Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 26th Mar 2012
Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom is a visual novel based on the historical Shinsengumi of Japan featuring beautiful art and the multiple endings that are a familiar element to this type of story -- which is similar to the choose-your-own-adventure book and video game genre popular in the west in the 1980's.
The Shinsengumi corps' were a special police force created in the shogunate period in Japan formed during the political and social turmoil that began just before U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry's visits to Japan in the 1850's when the country was slowly awakening to the idea of commercial relationships with what it widely considered to be "The Barbarian" merchants of the west.
In response to what was perceived as (and what actually was) a threat to the traditional system of rule and commerce in the nation, the Tokugawa Shogunate formed the Rōshigumi, which consisted of a select group of 234 masterless Samurai who were under the theoretical command of Matsudaira Tadatoshi, who was part of the official structure of the Royal Protectorate. In reality the group was lead by Kiyokawa Hachirō, who happened to be both a Ronin (which is another word for Samurai without a master Lord) from Shonai Domain who was so well-respected by his peers that it made him the natural and ideal practical leader of the Rōshigumi.
A Traditional Genre in Japan
The Hakuoki series is one of the most popular visual novel franchises in Japan, having sold over 500,000 copies and spawned its own animated series as well as a wide selection of different merchandising products, which is thought to make it an obvious choice for introducing the genre of Otome Games to western gamers.
As one of the first Otome Games to be introduced to North American audiences, Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom offers the experience of the traditional historical fantasy adventure which includes developing romantic relationships within the context of the story -- which like the genre in Japan is specifically targeted at a female audience -- with its typical Choose Your Own Fate and Multiple Endings format fleshing out the mechanics of the story, which is told through the eyes of one young woman as the protagonist.
Gamers are presented with a number of decisions that they must make for the protagonist, and the results of these choices -- like ripples in a pond -- determine her ultimate fate as the process of unlocking new content and experiences. The introduction to the Hakuoki Franchise will include the series of Otome Games for the gaming populace along with a planned anime adaptation, and will appear exclusively on the PlayStation Network in North America.