Our heroine, Amane Kosaka, was living a simple yet happy life in the countryside until one day she was suddenly taken away to live in the empire, summoned by her brother Soshi Amazaki — the current ruler. Though she was unaware of the underlying circumstances, she finds herself brought to this lively and palpable central city.
Living in the immaculate royal palace, our heroine comes to learn that the empire might not be as joyful as it seems. Her brother is no longer the gentle man she once knew…
A corrupt organization secretly runs things behind the scenes…
The heroine’s fate guides her down the path of love.
I finished The Charming Empire some time ago and decided to write my overall thoughts of the game. This will mainly be centered on the the main character, story lines, and the the main story of The Charming Empire.
** Please note that this isn’t a spoiler free reflection.
Both April and May of this year have been quite fruitful for otome games since so many came out and The Charming Empire was one of them! Amane tries to find her place as she is pushed back into the royal spotlight when her brother picks her up from the countryside after years apart. She tries to learn etiquette and dancing, but with the country suffering — Amane has to figure out where she is going to be at the end of all this and who will help her along the way.
A Country Bumpkin Princess: Amane Kosaka
Amane is pushed out of her countryside home by her older brother (but not really her brother since the whole story behind it is rather confusing) without much of an explanation and she continues to follow whatever is told of her for the majority of the story. As a princess, she is pampered but she is effectively a prisoner of Soshi as she is forced to stay in he room all day in order to be taught etiquette lessons for her upcoming debut. She is very considerate and is shown to worry about the people after certain events happen, but she can’t do anything about the issue. Amane tries her hardest to please everyone, but it just doesn’t work for her as Soshi rarely talks to her and the servants are just doing their job. It is not surprising that she clings to the first person that shows her attention in each route and she is rather single-minded in seeing them and or when something catches her attention.
At the same time, there are moments when she seems resentful of the whole situation that she has been placed in, but she doesn’t really do anything to fight it. It isn’t until someone else presents her an alternative that she begins to think about changing her current situation. She might be a bit hesitant, but she is stubborn enough to go through with anything in most routes. However, there are certain routes where Amane does take initiative and ends up finding something worth fighting for.
A Captive Price: Kei Yoshimine
Kei starts off as Amane’s dance instructor, though he isn’t too happy with teaching her in the beginning. He is very harsh with her and she later realizes the reason why — Soshi had declared war on Kei’s country of Yato and he has been a prisoner of war within the castle walls since then. However, as they spend more time together, Kei might realize that their situations are similar as he becomes nicer to her, but is still distant about certain things. They teach each other different things and it seems like they are slowly falling in love, but then the long awaited debut happens where they learn one thing — Soshi is planning on marrying Amane to some foreign prince. Thus, the gears begins to work as Kei starts to becomes distant again, though with an objective in mind — revolution. Kei helps those trying to take down Soshi and fights the emperor in order to take Amane with him. However, if he fails, they might never see each other again.
Amane and Kei have a lot of cute scenes together and it is nice to see him develop out of his initial anger towards her. It is also interesting to see what Soshi’s crimes are outside of his own country, though the story gets a little complicated to follow at times. It is also nice to see Kei push forward with trying to help with his country again, though it all seemed part of Soshi’s plan in the long run. The route is short and sweet with both of them overcoming Soshi in order to be together, though the bad ending is depressing since they fail and it is unknown whether they will ever see each other again.
The Rebellious Bodyguard: Koichiro Sera
Sera is Amane’s serious bodyguard that has been watching over her since they picked her up from the countryside. He is very hard to read and often times doesn’t talk, which makes Amane worry about what he things of her. Like Kei, Sera doesn’t really seem to enjoy interacting with Amane in the beginning, but after spending time with her he tries to do little things that make her happy such as showing her around town or reading books together. Yet, as they spend more time together, Amane realizes that Sera is dedicated and passionate about certain things, such as his country and its people which leads him to talking to Amane about her becoming Empress since she wouldn’t have to be her brother’s pawn anymore and she is the true blood heir. It takes her some time to make her decision, but she decides to move forward with Sera’s plan, though her new position and being able to save Soshi might cause some irreversible damage to their budding relationship.
Like Kei, Sera is a very kind character but he shows it in different ways, such as showing Amane around town and listening to her when none else will. It might be that he has a certain perspective of her due to being Soshi’s sibling, but that slowly changes and he wants her to be part of rebellion and take her proper place back. This is the main point of contention between the two of them, as Amane thinks for awhile about this, as Sera silently pushes her to make a certain choice. Yet, they are cute together during certain scenes and Sera is always aware of what Amane might need, though he shows his concern in indirect ways. However, because of his reserved nature and being clearly aware of who Amane is now makes him reconsider confessing his own emotions, wjich causes her to take action and confess her own feelings. Yet, his personal feeling and how the revolution ended for Soshi are reasons why Sera decides to disappear during the bad ending, though she isn’t one to give up so easily.
A Flirtatious Cafe Owner: Toki Tanba
Toki Tanba is the easygoing but rather flirtatious cafe owner that Amane meets when she decides to make a break from the castle. He is always there to help Amane with an easygoing smile and a calming word or two. However, while he does worry about her, he seems to often wonder where she is from. In this route, Amane takes some initiative and decides to find her way out of the castle and into the city. While, she ends up getting lost for a moment, she also ends up meeting Tanba who leads her to his cafe where she starts helping out. As they become friendly with each other, it still seems both of them are hiding things from each other, this becomes more evident as the townspeople begin to suffer underneath Soshi’s rule. A lot of things are discovered and Tanba ends up getting mad at Amane for awhile, as she tries her hardest to help though she is powerless compared to Soshi. As Tanba’s plan moves forward to overthrow Soshi, Amane tries her best to help the rebellion, though the aftermath might drive them apart.
Unlike the last two routes, Tanba is really nice to Amane from the beginning and that seems to confuse her at first, especially since some people call him a “womanizer”. It would have been nice to see more of the rebellion and their actions, but it makes sense since Amane isn’t there to help until the end, though there are instances where Tanba makes references to it here and there early on. They have a lot of nice moments together, especially during the festival and Tanba seems to care a lot about Amane but seems to be unable to declare his true emotions until the end. Though, it is a little sad that he gets mad at her for things are out of her control. However, the bad ending was kind of depressing, especially since she turned on Soshi in order for Tanba and his men to gain access to the castle and he pushes her away for her own safety when it comes to how the townspeople think of her, though it is nice to see that they are working hard together in order to make the country stable again in the happy ending.
A Caring Right Hand Man: Kagemitsu Togawa
Kagemitsu is the current right-hand man of Soshi and a childhood friend of Amane’s, though she doesn’t remember him that well. After a rather sordid interaction with her tutor, Kagemitsu decides to personally teach her the ways of etiquette and dance. He is very kind and patient with her and it shows with how quickly she picks things up, though there are certain things –like Soshi’s change and the current suffering of the people– that he doesn’t talk about with her. As Amane becomes more aware of what is going on, she seeks Kagemitsu out and begins to learn how he is part of the rebellion. However, they are each devoted to Soshi in their own ways and try their hardest for him to see reason, though he seems to have his own plans in mind. The real question is if Kagemitsu and Amane will be allowed to stay together once they have been found by those that want Kagemitsu’s help to rebuild the country yet are still weary of Amane.
Kagemitsu seems to be the most patient out of all the bachelors with Amane, he seems to be understanding of her current situation and tries his best to accommodate to that. However, while they are declared “childhood friends”, the subject isn’t touch upon a lot since Amane doesn’t clearly remember Kagemitsu and he decides not to say anything as a result, making any previous relationship void and leaving a big hole within the story line. It is interesting to see how they both care about Soshi in different way (and he does as well) but it isn’t strong enough to keep their friendship together. Due to all this, it seems like Kagemitsu is more of big brother during his own route. Yet, Kagemitsu tries his hardest to keep them together after the rebellion wins over and it is nice to see them continue Soshi’s wishes, though sad that Kagemitsu has to push her way in order to keep her safe in the bad ending.
A Two-faced Leader: Soshi Amazaki
Soshi is Amane’s adopted older brother and current Emperor, though the circumstances of how he got there are shady at best. With little to no contact in many years, Soshi just decides to pick up Amane from the countryside and bring her back to the capital. Amane tries her best to reestablish their old relationship, but Soshi is cold and hard to read as he keeps her at arms length and locked within her room in order to get ready for her debut. Regardless of the resentment that she might have towards Soshi, she tries to remember the type of person that he used to be and tries to appeal to that for a time. However, Amane also begins to question how exactly Soshi got into power and why he has been doing such awful things. As she closer to uncovering the truth, she comes to see that Soshi’s has his own plans in motion, though at the sacrifice of his own person for the greater good. Yet, as Amane comes to terms with her true feelings towards Soshi, will they both survive the upcoming upheaval?
For being the route that is supposed to explain a lot of the story’s background, it leaves the player a bit confused. While, they are assured that Amane and Soshi aren’t blood-related, how he got in to power (especially surrounding the “ministers”) and his current plans to stop them are left vague and confusing. Amane trying to better get to know Soshi is understandable, but the sudden change in her personality due to a letter is rather baffling and hard to follow until it is ignored since she is “in love” now. It is great to see them come together and try to better the country, but the process of how they get there is kind of murky, especially since they have stiff interactions with each other until they declare their feelings. They do have some cute moments together, but there is still a lot of unsolved issues. However, Soshi is a man that keeps his word and is very protective of Amane, as shown in both the good and bad endings, even if it cost him his life.
Th game has some great CGs and a wonderful voice cast that does well in portraying all the characters, but the story just falls really short of its full potential. The music also tends to lop a lot, which can make it quite annoying rather quickly. The explanations are really confusing at times, especially when it comes to Soshi’s explanation to what happened to the former Emperor and what he has been doing since he ascended to the throne. The regular citizens are said to be suffering, but this isn’t really shown outside of the fire hitting the town square and people’s personal explanations. It might be easy to explain that Amane’s position doesn’t allow her to see all that, but as she gets closer to the rebels it would have been nice to see her become more aware of her people’s suffering, especially when she could possibly take over after Soshi. There are a lot of themes that could have been placed to make the routes mote dynamic, but this and the lack of a proper background story makes the all political process within the game rather anticlimactic and a drag.
However, the game is really short and it doesn’t take long to complete, though there isn’t really a story — there are cute interactions and they sort of form into a romance. However, it is kind of weird since these guys are the only real interactions Amane has to the outside world since Soshi keeps her locked in her room most of the time, which makes the romance rather questionable. Amane’s personality might also bother some players since she is usually told what to do and follows any suggestion given to her without any real explanation as to why. Aside from that, there is bit of confusion in the translations since “Soshi” keeps appearing spelled in different ways, which was a bit confusing and hard to get used to.
If you want a game with some cute moments and nice seiyuu cast to past the time, this is the game for you but don’t expect to get much more out of it.