Otome archetypes: those dependable oji-san love interests

Within the scope of otome games, a variety of character tropes have become apparent and are now known as staples of the genre.

These range from archetypes that have been prolific even in bishoujo visual novels, such as the outwardly cold but secretly fiercely affectionate “tsundere” characters (Rin from Fate/Stay Night being a popular example), to the “dandere”, the shy and reserved character who comes out of their shell when around those special to them (Nagisa from Clannad being a prime example).

Many of these otome archetypes trickle into different forms of media, from manga to anime and even into video games, and there are plenty of archetypes to explore. Popular character types range from the cool, intellectual glasses wearing “megane”, to the youthful and adorable “shota”, and the blindingly brilliant and infectiously delightful “genki”.

The first time we covered this topic was with the infamous yandere types. Here we’ll be discussing my second favourite type of love interest — the more experienced and mature older men who can be referred to as ore, or oji-san.

We’ll be following the same format as before: discussing why these otome archetypes within this genre are liked or disliked, what my take is on them, and discuss a handful of well-known love interests as examples to showcase the expectations of this archetype.

What’s the appeal?

I don’t know about you, but I love a dependable and mature guy in my otome games. Despite the type not being my absolute favourite kind of love interest — I’m saving the best for last with the genki type — the oji-san love interests often tend to be quite sidelined by their competitors due to their older age.

This is understandable considering how young many of main characters are within the otome genre, with this big age difference being a significant problem with one of my favourites in fact. With a similar problem arising for many gamers when it comes to the youthful appearance and attitude of shota love interests, I found that the the older I get, the more drawn I am to the more sensible and hardened personalities of the older love interests. So which ones should you keep an eye out for on your otome travels?

Kaoru Rindo from Café Enchanté

Kaoru Rindo from otome game Cafe Enchante

The fact this guy right here is the reason why I’m jumping into covering this archetype should be proof enough of how dependable a guy he is — and how good of an otome game Café Enchanté is while we’re at it.

As the only outsider of the main group who frequents Café Enchanté, Kaoru belongs in the governmental paranormal event counter measurement agency (or GPM for short) and stops by the café for a break now and then to enjoy a coffee and some baked goods.

GPM is a company who invigilates and investigates the realms the other guys originate from. Kaoru has a lot going on you won’t see or understand until you get to his route — best played on your third run through the game to avoid early spoilers, in fact. For example, you’ll come to discover his personal reasons as to why he seems to have it out for non-humans.

The mystery only deepens while you don’t know his relevancy to the surprising story. There’s a lot of angst in his route alone — with shocking connections to the more serious side of Café Enchanté.

What is evident quite early on is how sweet and caring he truly is, even with all his highly effective yet dismissive flirty comments. The significance of him being the only human love interest is rather refreshing — and did I also mention he’s the flirt of the cast? (Once or twice – Ed.)

Irresistibly charming right off the bat and an absolute knockout in his casual attire, the emotional baggage that comes with him makes for a memorable narrative route and love interest. And one more teeny, tiny, all important detail – Junichi Suwabe voices him. The same voice behind Higa from Bad Apple Wars, Van Helsing from Code Realize and Kimimaro Urabe from Sweet Fuse. Same irresistibly awesome voice.

Café Enchanté is exclusive to the Switch.

Shirabe Ayumu from Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

Shirabe from otome game Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

When it comes to first crushes, Sweet Fuse’s very own older love interest is what sparked my affection for older gentlemen in otomes.

Shirabe is the most experienced and level-headed of Sweet Fuse’s pool of love interests, providing plenty of knowledge throughout the common route as well as a lot of protection, care and consideration for his peers — and especially for the leading lady, Saki.

While he starts off seeing Saki as a kid due to her younger age, her maturity and independence shines in his route especially. And the realisation of their mutual interest in one another at the very end of his route was very memorable and endearing, helped by the very best kiss CG of the game going to him. And speaking of endearing, not only does Shirabe have a way with words, his idioms and greetings towards Saki are always a treat to hear — “little lady” has a nice ring to it, no? (I love it when people call me that – Ed.)

Shirabe and Saki are very entertaining together, bouncing off each other well and complimenting one another’s strengths. Shirabe’s job as a journalist hints to his wider goals and involvement with the game’s villain Hogstein, where his one and only motivation shows his true dedication for seeking answers. He’s highly driven to protect his daughter, who we discover is in danger during his route. You end up getting two for the price of one with the wonderful Shirabe and his adorable daughter: what a lovely, happy unit!

However, their age gap does deserve the eye rolls and judgement it gets as Shirabe at age 32 and Saki at 16 does not translate brilliantly in the West, despite it being the same age difference as the amazing couple of Nightshade’s Enju and Hanzo. While their age gap does understandably make them a more unpopular pairing because it’s an unacceptable pair up in reality, I can’t help but personally admire and crush on Shirabe hard for the above reasons. If we’re talking about me and not Saki, I would happily marry him in a heartbeat.

Sweet Fuse is available on the PSP or PS Vita Store.

Every single love interest from Pub Encounter

Otome game Pub Encounter

With a love interest pool ranging from the ages of 40 to 60, otome game Pub Encounter’s scenario is easily guessable from its name alone. While surprisingly streamlined due to its self-contained plot, it concerns a cast of realistic love interests quite unlike many other otomes.

As the protagonist, we find ourselves stressed due to work and seek a break with some alcohol at the Audire bar, where five pairs of interested eyes land on us. And from the get-go a romance is set up for us to revel in! I just couldn’t choose a favourite, so take your pick!

No matter if the narrative you’re exploring concerns the characters’ age, their job, their motivations or past hardships, Pub Encounter packs a very mature appeal and distinctly human character stories — perfect for anyone looking for a more realistic experience from their otome titles.

Be it for the drama, emotional baggage, or a bit of steamy content, each route offers a storyline worth playing through to see the gentlemen defeat their demons. Additionally, each love interest feels very distinctive compared to one another, due to the heavy, individual burdens they carry — and their own charms, of course. They may initially appear as tropes but are anything but as you hear their stories and very adult struggles.

Pub Encounter is targeted towards those who like the mature type of love interests specifically, much like how Gakuen Club is aimed towards those more inclined to Shota love interests. But the title should not be passed over just because of their ages — give them a chance!

Pub Encounter is available on Switch and Steam.

Every single love interest from The Bell Chimes for Gold

The Bell Chimes for Gold otome game

Similar to Pub Encounter, The Bell Chimes for Gold features a very appealing, realistic cast overall. Created by indie studio Otusun Club, the doujin duo of writer Ayane and artist/programmer Himono deliberately create otomes with older love interests.

The design choice and personality traits of its main character Maria are a stand-out for an otome game heroine; she is a brave and considerate individual who will stand up for herself, and whose looks are cute yet still grounded. Because — gasp — she is a fellow glasses wearer! Now that’s a lovely and unusual design choice.

This goes hand in hand with the hunks of the title, each of whom have different builds and very different personalities. For example, William the elf is a naive and friendly person who gets conned a bit too much out of his money and has fallen into debt, while Brian, the priest, is a selfish individual who looks down on others.

The character designs may not be to everyone’s liking, but with a story concerning one’s growth, facing financial struggles and being open to both supporting and being supported by those closest to you, The Bell Chimes for Gold is a sweet albeit short adventure. It also involves some RPG segments as Maria and her hired mercenaries seek out ingredients she needs to do her job as a herbalist properly and efficiently. It’s an underappreciated otome if you ask me.

One complaint worth noting is that the game’s release on Steam is the safe version of the title, with cut CGs and events making for a markedly different experience. You’ll need to purchase the 18+ version on Denpasoft for the full experience. While the Steam-friendly version is still a cute and fluffy adventure, we are always in need of more 18+ romances targeted at us ladies.

The Bell Chimes for Gold is available on Steam, but the 18+ version is available only on Denpasoft’s store. (NSFW link!)

Rindoh from Destiny Ninja 2

Rindoh from otome game Destiny Ninja 2

Throwback time with an oldie (hah), but a goldie with Rindoh from Solmare’s Destiny Ninja 2 for mobile devices.

While the game’s love interest pool has most certainly expanded since its initial release, my heart is still split between two of its original love interests: the adorably emotional Ran, and confident and capable Rindoh.

Teased for being the oldest man of the reverse harem group of ninjas tasked with protecting our main character (default name Ayame), he’s also looked up to by many as a protective, older brother figure.

Rindoh is a capable fighter, easy to warm up to with a friendly and welcoming aura, and is a charming flirt. Rindoh fits comfortably here due to much of his charm coming from his experience. And as an older type, he can get stuck in his own head when questioning Ayame’s interest in him due to his age — even despite his seeming confidence. When he is picked by Ayame as her escort to purify the sacred symbols of four villages on her island to prevent mass destruction, Rindoh is taken aback by you even considering him, even suggesting you’ve made a mistake. How wrong he is.

Rindoh has a way with words, be it by being commanding or offering encouraging remarks towards Ayame — or indeed when things get more steamy between the two. It is also an absolute joy to see this dynamic turned upside down when Ayame manages to be stubborn and bossy with him, or says something so adorable and innocent that it makes his cheeks rosy. Somehow he becomes even more attractive in Season 2 with longer, shabbier hair, and his extra outfits in other events such as his traditional attire are a feast for the eyes. I can’t be the only one blushing, right?

Destiny Ninja 2+ is available to download on the Dear Otome app for iOS.

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Lilia Hellal
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