Release Date: November 11, 2022 (North America)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: 17+ M
DISCLOSURE: Please keep in mind the content warnings of this game which are: violence, sexual violence, sexual assault, incest, prostitution, misogynistic views, gaslighting, stockholm syndrome, self-harm, suicide, drug/substance abuse.
Since this was originally an R18 title. There will be depictions of sexual intercourse through out the entire gameplay. Play at your own risk!
A love tale of light and shadow set in the Taisho era.
Tokyo. The year is 1918, a dark age for the world.
In this tale of love and hate, five young men pursue the daughter of an aristocratic family on the verge of ruin.
Yuriko Nomiya, born and raised comfortably in an aristocratic family, is suddenly struck by a series of misfortunes.
Is this fate brought about by the Taisho era, or is someone plotting against her?
The dark, bittersweet take of Yuriko and five gorgeous men is about to unfold.
ART AND MUSIC
I’m playing both the (Japanese) PC and the (English) switch version back to back, and the obvious sprite difference was definitely apparent between the two. I mean, the PC version was released more than a decade ago, so it’s only natural for the developers to revamp the artwork and polish it for the switch. While both character designs still look the same, I did notice they removed Fujita’s wrinkles 😅 so he looks younger now.(laughs) Regardless, I thought the overall artwork for this game was stunning!
|Director / Scenario Writer:: Bunge Maruki|
|Overall Illustrator: Chigiri Amano, Yogi Otogi (Staff)|
|BGM: Takeshi Ifukube|
|OP/ED Performed by: Riko Hira (OP), Miu Natsuki (ED)|
I also wanted to bring up how much I loved the game’s OP theme “Hana Kaori Namida Horori”. This song’s easily stuck in my head. Both the lyrics and the theme’s cadence are just beautiful.
Because of the game’s original R18 rating, all the casts in this title used their pseudonyms and aliases.
Chasuke as “Shiba” – Nobuyuki Sanada (Harukanaru 7), Shuichi Wakui (CHAOS;CHILD), Teshikaga Kirihito (Luckydog1), Demiurge (Overlord series), Senji (Deadman Wonderland)
Sandayu Cyanosis as “Fujita” – Shogo Fujimoto (Kitty Love), Chikage Karasuma (7’Scarlet), Jin Grandet (IkePri), Hyuga Shinobu (KLAP), Vlad (Princess Nightmare), Razel (Lamento BtV), Munenori Yagyu (Harukanaru 7) Klaus (Beastmaster and Prince)
Kiya Suga as “Hideo” – Nikkari Aoe (Touken Ranbu), Shinobu (Yoshiwara Higanbana), Virus (DRAMAtical murder), Prinny (Disgea), Jill Christophe (MidCin), Satoru Ikari (Tengoku Struggle), Ryuji Takasu (Toradora!)
Tatsuya Hirai as “Mizuhito” – Laito (Diabolik Lovers), Saint Germain (Code Realize), Oomi (Hiiro no Kakera), Zain (Period Cube), Tower Overlord (Psychedelica AH), Cinderella (Taisho x Alice), Lucas (Shuuen no Virche), Kokindenjunotachi (Touken Ranbu)
Ai Nekomi as “Kyoko” – Scarlet (Final Fantasy VIIR), Sailor Neptune (Sailor Moon), Tsunade (Naruto), Chloe Frazer (Uncharted), Zakuro (Ninja Scroll), Cassidy (Pokemon TV series), Hotaru (Samurai Champloo)
Keizo Oshi as “Majima“ – ♡Kogitsunemaru (Touken Ranbu), ♡Tsugunobu (Birushana), Shiba (EPHEMERAL), Subaru (Diabolik Lovers), Miki Saburo (Hakuoki), Kuro Usagi (ALICE=ALICE), Jinnia (Radiant Tale)
Story Time: Remembering Chou no Doku Mobile Port…
To those who are new to the genre, you may or may not know this but the English version of Chou no Doku used to be available on the mobile platform (Android, iOS).
Last April of 2020, publishers Abracadabra Games released a mobile version of Chou no Doku, where they omitted its voice acting and utilized the mobage ticket system, allowing you to purchase one route for $29.99 and a glaring $89.99, for all the routes (bundled). The outrageous price caused a negative backlash from the community, and most fans refused to buy and support the game due to its questionable marketing and unfair pricing.
Oddly enough, a couple of months right after the mobile port’s release, Abracadabra Games abruptly announced Chou no Doku’s termination of services. This means that the game will no longer be available for purchase (in the App Store and Google Play). In addition, they’ve also stated that the entire app will completely shut down for good, and those who purchased it will no longer be able to access the game. The publishers did not state any reason for the app’s termination, though everyone pretty much assumed it was because of low sales.
Considering the massive boom of successful otome releases over the years, it didn’t come as a surprise to me that Aromarie and the now publishers of Chou no Doku (for the Nintendo Switch), Prototype, gave the title another chance in the West. And with that, I am very thankful. It typically shows that there is, for certain, a growing demand for the genre in the West (just within the last few years).
MAIN CHARACTERS AND ROUTES
Only the routes for Shiba, Fujita, Hideo and Mizuhito are available from the start. Kyoko’s route can be unlocked after your first run, and Majima’s route will only unlock after finishing everyone else’s. Each route reveals bits and pieces of the overarching plot, so if you’re worried about spoilers, I strongly recommend playing the game in this order: Shiba → Fujita → Hideo → Mizuhito → Kyoko → Majima.
I believe Fujita and Hideo’s routes can be interchanged. But to me, I thought this was the best order as far as story progression goes. Kyoko and Majima’s routes contain massive plot spoilers, so it is best to leave theirs for last. Needless to say, this is only a soft recommendation, and you do not have to follow it if you don’t want to.
Also, I’m not sure if there was any restrictions on Kyoko’s actual ending “Like A Jojo Spider”, but I happened to stumble upon it while doing Majima’s route. I’m fairly certain, this one unlocks right after the ending “Lady Detective”.
- but actually soft
A nouveau riche and a wealthy merchant who owns a trading company and who’s wildly obsessed with marrying the heroine. With his arrogant and pompous attitude, Shiba stops at nothing to make Yuriko his.
Shiba was a surprising character, ngl. He grows on you. His route had a bumpy start, and his stubbornness and aggressive approach may get on your nerves at first. But boy oh boy, does he grow on you! Did I just say that twice? (laughs).😂 Strangely enough, his adamant and very obsessive grit to marry the heroine was one of his genuine charms. His pushy attitude really worked for me. He’s a smooth operator, and I thought his advances weren’t distasteful. The beauty of Shiba’s character is that; you may not like him that much in his route, but trust, you’ll probably end up loving him by the end of the game.
His relationship with Yuriko is also quite amusing. Yuriko hates him with a passion, scoffs at him, and turns him down several times, but this guy here NEVER gives up, you see!😂 Shiba’s unyielding resolve to marry her doesn’t ever falter. Even on other bachelor’s routes. He always comes waltzing into the scene declaring his intent to marry Yuriko. It’s hilarious! 😂 This dude is unrelenting – it’s almost comical, and I love it! His backstory will explain his resoluteness, and why he acts like this.
- half gaijin
- ( • )( • )🥛 enjoyer
Fujita is the half-British butler who has been working in the Nomiya family ever since the heroine was a child. His number one priority is to serve his masters first and only think of his needs second. His stoical demeanor makes him look very apathetic toward the heroine. But deep down, he is a very kind-hearted individual who only wishes for Yuriko’s best interests.
Despite Fujita’s stoic facade, he actually has a sweet tooth which kind of makes him a gap moe in my book. This route’s romance fairly showcased the master-servant relationship, which I believe was what his story was going for. I liked it for the most part. But because I’m not too fond of this trope, this route became my least favorite. Nothing really stood out to me here besides… Fujita’s gigantic wang.😳 I’m also playing the PC version along with the switch, and yep, the dude is mighty packing!😏
I thought it’s worth mentioning that Yuriko, during this route, was extra mean. Well, to be honest, she’s quite the mean, sassy protagonist, but compared to other routes, she was more ruthless than expected here. It’s not a deal breaker per se because I love how she was written. I just feel bad seeing a continuously henpecked Fujita, tis all! Poor guy!😭 Yuriko calls him effeminate, and it’s hard not to agree.😅 (cackles) Anyway, his bad ends were way too funny that I couldn’t take them seriously. I believe they changed one tragic ending to an entirely different scenario for the switch (probably due to CERO/ESRB.)😂
- birb loving tsun 🦜
- “the glasses stays on… during sex“😳
Hideo is the protagonist’s childhood friend. While he is the son of an upstanding baron, his family lineage is still not as notably prestigious as the Nomiya’s. Hideo also works as a lieutenant in the military. He’s very dependable and straight-laced, and he despises other men who fool around in the red-light district.
Oh my goodness… this route!🥺 I wasn’t expecting to like it this much, but Hideo’s tsundere personality was too adorable – you just can’t NOT like him right off the bat. First of all, his chemistry with Yuriko was top-notch! They just vibe so well with each other, and so naturally, at that. Their banters especially were stupidly good, it’s almost like watching a prime-time soap opera.😅 I dig it. You know that feeling where you just wanna curl your toes and giggle because something stupidly mushy is happening in front of you. Yeah, I felt that in this route (cackles).😂😂😂
Even the conflict in Hideo’s story was nicely wrapped up. Nothing felt contrived. I also thought Yuriko’s development was pleasantly done here. While she was very stubborn, and lowkey selfish with some of her decisions, her actions remained reasonable to an extent, so it’s honestly impossible for me to dislike her – that’s just how good the writing is for this route. I loved all of Hideo’s bad endings because they’re not just abrupt dead ends, but rather all of them had substance. (Tbh, most of the bad ends for this game are like that.) Their “first time” was also pretty wholesome. I liked it, minus the part where Hideo prematurely nutted his pants just from filling up Yuriko’s bewbies, HAHA – I died laughing from this .😂
- onii-san route
Mizuhito is the heroine’s older brother and the eldest of the Nomiya family. He’s a talented artist who loves to paint. He doesn’t care about maintaining their family’s status as aristocrats and just does whatever he feels like doing. Most of the time, he spends his days with the geishas in the red-light district. He loves his younger sister very much, to the extent that he doesn’t want her to take anyone for a husband despite it being a political arrangement.
Angst and Hirarin is such a dangerous combo, so I was fully preparing myself for this route. Why is Hirarin stereotyped with these roles? I have absolutely no clue, but the atmosphere depicted on Mizuhito’s route was so forlorn, it actually made me sad for no reason.😰 This route also gives us a few revelations about the Nomiya family, which I won’t get too in-depth with due to spoilers. At one point, I feel kind of bad for Mizuhito. No doubt he suffered a lot which made me understand why he acted in a certain way.
His relationship dynamic with Yuriko was also curiously odd but not in a disagreeable manner, if you catch my drift. Sometimes both of them, Mizuhito especially, can get borderline obsessive with Yuriko, but I can’t label it as yandere either.🤔 Because this route portrayed such a heavy tone in the beginning, I was quite surprised that there weren’t any kind of foray or hurdles that Yuriko and Mizuhito needed to overcome after they fell in love.🤷♀️ This route wasn’t exactly a favorite of mine, though I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it because I most definitely did… & hooboi! His 3P bad ending was hecking beautiful!🥵 chomp chomp!
- friendship route (but not really) 😏
Kyoko Amami is the daughter of a very rich and prestigious aristocrat. She’s a carefree individual who doesn’t seem to mind what others think of her on the surface. She’s a pleasure-seeker as well, and does what she wants without a care in the world. Kyoko is also close to Yuriko’s mother and has shown interest in Yuriko ever since they met.
I was told that this is more of a friendship/platonic route, but I beg to differ. While it was not clearly portrayed that both Yuriko and Kyoko ended up in a monogamous relationship. No one can absolutely convince me that it wasn’t suggested they both had a thing for each other! Ha! Gosh, I loved this route so much, and I wish they went all out with a full-blown yuri for this one! (cackles) Oh well…🤷♀️
Also, please accept this low quality edit I made, portraying Kyoko’s “Like A Jojo Spider” Ending in a nutshell.
- (≧ω≦*)♡ Kyah!
- best boi /jk 🤪
Majima is the Nomiya family’s resident gardener. He’s a gentleman who loves and adores plants and sports a very pleasant and positive personality. Majima is also Yuriko’s first love.
There’s a reason why Majima’s route is locked for the finale, and my god was the wait utterly painful… Hnnng…😩 The game really wants you to simp for Majima from the beginning, and I’m not mad at this one bit because heck! What I would do for Takashi Kondo characters.😭 First of all, the Normal End (“The Lady Detective”) is a prerequisite ending you’ll need to finish before you can actually unlock Majima’s route. This ending was also very pivotal to the story, and this is where the game answers all the lingering questions you may (or may not) have from the earlier routes played.
What can I say….. I… was entirely gobsmacked! And I felt honestly stupid for not realizing the foreshadowing that was right in front of me all along. 😩🤣 (cackles) Anyway, because the normal end already reached peak plot, I felt that Majima’s ‘best’ ending didn’t quite garner the same impact as the former. However, it was still pretty good in the sense that it derailed the entire story from a different angle and perspective. I can’t exactly expound on this further without going into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave you with this. Majima’s route had a lot of revelations and substance to take in. It’s also probably not for everyone. But I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the best squicky LI routes I’ve played in a while. Best boy no doubt! 😂
YURIKO NOMIYA (Main Heroine)
Yuriko is an aristocratic young lady who grew up very sheltered and incognizant of the danger surrounding their manor and family. She’s also very stubborn, unapologetic, highly emotional, sometimes selfish, and very stern with her opinions on different things.
Yuriko has a very strong personality and she’s not afraid to express herself and her hard-nosed views and sentiments, especially toward the opposite sex. She’s kind of a spoiled brat, but I believe the writers intended to write her this way, considering her background and upbringing. This is the reason why I can’t bring myself to dislike her because she was written so believable – it’s shockingly scary. Several times, I catch myself agreeing with her decisions, despite her sometimes dubious resoluteness. Her actions whether questionable or downright mean just fits the story too well.
While Yuriko remains consistent with her strong resolve and cheeky persona, her character’s disposition changes depending on the route and the LI she’s with. She was sassy on both Shiba and Hideo’s routes and I deemed those two LIs the best fit for her as their chemistry comes off as very natural. I wasn’t a fan of her in Fujita’s route because she was a bit snappy and hostile, albeit, this was probably due to Fujita’s subservient nature.🤔 She was very persistent in both Mizuhito and Majima’s routes, and I appreciate this side of her wanting to be independent and very determined to do what she intends to do.💪😆
This heroine was also a very jealous type to boot. I’m normally not a fan of overly sassy, mean MCs, but in Yuriko’s case, I honestly loved how flawed and imperfect she was. I believe this was due to how realistically appropriate she was written for the setting and story this title was aiming to convey.
SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
Chou no Doku’s UI looked very outdated. No surprises there! This title was released more than a decade ago, and it appears that the devs didn’t bother revamping the Switch version as it looked pretty identical to its 11-year-old PC version. The PC version’s “Jump to the next choice” button became very helpful when trying to complete all of the game’s endings and CGs. I’m not sure if the switch version had something similar. The controls outright confused me still ngl.😅 So I didn’t tweak or customized my gamepad/controller and just left it by default. I did love the font choices on the switch version, though!
The localization was also quite decent. I barely spotted any errors as they were very few and far in between. I liked some of the word choices they used as well, and the dialogues had a natural flow to them.
There’s an Extra Section that automatically unlocks once you complete the entire game, and this was by far one of the most hilarious omake dialogues I’ve read in an Otome Game! Really, this one’s hysterically funny. You can’t miss it!
NOTE: Also, please keep in mind, that the PC version of this game, does not have the English text available. Only the switch version comes with the English patch.
It took me around 20-25 hours to complete and finish this game. I played both the Japanese PC version and the switch version (in English). Look, I don’t care if you think this is tedious. I just wanted to get the full experience of the game, okay!🤣 Plus, I wanted to compare and see what they omitted in the original, versus what they retained or changed for the console release.
For the most part, the story, scenarios, and dialogues remained the same for both platforms. The R18 scenes and CGs however, were removed and watered down to the infamous fade-to-black for the switch version. There were also a couple of things they’ve completely changed to adhere to CERO/ESRB ratings. Such as Fujita’s bad/tragic ending, and Mizuhito’s 3P Ending. Click the spoilers below, if you’re curious about the scenario difference.
❁Spoilers (Warning: Explicit Details, Do not click if you are a minor!)❁
Fujita’s Ending: “Servant for Eternity”
Switch Version: Yuriko ends up marrying Shiba and having kids with him. Fujita remains Yuriko’s butler and follows her to Shiba’s estate. They roleplay as “master and pet” every time Shiba is away or out of the country. Yuriko treats Fujita as a dog, and Fujita complies (is happy to be her dog lol).
PC Version: (Same ending but different kink): Yuriko ends up marrying Shiba and having kids with him, and Fujita remains as Yuriko’s butler and follows her to Shiba’s estate. Every time Shiba is away, Fujita and Yuriko do their usual sexual rendezvous at a private hotel or restaurant, and Fujita drinks Yuriko’s breastmilk. LOL
Mizuhito’s Ending: “Secret Accomplices”
Switch Version: Hideo catches Yuriko and Mizuhito having kinky sex, and he was forced to join in. During their 3P escapade, Mizuhito ties up Hideo and lets Yuriko bite him aggressively.
PC Version: Hideo catches Yuriko and Mizuhito having kinky sex, and he was forced to join in. Mizuhito ties Hideo up and had Yuriko climb on top of him to sex him up. After a first round with Hideo, Mizuhito then puts a drug (pill) in Yuriko’s crotch while Hideo is still inside her and Mizuhito joins in on the action. The pill was supposed to stretch Yuriko up so she can take two diques inside her at the same time. OUCH!
As for the story itself, I actually loved it. The writing was pretty solid. Periodt. I did a little digging on Marika’s (scenario writer) works and wow, they’ve apparently sold a lot of popular R18 light novels (mainly BL and Otome), so I guess it’s no surprise how skilled and polished they are when it comes to writing adult novels with soap opera feels.
One thing I really enjoyed about Chou no Doku was how the characters were written. They were genuinely portrayed as organic as possible, and because of this, the story’s narrative just flowed naturally, where it didn’t feel contrived or forced. I think I’ve also mentioned this earlier, but most of the bad endings in this title had substance. They weren’t just random dead-ends for shock value. Rather, they contribute context to the story itself. Of course, there are also the “kinky bad ends”, but you’re better off looking at them as some sort of raunchy entertainment to feed the readers’ guilty pleasures rather than canonical conclusions of the game.😆 (laughs) The plot on its own, was also not afraid to go dark and edgy. What’s great about it was that the writer definitely knows when to insert comical scenes and when to pull off the serious ones. The pacing was quite good, to say the least. It was one smooth, and easy read!
Needless to say, Chou no Doku is by no means perfect. There were routes that weren’t written quite as well as the others, and some endings were resolved rather quickly and rudimental. Though I thought these flaws were easily forgivable.
While romance was the main focus of this title, the game also delivered a very interesting mystery plot. There were times that even I couldn’t put the game down. The suspense was pretty up there. It really held my interest through and through.
All of the main characters were delightfully appealing, including the heroine. Each of them has distinguishing quirks that will surely suit a player’s fancy. Whether trashy or not, they were ALL likable to an extent. My favorite LI (if it ain’t obvious) was Majima.♡♡♡ Any character voiced by Takashi Kondo is an insta-fav of mine, ngl.😂 My biased opinion aside, I just think Majima was a very interesting deep character that could go from sweet, bittersweet to ultimate trash in just a flip of a dime, and I am unfortunately drawn to questionable tropes like these. Ha ha!😅
My second favorite would have to be Shiba because wow, the dude is just a fine specimen of soft trash. To be honest, he came by a hair close to becoming a fav. Indeed, he was the ultimate bias wrecker of this game!😂 Hideo was also a pretty good love interest, and I believe his route was by far the best in the romance department. Fujita and Mizuhito – while I still enjoyed their stories, their romance wasn’t my cup of tea, so they’re placed last in my character ranking.🤗
Do I recommend this game? YES.
Please keep in mind that this title is rated M (17+). The content warnings are there for a reason, so please don’t go picking this up all willy-nilly without checking these TWs first. Otherwise, you just might end up with some unwanted landmines. The game definitely showcased a more mature approach to romance, so I can only recommend this to non-minors.
Chou no Doku or “Butterfly’s Poison; Blood Chains” is a fascinating mix of an adequately good story narrative with some appropriate raunchiness taking the spice up a notch. I really enjoyed this title so much, and I’m glad I’ve picked up its fandisk, which I’m probably going to be playing soon. All in all, this game was great! The drama, suspense, and well-developed characters have garnered this title a place in my hall of favs. That said, this is an easy thumbs-up coming from me!