By Benny Carrillo / April 11th, 2018
The Tale of Samurai Who Stood Defiant to the End of an Era ~ Story
Edo Blossoms’ story is a compelling one. Despite missing all the set-up of Kyoto Winds, there is still an epic tale being told here. Namely the struggle each of these men to walk the path they believe in. Even if that means parting way with or coming into conflict with the Shinsengumi. It’s quite a fascinating story when you consider this is the end of an era for Japan. In addition, the game does a decent job of painting both main factions as neither right-nor-wrong. Instead it’s a clash of ideas that sadly many men will be sent to their deaths for. Still, don’t think there isn’t a villain, because there is: The Furies.
The Furies are both something I love and loathe about Hakuoki. Their existence does make for a great mystery. It also serves to give our chosen love interest (in most cases) the ability to go toe-to-toe with Kazama’s group and the other antagonists. In addition, the idea of what are basically vampiric zombie samurai is completely awesome. In fact, one route actually has its antagonist attempt to establish a Fury kingdom to take over the world. Yes, we have someone trying to usher in a vampire zombie apocalypse and it is glorious. However, this does lead to why I dislike them: Their overuse.
The only thing that’s a threat to a Fury is another Fury or a demon. That means we see a lot of generic enemy Furies appear. They get so overused it diminishes how powerful and unique they’re supposed to be. In addition, the motivations and characterization of Kodo’s group vary from route to route. It makes things confusing and unsatisfying, to say the least. Really, the villains are one of the weakest aspects of Hakuoki as a whole. Thankfully, things are much better in the romance department.
Love Blossoming Amongst Bloody War and Bloody Feedings ~ Romance
One of the things that bothered me in Kyoto Winds was the lack of romantic development Chizuru has with the bachelors. At best, it felt like she had become friends with these men. She may have harbored feelings, but things never felt romantic. I speculated that the payoff to things would be here in Edo Blossoms and it is.
Each route gives the feeling of a relationship that’s being developed. This is because the narrative focuses almost exclusively on Chizuru and her chosen love interest. As such, we not only see a bond form but the struggles that mature their relationship. A big part of that revolves around said love interest’s bouts of Fury bloodlust.
While I dislike the corruption system, the way your love interest’s bloodlust is used in the narrative is effective. It puts Chizuru in quite a powerful position. She can ease her love’s suffering by offering up her own body. While it may seem obvious that such a selfless act would lead to the good endings, the game does play up the psychological aspect of this as well.
For one, it shows the men at their most vulnerable and embarrassed. In fact, more than one asks her to avert their eyes while they feed on her. Second, Chizuru herself often must take control of the situation. She’s at her most assertive during these times and her internal narration shows that. Which brings me to the biggest boon of these scenes: The writing.
These scenes are very sensual. There’s a lot of allusion to sexual intimacy in some of them even. This may not be an eroge, but the writers are quite creative in showing how intimate this action is. That said, the story does not shy away from the development a sexual relationship in a few cases. Obviously, nothing is shown (remember this is an M-rated game), but I applaud the writers for taking things to a logical conclusion. After all, if you were about to head into a life-or-death battle, wouldn’t you rather have no regrets?
Speaking of regrets, however, we need to finally deal with the key issues here. The ones that I can’t simply can’t ignore: The splitting of Hakuōki ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ and the continued localization issues from IFI. We’ll discuss that and the final score on the last page.
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