So I’ve been reading quite a bit of Voltage and thus other bloggers’ Voltage reviews because I’m excited about some of the characters and want to read other people’s comments. One thing jumped out to me. There’s a lot of “you’re cute as a dog”, “you remind me of a dog”, or “your action reminds me of a dog” comments directed at the MC that I feel like are taken as strongly negative comments in Western culture because people feel like it’s demeaning and the LIs who say that treat women like pets.
While I agree with that in certain circumstances, I feel like it depends on context, and most of the times, when people feel upset by these comments or add this to the list of “Japan is more misogynistic than the West” (a sentiment I don’t always agree with), I think it’s important to put this in cultural context.
I’m not Japanese, and I’ve never lived in Japan. However, I do feel like I grew up with more understanding of the culture than the average American due to a strong Japanese influence in Taiwan (my grandparents grew up under Japanese occupation, and when one of the got Alzheimer’s she only spoke in Japanese) and from Japanese drama/manga/novels. I also feel like Taiwanese and Japanese culture are similar in some regards, and one of those is these dog comments.
In Taiwan, this isn’t necessarily negative and demeaning. It could be, but the connotation is way different and comments like these are meant to be compliments more often than not (obviously we have insults using dogs as well). It’s just an analogy saying “you’re cute and energetic and I like you”.
I’ve also heard of guys described as 忠犬型男友, which translates to “loyal-dog-typed boyfriend”. From what a friend told me, this actually originated in Japan. So my point is dogs are used to describe both men and women.
I feel like in Asia, when comparing animals to humans or vice versa, it’s not necessarily a bad thing depending on context. I feel like there’s way more double interpretation of animals in Asia than in the West. As in, when an animal is mentioned, it could have either positive or negative connation, but in the West it’s very set on whether it’s good or bad.
Just thought I’d put it out there, that just because an LI calls an MC “cute as a dog” or “you remind me of a dog” doesn’t mean that he’s being disrespectful.
Super long post incoming, These have been sitting in my Draft for ages, and I was never satisfied with them because they’re very long and not humorous, which I wish I had the writing abilities for, but at some point I just want to get my thoughts out there 😄
As I mentioned in my game review, Nightshade is a game where I liked all the LIs and it was really hard for me to rank them because I felt like I liked them about equally except Goemon.
I’m going to start with Hanzo. I think this is the easiest one to write since there’s already so much written about him in English.
Also if you are a die-hard Hanzo fan and do not want to read anything not overwhelmingly positive about him, his route, or Enju during his route, this is not the best write-up to read.
I went into this route super excited, saving it for second-to-last, because everyone seemed to love it and spoke so highly of it, but I was actually really disappointed with the route when I finished. Don’t get me wrong, the route is fun and I really like Hanzo and thinks he’s amazing, but I just don’t think he lives up to the expectations I had from how much the English fandom loves him. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea though – I think Hanzo would probably be (one of) the top LI(s) in another game and Hanzo is passionate and sweet and supportive.
THOUGHTS ON THE…
To be honest, I think plot isn’t one of Nightshade’s strengths, and I had a ton of “hmm…” moments not just during Hanzo’s route but other routes as well. In fact, Hanzo’s route was probably one of the better ones in the game although I still had 🤨 moments throughout.
Our favorite bodyguard Gekkamaru is the one who helps Enju escape from jail. Hanzo tracks Enju down and protects her under Tokugawa Ieyasu’s orders, getting to Gekkamaru and Enju just as they are losing a fight against one of the shinobi clan sent out against them. Gekkamaru’s been poisoned by the needles from that shinobi clan, and Hanzo promises to give him the antidote if Enju leaves with him. I already didn’t like the exchange here, where I felt like Hanzo was forcing Enju to leave her friend behind without knowing whether he would survive.
That first night they spend together does nothing to help me like him more. He binds her up so she couldn’t escape then goes to sleep while she couldn’t because she’s scared and uncomfortable, and I feel like he dismisses her questions with “you don’t have to know that” or “that’s not relevant”. Dude, she’s asking because she feels it’s relevant.
Side note: While this is going on, I was really confused by Ieyasu’s changes in how he wants to act among the different routes. There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind why he’d ask Hanzo to step in and help or be a bystander or take Enju back to the capital in different routes. But since this is about Hanzo…
I think a lot of people would disagree with this, but honestly I feel like Hanzo in the beginning is pretty condescending towards Enju. Maybe condescending is too strong, but definitely dismissive of Enju’s abilities and way of life. For example:
In the common route, when he apprehends her not knowing whether she’s part of the group trying to assassinate Ieyasu, the correct choice is for to get on his route is for her to “not resist” against him (because she’s weak? Or simply that she’s weaker than him and he likes someone who knows the limitations of their abilities? I couldn’t tell).
When Kuroyuki is the one to defend her skills and who compliments her when she successfully protects Ieyasu against the assassins when Hanzo and Kuroyuki went after the guy plotting Ieyasu’s death, when I feel like Hanzo should have thanked her first since Ieyasu is Hanzo’s master (although to be fair, I think Hanzo also said thanks later?).
How he has a complete lack of trust in people when contrasted with her trust in people, which isn’t a bad thing except I felt like he was dismissive of her way of life.
Logically, I understand that he does nothing wrong, and I do feel like even in the beginning, he is honest without being cruel most of the time. Emotionally, I like our girl Enju and didn’t like the dismissive undertone running throughout his commentary of her in the beginning.
As they spend more time together, Enju starts seriously training more because when she doubts herself and her skills, Hanzo basically tells her: yeah, you’re weak, but you have talent and just need to train more. Hanzo eventually joins in on her training sessions to help her become better, and seriously fights her during training so she knows where her skills are. I think most people love this part, and while I started softening my attitude towards him here as well, I still wasn’t 100% into him due to my initial ☹️ towards him.
Also, the CONSTANT comparison that Enju has between her dad and Hanzo was not helping me like him as an LI. Sorry not sorry, but that just grossed me out. She gradually starts noting their differences though which is really, really helpful and I’m very, very thankful for that because incest with a parent or parent-like figure is something I am 100% not into even in fiction.
This scene is also the first where I started really liking Hanzo and letting go of my initial not-great impression of him. I’m also a sucker for the “don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything wrong” line. As a woman in the corporate world, this has been pointed out to me, that women are apologetic about things that aren’t even in their control and are not their fault. I have noticed that and work really hard to not apologize unnecessarily, so I especially appreciate Hanzo in this scene telling Enju that she doesn’t need to always apologize, something that he points out previously as well.
When Enju kills one of the shinobi who was sent to kill her, the first time she killed someone, Hanzo laid out the harsh realities of their world – that if you didn’t kill your enemy, you would be the one killed – which helps Enju come to terms with what she had done. I like that he ends up taking care of her emotional state in addition to her physical training. The LIs that get to me are the ones who show that they really care, and Hanzo definitely did that in this scene.
Side note: I think that’s really sweet, but at this point I honestly think that he and Chojiro seem pretty similar (so I don’t understand the hate against Chojiro!). Chojiro also understood how Enju could be impacted by killing someone, and honestly the only difference I see is Enju’s different reactions. Anyway, back to Hanzo…
I also don’t understand how, if Hanzo’s one of the best ninja, why the other groups would even be able to catch up to them considering 1) he should be stealthy, and 2) if they are running away full-speed, they have an advantage because the people chasing them have to take time tracking them. But this isn’t a question I have just during Hanzo’s route, and also it moves the plot forward, so I moved on 😅
At some point during the journey/escape from Kyo, there’s a downpour that soaks both of them and they hide in a cave. So Hanzo starts a fire in the cave but they’re both still cold, and he ends up suggesting that they take off the majority of their clothing 😳 and warm each other with their bodies 😳 (not sexually). There’s a cozy CG with this scene where Enju is basically nestled in Hanzo’s embrace. It really is a very sweet scene and I definitely liked him way better at this point.
Hanzo and Enju end up defeating all the shinobi teams sent after them by four of the Five Elders, except the Five Elders then sent Koga shinobi after them. Unlike Gekkamaru and Chojiro’s routes though, I felt like the younger Koga shinobi are actively against going after Enju, which again raises the question of why they act so differently among the routes. Ueno Kando also goes along with the Koga shinobi to KILL HIS DAUGHTER like the giant piece of s**t that he is.
Hanzo usually prizes efficiency and end result, but in this case, knowing how Enju felt about her Koga childhood friends, he makes an effort to not kill any of the Koga shinobi, which results in him getting injured, because he has to take them out enough so they won’t kill/injure him or Enju but not hurt them so much they would die. People talk about the cave scene a TON, but this here is where I started falling for Hanzo. How he willingly causes himself a ton of headache and inconveniences, even to the point of injury, to protect something important to Enju is just
Because Hanzo gets injured from trying to not kill anyone from Koga, he ends up being defeated by Kando. Kando does the typical could-have-finished-someone-off-but-chooses-to-say-a-bunch-of-stuff trope, giving Enju time to stand up against her father before he kills Hanzo. I really like how Hanzo encourages Enju in this scene when he sees her expression shift from shock and inability to move to resolve to stop her father’s plans.
A lot of people/reviews point to this as part of Enju’s growth and they applaud her for getting rid of this toxic relationship with her dad, and while I was very happy for her as well, this scene actually made me pull a
I feel like Enju is acting very out-of-character here, because in all the other routes, her attachment and love for Koga and her family are what holds her back from showing her technical skills as a shinobi, and I just don’t buy it that a couple weeks on the road with Hanzo is enough to erase her entire life and emotional attachments up until then.
Also, she seemed to feel no guilt or really give any thought to her father after she kills him until the very end, which again makes me raise my eyebrows because it doesn’t mesh with her tendency to be deeply attached to the people from her past, even if they have wronged her or are going to kill her.
With that said, because Kando dies, the Koga shinobi are free to not kill Enju, and everyone backs off and ends up alive! As this route draws to an end, I was prepared to see cute fluffy scenes and a fluffy CG or two. The game writers, however, had a different idea.
The second-in-command for the Tokugawa shinobi, some guy named Kazaori 😒, informs Hanzo that Ieyasu wants Hanzo to kill Enju. I totally thought that this guy is just lying about Ieyasu’s orders in order to take control of the Tokugawa shinobi, because it seems to be against what Ieyasu usually did in other routes.
Enju, who’s looking for Hanzo, overhears the conversation and is prepared to be killed by Hanzo when they are on the way the next night. Instead, Hanzo attacks the Tokugawa shinobi and tells Enju to escape, which I was SUPER surprised about and this is where I 100% fell for Hanzo 😍😍😍
I just…love kuuderes lol, and while I could see him softening his attitude towards her before this, this is the scene where I feel like his action is completely against his belief as a shinobi, but he’s willing to change because of her. She is his exception.
Good Ending: Enju and Hanzo take down Kazaori and the other ninjas after them, and Enju stops Hanzo from committing suicide because he fails his mission and disobeys Ieyasu’s orders. They run into Ieyasu as they’re going to the nukenin village, who pretends to berate Hanzo for not killing Enju, but then expresses happiness at how Hanzo’s grown emotionally and ends up only taking a bloodied sash of Enju’s.
I think Ieyasu definitely already predicted that Hanzo wouldn’t kill Enju to be honest, and I couldn’t really tell but I think Kazaori twisted Ieyasu’s words to mean that Enju must die? Because if Ieyasu really wants to kill Enju but then later left with a bloody sash of hers saying that’s enough proof she’s “dead”, then…I have no words on how I feel about this.
Anyway, Hanzo ends up leaving with Ieyasu, but not before GIVING ENJU A DEEP KISS IN FRONT OF IEYASU!!!!
Enju ends up living in the nukenin village, and Hanzo comes home to her after retiring.
Bad Ending: Double-suicide after running away from Kazaori et al.
Honestly, I did not truly like this route until maybe Chapter 8 or 9? In the fight against the Koga shinobi. The constant comparison that Enju made between her dad and Hanzo really, really bothered me
I don’t understand how people can be grossed out by Enju and Chojiro being cousins but not be grossed out by Enju’s really constant comparison of Hanzo with her dad in the beginning/middle of the route. Not sure if that’s the reason why I didn’t completely take to him until later. I mean, I was not swayed even by the cave scene, especially because Gekkamaru’s route already did that and I did Gekkamaru’s route before Hanzo’s.
So that’s something that I’m finding out as I’m typing this – I could see how great a LI is and be able to pinpoint all the things that they do that I like, but still not be emotionally attached to them if I did not already like them in the beginning. If I don’t like them in the beginning, they have some pretty big hurdles to go over before I give my heart (yes I’m dramatic) to them.
For Hanzo, what got me to let my guard down with him was the fight against Koga, and what got me over the hurdle completely was the Kazaori ambush scene where he not only didn’t kill Enju, but he protected her (translating to real-life, I also see how problematic this would be in real life, if the standard for falling in love with a guy is: he didn’t try to kill me 😅). And then again when he tried to commit suicide for not completing his mission.
I also felt like I did right in leaving this route second-to-last because I’m not sure how frustrated I would have been reading other routes after finding out in Hanzo’s route the extent Enju’s dad played in her whole predicament. I think it would have frustrated me to read other routes and have them all be in the dark or not mention/confront how big of an a$$hole Enju’s dad is.
I don’t think I see a lot of people saying negative things about Nightshade’s plot, but I honestly thought the route is a mess and full of giant logic gaps. What makes the route and Nightshade in general really special are the details and motifs, character interactions, and the characters themselves.
First, HIS VOICE!!!! Tsuda Kenjiro’s voice is so dreamy!! Honestly, even if I didn’t like Hanzo as much as I did, this voice would have won me over 😍 by the end!
I have a thing for men who live for duty and responsibility, then end up choosing emotions like love or kindness when it conflicts with their mission but still being responsible enough to take actions for their “failure” in duty. In this case, it’s the attempted suicide that really showcases this, but seeing Hanzo’s attitude softening as the route went on to him choosing emotions over duty is really wonderful.
I love logical guys. I love kuuderes. Hanzo is both, so I feel like I was predisposed to like him. I think part of the reason why he’s one of the best shinobi is because he’s so sharp and perceptive, being able to quickly assess the situation (like when he and Kuroyuki went to check out the assassins) and determine that best course of action for him to complete his duty, as well as quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents or allies.
His perceptiveness doesn’t just apply to his job though. In the battle against Kando, Hanzo notices Enju believing in herself just by her demeanor and facial expression, and sees her resolve in facing off against her father, and he says, “That’s the spirit.” even when she didn’t express her resolve verbally. 😍 Hearts erupted all over the place for me in this scene:
In fact, I love all the times he comments on this attitude of hers.
There’s also a scene of his that I really love where he and Enju were talking about flowers, and his first thought was to make them into food 😂 That’s my kind of guy! I feel like I don’t remember this much affection for food and this need to make sure Enju eats from other LIs, and as someone who also understands the importance of eating in not only keeping up my physical health but also my mental health, I 100% appreciate his attention to food.
I really like him after he falls for her and gets super passionate. I laughed but also love that Hanzo is secretly aggressive (in a respectful way) and physical once the walls break down.
I also think Hanzo is especially great in Gekkamaru’s route, and honestly I liked him way better at first in Gekkamaru’s route than his own route. I felt like he acts out of character in Gekkamaru’s route, first by stopping Enju from committing suicide and then by almost intervening in a fight to help Enju until a Tokugawa shinobi reminds him it’ll go against Ieyasu’s orders. But how he acts in Gekkamaru’s route is very similar to how he acts once he falls for Enju in his own route with his concern for Enju’s well-being. His argument in convincing Enju in not committing suicide in Gekkamaru’s route is also because she should not out of duty to Gekkamaru due to their emotional bond, which I found similar to his reason in his own route to not commit suicide when he failed in his order to kill Enju.
Interaction with MC
Obviously in the beginning Hanzo and Enju’s interactions are not too great with the “like father” comments. He also had the tendency to just call her “Girl” instead of by her name and that REALLY turned me off. As the story went on though, I fully appreciated their relationship and the development of their relationship.
I love his “That’s the spirit” encouragements to Enju throughout the story as she improves her skills or as he see her determined to do something. I’m sure there are more than the ones I screenshot below, but these are the only ones I remembered to screenshot.
I also love that as they trained together and got to know each other, they became really in sync in fighting which somehow led to being perceptive of each other’s emotions.
It’s a special connection that’s not possible without trust from both sides. It’s not surprising that Enju trusts Hanzo from the beginning, but I love how Hanzo goes from “Trust? That’s ridiculous” and “I’ll handle the fight”, to barking out orders at Enju, to “hey get what I mean?…Then let’s do it!” Their level of being in-sync increases every time they fight with each other, to the point where it’s not just physically being in-sync but also being emotionally in-sync.
Both of them are not only aware of the other’s positioning and targets when fighting, they are able to pick up cues on how the fight impacts the other and is able to be emotionally supportive to each other. Examples of this are:
when Enju questions Hanzo on his beliefs about how a shinobi lives or dies, depending on how you look at it
when Hanzo asks Enju whether it’s the first time she’s killed
when Hanzo picks up on Enju’s resolve to kill her father instead of being frozen to the spot
With that said, I still feel like Hanzo takes the lead at least in fights, and Enju still follows. While this makes sense due to their differences in age and experience, I feel like the relationship still sometimes did not feel like a true partnership at times (especially when I compare this with Gekkamaru’s relationship with Enju). At the same time, emotionally, I think Enju is significantly more in-touch with her feelings and is more mature than Hanzo, so another point of view is that they complement each other.
I like their interactions after they fall for each other. For me, one of the sweetest parts of their interaction was the “welcome home” greetings. I’ve always loved this cultural tradition in Japan welcoming your family members home, and it was so sweet the way this fit into the story. From when Enju accidentally welcomes Hanzo back to the campfire and both of them were a little flustered, to the lovely ending where Hanzo retires and Enju welcomes him back to the home she’s worked hard to build, the ways Enju says (or sometimes just thinks) of greeting Hanzo and welcoming him back mirrors the development of their relationship. It’s so subtle but so sweet to read, and Nightshade really does things like this well.
Note on my numbers rating: I start out every LI with a 5, which is a LI I still enjoy playing. Then I add/subtract points based on how much I like the LI.See Rankings Scale Page here.
8/10 – Probably only a 6 in the beginning of the route, simply because he’s so iconic, BUT he won me over in the end. I did have a ton of fun playing this route and would recommend it to anyone. It’s a little strange that I don’t like him more because I tend to love passionate kuuderes, so I’m not sure if it’s the route or something else that’s making me pause. To be honest, I think part of it might be that everyone puts him on a pedestal and I was disappointed that his route wasn’t as epic as I thought? Also it hurts me that my other Nightshade boys aren’t as loved so I feel a slight grudge towards Hanzo in the beginning, and I wonder if that’s why I didn’t rank him higher. Hanzo’s route is really great if you want a believable, solid slow-burn where both characters grow both as people and as a couple.
When I first started thinking about blogging (or writing an public diary on my otome game thoughts), I wanted to write gushy posts about the MCs I like as well (or reason out why I don’t like a certain MC), since I feel like MCs can be just as controversial as a LI, and I have seen so many (what I strongly believe are) undeserved MC bashings that I really want to stand up for my fictional women!
I started drafting this post months ago when I first finished the game, so this will be mostly words and no pictures (mostly because I don’t want to go back to replay the game and grab screenshots since I haven’t replayed Lost in Secular Love after accidentally deleting all my saved data 😅😭).
As I mentioned in my review of the game, Qiye is extremely likeable and is both someone I can relate to. If this was real life, she is someone I’d be friends with and admire.
Lost in Secular Love is about religion and philosophy, so there’s plenty of philosophical discussions including about the Moyu religion itself, the purpose of life and what the way of life “should” be, and what I feel like are discussions/monologues on morality, for example Qiye’s intentions for marrying into the temple not for love but for her family to be able to eat.
I really like Qiye’s introspectiveness and her learning ability on the religion, even if she sometimes tries to work around learning the religion by using her own interpretations. An example of this would be when she isn’t really able to answer the questions that the chief parishioner ShangGuan is asking her as part of her examination because she doesn’t know the answer for it from the traditional or deeper understanding of the Moyu religion, so Qiye wings it and her answer does fit the philosophy of the Moyu religion, even if it isn’t the “textbook” answer. To me, this means that she has thought enough and studied enough about the Moyu religion that even if she doesn’t know the answer, she understands the fundamentals to provide a good answer. And she’s able to do this in three months! That takes both hard work AND brains.
Qiye is hilarious – I especially love her reactions to food as someone from a poor family, and her haggling habit when buying stuff as shown in HuiHai’s route 😂 I feel like the game is able to depict a really real problem in a rather humorous way without making it seem insensitive, and her obsessiveness with food is SO relateable as someone who also loves food! I also love the expressiveness of her sprites (I think MC sprites should be in every game after playing this game!), which are on-point and fun and funny.
I don’t feel like family is depicted in the otome games that I’ve played a lot, and I really respect and identify with Qiye’s dedication to her family. As an “old maid” at the ripe old age of (I think) 18, she cross-dresses to find work to provide for her family and prioritizes her family’s well-being instead of…the rest of her life (as defined during that time period). This is especially touching since it’s not proper for a lady of her standing to work and to not marry or marry “late”.
I also LOVE, love, love that she’s not shy about sex! I don’t need or want every MC to be forward or open about sex, but I feel like a sexually open MC is pretty rare, so I especially appreciate that part of Qiye. She also initiates physical touch (😂 I’ve been talking The Five Love Languages with my boyfriend too often and can’t think of a better way to put this) with 2/3 LIs, and probably doesn’t for the third since, you know, she is slated to marry his brother at the time.
Qiye is very self-aware, both with regards to her situation and emotionally. She knew exactly what her motivations and goals are (to provide for her family), and she’s willing to do the thing that she sees as most likely to achieve those goals even if she feels guilty for heading to the temple and learning the Moyu religion for “unpure” reasons. She knows exactly what the situation requires of her, and adjusts her conduct and way of life to fit the situation. Emotionally, I feel like she’s aware of how she feels about each of the LIs in each route, and – even better – is honest with the LIs. I think in HuiHai’s route she even tells him that she’s aware she’s probably not being honest with herself about how she feels about him, but she’s not willing to go down that route because she is his brother’s fiancée. I really admire her conscientiousness with regards to her feelings and her situation. This trait of hers is portrayed really well in the bad endings for the brothers – especially well, really – because she knows what kind of hell she is living in and yet unlike the good endings, she does nothing about it or actively does things to make her living hell situation worse. I feel like this makes for amazing and memorable bad endings because Qiye knows that she’s living in a hell that she created herself.
I’m also always a sucker for hard workers and can’t help but root for them, and Qiye works so hard towards her goals and does whatever it takes to reach them, even if it means basically selling herself in a marriage to make sure her family will have access to the resources and food of the temple. And even though she is obviously not devout and has an ulterior motive, she still works hard to learn the Moyu religion so that she can pass ShangGuan’s test.
Qiye is just so real. In Chinese, the term that comes to mind is that 她不矯情; she’s not pretentious/fake/hypocritical in acting like she doesn’t want something but actually doing all she can to get it. I just can’t help but want to root for her!
Favorite/Least Favorite Routes
These are my favorite and least favorite routes based on the MC’s personality, actions, and growth alone, and not based on the LI. Obviously MC-LI interaction plays into it for me, but for the most part I’m trying to focus on the MC and the route where I feel she shines the most.
I feel like she’s pretty consistent across all the routes, so there’s not really a route that I feel like she stands out the most. Another reason why I love this game!
Some highlights that makes me love her (and oftentimes laugh):
when she sees the animals (cats, birds flying on the grounds, etc.) as food. Especially hilarious when she and ZhiKong are out and they come across a cat trying to catch a bird and failing. The conversation went: Zhikong: You feeling sorry for the bird? Qiye: Poor cat, I can’t believe it’s missing out on a meal.
in HuiHai’s route, when she goes to the market to buy things with HuiHai. Her original mission is to stop him from wasting money. Instead, she and HuiHai have a blast buying lots of useless things by haggling for lower prices.
in ZiQing’s route, she’s the one who told ZiQing of her feelings first.
Least Favorite Route(s)
Zhikong’s 100%. I say she’s consistent across the routes and I feel like she is in her personality and how she treats people across the routes, but in Zhikong’s she puts him on a pedestal and because of that is much less confident in herself. I’d say starting about 1/2 way into Zhikong’s route, I started talking to my computer regularly because I kept telling her to not doubt herself!
Note on my numbers rating: I start out every game with a 5, which is a MC I enjoyed playing as but is not very memorable. Then I add/subtract points based on how much I like the MC.See my Ratings Scale Page here for my full numbers ranking explanations.
10/10 – I played this game early in my otome life, and I can count on one hand the number of PC/console games I’ve finished playing, but I know Qiye’s going to stay one of my favorites for a long time due to her intellectual curiosity, her drive, and her humor.
I did not make a lot of progress otome-wise in June, but have been back to the grinding (-ish, still not playing every day other than Samurai Love Ballad: Party) this month!
I FINALLY finished Orlok’s route in Piofiore, which took me basically a break and a good month to go through. I keep reading that Orlok’s seiyuu Toyonaga Toshiyuki is amazing but other than a couple scenes, I wasn’t feeling it. Not sure if I was super distracted by the plot, by Orlok, or what. This is on my replay list just so I can listen to Toyonaga Toshiyuki again. Will be finished with Yang’s best ending today and probably the rest of the endings this weekend, then to my boy Gil!!! 😍
I am deeply involved in Shinobu’s route in Yoshiwara Higanbana right now, and I’m loving it! He is so sweet and lovely, and the voice acting in this is just…
But seriously, the voice acting in Yoshiwara Higanbana is insanely impressive, and Japanese VA is usually already top-notch. Shinobu is my first route and I’m playing blind…so wish me luck! I’m sure I’m going to get DESTROYED by this game.
Mobile – Still spending a ton of time (and money) in Love 365. I got all of My Last First Kiss Ayato’s stories during the first part of the summer sale because he’s really awesome for an alpha male, surprisingly sweet and supportive and fun. His routes have been mediocre to awful, and I got mad at the MC in S2 because she treated him horribly, but the man himself is lovely and so, so adorable. Between the free stories and the summer sales, I’m having a hard time staying off Love 365. I’m also getting Rose in the Embers Kyosuke’s final 2 main stories in the summer sale part 2 once my monthly pass comes in. He is not a typical Voltage LI, and I really like his personality although I can’t quite put my hand on why. His story is free right now (with ads) so I highly recommend reading it!! I’m also considering getting Masquerade Kiss Yuzuru’s S3 Collector’s Edition (vs. waiting to see if they will do a campaign for Romance MD S1 sometime in the future. Do they even do that, or is it a if you don’t get it when it releases, you’re out of luck?).
I do have draft write-ups on the Nightshade LIs but haven’t been ready to post them yet…like 4 months later 😅 but I’ll post them when I’m ready.
Hope everyone is staying safe and cool (both physically and in the usual sense)!
After playing Ayakashi: Romance Reborn on my phone for 6-ish months, I have a couple things that I wish I had known when I started playing that weren’t in any of the guides that I could find online. Because I really like the stories (and the art!) in this game and want to share my thoughts to hopefully make it more efficient for free-to-play players, I wanted make a helpful guide. I feel like part of why there’s not a lot of guides is maybe because the app is pretty good about teaching, so I’ll try to be brief about anything that I didn’t have problems with.
I’ve highlighted and summarized the parts that I think are helpful in boxes like this. Sorry for this heinous coloring…I can’t seem to find a way to put a border around the textbox without using CSS or plug-ins, which I don’t have access to.
How this game works is basically to earn points to rank up. Every time you rank up, you get one story key, which unlocks one chapter in the main story. You earn points by going on patrols and duels. In order to do that, you need character cards. As you rank up, you need more points to get to the next level. At my level (Rank 135), I’m earning about 2-3 story keys per week, and I log on maybe 2-3 times a week at this point unless there are events.
1. Milk Hall (Cafe)
The Milk Hall is where you invite your characters to hang out. It takes 5 hours to do one round, and after that round you earn a prize. As you invite LIs to the Milk Hall more, you rank up and the prizes get increasingly nicer. You get things from items you need to to level the cards up on the Spirit Board to diamond shards and points to Romance Sonnet keys.
This is also where all the cute chibi characters hang out, and you can click on them to see what they’re thinking even if they don’t have the exclamation point above them.
2. Revival Event List
This is where there is a list of all prior events which you can play on your own time to get cards/stories from prior events. I haven’t done this yet so I don’t know much about it, but it seems like it’s only available for 96 hours (4 days) which is not very long, but there are items that you can use to help you earn points faster.
3. Character Info
You can either set a character so they always show up where Gaku is on the home screen, or you can have the characters rotate, which is what I do. This is where you can access character information including voice clips (yay!! 😍), CG album, card album, and there’s even a closet showing how much of their outfits you collected haha.
I look at the Profile section of LIs I like to see what month they were born so I can save up enough diamonds for their Birthday draws!
This is the gold here 😊
The Main Story are where the routes are. There is a Prologue, then three chapters: Dawn, Twilight, and Night. Currently, all the chapters are out although some Night LIs might not be out yet. In each chapter, there is a Book I – Bonds, which kind of the second common route after the Prologue, and Book II – Lovers, which are the individual routes.
The rest of the tabs here are side stories. Romance Sonnets can be opened by keys from the Milk Hall, Cards & Patrols unlock when you level up the Story Board for I think SR and SSR cards to the “Story” section, and Event stories are prizes from hitting certain points in events. I have no idea where Others stories come from but I’m not complaining.
Whenever you finish a chapter, you get 3 diamonds, even if you just click into the story and click “Skip”.
Helpful: When you’re reading the stories themselves, there are two little arrows on the top right-hand corner (circled above) that you can click on to get the skip and log/history buttons.
This is where you get your character cards. Make sure you save your diamonds so you can have enough for Event/Birthday draws to get enough bells to redeem in the Shop!! I cannot stress this point enough and I wish I had done this more in the beginning instead of using them in the Diamond section. Maybe most people know this…and I just didn’t play enough mobile games, but planning in advance after I realized this has been going great for me!
Helpful: Doing event/birthday draws gives you free cards through redeeming bells in the Shop.
This is where you can make your cards stronger. There are 4 ways to do it: Level Up, Spirit Board, Awaken, and Evolve.
Level Up: increases the card’s level and uses points. You also level up by patrolling. I just use them on SR cards in the beginning and occasionally on SSR cards now, so I have a ton of these points, but they are also needed to Evolve.
Spirit Board: increases the card’s stats, and you unlock each tile using gems from patrols as well as items from the Milk Hall, all of which can also be found in the Shop. For SR and SSR cards, you can level up enough to unlock side stories! I have enjoyed these side stories and some of them are really very sweet.
Awaken: uses duplicate cards, as in, if you have two of the same card, you destroy one to awaken the other. You can awaken four times, and as when you awaken, the face of the card changes pictures (you can pick which one you like better). For any duplicates that I have after I awaken 4 times already, I discard them, which gives diamond shards.
Evolve: increases the card’s rarity, which increases its stats and max level, and uses items dropped from Evolve patrols. You can only evolve after Awakening a card 4 times. I have not Evolved yet but apparently if you evolve the card enough times, you can get an N card to become an SSR card.
Main: uses LP for patrols and SP for duels. Other than the Sunday Daily patrol, the Main patrols provide the most points in order to rank up in getting Story Keys.
Helpful tips (applies to all Missions, not just Main): – Completing all three Mission Info (circled in green below) gives you 6 diamonds. Completing all the pinwheel-looking things (circled in green below; in the picture there is only one, but sometimes there are three) gives 3 diamonds. I tried to complete all my missions to get all 9 diamonds as quickly as I can, for Main, Daily, and Event patrols. Evolve is slow-going.
– If you forget what the Mission Info is that you need to complete, click on the tool button circled in green below. It will tell you the Mission Info. Something that I wish they did was allow us to see how much small, medium, or large gems we have collected in the total gem-count that is circled in red below, but it seems like I can only keep track of that myself as I go through the patrols.
Helpful: You can see the Missions you need to complete while you’re patrolling by clicking the tool button.
– Each patrol gives you 18% on the Fever % if you do not select the LI face with the Partner box (see below), from 2% increase per selection. Selecting the Partner LI gives you 5% increase per selection, thus increasing your total Fever % by 3%. So for example, if you select Partner 3 times during the patrol, then your Fever % would increase 18%+3%x3=27% (another way of calculating: 2%x6 + 5%x3 = 27). This information is helpful if you want to know whether you should do a patrol right before it reaches Fever stage. Unfortunately, Partner LIs show up pretty randomly. I’ve had it sometimes only show up once, and sometimes show up like 6 times. – Each Fever goes for 6 turns and doubles any gem you’d normally get. Your pinwheel % (above the Fever % bar) also increase 10% instead of the normal 5%.
Helpful: Plan out your patrol if you need to get as close to 100% as possible on the Fever % bar.
Evolve: uses the heart gem things (they’re called Vitality) for patrols and the green ghost (called Spirits) for duels. The Missions in Evolve patrol are SO hard to complete, so I try to get my Fever bar as close to 100% as possible so I can use all 6 turns of Fever in my Evolve patrols.
Daily: uses LP for patrols and SP for duels. If you have one takeaway from this game, it’s this: do the Sunday Daily patrols as much as you can, and especially with any Rice Omelets/Castellas that you have!!! These give you a TON of extra experience points in order to Rank Up, and is how I get at least one Story Key a week. This is important so I’m going to say it again:
!!!Do the Sunday Daily patrols!!!
Helpful: Do the Sunday Daily Patrol to get extra points in ranking up!
Events: uses LP for patrols and SP for duels. I would encourage people to do this because you just get so much extra stuff that helps you rank up to get Story Keys, diamonds, cards, and event stories. It’s hard to get all the story chapters as a f2p player (I’ve only done it once), but it is possible if you really want to and have the time. I haven’t been as involved in Events anymore because they’re time-consuming, but I’ve been playing them just because.
A couple helpful tips for Events: – Make sure you do the Duels, which provide a ton of event points (I haven’t actually calculated how much more Duels are worth, but I have done patrols before thinking I’d never get enough event points to get the prize I want, but I was able to get there with just one Duel lol). – You get Duels by participating in the Patrols, so I just accept every Duel that comes my way until I run out of SP and Ice Cream. – For patrols, make sure you use the Limited Time Rice Omelets/Castellas; for Duels, use the Limited Time Ice Cream/Milk.
Helpful: Do the events to get free items, cards, and side stories!
I really only log on now to make sure I can complete the Weekly missions since each Beginner Weekly mission gives one Story Key, and logging on 2 days/week is enough to complete that. I also just do the Daily missions whenever I log on since it’s not that much extra time.
Helpful: Do the beginner Weekly mission to earn a Story Key each week.
9. Item Box
This is where you get all your items that you’ve collected through reading stories, patrols, missions, log-in bonuses, etc. Make sure you collect these frequently because I think it can’t go over a certain threshold.
Any news on in-app events or updates (including software updates) are here.
This has a lot of information, of which I’m just going to go into a couple:
Exclusive Items and Purchase Diamonds require spending money, so I’ve never used them. Use Diamonds and Use Shards allow you to get a variety of items. Because I only use my diamonds for card draws, I really only use the Use Shards to get cards (which change I think every week or every month) or Story Keys. Some people don’t think cards are worth it because they cost so much, but if I see something I like, I still get it anyway.
One of the most important places is the Item Exchange, which I didn’t know about when I started.
These are usually limited-time items that you can get with bells, medals, etc. that you earn. To be honest, I have no idea how to earn some of the medals to get the items with, but I do know how to get bells! You get bells from Birthday and Event card draws, a bell for every 10 draws for the same card draw (ex. you won’t get a bell by doing 5 draws at Kuya’s Birthday Draw and 5 at Ginnojo’s Birthday Draw), and you can use those bells to buy cards in Item Exchange. I’ve been using them to buy SSR cards, which cost 3 bells for the first and 5 for the second. These are basically free cards so make sure you claim them! The bells seem to carryover to the next month or event so you can save up for the ones you want.
Helpful: Redeem free cards with bells in the Item Exchange.
Badges: These are unlockable by completing the objective associated with each badge. They are displayable on your profile and gives rewards like diamonds, so make sure you claim them as you earn the badges.
Data Transfer: Set this up to make sure you can access your account in case anything happens. This is really the first thing I do when I start playing a new game.
Helpful: Set up data transfer to make sure your game is saved even if an accident happens.
Not much to say here. Hope this guide helps you enjoy the game more! 😊
Working on my Nightshade LI and Enju thoughts (still…😭😅), but I wanted to spend some time talking about my love for Romance MD, an otoge in Voltage Inc.’s Love 365 app. I finished 4/5 of the routes (another route isn’t out yet, bringing the total LI to 6) that are out on Love 365 for Romance MD. I did not use hearts (yet) and am writing my initial review of this game as a free player.
Do I recommend this game?
100% YES, BUT maybe not if you’re playing free, especially for Hosho’s route.
Warning: below is the obligatory rant on Love Choice. If you want to skip it, I note where the rant ends.
I’ve read enough reviews on Love Choice (LC) that I know I’m not the only one with complaints about this system. As everyone notes, LC stories are Voltage’s cash cow. I haven’t calculated it super carefully, but so far the routes in Romance MD are anywhere from 150-200+ hearts if you pick all the LC choices, which equates to $15-$20+ for each route, which doesn’t include the epilogue and doesn’t include POV. That means that you’d be spending $90-$120 just on the Main Stories alone for Romance MD for all the LIs. And that’s only for Season 1. That’s a lot of money for a completely unvoiced otoge.
More importantly, LC stories are no longer really otome games but just novels because there isn’t really a choice anymore – you need LC for the story to really make sense. This isn’t like other mobile games where if you don’t pay, you just get a less steamy version of the story. There were scenes where I had to fill in the blanks because it’s locked behind a Love Choice. This happens less with Masquerade Kiss, another LC story, but with Romance MD, I couldn’t understand a lot of the plot without reading spoilers online. In fact, 2/4 of the routes I’ve read, I still don’t think I really fully understood even after reading online spoilers. In addition, even when I choose the non-LC choice , the story would inevitably route it back to the LC choice. For example, if I pick the non-LC choice of “go home” vs. the LC choice of “go to his place,” the internal monologue would go, “Well I want to go home…but I’m worried about him so I’ll go check on him.” So most of the time, you’d still be routed back to where the LC choice would have taken you but you don’t have the backstory to go with it.
As a free player for Love Choice, there were flashbacks that I don’t remember reading or plot points that don’t make sense because the game refers to content previously locked by hearts. And while I loved the stories themselves from what I can piece together, this is not an otome game anymore because there are no longer choices and you can’t really play as a free player. You need to pick the LC choice in order for the story to even make sense, aka there is no choice, and even if you pick the other “choice”, you’re still re-routed to the LC choice more often than not.
On principle alone, because I feel like the LC system is so dishonest to their customers, I will not be buying hearts at full-price. I am considering switching my monthly pass to hearts once I get the max bonus from continuous subscription to Love 365’s monthly pass, but that’s really far in the future.
The quality of these stories far exceeded my expectations of mobile games, and even more than that, the emotions they elicit last with you for a while. I’m an avid reader, but I rarely cried when reading books and have never cried reading otome, but Kasumi’s story had me bawling at multiple parts when I didn’t even get the more emotional LC scenes. Some of the routes are definitely much better than others (Kasumi’s), but so far I love the MC and all the LIs.
This game is recommended for people with hearts to play through the Love Choice, who don’t mind that your choices won’t impact the story, or who can fill in the blanks to try and understand the full story. The romance part is also relatively slow for someone who just wants fluff, but I’d still recommend it to people who want romance-heavy stories because these will make your heart feel things
You’re a resident drawn to Seimei University Hospital due to your academic crush on Dr. Yamashina, an orthopedic surgeon. Instead, you get hired on by Dean Matsunaga to become part of the Elite ICU (EICU) due to excellent recommendations and work from your intern years. The LI you choose becomes your preceptor (except maybe Matsunaga?) as you navigate your way around Seimei and settle down in the EICU.
Main Character (MC)
This MC is probably my favorite MC right now including the PC/Switch games I’ve played. She is very intellectually curious and goes after her goals. She’s smart and picks up knowledge really quickly.
She’s not quite sassy, but she doesn’t usually back down from talking back (or she wouldn’t if I had hearts to pick the LC choices). I feel like she’s not sarcastic/sassy so much as she just says whatever is on her mind. I usually don’t like MCs that people say “talk back” because I feel like the MC-LI interaction can get combative which I really don’t like, but I rarely felt that way when the MC challenges the LIs in this game (only time I remember is the first half of Takado’s route).
Her nicknames of Kasumi are hilarious, as are her inner monologue. She’s very optimistic, but not unrealistic or dumb, which fortunately are a combination of traits we are seeing more and more in otoge. I like that she can feel down or even give up sometimes, but she always rallies back to action from her negative emotions.
I like that she has faults as well, but she works hard to improve them. The biggest reason why I’ve seen other reviewers state that they don’t like her is because she’s not emotionally self-aware. The other reviewers mentioned that she doesn’t seem believable because of how out of touch she is with her emotions, especially because her realizing that she’s in love with the LI always comes as a shock. However, I have known people like that in real-life (I was one of them, actually…), so that wasn’t a big deal to me. In addition, it makes sense to me that someone who’s focused on academic knowledge wouldn’t be as emotionally clued-in. Because of this though, she does say extremely hurtful things to some of the LIs which made me want to grab her shoulders and shake her, but she always realizes the cruelty of her words and attempts to make amends and works hard to not make the same mistake again. In this way, I feel like her faults actually make me like her more.
She also has a couple sprites randomly through the stories which I wasn’t expecting but I liked-ish, after I got over laughing.
Love Interests (LI)
Takado Munechika – the gruff tsundere orthopedic surgeon
Takado’s route is my least favorite of the bunch for a variety of reasons, but I still like the boy! I think he’s supposed to be the poster boy but Kasumi is kind of taking over because Kasumi got too popular? Anyway, Takado reminds me of old-school instructors – he whacks MC with folder files when she zones out and yells at her to do things. He does things his own way and is my least favorite kind of medical staff – one who doesn’t explain things to his patients. There were literally times I was reading when he would tell people to sign forms and he wouldn’t communicate to ease his patients’ concerns. Because of this, he gets misunderstood but he doesn’t care, which I’m thankful about. A lot of the misunderstanding or drama in his route are from lack of communication, so I’m glad they didn’t make him unlikable by caring about the drama he caused. I also REALLY don’t like the backstory behind his mental trauma (one thing about this game, all the boys have mental trauma that comes up in the story). Spoiler below in white font on the backstory:
Takado needed to amputate an athlete’s leg or legs to save her life. She ended up committing suicide due to pressure from her coach (I think? I read this a while back), but Takado somehow thinks it’s his fault, so he punishes himself by not communicating with people anymore because he thinks he deserves people calling him names. The athlete’s suicide was in no way, shape, or form his fault. The whole reasoning is so forced. But I’m not in the medical field and maybe some medical staff do this.
A lot of reviews I read also don’t like MC-LI interaction here and think MC was really annoying, but I like the MC and her sense of justice in this route. However, I don’t completely buy into the romance for this. So, to sum up: like the MC, like Takado, do not like the route or MC-LI interaction that much.
Hosho Tetsuya – the flirty neurosurgeon
I don’t even know how to describe Hosho haha. I think this is super rare, but I think Hosho is possibly my second favorite after Kasumi. His route is not one that made any sense at all if you don’t pick Love Choice though, and the non-LC ending SUCKED. The last chapter was literally about 20 frames and when it ended, I was like, “…What just happened here.” 😟😒
And ok, so I’m also not that big a fan of him sleeping around because I don’t like it when my fictional (or real) men doing that, but he reins himself in developing feelings for MC so I feel way better about him. He treats MC really well as an instructor and spends after hours helping her study. Yes, he says some kind of lecherous stuff, but because MC mostly takes them as jokes, I never felt uncomfortable about that, versus most other flirts in otome make me go:
I really like Hosho and MC’s interactions, and the process of them getting in touch with their feelings is really sweet. You know, after the angst. I’m really not usually a fan of flirts, but there’s something so playful about Hosho and his interactions with MC that I really love.
Kyogoku Sentaro – the angel-faced devil of a pediatric surgeon
First thoughts: wow he’s obsessed with Kasumi.
I was trying to figure out what category Sen fits in best, and I can’t really pinpoint it. He’s not quite two-faced since he really only treats MC that way (vs. having a mask in public and taking it off in private/letting it slip around people he’s close to), not quite a tsundere because he doesn’t really have that hot/cold push and pull that’s a tsundere signature move, not quite a flirt despite teasing the MC plenty. He seems like a real person (but honestly, so did everyone else in this story so maybe that’s not saying much? But I feel like he’s a lot more complex). The route is written EXTREMELY well and I felt like I was living in the story seeing life unfold. I love him, I love his route, I love MC in his route, and I love the MC-LI interactions.
He is the youngest of the bunch in the EICU and you can tell in his interactions with MC. It just feels the most like a relationship between equals despite Sen being MC’s preceptor. The MC-Sen dynamic isn’t completely like that because the MC and LI personalities are so different, but this route would be the equivalent of the Chizuru-Heisuke route in Hakuoki for me. It’s just so natural and they’re so, so good together.
Matsunaga Eiichi – the cheery dean
Haven’t read his route, just a special story for Matsunaga, but in the special story, he is like a rock to MC and provides so much emotional support. He is significantly older than MC so I’m not sure whether I would cringe a little while reading the actual Main Story or whether it would be like the special story, where he guides her gently in her path in becoming a great surgeon and I don’t feel like there is a huge age gap between them. One thing that makes me happy is that in a comment on Reddit, he’s overtly bisexual and the review was raving about him being a great representation for LGBTQ in otome. I’m pretty interested in seeing how that plays out in the route.
Kasumi Toshiki – the perfect man kuudere cardiovascular surgeon
I love him. Can you tell? He is one of my favorite LIs in the 7-ish months I’ve played otoge, and that’s including classics like Hakuoki and Nightshade and Western fan favorite Cinderella Phenomenon. This man…😍😍😍
He’s just so, so deep and complex. And so smart. And so pretty. And just tugs at your heartstring. He works so hard, and is single-minded in achieving his goals, so he has high expectations for people as well. However, he is the biggest softy in the world, with the biggest heart in the world. He is someone who would give a piece of his heart to someone who shows him even an inkling of kindness. He’s also so incredibly lonely and mysterious that you can’t help but want to get close to him to see what’s behind that ice-prince exterior and be a source of support and sunshine for him. And once you get to know him, you find out that he has the most incredible ability to truly and completely love.
But his love is also really heavy, because his love for the people close to him, the people he wants to protect, means that he doesn’t mind doing things that would hurt him if it meant it would protect the people he loves. So the main route also shows how MC supports him and helps him come to terms with letting people around you help you. I’m really excited about later seasons as well.
Ekuni Kaede – the sleepy but sharp anesthesiologist
He doesn’t have a route yet but is featured in some special stories! From other people’s routes, he usually really aloof and likes to sleep, but is perceptive and usually says one-liners that are hilarious. He also has a habit of holding up signs that are kind of punchlines to jokes in other people’s routes, so I’m expecting a ton of humor in his route!
Art and Music
Art is pretty normal for Voltage in recent years. I’ve read some funny reviews on MC and her haircut 😂
I love the music! It makes me feel things (especially the tune that pops up whenever there’s an emergency surgery), and I feel like the music is very fitting for whatever mood they’re trying to set. Voltage definitely upped their mobile music game!
Final Rating and Thoughts
Because I feel like I was missing a good chunk of the stories due to LC, I can’t rate Romance MD.
With that said, I really like the stories – even my least favorite story out of the bunch is an above-average read. The MC and LIs all have their own motivations and secrets and weaknesses, and the stories have a human touch that make them unique (Kasumi’s is unforgettable). The writing and translation seem pretty on point – there wasn’t a single time when I felt like there’s anything that didn’t flow in the stories except due to not picking a Love Choice. I will say that despite its faults of no longer being an otome game since there are no choices left, if Voltage ever ports this title to Switch the way it’s been doing for some other titles, I would 100% throw my money at that so quickly. Happy weekend everyone!
May was a month of laughter for me in the otoge world! Mostly.
I did do something dumb by uninstalling Steam and then reinstalling, which is what one website told me to do in order to see if I can fix the problem of not being able to take a screenshot in Steam games through Steam Overlay’s F12 screenshot function. This means I lost ALL my game data except 2 games (counting Hakuoki Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms as one game) which were thankfully saved to Steam Cloud. Oops 😅 😭
Other than that, May’s otoge has been amazing to me!
In terms of mobile, I’ve been spending a ton of time (and 💸💸 😭 ) on Love 365! I am buying coins through the custom monthly access pass so far, and I’m not sure whether I’m going to try keeping that up or just cave in to getting hearts (after 19 months when the full monthly bonuses kick in, because I’m salty about Love Choice). Spent all my saved coins on the recent sale haha.
Again, the quality of these mobage has been super impressive, and the following stories had me laughing out loud and are super underrated!
Era of Samurai: Code of Love Okita Soji: he is amazing and is one of my favorite new boys! He is simultaneously so hilarious and so sweet. He remains the only guy who I’ve been scared of in the beginning because he “jokes” (except not really) about killing MC and also I hate his scary sprites (although the CGs are beautiful!) but who I’ve actually ended up really loving. The juxtaposition between his duty as a sword for the Shinsengumi and his humanity is done so well in this series of stories (that’s right! I binge-bought his entire series of main stories and POV). As much as I love Hakuoki, this is my #1 Okita. And it’s not even close.
Rose in the Embers Takatsukasa Kyosuke: his MS1 is actually super sweet and not where I expected it to go, considering I thought he was going to be some sort of flirty oresama considering he was rich, his family has status, and he has a reputation for being a playboy. The fact that he chucked money into the sky and said he was going to buy the MC in the prologue didn’t help either (but unlike Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, he bought MC because he saw that she was going to be forced to become a prostitute and she did not want that). But I liked his teasing which again is really weird because I normally don’t like flirts. I think he and Okita are pretty similar in their perfect blend of being a tease vs. being gentle and warm.
SLBP Hideyoshi: WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT THIS BOY?!!! He’s amazing. I’ve played 8-9 SLBP routes and he is definitely in the top half so far, and other than Saizo every single one of those routes is ranked high on Reddit and through SLBP’s ranking earlier this year. He seems really smart and a problem-solver, and has a great sense of humor, and again just exudes warmth. I love my sunny boys and I love my smart boys and he is both. I am half expecting him to turn into a yandere though because I’m still really bad about telling when a happy sunny boy will turn yandere and when they will stay happy and sunny lol.
Scandal in the Spotlight Nagito (FREE on Love 365 until Monday 5/31 JST): tbh, after the prologue, Nagito probably ranked last along with Iori out of the original 6. But then I read his route. He is just so lovely! I love the communication and mutual support in this route, and I feel like Nagito’s MC is probably my favorite so far in the original 6 (I have not read Takashi’s). She’s perceptive and smart, and I feel like for some reason she’s the most confident in this route so I like that.
Highly recommend any of the above routes because they were so fun and funny! I was especially impressed with Okita and Takatsukasa’s routes since they were from older titles, which sometimes don’t age well either because of LI issues or plot issues. That is the case in neither of these stories.
On PC, I caved and got Yoshiwara Higanbana. I played for about an hour (this is the game I couldn’t take screenshots in 😢) but have to start over now due to my oopsie above. This is kind of on the backburner though because I’m a little tied up in real life and am trying to finish Piofiore, but I already love Sakuya.
For Piofiore, I ended up finishing Nicola‘s route in a couple days but didn’t start on Dante‘s until maybe 2 weeks ago? Finished both, and they were both pretty good. Dante’s had a couple funny scenes (spoiler below in white, because I can’t figure out how to change colors only to certain texts in a block on WordPress lol
like when she tried to escape out the window
😂 some reviews said she’s weak so I was NOT expecting that). To be honest, Gilbert’s the one that’s stolen my attention so far in both routes – been loving him more and more, and Yang is f**king cray!!! I can tell I’m going to love Yang, who was really the reason I bought the game.
Hope everyone has had as much of a laugh-filled May as I have! Been trying to write up thoughts on the Nightshade crew so that’s coming.
Yes if you do not expect 100% fluffiness. I think all the happy endings except one are on the scale of bittersweet, some being more bitter than sweet. I got it on Steam for around $25 including the Additional Scenarios bundle, but honestly would have paid full-price knowing what I know now.
The storylines are pretty simplistic, but with enough variations that I don’t feel like I was playing the same route with different LIs. Edit: With that said, the first 2/3 of the routes are pretty similar among all the routes, and sometimes it was a slog for me to get through the middle 1/3 of the route, which is pretty similar among all routes but had enough differences you can’t skip.
The MC is controversial but I really like her, and she grows significantly in every single route; it just might not be growth in physical prowess as a shinobi which is what I think people have a problem with. The LIs are what make this game amazing – I think they all have character depth and I love them all, and the voice acting in this game…
I recommend this game for people who don’t mind angst in their stories. Like I mentioned above, the “happy” endings, to me, are all bittersweet except for one route, and the bad endings are all beautiful and frequently make people cry. Even though I like plot-heavy stories and the routes here are pretty simplistic (edit: and repetitive in the first 2/3), the MC-LI dynamics in each route absolutely make up for that. For me, the selling point of this game is the voice acting, absolutely, 100%. It is so amazing in two of the routes that my heart was pounding in one and I got goosebumps in another, and the rest of the voice acting is good enough that any of them could probably be the best or one of the best acting in any other game.
Set in the Sengoku period at the end of the Toyotomi rule, you play as the daughter of Ueno Kando, the head of the shinobi village Koga, and Kagari, the sister of Momochi Tanba, who is the late leader of the shinobi village Iga which was destroyed before you were born. Although you grew up being treated like a princess, seen as the unification of the two shinobi villages, your dream is to go out on shinobi missions and you train really hard to hone your skills. One day, you get sent on a mission with everyone you grew up with and even end up being the person who completes the mission! However, things go horribly wrong as you become the centerpiece in a political battlefield for power.
Main Character (MC)
The MC is Ueno Enju (again using family name first). You can customize the name but then you’ll miss out on all the LIs calling you Enju or Enju-sama 😉 Enju is controversial because I feel like some people think she should be physically strong in all the routes and they didn’t think she was. I don’t agree with that at all. What I saw was that she isn’t able to fight to her full ability due to psychological issues like, oh I don’t know, murdering people she grew up with. Despite that, Enju’s maturity and emotional and mental strength really impress me. Without going into spoilers, she has her life turned upside and she does get down about it, but in every route, she manages to rally back to find a way to keep living. I actually really like that she’s not in perfect control, and it makes her growth as a person, especially her growth in confidence in herself, that much more pronounced in each route.
She’s also pretty! I judged myself a little for saying that but also, she is! I’ve liked silver hair ever since I played IkeSen’s Mitsuhide route, so I love her silver hair and distinct, beautiful eyes. Oh, and I love that she also has sprites! (which you can toggle off.) This is the second game I’m reviewing that has MC sprites and I feel so spoiled because I really think it adds to the games!
Love Interests (LI)
There is a good ending and a bad ending for each of the five LIs. Not all the stories are the same length either – from my notes, Chojiro and Hanzo have 12 chapters, Goemon and Kuroyuki have 13, and Gekkamaru only has 11. I’ve listed them in the order I played their routes below.
Momochi Chojiro – kuudere big brother
This one is a bit squeaky for some people since Chojiro is Enju’s cousin. For me, since marriage between cousins was common in the past and this is fiction, I don’t mind. It also matters for the plot that they’re cousins and although it’s mentioned often, I don’t feel like it was made to be a big deal, which is not a universal opinion. Chojiro is your classic works-for-work kuudere, someone who suppresses his feelings to be able to complete shinobi missions including killing people. Despite not being a man of many words, he’s a highly respected leader and is smart, able to deduce the things that happen in the background behind the orders he’s given (although he doesn’t do anything about it because his goal is to complete missions). In his route, you get to see him turn from kuu to dere, which is my favorite type of story 😍
Ishikawa Goemon – free-spirited flirt with a heart of gold
Goemon is my favorite in this game, by just a tiny smidge (simply because all the LIs were amazing! Have I said that enough?!). Normally I’m pretty “meh” on flirts, but Goemon isn’t a typical flirt. There’s something so natural and free and sincere about the way he interacts with people, the way he goes with the flow while holding on to his own principles and convictions. He’s more of a playful flirt, versus I think traditional flirts in otoge are more physical flirts which makes me uncomfortable. Goemon is street-savvy and smart – I love a man who can problem-solve! I love the way he changes Enju’s world views and opens her eyes up to another way of living. He’s someone who challenges the status quo and how things “should” be and I like that.
Gekkamaru – loyal protector
Gekkamaru is the (over)protective childhood friend, which rubs a lot of people in the West the wrong way, but I’ve noticed that the Chinese-language blogs I’ve read haven’t made a big deal out of his protectiveness. In fact, a lot think he was sweet, and his loyalty wins a ton of points from people. It’s always interesting to see a cultural difference in interpreting the LIs, and I think this one stems from general tolerance of (over)protectiveness of LIs and whether that (over)protectiveness overwhelms the LI’s other traits such as loyalty. I can see why people would think he’s overbearing, but I feel like even in the common route, he was starting to learn to let Enju do her own thing and respect her and her choices, although “starting” is definitely the key word here. Personally, I was laughing every time he said something overprotective so I actually really like him since I don’t really remember him actually using action to stop Enju from doing anything.
In his own route, I loved the development of his and Enju’s partnership, and how interacting with him brings out Enju’s playful side – I don’t remember her teasing anyone else the way she teases Gekkamaru! It’s really cute and you get to see a bashful side to Gekkamaru! If you’re turned off by him in either the common route or other LI’s routes, I still recommend you give this route a shot. Keep an open mind about him, and you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised!
Oh Hanzo, the darling of this game in the West! He is overwhelmingly the favorite LI in the West per my unofficial tally on blogs and Reddit (interestingly, Goemon is the overwhelming favorite in another unofficial tally on Chinese-language blogs I checked out, and I checked out between 8-10?). I don’t know if I went in with such high expectations that I felt like they weren’t met. Don’t get me wrong, I like Hanzo just as much as I like the rest of the LIs, and when he figures out and acts on his feelings for Enju…
He’s definitely the most passionate LI of the bunch.
Hanzo actually reminds me a ton of Chojiro in their devotion to their job as shinobi. It’s just that Chojiro is devoted to the job and way of life itself (as a way to deal with childhood trauma), and Hanzo is devoted to his lord Tokugawa Ieyasu. Both of them suppress their emotions because kuudere 😍 , but Hanzo’s nature I think is more passionate. There were a couple times later in reading Hanzo’s route where I squealed from surprise at his expression of his emotions. He inspires Enju to become a better shinobi and helps her train to become an amazing shinobi, which is the reason I see that most people love him. Again, a story where you see the kuu become the dere, and it gets hot!
Kuroyuki – mischievous yandere
Kuroyuki! I couldn’t have imagined a better way to end the game, BUT he is also controversial and I think most people either loved him or hated him. I love both his happy ending and bad ending, and they are the ones that touched me the most in this game (except Goemon’s bad ending gives Kuroyuki’s a run for his money). He’s direct in expressing his thoughts, and in the beginning/in other routes is extremely cheerful and mischievous and just super cute. As you keep reading the route, you see that he’s actually incredibly insecure. His story is heartbreaking and is one of the reasons why he is a yandere. So far, I think I’m not too big a fan of the yandere trope, but I love Kuroyuki and I wanted to keep reading his story and I want Enju to keep being with him. Doesn’t hurt that Shimono Hiro’s voice is amazing, and his voice acting is probably the best out of an already A+ seiyuu squad.
Art and Music
The art is really beautiful and both the CGs and sprites are made with care and love. Yes, dramatic, but I could tell people really put work into it. The music is good but isn’t extraordinary. It doesn’t detract from the story but it isn’t memorable either. The voice acting however…
The voice acting deserves its own paragraph(s). For a game that at full-price is around $50, this is the reason why I would pay full-price. The entire cast is amazing already (except Kasumi whose voice I turned off the moment I heard it because I can’t stand baby voice), and there are two standouts who managed to elicit physical responses (um, nothing dirty, just reacting appropriately to the scenes at hand…) by their voices due to how powerful their voice acting are.
I just loved the voice acting! Even if everything else sucked, which is not the case, I honestly would play through this again just for the voice acting. To give credit to these amazing seiyuus, see below for their names:
Chojiro: Toriumi Kohsuke <–one of my favorite seiyuus, he really puts the acting in voice acting
Goemon: Midorikawa Hikaru
Gekkamaru: Hatano Wataru <–my heart pounded and my palms got sweaty from his voice acting in one scene
Hanzo: Tsuda Kenjiro <–I first got to know him as Kazama from Hakuoki, and his voice is distinct enough that it’s familiar, but his acting is good enough that it does sound like a different person here
Kuroyuki: Shimono Hiro <–I got goosebumps from his voice acting a couple times
Special shoutout to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s seiyuu Miyata Kouki, who is super impressive despite not being in a ton of scenes. I also love the sound of his voice. I think in terms of just the voices themselves, I like Goemon, Kuroyuki, and Ieyasu’s voices the best. In terms of the power of voice acting, Kuroyuki and then Gekkamaru are the most impactful for me.
Tech The skip function is…not a skip function. It’s SO slow which got a little frustrating. I mean, it’s still faster than the Auto function but not by much, and yes, I did turn the speed all the way to fastest speed. I also sometimes had problems actually skipping things I’ve already read, but that could be because it was a minor difference among the routes that I didn’t notice. Also, I needed to start out each new LI’s route from the beginning in order to skip things I’ve already read. For example, I have a habit of saving at the first choice in the game so I can just load that scene and pick whatever choice is needed for the LI I want. However, in this case, after I finished Chojiro’s route, when I loaded the save at the first choice, it wouldn’t let me skip ANYTHING. This was fixed after I just started a new game.
Note on my numbers rating: I start out every game with a 5, which is a game I enjoyed playing but is not very memorable. Then I add/subtract points based on how much I like the game. See my 11-Point Rating Scale here.
9/10 – Not one of my all-time favorites but I really like it! It probably would have only been an 8 or even 7 if not for the voice acting, to be absolutely honest. But because I’m a sucker for the voice acting in this game, it gets a high rating! The art is also beautiful, and this is one of those rare games where all the LIs are amazing and I like all the MC-LI interactions. Note that this is rare though – from the r/otomegames subreddit, it seems that I’m the minority in liking all the LIs and MC-LI interactions. Another reason why I like this game so much is that the bad endings are top-notch and some of my favorite bad endings that I’ve played.
Edited 8/10/21: I added a couple more thoughts in the recommendation section on how I felt about the plot. As I was going through the LI write-ups, I realized that I actually had a lot of dissatisfaction with the story lines, their repetitiveness, and their lack of logic sometimes. Plot is not one of Nightshade’s strengths, but I still liked it enough (especially with the voice acting!) that I don’t feel the need to change my rating, but other people may feel differently.
I’ve been playing otoge (=otome game, for people who are new to this genre!) but haven’t had time to organize thoughts. Mostly trying to find a good balance between words and pictures is tough for me, so this is going to be an essay below.
I feel like I’m still playing a ton of mobile grinding games, not 100% because I enjoy them most, but just because they’re easy and don’t take up that much time at once. The quality for mobile otoge has definitely been going up, I feel like. Not in terms of world-building or plot, but in terms of MC-LI interaction and how lovable the LIs can get. I’ve been consistently impressed by Samurai Love Ballad: Party (SLBP). I am just finishing up Kenshin’s route, and that’s a tearjerker (for most people, I somehow only just teared up but my heart hurts 😭). I loved both Yukimura and Masamune from SLBP, for very different reasons. After finishing them both up, I’m still not sure why they see each other as rivals, but I’m ok with that.
Been playing a couple otoge in Chinese that are getting shut down at the end of the month/next month as well, and I can’t believe they’re getting shut down because they are lovely games. One of them is a translation from Japanese and the Japanese server is still going. One of them is probably my favorite mobile otoge – love the gameplays, love the main story, love the MC, and love the LIs, love the art, and the music is pretty good. Crossing my fingers it’ll be sold on PC/console and…a girl can hope! 😭
Finished up my last LI for Nightshade on PC! Kind of – I still have to finish the last bad ending. It’s now only the second game where I can honestly say I like all the LIs (first is Masquerade Kiss in Love365). I haven’t touched Hakuouki since I finished the original 6 LIs, but I think I’m going to start getting my heart torn out again. Wish me luck! I also have a backlog from all the games I’ve been buying on Steam on sale, and I started some games that I really want to finish but haven’t. Hustle Cat and Hatoful Boyfriend are at the top of the list because they’re not long and they’re FUN!!
I got a Switch this month! And since there’s a sale going on right now (lucky me!), I got Piofiore! This is a dangerous game because I’m binge-reading. And being able to work from home, I’m getting pretty distracted playing the game and not working like I should when I take “breaks,” which means my work day is getting dragged on and seems super long.
Been thinking about some issues regarding feminism and portrayal of women in these games due to seeing a Reddit post today that generalized Japanese/Asian treatment of women vs. Western treatment based solely on “weak” MC’s in otoge and why alpha males are so popular. While a lot of the comments made me happy because they respectfully called out commenters who generalized (oftentimes unfairly), I do feel like there’s still a tendency in the West to label MCs who are introverted, not confident, or not physically strong as “weak,” “passive,” or “not having a backbone”/a “doormat” when these MCs show incredible emotional and mental strength. Strength doesn’t come in one form. In fact, honestly, a lot of times it takes more strength to not talk back and be sassy, to not react emotionally without using your brain, and to assess the situation before you speak or act. I have jotted down some thoughts already in defense of these “weak” MCs when I saw comments deriding Chizuru from Hakuouki, and I’ll post sometime in the future (uhhh hopefully this year) once I organize them.
Oops – it’s been a while since I posted. 3D-life caught up, and honestly creating a blog post took a lot longer than I thought because I wasn’t in the habit of taking pictures/screenshots for blogging purposes when I play so I can really immerse myself in the game, which means that I had to go through the game a second time to get screenshots for blog posts like a newb. So you can bet I’m going to change how I go through games.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to discuss LIs – after starting blogging, having a page for every LI ever seems excessive (and also…a lot of un-fun work, which defeats the purpose of me blogging), so I’ve decided on having a page for each game, and then maybe in-depth gushing pages for LIs I especially like (or have strong opinions on).
Then there’s the problem of how I want to list the LIs on the LI page – should it be by my play order? Recommended order? Order of how much I like each LI? And then what’s the recommendation – should it be focused more on the LI, how LI and MC play off each other, the route, or a combination? Struggles!
So here’s how I’m going to rate them – by how I feel ❤️ There will be no logical methodology. I’ll try to put both objective (as much as possible) and subjective thoughts below, but sometimes it’s hard to separate the LI from the route, or I may like an LI more because they play off the MC really well, so it might all be jumbled. Without further ramblings, please see below for Lost in Secular Love LI rankings!
Note on my numbers rating: I start out every LI with a 5, which is a LI I enjoyed playing but might not be very memorable if you play a ton of otome. Then I add/subtract points based on how much I like the LI.See my Ratings Scale Page here for my full numbers ranking explanations.
My Play Order ZiQing -> ZhiKong -> HuiHai Because I play games blind the first time around to enjoy the game, I’m probably always going to not play in the recommended route. I liked my playing order, and especially because I leave bad endings until last and I loved HuiHai’s bad ending the most (which a Reddit friend agreed that it was the best bad ending), this was really great.
Thoughts on the…
This route is more philosophical than the others as Qiye debates philosophy and discusses Moyu religion with ZhiKong. I think they do challenge each other to think in different ways. In the beginning ZhiKong seems unflappable and calm, but when he loses his mask, he’s infuriating because he always thinks he’s right.
Good Ending: ZhiKong leaves to go abroad to teach Moyu religion to monks abroad. Qiye has married him before he left, and in the ending scene she is heading back to the temple after visiting her family after ZhiKong has been gone for a couple of years. She walks past a monk wearing a giant hat which covers his face, stops, then turns back as she realizes who it was. She throws her arms around ZhiKong, who states that he would have needed to punish her if she hadn’t recognize him.
Bad Ending: This one kills me because Qiye is living in a hell she created herself. Instead of not marrying ZhiKong, which both her family and Bhadanta (ZhiKong’s grandmother) would have been ok with, she decides to marry him anyway. Both she and he compares herself/her with a canary living in a cage. She becomes this empty shell of self-loathing and basically exists to satisfy ZhiKong’s sexual urges and to give birth to the heir to QingLian Temple. It’s so awful but such a great bad ending!
when Qiye is in the library and she’s about to fall. ZhiKong tries to catch her, but because she was a waiter (she was disguised as a boy, so I used waiter instead of waitress) she’s actually pretty quick on her feet and ends up doing a flip to land safely on the ground by herself 😂
the good ending when he comes back from teaching the Moyu religion abroad is actually pretty cute!
when he gets jealous that she and HuiHai have a good relationship and wants to punish her (I mean, the punishment was just for her to meditate, but still…). However, I LOVE that Qiye says no because she doesn’t feel like she did anything wrong, and she doesn’t want to meditate and ask for forgiveness when she doesn’t feel sorry.
when he gets mad at her for not asking for his permission (that’s what it felt like to me anyway) with her request to delay the wedding by a year so she could spend more time with her family.
how he barges into her room without even bothering to knock when she, again without asking him for permission, decides to visit her family before the wedding. When they have sex here, I was cringing because I felt a bit creeped out by him still (ok to be fair, she’s the one who jumped on him first, and she doesn’t seem bothered when he takes it further with her, but I was pretty uncomfortable).
when he sucks at sex.
On the surface and in the beginning, ZhiKong seems perfectly in touch with his philosophical side and is zen about things that happen, pretty much saying it’s destiny or fate if something does or doesn’t happen. However, he’s really possessive and not in an endearing way. I was also a bit freaked out when I was reading his route, especially when he was smiling like below 😅
Zheng once said ZhiKong would see something he likes and never let go (about cute animals), and he basically does that to everything he likes. He’s 100% a yandere, but not the type of yandere I like (I like Kei from Masquerade Kiss!).
Interaction with MC
Qiye and ZhiKong are not on an even footing even in the good ending. Somehow it feels like ZhiKong always has more power and he’s way more dominant than Qiye despite her fighting back both verbally and physically. It’s weird I don’t like this because I’ve loved MC-LI interactions where the LI is just as dominant as ZhiKong (MC personalities have varied in these situations that I’ve enjoyed), but I didn’t like their interactions once Qiye fell for ZhiKong (and he fell for her in the good ending). The bad ending especially showcases interaction that I didn’t like because it felt like Qiye is fighting so hard to have her voice heard but she still ends up giving up and just…existing instead of living.
4/10 – I don’t regret playing this, and I especially like the bad ending, but I’m not sure I ever got over that slightly creepy feeling I have towards this guy. I can understand why he’s the most polarizing LI.
Thoughts on the…
Ahh the classic friends-turned-lovers route! The execution of this route was really well-done, and honestly, out of the three LIs, I feel like Qiye and HuiHai play off each other probably in the best and most healthy way (in the good ending anyway).
Good Ending: ZhiKong is actually helpful, and basically tells HuiHai he’s willing to back out if HuiHai is willing to be honest with his feelings towards Qiye. Because of that, HuiHai becomes really straightforward both with both his grandma and ZhiKong about him wanting to be with Qiye, so they end up together.
Bad Ending: This is probably my favorite bad ending that I’ve played so far in all the otoge I’ve played, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I feel like the bad endings that I’ve played are usually upsetting because people die, and because I don’t normally get too sad about fictional characters dying or imagine how the survivors must feel (Hijikata’s ending in Hakuoki is an exception), I feel like bad endings are usually fuzzy in my mind as, “someone died and I was sad. Moving on.” In this ending, no one dies, but the emotional gut-punch was something I wasn’t expecting, and it’s especially poignant because I predicted the bad ending but the dialogue in the epilogue really got to me.
In this ending, ZhiKong tells HuiHai that if he can stand by while the woman he loves marries another man and carries another man’s child, then ZhiKong will have no problems marrying Qiye. HuiHai isn’t as outspoken in this ending in trying to get Qiye to change her mind, so she still decides to marry ZhiKong. There’s a scene before they get married where ZhiKong teases Qiye and drops heavy sexual innendos in front of HuiHai (He’s your BROTHER, you heartless demon-monk!), and HuiHai just stands there looking all hurt and hopeless 😭 Qiye takes out her anger and hopelessness on HuiHai, and then seduces him (ok I know how this sounds, but that’s what she does!). In the epilogue, which to me is what made this a memorable bad ending, she basically has accepted the fact that she’s heartless and continues her affair with HuiHai despite knowing how much it hurts him (and herself, poor girl). Qiye muses to HuiHai that she’s pregnant but she doesn’t know whether it’s HuiHai or ZhiKong’s baby, and HuiHai responds with: it can only be my brother’s baby.
The bad ending CG is SO AMAZING (sorry! I’ve decided I won’t be posting CGs on my blog since those tend to trip the most problems with copyrights). That CG is haunting and beautiful and really creates a lasting impression. I can picture that CG in my mind right now and feel goosebumps on my arms…If you only play one route and one ending in this game, this is it.
Moments I liked (because some of these were not cute but were SO GOOD):
There’s a scene where a young lady falls in front of HuiHai, hoping he’d catch her, but because Qiye is awesome and quick on her feet, Qiye ends up catching her 😂 After the lady left, the conversation goes along the lines of (not direct quotes – these are from my memory): HuiHai: hey this has happened several times recently, where women would fall in front of me. I wonder if it’s because the wooden floor is getting worn out and needs to be replaced. Qiye: actually…I think they just want to be embraced by you. HuiHai: oh good! Because we don’t have the budget to replace the floor…Wait what?!! Qiye (looking wise and calm): yes. 😂
where HuiHai and Qiye go shopping together! Qiye is tasked with making sure HuiHai doesn’t buy a bunch of cheap, useless stuff, but…they end up haggling with the vendors to buy a bunch of useless stuff (some of which were not cheap 😂).
not a cute moment since this turns heartrending, but the first time HuiHai confesses his feelings to Qiye when the rumor mill starts saying she’s not a good enough woman to marry the future abbot of the temple. I love that HuiHai, usually so mild-mannered and oblivious to women, feels enough passion for Qiye to embrace her and tell her he would protect her. However, Qiye pushes him away because 1. she doesn’t think she’s gotten to the point where she needs to rely on a man’s embrace, and 2. she’s ZhiKong’s fiancee, so she can only treat her feelings towards HuiHai as a misunderstanding (COME ON, QIYE!!!).
the scene in the rain when they were looking for Zheng where HuiHai tells her how he feels again, and she pushes him away because Moyu monks are only supposed to marry to make sure there will be a successor, and because HuiHai will not be the abbot, he shouldn’t have secular feelings and she doesn’t want to detract from his life path as a monk because of their feelings for each other.
in the good ending when he was more direct about his feelings for Qiye.
the bad ending!!!
There are none that I remember.
HuiHai super sweet and mild-mannered and pleasant, so when he turns passionate and more direct it’s really hot. He is sweetly oblivious to how attractive he is to the opposite sex – this could be really annoying in both MC and LI but I feel like here it was done well as comic-relief. Both the good and bad endings showcase his personality really well – in the good ending, he musters up enough courage one time to be with Qiye and convince her that going along with their feelings is what’s right; in the bad ending, his mildness lets Qiye’s more forceful actions lead them down the path to living hell.
Interaction with MC
I love their dynamic! They play so well off each other, and I already mentioned this a couple times so I sound like a broken record, but their friendship builds a great base for a romantic relationship. The problem with them is that because Qiye is living in the temple as potential fiancee for HuiHai’s brother, that they can’t really cross the boundary in the beginning (and really middle and bad end) and there are some things they can’t say, resulting in poor communication. In the good ending, I feel like that gets resolved and Qiye gets over the “I need to be with your brother and not drag you away from your path of living a monastic life” mental block.
8/10 – I really like his sweet personality, how they turned a solid friendship into a great relationship, his amazing interactions with MC, and most of all the unforgettable bad ending. I probably won’t play this route again in the near future, but that bad ending…it’s worth revisiting for sure.
Thoughts on the…
This is the childhood friend route. They apparently were really close for only a year before ZiQing’s family moved, but they had a ton of memories from that year together. The moment Qiye realized she knows who he is 😂:
Good Ending: ZiQing’s dad writes a letter to Bhadanta, who thinks of ZiQing as a third grandson, stating that ZiQing and Qiye have been engaged since childhood (ok this is ancient China-esque type place, so parents can settle marriage prospects for their kids as early as…before the kids are born. Aka there’s “if you have a boy and I have a girl, then they should marry when they grow up” type arranged marriages. So not as creepy as it sounds). ZiQing and Qiye end up being honest with Bhadanta about wanting to marry each other, and she gives them her blessing. The epilogue shows the two of them visiting QingLian Temple, which seemed like a regular occurrence (once a year or something), with their kid.
By the way, I got his good ending without a guide when I played blind hehe. So proud!
Bad Ending: ZiQing’s bad ending is the one that I feel like is the least impactful out of all the LIs. The main chapter storyline (aka the last chapter) is the same in the good and bad ending (I swear I spent about an hour trying to figure out why I was still on the good ending when my fondness level is less than 3 flowers); it’s really only the epilogue that’s different.
ZiQing’s bad ending is actually bittersweet and not bad the way the other two bad endings are. He passes away from illness a couple years after he and Qiye marry because he never fully recovers from catching the cold the night they went looking for Zheng. However, Qiye has a child with him, and the ending scene is her taking her son (I remember it being her son? But might have been daughter) to QingLian Temple to visit Bhadanta and the monks. Her son runs on ahead while she looks towards the sky by herself, then her son calls out to her to hurry up. I feel like the ending is actually hopeful because while it hurts to lose someone you love, she was still living a full life, versus the other two bad endings where she just gives up on living altogether and is merely existing.
Cute moments: OH SO MANY. Almost all their interactions – I love their banters and the way they make fun of each other!
their first interaction: Qiye sees ZiQing ordering the disciples to pull up and throw out some weeds which are edible. She is, as someone who forages for food, of course horrified. She tells him these weeds make great fillings for spring rolls, and he basically face palms and orders the disciples to continue pulling weeds. Qiye assumes he’ll throw them out like he initially planned, but in the next scene, Zheng finds her and asks her how to cook the weeds so they will be delicious, as ZiQing has had the weeds sent to the kitchen.
their second interaction: ZiQing grabs Qiye to help clean out the warehouse and dump out garbage. She sees them not as garbage but as a treasure trove and tells him she wants to keep this stuff. He makes fun of her but still finds a sack for her to put all the stuff in so it’ll be easier for her to carry.
when Qiye finds ZiQing talking to his dad’s servant in the garden, and she eavesdrops because she was curious. ZiQing’s being sassy so she accidentally laughs, and the result is ZiQing making the face in the screenshots below while Qiye has the option to “Meow like a cat” to try and get herself out of this one 😂
when ZiQing questions Qiye’s motivation and sincerity in trying to marry ZhiKong and accidentally makes her cry. He hands her his handkerchief to wipe her tears, but when she attempts to give it back to him after she washes it, he refuses to accept because he doesn’t want something that’s wiped someone else’s tears and snot. She ends up throwing the handkerchief on his face.
when she goes to check in on ZiQing when he gets sick. So many moments here! When she sees all the random kids’ stuff in his room and has to suppress her laughter so she won’t get kicked out, when she and he reminisce about their childhood, when ZiQing blushes…
the romantic/sexual tension between them during multiple interactions
the first time they are direct and clear about their feelings (not direct quotes! This is what I remember happening): Qiye: Look, I know I’m not supposed to have feelings for you since I’m at this temple to become ZhiKong’s bride, but I really like you. ZiQing: …marry me then. Qiye: what?!!!
their steamy sex scene AT THE TEMPLE (tbh I don’t even remember if they did it before or after Qiye and ZiQing talk with Bhadanta to break off Qiye and ZhiKong’s engagement so that part’s not great, but it was really hot!)
Whenever ZiQing makes this face was when I’m laughing the loudest.
I didn’t think there were uncute moments, but ZiQing is a tsundere so I’m sure he’d rub someone the wrong way.
He is the cutest tsundere!! He banters with MC based on things she says or does instead of calling her names, which is a HUGE plus. His tsun was more of sarcasm and teasing instead of rude asshole, so that was very refreshing. And his dere moments…😍 Although he seems to argue with Qiye a ton, he always ends up helping her (see weed incident and “garbage” incident). I also love that when MC says something that I would expect a tsundere to maybe get embarrassed about, he laughs instead. There’s just so much laughter in their interactions!
Interaction with MC
As mentioned above, their interactions are just so full of laughter! They seem to have so much fun with each other, and can be fun in one moment but serious the next. I like Qiye’s directness and courage in this route better than in HuiHai’s (although understandably, Qiye would be less direct about her feelings with HuiHai since he’s…you know, her fiancee’s brother). I think they’re the total package together and I ship them – they have fun, they can be serious, they fight but make up, they’re passionate with each other. It’s the total package.
9/10 I like my tsunderes and I think ZiQing is probably my favorite tsundere that I’ve played since I started playing a couple of months ago including some popular ones iconic tsunderes in mobile and PC games. So far, the ultimate tsundere!