At Anime Expo, Aksys announced they are localizing one of Idea Factory’s Hakuoki titles. Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom is the PSP version of the very first game in the series. Why did Aksys pick Hakuoki? That’s what we covered in this interview.
Out of all the otome games1 you could have picked up, why did you decide to localize Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom?
Frank "Bo" deWindt II, Director of Production: Well, Hakuoki has mature themes and also has hot men. [Laughs.]
Aileen Viray, Assistant Marketing Manager: This is really experimental for us because otome games aren’t really known in the U.S. It’s our first otome game and I believe it’s one of the very first otome games in the U.S. We wanted to play on the visual novel aspect of things. Ben here, great writer, is working on the game. Just putting that out there.
1 Otome games are a Japanese term for romance video games geared towards females where you explore relationships with a number of male characters.
Don’t all otome games have hot men?
FdW: These are especially hot men.
Ben Bateman, Editor: I think that depends on your opinion of the art. There are otome games with bad art.
FdW: The artist [Yone Kazuki] draws really nice art that all of the J-fans adore. You have to admit it’s pretty interpretative.
AV: My favorite part of the game is the art itself. We released art to you guys and that’s only in-game art. It’s really well done, visually stylish, and if you see some of the Anime Expo exclusive products you can see some of the art and I think it’s just wonderful.
FdW: Not to mention you learn a little bit about Japanese history, some of is made up, but you learn a little bit of history, which is an added bonus. Something for the parents out there.
Were there any other otome games you were considering since the otomate line from Idea Factory covers a sizable amount of titles.
BB: Well, I think part of the reason that we picked Hakuoki is that it is a pretty popular anime series in Japan right now. It’s relatively popular. Obviously, it’s hard to gauge whether it’s popular here, but we know it’s popular in Japan.
I was telling Ben earlier, I think this is the ballsiest localization pickup from any publisher I’ve seen all year. How much of a risk do you feel this game is for Aksys?
FdW: I wouldn’t say it’s so much of a risk as it is testing the waters, getting our feet wet with otome. This is like a litmus test to see if we want to pursue more otome games or to even see if they have a market here. I definitely think it is a good choice, as an otome game, to test the market.
AV: You can emphasize ballsy with every hot man in Hakuoki. [Everyone laughs.]
FdW: Quite possibly. We don’t like saying "no" to anything. There is always potential for us to pursue something.
AV: Of course, the portable units are the ideal platform for visual novel games because you don’t have to sit in front of your console…
FdW: … well there are some visual novels that I would like to play on consoles like ever17.
The PSP market though, from a retail perspective, is having a tough time. I keep hearing retailers don’t want to stock PSP games. Even Gamestop is scaling back on PSP titles and this game is a new genre. How does Aksys plan on tackling distribution issues since Hakuoki will not be available until next year?
AV: Just seeing the tail end of the PS2, Persona 4 was the last major game, I would say on the PS2. We have to come full cycle and we want to end the PSP on a good note. With a bang…
FdW: … of hot men.
Will Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom be Vita compatible?
FdW: I believe Sony said PSN games in general are compatible with Vita. So, the PSN version will should be compatible, but that’s more of a Sony question.
Our coverage of Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom continues where we discuss the game’s romanc-able characters. I think… it’s an interview no one will forget. Read it right here.