If you’re in Japan, a news headline promising three new otome games is nothing special, Idea Factory announced 12 of these titles at once just a couple of months ago. If you’re in the west, this is record breaking. Three otomes games in a year? Amazing. Three otome games in just a few months? Unheard of.
For those unfamiliar with the term, otome as a genre just means girl game. In the west, harem style stories that focus on several women and one man get the localization treatment more frequently, in both games and anime. Otome is the reverse of this, where the player is a woman with several male love interests.
Otomate party has been an event going on for years now in Japan. For two days, there are several shows featuring the men who voice otome game characters, they read scripts and side stories, or show off new games. A plethora of titles are usually announced around this time, most of which never head west.
However, this year, thanks to Aksys and Idea Factory, three otome titles will have had a western release by November. In the past, Hakuoki has been the ruler of otome in North America, with Sweet Fuse being the only other game in the genre localized by Aksys. Outside of a few PC games and some fan translations, the scene was non existent. Import titles were the only way to romance your fantasy boyfriend.
As of last month, we have Amnesia: Memories for the PlayStation Vita and Steam, published by Idea Factory International. In just a couple of weeks, Aksys will release Code: Realize on October 20th. Norn9 will follow shortly after.
In Code: Realize, players will assume the role of Cardia. She’s lived her life in solitude, and at the direction of her father, she has promised to never fall in love and to stay out of the public eye. Of course, one things leads to another and Cardia winds up on adventure with five potential love interests. Best of luck to her future boyfriend, Cardia’s skin is literal poison, and a touch from her can melt flesh away.
I recommend sweet-talking Saint-Germain.
Norn9: Var Commons gets a little more intense. The protagonist is a young boy named Sorata, who goes on a school field trip and finds himself in a hell of a mess. Long story short, he’s whisked away into the future where he meets three young women, and nine men (here comes the otome). They’re on a ship, the Norn, and eventually they come under attack. Plot, plot, plot, but that’s three guys in every group with one girl.
I’ll be Mikoto, she gets the company of Itsuki Kagami. That guy can manipulate dreams, sign me up.
Three is definitely far from the number Japan saw this year, or will see next year, but it’s an improvement over one or nothing at all. Otomate just recently released another round of visual novels like Root Rexx, Reines des Fleurs, KLAP!!, and I DOLL U. Before the year is over, Japan will also see the release of Bad Apple Wars, another on the long list of titles to import.
For those holding out hope for other otome games, things aren’t looking too bad. With the success of Hakuoki, and branching out into other games, it looks like the North American otome scene will be expanding. As someone who imports otome titles regularly now, the trend is most welcome, as those shipping fees get pricey. Good luck with your Code: Realize and Norn9 launches, Aksys. The western otome fans need you.