Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: Spoiler-Filled-Review!
You’ve been warned.
Don’t cry to me if you read this.
I’m not going to give a detailed play by play, but I’ll probably get close. I’ll try to avoid HUGE FEELS-FILLED moments, but you might be able to see them coming a mile away if you read this prior to playing the game.
I’m not heartless though, so the first section after this warning will be Short Summaries – What’s the guy’s personality like, Voice Actor, Big Triggery Things (if any), etc.
The section after the Short Summaries will be much more in-depth.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Premise: You’re a 16-year-old girl in 1864 – 4 years before Japan enters the Meiji Period – in Edo. Your father is a Doctor trained in Western Medicine and he has left for Kyoto. You haven’t heard from him in ages and decide to head to Kyoto to look for him. The streets are dangerous, especially for a lone traveler so you dress as a young boy and head out. Shortly after arriving in Kyoto you end up mixed up with the Shinsengumi – The Wolves of Mibu.
Toshizo Hijikata – The Demon of the Shinsengumi – figuratively speaking. Hijikata is passionately loyal, but that loyalty is hard-earned. Intimidating, unrelenting – and yet kind. Hijikata isn’t unreasonable, but he’s got an entire group of sword wielding men from a myriad of backgrounds to keep in line and no time to muck about.
Souji Okita – The Shinsengumi’ s Sword – Okita is fiercely loyal much like Hijikata, but his loyalty is focused on Kondou Isami, the leader of the Shinsengumi. Any similarities to Hijikata end there, and swiftly. Okita is an instigator. A teaser. A little shit, if truth be told. He utterly enjoys making the protagonist uncomfortable. He is very much the school yard boy who picks on you because he likes you and doesn’t understand there’s better ways to go about getting your attention.
Hajime Saito – The Quiet One. The REALLY quiet one. Saito is loyal to the Shinsengumi, but he’s more loyal to his own ideals – it just so happens the two align very well. His emotions are subtle, and there’s an odd amount of joy in pulling them to fore throughout the course of the story. Saito was my favorite from the rip, and the quiet passion is still a story I enjoy returning to.
Heisuke Toudou – Closest to the protagonist in age Heisuke is everything you’d expect a young man to be. He’s brash, loud, and constantly in trouble – and he’s not really sure what his values are. He’s still figuring himself out, but I have to give him credit that he does with courage and conviction. When he does figure out what’s most important to you it’s one of those moments that just kind fill your heart.
Sanosuke Harada – There’s a reason the achievement for completing Harada’s story line is called Little Red Corvette. Harada is smooth AF. With one of the shorter story lines over all it’s certainly one of the more passionate. Frustrated by Hijikata and Saito keeping things tightly under wraps and leaving you to wonder if you’re on the right path? This is a good break from that.
Chikage Kazama – You have to complete two other routes before you can end up on Kazama’s path. The Demon of the West, head of his clan, he goes for what he wants and isn’t easily deterred. In two routes it requires death to get him to leave you be, two other routes require intervention from outside forces before he’s deterred. I’ll give him – and the writers – credit though, while he’s relentless there’s never a sense that he’d force himself on you. He might steal you away to a demon village, but I think if you continually denied him he’d eventually relent.
He just wouldn’t be sure when too much was too much because he’s not been denied anything from what I can tell.
Long Haul Review:
Hakuoki does a wonderful job – in all its versions – of blending historical accuracy with a fantastical story. It’s written in a way that doesn’t dislodge the truth of certain events and lets you enjoy the entire ride. I wasn’t even a Shinsengumi fan until playing this game, and then I start lining up dates and events and was startled at the accuracy that was left in place.
And the Supporting Cast is Massive. It’s just so easy to sink into the world itself – Even with the occult bits scattered all over the place.
When you begin the game you find yourself running from Ronin who want your shiny family heirloom sword. They are summarily murdered into tiny bloody bits by nameless Shinsengumi warriors with white hair, red eyes, and a heavy air of madness about them. They scream for blood and you can see your demise written in their faces –
Until a couple Captains show up and save you from this fate. Though save is a loose term, as you’ve seen quite a bit you shouldn’t have and find yourself being forcefully lead back to their base. Here you get a Long, but important, introduction to the main cast – and if you’re bad with names like I am I recommend taking notes. It’s pretty impossible to make a wrong choice in the first couple of chapters – in that nothing will get you killed outright – but it’s important to pick a path and stick to it.
Very quickly you realize that your Father is the cause behind the mad men who nearly killed you – Furies, as they’re referred to, are made by consuming the Water of Life. Poorly named in my opinion, but ironically so. He had been working for the Shinsengumi/Shogun on this and then up and disappeared. When they learn you’re his daughter they realize you have value to them. Now you have a place to stay, and they have a solid way of trying to locate your Father.
Now for some big spoilers:
You, my dear, are a demon. The only surviving female child from the “royal” family of the East. A rare pure-blooded demon in a world where female demons of any variety are rare. This is a large part of why Kazama pursues you so relentlessly – you may have caught his eye, but his duty to his family compels him to find a good mate. There’s a distinct impression though, that even if you reject him, he’d still be compelled to protect you – him and every other demon-born-and-raised-male-demon in the vicinity. Female demons are just that rare.
And here’s you – shacked up with literally some of the most dangerous people in the entire country. Granted, they want to protect you too – some out of honor, some out of love, some out of duty, but all the same Demons are far more powerful than humans. Hence Kazama’s repeated attempts to get you away to safety.
There’s plenty of levity scattered around in the story, and a healthy dose of blood, guts and dead bodies too. No one comes out and says it in this version of the game, but the Furies are born of vampires – it was actually nice to hear it put to words in the tail end of Edo game that came out recently. It was a tiny validating moment, but it’s pretty obvious.
Oh and if you can, I really do recommend the PS3 version of this title. The extras on that platform are pretty robust and all the extra bits are just delightful.
Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: It’s on a bazillion platforms, and almost all of them have a different set of extras and goodies. There’s also two different animes – a series of episodes, and then two movies. I haven’t seen the movies yet – I bought them but I haven’t had time to watch them. The subbed versions use the game’s original cast, so I recommend reading the movie if you can stand it.
Plus, for someone who heals lightning fast the Protagonist spends an awful lot of time Not Using Her Sword. There are so many overprotective people in her life though, it makes sense.
Pros: It’s beautiful. It really is – from the art, to the subtle but important music, to the passion in the voice acting, to the complexity of the game itself. It’s just gorgeous. Controls are easy – depending on what platform you use you have a lot of saves to play with too. Also worth keeping in mind that FOUR YEARS pass during the course of this game, so you start as a 16-year-old girl and end at 20.