A long time ago, I sold all the Steam cards that I got from idling in games while doing chores to Russian money launderers and eventually saved up enough money to buy Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya during a Steam sale for like 90% off. Then I promptly forgot that I did this, because as we all know you’re not supposed to actually play the games that you buy during Steam sales…until finally deciding to return to my backlog after all the other games I was playing like FFXIV got put on hiatus due to the roni.
To begin, the port of this game is pretty low effort. There’s no voice acting and the translation is very slapdash. It isn’t machine translation bad, but it’s clear that nobody ever took a second pass through it because of all the blatant typos, untranslated names, and arbitrary line breaks in the text. Now you could say “you get what you pay for” and it would be true in my case, but normally this game goes for $30 rather than being treated as some cheapo shovelware. You get about 10 CGs per character, most of which are basically indistinguishable from each other.
Anyway, in this game you play a typical nondescript otome mobage heroine named Misao (lol) in a kind of alt history (I’m asuming Meiji era) where this time Yoshiwara is where the ladies go when they’re looking to get dicked down by some high class manwhores desu wa. One day while helping your parents with their shipping warehouse by running some errands, you happen across a woman trying to elope with her favorite courtesan. They’re so grateful that you looked the other way while they were trying to escape back to the mainland that they gave you a formal dress kimono and all their money. Again, you didn’t blackmail them and you didn’t even actively assist them, you just kinda stood there with your mouth agape and they were so grateful for this that they gave you a small fortune. Anyway, while walking back home you saw a bunch of man geishas on parade around and this gave you the bright idea that you should blow all the money that they gave you on them.
Takao: Takao is the highest ranked courtesan at Kikuya (and I guess he’s like the ye olde tyme version of a チャラ男), but despite this he still hasn’t been able to pay off his debt bondage and retire as he has been sending remittances to support his father, who is a retired courtesan. More or less the first half of this route consists of you making your daily trip over to the man brothel (bro-thel?) and hiring Takao, where he then teases you a bit before cutting you off and giving you a case of blue ovaries. Sometimes another one of the guys will try to make a move on you, but then Takao shows up and alphas him. Anyway, after like a half dozen visits he finally gives her the D. Misao does the walk of shame back home that morning and her mom asks where she’s been. She is hesitant and embarrassed to answer, to which mom is like “oh it’s nbd if the reason is that you keep going to Yoshiwara because after all us ladies go there constantly, I mean that’s p much the main method we use to get preggo because there aren’t any other guys here. Anyway, just don’t visit Takao since he’s your half brother!” Whoopsies!
Misao runs off anyway to go to her oniichan. They both decided to sneak off to the mainland to go find Takao’s father to learn the truth and get his blessing. Once there he discover two things: one, that Misao’s father is a “zaddy” who “can get it” and two, don’t worry, you’re not actually blood related. Now yes, it is true that he fucked Misao’s mom a lot, but mom also had a Mamma Mia scenario going on there and turns out that it was one of the other dudes that actually knocked her up and that Takao is his son from someone else. Whew! So yeah, now that it’s not incest anymore they get married.
Kagura: Kagura is the serious one who is all business. This means that unlike in the Takao route, the first half mainly consists of Misao saying “uwu I want to also be the serious one who is all business like Kagura” rather than any naughty business. Then because this is an otome mobage, even though Kagura is the serious one who is all business it’s still twue wuv at first sight with Misao despite her more or less not doing anything during her visits other than saying “hi I’m a n00b to this whole gigolo thing how does this all work anyway?” Repeat this for a dozen chapters until eventually Misao’s well-connected uncle shows up and says “btw you’re a pretty smart guy since you read exotic occidental textbooks, you wanna be a government bureaucrat instead of a prostitute?” (And then Misao and Kagura finally fucc and get married.)
Tokiwa: Tokiwa is Takao’s apprentice and the token gaijin, although in this context it’s more of “supposedly he has vaguely foreign ancestry” than a full on OH ME WA LOUD AMERICAN DEEEEEESU ::shoots a gun while eating a hamburger:: gaijin. As usual, we spend most of the route consisting Misao blowing all her money on visiting him and ordering dinners and stuff while he alternates between flirting with her and being sad about racism (because while all the ladies here have white blood disease for biggu foreign dikku, meanwhile back on the mainland everyone disdains him for not being racially pure). Eventually the game decides to try to advance an actual plot where a rival brothel is going around trying to to knock off the competition and one of them attacks and wounds Takao, so they all decide that Tokiwa should try to catch him for some reason. There isn’t really any good explanation as to why Tokiwa should be doing this of course other than because this is his route, which is why the next time he shows up trying to kill them he is easily able to disarm Tokiwa and kidnap Misao tehepero. Then he locates her like 30 seconds later and frees her lol. By this point Misao has blown all her money and is forced to admit to everyone that she isn’t really a whale and can’t hire Tokiwa any more, so they figure that she can get a freebie from him as compensation for the whole “you got attacked and kidnapped by a serial killer thing.” Then per the usual structure they then fucc and immediately get married the end (this time the explanation for his freedom is “oh hey the emperor heard about how you helped catch that serial killer so he’s giving you a zillion ryo as a reward btw you can use that to buy out Tokiwa’s contract”.)
Kagerou: Kagerou is Kagura’s apprentice, although unlike Tokiwa he is a total n00b, and since he’s Kagura’s apprentice this means that he too is the serious one who is all business. Misao figures that hey, I’m a n00b, he’s a n00b, maybe that’ll make this whole thing less intimidating. Since Kagerou is still not officially a card carrying gentleman of the evening yet, this time the route consists mainly of Misao bumping into him while he runs errands and stuff, rather than because she’s blowing all her money on sessions at Kikuya. Eventually Kagura decides that Kagerou should fucc Misao, but he gets all wangsty about it and causes a scene which scares the clients and pisses everyone off, so he gets thrown in manwhore jail (for some reason Kikuya has one???) Then Takao shows Misao where he’s being held so that they can have a conjugal (kissing only!!!!!!!!!!!!) visit. Now that Kagerou has done his time they finally turn him out and this time he actually fuccs Misao. But she forgets that oh right, he’s officially a manwhore now and has to actually do his manwhoral duties, so when she sees him about to take another client into his boudoir she is so overcome with NTR that she faints, lmao. Okay fine, she was actually sick but it’s much funnier thinking that she was so blown away with cuckquean jealousy that she had a mental blue screen of death.
Anyway, because Misao wasn’t getting better they brought in a Western doctor to treat her. His diagnosis: terminal Key AIDS! (And remember, since this game takes place Back In The Day, that means that Japan has not yet discovered the cure for Key AIDS, which as we all know is “going to America for a surgery.”) With Misao having only a few months left to live, Kagerou finally swallows his pride and allows his family to simply buy out his contract so that he can marry her (NOOOOOO MY MANLY PRIDE I WANT TO EARN THIS WITH MY SWEAT AND TEARS ALSO I WANT PEOPLE TO THINK THAT I’M SMART AND DILIGENT AS WELL AS HOT!!!!!!!!!!) Then the doctor says “jk I was just saying that so you’d finally agree with your family, she’s totally fine but no takesies backsies on everything you just signed off on, lol!”
Hayabusa: Hayabusa (or rather Hayato, since “Hayabusa” is his pseudonym) is Misao’s childhood friend, so we all know what that means: time to fucc (metaphorical) onii-chan! As usual Misao goes “uguu I think I want to spend all my money on himbos uguu” while Hayabusa flirts and teases her, just like every other route for chapter after chapter. This route is the only time where the prologue event of “Misao helps a couple run away to the mainland” has any kind of story relevancy, as this time the red light district lady cops are investigating this and Misao’s involvement in their escape. Eventually they bust in when Misao is trying to buy another night with Hayabusa and catch her red handed trying to pay with the goods that she was given by the eloping couple. Hayabusa tries to take the fall by claiming that he is the one that did it and they believe him despite all the evidence they just got pinning it on Misao and the lack of any tying him to it (lol), and just like in Kagerou’s route again Takao sneaks Misao into the manwhore jail to have a conjugal (kissing only!!!!!!!!!!!!) visit. Then Misao’s mom blackmails the detective to get her to drop the investigation into Misao and release Hayabusa by reminding her that she knows that her husband was also a runaway prostitute lol. (And as usual then they fucc and immediately get married.)
Iroha: Iroha is the proprietor of Kikuya. Unlike those other routes that consist of chapter after chapter of Misao showing up and saying “um im a n00b whats going on here” Iroha immediately starts making out with her lmao. And similarly, rather than chapter after chapter of Misao constantly making trips in order to spend her time going “um im a n00b whats going on here”, she goes there to make out with him (but no sekkusu, since he’s the manager and not active.) Since he’s not active, he does at least offer her the opportunity to fucc Kagerou instead, which then enrages a bunch of the regulars there since nan desu no they all wanted to be the ones to get their aneshota on with him desu wa lolololol. Iroha’s response to this is…to turn into a literal oni to scare them all off wtf. Apparently he is half oni, and when he gets emotional (read: angry or horny) he transforms. Anyway, that’s also the other reason why he doesn’t want to fucc since he wants to avoid knocking up any women with oni babbies (how is oni babby formed?), but despite this a woman shows up at Kikuya claiming that he’s her baby daddy. But since Iroha knows the truth, he pulls a Maury Povich and unveils the REAL father, gets the manwhore di tutti manwhori of Yoshiwara to permaban her…and then goes and beats the living bejeezus out of the guy with a boken for violating The Courtesan Code wtf.
Eventually Misao’s mom decides it’s time for Misao to get a real husband rather than spending all her money in Yoshiwara and arranges a marriage for her to some gaijin. Then for some reason when the gaijin finally arrives in Japan after sailing halfway across the world he decides nah nm so she marries Iroha instead (despite everything up to this point being “I can’t get too emotional or sire children because I’m an oni.”) I’m not condensing the scene or embellishing this for laughs, it really is just a one sentence “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet” to handwave away the arranged marriage.
Iroha then has a second route that continues after this, which contains much more of a story than the typical routes did (and now that they’re married, this time they’re constantly getting it on). A young man named Azusa shows up with an oni skull claiming to be searching for the oni that lives on the island. Iroha explains that he is the ogre, but since the ogre hunter doesn’t believe him, he starts making out with Misao in order to activate a horniness-induced transformation. This also makes voyeur-kun horny as well…which makes him transform into an ogre as well. Iroha figures that the best way for them to keep Azusa’s identity a secret is to bring him in as another courtesan apprentice, since that way he’ll be securely in a place that men otherwise aren’t allowed to go to. Unfortunately Azusa is a little bitch and refuses to do any kind of work whatsoever (neither sex work nor even basic upkeep for the business) until finally relenting and agreeing to do fortune telling. Anyway, word of the oni hunting has started to spread and all kinds of ruffians and fortune hunters begin showing up and attacking people and robbing houses looking for potential oni bounties…and their boss is none other than Iroha’s estranged mother, who is also Azusa’s mother dun dun DUN! They eventually set a trap for her gang by luring them to Kikuya, and when they catch her she explains that she was doing the equivalent of when your cat can’t figure out how to get your attention so it poops on the floor, by having her gang attack people and rob Misao’s house and try to burn down Kikuya. But since they’re all Iroha’s relatives, everyone decides not to press charges against them and lets them go back to the mainland (so they can rob stuff there?) So in the end I think that the route ended before they actually got officially married? Unless “all the thieves surprise them at Kikuya before getting arrested” counted as the wedding?
Final Verdict: So there you have it. Each route was roughly an hour, and even that minuscule length felt incredibly padded since every route other than the second Iroha route consisted essentially of like a dozen chapters of “I want to visit him again” and “I wonder what these feelings I have are about wanting to visit him again.” It’s extremely obvious when you compare the route write ups in this review to the ones when I was writing about Norn69 or Amnesia Mammaries where I have actual stuff to say about the games and post CGs to make fun of. The parts that I made fun of here were often more about how suddenly the game tried to wrap up the story because they spent no time whatsoever trying build up to anything than because they were intrinsically funny. If you’re like me and you can buy this game on Steam at 99% off using the loose change in your Steam wallet that you got from selling cards to Russian money launderers, and you’re masochistic enough to sit through air just so you can laugh at some cringe at the end, I guess, but otherwise lol no.