Why We Should Appreciate Otome Game Heroines

If you’ve ever played an otoge, the main attraction is no doubt the selection of ikeman you’re able to feast upon. These ikeman are dubbed “Capturables.”

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The characters shape the narrative, whether it be steampunk or Gothic, high school or feudal Japan. Some make the story less heavy and easier to handle when things get rough

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while others dump an ocean of FEELS upon your soul.

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As great as our guys may be, the heroine plays just as-if not more-important a role. Without her, there would be no story, no great sweeping adventures, no heartfelt romances, no tension.

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Which is why I want to bring up this question: Why don’t we appreciate otome game heroines?

Undoubtedly, ikemen bring in the cash…but if the heroine sits there as she’s pushed from point A to B….that doesn’t make for a riveting story, now does it?

I’m sure we can think of some from my above description. My point isn’t to bash the heroines. Instead, I want to talk about them.

Because when it comes to fiction, the men usually get away with lots of shit but if the heroine does a single thing someone doesn’t like she’s hated.

-_-

See the problem?

My goal is to get the otoge community to consider the heroine instead of branding her as a useless bitch the moment they dislike something she says or does (basically: “Why didn’t she do what I want?”). She may be designed as a self-insert character in some games but that’s as successful as the 2nd POV.

It’s not just otoge. Fiction, media, etc all are plagued by this issue.

As women (if you’re a guy who plays these, awesome! I’m not excluding you, just trying to talk to the predominant audience) why aren’t we supporting, or at the least, trying to understand where the heroine is coming from before making snap judgments?

I present a few of the “less favored” heroines and why I think they’re undeserving of complete hatred. Then, I’ll talk about some of the heroines the community adores.

There will be slight spoilers for the heroine’s backgrounds to further my argument.


Yukimura Chizuru from Hakuoki:

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Her father goes missing and despite the likelihood of being raped or killed because she’s a woman, she tries to find him because no one else will. Chizuru lives during the end of the Edo period. Which means women were treated like shit.

“From the late Edo period, the status of women declined. In the 17th century, the “Onna Daigaku“, or “Learning for Women”, by Confucianist author Kaibara Ekken, spelled out expectations for Japanese women, stating that “such is the stupidity of her character that it is incumbent on her, in every particular, to distrust herself and to obey her husband”.[9]”  -From Wikipedia

She runs into the Shinsengumi, Japan’s “police force” who capture her to keep her quiet from witnessing the brutal murder of the men who’d been pursuing her.

She discovers her pursuers were murdered by Vampire-like creatures and the men she’s living with are taking drugs to become one in order to fight off the Westerners. A demon is also hell-bent on capturing her so he can have a child with her because she has demon-blood.

As a woman, she wouldn’t be taught defense, because she’s a future bride to keep peace between houses. She has no other use. As such, she’d be unable to do much. Even so, Chizuru does what she can, little that may be. She can’t get up and obliterate her enemies even if she’s a demon. She’s never been taught how to fight!

Yet, in the end, she did her best and I admired her tenacity and strength of will.


Haruka Nanami from Uta no Prince Sama:

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Besides the GLARING EYES OF DEATH she has, Haruka’s your average girl. And she’s the entire reason for the existence of Uta Pri.

“But Leaf! It’s the guys who-

No. Uta Pri is about how Haruka’s passion for music and her ability to look past all of the guy’s setbacks to open their hearts to her and towards seriously pursuing a music career .

Unlike Hakuoki, there’s not much in ways of SURVIVAL so instead there’s a ton of character development. The franchise also started off as LOVE IS BANNED so viewers were hyped to see how that would play out. For those expecting la romance they’d be disappointed.

However, the games explore that aspect. I mean, it’s an otoge 

Nanami is ultimately a normal, high school girl who’s passionate about music and has a crush on the idol Tokiya. I’m sure most of us can relate in some fashion towards her passion and a crush on someone who strove you to do your very best. While I like other pairings, I want Haruka to be happy, and so I’d like her to get her ending with Tokiya.

We’re supposed to root for her anyways 😛

What does suck though is how the fans dismiss her because they want to be in her situation and therefore bash her.


Yui Komori from Diabolik Lovers (Game script translated in English online):

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As much as I dislike the Diabolik Lovers franchise as a whole, I have to hand it to poor Yui. The anime turned her into this super passive damsel who let the vampires abuse the shit out of her. Of course, it still happens in the game, but she actually fought back.

Eventually, the abuse and pain she endured twisted into a sick form of a coping mechanism and she fell into Stockholm Syndrome with the vampires.

I wouldn’t ever want to be in her situation but if you like: rape, being strangled, cruelly bitten, etc. then you found your calling.

Just beware the fans will fight you to proclaim that Yui’s raped out of love or because she likes it, or you know, it’s BDSM-when that needs consent to begin with. But I mean, you can’t point that out or they’ll self-implode because they’ve been proclaiming the problems of how women are treated and how we shouldn’t support problematic material….but I digress.

Apparently this series is absolved of all sin.

And jealous fans who aren’t being tortured by ikeman hate Yui because they want to be her.

WUT


Amnesia Heroine from Amnesia (in English):

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I wish I was kidding you but no she doesn’t have a name. I named her Unko because after seeing screenshots of this game I was regretting my life choices as I started Amnesia. I needed something funny.

Unko suffers from Amnesia you don’t say and has to traverse her life as normally as possible or heaven forbid someone will discover she lost her memories! Turns out the narrative had a good reason-someone close to her caused her amnesia and might be plotting further harm if discovered.

Thankfully, a spirit named Orion has merged with her because if it not for him there would be NO interaction in this game. Unko not only lost her memories but her personality so she relies on Orion to get her through the day, and thank fuck for that because some of her flames are messed in the head.

I wished her personality memories came back sooner because we got snippets of her old self in the routes and she was a pretty kick ass girl!

At the end of the day she didn’t sit like a log doing DERRRRP but tried to absolve the issues. Sure, she may have been caged like a dog, pushed off a cliff, assaulted by jealous fangirls, etc. but she still fought to get herself back.

Even if we only ever got to hear Orion most of the time, I wanted Unko to be safe.

Though the anime sure fucked her over….


I love a girl I can root for. Someone who might not be a complete badass but can think for herself and fight for her beliefs.

Unfortunately, many otoge heroines are very passive. The reason is because they’re marketed towards a Japanese audience, and thus, their culture has different values regarding an ideal woman. Whether you like it or not, that’s the truth of the matter.

Thankfully, not all otoge heroines suffer from card-board personalities or “I only do shit for ikeman”, or even, “Rape is love.”

Here are some of the better heroines I’ve seen.


Saki Inafune from Sweet Fuse (In English):

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Put into a Saw-like situation to rescue several hostages from Count Hogstein at her grandfather’s amusement park, Saki is ready to do whatever’s necessary. She takes no crap from the guys who tell her “Let me do that, you’re too dainty” or “Women shouldn’t touch that!”

She turns around and gives them the facts.

She’s here to protect her loved ones and survive and genitalia doesn’t mean shit-especially when she’s been the one solving all of the challenges.

The stakes are raised higher when Count Hogstein continuously cheats his games or adds unfair variables to his challenges, which could result in the both the main characters’ and the hostages’ deaths if they fail.

Though Saki is physically weaker, she makes up for it with her brains, her guts, and her friendship with her team.

Plus, you get the chance to have her yell at the guys and call them out on their shit.


Mashiro Akagami from Kyoukai no Shirayuki:

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Considering the biting theme of this game I was really hesitant to play it but thank goodness the biting has an actual reason in this game! It’s not DL at all so fear not. Mashrio fell out of a pomegranate tree when she was little and after going to an art museum with her bff (which btw, her bff was great!) she gains the ability to go into the Mirror World where the guys are now kinda cray-cray.

But fear not! Mashiro doesn’t take their crap. In fact, in the standard yandere trope, she picks the lock chaining her and escapes! Then she reprimands him. I will say I didn’t understand why she didn’t call the cops and ditch his ass but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I don’t want to spoil the rest of it because the game was actually pretty awesome even with my limited Japanese and the heroine was great. Plus there’s a whole kabedon scene rofl.

(I came back to play this after my initial impressions but didn’t write a review of the entire game.)


Cardia Beckford from Code Realize (In English):

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Someone give this woman a medal! Like hot damn. Cardia was someone I had high hopes for and a little bit of dread for. Her introduction is as a girl living in an abandoned mansion. She sits there, unable to die or go outside because her body melts whatever it comes into contact with.

She’s man-made, a homunculus, who desres to know the warmth of compassion when her whole life has been one of estrangement, abandonment, and being branded a monster.

She awaits her father, who has left her a letter, telling her to never know love. The very thing she wants.

When officers under Queen Victoria’s order come to collect her, her poison is shown to be a true threat as one of the dogs melts into a puddle after biting her.

Code Realize isn’t just about the romance-as sweet and delicious as it is-but it’s about Cardia’s growth from a man-made shell into a true human being. Almost a Pinocchio retelling, but with airships, steampunk, and characters based off of classic literature (Victor Frankenstein, Lupin Arsene, Impey Barbicane, Van Helsing, and Sherlock Holmes) and a historical figure (Saint Germain).

If you’re trying to get into otome games or like sexy classic lit men, I can’t recommend Code Realize enough. Cardia herself is such a love-able character. Her growth is perfect and you’ll cheer for her as she escapes near death and becomes a part of a team of misfits trying to save London from a terrorist attack.

Do it for all of the FEELS.

I’ve not loved a cast as much as I did this one.


Final Thoughts:

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Otome games are a great platform to experience a variety of stories. Like a book, otoge can transport you to places you’ve only dreamed about and allow you to interact with the world. Some of them will be a hit or miss but I wouldn’t be blogging about them if I didn’t love them.

I think we all take the heroines for granted in otoge and all other forms of media. We make hasty judgments about them before actually thinking about where they’re coming from and excuse the love interests.

But if we didn’t have the heroine, the love interests wouldn’t be there.

Otome games are a lovely experience and I encourage you to pick one up if you’re curious, but I must warn that the mobile otome games are extremely cheap versions that won’t do a whole lot. 

If you like Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, Rune Factory, Mystic Messenger, Fire Emblem (the newer ones with marriage) or romance at all, give otoge a try.

And remember, the heroine deserves love too!


Have you played an otoge? Who was your favorite heroine? 

If you like what you see please follow or share. Thank you!

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71 thoughts on “Why We Should Appreciate Otome Game Heroines

  1. 1_chan says:

    Ah~ this has me thinking. What is the difference between an otome and an otoge? I have only ever played one similar(?) game called Love Revo (and another one that I dearly love but not sure counts: Mystic Messenger).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bánh says:

    My friend just read it and her cmt make me laughing nonstop in funny and bitter way 😂
    “Great post, but Leaf-san forgot to mention something.
    Most fangirls are fine without the heroine. They ship heroes with each other. Heroes will heal each other’s wound and pushes the story by themselves because why not ٩( ᐛ )و”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anny says:

    Cardia is really kick-ass (and after playing the game, I wanted to date her so much – I still do). So she is, by far, my favourite.

    Hakuouki I have mixed feeling about (but omg, it’s been so long since I played this game). I mean, I get where Chizuru is coming from, but at the same time… If they are going to put her in the Shinsengumi, could they’ve not allowed for a little more room for her to do something? In reality she would had in best case been killed in the situation. As you mentioned – women were treated like trash at the time. In addition to that, the Shinsengumi wouldn’t had allowed a woman into their headquarters. So while I don’t dislike Chizuru and see where she’s coming from… I can’t help but wonder what would had happened if she had just been able to do just a tiny bit more.

    Another heroine I find strong despite her weakness is Fiona from Black Wolves Saga. She is literally that princess that has been stuck up in a tower all her life, and therefore have no understanding of the world nor what people may want from her. Her life basically revolves around a few people, and being overly protected to make sure she doesn’t get sick up until the game starts, and despite having no real power or even knowledge, she still tries to do what she can. While I haven’t really seen anyone badmouth her, I have rarely seen anyone mention her at all. Sure, the game is so full of darkness and twisted characters, it might be easy to forget about her, but she’s a really important part of the game.

    In the end, none of these games would exist in their current form without a heroine, regardless of how well-liked or disliked they are. While I really like characters like Cardia, I don’t feel any hate or even dislike against characters like Heroine. Because they are necessary to make the game to what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Anny says:

        Yeah, the BWS language is pretty difficult. Some of the themes are as well (like, how the game is kind of heavy on politics in a fantasy setting), so it’s difficult to understand if you don’t know enough Japanese. I haven’t played Last Hope, but have played Bloody Nightmare a lot (I’ve started it like 4 times, but it seems to be cursed, so my computers have crashed and once my BWS post disappeared, and so I haven’t never fully completed it) and it’s one of those titles I want everyone to play, but realize it’s far from what everyone likes. But one day…!

        And yeah, I find Fiona being one of those character that’s somewhere at the top of my otoge heroines I like list (which Cardia is clearly the top lady of). Though I wouldn’t be surprised if people disagreed with me because they think she’s weak.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

        You and Laramie both convinced me to give it a go. I might have to rely on someone else who posts in detail about the routes otherwise I won’t get far. There are lots of bloggers who do so thank goodness. ^^
        And true, but I think it’s important to branch out and experience different stories. Exactly why I played DL (yes my friend sent it to me, but I respect other’s opinions and gave it a chance) though I concluded it was and never will be for me.
        I’m liking Fiona so far from what I can understand. She’s independent and a go getter, and I like how curious she is but at the same time she knows when not to interfere.
        It’s going to take a great lady to top Cardia, but at the end of the day I admire all the heroines who stay true to themselves (even if I disagree with them) and do what they believe is right ^^

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sindy says:

    Ahh I really liked this post. I loved everything you had to say regarding this topic. It’s so true once you take the time to just think about it and the heroine’s reasons behind their actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Retsuya says:

    If there’s one thing i dislike it would be dissing on Otome game heroines for stupid reasons. I’ve seen too many: too passive, too useless, can’t stand up for themselves, I WOULDN’T DO THAT or shit like DONT GET IN THE WAY OF MY YAOI. I find that there are a lot of people who might come into the genre thinking they as the player are dating fictional men, but there are many different perspectives, I have written about it too(from self insert to acting as a spirit controlling events of the game to reading the story like a choose-your-own-adventure). A lot of the times people get frustrated because the heroine’s choices seem stupid(aka not their own) but the minute you place your perspective as someone who directs the choice within the realms of her personality, then it might be better to appreciate heroines.

    I understand people like more badass, ‘strong’ heroines, but esp for japanese-made games there might be some cultural aspect involved as well, but through the years this has definitely changed and i’ve seen a lot of visually appealing heroines that i am intent on seeing why the guys fell for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. FantaMinette says:

    I especially hate when the writers uses the “Amnesiac” card. But in all actuality, an amnesiac character can be good. The one from Amnesia was terrible. I know what they tried to do with it but I had no fun going along. An empty character is never a good character, no matter if it’s for the sake of you’re story.

    An example of an amnesiac character done right would be the one in Ozmafia. I’m not saying this game was perfect but the girl didn’t know much about herself, without being completely empty and blank. She was weak but was still able to think for herself and make her own choices.

    Chizuru truly tried her best. Being weak isn’t a personality trait. No matter if she’s a girl in this time period, at least she tried. She felt much more alive to me than many other female characters I’ve seen out there.

    A well done character doesn’t mean a strong character. Your heroine might be weak. She might be small and frail. She might be sickly. She can be amnesiac. Here is not where the problem might lay. I know a lot of girl wants strong heroines with the biggest balls in their pants but don’t forget, even the strongest of us all have weaknesses. You might want your heroine to be a battle sword wielding Valkyrie but bunnies are nice too. It’s not their weaknesses and strengths that makes them who they are, it’s their past and their present.

    The writers in Otoge are more to blame than the heroine and the game itself. They often forget that a good character is one that feels alive. A real person has flaws, no one can be this perfect. To me, the heroines in Amnesia and in DiaLovers are the perfect example of what not to do. They are empty and feel like lifeless dolls only there for your enjoyments. They are the story slaves with passive characters and emotions that won’t act. On the contrary, a good character would be the girl in Nameless, the one in Code Realize (That girl has no life experience but she still rocks) and Chizuru from Hakuoki. Those character’s had a reason to be how they were. They had a past, they had something to be ashamed off, they had a passion and they had desires. Those girls were alive.

    TLDR: A good character is one that feels real to the reading, no matter their strengths and weaknesses. An empty character is a bad character. Don’t pull the amnesiac card unless you know how to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      “A well done character doesn’t mean a strong character.”
      THIS
      While it looks like we disagree regarding some heroines, I’m glad we can have a discussion about this ^^ It makes me so glad to a part of this community.
      And I agree. We all have our own weaknesses, but people seem to either want to project themselves on to a character or they forget that the heroine is their own character.

      Liked by 1 person

      • FantaMinette says:

        Well the players that wants to project themselves in the heroine aren’t really all to blame as it was established to be like this for a long time. (I’m thinking dating sim more than otome though) While a “choose-your-adventure” type of story is good, I like a more traditional book-ish approach where the heroine isn’t yourself in disguise but a character in and on itself. The problem is that a otoge is a reading game where you make your “own” choices and not really the choices of someone else. While some might like and understand a complex character and make the choices as the character instead of themselves, others tend to steal the place of the heroine and play the game their way.

        I like roll play, I don’t mind putting myself in the place of the heroine and question myself on how she’d act and why she’d act like she does. Making choices for an heroine you don’t connect with is rather difficult and can make the game painful to play. That might be why it’s a lot safer for developers to take a generic girl everyone can play as instead of a very fleshed out and complex heroine with a strong personality and her own thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

        I agree with you Fanta. Otoge heroines were originally made to represent you. Angelique especially catered to this.
        However, things are drastically changing. Look at Cardia Beckford or Jed from Haitaka. These are just a few examples but tons of heroines have been coming out as their own character. I can understand why people who are branching out from mobage might go “but I want to her to be me” but at the same time the heroine is the reason for the story happening. She is her own part of the story. Older games, yes, the heroine was designed to be the player. Now though, companies are making effort to create a character instead of a blank canvas and I think we should appreciate that or at the very least acknowledge that. Because not everything needs to go our way. Besides, Cardia would’ve ruined the game had she been a self-insert. Her existence had reason in the game and I think that the heroine is just as important as the guys.

        Liked by 1 person

      • FantaMinette says:

        I agree 100% with you. I loved Cardia too. She could have been such a blank character but she wasn’t and that’s what made her so cool to me. I really hope that there will be more heroine like her in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Laramie Castiel says:

    Hello friend!

    Very interesting article! Couldn’t help but leave a long comment… ^^;
    Also, just a friendly suggestion- maybe you want to put a spoiler warning (unless I’m blind and somehow missed a warning) since you go into some plot-sensitive details about some of the characters mentioned?

    Anyway, I find it interesting how over the years, companies have become more willing to create protagonists outside of the “cute, small-breasted, virginal, romantically passive, innocent, positive, non-confrontational, inhuman level of accepting others’ flaws and nice”- i.e. the “lack of idiosyncrasies, hardly any notable flaws and therefore easy to self-insert”- type.

    Furthermore, I’ve seen many Japanese fans have the “self-insert vs. third person spectator” discussion (e.g. https://matome.naver.jp/odai/2142569460369515301) and in my personal experience, more players are the “third person” types. Basically, the common “Japanese fans just wanna self-insert and play as a Mary Sue so that’s why the protagonists suck so much” stereotype isn’t really accurate unless these types of fans are very quiet on the Internet.

    My view is that the overabundance of these protagonists by commercial devs must be because:
    * Companies still think most otome gamers care about self-insertion.
    * Otome fans apparently “don’t care” about female characters because it’s all about the guys- why bother?
    * They’re simply stuck in the past and are old-fashioned.
    * They can’t craft a well-rounded protagonist for whatever reason.

    I’m pretty vocal about my dislike of the average otome protagonist, but at least for me, it has nothing to do with jealousy. Not only do I find it difficult to connect with, but also because I’m simply sick of seeing the same type of protagonist archetype over and over again that is rarely developed or explored. Not just the protagonists, too- same reason why I’m sick of the tsundere and osananajimi tropes. Overused and poorly written isn’t a great combination.

    That being said, it’s cringe-worthy to see the idiotic mud-slinging these “weak (physically or otherwise)” girls receive. Criticism of a protagonist should be explained and justified with what she actually did in the story for it to be truly meaningful, IMO. Like, back up your supposedly “strong” views on the matter! Putting the unsalvageable like “gets in the way of A x B yaoi couple!!11!1!” aside, you could just say you simply “hate those naive types” but it’s just blindness if you don’t back up your opinion and just blanketly dismiss all of them.

    For example, I’m immediately cautious when a protagonist is described as “naive/innocent” since those traits often get abused as a cheap excuse for her to make… “questionable” decisions *and* not be held accountable for them because “she didn’t mean to”; “she didn’t know”, etc. Yes, I start off biased against these girls and that’s not fair but it certainly doesn’t mean I’ll blindly hate every naive/innocent character- I’m always open to meeting exceptions. I actually quite like it when I go into the game hating a character then come out liking them a lot- it pays to keep your mind open.

    It’s all in the execution, at the end of the day. I welcome well-executed and well-written protagonists of any kind. I *want* to be proven wrong about a negative impression about a protagonist- I’m not on a crusade to burn all passive cuties at the stake and certainly wouldn’t want to be perceived that way just because I criticise frequently abused traits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Laramie, I whole heartedly agree. I struggle with judging the heroine too. Heck, I even was worried about Cardia and then Saint Germain made me go NOPE but the execution flipped all of my worries into THIS IS AMAZING.
      Thanks so much for that article, I’ll have to read that later.
      Oh haha did I go into too much spoilery stuff? Sorry, I tried to give both a summary and some light examples in case someone had/hadn’t played it. Thank you though!
      And no not at all! Haha I think we all have this “Please don’t be ____” but like you said it’s how the companies make them and how the story fleshes them out.
      If you have any more articles or comments about this topic I’d love to hear it! This has been a post I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while now.

      Like

      • Retsuya says:

        I theorised that mobages reach out to a more casual on-the-go audience since smartphones are so available. Not so much a lot of deep story to put into a mobile game really. Console and PC tend to be able to spread their wings further towards more VN gamers since that is their root.

        On another note i’m really apprehensive since a lot seem to be switching to mobile…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laramie Castiel says:

        No worries, it’s just a collection of responses when somebody basically asked if otome gamers [on that site] self-insert or view themselves as a third party observer (amongst other misc. responses). It’s pretty interesting.

        Yeah, I think some of the things you went into would be considered spoilers- like who/what Cardia actually is, for example. I would consider a spoiler to be any major plot relevant information that is not apparent from the get-go and is intended to be a “twist”/”surprise”.

        I don’t really have any more articles that aren’t different versions of the link I provided before, sadly.

        Overall, I think the otome industry is getting better at a slow-ish pace when it comes to protagonists. Perhaps it could be coming too late, given the mobile market.

        Speaking of which, I’m more concerned about the mobile market’s growth. More accurately, the mobile market’s growth because the games are mostly crap or just too short to grow invested in the characters. To me VNs, aren’t just random games I play because I’m bored on the way home from work/study/whatever and just want a quick dokidoki with bishie fix. I take time out of my day to sit down, get comfortable and (hopefully) become engrossed- just like a book, a movie, etc.

        However, if more mobile games even seem as interesting as Gossip Girl or Liar, then I’d be more supportive in spite of my hatred of the payment system. I get that people don’t want to bawl their eyes out in public, so even if the games are lighter without a lofty writing quality goal like Starry Sky, that’d be fine. In other words, I’ll only move onto the mobile market if I absolutely must.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bánh says:

      Actually there are more reason why the heroine so plain.
      *Because it’s easy to change the heroine as the dev want, the story will more easy to write. For example, Neri from Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen. She just good at 2 route. In the other route, sometimes I dont know where her brain in other route go ٩( ᐛ )و
      *If the heroine “strong” in the wrong way, it’ll more terrible than the plain heroine. For example, MC from Doubt/Liar of Voltage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laramie Castiel says:

        Very true, both are good reasons. The latter especially rings true for me; I think the devs aren’t really understanding what “strong” truly means- “if a “bad” protagonist is a “weak” one, let’s make her strong!”… Naw, it’s not that simple. Furthermore, when I say I want to see a “good” protagonist, I’m thinking more along the lines of a archetype explored/utilised interestingly or the writers having a gamble and trying out different characterisations. The worst though, is when a protagonist is physically strong but is basically the same old, same old otherwise. That’s a very superficial understanding of “strength”.

        Totally agreed about Neri, too. To the uninitiated, she’s just your average, very shoujo-esque otome protagonist; maybe somewhat more assertive than the norm. However, that’s why she works so well in ZKG for the reason you mentioned. One of the appeals of ZKG is watching what happens if you go out of your way to allow a sheltered, blank slate like her to get corrupted. The “Rose” paths even change the way her relationships with the guys unfold for the whole route, not just some five-minute bad end.

        Most other games though, you have no real choice in that matter (which is fine, not every otome game needs to follow ZKG’s lead)- the generic characterisation is purely for the ease of the writers rather that becoming a point of gameplay/plot relevance. It goes back to what I said to Leaf about execution- Neri was utilised well and the others just feel like a lack of inspiration.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Amy says:

    Hi Leaf, thanks for the great article! I must admit that I don’t really engage in the English otome community much so it was interesting to see which heroines are popular ^_^

    I think that one of the problems is that a lot of people start out with mobile otome games, which *do* tend to feature nameless, faceless heroines who tend to be true “self inserts” (as in, you control most of their actions) so when people make the transition to console/PC games they aren’t used to heroines acting in a way that they wouldn’t? A lot of heroines in older otome games also tended to be more passive, although companies seem to be putting more effort into making more complex heroines nowadays. (which is definitely a good thing 🙂 )

    Let’s be honest here, male or female, if a character gets on your nerves then it can make the game hard to play, especially since you’re stuck with the heroine for the entire game. If you dislike a main “capturable” character then you only have to suffer them for one route or you can even choose to skip their route if you’d prefer.

    I personally have disliked some heroines in the past, normally because I find their actions are very inconsistent or repetitive. People do have a right to their opinion and I don’t have a problem with people explaining why they dislike *insert heroine here* as long as it isn’t mindless hating (I can’t believe that people get upset that heroines get in the way of their BL pairing). You made a really good point about Chizuru, with historical games its definitely important to consider the time era. It’ll be interesting to see what people make of Bad Apple Wars’ Rinka as I, erm, wasn’t her *biggest* fan.

    In terms of good heroines, I really loved Taisho Alice’s Yurika; she’s really funny and is very proactive in most of the routes – she will stop at nothing to get her man! 😛 She has such a refreshing attitude!

    Also, thank you for reminding me to play Kyoukai no Shirayuki & Code;Realize~

    Liked by 2 people

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Hi Amy!
      I agree-most people start off with mobage because it’s cheaper (yet they still whine that it’s not free *facepalm*)
      And agreed. It’s not that we can’t hate the heroine-by all means if she truly is deserving go for it-i just wish more players would take into account her situation and choices before going “She sucks burn her.”
      I also have to agree again regarding Rinka. To me she fullfilled the self-insert very well and I think that while it was annoying it worked best for the game because of the situation. Again, feel free to disagree ^^
      And YASSSS Yurika was bae ❤
      I just wanted to talk about a few of the more well-known heroines to get thoughts from the English audience.
      Thanks so much for reading and I hope you like Kyoukai and GURRRLLLL get on Code ASAP.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Shuu says:

    Nice list you’ve got there, Leaf! I really want to get into Kyoukai no Shirayukihime but the art style deters me quite a bit;;

    A little on my opinion of Haruka. While it’s still true that she’s a girl brimming with dreams wanting to achieve her dreams of writing music, recent games have been writing her out of the story, like the Debut game, and the most recent one, I found her character to be written pretty blandly. Most of Utapri fans probably come from the watching the anime, so they probably hate her a lot cuz she does no shit and gets all the men for some reason. She’s still likeable, but with Broccoli’s laziness its hard to get into her character!

    I’d like to write an entire essay about Yui, but she’s amazing! Definitely my favourite heroine despite what everyone says. She so kind and tries her best to help and be accepted by the vampires, and in the end she does, that happens in the dark fate. While she still know she’s in a shitty situation, she’s smart enough to find a way to adapt to, technically survive these vampires.

    At the same time, the hate heroines list are all from popular otome games which have gotten animes. It might be because of the fact that they are popular and the haters voice out a lot, or these haters just come from the anime-watchers who barely know anything. Except, 2 out of 4 of them have localised games. I really wonder why people can come to hate them honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Shuu, thanks so much for your input!
      I have to agree that it seems a lot of the hate stems from the fact that people are being introduced to a series by the anime and not the game.
      I also agree with you on Yui, though I dislike the series.
      And like I said in my post, I honestly think most of the hate stems from younger girls (or older ones) who wish they were in a situation where a ton of hot guys were head over heels in love with them. I know I was jealous of a few girl characters in shojo anime as a wee loli watcher rofl.
      But the difference was I grew out of that pretty fast and didn’t spam DIE ___because I was jealous. You see this all the time on tumblr where girls complain that the heroine is a Mary Sue (some are I won’t refute that) but the way they obsess over it keys you into the fact that they’re insecure and want this too. Nothing wrong with that at all, but they get a little carried away….

      Like

  10. Seren says:

    To be honest I don’t really care about heroines in otomes all that much unless the story is engaging enough. I’ve played so many different otoges including OELVNs that at this point they all sorta blend together-personality or lack thereof doesn’t mean much to me. Hell those heroines without eyes didn’t bother me and the jokes about those were brutally funny. XD That’s not to say creators shouldn’t do better and I want them to get outta their usual comfort zone heroines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Haha, Seren, I hear you! ^^
      I didn’t realize how much I appreciated the heroine until Code Realize and Sweet Fuse though, so it got me thinking. I can understand what you mean by they all blend together because they do. But when the heroine shines, the entire game feels that much better. Had Cardia not been as great as she was, Code would’ve suffered.

      Like

  11. Krystallina says:

    Great post! Unfortunately, like you mentioned, I think females in fiction and real life suffer a lot of sexism from both genders.

    I’d have to give my vote to Saki. With one angry shout, she can get anybody to beg for forgiveness. And summon lightning. Can’t forget the lightning.

    It’s kind of interesting the different ways game protagonists are presented in anime. Like Haruka was made more of an angel, but Ema from BroCon became more of a lifeless doll. Hopefully we get to see Cardia’s training and how hard she works in the anime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      It really is sad. I see this in books a lot too. The love interest can stalk a girl but because he’s hot it’s tolerated. If the girl complains the readers go “He’s hot stop complaining” and etc.
      I really am at a loss. So many readers and otoge gamers talk about these issues yet they never try to change the norm….
      And agreed. I never understood that.

      Like

  12. Cat says:

    Excellent post. I always love the heroines, tho I didn’t when I was younger, so this might be about maturity too.
    I definitely think the heroines should be loved and valued more, tbh, if she’s completely crap it turns me off from the game. I need personality because I don’t self-insert :’D
    I’m the type that ships everything, like if I pursue a guy I don’t the others to be sad and lonely in that route, so I’ll pair them off with each other or with other cute girls. Unless I see they work well and would work as a poly threesome 👌
    You’re also making me really want to play Code Realize after saying that about Cardia Aaah 😻😻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Hi, Cat!
      I completely agree that I think maturity plays a huge role in this. I myself remember the days I was jealous of Sailor Moon and etc but I never full out hated them. They felt like older sisters I could look up to even if I was upset a sexy Tuxedo Mask wouldn’t pick me up rofl
      Gurl you still haven’t played Code yet? *gasps in horror*
      If you have it I can’t stress enough how much you’re missing out! The FD comes out this year!!
      And hell yes to shipping! xD

      Like

      • Cat says:

        Leaf 🙌
        I think these girls hating on the heroines are just very young, unless some aren’t then they’re… Just no. Seek treatment instead of abusing a fictional character to vent.
        Hahaha, really? I’m too gay, cause all I wanted was to be in the sandwich of Uranus and Neptune 😹😹😹😹👍👍👍👌👌👌
        Tuxedo just never worked for me, he never did anything, so I didn’t give a heck about him. Now the girls…so many crushes, hello there awakening to females 🙌
        Yeah I haven’t, I figured why should I when the FD hasn’t come out yet? 😹
        So I might play it just before the FD drops, so I’ll have some time to enjoy both without too much time in between oho
        Shipping makes the world go round 👌

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cat says:

        Saturn is adorable, and when she grows, hello there.
        Pluto is real good too, she sexy ohoho
        I haven’t played any Yuri games, but I do want to! It’s on my list of goals, but aaah… I need 10 copies of me :’D
        I’m sure I’ll enjoy Code, I just need to actually start it, once I finish some of my started games :’D

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Leticia says:

    I loved your article ! And I would have choosen nearly the same panel of heroines to present great women characters. (well, I did, but in french language and less developed…) I’d choose Haruka, Chizuru and Saki. She is really my favorite because I tend to identify a lot with her. And I added also Kuga Makoto from Norn9. Now I think about it, I also liked Nanami a lot.
    I’m so jealous, I wanted to write an article like this one for 8th march x), presenting few heroines and interrogate what “strong” means. So I think I’ll choose another subject and write about MC, the random heroine figure in otome smartphone market… Anyway, would you mind if one day I write an article like this one in French and cite yours ? As my blog is in French, we won’t have the same public !
    Again, I really liked this one ! It’s nice to see this kind of point of vue.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. MissxQueen says:

    I love you so much for this. I feel like 90% of heroines are hated, mostly for no good reasons. I’ve never once hated a heroine, if anything it’s usually the guys. They’ll complain that the heroine is weak or boring, but if they were strong I feel that the hate would still be outweighed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Awww thank you so much, MissxQueen! Yes, it’s such a shame that they get so much hate. I get angry a lot more at the love interests than I do with the heroine. Haha and yes! I don’t think any of us would do better than the heroin in some cases so people should really consider that before judging. Glad you liked this! ^^

      Like

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