Even more otome and joseimuke goodness coming west

It is becoming an increasingly busy time for joseimuke and otome fans alike, since 2022 has provided us a bountiful harvest so far.

Aksys’ announcements from AX2022 provide plenty to look forward to, and that’s not all; there’s still a lot of other otomes on the way, too, so check out our rundown of everything on the way over the course of the next year.

And wouldn’t you know it? There’s yet more, too. Here’s three news pieces you may well have missed about some upcoming releases and developments that are well worth getting excited about.

Koezaru wa Akai Hana (The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling) localisation

Joseimuke and otome news: Koezaru wa Akai Hana

Koezaru wa Akai Hana was originally released in 2012 as an 18+ otome for PC. Since then it has seen ports to PSP, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch, as well as a repackaged, rereleased version for PC in 2017. Whilst the latter would retain the explicit content, console versions had them removed and rated 17+ instead as usual for games like this. The upcoming localisations for Switch and PC will also be based on the 17+ version rather than the original adults-only incarnation.

The news of this game making it west is beyond exciting. It’s a rare example of a genuinely mature otome getting localised, despite its explicit content being removed — just check out the game’s character page on vndb for a look at what to expect. It’s also noteworthy that this is the first time we’ve seen a localised release from Operetta Due, a branch of Operetta.

Their games have a classic, nostalgic vibe to them despite none of them being that old; part of this is down to artist Tsukino Omame being the character designer of throwback title The Second Reproduction, a title that received a fan translation way back in 2012. That game’s original developer Heterodoxy ended up defunct, but many of its members became part of Operetta.

Now, on to the finer details. In Koezaru wa Akai Hana the story follows heroine Naala, one of the few living females who has yet to succumb to a deadly disease that targets and kills off women only. After losing her only family member, Naala is taken in by a royal family and is later wedded to the up-and-coming king. Disaster strikes once more when the kingdom is attacked, and Naala seeks her freedom after being captured.

The game sounds like it will be a rough ride, starring a helpless heroine and tackling dark themes such as discrimination, abuse, submission, kidnapping and insanity. It should get us prepared for Shuuen no Virche if nothing else, I guess! I’m certainly intrigued by how the heroine is regarded as being “strong”, and by the inclusion of an unusual love triangle dynamic. Off the top of my head, only Ozmafia offered something similar through its optional routes.

On a final note, it’s a delight to see that one of its love interests is over 30 years old. I’m going to get you, Sefu.

Collar x Malice movie adaptation

Joseimuke and otome news: Collar x Malice movie adaptation

Back in 2019, an anime adaptation of Collar x Malice was announced, suggesting that we might get a series. This month, we finally got confirmation that work on the anime is underway, with it set to release sometime in 2023. It won’t be a series, though; instead, it will be a feature-length movie.

It’s safe to say that this will be hotly anticipated, no matter how often these otome-to-anime adaptations end up being quite disappointing. It’s not really surprising that this happens, though, when anime adaptations try to condense 40+ hours of character development and unfolding narratives into either a series of 20-minute episodes or a two-hour movie. There’s no way it can cover it all; condensing any sort of story-heavy source material into a shorter runtime is a challenge that never seems to pay off.

Obviously, this may suggest trouble for a single movie’s ability to present the entirety of Collar x Malice’s storyline, since it’s a more serious, darker otome involving murder mysteries, terrorism, crime, law enforcement and the themes that come with each.

On the other hand, it could be rather fitting; Collar x Malice is a relatively action-based otome with a nice slow-burner plot, with each route adding pieces to the overall puzzle. The big cast is split into the various routes, playing a part in the various murder mysteries that they are integral to.

The trailer seems to suggest that the adaptation will be focusing on the most important cast members and central mystery by concentrating on Yanagi’s route — this sounds much more manageable, though it does mean we’ll miss out on the slower build-up of clues and intrigue from the other routes. It hopefully goes without saying that you should play the game first!

Since the majority of otome-to-anime adaptations simply do not hit right — see Ozmafia, Kenka Bancho Otome and Obey Me! for examples of how to get the scale of such things very wrong — there’s actually some potential for Collar x Malice to work well by being streamlined and focused. It makes sense to focus on poster boy Yanagi, since his route is locked until you’ve cleared all the others — and it’s the one that answers the main questions. It’s just a shame that we won’t see an adaptation of the emotionally superior route of Shiraishi.

Elements with Emotions, an original Joseimuke game developed by Square Enix

It’s 2022, and who on Earth could have possibly foreseen a joseimuke game being made about turning the periodic table into hot 2D men? Well, look forward to such a surreal concept becoming a reality, because it’s on the way to us sooner rather than later.

Ketsugou Danshi -Elements with Emotions- was announced in September of 2022, and is set to release later in the year. It’s being developed by Square Enix for Android, iOS and Nintendo Switch. It will be fully voiced, with plans to include more characters to join the player’s roster via DLC already in place. (Boo – Ed.)

As a newly announced title, very little is currently known about the game, so we will relay all we know about it for now, and keep our eyes peeled for more developments down the line. The story follows the protagonist uniting the Shikenkan, individuals who can control chemical elements, before the world ends in 50 days due to an enemy known as the “Red Matter”.

Elements with Emotions sounds like a truly entertaining albeit weird ride. No longer will I be able to see the opening credits of Breaking Bad without thinking of ikemen.

Probably the most exciting thing is the staff who have been revealed to be working on the game so far. Character designs are being handled by Suoh, of Bad Apple Wars and Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani fame, and music is being worked on by Agematsu Noriyasu, best known for his input on the Uta no Prince-sama and Grisaia: Phantom Trigger series.

If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from the promos so far, it’s that joseimuke and otome products need more men who look like Sulfur. Regardless, though, I’m really excited to find out more about what this game is — and hopefully we won’t have too long to wait!

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Lilia Hellal
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