Otome media vs. media for females // explained with a focus on games

Recently I’ve seen an fair amount of people confusing the terms 女性向け (josei muke, lit. aimed at women) and 乙女向け (otome muke, lit. aimed at maidens), so I’m here to provide an explanation that no one asked for!

What is 女性向け? Aimed at women?

Josei muke, for the purpose of simplicity is just anything “aimed at women”. It is the umbrella term that covers all things relevant to womens’ interests including but not limited to things like otome games, BL/yaoi games/manga, shoujo manga. Of course guys can enjoy these things too but because a vast majority of the target is female, it’s referred to as “for women”.

Here’s a diagram:

graphics design is ym pasison

What is 乙女向け? Aimed at maidens?

Otome muke, aimed at maidens, is basically any media where you can put yourself in the shoes of a female lead and “capture” guys (ie. make them fall for you or vice versa). I’m not going to go into the history of the term because I have no idea, I just know what it refers to.

Needless to say, this category features predominantly heterosexual relationships, because in strict otome media the lead is always a female character (who is “you” or “someone you control” depending on your own perspective). In some rare cases, the heroine’s partner may be a woman, which it becomes a lesbian relationship, but a majority of the prospective captureable chars will be male.  Which also means, no, BL games are not otome games since the player is a male character.

In otome games, there will always be explicit romance between the player-controlled heroine and one of the captureable chars. It may just be a one liner “I love you” or it may be intense making out, but it is always made clear. This is what sets itself apart from other female targeted media, such as Ensemble Stars and A3!, which both have female player characters and a huge cast of attractive male characters, because there is no explicit romance between the characters.

What about 夢向け? I want to dream too!

There is also a sub-genre of female-targeted media called 夢向け (yume muke, lit. aimed at dreamers). This group can probably be associated with otome muke or considered separate because there are similarities and differences. For yume muke media, it’s usually an original character who is presumed to be yourself. So basically every “hot anime guy #1293892 x reader” fanfic is considered yume muke. People who enjoy this kind of media are usually referred to as yumejoshi (lit. dreaming girls) though this is also used to refer to otome media fans too….so yeah. The difference here is that the female character is usually not canonically in the series. However there are exceptions where the canon lead is not necessarily fleshed out, for example Touken Ranbu fan works which feature an original female saniwa are considered yume muke; saniwa exist in their world but no clarification is ever made as to how they act/look etc.

The +Kareshi series is probably one of the more prolific yume muke manga.

Summary of otome and yume targeted media

  Otome media Yume media
Female x Male
Main (player char) is female
Has romance
Mainly fan/derivative works

Mixing otome elements and BL elements

So the previous section was about strictly-otome media, but we all know there are things that exist in between. Media (in this case the only thing that comes to mind are games), have come to mixing the two genres up to dip into the wallets of both audiences and maximise profit. This is a majority of the mobile games aimed at women right now.

Otome elements: the male cast hitting on the female player character.

BL elements: the male cast hitting on another male cast member.

But both strictly do not have anything past hinting at a relationship at most.

Games that fall under this category are (not all inclusive):

  • Ensemble stars
  • A3!
  • Idolish7
  • Dear Magi (RIP)
  • UtaPri Shining Live

Utapri Shining Live is a black sheep, with the UtaPri console series staring out as strict otome games, but then switched to pandering to the BL audience as well and removing the romantic elements which were there previously with the mobile Shining Live.

None of these games are considered otome games nor BL games, but they still fall under the “for women” title, which is what most people seem to get confused about.

Of course some games fall on different ends of the scale depending on how much of each element they decide to put into the game, with Ensemble Stars pandering more to BL fans while A3! panders more to otome game fans.

Games with an all male cast but not to the point of BL also fall under this category, without the otome elements and with the BL elements scaled up.

These games include (but aren’t limited to):

  • DREAM!ing
  • Band Yarouze (RIP)
  • Cocktail Prince (RIP)

And then there’s a third category which is aimed at girls, but with no specific pandering to either yumejoshi or fujoshi (BL fans) which casts an even wider net. Games that girls would find attractive due to the male cast but doesn’t give much in the way of hinting at relationships deeper than friendship.

These games include:

  • Touken Ranbu
  • Bungou to Alchemist
  • Senjyuushi

Basically games with minimal official content and leaves everything to the imagination of their fans, including making up your own player char or just ignoring them completely.

TLDR;

 

General female targeted media Otome media BL media
Are targeted to female audiences
Female player char/lead Mostly
Mainly heterosexual romance
Mainly homosexual romance

There’s always gonna be some exceptions to the rule but this is really the main difference.

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Taisho x Alice All in One // Overall Thoughts

After suffering 2 months of Haruka3 I finally moved on to the last route in Taisho x Alice , and finished it in less than half a day. And now I have no will to live.

Taisho x Alice (TaiAli) was published by Primula, separated into 4  PC volumes then consolidated and ported to vita by Prototype. For those more in tune with the ins an outs of the otome game community will recall the first PC volume had a disastrous localisation by E2 gaming and hopefully that was the end of that because thsi game truly does not deserve any drama like that. But seeing as all mention of the English version has been removed from the official site, I’ll pray that Primula has cut all ties with E2.

There’s different covers depending on where you are up to in the game, so I’ll just use the one I like most (❀╹▿╹)ノ

Introduction:

TaiAli starts off with the heroine inside a dark space all alone and with no memory. In that space, she meets a sarcastic young man also with no memory except for the fact that he’s called Alis and he names her Alice. Together they then find a strange place full of mirror-like crystals, and in the reflection of those crystals, Alice sees the portraits of several other young men. Deciding those are actually doors, Alice travels through each one to see whats on the other side. Each ‘door’ then leads her into the role of “Arisu Yurika” and down a strange fantasy world full of fairy tale characters. Each story is seemingly separate until about the 3rd volume when everything starts piecing together to form the truth behind the world they exist in.

There’s no real distinction between “Alice” and “Arisu” so I’m gonna use Arisu for Yurika’s name.

Story:

Without spoiling, this is definitely a game you need to complete every volume to fully understand. And I swear those who do complete it, will not regret it. It’s written really craftily so that at first its kind of confusing and feels like a weird loose retelling of popular fairy tails (though I’d argue Princess Kaguya is an odd choice of fairy tale amongst a bunch of Western fairy tales).

Honestly the first volume (Akazukin- little red riding hood and Cinderella) doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the main story.

The story takes a few liberties on medicine and reality but overall its not something that’s noticeably wrong. It strikes a good balance between fantasy and reality. At times, there are a few lines that are appear harmless but if you read between the lines, are actually quite frightening. But this is not overdone nor done without reason, making it quite memorable.

Textually, it’s very simple and there’s not really much flowery language/weird euphemisms some games have. If I think back to it, it’s so bare bones ( ◡⁀◡ ). However that just speaks volumes about the ideas and story, since it manages to encapsulate the depth and gravity of the situation.

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Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 Ultimate// Overall Thoughts

This game took away 2 months of my life.

For those unfamiliar with Koei/Ruby Party otome games, they usually play more like an RPG with mini games/battles and a little bit more freedom as to what to do over the course of the game. Their heroines generally fight and are fairly independent, and are rarely needed to act against logic to make the story proceed.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de (Haruka) is a series of neoromance games by Koei/Ruby Party which takes the idea reminiscent of Fushigi Yuugi, where in times of trouble for Japan, the guardian dragon gods of Japan choose and summon a priestess in charge of saving the country. The priestess is assigned 8 of her own protectors, chosen by one of the dragon god’s stones, which she will have to assemble. There are two dragon gods, Hakuryuu and Kokuryuu, sort of like ying and yang gods with different powers that balance the world. Up until Haruka6, all of the priestesses (heroines) of the games were Hakuryuu’s, and they have the power to cleanse evil spirits causing trouble.

Hawuka thwee uwltimate

In Haruka3, the heroine, Kasuga Nozomi is chosen as the priestess of Hakuryuu. She’s thrown through time along with her childhood friends Arikawa Yuzuru and Arikawa Masaomi into an alternate version of the Genpei war, with the Taira clan causing a disturbance in the world’s flow by reviving dead spirits. She ends up joining Minamoto no Kurou Yoshitsune (also known as Minamoto no Yoshitsune), after being separated from Masaomi, siding with the Minamoto clan. Historically they were the winners in the war but in Nozomi’s timeline, their plans are continuously thwarted by the opposing clan’s commander Komatsunaifu (Taira no Shigemori) revived as Kaerinaifu. This leads to the Minamoto clan losing the war and upon returning to the capital, she and her remaining guardians are ambushed by Taira no Tomomori. Separated from all her guardians in a flaming mansion, Hakuryuu saves Nozomi using his power of time travel, sending her back to her original time at the cost of his own life. In despair of abandoning her friends to death, Nozomi uses Hakuryuu’s Gekirin (essentially what remains of him after death, a source of his power), to travel back to the beginning of this but this time, she is going to change fate with her own two hands. Continue reading

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Ikemen Sengoku◆Toki wo Kakeru Koi Aratanaru Deai// Overall Thoughts

When I was dying and working on my thesis, I promised myself I’d play something light and fun after I finished. And that was Ikemen Sengoku◆Toki wo Kakeru Koi Aratanaru Deai.

Ikemen Sengoku was originally a ticketed mobile otome game by Cybird, which was announced for a port to Vita at AGF in 2015. Since then it’s grown massively, spawning a…really bad anime, several stage plays and the app game got an English localisation.

I picked it up because Cybird released several collaboration PVs with Fujita Maiko, who is a singer I really like. And I was in a bad place in life probably, so I became invested in Ikemen Sengoku. The Vita game took 3 years to finally release as well so there’s also that.

Moving on, Ikemen Sengoku◆Toki wo Kakeru Koi Aratanaru Deai, loosely meaning “handsome Warring States ~love surpassing time and new meetings~”.

ngl Yamada Shiro art is beautiful

In IkeSen, the heroine Mizusaki Mai is in on a holiday in Kyoto, visiting landmarks of the Warring States period right before she starts her new job as a clothing designer. When visiting the remnants of the Honnouji temple, the area is hit by a sudden storm and both her and another passerby are sent back in time 500 years to the Warring States period. When she wakes up, she smells smoke and realises the building she is in is on fire and that a man near her was about to get attacked in his sleep, so she wakes him up and they escape the burning temple. Turns out the man she saved was Oda Nobunaga and he claims her as his woman, to everyones’ dismay and effectively adopts her. She reunites with the man who slipped through time with her, a graduate student who studies time travelling worm holes for fun, who tells her that they can return in 3 months. Through her saving Oda Nobunaga’s life, she meets other important figures of the Warring States period and builds bonds with them in the 3 months that follow.

Click here to skip the spoilers completely
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Dengeki Girl’s Style Girls Game Award 2017 // get bent

If you like mobile games and think they’re all you need then you don’t need to read this post, you have been warned

For all those who missed the voodoo ritual I was holding on twitter, today was the release of the results for the annual Dengeki Girl’s Style (DGS) Game Awards.

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Kokuchou no Psychedelica// Overall Thoughts

I originally picked up Kokuchou no Psychedelica (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly) because I had heard it was short and I knew several people who would swear by it. For various reasons I’ll delve into later, I took about 3 weeks to actually finish it.

Given this game was announced for localisation by Aksys, I’ll just write my short thoughts on it and you can skip my spoilery discussion as usual.

koookooochoo of the psychodoodlydoo

Briefly, Kokuchou no Psychedelica starts with a girl who wakes up in a strange mansion with no memories of who she is or why she’s there. She find herself attacked by strange monsters but are saved by Monshiro (CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) who promptly disappears and discovers others like herself with no memories. They are soon lead to believe that their only way out is by helping a mysterious”Master of the Mansion” complete a kaleidoscope which can grant the users’ wish. The girl takes on the name Beniyuri (CV: Nakahara Mai), and the others, Hikage (CV: Ishikawa Kaito), Karasuba (CV: Kakihara Tetsuya), Kagiha (CV: Toriumi Kousuke) and Yamato (CV: Hosoya Yoshimasa). Soon they learn that not everything is as it seems.

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ITABAGS! // The more u kno

Recently itabags have been all the rage in Japan and they’re slowly spreading overseas with many fans collecting way too much merch of their favourite anime/seiyuu/actor/etc.etc. Being an avid collector myself it was like a epiphany moment “you mean I can actually use all 12489049013 of my rubber straps?!” and thus began the spiral to hell.

I’m doin this because I realise I’ve accumulated info which may be out there but I’m not trying to push my merch on ppl and shit so have an (un)biased look at itabagging from someone who lost her wallet to this as well as other expensive hobbies.

Anyway I imagine that not everyone reading this post would be my usual otome game loving visitor so I’m putting a warning here: I’m probably gonna swear. A lot. If you’re reading this to fix up your own itabag lol you’re probably an adult anyway to be able to afford goods.

What are itabags?

Bags. With merch on them. Technically any bag with merch on it is considered an itabag. However, its becoming increasingly more associated with bags that have at least your body weight in merch on it.

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