policy of seclusion, which was ended in 1853 by the Black Ships of Commander Perry, and the start of the Bakumatsu.
Though it’s still in the Tokugawa period, from 1853 to 1868 is referred to as the ‘Bakumatsu’, literally the ‘end of the tent period’, where the tent refers to the shogun’s rule (bakufu). After the Black Ships incident, Japan was slowly forced open to the West (and into several unfavorable trade agreements), and there was a lot of turmoil and violence, especially between foreigners and the Japanese. A terrible cholera outbreak occurred, as well as a huge currency devaluation caused by foreign speculators.
The Shinsengumi was a supporter group of the shogunate who acted as policemen. They were also notable for their inclusion of non-samurai in their ranks and their strict policies. The Shinsengumi was led by Kondou Isami, with Hijikata Toshizou as second and Okita Souji. Sakamoto Ryouma also played a major part in the negotiations that led to the Meiji Restoration.
Games set here: All those Shinsengumi games! Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi, Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi 2 Karyuushiden, the upcoming one Ishin Renka, and of course Hakuouki and the recently announced Harutoki 5! Also a really old otome game called Meshimase Roman Sabou is kind of set in a madeup place but using Edo period costumes. Towa no Sakura also has an Edo route.
Western calendar: 1868-1912
Well known figures/events:
Games set there: none that I know of
Western calendar: 1912-1926
Well known figures/events: The Kanto earthquake (1923), WWI (they fought against Germany)
Games set there: Towa no Sakura has a Taisho route, Waga Ichizoku Hanayaka Nari
Western calendar: 1926-1989 (holy that’s longer than I thought!)
Well known figures/events: The period corresponds to the rule of Emperor Hirohito. Important events include the Manchurian Incident, when a group of Japanese officers staged an arson attack on a section of Japanese railroad in China to use as an excuse to invade (1931), the Great Depression which increased nationalist sentiment and contributed to extremism, the Rape of Nanking (1937), the Axis pact with Germany and Italy (1940), and WWII. Surrender and dissolution of the Empire of Japan in 1945 changing into the State of Japan with an elected government at the Diet. Post-war Japan boomed economically.
Games set there: there’s a new one coming up, Bunmei Kaika Aoiza Ibunroku, that is set in Showa (the early years, going by the pics).
Western calendar: 1989-present
Well known figures/events: The Kobe earthquake and the Aum Shinrikyo subway gas attack both occurred in 1995.
Games set there: start with Tokimemo and go through all the contemporary-set games
Good kanji to know about Japanese history
Heian Period 平安時代
Warring States Period (Sengoku Jidai) 戦国時代
Ashikaga Shogunate 足利 幕府
Muromachi Period 室町時代
Kamakura Period 鎌倉時代
Tokugawa Shogunate 徳川幕府
Edo Period 江戸時代
Meiji Period 明治時代
Taisho Period 大正時代
Showa Period 昭和時代
Minamoto (Gen) 源 Genji – 源氏
Taira (Hei) 平氏 Heike – 平家
Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源義経
Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝
Musashibou Benkei 武蔵坊弁慶
Oda Nobunaga 織田信長
Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康
Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉
Takeda Shingen 武田 信玄
Uesugi Kenshin 上杉謙信
Shogun 武将 (btw, I never realized that Kurou in Harutoki 3 was a shogun, haha)
Warrior 武士 Samurai 侍
Kunochi (female ninja) くのいち
OK, this post ended up way longer than I expected! Hopefully it’s useful for historical otome fans.
Yes, so I finally scanned some pics of the new games!
First up is Kazeiro Surf, scheduled for Spring 2009 for the PS2 from russell pure. I thought it was alternate history, but it seems to follow world history pretty closely except for its made-up setting, a northern European kingdom called Euchtrande. Set in 1923, a few years after World War I, it’s the age of early flight, and the main character, Erika, is the daughter of a well-known airplane mechanic, Antony. Erika is becoming a good mechanic under her father working on automobiles when the government sends a request for Antony to become the mechanic for a new airborne platoon. Not wanting her elderly father to overwork himself, Erika volunteers to go in his stead. She’s assigned to Robyih, a town near the border of Euchtrande with the empire it seceded from 270 years ago, Shuresberch.
Ruka CV: Abe Atsushi - the youngest son of an aristocratic family, the Falgohres. 18 years old, he joined the platoon at the same time as Erika.
Korrin CV: Hamada Kenji – a skilled pilot that hasn’t yet had battle experience, Korrin is already a lieutenant at 25 years old.
Oswell CV: Maeno Tomoaki – the cool young engineer who at first doesn’t accept Erika as a fellow soldier. 22 years old.
Klaus CV: Fujiwara Keiji - A veteran pilot of WWI, now he’s a major and teaches young pilots.
Alec CV: Koyama Rikiya - A 38-year-old corporal in the supply unit, he worries about Erika being one of the only women in the repair team.
Serge CV: Yonaga Tsubasa – Taking care of a restaurant frequented by the platoon with his mother and older sister, Serge is a responsible 16-year-old that longs to work with planes.
Johanne CV: Hino Satoshi - A 24-year-old from Shuresberch, he’s travelling to see the world, but is staying in Robyih for a while.
The story seems to be based on Erika trying to gain the respect and acknowledgement of her peers as a mechanic, but there’s no info yet on gameplay. Russell Pure’s last game was Hakarena Heart, which was strictly a visual novel, so Kazeiro Surf might be one as well.
Anyways, it’s an interesting premise for an otome game – the character designer is new and the designs are definitely different. Some I like (Oswell and Korrin), some I’m not sure about. I’ll keep my eye on this one and see how it shapes up!