First of all, welcome to マジで萌え！！(Maji de Moe!!), my new personal venture. For months, people who have been following my livetweets and shitposts on twitter have been dropping hints at me to make an otome-related blog and post actual summaries, reviews and opinions.
I can’t guarantee how often I’ll update this, but I’m trying my best to figure out a schedule that best works for me other than “whenever I feel like it”, because the answer to that is probably never.
Anyway, what better way than to start off a new blog, right at the start of the year (okay, end of January is pushing it, I know, I know), than with a summary of what I thought was great before I even decided to sit down and make a blog, and possibly a brief overview of what sort of things I like and what you can expect. I’ve titled it the Ciel’s Selection series, and hopefully it’ll contain a whole bunch of random lists in the future, from amusing CGs to hilarious one-liners to rankings.
WARNING: There might be spoilers littered here and there, but it’s unlikely to be major ones.
Without further ado, let’s roll!
Games Played in 2016 | Best Game Overall | Best Main Character | Best Protagonist | Best Sub-Character | Best Bromance | Best Story | Best Seiyuu Performance | Best Soundtrack | Best Overall Artwork | Best System | Worst Game Overall | Worst Main Character | Worst Protagonist | Worst Overall Artwork | Worst System
Games Played in 2016
Before we begin the awards, here are the games that were up for contention. I had only just bought myself a PS Vita in March 2016, so this is pretty much just a list of games I had played throughout the year. I didn’t include games where I had only played 1 or 2 routes, but there are a few that I never did see to the end for reasons.
- Amnesia: Memories
- Kenka Banchou Otome
- Ken ga Kimi for V
- Kokuchou no Psychedelica
- Liar! – Uncover the Truth
- Mystic Messenger
- Nil Admirari no Tenbin ~Teito Genwaku Kitan~
- Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~
- Period Cube ~Torikago no Amadeus~
Best Game Overall
Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~
A tale that spins together politics, deception, loyalty and betrayal, all while spreading a message of learning to love yourself, I cannot recommend this game enough. From the well paced plot to the individual characters, I was left, literally, gripping my seat as I progressed through the story, and I just could not put my Vita down for a single moment. While the romance takes a little bit of a backseat, I wasn’t particularly left disappointed by it, because it was (mostly) integrated well into the story.
This game will be localised as “Nightshade” by D3P themselves this coming spring for Steam, and I do hope everyone picks it up!
Runners-up: Ken ga Kimi for V, Collar×Malice
Best Main Character
Enishi CV. Okiayu Ryoutarou (Ken ga Kimi)
Honestly, if I start rambling about Enishi, you’ll never actually hear the end about it, but I’m gonna try my best. I’d be lying if I said I went into Ken ga Kimi expecting to like him. He was loud, obnoxious, generally useless for majority of the common route. I was wholly expecting him to continue to be annoying, but then common route slowly started piecing everything together once I locked on to his route, and I went “Maybe…just maybe…I won’t hate him?”
But when I finally met the real Enishi, a man who was crippled by the conflict between his strong sense of duty and his insecurities, who despite having outwardly flirty tendencies, truly cared about Kayo in the gentlest and most unobstrusive ways; who would always played the joker to take the burden and worries of everyone’s shoulders; who always made sure that everything was okay, even if he couldn’t take credit for it; who loved Edo, its people, as well as Kayo, more than anyone, and more than he loved himself; well, I was a goner. Okiayu’s voice acting was absolutely amazing as well – how he went from annoying to cool to gentle, how he emoted through extremely sad and emotional scenes…it was beautiful. DAMN I TOLD MYSELF I WOULDN’T WRITE AN ESSAY but here i am…OOPs………
Anyway, don’t give up on Enishi before you get to his route, I promise you’ll love him, even if he won’t be your best boy!
And if you don’t, I’ll see you at the back alley at midnight :))
Runners-up who I would also write essays for: Yanagi Aiji (Collar×Malice), Kurosaki Tsukasa (PsychicEmotion6), Han Jumin (Mystic Messenger), Ikki (Amnesia: Memories)
Ueno Enju (Hyakka Hyakurou)
Hinako (Kenka Banchou Otome) was a close second, but at the end of the day, it was this fiesty ninja that takes home the best girl of 2016 title. She starts off full of naive ideaologies of wanting to be the best ninja to serve her clan, but before she could even say a word, everything she believed in was crushed with the development of the plot. Her growth was realistic, both showing how vulnerable she was, and how strong she could be, both mentally and physically, and ultimately she was the support of every single one of the guys in their routes, helping them overcome their manproblems, while also learning from them and improving herself. Though there were plenty of time she could, and plenty of times she considered, she never let herself succumb to the fate of “damsel in distress”.
Enju is honestly what I think a protagonist of an otome game should be. Not someone who packs a big personality, not a self-insertable nobody, but a character I can see as a role model, with strength and weaknesses that are relatable.
Runners-up: Nakayama Hinako (Kenka Banchou Otome), The Nameless Protag (Liar! – Uncover the Truth)
Sakaguchi Haruo CV. Kondou Takashi (Kenka Banchou Otome)
Oh, Sakaguchi. The amount of times I yelled “SAKAGUCHI WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS” throughout the game was too many to count. Sakaguchi is the overprotective bodyguard (or should I say babysitter?) to Hikaru, and as a result, also Hinako. He loves the twins with all his heart, and will do anything to protect them and their happiness. He’s also KIND OF A CREEPY OSSAN. The type you want to see Hinako step on. Except he’d probably like that.
Runners-up: Saeki Teru (Collar×Malice), Sawa (Amnesia: Memories)
(aka this could be gay if you squint hard enough)
Aiji & Shiraishi (Collar×Malice)
THIS WAS SO HARd…………………I love otome games for romance as much as I do for bromance. There were a lot of excellent relationships between the casts of all the games I played, but I think hands down, this one goes to Shiraishi and Aiji. I don’t really think I can put their friendship into words without spoiling the entire content of Collar×Malice, but one thing I can say is that their mutual trust and understanding of each other no matter the odds, and no matter how far that puts them apart, was just so touching.
On a lighter note, I loved how they kept trying to help each other with their romance on each other’s routes like TRU BROS, WINGMEN AT HANd.
Runners-up: Enishi/Saneaki (Ken ga Kimi), Totomaru/Konparu/Hinako (Kenka Banchou Otome), Jumin/Zen (Mystic Messenger), Ikki/Kent (Amnesia: Memories)
Kokuchou no Psychedelica
I think in terms of just pure story, Kokuchou no Psychedelica (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly) told a beautiful tale about life and death, love and friendship, and how frail and insecure all humans are. It was dark, it was tragic, but there was a faint glimmer of hope at the end. The way the story was revealed in bits and pieces also constantly kept me on the edge. The vivid/dark contrast of colours in the art style combined with the very grungy, abstract texture just added to the overall atmosphere, and the voice acting was beautiful. I personally felt the romance was lacking, but I guess with the way the story was, it was probably difficult to work that in well. I came out of playing Kokuchou no Psychedelica like how you’d come out of reading a Good Book. My only gripe was the way side stories were fitted in via a non-linear format rather than insertion into the main plot (there were some side stories that made me wonder why it wasn’t just a part of the main plot, especially when certain routes would be locked until you read said side stories).
Runners-up: Hyakka Hyakurou, Collar×Malice
Best Seiyuu Performance
Shimazaki Nobunaga as Kurosaki Tsukasa (PsychicEmotion6)
He made me want to punch him from how annoyingly flirty he was, he gave me the chills when shit went down, he laughed like a maniac at times and was downright terrifying, he made me cry buckets when he was vulnerable, emotional and in distress, and all of that was just one voice actor, for one character. Zakki is known for doing his cool, calm, quiet kuudere/dandere types, so it was so amazingly refreshing to hear him play such a multifaceted and complex character, and completely nail it. After hearing him as Tsukasa, all I want is for him to continue to diversify outside of his typecast mold (as much as I love it), because he has so, so much talent.
Runners-up: Okiayu Ryoutarou as Enishi (Ken ga Kimi), Hosoya Yoshimasa as Yamato (Kokuchou no Psychedelica)
Period Cube ~Torikago no Amadeus~
I usually don’t hold Otomate in high regard for soundtracks. They’re usually repetitive and dull, and make me want to either fall asleep, or punch something because of how boring they are. They generally make their games really hard to get into because it doesn’t fully immerse you in the universe.
The Period Cube background music was phenomenal though. It was truly an RPG experience – from cute leisurely tracks to intense boss fight songs, and finally emotional and soft piano melodies in between at all the right points, it was just a really good OST that truly brought you into the world of Arcadia.
Runners-up: Ken ga Kimi
Best Overall Artwork
Hanamurai Mai has seriously upped her art game over the years since her last proper otome game (Amnesia), but the artwork for Collar Malice was beautiful. Whilst the sprites didn’t have lipsync, they were drawn well with lovely posing that never felt awkward. The CGs were almost all proper drawn scenes that avoided headshots, with the system choosing to pan in and out of the wide framed CGs for effect. The colouring fit the mood of the game, with intense lighting and a more muted colour scheme overall. It was just a treat to look at this game, and I don’t think there was a single CG that I could truly say was ugly.
Runners-up: Nil Admirari no Tenbin, Ken ga Kimi
Period Cube ~Torikago no Amadeus~
The interface for this game was absolutely gorgeous. Upon loading the game, it truly felt like you were logging into an MMORPG. The menus were really cute, the affection was shown via a fake RPG character stat sheet and the text speeds were just right and didn’t leave you feeling rushed or tired from waiting for auto. The jump to next choice/unread text was a function that I wish existed in every game, and it worked smoothly. I personally thought the colours of the UI were really nice too and complemented the overall blue tinge to the game, rather than being jarringly out of sync. Text was also easy to read, though I think people who dislike white text on dark BG might suffer a little. The Live2D on the sprites and animated backgrounds also really immersed you into the universe, as if it really was an MMORPG you just delved right into. All in all, a very solid UI delivery, and I wish more Otomate games used whoever the hell designed and programmed this!?
Period Cube ~Torikago no Amadeus~
Not even having the best music or the best made system in the entire of the otome universe could save this mess of a game. I use the word “worst” liberally. It was entertaining, but it just left so much to be desired. From the plot that had more holes than you could fill with stop gap measures, to nonsensical plot twists, to the unsatisfyingly short routes, to the ending that basically made you feel like you just wasted 20 hours of your life, Period Cube was just….a really lackluster experience. While I don’t hate it, I definitely can’t recommend it for having Best Story Ever or anything.
The boys are absolutely adorable though (Well…some of them), I will say. Which is why I’m mad, because the routes were so short, what the heck. I almost bought the drama CDs until I realised that it was probably all according to Otomate’s keikaku, and then I deleted them from my Amazon cart…..
Runners-up: Mystic Messenger, Nil Admirari no Tenbin
Worst Main Character
Seven/707 (Mystic Messenger)
I’M NOT HERE TO START A FIGHT but Seven is one of the few characters last year who made me take rage quit breaks while playing. I feel like the major issue with the game was the forced “time frame” of 11 days, which resulted in any form of character development taking a GOTTA GO FAST approach. As Seven was the obligatory “hot & cold” stereotype, it just felt like he was suddenly rude for absolutely no reason, and then the next day he wanted to bone you real bad. I just couldn’t get into it, and I was personally offended that he apparently shouted in an extremely hostile at the MC when all she did was say “What about my feelings, do they not matter?” when she was concerned about him (why on earth MC was concerned about a guy that built a bomb in an apartment she’s held hostage in that she just met 3 days ago, I will never know). To top it off, I was pissed that his route was the only actual route that had any form of a relevant plot, and Cheritz made it obvious too with the fact that only his route would unlock the prologue chapter and the true ending, because, yknow, the other routes were just throwaways, no big deal right?
Unrelated to his actual character, it made me frustrated when the fandom kept trying to justify why I should like him, as if it was a big problem that I didn’t get the 707 appeal, even though I stated I wasn’t a fan.
Runners-up: Poyopoyo/Shiki (Period Cube ~Torikago no Amadeus~), Shin (Amnesia: Memories), 1st~5th Liars (Liar! – Uncover the Truth)
Kuze Tsugumi (Nil Admirari no Tenbin)
Tsugumi is your typical naive, sheltered, “i must never look a man directly in the eye until i wed, they are dirty beings” ojousama, who doesn’t particularly have a mind of her own, and is influenced very easily by her surroundings (or rather, man of choice). The moment one of the guys confesses to her and they ~fall in love~, suddenly she’s like “haha let’s have sexy times!!!” like her previous values about remaining chaste and pure just don’t exist anymore. I don’t even think she actually got any character development whatsoever, and I was mad that her best friend was a significantly better character, and I wished that she was the protagonist instead.
Runners-up: Period Cube, Amnesia: Memories, PsychicEmotion6
Worst Overall Artwork
Okay I wanted to forgive the game for being a mobage, it was just so inconsistent I just couldn’t…forgive it? Some of the CGs were absolutely gorgeous, and then some looked like an intern did it in MS Paint. Which is probably true, seeing as apparently Cheritz was severely understaffed and unprepared for Mystic Messenger’s release. It was just a shame, because apart from there being jarring differences in the quality of art, it came down to completely different colouring styles and art styles entirely, and there wasn’t even an attempt at uniformity.
Also eyeless heroine was super major turnoff, especially when the default icon, which we all assume the drawn MC is based off, had eyes. IT’S! NOT! THAT! DIFFICULT! And I don’t know how removing eyes makes her any more identifiable!? It’s just creepy. When will mobage give their protags eyes!!?!?!?!
Runners-up: PsychicEmotion6 (JUSTICE FOR TSUKASA, also CG placement was super weird in general), Period Cube (those kiss CGs were a whole new level of bad)
HAHAHAHAHhahahaha why is no one surprised. I could tolerate the strangely timed chats that would happen at 3am. I could tolerate the weirdly timed phone calls that I didn’t always expect when I was playing the game in between work. I was more than fine that call cards were things you had to pay for.
What I couldn’t tolerate was the fact that they decided to monetise max speed/skip functions and charge you every goddamned time you loaded a save file. While this wasn’t always implemented, I took so long to play the game that I ran right into it, and it was really frustrating because I’m not a person with a lot of time, so the fact that it would a) cost me to load an old save file, but also b) cost me to buy the chats I missed, was just really…not rewarding, especially as someone who has given them real money for call cards. The fact that there was no visible way to track your heart status also made it extremely hard to plan saves. Speaking of saves, the fact you had to buy more was so depressing, but I mean, I can forgive that one I guess. Also what is up with eating hourglasses for failed calls!!!!! That’s just! Rude!!!! (And the reason why I ended up buying Zen and Jumin’s call cards. The fact that I didn’t know if that 5HG was gonna be worth it or not was just too stressful).
It was an innovative system but at the end of the day, just extremely frustrating for me in a way that didn’t make me want to give them more money because I thought they deserved it, but out of necessity because of my lifestyle. I never did finish the game because of the new load save tax, because at that point I just decided it wasn’t worth it.
Runners-up: Collar×Malice (why is the symbol when auto/skip was on IN THE WAY, the skip was so fuckin slow, 95972935 ends but no end list), Kenka Banchou Otome (stupid fighting game, which you can pretend you win anyway even if you suck at it, so why does it even exist???)
Well there you have it! I could have done a lot more categories but I was getting tired, and considering this is my first official post, I’m sure there really isn’t anyone out there that even wants to read all of this crap.
If you enjoyed what you read, feel free to subscribe/follow, and I’ll be back very soon!