HAKUOKI: KYOTO WINDS
Release Date: May 16, 2017 (North America)
Developers: Idea Factory, Design Factory
Publishers: Otomate, Idea Factory International
Platforms: PS VITA, Steam (PC)
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)
I know, I know! This review is late for the party… lol but here it is, finally!
Hakuoki was probably the first english (otome) visual novel i’ve played back in 2012. I have played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom in the PSP and really enjoyed it. In fact, I could never play any other (visual novel) game that has the Shinsengumi’s famous names without incorporating it with my Hakuoki characters, lmao it just doesn’t feel right. LOL Please tell me I’m not the only Hakuoki fan that feels this way!
Although this popular series may have a lot of renditions and titles available on different gaming platforms (PSP, 3DS, PS3 and PS Vita), they tell the same story and offer the same six potential romanceable characters (Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama). If you’re new to the series and don’t know where to start, Kyoto Winds is a great title to begin your Hakuoki journey.
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is the first half of the revamped edition of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. This title is also probably the biggest update the Hakuoki series has had in years. Some of the improvements they’ve made were the animated bgs and sprites (eyes blinking, mouth moving, flower petals falling in the bg, etc.). Not only that, but instead of the usual six dateable characters, they’ve added six more lovely samurais you can choose to romance with in the series. We now have new routes for the following characters:
- (The long awaited route of) Shinpachi Nagakura
- Keisuke Sanan
- Susumu Yamazaki
- Hachiro Iba
- Kazue Souma
- Ryouma Sakamoto
However, because of the added content and sub stories, not to mention the new routes of the recently added characters, Kyoto Winds only covers half of the original Hakuoki story. The new title, Edo Blossoms (localized version), which was recently released this year – continues the second half, covering the rest of the Shinsengumi tale.
Read the game’s synopsis here.
ART AND MUSIC
Besides more story content, this rendition also covers more art, and by that I mean, more exceptionally beautiful CGs to satisfy our hearts with. Arguably, there are three artists involved in the making of the game’s artwork throughout the years. Kazuki Yone, who’s responsible for the original character design, Miko (also known as the artist of Code Realize) for the game’s additional graphics, and Shiki Sakigumi for continuing the new and additional character designs after Yone left. The latter is also the official artist for the AU title, Hakuoki SSL.
I think the game’s OP “Ruri No Sora E” is by far the best theme that suits the Hakuoki story really well to a T. Listen to this track below!
CHARACTERS AND WALKTHROUGHS (Spoiler Free)
For a more engaged gameplay, I suggest playing the routes in the order below:
- Toshizo Hijikata
- Souji Okita
- Hajime Saito
- Heisuke Toudou
- Sanosuke Harada
- Shinpachi Nagakura
- Keisuke Sanan
- Susumu Yamazaki
- Hachiro Iba
- Kazue Souma
- Ryouma Sakamoto
- Chikage Kazama
CV: Shinichirou Miki – Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Mr. Buckethead (Bad Apple Wars), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)
Also known as “The Demon Vice Commander”. Hijikata is one of the most devoted samurais of the Shinsengumi. Acting as the leader alongside Isami Kondou, he is not only respected by his men for his exceptional sword skill and talent in the battlefield but also for his pride and beliefs as a true samurai warrior.
His Route in Kyoto Winds was more inclined to the Shinsengumi’s story. I think it is fairly recommended to do his route first since it follows through the historical events of the Shinsengumi and their activities in Kyoto. That said, there is no romance in this route – sadly… Despite his cold and strict demeanor, there were a few cute moments where the heroine, Chizuru gets to warm up to him through their little interactions, making Hijikata still one of the most likable characters of the game.
CV: Shotaro Morikubo – Impey Barbicane (Code Realize), Musica (Fairy Tale), Toa (7’scarlet)
Okita is the captain of the first division of the Shinsengumi, he’s also known as one of the most notorious warriors in the battlefield. He posses a very sarcastic personality and a charmingly sadistic nature. This man is also very loyal to Isami Kondou and his top priority in life is to be the sword and weapon of the Shinsengumi. It is rumored that his sword skill is as good as Hijikata’s, although he personally claimed that he’s better.
His Route in Kyoto Winds was a little rough around the edges. His playful threats of killing Chizuru can be a handful sometimes (although this is one of his notable charms). I personally love how the heroine handled Okita’s complex personality. Because of her understanding and determination to support him, she was able to melt this man’s cold-blooded heart.
CV: Kousuke Toriumi – Kagiha (Psychedelica BB), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Lawrence (Psychedelica AH), John Watson (Code Realize)
The Captain of the third division of the Shinsengumi. Saito is another loyal member of the Shinsengumi who almost never question or complain about a task he’s given to do. He is smart and very rational, sometimes to the point of coldness. He greatly respects Hijikata as one of his superiors and willingly follows his leadership. He takes no pleasure in the battlefield despite his exceptional skill in a fight.
His Route, had plenty of doki-doki moments and probably had the best CGs. Saito’s kuudere nature was really adorable. I also find it cute when he’s so fired up talking about his obsession with swords. He may sport a very cold and distant personality upfront but inside is a very shy, and sympathetic gentleman who’s always looking out for your best interest.
CV: Yoshino Hiroyuki – Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X), Auger von Garibaldi (Black Wolves Saga), Otamaru Heishi (Norn9)
The Captain of the eight division who’s the youngest and probably the most cheerful and optimistic member of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains of the Shinsengumi who are very dedicated to serving the shogunate, Heisuke is rather the opposite. He has his own political beliefs regarding the unscrupulous nature of war and his role as a warrior participating in it.
There’s chemistry between him and our main heroine, Chizuru, so it was very refreshing playing His Route. Maybe it’s because they’re around the same age? I also loved Heisuke’s character development in his story. His wavering beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong seemed very realistic and I think his constant battle between what he believes in vs. his emotions brought out his character’s benevolent nature.
CV: Koji Yusa – Itsuki Kagami (Norn9), Mr. Gasmask (Bad Apple Wars), Bernardo (Luckydog1)
The Captain of the tenth division, who prefers a spear as his weapon of choice. He is a very compassionate character and one of the most level-headed members of the Shinsengumi. He enjoys a good sake in his free time and maybe some friendly banter with his close pals, Shinpachi and Heisuke.
His Route is def. a fan favorite. Sanosuke Harada is every girl’s dream-prince-samurai. Besides his drop-dead gorgeous look and physique, he is always kind and very considerate when it comes to Chizuru, the perfect gentleman (if ya ask me!). If you want a more romance-inclined story in Kyoto Winds, Sano’s route is for the taking! …and just wait till’ you get to him in Edo Blossom!
CV: Tsuboi Tomohiro – Toshi Maeda (Sengoku Basara), Rikimaru (Tenchu 2), Taliesin (Tears to Tiara)
The Captain of the second Division and one of the most skilled warriors of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains who started as a nobody before they claimed their Shinsengumi titles, Shinpachi was born into a samurai family but was never interested in a life of luxury as he wanted to earn his role as a samurai rather than reaping its benefits through his family name. He ended up in the Shiei Hall where he met the other captains and that was when Kondou took him.
His Route in Kyoto Winds,
Is the sisterzone route. Lol, Besides him treating Chizuru as nothing more than a little sister, he also lacked a deeper connection with the heroine, which made his romance a bit one-sided (to Chizuru, that is). I do like Shinpachi’s character though, he’s a great comic relief to the group and ofc who could ignore those manly pecs’ from heaven?!
CV: Nobuo Tobita – Straizo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Kan Soo-Jin (Akatsuki no Yona), Capt. Gordon (Disgea)
One of the Vice Commanders of the Shinsengumi, also referred as a Colonel in their organization. Sanan gained his position due to his intelligence in battle tactics as well as his headstrong personality which garnered him the respect of the other Shinsengumi captains. Despite his kind and gentle appearance, he posses an ominous side, especially when angered.
Sanan gave me the creeps in other routes. His Route in Kyoto Winds made him a little less creepy which is perhaps good? but not good enough to make him a potential love interest. Idk, maybe it’s because of his self-pity or his obsession with the “rasetsu” (furies) that turned me off in his story. I love his voice actor though, I think Nobou Tobita really did well in emphasizing this character’s dark and complex nature.
CV: Takayuki Suzuki – Daedalus Munto (Demonion Series), Oota Hiroo (Koiken Otome)
Yamazaki is a member of the Watch division in the Shinsengumi. As a doctor’s son, he’s also well versed in the field of medicine. He is very devoted to the Shinsengumi and respects Hijikata as his commanding leader. Although most of his missions involved stealth and surveying, Yamazaki is also a skilled swordsman and can lend a hand in the battlefield when needed.
His Route in Kyoto Winds was
very fluffy and surprisingly good. Yamazaki is that one guy you’ve completely ignored all throughout the entire game – you’ve failed to realize how much of a good man this character is until you step into his route. Because both the heroine and Yamazaki’s parents are doctors, I feel that they complement each other extremely well, they’re almost the perfect pair.
CV: Mamoru Miyano – Souo Tamaki (OHSHC), Light Yagami (Death Note), Tokiya (Utapri), Okabi Rintarou (Steins Gate)
Hachiro Iba is a member of the shogun’s guard who has known the Shinsengumi for years. He’s also inherited one of the most popular dojo in Bakumatso, Edo, through his family name. Despite his charming looks and his very gentle & refined appearance, he is one badass swordsman who’s trained together with the Shinsengumi captains. He’s also Chizuru’s childhood friend.
His Route is probably one of the most interesting routes in Kyoto Winds. I find it REALLY hard not to like Iba as he was honest-to-god about his feelings towards Chizuru and it was very admirable how he always puts the heroine first above all else. The plot twist in his story also caught me off guard as I wasn’t expecting any of it, to say the least.
CV: Yuki Kaji – Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Finis (Code Realize), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Yuiga Kakeru (Norn9), Rath Vogart (Black Wolves Saga) Hayato Ozaki (Nil Admirari)
A new recruit of the Shinsengumi who was a former soldier in the shogunate army. Isami Kondou, sees potential in him so he was immediately appointed as the chief’s page.
Kazue was a page in training under Chizuru’s guidance. He’s one very optimistic soldier who’s always eager and determined to learn more. I have mixed feelings regarding His Route though. While he’s a very bright and lovely new character, I felt that his relationship with the heroine was more of a “nakama” rather than a love interest… and the only time I felt their relationship, romantically went up a notch was around the last scene (chapter 5) of Souma’s route. It was a good thing he pulled through in Edo Blossoms! (smirks)
CV: Daisuke Ono – Hyuuga (Neo Angelique), Hades (Kamigami no Asobi), Subaru Asahina (Brother’s Conflict), Yuuya (Muv-Luv), Azuma Natsuhiko (Norn9)
Originally a samurai from Tosa, Sakamoto is the ronin responsible for negotiating the alliance between the Satsuma and Choshu in an effort to overthrow the Shogunate. Sakamoto has a very progressive view on politics and he believes that the Japanese government should become more like a democracy.
Before I played His Route, I have *sort of* spoiled myself with his story by reading an article about the real Ryouma Sakamoto in Japanese history. It was interesting that the game fundamentally follows through his life events and the highlights of his activities in Kyoto. I find Sakamoto’s route to be really good – plot-wise, as it ventured more into each of the characters’ different views and perspectives about war. His relationship with Chizuru was also really cute, though it became a bit angsty towards the end.
CV: Kenjiro Tsuda – Hattori Hanzo (Nightshade), Soshi Amazaki (The Charming Empire), Leonardo Da Vinci (Ikevamp), Nathan Seymour (Tiger & Bunny)
The head of the demon clan in the west. Chikage Kazama posses an arrogant and cruel persona and is severely prejudiced against humans. He is somehow connected with the Satsuma Domain together with his demon comrades, Amagiri and Shiranui. He takes a special interest on Chizuru for some reason.
I am extremely biased on this character so it is hard for me to be objective with him.lol Kazama can either be the antagonist or an ally in the game depending on whose route you’re at. I think one interesting aspect about Kazama’s character is that you change your opinion about him (almost every route). Imo, His Route in Kyoto Winds was one of the most satisfying ones as it touched a lot on the demon lineage in the Hakuoki series. Because this was left questionable in the previous original story, it is so refreshing to finally get a grasp on this side of the plot, the Demon’s side. I also think that Chizuru and Kazama suited each other really well.
The young girl who came to Kyoto disguised as a boy in search of her missing father, she was taken in by the Shinsengumi after accidentally witnessing one of the organization’s dark secrets. She became Hijikata’s page and eventually adapted living with the Shinsengumi soldiers, becoming accustomed to their lifestyle.
Chizuru is probably one of the best heroines I’ve played in an otome game. In this series, you can really feel her growing up, changing her ideals and perspectives in life, distancing away from her naivety as she gets more involved in the current (Edo) war and its corruptness. She knows how to wield her kodachi and although her skills are not up to par with the normal soldiers in battle, she is learned and capable enough to defend herself and knows when to flee or hide when the odds aren’t on her favor. I really enjoyed playing as Chizuru, her emotional anguish and helplessness, not to mention her desperate motivation in the game really grew on me and I just love it whenever you get to connect with the main protagonist like that.
HAKUOKI Kyoto Winds: “Wind Treasure Box”
Did you know that you can get Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ DLC, “Wind Treasure Box” for only $3.99 in the PS Store? The DLC contains six extra stories of Saito, Iba, Nagakura, Harada, Heisuke, and Yamazaki together with our main heroine, Chizuru. These short stories are mainly extra fluff content that happened somewhere in the middle of the common route of each bachelor.
Is it worth shelling out $3.99 for these extra five-minute content? As an avid fan of the series, I really enjoyed these extra short stories a lot, but it’s really up to you to decide. You also get an extra CG after completing the DLC.
TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE
OVERALL THOUGHTS? (´ ε ` )♡
Hakuoki is one of the best visual novels I’ve played and Kyoto Winds was probably the best remake of the series. As someone who’s a sucker for samurai cinema, this game was definitely a treat. I find it really interesting that the characters were based on real historical figures in Japan during the Bakumatsu period.
Because it’s the first part of the original Hakuoki story, Kyoto Winds focused generally more of its plot; which is the story of the Shinsengumi and the summit of their affairs in Kyoto. That said, the romantic events were pretty low. This game also contains one long introduction that’s quite heavy on the text and narratives.
If you’re not a fan of content-driven plots and prefer a story that’s solely focused on romance, this game may not be for you.
Kyoto Winds can also get a bit repetitive as you play through all the routes. This is because almost all of the characters follow through the same storyline, but hey this is where the SKIP button becomes your saving grace. lol I personally enjoyed this game to heart. It had the right amount of action, drama, and suspense enough to stir your emotions and will work you up at the edge of your seat. For the newer routes, I enjoyed Yamazaki and Iba’s story the most. Needless to say, all the characters grew on me and I believe the newer ones were a great addition to the game.
Do I recommend this game? YES.
If you’ve played the older Hakuoki games and liked it, Kyoto Winds is definitely a good title to consider (playing again), this remake is without a doubt one for the books!
If you want a good quality visual novel with solid content, great art, memorable soundtracks, and very likable characters, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds definitely delivers all of these to your doorstep.