Hump Day Husbandos: Ignis Carbunculus (Café Enchanté)

Hump Day Husbandos

Hello all and welcome to our new weekly Hump Day Husbandos column! Each week we will be covering a male within any video game genre, be it a JRPG, visual novel, or of course an otome who deserves to be celebrated and regarded as one of the finest husbando candidates out there who you should love too.

We’re starting off with a chap from Café Enchanté, a more recent release, since he has yet to leave my headspace, even after I was all done with the game. Since my review of the title, my stance on my favourite best boy has been a toss-up between Ignis and Kaoru, but considering the latter will be mentioned in another article on otome archetypes sooner rather than later, Ignis will be first up and I’ll get into the details as to why he deserves all the love after a spoiler warning!

Please do not read ahead if you have not played his route yet.

Introducing the hot-headed beast boy

What better place to start then show our appreciation to Yuuki Ono for bringing Ignis to life when conveying his emotional highs and lows and boisterousness with his talented voice acting throughout Café Enchanté. The heated voice of Ignis may very well be familiar to otome players as he has previously appeared as Yuzuru Saeki from Collar x Malice, Gavin from Mr Love: Queen’s Choice, Riku Fernando Javier from Storm Lover 2nd, and the anime equivalent to Ignis in Kuroko’s Basketball with Taiga Kagami.

Ignis and Taiga both love their food and are beasts at what they do best — be it fighting, playing basketball, or any sport for that matter. I am certainly not complaining at being given the opportunity to romance a character that reminds me of Taiga! It’s a shame we don’t have character songs in Café Enchanté, unlike in Kuroko’s Basketball, if I do have one single desire to speak of.

But back to Café Enchanté, and back to Ignis! He happens to be the love interest who is closest to protagonist Kotone’s age at 25 years old in human years, reinforcing how well they are matched together with fiery chemistry and a tendency to compliment one another. Their dynamic may be nothing new — a strong fighter with a huge appetite and his capable cook go together like coffee and cream after all — but his route finale nicely pulls the two together on equal footing and is whimsically romantic. It even ends with a bit of steamy teasing. How does he not already sound like a good candidate as a best husbando?

Hump day husbando Ignis Carbunculus from Cafe Enchante

His place within Café Enchanté

Before Café Enchanté gets heavy in plot and enters a more dark and depressing realm, Ignis’ route is best played just after the story of noble knight Canus Espada. Canus may very well be a delight all on his own, but he simply does not have that tsundere edge like our hot-headed Ignis right here.

As a route through Café Enchanté that still holds a lot of weight with its angst-filled origin story and a climactic final chapter, Ignis’ route may not play out as anything new for the genre but is instead an adorably engaging tale of romancing a beast boy who fails miserably at hiding a heart of gold. While Canus is undeniably wholesome, the attraction of Ignis also provides plenty of eye candy — have you seen those muscular arms? As someone who is generally indifferent to the tsundere archetype, Ignis still caught my attention what with his fiery red hair (a personal preference but also an immediate eye catching design choice for me) and rugged build that screams capable fighter and dependable protector — ironic when the tables are turned in his route though, but more on that later!

His quietly considerate nature is intoxicating to see surface; Kotone’s patience and kindness towards him warms the beast boy’s heart and makes him more open with her. He is in fact much more blatantly sweet and caring compared to other otome tsunderes, even beating out my previous favourite of Steam Prison’s Ulrik Ferrie, since Ignis is a far more layered love interest. And unlike more popular tsunderes such as Amnesia’s Shin and Collar x Malice’s Takeru, Ignis is a lot less verbally toxic, condescending or rude, with the worst he comes out with being just “idiot”. He ends up using this initially insulting term more fondly and in a softer tone by the middle part of his route, as an indication of his developing feelings for Kotone.

His initial distancing from her, typical of the closed-off tsundere type, is due to him seeing Kotone as her grandfather Souan’s replacement — his fondness for the previous owner of Café Enchanté initially prevents him from accepting Kotone now being in that position. This is understandably important to him as we come to learn of how Souan once saved Ignis when he previously lost control and was on the verge of no return. And while his disinterest in Kotone does come off as rude at first, it’s clear that the bond Ignis shared with Souan is so important to him that his death has emotionally affected him the most compared to everyone else. It’s an immediately telling, striking sign of how kind and sweet he really is.

This first barrier against Kotone is very believable as a result, and is addressed and handled within the common route, making Ignis seem much more approachable as soon as they clear the air. Ignis eventually realises he’s going about accepting Kotone in the wrong way by thinking of her as a “replacement” and not as her own person. It’s the first stepping stone in growing closer to the hot-headed hunk, and things really heat up from there.

Hump day husbando Ignis Carbunculus from Cafe Enchante

Blood, sweat and tears

Satomi Nakayama provided the main scenario of Café Enchanté, as well as several individual routes including Misyr’s, Il’s and Ignis’. He also worked on route scenarios for both Variable Barricade and Code Realize, so you know you’re onto a winner before Ignis’ route even begins — and said route certainly doesn’t disappoint so far as Nakayama’s trademark tendency towrads tragic backstories goes.

Ignis has the best intentions considering how powerful he is, and chooses to not kill any of his opponents, instead protecting others despite his home world fearing him. This is due to his goal of bringing peace to his realm by quelling violence — even after the deaths of his friends and family, with only a few of his kind still remaining to this day.

It is later revealed that Vanar, the Beast of Ruin, resides in him and is the cause of him losing control. Him being the reincarnation of this terrifying entity goes against his own ideals and goals, and sets up a gut-wrenching route finale triggered by Kotone as she causes his eventual awakening. It nicely links the two exclusively together and provides a pivotal moment of character development for Ignis. The pent up emotions that spills from Yuuki Ono’s talented voice is worth the wait in the final chapter, as we finally see a well-deserved love confession from the pair before Kotone proves how strong she is by withstanding an assault — both verbal and physical — from Ignis’ friend Dromi, and ultimately stopping Vanar’s killing spree.

Why he’s husbando material

Ah, where to begin? Let’s break down some important scenes in Café Enchanté and why they’re proof of him deserving to be here. When we consider his popularity within his home world, Ignis is clearly reliable and capable of protecting Kotone as we’ve seen above, but with his sad backstory it opens up the possibility of showing his vulnerable side. But his brute strength is a highly desirable and charming trait in the demon realm of Bestia — so much so that his fellow café chums theorise how experienced he is with love, which of course makes him bashful.

Hump day husbando Ignis Carbunculus from Cafe Enchante

This subject is brought up within the first chapter of Ignis’ route in Café Enchanté when Dromi asks him if Kotone is his “mate” — as in romantic “mate” — after meeting her. We all know a love interest blushing is a sight to behold, but a tsundere? They’re undeniably the best to see flustered. His reaction is beyond adorable, even as he beats Dromi to a pulp for bringing up a female from Bestia who is interested in him in front of Kotone — despite his uncertainty as to why he even cares what Kotone thinks. Can we sense a hint of affection? Of course we can!

Later this uncertainty turns into denial when Ignis protects Kotone from a minotaur beast, and his animal instincts kick in to clean up her hand wound with his tongue — and thus the spiciness begins, of course followed up with an iconic tsundere line: “It’s not like I was worried or anything”. (Baka. – Ed.)

As Kotone teaches Ignis how to cook, he reveals how he met Kotone’s grandfather Souan after he once lost control of himself after a long, harsh battle; he managed to relax after Souan cooked for him in Café Enchanté, which brought out his very big appetite. Ignis shows his vulnerable side to Kotone for the first time as he speaks of his concern over losing his senses again; Kotone simply reassures him that she will cook as much as he needs to satisfy his beast. Ignis is taken aback and calls Kotone an idiot — but saying this with a blinding smile and genuine affection in his voice, he’s clearly touched by Kotone’s consideration and the fact she’s not fearful of him after his admission. It’s a very sweet moment that clearly shows a turning point for each character’s feelings towards one another.

Hump day husbando Ignis Carbunculus from Cafe Enchante

His consideration for Kotone in turn goes so far as to push her back out of that ever-present fear he will lose control of himself and hurt her — and yes, you guessed right, he does indeed do so by mistake in the third chapter. Cue the angst! His concern for Kotone’s safety is always a highlight since he is so dismissive of his feelings. After Kotone is dragged into the demon realm of Bestia, his concern for her safety is clear as day as he runs to where she is taking shelter and later even admits to his fear of her being harmed.

In the same cute CG scene he opens up about his trauma and thanks Kotone for listening. When asked why he’s shared his past with her, he simply says he’s “grown fond of her”. The slow and steady hints of interest between the pair is well-paced, and when it is finally vocally expressed by Yuuki Ono’s glorious voice, his declaration of love is all the more powerful and gut-wrenching. It’s easily become one of my favourite otome confessions due to the tension provided by a barrier erected by Misyr blocking them from touching for their own safety, Dromi’s bothersome scheming from the sidelines, and how bottled up their feelings had previously been, making the moment even more explosive. And somehow this scene, one of my favourites in Café Enchanté, is still trumped by their final embrace, when Kotone saves him from his transformation. This is thanks to his realisation that he desires to dedicate his life to Kotone; his wish completely puts him back in control of his body. Ignis finally being so unapologetically passionate after being so quiet about his feelings is the cherry on top of an exciting and adorable route.

Hump day husbando Ignis Carbunculus from Cafe Enchante

This finally leads me to how Ignis really puts the “hump” in Hump Day. (That’s not what it… oh, never mind – Ed.) He provides some of the spiciest, most suggestive dialogue and whispered temptations in Kotone’s ear in his route’s epilogue. I particularly appreciated the lines where he said how he thought Kotone is “better than food” and how she will “tame a wild beast” — despite how red in the face they made me. And in “A Message of Love”, his extra questionnaire section, he’s even more vocal about his love for Kotone. This proclamation of love is absolutely everything to hear, and a wonderful reward after having completed his route through Café Enchanté.

Conclusion

There’s so many other little things that makes Ignis a fantastic love interest from Café Enchanté. He’s the reason Kotone has a cute mascot for the cafe with Kororo; he prizes his lover to speak clearly, honestly and frankly, unlike many troublesome love interests (looking at you, Diabolik Lovers) — and even reveals he enjoys buying matching clothes for Kotone and himself as a pastime. Love interests like Ignis fuel my continued desire to date them all, in the hope that I can one day find someone else just as adorable as he is.

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Lilia Hellal
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