*no spoiler review, didn’t type out character routes
Rolling around waiting for Re:birthday Song and Psychedelica, I was deciding between Urakata Hakuouki or Shirahana no Ori to fill my time. I didn’t like the original Hakuouki series so I didn’t bother much about this game when it was released, thinking it would be a milking of the series again, but upon checking out the website, decided to play Urakata, and I love it.
This includes elements of a Map search where you can take requests from the townspeople or the playable characters to raise their affection points / get items to increase your stats.
While this is somewhat like Hanayaka Nari’s map system where the maid goes about the town and the mansion to fulfil requests, this system is much easier to use and more straightforward, where the requests you accomplish have a direct effect on affection points and your personal stats for battle. You can also fight monsters by bringing a character along or going on your own to raise your level, just like a real RPG. Different scenarios also occur according to night/day (changeable from the Dojo)
By increasing your stats/love points, the kinds of moves you can use is also different, and a short 3D clip plays when you select a move. You can also buy equipment from shops or healing items with the money you receive from the requests:
But as with all Wafuu games, especially one like this with RPG elements incorporated whereby you have to go about town and speak to people, I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone with limited proficiency in Japanese, unless you want to spend time doing a Hit-and-Miss and remember from memory what each button means.
“Urakata” can actually mean ‘the other side of the story’ or ‘another story’ which is perfect for this game, since it follows the main plot of Hakuouki but with a focus on the JouiShiShi (enemies of the Shinsengumi).
If you played Hanasaku Manimani, you would probably know Takasugi Shinsaku (CV: Sugita Tomokazu) and Katsura Kogoro (CV: KENN). They are the two famous characters from history who are the main leads in the JouiShishi, and were active and supported by many in a time where the Shinsengumi were hated by the townspeople.
While Otomate’s Hakuouki tries to put the bad rep of the Shinsengumi due to the Rasetsu soldiers killing villagers unnecessarily, the truth is that Shinsengumi, (then called Miburou – wolves of Mibu) had recruited all kinds of soldiers who found their newfound identity in the sword an authority to oppress villagers, prominently led by Serikawa and Niimi. Takasugi and Katsura are from the Jouishishi, who tried to reform the country in various ways, and a watered down happy version is used in this game, with them occasionally meeting the Shinsengumi members.
-throwing history aside- Story:
The heroine is Kirishima Kozue, a female teacher at a Dojo(impossible in those times, but yeah, Otome game)
who is looking for her brother who got attacked by Rasetsu and left his sword in a pool of blood. She is unknowingly rescued by Katsura while looking for help for her brother, and from there on, meets members associated with the Choshuu and extreme Emperor Rebels (Sonou-Jouishishi) of the day.
The next day after the incident, Takechi Hanpeita, whom she initially wanted to seek help from, comes to visit her, bringing along a taciturn man. Takechi tells her that he will aid in the search for her brother but he is probably dead. At night, the taciturn man sends her home and she asks for his name, where he (very cutely and MOEEEEEish) introduces himself as Okada Izou (CV: Suzumura Kenichi)
As she interacts with Takasugi and Katsura, she also meets Gravar, a foreign weapon merchant who is on good terms with the Jouishishi.
I wouldn’t say there is a proper play order for the game, but Izou > Katsura > Takasugi > Gravar was my play order since Kozue met Izou more times during the requests than the others guys at night and her stats were too weak for the first route. It was easy enough to up the character stats, but if you do not save your progress after each character, the heroine’s status falls back to default, so take note of that.
Kozue is a pretty good heroine, and they didn’t make her incredibly big eyed and small which I really liked, since there’s not much of that ‘damn you’re small and so feminine, I really like you’ shiet which I hate. Kozue is also strong emotionally, and she’s voiced in bits of the battle parts.
What’s good about Izou:
Despite being cautious of his expressionless doll-like behaviour to follow everything Takechi says(even assasination), you notice he is gentle in some ways as he interacts with Kozue and the townspeople. Kozue helps him realize that Takechi is only using him as a killing machine and they find out about the Rasetsu when they meet Hijikata and Souji from the Shinsengumi.
Izou is always trying to make Kozue happy in his little ways and Takechi, afraid of his ability to learn, didn’t teach him any general knowledge except for swordskills, and ignored him when he failed a mission, which made Izou into a man who didn’t understand simple human interactions. Izou is a VERY MOE character and I’m sure you’ll love him to bits when you play the game.
There was nothing spectacular in Takasugi and Katsura’s route, and honestly not much romance since their relationship is based on ‘trust’ more than ‘love’, but Katsura is like an annoying mom who is overprotective of Kozue and Takasugi is an ore-sama who is amused by Kozue’s strong attitude. Kozue learns to accept their hopes for the future and wishes to support their ideals.
As with all Sakurai Takahiro characters, Gravar is some kind of haraguro prince character, and I don’t know how many times I laughed at the battle scenes of his 3D model shooting guns. I’m convinced Sakurai isn’t fit for a princely role, so I really don’t know why he always gets such a role.
Gravar is exceptionally fond of Kozue for some reason, and there is alot of butler fanservice with teatime and “doing anything you request” but Gravar was a mildly annoying guy with a relatively 1D personality.
Overall however, this was a great filler game for me, and I enjoyed all the routes, since the ‘Last Boss’ was different for all characters.
The art is different from the original game as well (not Kazuki Yone) and I actually like this artist better and really liked the game, so I decided to buy the artbook which has various illustrations and SS from 2013’s DGS/B’slog.
The illustrations were great, and has an Omake Drama CD which I enjoyed though it was a tad short. Takasugi’s illustrations were sexy! (*´∀｀*)
They were mostly from the magazines, but this was my first time seeing them so I was fine. In each character’s route, one member of the Shinsengumi appears for a short exchange, which was interesting because everytime they appeared I would think “So at what level is your relationship with Chizuru now?” lol me.
There were also some bits on the character designs and facial expressions and a guide for full completion of the game (which I haven’t done since giving Izou a Bad end seems really sad…
There’s also an SS and a short Drama CD as I mentioned above, and I was more than happy to hear Kozue’s voice and of course Izou.
That’s all from me, I’m still finishing my CD backlogs slowly and if you’re interested in Urakata and have enough understanding of the language, it’s a great play!