By now I’m sure everyone interested in otome games would have an idea of what Hakuouki is, but for those less familiar, here’s a quick run down of what it is. Hakuouki is about a girl who goes to Kyoto looking for her missing father and is drawn into the historical political intrigue between the Shinsengumi and the Bakufu mixed with a dose of fantasy. Urakata Hakuouki is a spin-off game that follows the same vein as the original, unsurprisingly.
Urakata Hakuouki is about Kirishima Kozue who lives in Kyoto with her only living blood relative, her brother Kirishima Sousuke. Together they run a dojo teaching children swordsmanship. One day they’re both attacked by a group of Shinsengumi members with white hair and red eyes. Desperately trying to seek help, Kozue runs into Katsura Kogorou (CV: KENN), one of her brother’s friends, and they go back to her where they were attacked. Leaving only a sea of blood and his sword behind, Kozue’s brother nor his attackers are no where to be found. Takechi Zuisan, her brother’s mentor, offers to help Kozue in her search for her brother and along with Katsura and his associates, samurai Takasugi Shinsaku (CV: Sugita Tomokazu), Western merchant Glover (CV: Sakurai Takahiro) and samurai Okada Izou (CV: Suzumura Kenichi). In the search, she is drawn into the anti-Bakufu activities of the Tosa and Choushuu loyalists in the attempts to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Quick summary of routes over the jump. I’m not super familiar with Japanese history but I’ll try my best to explain what I did get from the game (and from gleaming wiki lmfao).
Spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers
Okada Izou route
Okada is Takechi’s strongest weapon, who he gets to perform all the dirty work like assassinations etc. He’s trained Okada up to the point where he has no understanding of what he is doing when he kills someone and can only act on Takechi’s orders, with no will of his own. At first Takechi orders Okada to take care of Kozue in case she’s attacked again, but the more he interacts with her the more he learns about the world and the more he starts questioning why Takechi doesn’t allow him to have any will of his own. Kozue learns more practical sword fighting skills from Okada, in the case that she has to avenge her brother, since she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive.
With Kozue’s only clue to her brother being the Shinsengumi, she confronts Hijikata while they are raiding her house on the suspicion of sheltering rebels. Hijikata has absolutely no clue what her accusations are but after hearing that they were attacked by these “white haired red eyed monsters” he realises that it was the rasetsu’s doing and tells her about them. He tells her that they are monsters which thirst for blood and can only be killed by striking the heart or the head. He warns her that if her brother has become a rasetsu then it is the Shinsengumi’s job to eradicate him. This sends Kozue into a panic but Okada reassures her that it’ll be fine if they find Sousuke first. After that the Shinsengumi raid a meeting the rebels were having at Ikedaya (Ikedaya incident) and Takechi goes missing.
After a fruitless search for Takechi, Okada and Kozue are lead to a mountain full of rasetsu of people from all different factions. They finally find Takechi on the mountain, along with Sousuke, who has become a rasetsu. With no means of saving Sousuke, Kozue is forced to kill him and Takechi says that this was all for Japan’s future. He then tries to offer Okada ochimizu and asks him to join him as his most powerful rasetsu.
Okada denies Takechi and throws the ochimizu away. Kozue and Okada fight and defeat Takechi after he also turns into a rasetsu. In the end Takechi reveals that he never taught Okada free will was because he was scared that Okada would one day turn on him like he has now and dies. Kozue and Okada run away from Kyoto because they both realise all sides will be after his sword skills and they end up opening a new dojo at the beginning of the Meiji era.
Okada accepts the ochimizu and the role of the “last rasetsu” and kills Takechi. He also intended to die but Kozue stops him, asking him to share his fate with her and she also becomes a rasetsu. They spend the rest of time drinking eachother’s blood while being vaguely aware that rasetsu were increasing in numbers all over Japan.
Okada accepts the ochimizu and kills Takechi. Kozue dies from injuries she gets from the fight and Okada becomes a full blown mindless rasetsu.
Katsura Kogoro route
Katsura takes on the role of teaching Kozue how to fight while searching for her brother while trying to steer her away from trying to avenge her brother in the case that he is dead. The Ikedaya incident happens and this inflames the relationship between the Choshuu/Joui and the Bakufu loyalists. The Choshuu want to abduct the current emperor to regain political supremacy but Katsura disagrees that this is the right move. He tries to stop them but fails and someone in the shadows tells Katsura that he is no longer needed. The skirmish ends with half of Kyoto being set on fire and is known as the Kinmon incident. Katsura becomes busy with trying to contain the damage that the battle caused on their end and since the anti-Bakufu factions are being under close scrutiny, he isn’t able to move around freely. Katsura reveals that he wants to take Kozue with him in hiding but he can’t put her in that danger and asks her to wait for his return.
When he finally returns to Kozue, they are attacked by none other than rasetsu oniitan and giving chase, they find Kiyokawa Hachirou, who was meant to have been assassinated. He was the mysterious mastermind behind all the rasetsu and also the one who turned Sousuke. Kozue is forced to kill her oniitan and then turns on Kiyokawa.
Kiyokawa turns into a rasetsu and is defeated by Kozue and Katsura. After this, Katsura asks Kozue to stay by his side and at the dawn of the Meiji era, swords are phased out and Katsura becomes a politician.
Katsura returns to Choshuu temporarily while Kozue reopens her dojo. Afterward he comes back to offer his prayers for Sousuke. ( ‘ω’)??????????
Both Katsura and Kozue lose the fight against Kiyokawa and Graber. Shoots. Kozue. For some. Reason.
Takasugi Shinsaku route
Takasugi is one of Katsura’s childhood friends and shows disdain at how Japan is currently operating with certain clans being able to do as they please over the common folk. He tells Kozue that he plans on “destroying it all” but she has no idea what he’s talking about. He is also discontent with how the Choshu and the Joi are operating by cutting down everyone who opposes their ideology. He tries to persuade Kozue to join the Kiheitai, his own special militia, to broaden her horizons and to recognise her talent.
At the same time, Glover is trying to sell Takasugi his elixir (the Western name for ochimizu), telling Takasugi that it’ll give him an army of immortal soldiers. Takasugi isn’t interested in such a weird thing and Shiranui Kyou (also Takasugi’s friend) warns him that such a thing is not for humans and that the Bakufu also has something similar in circulation.
Kozue and Takasugi overhear that there are tsujigiri (people testing their new sword/cutting down random passersby) with white hair and red eyes nearby. Being the only lead to Sousuke, they both go to investigate and Takasugi starts piecing together the relationship between elixir/ochimizu and the rasetsu. Confused at why they keep coming back Harada Sannosuke comes and saves them, telling them to strike the heart or the head of the rasetsu. Kozue questions Harada about her brother but he genuinely has no idea about him, making Kozue wonder whether it was really the Shinsengumi’s doing.
The Ikedaya incident happens shortly after and Takasugi refuses to send backup forces since he knows they will lose the battle, leading to discontentment among his followers. A survivor returns and tells them that there were “monsters with white hair and red eyes” and a foreigner. Suspicious that this was all Glover’s doing, Kozue and Takasugi go to question him. Glover does everything short of admitting he was the one behind the rasetsu and tries to force Takasugi to accept the elixir/ochimizu by putting them in danger, but escapes once he is defeated.
After the Kinmon incident sets half of Kyoto on fire, Takasugi feels an immense amount of guilt since many of his comrades died. Kozue tries to buy Takasugi time to mourne from the patrolling Shinsengumi, but they are cut down by her brother turned rasetsu, accompanied by Glover. He claims that he allowed her brother to live by giving him elixir the day he was attacked and was attempting to show off the rasetsu’s power to Takasugi to tempt him. Kozue is once again forced to kill her brother and Glover finds it unfortunate since Sousuke was one of his strongest rasetsu.
Takasugi has just about had enough of Glover’s shit and tries to cut him down but instead coughs up blood. Turns out he has tuberculosis as well and Glover leaves, having no more use for Takasugi who has been weakened so much. Takasugi breaks down in Kozue’s arms saying he still has too much to do, to die to illness. Kozue assures him that he’s still alive and can still achieve his goals and that she’ll help him and they confess their love for eachother. The first thing on Takasugi’s bucket list: to wring Glover’s ass.
They confront Glover yet again, and he offers Kozue elixir to save Takasugi but also turn him into a monster.
Takasugi rejects it and they defeat Glover, killing him. Thheeennnnn Takasugi turns his sights to fighting the Western forces (English and Americans) trying to subjugate Japan………??????????
Takasugi accepts the elixir, saying it takes a monster to defeat one, and kill Glover. He starts thirsting for blood and Kozue offers up her own, which allows Takasugi to keep his human mentality….somehow. They move back to Takasugi’s hometown and Kozue joins the Kiheitai.
Takasugi turns down the elixir and they both kill Glover but are heavily injured. Some of Takasugi’s subordinates unhappy with his guidance cut them both down and talk about changing their allegiance. Umm….ok.
Glover is a merchant who specialises in weapons and is known as the “dealer of death” amongst his customer base who was brought to Japan by Takasugi. He tries to stir up the vengeance in Kozue by constantly persuading her that her brother is dead. He still offers to help her find her brother though, and one time he gets stabbed by a tsujigiri, which makes Kozue’s PTSD from her brother’s attack to cause her to faint. Waking up at Glover’s mansion with him unharmed, she’s convinced it was a dream, but she smells blood in the air which unsettles her.
Glover informs Kozue that she might see something interesting at Ikedaya and the Ikedaya incident occurs shortly after. She ends up seeing her brother as a rasetsu there but refuses to believe he’s become a monster and Kiyokawa appears, telling him to cut down Kozue. Her brother starts screaming and tells Kozue to run away from Kyoto. Glover saves her by shooting Sousuke, sending Kozue into confusion, since he shot someone that looks like her brother but at the same time saved her life and decides to part ways with Glover. However, he’s the one who comes back to her and guilts her into letting him in her house. There he explains that in the Western Middle Ages, there were people trying to make an elixir of life to make oneself immortal and that there was a fake now circulating Japan. He reveals that he is an oni also and reassures Kozue that since her brother didn’t turn to ash, he’s still alive and asks her if she wants to meet him, to which she answers yes.
They search for her brother and upon finding him, he asks Kozue why she didn’t leave Kyoto and asks her to kill him. She puts him out of his misery and Kiyokawa appears, saying that Sousuke was useless pissing Kozue off. She tries to attack him but he knocks her out and on his way out he, burns down Kyoto.
Glover says that Kiyokawa is probably in Nagasaki and they both head there. Kozue asks Glover to lend her a hand in avenging her brother and he agrees. Kozue questions why he’s so nice to her and he says that he wanted to see her burn with fury at first, but the more time she defied his expectations the more he was drawn to her and that now he loves her. Kozue confesses that she loves him too even if he isn’t human.
When they arrive in Nagasaki, they are greeted by Kiyokawa and more rasetsu. Kiyokawa asks Glover where the “real” elixir is and they fight. He licks up Glover’s blood on his sword and realise that his blood is the real elixir and defeats them both, causing near fatal injuries to Kozue. Glover offers to save her.
Kozue rejects the offer and fights Kiyokawa again, with Glover being her meat shield. After killing him, she falls comatose. When she wakes up, Glover is relieved. She says that all her wishes have been fulfilled so it was time for her to fulfil his wishes.
Kozue accepts and he drinks her blood and defeat Kiyokawa. Glover tells her that she’s not complete until she drinks his blood as well and then she becomes an oni too (?). They end up living together forever in some isolated place.
Kozue accepts and he drinks her blood and defeat Kiyokawa. Glover warns that at this rate she’ll just turn into a rasetsu, thirsting for blood. Since her goal is complete now, she takes Glover’s gun and shoots herself. Glover laments that this is why he doesn’t like humans, since they’re so selfish.
Non-route specific spoiler talk
At first I was kind of turned off by the fact that the masterminds behind Sousuke’s rasetsu-fication was someone different in each case but the biggest wtf moment for me was Glover’s ending vs Takasugi’s. In Takasugi’s route, Takasugi says that it was in bad taste that Glover made siblings fight each other but in the same way, Glover says the same thing to Kiyokawa. This just makes it seem like Glover is an giant hypocritical asshole lmfao.
The flow of the game is also kind of terrible because of the timing of the events. In Katsura’s route, he goes into hiding during one of the chapters but during the free mission part he’s still wondering around Kyoto and then in the next chapter Kozue is just like “I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN A LONG TIME”. The same thing happens in Glover’s route too. And since these missions are timed to occur specifically in that chapter, it just seems poorly planned.
Anyway that’s it for my spoiler talk.
Everything about this game felt like Otomate’s take on Neoromance games which is a huge joke since they actually have collaborations with Ruby Party/Koei which turned their games into straight visual novels. There are visual novel parts for the main ‘meat’ of the story but then there’s also weird free parts where Kozue can wonder around and fulfil missions/strengthen her bond with certain chars. This in itself is not a problem if it weren’t for the way it was used; most of the missions basically add nothing to the story nor expand the understanding of each character or the world. Unlike Neoromance games, which force you to achieve certain goals which are important to the story, you can basically skip every mission and just proceed through the route, which begs the question why the fuck was it even there?
It even follows the same formula as the Neoromance Harukanaru games with Kozue being partially voiced. Kozue is actually partially voiced by Hayami Saori during the battle parts only. That’s fine and all…but she has this…scream, when Kozue gets hit that, really grates on your nerves. Especially when you have to hear it for the 500th time in a row. In the end I had to turn her voice off. The rest of the cast is star-studded so that’s a good thing, I guess.
Another thing was how much time they actually spent giving the original Hakouki cast screen time. Their appearance literally serves no purpose other than to have them appear. Like half the clashes with the Shinsengumi don’t even require the original casts appearance and only aggravated me more because it was so so very pointless. Like I expected a certain amount of fan service, but it was super unnecessary to dedicate several CGs to their appearance. Honestly with how half-assed the characters felt, it was almost like they spent more time thinking about how they could have the Shinsengumi/Oni appear instead.
One of the main draws I had to this game was that I thought I could experience the world of Hakuouki without being thrown through Hakuouki for the 10th time. Like a proper spin-off. But then this game was basically just another remake of Hakuouki, down to the missing persons plot.
None of the characters really, attracted me. Like after each character’s route, I just felt meh. Okada Izou’s route was going for the air-headed slow self discovery route, which was kind of cute in the most typical way possible, but even after that I don’t feel like I want to see more of him at all. Everyone else felt sort of like cardboard. The game just felt like a whole bunch of mob characters including the actual cast of the original Hakuouki as mob characters. The heroine Kozue was kind of plain, though I expected more because she was meant to be able to fight, being a sword instructor and all. She bordered on tolerable to slightly annoying because of how the story plays out, sometimes requiring her to be obnoxious and putting herself in harms way to progress the plot, but ultimately this was drowned out by how annoying the game is overall.
Another thing was how short the game was when you boiled it down to the main points. I expected the game to be short because it only had 4 capturable characters but not like this. I felt this way about Neoromance games to some extent but I never thought that Otomate would end up making something that felt even shorter and more pointless. Despite that, to actually get to the end of the game it takes more time than other games because of the adventure parts which makes it a pain in the ass to get the bad end.
Otomate spent a long time trying to make the game look fancy with battle animations. Not sure if they spent all the budget there instead of on the actual story. I get that the game is dated but ultimately it looked, very, weird.
The game also has its own version of trophies and stuff which you unlock a voiced line by achieving certain things in game like defeating enemies or reaching a certain level etc. which are cool in theory but by the end when I saw things like “Defeat 1000 enemies” and “reach level 99” it just made me wanna throw the game into the bin. Who is gonna grind that much? Wtf.
Anyway this game is seriously for hardcore Hakuouki fans (which I am not) explaining why it was super unenjoyable as a game on its own. That just means its a bad game if it can’t even be enjoyed on its own.
- …if you like…Hakuouki….maybe?
- The seiyuu cast is good
- like literally everything
- game play
- sometimes even the art looks weird but then again the original was also by Yone which this isn’t
Okay now for final thoughts:
Dumb game for dumb bitch like me.
Plot ranking of routes (best plot to lolwtf?):
- Takasugi, Okada, Katsura, Glover
However if I ranked chars alone…:
- Okada Izou
- Katsura Kogorou
- Takasugi Shinsaku
So in this case I’d recommend people play in the order:
Honestly don’t recommend unless you really really really like Hakuouki.
- Okada Izou
- Katsura Kogorou
I don’t understand how the fuck this game got a Famicon Gold rating nor how it got a FD but I guess that’s the power of Hakuouki fans perhaps.
I’m gonna try Beast Darling next because I just bought it for switch and also to test out how games play on switch. (・∀・)ウォウ