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 ^_^
Because I’m tired! And I’ve been meaning to post PVs for the last couple weeks and I keep forgetting…
Brothers Conflict is finally out, I might get it next week.
Toki no Kizuna!! Not a PV just the opening, but it’s the first vid I’ve seen for it. It’s SO PRETTY. And the heroine has a hawk! Can’t wait.
A gameplay vid of Black Wolves Saga. Rejet has a bunch up. I’m afraid to play this…
Hana Awase!! It says near the end that there will be three volumes at only 1470Y each, for Mizuchi (the eyepatch guy), Himeutsugi, and Karekurenagi/Utsutsu. Does this mean that Iroha (guy with the blue background) doesn’t have a route??
And a very well-drawn fanvid for TMGS3 (Seiji), no words:
Man, there are so many Tokimemo videos, I could do a whole post on them. Good time-wasting.
Jyuzaengi. The first 45 seconds are just announcing the seiyuu, so skip over that to get to the real PV (although honestly it seems like they’re mostly making really sure we see that the CGs have flowing hair and blinking eyes). I dunno about Ishida Akira’s character, his little kid voice here sounds pretty annoying.
And finally, Bakudan Handan:
Which I’m definitely getting, although I have a feeling I’ll end up only doing about half the routes.