Otome games are full of endearing and beloved characters you’re meant to fall head over heels for, but what happens when you’re falling for an unobtainable side character? This phenomenon has been coined by fans as the otome side characters syndrome, and it’s truly awful to have to experience. From the female best friends, to the unfortunate souls that prove unattainable due to plot relevancy, this list will cover 5 of our favourites who deserved better. Since this is all about missed opportunities and deep disappointment, I’m sure there’s plenty more candidates you can think of to add to the list.
Collar x Malice’s Saeki Yuzuru
Collar x Malice is filled with so many notable pretty boys, even outside of its main LI group! From Ichika’s brother, Kazuki Hoshino, who just so happens to be a musician in the making, to the numerous bad boys of the villainous Adonis, and police chief Hajime Morioka (what a man), all these characters fall under the “so cool looking how can they not be a route?” category. With designs as gorgeous as these, the most tragic case of this falls on friendzoned, police buddy Saeki Yuzuru. It’s understandable why he isn’t an LI, but with a character design as memorable and striking as his, it makes the acceptance of this all the more difficult. He’s got the cute smile, he’s got the adorably endearing drunken state, and even a damn good backstory. All he needs now is a happy ending with Ichika. I would certainly have been up for a route consisting of a montage of drinking with our very best friend/drinking buddy if that’s all it could have been!
Steam Prison’s Sachsen Brandenburg
Firstly, I can’t be the only person who when first meeting Sachsen assumed he would be a LI, can I? The immediate tension and rivalry between Cyrus and him set up a unique dynamic compared to every other LI, which is why I has suspected him as another potential route. The development between the pair was already set up by their initial meeting, and while I understand her situation and the game’s entire tone could have shifted to more darker circumstances if such a route was taken, Steam Prison had always suggested numerous times of very explicit and dark themes (eg. torture). From the few times we were able to witness and understand more of Sachsen, his background and the reasoning behind his rough personality, there was a lot of potential that could have fleshed out both Sachsen and even our Cyrus if such a route was to have been explored.
At least we can look forward to the most deserving LI of all in Steam Prison finally getting his own route released! We’re all ready for you, Fin.
Nightshade’s Ieyasu Tokugawa
Yet another victim of a character design so beautiful, why couldn’t we have him? Nightshade left me feeling uninterested in the majority of its cast, with Ieyasu being one character I didn’t expect to remember more so than others. Blame it on my previous crushes on other Ieyasu Tokuyawa characters in other games (Sengoku Basara and Ikemen Sengoku to be exact), but Nightshade’s Ieyasu was an immediate attraction, not just for his pretty face and glorious hair. Intelligent, cunny, and at the same time eccentric, he did not make it easy to play through Hanzo’s route when my eyes stayed on him.
Despite it being a potential challenge to implement such a route due to its plot, the dynamic between the two would be a different take on its story, where Enju could face different challenges and obstacles as her safety would be secured by a powerful, politically involved LI. It could even be a shorter route, much like Hamelin from Ozmafia!!. There is a lot of possibility here that it makes his exclusion from the LI pool puzzling. If Nightshade was ever to somehow receive the same treatment as Hakuoki and Code Realize, I could only wish on an Ieyasu route to exist. When I say a character design was wasted on a side character I mean it wholeheartedly when it comes to Nightshade’s Ieyasu.
Period Cube’s Jocus
I feel like this one will be the most unpopular choice of my picks, but what can I say, I love a long haired, red head. Much like how Nightshade’s developers created Ieyasu to be such a God in design, designer Kuroyuki nails each design within the online universe in Period Cube, specifically with one fine gentleman who happens to be one of the most side lined supporting characters of the game. Jocus has no right to look as good as he does, even if he does not look like that outside of the game’s world. In the few times we get to see Jocus, he’s flirtatious yet caring and considerate to our lovely heroine, and plays off well with his three other Guild members, throwing humorous exchanges towards one another.
Speaking of his Guild, the possibility of romancing such a character from the sidelined Forte Guild would have offered a different take on the Isekai world of Period Cube, a factor that could have spiced up the overall plot and lore of the game which instead felt lukewarm the majority of the time. Additionally, he’s voiced by the one and only Shotaro Morikubo, Code Realize’s Impey, 7’scarlet’s Toa Kushinada and Hakuoki’s Souji Okita. I have never felt so teased before.
Bad Apple War’s Sanzu
There are many females scattered about in our lovely otome titles that fitting in just one is an insult to the many other wonderful ladies, so as far as honorable mentions go; Amnesia’s Mine, Collar x Malice’s Kotoho Sakuragawa, and 7’scarlet’s Yua Susano are a few of my other favourite female friends in otome’s. Based on just their amazing character designs and spunky, supportive personalities, Bad Apple War’s Sanzu wins hands down across all categories. Bad Apple Wars can be summed up as Angel Beats as an otome, based on young adults passing through a purgatory setting in a high school.
Sanzu is established early on as a talented musician (remind you of anyone from Angel Beats?), and an initially disinterested and cold individual who receives an incredible character driven arc you won’t forget about anytime soon. Not only is she memorable in both surface level and in seeing her development while getting to know her, she is a lovely support to our heroine and provides one of the most memorable scenes of the game while leaving a lasting impression. I would date her in a heartbeat.
Which side characters in otome titles do you think deserved our full attention?