OPINION: IFI, Otome, and Visual Novels

Monday, January 16th, 2017

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Idea Factory International | Idea Factory Logo

Idea Factory: Home of Neptune, quirky RPGs, and Otome

Back in November Idea Factory International announced that it would be bringing the latest game in the Hakuoki franchise to the west, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. While the West has been no stranger to the Hakuoki franchise, the previous games have been localized both by Aksys Games and Glozcus, the former handling the console and handheld releases and the latter handling the sole Western mobile release. What’s very interesting about all this to me is that this seems to indicate an interesting shift in what Idea Factory International is willing to localize. Mainly because these games have all been made by Otomate, a brand of Idea Factory in Japan. What exactly do I mean by “willing to localize”?  Why should you be excited about this even if you don’t care for Otome games, and what does this have to do with Visual Novels as a whole? I’ll do my best to answer all those questions, but first, let’s tackled what exactly Hakuoki is.

The Maiden and the Shinsengumi

Idea Factory International | Hakuoki

A familiar franchise now under new management.

In the Bakumatsu period in Japan (the end of the Edo era and end Tokugawa shogunate in Japan) a young girl is searching for her father only to be pursued by samurai. She is rescued by the Shinsengumi who, ironically enough, are also looking for said missing dad. The Shinsengumi allow her to stay with them as they continue the search and of course, romance ensues. Thus begins Hakuoki as well as one of Idea Factory’s largest franchises.

There have been five games (four published by Aksys Games, and one by Glozcus for mobile) and at least two anime adaptations that have made the journey west. However, this is the first time that Idea Factory International will be directly handling the series. This is actually quite significant as, to me, it indicates that IFI is growing healthily. Otome games or “Otoge”, sadly, are not exactly what we consider mainstream even in niche gaming. It really is some of the niche of the niche. For those of you who don’t know what an Otome novel is, let me explain.

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.

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