Otome Game Review: Tengoku Struggle -Strayside-

Enma Rin is the adopted daughter of the ruler of the underworld, Enma Daiou. She was a soul that committed a sin to be sent to hell but is an “utakata” and has no memories of her past life. After being adopted by hell daddy, who loves to adopt people and animals, she has gone through a lot of training to become a “hell graduate” to be a proper member of “hell society” and is also ruling over those who enter hell, deciding which “section” of hell they will be sent to. One day there’s a jail break and the prisoners not only break free, but they manage to escape their “sins” by using a special spider thread given to them by a former prisoner who was also purified of her sins. Unfortunately not only were their sins unfairly purified, but they also took the powers hell daddy has given them with them to the human world. Dad now tasks Rin, and his 4 adopted “pets” – aka former prisoners, to go to the human world and bring the escaped prisoners back. Unfortunately the 4 guys that go with her are a bunch of sexist douchebags from olden times, so now it’s up to Rin to train her man harem to help her with the mission dad gave her.😏 No worries though, she’s equipped with a taser and a ball biting cat mascot to keep them at bay. Since it’s THAT writer, trigger warnings for: Sexual assault, prostitution, necrophilia and vulgar language.

In the common route it begins with them going “Shut up or I’ll ra*e you” but fortunately that all comes quickly to an end when they realize she has control over them via their prisoner bracelets, her teacher Nono-sensei (who is dad’s right hand man) and her kitty Tamao who is pro at biting balls of prisoners who get out of line. 😂 They become completely loyal puppy dogs to her and at the end start go call her “Ojou” – especially once they find out that her power is to accept “pain” of others. It works kinda like the cover skill of Paladins in FFXIV where the stronger the bond with someone, the more of their pain she will take for them. Rin’s mission is to pick one of the guys and grow their bond to 100% by unraveling the past that’s holding him back with her powers. By doing this she will receive an official license to be a permanent member of hell and will not disappear like most of the other “utakatas” do. The other option of course to not disappear is – to fall in love.

One of the other big themes in the game is the Sanzu river, which is like kinda like we say “Crossing the rainbow bridge” but in Japanese mythology they cross the river over either a bridge or snake infested waters, depending on the weight of their crimes in their previous life. Rin’s dream, and the dream of many girls in hell, is to be carried by your lover (that you lose your virginity to 😂) over the river so that the two of you will be bound together forever. The other thing to remember is any dead person returned to the human world is basically a zombie. They must return to the world of the dead every 24 hours (like the people who work there part time in Asakusa) or in the case of Rin & co. they have to take a dip in the special hell-water spa to “revive” their body for the following day. If they were to die or get fatally injured anywhere and not go into that bath, their body would basically rot and their soul would disappear. Additionally you can’t revive infinitely, after 3 times you would basically disappear permanently. Rin also mentions that the souls in hell have unfinished business which is why they continuously keep dying/reviving in hell and not moving on to their next lives.

hehe ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ)

Murakami Yona – Correct me if I’m wrong historically but I believe Yona is based off the Murakami pirates. Yona is the ULTRA template tsundere but that’s okay because I absolutely love this trope. 🥰 He starts off as a complete fucking asshole, but the moment that Rin stands in front of all the guys telling them she will protect them his heart goes ずきゅ~~~ん😍 and he’s completely head over heels for her. When their bond is nearly half way, and he sees Rin get hurt, he gets so upset he starts crying and telling her to send him back to hell ASAP because he cannot stand seeing her injured in any way – despite the fact that she has accepted this from the start. She starts falling for him too, and Tama and Papa have her figured out but Rin continues to deny and get angry at the idea. Yona was born on a small island but because he’s half foreigner, he got the red head and freckles thing going on and the Murakami clan calls him the “son of the devil” because it’s all cool to be racist against non Japanese in the year 1600. His father was from Greece and was born on the island, so he got the name “Murakami” but dirty gaijins cannot be the head of the Murakami clan so that’s why Yona constantly got bullied, blamed for others’ crimes, hated by adults and children etc. (´・ω・`) He used to be a samurai and the only way to “earn his name” was to kill lots and lots of people so his train of thought is a bit warped and he frequently goes from bumbling tsundere to serious samurai man degozaru.

Eventually after everyone ships them, and they get closer on their affection app until Yona is so in love with her he’s terrified he’s going to assault her. One day at their theme park part time help at the oni pool it begins to rain so all the guests go home and only the 2 of them are left. Rin notices Yona is suffering again and offers to use her powers to relieve his pain but he is so embarrassed at the idea of her basically licking his collar bone again he goes into a tsundere tornado until she is like “whatever if you wanna bang me go ahead lol” and does her thing. After doing this not only does she see more of his past, she sees more of his inner thoughts which are basically “damn gurl I wanna bang you” 😂. Yona then confesses his feelings to Rin and figures it’s one sided but she tells him basically she feels the same way and they make out in the weird red pool in the rain. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨ At the end there’s drama with Sansaburo, one of the prisoners and he has a one on one duel with him – although now Yona uses a gun with some gacha-esque skill (Risemara) which allows him to have infinite bullets.  After defeating him, Yona tells Sansaburo to stop with the whole samurai bullshit from the olden times and go home and be a family man with his wife Okuni. Sansaburo then brings out his new power that he obtained thanks to Shinobikuni by killing a bunch of pedos and rich douchebags. 😂

Come on Papaue

Yona defeats him again, and then splashes water on his head telling him to “cool his head” and live his own life, and not worry about “punishing bad guys” or having to constantly kill people as a samurai. Sansaburo then admits that he knew that nobody needs samurai in the 21st century and that the world has changed while they were chilling in hell. Yona and Rin visit hell daddy and Yona asks daddy to approve him of  their relationship lol. After that they return back to earth to live together happily ever after and Tama acts like a wing-cat and gives them  alone time to bang while he sleeps in another room :P. There’s even a random fact at the end thrown in that when Yona was on the ship, the pirate wenches got him drunk with drugged alcohol and paralyzed his body and then killed him.  What a sad way to die lol. This is why he hated alcohol and why he refused to have a drink prepared by Okuni. In the epilogue Yona tries to get with the times and has Shin help him pick out a laptop to look at photos of the sea on (not sure why he couldn’t just do this on his smart phone lol.)

In the bad end, Rin takes the damage from Yona being attacked by Sansaburo and her soul vanishes. Out of anger Yona shoots a defenseless Sansaburo and Okuni gets angry and attacks him back. After this its kinda weird he’s just like I’m gonna jump into the pool and ~disappear~ but the pool is just the amusement park pool so its not that deep. Somehow though I guess his feelings for Rin make him be reborn and so both he and Rin are now reborn as humans in the human world. They keep having dreams about each other from the past and they meet again in Asakusa although this time Rin is the older oneesan just moving in to work there and Yona is just a high school kid. The two of them feel like they know each other and Yona immediately asks her to be his girlfriend as he takes a bite out of her sandwich. (●´ω`●)  Overall I really liked Yona, but honestly I hated how they threw around the “rape” word in every possible context. Even at the end when uh Rin is basically willing to bang him anyway, he’s still like “stop resisting or I’ll raep ya!” Bruh come on. They honestly could have chosen a different word for it, and maybe there’s no Japanese equivalent of “I’m gonna bang you” but at least that’s how I saw the word used even if the literal definition is the bad one. I think a lot of people disliked Yona because of this, and like I get it, he was a pirate samurai raised in a terrible way with constant racist shit spouted at him – but for the purpose of “otome game writing” they could have easily changed the wording around.

(*´Д`*)💓

Uga Kikunosuke – Kiku loves video games and is the youngest of the group.  When he gets tired or flustered, he turns into a wanko. (〃’▽’〃) Since he’s a wanko he’s got really good hearing and smell so he frequently wears headphones in public to muffle out all the overly loud noises. The drama of course begins when his sister Azami shows up and she’s working as an idol for the bad guys. When Kiku tries to reason with her, she tells him to GTFO and that she doesn’t know him. She also wants a girl BFF to do stuff with so she takes a liking to Rin. In the past, he and Azami were shunned by the village for being half wolf/cat and the villagers threatened and kill their parents. Then they threatened to kill Azami and Kikunosuke because they might “screw and have more half animal babies” so they let them live until Azami got her period….at which point the 2 of them tried to escape but the villagers caught up to them and shot Azami. Kiku escaped but was killed a short time later but he thought Azami did nothing wrong so he didn’t think she would be in hell – so he never looked for her. Much to his dismay though, she ended up in one of the deeper layers of hell – where people fall for not believing in god. Of course why would she believe in god when basically her parents were killed and she was attacked and killed by villagers for being a catgirl. Because Azami is a catgirl, she can also manipulate cats and one day when she is attacking Kiku, Tama turns on his master.

Thanks to Nono-sensei he comes back to his senses, but the next day Tama feels bad and runs away from home. Feeling bad about it, Azami decides to help by asking the kitty network to look for him. They find Tama in hell and it’s also then revealed that even though Rin loves Tama as her friend/pet, her #1 boy is now Kiku. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨ So anyway after Azami ragequits her agency, they look for her and find out the truth: when they were kids and ran away from the village after Azami was shot she died and Kiku kept carrying her dead body with him. Realizing he can’t run away if he keeps carrying his dead sister, Kiku abandoned her, and she’s been angry at him ever since but he didn’t know that she “revived” after being shot. She basically revived out of pure hatred for god and for all the villagers boiling inside of her which awakened her powers. So then of course the creepy villager men threatened to rape her so being half cat, she not only killed them but she also ate them. Apparently both she and Kiku have a thirst for blood (for some reason??) but Azami took hers far and kept eating and eating people which is why she ended up in the deepest layers of hell. In regards to himself, he wandered near the Sanzu river (the place people go to before they die in Japan mythology) and Nono-sensei found him. He gave him a collar telling him to choose between using his powers to hurt or protect.

The moment he saw her in a uniform….😂

Kiku chose to protect and was returned back to the human world, where he saw a Kabuki play about Goemon and was inspired to do the same. Steal from the rich and give to the poor! Kiku eventually died trying to save a drowning child, and drowned himself. Anyway in order for Rin to complete her mission they finally go see Azami so that they can bring her back to hell and have Shin confess his love for her. They eventually convince her to return to hell and Shin confesses his undying love for her while she goes into a tsuntsun tirade. In hell Nono-sensei and Papa allow her to return to the human world to control her powers while helping Rin and Kiku who are also told to go back and live there for a while. Azami tsuntsun agrees and mentions she wants to see Shin again. In the epilogue Rin and Kiku are hugging while Rin is painting her nails. Man they really just …skipped over telling us why the hell his parents had half animal kids of different species. Wtf. ?? ಠ_ಠ

In the bad end, Azami’s manager tries to sell both Azami and Rin into prostitution by drugging/stun gunning them but fortunately Azami breaks loose and kills all the pedophiles trying to attack them.  She then makes the manager who tried to sell them jump out the window. After this she decides she is done living this shitty life and decides to take Rin with her by stabbing her (and since Rin cannot get healed by the spring outside hell in 24 hours they both vanish permanently.) Years later, Rin and Azami are reborn as actual sisters and while they are visiting Asakusa they run into Kiku who’s been waiting for her all this time. Kiku grabs and hugs a confused Rin while Azami yells and calls him a hentai. It was actually really bittersweet, sad that both he and Rin weren’t reborn like in Yona’s route. (´;ω;`) Overall, Kiku’s route was super cute, and Saitou Soma did a great job voice acting him during the kiss scenes( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆)♡.  I don’t think I’ve ever really disliked wanko boy routes in any otome game (●´ω`●).

Sharaku sure has a way with words. 😂

Toshuusai SharakuBased on this historical figure. Sharaku is like the mom of the house because he cooks, cleans and often notices in other routes when Rin and the guy she’s going after are all uwu around each other. Despite seeming like the mature guy in the group he’s 1 year younger than Rin. He cannot stand when people make a mess of the house or leave expired food in the fridge. In the olden times, Sharaku was an Ukio-e painter and had painted kabuki actors – like the one portraying Goemon in a play. He actually wanted to become a kabuki actor himself but never got a chance. His special power is called “Absolute Zero” where he can shoot ice at his enemies. His route is off to a bad start when he figures the fastest way to raise the “trust power” of the app is to bang but Rin zaps him in his place and tells him that bullshit ain’t gonna work. One of Sharaku’s other hobbies is selling some bullshit water at the hell amusement park claiming that it can “make your love wishes come true”. Sharaku’s done a lot of hard living because as a child, his father harakiri’ed himself as a samurai, and his mother fell ill. To pay for his mother’s medicine, he forced himself into prostitution by becoming a male prostitute for men and also women.  (This is where Amazon Japan fucking flipped their shit about how this game has BL zomg he had sex with men in an OTOME GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Best date

His real name is Saitou Jyuurobe, and after his mother had died, he stopped with the prostitution and switched to drawing Ukio-e under the name Toshuusai Sharaku to make a living. On top of this, he also did assisted suicide for prostitutes who wanted to end their miserable lives due to them being full of STDs and mentally broken. He killed 13 prostitutes and because of this he was convicted and executed for murder, by Asaimon. Because of this he has a very light idea about sex in general and often makes lewd jokes at Rin about sleeping with him knowing she’ll react to them. He does notice how she feels about him and notices that she starts falling for him despite him being a massive troll to her. He buys school uniforms for the 2 of them and takes her on a date so he could have a “normal time as someone his age” that he never got to have because of his fucked up life (seeing how he’s done so much hard living and was only 18.) This is also why he’s “good with his hands” (if you know what I mean) and is good at giving Tamao relaxing kitty baths (which Rin is very jealous of but her pride and shame will not let her allow him to do the same to her 😂) At the end of the date he kisses Rin in the purikura booth and she gets upset and runs off crying because she feels like her feelings for him are only one sided.  After this, Sharaku finally confesses his past about the prostitution to Rin. Rin’s reaction of course is “ok well please don’t go screwing any other people because I’m jealous and I want you to only look at me 🥺🥺” and that triggers the seal on his eye.

That’s a threat Sharaku 😂

With Rin’s power she unravels some of his past and their affection meter skyrockets way up – to the point that even Nono-sensei teases Sharaku about being completely head over heels for Rin. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨  In the meantime, Shinobikuni and Asaimon have been feeding candy to humans which cause them to become slaves to them and the only way to snap them out of the zombie slave state is to have them drink the hell spa water that Sharaku’s been randomly selling to people. 😂 After getting into fights with Asaimon twice and losing, Nono-sensei warns Rin that if Sharaku loses again, he will not be able to revive in the hell spa and will disappear permanently. When Rin finds out, she agrees to go into the bath with him, throws off her swimsuit, and says that if having sex with him will increase his powers to 100% she will do it, as she hugs him from behind (dat CG tho). Sharaku, who is in love with her now and doesn’t treat her like a sandbag anymore, tells her no unmarried girl should be hugging a man naked in the bath. ( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆) He does make a pinky promise with her, that he’s never done with anyone else, saying he will win next time. He then tells her to return to his room, and after she leaves he says he loves her to himself. SIGH. TELL HER DIRECTLY FAM.

A couple days later at the temple Rin unravels the remainder of his strings seeing more flashbacks about prostitutes asking him to end their lives and she says she won’t “blame” him because he was putting them out of their misery. Sharaku gets tired of the eye kissing bs and grabs and kisses Rin on the lips which instantly makes the affection meter skyrocket to 100%. (*´Д`*) Thank you IshiKai for the stellar voice acting. At the final battle with Asaimon, Sharaku says the reason he kept rolling around in hell and not moving on is because he was looking for someone to love and protect and finally found Rin. He also then refuses to join forces with Shinobikuni and says he’s done “trying to save everyone” like he did in the edo days. Sharaku then defeats Asaimon by freezing parts of his body so he is no longer able to fight. In the good end, Asaimon and Shinobikuni get sent back to hell and Sharaku and Rin go fucc back at the house. In the epilogue, Oshichi is so happy that Rin will no longer “disappear” and then Rin & Sharaku go to the amusement park at night together wearing their school uniform cosplay. In the bad end, Sharaku loses to Asaimon a 3rd time and dies permanently taking Rin – who absorbed his injuries – with him.

Also because of his whole “yubikiri” shtick, he bites her pinky off before she vanishes LOL THAT WAS AN UNNECESSARY LEVEL OF DETAIL WE DIDN’T NEED WHAT THE FUCK OTOMATE 🤣🤣🤣😱😱. 20 years later, they are both reborn and Sharaku is older than Rin this time while she’s still in high school. She finds him in Asakusa drawing portraits and the moment he sees her he immediately tells her they were probably lovers in their past life and should go to a love hotel together 🤣🤣. Rin’s response is just “bruh…I’ll call the cops” LMAO. 🤣🤣 Honestly this route had a LOT of landmines, but only the bad end with the dismembered pinky creeped me the fuck out lol. I guess my tolerance has grown for a lot of otome game bullshittery lol. Sharaku was definitely a guilty pleasure and honestly I wonder why the hell his route alone didn’t make the game Cero D ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ). Ishikawa Kaito’s love scenes were so sexy, probably the best one in the whole game. 🤤🤤🤤

I understand Jack, I too want to hug every cat

JacK – Jack is the mystery man who runs his own tv program “J Signal” and is sponsored by Shinobikuni and co. promoting their shady app. He seems like a weird chuuni streamer/singer/songwriter at first but is revealed to be a crazy cat man who carries cat snacks on him to feed random stray cats he runs into. 😹  His real name is Imai Tetsunoujo but he uses the celeb name JacK – which he needs to change every few years because of his little “problem”. In order to get more info about him Rin goes into an infiltration mission to his house where he prepares tea for her and tells her that he wants to “get to know her better before they bang” because she “stopped him from suicide”.  Unfortunately it’s all an act because he plans to use Rin in a revenge plot against Nono-sensei.  Rin continues trying to infiltrate and butter up Jack but all her boys get upset and tell her it’s too dangerous and she should stop. After all the guys try to sabotage their “date” at the amusement park,  Tetsu falls on top of Rin and it’s caught on camera. This of course creates some crazy yandere fangirl to go after Rin with a knife but the situation is diffused thanks to the Red Spinner celeb guy who’s been acting like the neighborhood spiderman and helping solve small crimes on his own after Shinobikuni restored his face.

So it turns out that Tetsu didn’t wanna die when his merchant ship was attacked by pirates, so he basically went to his grim reaper Nono-sensei and tried to kill him. Nono-sensei of course was like “lol are you kidding me” and out of spite, put a curse on Tetsu to live as a human forever at the age that he was at the time. He only joined up with Shinobikuni to take revenge on Nono-sensei 😂. On top of this he made it so Tetsu can’t ever see him until he starts to “feel bad for what he did” because otherwise he’d keep trying to kill him and he ain’t got time to deal with this bullshit while he works for Papa. 🤣🤣 When he finds out that Nono-sensei is near her, he drops the act  realizing he can’t use her, and tells her to GTFO his face or he’ll kill her. So then after this he basically buggers off and we barely see him – in his own damn route. Anyway the power ranger guy Ichisei, ends up revealing that he’s some evil snakeman and not a hero of justice, by nearly killing some innocent boku in front of Rin. Okuni and Sansaburo happen to be there and Okuni is all like “you can hurt men but no hurting women and children” so not only does she stop Ichisei, but she also then cuts up Tetsu for being a pansy and letting not only the kid but also Rin get hurt – claiming he’s in love with her. Cue me being like “What? Since when? We barely interacted? ಠ_ಠ”

How to be lewd but cringe at the same time

Tetsu is hospitalized but of course he’s alive since he cannot die and comes back totally fine the next day with some warabi mochi for Rin 😂 He then reveals that he’s doomed to die once a year and he’s died countless times because of Nono-sensei’s curse. 😇😇 Anyway they bring him back to their house and Tetsu reveals that he was from the same time period as Goemon and the son of a famous tea merchant.  Apparently it was because of Goemon and also Yona, that Tetsu’s got attacked and killed by pirates, ended up at the gates of judgement, awakened his powers and then tried to kill his judge which was Nono-sensei. All the guys offer for him to stay at the house so they can keep an eye on him and they all go into the bath while Rin can’t help but peek (but then gets caught and they tell her to just come out in the open and feast her eyes on all the naked mans 👁👄👁). After seeing Tama he gets so excited to pet him again and says he wishes he could have a cat like that. Anyway the game basically decided by now that both Tetsu & Rin are secretely in love with each other and while I honestly just didn’t see the lead in, I decided to just roll with it. ┐(´д`)┌ Since the bad guy of the route is a human, Ichisei, and the hell guys can’t attack humans, Nono-sensei comes up with a great idea: let’s have another fellow human aka Tetsu, take care of this problem! 😂😂

In the meantime, Tetsu ends up being their house maid, cleaning and cooking dinner and after Rin buys him tea brewing materials, she asks him to make her some hand maid matcha. One night when she finds him suffering from the similar pain that the hell guys have, she decides to try to use her powers on his cursed seal and it actually works. So then after this the two of them get all weird around each other because they wanna bang so badly but neither of them will go through with it, and their “attempt” ends up in some weird failure 😂 Rin wanted to “make one last memory” with him because he plans to move to NY and start a new life but the moment he pushed her on the bed she was like “no pls stop!” But then after he left she’s like “omg I can’t believe he didn’t go through with it :(” BRUH WHICH ONE IS IT I AM SO CONFUSED. ಠ_ಠ Since our boys can’t do anything due to the no attacking humans rule, instead they invite everyone to watch as Ichisei dukes it out with Tetsu instead. It turns out that the reason Shinobikuni couldn’t manipulate Tetsu is because his body treated her blood like a “virus” and would destroy it every time she tried but she was easily able to manipulate Ichisei. Then shit gets weird when not only does Tetsu pull out his sword and kick Ichisei’s ass, Nono-sensei randomly shows up and beats the living shit out of him like ???????? And when Nono’s gotten his irritation out of his system, they bring Tetsu to hell for his trial for trying to avoid his death and attacking Nono-sensei many years ago.

I have no idea why they waited like 500 years to do this but when hell daddy gives him the option of life & death, Tetsu picks death because he feels guilty for joining the bad guys and also wants to be in the same place as Rin. Papa then makes fun of Tetsu and offers him to be his pet (slave) named Kuro, like the other guys, and explains that his sword Murasame was a tsukumogami of one of Tetsu’s old items – and why they put the seal on his hand and assigned that power to him. His curse is broken and he also now becomes one of Rin’s underlings (and also her boyfriend lol.) After this, Tetsu returns back to the human world with a prisoner bracelet on him as he’s now officially a hell prisoner assigned to the same layer as Goemon. Ichisei returns back to being injured since he is no longer relying on Shinobikuni’s powers and says he’s going to NY to get surgery to try to fix his injured legs and disfigured face. He then asks Tetsu to write song lyrics for him when he can sing and dance again. Everyone has a welcoming party for Tetsu and he starts crying because he’s avoided others for so long and finally he has someone to welcome him home. After the party he comes back to her room to continue their sexy times that they left off from last time. 😂

Not creepy at all hitting on a random high school girl, ojisan😂

Disappointed we didn’t get any vocal fanservice from Furukawa though especially after that juicy scene with Ishikawa Kaito (´・ω・`). He did have some vocal action in the omake though but there definitely needed to be more of it cause Furukawa Makoto is REALLY GOOD at these things.🤤  In the epilogue is a scene of them randomly showering together while he rambles his dumb song lyrics to her or something. It was so random and the mood of the dialogue and CG just clashed so badly where it went from him rambling nonsensical chuuni poetry while going like “oh no I dropped my contact lens tehe pero!!” while they were both naked and hugging in the shower. ಠ_ಠ In the bad end, Ichisei tells Rin to marry him and he’ll spare Tetsu’s life. For some reason Rin agrees and Ichisei announces his engagement publicly while kissing her and NTRing Ichisei who’s watching from afar. ಠ_ಠ It’s really anoying because Ichisei was such a random side character and I have no idea why the hell he even had feelings for Rin. Rin is so depressed that her soul leaves her body and she dies permanently.

Why did Jack have the worst CGs and route though

About 20 years later, Rin is reborn, and Tetsu has become a tea ceremony sensei. She happens to walk near where he’s sitting one day and after seeing her he offers to prepare some matcha for her. When Rin tells him she feels like she’s had tea with him before, he just grabs her and starts telling how much he’s loved her. I know it’s supposed to be romantic but it’s like some weird ossan being a creeper to a high school girl LOL. 😂 Even Rin is like bro what the fuck lmao and he’s all like “tell me that you want me to kiss you” like over and over LMAO its SO CREEPY BRUH COME ON. And even though the whole time she’s like “what the hell” at the end for some reason she’s like “actually lets make out” LOL. WHAT IS EVEN THIS ROUTE. (ノ# ゚д゚)ノ ┫:・’∵:.┻┻:・’.:∵  Not creepy at all nope. ಠ_ಠ Anyway really disappointed for Jack/Tetsu because he seemed like he would be cute with the whole “I want to pet all the fluffy animals” and being good at tea making but his route was hijacked by Ichisei and the writing just completely fell apart on what kind of character they wanted him to be. Also, though it’s never really mentioned anywhere, if you look at his game profile afterwards, his “permanent” age is 26.

Even Goemon can’t escape his Tsundere fate

Ishikawa GoemonOne of the most popular historical figures, Goemon is of course the infamous thief who’s like a Japanese Robin Hood where he steals from the rich to give to the poor. He’s from the deepest layer of hell for a variety of sins he’s committed but he’s left us wondering what his deal was because at the end of the common route he tells the viewer that he’s in love with Rin even now. The sins he’s committed aren’t by him – he asked Hell Papa to let him absorb the sins of 50 of his so they could all be reborn because by being involved with him they were also executed. One of those people is our boy Shin-kun who was in love with Azami in Kikunosuke’s route. Shin was also kinda like his step brother because he was the real child of Goemon’s adoptive father.  Goemon aenjoys spending his evenings drinking vodka and watching movies/anime about himself and making some good coffee for everyone. Goemon was an orphan ninja who lived in a village with his friend Shiroku and they asked him to be the next Hokage, but he was like nah, and ran away lol. Because he’s in love with Rin before we even begin his route, his affection on the app is basically 90% from the start. When Rin asks Hari, to look up more info on Goemon, she finds out that other being a thief who was caught & prosecuted, he also had 7 wives – which irritates her to no end. 😂

The route finally reveals a small side plot where Rin’s best friend Oshichi, who burned down a village to be with her boyfriend Shounosuke. Turns out Shounosuke reincarnated into Kamuro, one of the upper heads of the heavens, and has no memory of Oshichi at all. They try to ask him if he has any memories of his past but he tells them that when he went to heaven, all memories of his past life were cleanly erased. When Oshichi finds out about this she’s completely heartbroken and after meeting with him, he tells her he would love to be her friend, but has no romantic feelings or memories of her. Rin was the daughter of a dango maker and Goemon loved the dangos she made so he was a frequent customer. He saved her when she fell into the river running away from her fiance who tried to assault her. She was also blinded by Shiroku (more on that later) before she had met Goemon.  Goemon apparently was only a thief on the outside, but inside he planned to take revenge by killing Toyotomi Hideyohshi. The reason was because Hideyoshi burned his ninja village and killed his adoptive father and wife (who was then beheaded and her corpse defiled ~_~). Both Goemon and Shiroku tried to do this but failed, and Goemon’s plot got brought to light and he was soon executed. On the night of his execution while he was about to be burned alive, Rin ran off and was killed by someone and went to hell to look for him, no body, just soul wandering and escaping various layers looking for him (and annoying the hell out of Nono-sensei 😂.)

I just want to hear Yashiro Taku tell me 愛してる on repeat

After this she was picked up by Papaue and adopted as his daughteroo while he secretly wiped the memories of her horrid death (more on that shortly.) Anyway eventually after being tired of Rin not remembering him, Goemon ends up blurting out that the woman he’s loved since his past life is her.  After Goemon’s seal comes out (right on his moobs and sixpack huehue) Rin takes care of him with her magical tongue and sees how he tried to take on everyone’s sins and get burned by himself but in the end all of his friends, including Shin, got captured and burned along with him and then they went after Rin because they knew Goemon was in love with her. He then regretted not running away with her when she asked because he was afraid that if she was the lover of a ninja, they would brutally murder her too but since they ended up going after her anyway he should have just done it anyway. After hearing this Rin starts crying and when Goemon says that he loves her from the past and that he’s fallen in love with her all over again in the present — they furiously make out and fucc the rest of the night. ( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆)❤ He also let her know that all his “7 wives” weren’t his actual wives and just pretended to be to get away from their lovers, so the only one he’s ever made love to is Rin. The next day Hari happily reports to Rin that Goemon’s affection level is now MAX 100! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨

This is not made with love, only made with hate 😂

So then it’s plot time and the game reveals that Kamuro was basically in cahoots with Shinobikuni, and not only that but he lied about forgetting his life as Shounosuke and in fact remembered everything. Just when he goes cray, Shinobikuni shows up and has Sansaburo and Okuni kill Kamuro. Goemon is captured in the meantime and blamed for Oshichi starting yet another fire because Kamuro fooled her and charmed her into doing as he says since he looks and sounds like her ex lover. Shinobikuni then explains that in order to “save” this world she needs Kamuro and Goemon as sacrifices as she basically turns all the humans in the crowd into her puppets.  It’s also revealed that the Route Joudo app was created to brainwash people and find the perfect people to turn into their zombie slaves. In order to save Goemon, the other guys agree to get a power boost from Nono-sensei but if they lose, their souls would perish.  Even Tetsu comes outta nowhere to come help lol 😂. But then of course our writer can’t go without putting insanely shocking shit into the game and reveals that not only did Shiroku betray Goemon and the village and ratted him out to Hideyoshi, but he also chased down Rin after Goemon’s death, killed and raped her dead corpse. -_- And all of this was because Goemon fucking refused to be the next village chief so Shiroku went yanhomo. ಠ_ಠ I wonder if in actuality this was the “BL” the Amazon reviews complained about.

The cutest 大泥棒

Fortunately Rin’s willpower awakens her true powers and she’s upgraded to INFLUENCER (which in Japanese kanji is written basically like the word “streamer” 😂😂) Suddenly the entire stage turns into the Macabre Party game and after Shin awakens from his zombie state he asks everyone to throw their buff items on Rin. This allows her to take all their supportive “voices” and transfer that power to Goemon who beats up Shiroku. While they fight Shiroku also reveals that he blinded Rin because Rin saw Goemon stealing one night and he did it to “protect his identity”. ( ´_ゝ`) He goes into his psycho rage that “GRR I DID ALL THIS FOR YOU AND YOU REFUSED TO TAKE OVER THE VILLAAAGGEEEEAAAA!!!” The reason Goemon ran away is because being a ninja village leader meant being forced to constantly assassinate people and he just wanted to chill. Goemon then reveals his power, which is basically a soul stealing power – similar to what Shiroku has, and he steals the soul of Kamuro that Shiroku had devoured leaving him basically powerless. Hari, who has now become an invincible super tsukumogami, destroys the Route Joudo app, and Rin tells all the humans in the peanut gallery that service has ended and they should just live their lives as best as they can. After that Shin calls Goemon older bro and they all have an emotional group hug. (´▽`*)

Those flowers~🌷

Papaue shows up and says he will keep Kamuro’s soul without a body for now, Oshichi is kept alive because Nono-sensei needing her at the cafe, Azami is sent back to hell, Okuni and Sansaburo are told to watch over humans and be bodyguards from the shadows, and Shinobikuni and Asaimon have their souls taken to just float around in the deepest layer of hell together. After they go home and rest, Papaue comes to Rin and tells her if she wants, he can wipe her memory clean so she never has to have PTSD about the murder rapist Shiroku but in exchange she would forget about Goemon and would never meet him because he could also send her back before the time she ever crossed paths with him. Apparently she was not supposed cross paths with Goemon and she had the misfortune of getting involved in his “destiny”. Rin of course chooses to be with her bae and the bang in her room in hell. ( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆) She also admits the reason she got the tongue seal for being a “liar” is because she lied to her fiance that she had no other lover…but in fact she was in love at first sight with Goemon the night she saw him stealing. ❤ Those ikeman thieves are just irresistible aren’t they? She had lied to Goemon that it was the first time she met him after she was blinded, but she could tell by her senses that it was the man she fell in love with that night.

I know that feel Rin

So in fact while Goemon thought the whole time he fell in love with her first, it was actually the other way around. (n*´ω`*n) In the epilogue, Rin becomes an official part of hell and no longer “in training” and they also throw in Tetsu to be part of her man army.  She tells Papaue that she will just live with her past together with Goemon and then everyone returns to the human world and has a BBQ party. In the bad end, Shiroku kills both Goemon and Rin and Papaue feels bad for them and as a parting gift allows them both to be reborn. And so some years later, both Rin and Goemon meet up as high school students about the same age. They happen to meet not to far from the house they used to live in so all the other guys + Tama see them and run to them yelling “welcome back” 🤗. Man it was so hard for me to decide on the best boy but clearly the game was pushing for Goemon to be the one. I don’t mind though, because honestly his PINING LOVE for HUNDREDS OF YEARS for Rin was so sweet to me I ended up liking him the most.

Youngest one in the group has the horniest taste 😂

The omakes had cute little bonus scenarios of all the guys hanging out at the house and doing silly stuff.  Things ranged from trying to figure out which color pantsu is best for Rin or behaving in the bath or else Tama will go after their balls lol.

MY BABIES🥰🥰

What can I say – another game that Japan hates and I love. And do you know why? Because the heroine has her own personality and is thirsty AF for the guys instead of being a blank camera-chan. (I swear I am not biased because she’s a fellow Scorpio not at all.) Of course all the love interests were adorable as fuck and were basically tsunderes but paired with tsundere heroine it was the best experience. Yes there is “vulgarity” as they say and the guys do frequently say “I’ll raep you” in random parts of the game but if you consider the fact that they’re well…prisoners from hell. You can’t expect hell prisoners to speak like a shakespeare play to you. The vulgarity was a reminder that this is a game of life after death, and you are dealing with people who went through various layers and punishments in hell. It’s amazing they were even as nice as they were because I can definitely think of other otome games where the guys there should be burning in hell even longer lol. 😂

Can I just have a game where I date these 2 as a different character LOL

The bad ends had “good omakes” after them so none of them were as terrible as the bad ends in Olympia or Nil Admirari. In fact most of the game tone was basically a comedy similar to Variable Barricade with the whole “Ojou living in a house fulla dame otokos” and it had a bit of that Trigger Kiss feeling because heroine’s “kiss”  gave the guys a power up. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨ I’ve resigned to basically realizing my tastes in otome games are probably the opposite of Japan 😂 but I did see a few artists on twitter doing fanart of the game so clearly a few of us enjoyed this. Since it got so much negative press I’m also afraid they won’t give us an FD but man I would be so ecstatic if they did.

B-baka!! ////

My only complaints are the fact that Jack’s route felt kinda shoved in. In general he just felt shoved in as an afterthought and he wasn’t even in his route half the time! It felt like the other NPCs hijacked his entire route ಠ_ಠ. Also at the end of the game when you went back to do the bad ends, you couldn’t “jump to next unread text” because there was no choice. You had to manually skip which kinda defeated the purpose of the jump command. I also found a lot of the “slang” and “old timey” terms really difficult and had to look up a lot of words I never even knew were a “word”. For example there was a word for someone who doesn’t drink alcohol that I never heard of. Or they referred to someone’s wife as 女房 which is another old timey term. There was also a term for pregnant that was not 妊娠 that I also had to look up (and I already forgot it lol.) I think for any Japanese beginners this will definitely be a “struggle” because they just use too many pun words so if you aren’t familiar with old timey terms it starts to get really confusing. One final thing was some CGs felt REALLY off. I complained about this in Olympia too which makes me think Satoi does maybe basic sketches and the rest are done by some Otomate copycat? Jack’s CGs especially a lot of them felt really awkward and some of the kiss CGs in some routes compared to others were so much worse. The scenes were nice but the awkward CGs defintely put a damper on things.

Papaue knows all about otome games

Jack side, the other guys were great and I honestly loved all of them and if compared to Olympia, Yona = Riku, Kiku = Tokisada, Sharaku = Yosuga, Goemon = Akaza so if you’ve played that game you can basically easily tell who your favorite will be lol. The female side characters were also great and constantly would ship the heroine with her dude which was super cute. 😊 I also loved the whole theme of the game and the whole reincarnation bit vs wandering in hell because something is keeping you from moving on. They even went into the whole theme that eveyrone has a “candle of life” that’s decided in advance when someone’s life will end. Also if you’re a fan of Koyasu YOU MUST PLAY THIS GAME FOR PAPAUE. HE IS ONE OF THE BEST CHARACTERS. 🤣🤣 If you played Tales of the Abyss and remember the troll Jade – imagine if he was the heroine’s daddy. Anyway I could ramble on about how much I enjoyed this game but I can only hope that it eventually gets localized becuase I think it truly deserves a localization. With the type of humor it has, I think it would ring better with a Western audience than the Japanese one that gave it 1 star reviews.

Rin is a confident woman who knows what she wants ( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆)

Oh and by the way, we have yet ~another~! game where Amazon complains that there was BL. Like ok yes the “BL” was that (highlight for spoilers)one of the LIs had to be a prostitute as a child and his customers included men and one of the other side chars was yanhomo for one of the LIs. I’ve seen more BL in UtaPri than I have in this game so I’m honestly just confused why there’s this slew of reviewers on Amazon bitching about BL that has absolutely no influence on the outcome of the plot or romance of the game. ಠ_ಠ

And speaking of fanart I loved the game enough to do some of my own 😉

12 thoughts on “Otome Game Review: Tengoku Struggle -Strayside-”

  1. I also love Goemon’s route so much too. He feels to be the most canon on the LIs for me. I hope they include the continuation of the bad ending extra on the FD!!!! ♥

    1. Yea I agree I would love to have “another story” where we see continuations of both the regular ends and the “reincarnation” ones. It would be so sweet. Even just a sweet/happy FD would be so nice ;_;

    2. If it gets localized, then it’s a definite buy for me. I noticed Japan really hate heroines that have actual character and emotions in their stories lol

      1. yea they absolutely do. they gave Trigger Kiss and Variable Barricade bad reviews for basically the exact same reason.
        It’s so frustrating because it’s finally a heroine that makes the game so much fun but they gotta whine about it because god forbid she have her own opinion

  2. really glad to hear you enjoyed the game.

    i’ve seen some people say that the game has no chance at being localized in the west due to some problematic elements (eg the use of the r word). do you think tengoku struggle strayside has a chance of being licensed in the west one day especially when you compare it to other controversial games like piofiore and olympia soiree that have already been localized?

    1. the fact that Olympia got localized and this wouldn’t makes no sense.
      at least them saying the “r word” is more a slang/vulgar sense (its basically used in the same context as “fuck you”)
      Meanwhile Olympia had actual raep in it and one of the bad ends had pedophilic assault SOOOO I honestly see that mindset as pretty backwards lmao

      there’s basically nothing “visually” or descriptively horrific (i.e. heads being chopped off in front of people in virche) in Tengoku. It’s just people using vulgar slang or talking casually about prostitution in the olden times of Yoshiwara etc. the crap in Piofiore and prostitution was a lot worse IMO and that got localized. so yea I really don’t see why those games can get localized but this one can’t.

      I think most people calling the game problematic are probably just reading shitty Japanese amazon reviews and haven’t actually played the game themselves to see it in context.

      1. great points and thanks for the fast response. if the game ever gets licensed, the translators would probably find an appropriate way to localize the phrase instead of directly translating it. i once remember aksys saying that one of the things they do before licensing a game is that they read reviews from western fans who have played the game first before picking it up.

        1. yea I think they could definitely localize it and rephrase it. even just using “fuck you” would actually work because there’s an instance in one of the routes where the heroine is already in love with the LI and he goes “If you keep touching me I’ll fuck you!” and she goes “fuck me all you want then” 😂 (I swear it was cuter that it actually sounds LOL) I truly hope this game gets localized, I would love to see the Western audience reception to it!

  3. I’ve been excited for this review to come out ever since you tweeted you were playing it! Really glad to hear you enjoyed it, I was sold from the moment I saw how good the character designs look. I’m trying to avoid heavy spoilers at the moment and had to exercise (my very meagre) self control to only read the intro and outro to the review, so
    I had a few questions that admittedly you may have already answered in the meat of it:

    1. What would you say the ratio of SoL to action in the game is? I understand you compared it to VB, so I was wondering if the actual content of the game was less action-intense than the badass looking character roster led me to believe.

    2. Happy to hear the MC seems just as frisky as the LIs this time round. Does this mean MC doesn’t pull the usual “doki doki I dont know what this feeling is” schtick?

    3. What’s the average playtime each character route clocks in at (minus time spent in common route)?

    4. On a scale of Cupid Parasite to CxM how good is the game about giving dedicated sprites to side characters in each route?

    1. 1. Game is pretty chill honestly it’s just mostly hijinks stuff while living at home with the guys. There’s overarching plotlines but they’re kinda mostly resolved at the end and they have each their respective battle at the end but that’s as much “action” as you basically get.
      2. Yes MC is totally aware of romantic feelings and typically most of the time she had noticed them first and was like “god I wish he’d touch me” LOL
      3. It honestly depends on your reading speed? I read fast but I also wait for all the characters to finish speaking since I like seiyuus. With that in mind each route took me about 6-7 hours.
      4. Ehh I don’t know what to say about this one since I don’t really remember side character sprites in those 2 games but the characters who mattered definitely got sprites. There was only 1 character that had a brief appearance in Sharaku’s route that I wish had a sprite but even without it I think the game got the message across. A lot of the really fun side characters (like papaue) always had sprites.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  4. Hi there! I’ve been reading your blog for the longest time but never left a comment until now ^^; It’s really hard to find English reviews of otome games these days especially when they have not been localised ): (I’m non-Japanese Asian with English as my main language) I understand enough Japanese to play otome games in Japanese (though I’d admit I had to look up quite a few words during Tengoku because damn old fashioned samurai Japanese lol), but it hurts my head to read Japanese reviews sometimes because I’m not so good at reading incoherent babbles and internet lingo from Japanese girls loll.

    Alright enough about me and thanks for this review! I started the game the day you posted this entry and just finished it and I absolutely agree with you on so many points! All the LIs were charming in their own way and I was motivated and enjoying all their routes even though at the start I just wanted to get to Goemon lol. There have been games where I was just struggling to get past characters to get to the locked characters so this was really enjoyable. I don’t 100% agree with how Otomate seems to enjoy forcing people to play through everyone to get to the “honmei” boy these days but at least in Tengoku it didnt feel like the other boys’ stories were an afterthought compared to some other games.

    One thing I’d complain about is that although it was sweet of them to have another chance reincarnated after their BEs, some of them were really creepy like random guy grabbing a girl on the street and telling them how much they love her/ how long they have waited for her lol. I played Yona -> Kiku -> Sharaku so it felt creepier and creepier and when it got to Tetsu I was all hello 500 year old guy what are you doing I’m gonna call the cops. I also wondered how Goemon felt when Rin ended up the other guys in the other routes lol sort of like Allen in Cupid Parasite but to add salt to his wounds poor dude still has to stay in the same house as them and watch them icha for infinity.

    Now that I’ve finished I’m kinda out of games lol (Sympathy Kiss doesn’t look like my type of game) so hopefully Otomate announces some interesting new stuff during Otomate Party next week. Thanks again for always writing these reviews! 🙂

    1. Sorry your comment seems to have been caught in my spam filter!
      Anyway thank you for reading and I’m glad you also enjoyed this game!
      And yes unfortunately it’s kinda sad seeing Goemon get NTRed non stop but it’s not as bad as when I played Real Rode where the girl had an actual boyfriend she was dating and basically dumped him like 8 times for video game men xDDDD

      I’m not interested in Sympathy Kiss either so I’m just back to my RPGs and FFXIV time now, I think it’s a lot more fun to play games I actually enjoy instead of just forcing myself to sit through a game just because it’s “otome”. Never doing that again lmao 😂

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