[Guest Blogger] My Best Friend Became a Courtesan: Men of Yoshiwara- Hayabusa Main Story Review

Today marks an exceptionally special day as today we have a special guest post from Naja at Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! We’ve been working on this post for awhile and it has finally come to fruition! This is a first for me in a few ways. My first otome review and the first collab, so I was really excited when Naja approached me with the idea! So without further ado, here’s Naja’s post!

Hello, Heroes and Travelers, Iโ€™m Pokeninja90 from the gaming blog Nice Job Breaking It, Hero and Hazel and I have been cooking up something special for you guys… *drumroll* A super special collaboration game review for the otome game, Men of Yoshiwara-Kikuya!!

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So the background, I absolutely love otome games and since I started my blog a little over two years ago, I have made it my mission to spread the gospel of otoge to anyone and everyone I come into contact with. So when I met Hazel a few months ago, I of course gave her the whole otome pitch, okay who am I kidding, I mostly spammed her with 2D Bishies on Line, but miraculously all of my efforts paid off! Hazel took the bait, and I have been slowly corrupting her ever since… ah, a friendship born from a love of 2D men, there’s nothing purer! *wipes tear from eye* Anyhow, so I asked Hazel if she was interested in doing an otome themed collaboration post where we each play a game/route, afterwards we’d each write review about it which we would then post on each other’s blogs. And since this was her first ever otome game review, I let her pick the game and route… she chose childhood friend turned courtesan, Hayabusa!

What’s the game about?

Men of Yoshiwara-Kikuya is a port of the popular Japanese otome game, Gyakuten Yoshiwara, developed by D3 Publisher and Dogenzaka Labs. The game is available in English for Android, IOS, and on Steam. Unlike the original Japanese version, the English version is unvoiced, but that doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of the game.

In the game you play as a young woman who finds herself drawn into the alluring red light district, of Yoshiwara. A place where women live out their sweetest fantasies with the beautiful male courtesans that reside there. The heroine never thought that she would be one of them, that is until an errand sends her to the very heart of Yoshiwara. There she sees the nightly courtesan parade, enamored by the wonderful sights, she enters one of Yoshiwara’s most prominent pleasure houses, Kikuya. Surrounded by such brilliant jewels, our naive heroine loses her frickin mind gives herself over to her desires, when she chooses a courtesan for the night…


Falling for a Courtesan…

hayabusa-1Okay, so I like the idea that men are so rare on this unnamed island Japan, that any man born on the island is taken to the pleasure district and forced into prostitution. It’s a welcome change from the much more mainstream female courtesan trend, pity it’s so “tame”. Men of Yoshiwara is like a watered down version of Fumi Yoshinaga’s award winning josei manga, Ooku: The Inner Chambers. Sure the guys are courtesans, and sure they lack the freedom to do what they please, but, I dunno, there wasn’t enough angst in this game for me, we don’t get to see the nitty gritty side of being a courtesan. The MC doesn’t walk up on her chosen love interest while he’s spending time with another woman, in fact it seems like what ever guy she chooses takes a vacation from his “duties” so that he can spend every night with her, any mentions of his sleeping with other women is glossed over or completely ignored altogether. But, this is an otome game so I don’t know why I expected this to be realistic…

However, despite my issues with the story as a whole, I will say that the romance, at least in Hayabusa’s route was handled fairly well. Unlike the other guys in the game, Hayabusa and the MC knew each other prior to the start of the game, they were childhood friends, so the first half of the route wasn’t bogged down with scenes of the pair getting to know one another. Instead, we were treated to a lot of “Ah, you’re just like I remember you’s” and “I’m not a kid anymore’s”… Which were easy to overlook, given the fact that the MC and Hayabusa haven’t seen each other in years, so it only makes sense that they’d have some catching up to do. Up until their reunion, both Hayabusa and the MC had lived vastly different lives, and they each have to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t the same people they were as children.

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When they were younger, Hayabusa or Hayato as he was called back then, was the MC’s beloved onii-chan who’d do anything for his sweet innocent little sis. Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I really don’t care for the big brother types, there have been a few exceptions here and there, but generally speaking, these types of characters tend to have pretty bland stories and little to no character development. Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Hayabusa fit the childhood friend archetype to the letter. He’s a boy scout through and through, earnest and pretty chill, it’s easy to forget that he’s a seasoned courtesan. Hayabusa doesn’t really stand out when compared with the other courtesans at Kikuya, he’s got a homegrown kind of charm, which I rather enjoyed, however, that didn’t really make for the most exciting route ever. The writers tried to add some drama by addressing an incident from the prologue, but when there are only two endings and one is a Happy End and the other is a Super Happy End, that kind of undermines the suspense a bit….

hayabusa-3But, the most enjoyable part of the route for me was the MC and not because she was some stunning example of female progress, nah bruh… she was a meek innocent, Mary Sue! So, why oh why did I like her so much? Well, because everything out of her mouth was so utterly ridiculous, I couldn’t help but laugh at how unrelatable she was! She’s in a frickin brothel, this isn’t Disneyland…it’s a pleasure house, where people go to have sex with hot men and move on… So can someone PLEASE tell me why this girl is acting so damn innocent. She knew where she was going, she knew what kinds of business they do, why is she so surprised by everything…. and I swear if anyone says, “well that’s just how MCs are in Japanese otoges”, I’ll direct you towards a few Japanese otoges with strong female leads… I spent the majority of the route either laughing hysterically or facepalming at something the MC said or at one of the choices I had to make. And to her credit, a lot of her questionable dialogue was due to the rather colorful translation job, but still, she was just too naive for my taste. I wanted to shake her on several occasions, there is literally a such thing as being too dumb to live… *sigh* Thankfully, Hayabusa was a bit more to my tastes!

While Hayabusa isn’t my favorite otoge guy ever, he wasn’t the worst, he was just kind of average. I really feel like the writers played it safe with this route, so there really wasn’t anything that stood out about the guy. Don’t get me wrong, there were some genuinely sweet moments between Hayabusa and the MC, but, I dunno, I just felt like there was something missing. Of course this wasn’t helped by the fact that the story didn’t have the best pacing. Days passed in a matter of sentences, and the chapters always seemed to end in the middle of a sentence… EVERY SINGLE TIME! Even the endings seemed to come out of nowhere, one minute Hayabusa and the MC are having sexy time, the next they’re saying “I do”… completely out of left field! I like happy endings as much as the next person, but jeeze, can I get a minute to process everything first?!

Overall, this route was pretty meh, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t the best either, I guess I wanted more bang for my buck! Men of Yoshiwara-Kikuya promised me sex, passion, and desire… but, what I got was the complete opposite. Hayabusa’s route was as vanilla as you could get and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed! *sigh*

I want to say thanks again to Hazel for agreeing to do this collab with me, this was so much fun and I canโ€™t wait to see what she has to say about the route in her first ever otome review!! If youโ€™re itching to read her review, check out her post on my blog, by clicking HERE!

Have you guys played Men of Yoshiwara? What do you think of Hayabusa? How do you all feel about childhood friend romances? Let us know in the comments section!! Also thank you guys for putting up with me over her on Archi- Anime, this is Pokeninja90 signing out!! Thank you for reading!!!