Ah yes, the infamous otome game; otherwise known as the dating simulation. The mere mention of it’s name can make even the most devoted and accepting fans of anime cringe. Filled to the brim with “attractive” guys, useless filler scenes of fluff, and the constant reminders that the main girl lacks a brain, the anime adaptation of otome games have become shun worthy material in the anime community.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of anime adaptations of otome games are outright bad. Everything from a brainless main character to episodes of plotless fluff that seemingly have zero connection to the rest of the plotless fluff, otome game anime adaptations have all the qualities of what would be considered as a “bad anime”. At the same time however, these adaptations have widespread popularity amoung (mostly) women….. as guilty pleasures, which really should not be the case.
Otome games are great. They contain in depth characters and interesting plot lines when handled correctly. They make you feel warm and fuzzy inside when you play them and sometimes there are even deeper storylines hidden beneath the surface. However, when companies try to adapt a game where the storyline changes based on the character of your choice, well, the results are obvious.
Here I will explain the reasons why the anime industry should stop making bad adaptations of otome games.
Keep in mind though that this is all based on my own experience and observations that I have made from being in both the otome game and anime communities.
1) They are Looked Down Upon by the Anime Community/They do not Serve their Purpose as Commercials
Let’s just use Diabolik Lovers as an example. This anime is infamous for being the absolute worst vampire anime in existence. Why? Because the heroine is the ultimate Mary-Sue, all the guys are jerks, the plot is confusing, the episodes hardly connect, traditional vampire lore is completely rejected, none of the characters are developed, and that is only the tip of the iceberg! But wait…. If this anime was so bad, then why does it have such a large following? Because the game is just about 10000% better than the anime!
Ok, I will admit, when I first found out about this anime I thought it was absolute crap as well, but after doing a bit of research, I actually found that this was an amazingly done otome game.
The entire point of this game was to appeal to an audience that enjoys BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) and more specifically, masochists — or just general subs. All the guys are purposefully made sadistic, and if you actually play the game, you find that they all have wonderful backstories and do not treat the heroine as a blood bag to just pass around.
By trying to showcase all the routes at once in a 12 episode long anime the plot becomes muddled and a lot of key information is left out. The guys become presented not only as sadists but as complete and utter jerks, and the brainlessness of the heroine becomes painfully apparent; all things that make anime only fans walk away thinking that otome games and their fans are stupid.
2) They are Marketed as Reverse Harems
You may be thinking “Oh Beijing, what’s wrong with that? They are essentially reverse harems, right? So what’s the problem?” The fact that they are being set up to fail is the problem!
Some of the best and most well known romance animes are reverse harems and by putting these already bad adaptations in with those big fish is nothing but a recipe for disaster!
Let’s just start by comparing Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club, one of the most well known reverse harem animes, to Haruka from Uta no Prince Sama, one of the most well known otome games with an anime adaptation.
Haruhi has a distinct personality that is rather unlike most average girls; she is strong-willed, tomboyish, independent, harsh and blunt at times, a realist, and naive about romance. She is her own character but is still compatible with all of the other characters in the series. At the same time she also succeeds at not being a Mary-Sue.
Haruka however is generic, bland, naive about everything, optimistic, “perfect”, and flat out clueless at some points, and that is all on purpose! Anyone who has played at least 2 traditional otome games can tell you that otome game producing companies make their heroines (MCs in otome game terms) as genetic and bland as possible so any girl can pick up the game and be able to connect to the MC in at least one way. Furthermore, the MC’s personality changes slightly depending on the route chosen so that she is as compatible as possible to the chosen character.
3) The Plot Becomes Muddled
This is Alice in the Country of Hearts, infamous for being the most confusing anime adaptation in existence. The sad part? This is my favorite otome game with a plot to die for. I will try not to give away any spoilers but if you haven’t heard of this game before go check it out; it’s absolutely amazing. I know there isn’t an english version of the game (sadly) but there is of the manga (someplace, I haven’t found all of the volumes yet) and some very nice people have done english translated walkthroughs. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
This otome game actually is very confusing in itself (but what else would you expect from an Alice in Wonderland adaptation?), but it is done well and dare I say, perfectly. The madness of it all actually enhances the dark and mysterious (but still sweet) plot of the game. However, the way that the game developers got away with such a thing was by doing a distinct separation of the MC from the rest of the routes depending on who the player picked. In simpler terms, it would be impossible for all the routes to be showcased at once. So if that’s true? Then how was an anime adaptation created? If the point of an anime adaptation is to showcase all the routes, then how would that be possible with this impossible game? Well by purposefully making the sequence of events totally jumbled and out of order apparently.
In case you didn’t know there is actually a “legend” surrounding the anime adaptation of Alice in the Country of Hearts. It’s said that only those who have played all the games and read all the manga volumes can understand the adaptation.
I’m sorry but I fail to see the logic in that.
I get that by doing that it forces anyone who wants to watch the adaptation to play all the games and read the manga but that is still beyond ridiculous. The adaption just makes the entire franchise seem stupid to an unknowing viewer. Honestly, whoever thought that adding more madness to something that had found the perfect equilibrium to madness and sanity has to be fired.
Hopefully one day soon we will see a day when an otome game gets a good anime adaptation, but honestly, I don’t see that coming anytime soon. For now, all of us otome game fans must just endure the pain of only being able to see our precious games as bad adaptations and suffer through the hours we take out of our days to explain that otome games aren’t that bad to anime only fans.
And to all of you anime only fans. We are not stupid.
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