I know a common question among the otome community is the question of whether game XYZ is out in English, has an English patch, or will be localized in English. The usual answer is... NO. Otome games are already a small niche and so it's rare for a Western company to bring over a visual novel targeted at women. I think I can count on one hand the number of female-oriented visual novels that have been localized.
Anyway, the point of this article is to consolidate a number of resources for those who are interested in otome games but lack the resources, such as time or interest, to understand Japanese. I understand that it's simply not feasible to be like "If you want to play these games, learn a new language!" But I'll also be writing a small section for those who are interested in learning Japanese but have no idea where to start!
First, let's begin with a list of otome bloggers who do route summaries/playthroughs:
- 4 Shiki
- Love-colored Sky
- Yumemiru Sekai
- Taiyou no Kousen
- Otome Heaven
- Twentyninenight's Blog
- DimDawn Akatsuki
- Yume no Shizuku
- Kioku no Aria
Here's a list of general otome bloggers. These include Drama CD translations, reviews, news, etc. :
- My NeoRomance
- Lijakaca's Otome Gaming Blog
- English Otome Games
- Sweet Voices
- Otome Gaming Diary
- Ero + Dere
- Otosu Otome
- Bishie Holic
- Yumii's Dream Factory
- Seven Coloured Compass
- Wild Boysenberry
- The Anny Blog
- Doropyan's World
- Life is just...
- 2.5 Dimensional World
And now to get into the nitty-gritty. One of the biggest questions out there for people getting into Otome Games is: "Where can I buy them?". Well, we're here to give you a bunch of resources to do so. We hope you all find this useful. Please support this industry!
AmiAmi carries Otome Games for both PC & PSP (R18 included) as well as Drama Cd's and lots of other anime merch as well. They often have discounts on their prices and they have a point system which you can redeem towards your purchase. AmiAmi will usually have the limited edition sets, Pre-order bonuses, or an AmiAmi tokuten such as a Drama Cd or a library card. They have 6 methods of shipping: Domestic (Japan Only), SAL Parcel, SAL Small Packet (Unregistered), SAL Small Packet (Registered), Air Small Packet, And EMS. Note: They do NOT accept cancellations on their orders.
CdJapan ships overseas as well, They carry PSP Otome Games, Drama Cd's, Magazines, Books, and other related otome merch. Sometimes you will find PC games but they will be listed as something else (Ex. Hana Awase is listed as a Mook/Book, Shinobazu 7 is listed as a Drama Cd). CdJapan has a point system as well which you can use towards your purchase. In addition, they also carry limited edition sets for Otome games, Pre-order bonuses or a CDJapan Tokuten such as a Drama CD or Small Portaits. They have 7 methods of shipping: SAL, SAL Parcel Post, Registered SAL, Air Mail, Registered Air Mail, EMS, FedEx International Priority.
Play Asia mainly carries PSP Otome Games, Some Drama Cd's, Music Cds, Anime DVDs and occasionally Art Books. They will usually ship a coupon for you with your order but you have a certain amount of time to redeem it. They offer 5 methods of shipping: Economy Air Bubble, Economy Air Box, EMS, UPS, FedEx. Note: Play-Asia's prices tend to be more expensive then others; I advise you to look through other websites before ordering here.
YesAsia carries PC & PSP Otome Games, Drama & Music Cd's, and other related merch. They carry First Press Limited Editions, Special Editions and Normal Editions of games and Cd's. They Offer 2 methods of shipping: Standard, and Express (EMS). YesAsia also has Free Shipping for orders that reach a minium of $39. Note: Just like Play-Asia, YesAsia's prices tend to be more expensive then other stores; I advise you to look through other websites before ordering here.
HMV Online carries PC & PSP Otome Games, Drama Cd's, Magazines and Novel's. They carry Limited edition sets and Normal edition's for the games. They have a point system which you can redeem to use towards your purchase. Note: They only have EMS shipping for international customers.
Rakuten Global Market is great for finding used and/or older Otome Games. Drama Cd Tokuten's pop up frequently if you want to collect Game Cd's that were Tokutens from other shops. You can find older otome magazines there (Ex. B's log issue from 2011). The Rakuten shipping options show SAL Small Packet and EMS BUT it depends on the which store you are ordering from. Some stores on Rakuten will only ship with EMS so be sure to look up the shop info before you order! Note: You need to search in japanese, For example if you type in "Shinigami to Shoujo" nothing will show up, but if you type in or copy and paste "死神と少女" then you will get results like the game or other items related to it. Some games might show up when written in romaji.
Mandarake is another place where you can find used and/or older Otome Games, there may be new games as well, just look at the condition when you find a game you want. Drama Cd tokutens pop up as well if you want to collect Game Cd's that were tokutens from other shops. You can also find doujinshi and sometimes hard to get otome merchandies like the Starry Sky Perfumes. You need to search in Japanese as well but games like "Uta no Prince sama" will usually pop up if its written in romaji. Note: They only offer EMS shipping for international Customers.
Amazon Japan carries Otome games, Drama Cd's, Art books and other otome related merch. The language can be switched from Japanese to English. Note: Not all merch from here can be shipped outside of Japan. The shipping prices can also be very pricey as they mainly use Express (EMS) shipping. They also charge handling fees.
Stores like Animate, Stella Worth, and SKIT (Rejet's online Shop) will offer exclusive store editions and/or tokutens for games. The only problem is that those stores don't ship overseas! FromJapan is a proxy service which you can use to order from shops like those. You can use FromJapan to bid on Yahoo Auctions as well. They offer a fee of 200 yen for commission per item, but you must also pay: 5% System usage fee, Domestic Delivery, Bank Transfer Fee, Additional Fees (if applicable, for ex. a Yahoo auctioneer might charge an extra fee), and Overseas shipping. You need to search in Japanese at FromJapan.
Another popular question is: So you want to learn Japanese but you have no idea where to start? Have no fear and here's a list below with some resources to get you started. This isn't an all-inclusive list and I'm sure google searches on "learning Japanese online" will net you a ton of results.
- TextFugu is a huge Japanese resource
- Tae Kim's guide to learning basic Japanese grammar
- Speedanki is a flashcard learning system
- The Japanese Page has great resources for beginner learners as well
- JapaneseClass gives you beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons (and it tracks your experience!)
- Renshuu is another Japanese resource that works well along with JapaneseClass
- Denshi Jisho is a good dictionary to search up words and radicals
- Tangorin is an amazing dictionary that gives example sentences
Now, the most crucial lesson for learning a new language is immersing yourself in it! The more you hear it and the more surrounded you are by it, the easier and quicker it will be to pick things up! In this day and age you can easily immerse yourself by listening to Japanese songs, watching movies or anime, and listening to radio shows or Drama CDs, or anything really! The most important thing is to expose yourself to the language daily or as often as you can.
I'm not kidding! I'll tell you a story (that'll hopefully be motivating instead of silly) that exemplifies my point. I started off in otome games barely understanding any Japanese. No, seriously, the only words I could pick out when I watched raw anime were the basic things like "onegai", "arigatou", "matte", and stuff like that.
But then I forced myself to memorize the hiragana and katakana tables and read Tae Kim's guide from front to back so that I understood the basic sentence structure of Japanese sentences. Armed with a rough idea of what the heck particles like 「の」and 「は」 and 「が」were and clutching my trusty dictionary, Tangorin, I set off on a journey to try to play an otome game.
My very first otome game was Hakuouki.. which, thinking back on it now, was a really bad choice since all the historical names in there are ridiculously hard. But it was also a very popular otome game that had been blogged a lot by many people and so I played through the routes with summaries to guide me. Sure I only understood like 50%... alright maybe like 20% of the route.. but I was doing it! I started to learn phrases and words that were often repeated. For example, "suki" or "omae wa ore no mono".
Anyway, that was three to four years ago or so and now look at where I am. I'm still definitely not a professional in translating Japanese but I can play through most games while only needing to dictionary a few words. It helps that running a blog (if you haven't already noticed I run Yumemiru Sekai) has kept me dutiful in looking up new words to help my translations and route playthroughs that I write.
Ah yes, that also brings me to another point. If you're still uncomfortable or insecure with the level of your Japanese there are many, many blogs nowadays that are blogging about games and the routes in the games. Off the top of my head I know Love-colored Sky and Chocolatemix write summaries with amazing details.
I don't mean to pimp out my own blog here but the nicest comment that I've gotten was someone telling me that they played the entire Amnesia game using my playthroughs as a guide. Basically, what I'm trying to get at here is that following a route summary helps in learning Japanese because you'll always have a general idea of what is happening. Listening to Drama CDs and following along with translations is also a nice way to learn!
My story isn't anything special and I know a few other friends who started out similarly like me. The point of all this is that it's never too late to start learning something new. You don't have to have any formal education or lessons in a language to learn it either! It's not a race and there's no time limit for how much kanji you should learn by the end of the year or what game you should be able to play in a year. All you need to do is to be willing to learn and immerse yourself in Japanese! Who knows, maybe in a year or two you'll be contributing to this site or running your own blog!
The list of otome blogs is by no means complete. If you would like to have your blog added, removed, or modified in the list then please comment here or, if you have the ability, edit this post.