I love otome games, but the sad fact is that we just don’t get as many new otome game releases in the West as they do in Japan. For those of you unfamiliar with otome games, they are visual novels targeted at a female audience. Even the term ‘tome’ translates to maiden in Japanese. The basic premise is similar to the premise of reverse harem anime, in which a female character romances several super hot guys!
In recent years more companies have started releasing English language localizations of popular otome game titles outside of Japan. Most recently Aksys games announced at Anime Expo 2019 that they would be releasing six otome game titles for the Nintendo Switch (which has become the new go-to otome console since Sony shut down production on the Vita). But even with this Otome Renaissance in the West, there is still a huge gap in the number of available otome games for English-speaking audiences.
However, all is not lost! There is a solution for all otome fans: anime adaptations. There have been quite a few otome game anime adaptations over the years, of varying degrees of quality. So, I shifted through all the otome game anime adaptations I could find and handpicked the 10 best ones for you guys here on MANGA.TOKYO!!
Hakuoki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~
Kicking off this list is the ever popular Hakuoki series. Even though it wasn’t the first otome game to make its way stateside, it is the longest running and one of the most popular. Introduced in 2008, Hakuoki Demon of the Fleeting Blossom has spawned a number of main series games, ports, spin-offs, and reboots over the years, with Hakuoki Kyoto Winds and Hakuoki Edo Blossoms being the most recent games to see an English language release.
The anime, produced by Studio Deen, follows the same basic premise of the game: Chizuru Yukimura is the daughter of a traveling doctor who has recently gone missing after leaving for the capital. Rather than sit at home and wait for him to return, Chizuru dresses as a boy and travels to Kyoto to find him, only to come across a ronin being attacked by monstrous white-haired men. Soon the Shinsengumi arrive on the scene and take down the creatures. They decide to take Chizuru with them as their captive because she was a witness to the event. When she reveals that she is looking for her father, the Shinsengumi allow her to stay with them and she finds herself in the middle of the political and supernatural goings in Kyoto.
I am a sucker for historical series, and despite some supernatural leanings, Hakuokicovers quite a few major Japanese historical events, like the Boshin War. For an anime based on an otome game, there is a surprising amount of action, which will appeal to most audiences. Like most otome game anime adaptations, the series mainly follows the storyline of the ‘canon’ guy, which in this case is Hijikata. However, the series does a great job of showcasing the other characters as well.
Code Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~
Code Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~ has been immensely popular since its release, so it makes sense that it would get an anime adaptation. M.S.C was the studio behind the Code Realize animation, and given the constraints, this is one of the better otome game adaptations I have seen. The story follows Lupin’s route from the game, so he has more of an elevated role than the other love interests, but his storyline has the most complete ending for most of the major plot points of the game, so it makes sense that they went with it.
The story follows Cardia Beckford, a young woman who is considered a monster by the local townspeople because of a strange affliction that causes anything she touches to disintegrate. This is because of a strange stone embedded in her chest, said to be the source of everlasting life. Many covet the stone and seek out Cardia. One night the British military storms her home in an attempt to claim the stone and its power, only to be thwarted by the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin and his companions. Together, they embark on a journey to London to find Cardia’s father and uncover the truth behind the Horologium stone embedded in her chest. This story seriously has everything: action, adventure, suspense, mystery, and romance!!
Kenka Bancho Otome: Girl Beats Boys
Okay, so Kenka Bancho is a bit of a sore spot in the otome community. But the long and short of it is that Spike Chunsoft ran a poll to gauge fan interest for their next localization project and Kenka Bancho Otome WON THE POLL!! However, rather than give fans what they wanted, Spike Chunsoft went ahead and localized the second place winner instead. On top of that, there has been no news about localizing Kenka Bancho Otome since… Do I sound salty? Good, because I am! Kenka Bancho Otome has such a unique premise, kind of like Ouran High School Host Club, except instead of being a host, Haruhi becomes a delinquent that beats up other delinquents and becomes the boss of the school! Sounds awesome? You bet your sweet ass it’s awesome!
The story follows Hinako Nakayama, an orphan girl who has been in and out of group homes and orphanages since before she could remember. One day she is approached by a boy named Hikaru who claims to be her long-lost twin brother. Apparently they are both the children of the powerful Onigashima yakuza family, but Hikaru is a bit of a softy so he wants Hinako to switches places with him so he doesn’t have to attend Shishiku Academy, an all-boys school full of the nation’s toughest delinquents. Hinako agrees to the switch and so begins her tumultuous high school life!
Uta no Prince-sama
UtaPri is a phenomenon. Hitting the scene in 2010 with its first game, the series has been going strong for years with multiple fandiscs, spin-offs, and sequels. It is a powerhouse of a franchise with fans the world over, so you better believe the anime has experienced the same popularity. Four anime series, one OVA, and one animated film later and the series is still going strong. The series follows Haruka, an aspiring composer who longs to write music for her favorite idol. She enrolls at the prestigious Saotome Academy to make her dreams a reality. Once there she discovers that the entire staff and all the students are in fact well known idols! Surrounded by so much talent, and with such a competitive environment, Haruka will have to give it her all if she wants to work for the top idol agency, Shining Agency!
The music in this anime is phenomenal! I have been watching quite a few music themed anime recently and I can honestly say I was blown away with the songs in UtaPri!! THIS IS HOW YOU ADAPT A MUSIC OTOME GAME!! But what’s more, it’s a story with a lot of heart and great characters that will keep you invested from start to finish!
Norn9 is set in a futuristic world ruled by a peaceful entity known as ‘The World’. They send an airship named Norn to collect 9 superpowered teens and bring them to their headquarters, though their intentions are shrouded in mystery. After picking up the last person, Koharu, a young girl with destructive powers, the passengers all realize that there is a stowaway on the ship, causing suspicions to rise as they try to determine who the person is. Things get even worse when the ship is attacked by an unknown enemy attempting to keep Norn from reaching its destination.
I will readily admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Norn9 otome game. There were some great characters, and the story was interesting enough, but the execution of some of the routes left much to be desired. I went into the Norn9 anime series expecting it to tank and surprisingly enough it was a solid series all around. First, unlike most otome games where you play as one set heroine character, Norn9 has three different female leads (though arguably Koharu is the canon heroine). Each heroine has her own harem of boys to romance, with their own branching storylines and what not. Norn9 is a complicated story to adapt in the first place, but the anime hits on all the major plot points and the chosen pairs were actually pretty decent. I was genuinely impressed with the story.
Koi suru Tenshi Angelique ~Kokoro no Mezameru Toki~
The Angelique series is credited with kicking off the otome games revolution in Japan, so one would hope that the anime adaptation would do such an iconic series justice… and it does! This is one of the best otome game anime adaptations I have ever seen. This is seriously the gold standard of adaptations! The story follows Ange, a young girl who is summoned to the Sacred Land and chosen to be the savior of the universe! With the help of nine Guardians, she embarks on a quest to save the land of the Holy Beast.
Angelique is such a phenomenal anime series in its own right. Ange is an amazing heroine that has one of the best character growth arcs I have seen in any series. The guys all have such great personalities, and they each get an equal amount of screen time allotted to them. The first season is the strongest of the series, but I highly recommend watching the whole series because it is just that good!
Koi suru Tenshi Angelique ~Kokoro no Mezameru Toki~ Anime Visual
Kamigami no Asobi
Episodes: 12 Fall 2017
This game isn’t available in English so I am judging it purely on its merits as an anime series and this is a good reverse harem anime. The story follows Yui, a normal human girl, who is transported to another world in order to teach a group of young gods what it means to be human. Simple enough premise, and I love that the gods come from different cultures, so it’s not the same pantheon of gods you typically see in the media.
Usually, anime adaptations of otome games are pretty lackluster, phoned in cash grabs… but I can honestly say that Kamigami no Asobi is not one of those anime! The art is absolutely stunning, and I love the way the early episodes incorporate each of the guys with their own unique conflicts and issues. By the end of the series you really feel like you had a chance to get to know each of them fairly well. But unlike most adaptations that focus more on the romance aspects of the story, Kamigami no Asobi tones it down considerably, focusing more on building friendships between Yui and the gods.
This is another music otome game series. However, instead of pop idols, La Corda D’Oro slows things down a bit with some classical music! The series takes place at a school where the normal students wear these drab grey uniforms and the members of the Music Branch wear beautiful white uniforms. Kahoko has always admired the students in the Music Branch, but since she lacks any musical ability, all she can do is watch from afar. However, while wandering the school, Kahoko encounters a magic fairy named Lili who gives her a magic violin that allows the player to produce beautiful music. With her magic violin, Kahoko joins the school wide music competition and sets out to become a musician.
I swear, it’s not as cheesy as it sounds… As a music anime, La Corda D’Oro is absolutely stunning. There is a rendition of Ave Maria that will bring tears to your eyes! This is another series that tones down the romance; it’s there, but it’s more up in the air which guy Kahoko likes best, a trait that is both a plus and a minus… The guys are all pretty, but Len is my absolute favorite!! He deserves to be with Kahoko!! I guess I have a thing for kuuderes…
Dances With Devils is a bit of a special case, since the otome game is technically an adaptation of the anime series… buuut, since it has a reverse harem premise and there is an actual game, I figured I could still include it on this list. Created as a collaboration between game developer Rejet and music studio Elemental Gardens, it’s kind of like Diabolik Lovers but with music and the added bonus of demons and vampires. The story follows Ritsuka Tachibana, a seemingly normal girl who is drawn into an ancient struggle between demons and vampires.
If you’ve seen Diabolik Lovers, you pretty much know what you’re getting with Dances With Devils. except this series seems so much more polished. The characters are stronger and their portrayal in the series serves not only as a potential romantic partners for the lead, but also as genuine set pieces in the overall narrative. On top of that, there are some really neat character songs in each episode, a unique concept that puts you in the mind of a musical or a rock opera.
Episodes: 26 Winter 2010
Last, but certainly not least, is Starry Sky. This series was one of my first introductions to otome games, since there was a fan-made patch of the first game, Starry Sky in Spring, and its fandisc, Starry Sky After Spring. However, there are three other main games and their respective fandiscs (and drama CDs) that I haven’t had the opportunity to check out. Each game features three love interests (there’s another special love interest introduced later) all based on various seasonal constellations. Thankfully, the anime crams all 13 boys into one place, making for a rather interesting turn of events.
The series follows Tsukiko Yahisa, the only girl enrolled at a formerly all-boys school known for its exclusive extracurricular activities. Unlike the other series on this list, each episode is 11 minutes long with two episode arcs revolving around each love interest. Most otome game anime adaptations choose one guy’s route to base the entire series around, but with this snapshot approach, you really get to spend time getting to know all of the guys.
Starry☆Sky Anime Visual（C）honeybee／星月グループ
Don’t Miss Out On These Great Otome Game Adaptations
Whether you’re a long time otome games fan or a newbie looking for something to tide you over until the next release, these 10 otome game anime adaptations are sure to hit the spot! Otome games cover such a wide range of stories and characters from all sorts of unique backgrounds, so lose yourself in these great anime adaptations. And, hey, if you like the anime and want more, you can always check out the game and explore the other phenomenal routes and stories available!
Now I want to turn things over to you guys: what are some of your favorite reverse harem anime series?