Part 121: Supplementary Lesson #6: The Athlete Archetype
Previous Analysis: Playboys
Athletes are actually a pretty small archetype when it comes to otome games. The main focus of otome games is on the characters of the various boys, but athletes are almost entirely definite by the sport that they play, and that tends to be a quick deterrent to players. Traditional athlete characters are solely focused on their sport of choice, often at the cost of their grades and their social life. Athletes often gather a small number of female fans, though they are mostly ignored by the boy in question. They have no time for romance, so the only way the player can catch their eye is by joining the same sports club on campus and forcing themselves into their schedule. Plus, not only to do they have to join a sports club, they also have to be good at the sport. Then, since athletes tend to be oblivious when it comes to romance, the player can expect him to be completely clueless unless theyre totally direct with him. Theres a lot of time and effort spent on getting this boy to notice the player, so whats the pay off?
Well, once the relationship finally starts, the clueless athlete becomes helplessly devoted to her (much like he is to his sport), a knight in shining armor who will keep her safe and always treat her with respect. Then tend to be good people, you just dont get the chance to see it unless you really go looking for it.
The more recent trend in high school dating sims has been to forgo athletic characters for other more popular archetypes, or to make their sport a secondary part of their character, rather than trying to define them by their athleticism.
Starry Sky ~ In Summer is the second game In the Starry Sky otome series. In this game, our heroine Tsukiko decides to join the Seigetsu Academy archery club over the summer break. While she prepares for the big competition, she has some boys she needs to help out and romance.
Besides the three main boys, theres another trio of boys known as the Idiot Trio, who act as extra comedy relief during the game, and are only dateable in the fandisk, Starry Sky ~ After Summer. I believe that In Summer is the only Starry Sky game that includes significant minor characters.
While the archery club gives definition to each characters plot, Starry Sky is still a character-focused series, using archery as more of a framing device to push their character further and give substance to their story rather than solely as a character trait.
Azusa Kinose is a Sagittarius, and is a year younger than Tsukiko. He isnt originally part of the archery club, but he decides to join after seeing Tsukiko practicing, thinking that her archery is beautiful. It turns out that Azusa was also the reason that Tsukiko continued with archery, because in middle school Azusa told her that she had a certain spark to her form. Azusa is considered an archery genius, having a certain natural talent for shooting arrows. Hes arrogant and confident in his abilities, to the point where he doesnt see the point in practicing, and hes constantly hitting on Tsukiko. Not in like a demeaning way, but hes all Hey Tsukiko *finger guns* and it makes the vice-captain Ryunosuke angry. In actuality though, he is insecure in his abilities and finds it difficult to put his heart into anything, finding little passion in focusing on one skill or goal, particularly archery. Eventually, Tsukiko is able to convince him that theres something important in cultivating multiple skills, and hes able to win the big competition with his newfound outlook on life. At the end of the game, Tsukiko leaves for college and Azusa promises to follow her once hes done with high school in order to continue their relationship.
Azusa is more properly defined as a young character, being younger and smaller in stature than Tsukiko, and also holding many traits defined with youth, such as his arrogance.
Ryunosuke Miyaji is a Scorpio, and is vice-captain of the archery club. He acts very serious and is often calm, though he is prone to argument. Hes hardworking and abrasive, but hides a shy and easily embarrassed side and a penchant for sweets. He regards Tsukiko as a rival and is constantly keeping an eye on her and her progress in the club. He often bickers with Azusa, who he sees as worthless since he relies solely on skill rather than practice and hard work. In his route, Ryunosuke tries really hard not to show his true feelings to Tsukiko, but hints at it when he rejects a love letter because its not from Tsukiko. I say hint instead of make it glaringly obvious because Tsukiko doesnt pick up on it. Eventually he has to admit his feelings for her when he decides to kiss her while shes trying to help pin his hair back. It turns out that he was worried that Tsukiko was dating Azusa and so when it turns out that shes single, hes excited and they start dating. At the end of the game they decide to get married once they both graduate college and everyone lives happily ever after.
Ryunosuke is a very serious, no-nonsense character, providing a counterpart to Azusas youth and laidback attitude.
Homare Kanakubo is a Taurus, and is a year older than Tsukiko. He is the captain of the archery club and acts as the big brother and mediator of the archery club. He is friendly, gentle and mature, and has to constantly keep the archery club members in check. He is very patient, but is prone to stress-induced stomach aches. Over the course of the game Tsukiko hears him talking to a girl over the phone, and is afraid that its his girlfriend. As it turns out, he has three sisters that he has to take care of, and Tsukiko realizes that shes been acting awkward for no reason. What a shocker. Once it comes to the big competition, Homare admits that hes scared because last year his nervousness caused Seigetsu Academy to lose the archery competition. Thanks to a good luck charm on the part of Tsukiko, Homare wins the archery competition and admits that he loves Tsukiko. Then at the end of the year, they kiss and make a promise to be together forever, even after Homare leaves for college. At the end of the game Homare and Tsukiko are looking at churches, deciding where they would get married.
Homare is the most mature of the characters in the game, being the mediator between the younger characters and always staying calm and collected.
Tokimeki Memorial Girls Side is a series of otome games and a spin-off of the male-oriented Tokimeki Memorial series. Since TokiMemo is a more traditional series, it also uses the more traditional athlete setup, letting their sport define much of their character. The characters of their archetype are more homogenized in general, being more focused on their club than their love life.
Due to how TokiMemo uses a stat system for how boys treat you, it can be difficult to raise the various flags needed for these characters to start their romantic path. Most of what I discussed about the difficulty of dating athletes comes from this series in particular.
Tokemeki Memorial Girl's Side: 1st Love
Kazuma Suzuka is a sophomore on the basketball team. He is always seen with a bandage under his left eye, though the reason why its there is never known. Hes incredibly passionate about everything he wants to be, which mostly ends up being basketball. Once the main character joins the basketball team and shows her skills on the court, Kazuma will notice her and comment on her playing. As that particular relationship progress, he pretends like he isnt interested in her romantically, even though hes really bad at hiding his feelings. If the main character works at the café, hell stop by on his running route and loudly exclaim that hes just stopping by because hes on his route and its a good break point, even though no one asked him about it. After he confesses, he acts like a knight in shining armor for the main character, hopeless devoted to making her happy and protecting her. Kazuma is bad at school, and is often near the bottom of the class. Hell even skip exams on occasion to practice basketball. While hes rather hot-blooded when it comes to sports, he acts really shy around the main character and is incredibly sweet towards her. At the end of the game it turns out that he got a scholarship to play basketball in America and he asks the main character to come with him.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side: 2nd Kiss
Katsumi Shiba is a freshman and a star baseball player. He is the tallest character in the game at 187cm (62). Hes quiet and cold at the beginning, but opens up a lot once he starts interacting with the main character. He is an animal magnet and a girl magnet, but hes a dedicated boyfriend who is caring and protective. Though he can also be a bit of a pervert, like when he tells the main character that her short height is good for avoiding changing light bulbs and unspecified other things. While he enjoys baseball, he does not play it after he caused his middle school baseball team to be disqualified from the championship after punching out the opposing teams pitcher. With enough determination, however, the main character can convince him to join the high school baseball team for a second chance, where he ends up winning them the championship. After rekindling his love for the sport, he decides to go to a first-rate sports university.
Of all of the athletic TokiMemo characters, Katsumi is probably the most unique, since the sports part of his character doesnt really start to shine until the player is well into his route, so there has to be another facet of his personality that he shows off first.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side: 3rd Story
Arashi Fujiyama is a freshman and the head of the judo club. He also works part-time as a lifeguard at a public pool, and enjoys growing chrysanthemums. While hes dedicated to judo, it often gets in the way of his school work, and hes often at the bottom of the class. He is incredibly serious and acts as the straight man in his relationship with others, often to comic effect. He has a friendly judo rival by the name of Niina, but as the main character pursues Arashi and starts moving up in the judo club, her rivalry becomes less friendly and more focused on winning Arashis heart before the main character can. Theres even a second rivalry between Arashi and another dateable boy in the judo club named Junpei if you work on both of their paths. Worst comes to worst, theres a love quadrangle and you have to fight off both a girl and a boy just to date Arashi, who somehow doesnt notice this happening or has no idea that everyones fighting for romance. This seems like a lot of work for a boyfriend who doesnt even know how hard you worked, yeah?
Princess Debut is an otome/rhythm game made by CAVE. Given its relative obscurity, there is little official art or fanart to work with, so Im going to have to reuse a previous banner.
But who really cares about that, were here to talk about boys!
Klaus Rosencrans is a prince from the Republic of Lamor. He is a counterpart for Kyle, a freshman at Sabrinas school and the star athlete. Now, instead of basketball, he is into dancing and also competitive chariot racing. Klaus is also the childhood friend of the princess. He starts out the game with a dance partner, but approximately halfway through they have a fight and break up, which is Sabrinas chance to invite him to be her own dancing partner. Gotta be quick on the rebound, yknow. Hes also constantly being harassed and pushed around by his two fangirls, so it can be hard to talk to him. He is considered one of the top dancers in the kingdom, and is happy to teach Sabrina how to dance. Hes kind and considerate and gives Sabrina a number of new dresses to dance in, including a first prize dress from winning a chariot racing competition. Hes incredibly cordial and aware of his status and what it does for his reputation (much to his chagrin with his fangirls), making him different than many of the more traditional athlete characters.
Klaus, like Luciano, is considered a particularly difficult character to get the ending for, since there are two dialogue options near the very beginning that you have to get right in order to successfully date him, and the answers are not immediately obvious.
Re:Alistair++ is an otome game made by independent English developer sakevisual. You play as Merui Lucas, who loves to play an MMORPG called Rivenwell Online. One evening, during a game session, she kills a boss monster, and its rare drop gets stolen from her by a character by the name of Alistair. Meruis short temper kicks in, and she decides that shes going to get revenge for this. Alistair tells her that if she can figure out who he is in real life in one month, then hell give the item back. She knows that Alistair is one of the boys at school, but she needs to figure out who it is before the item is sold off forever. And worst of all, she needs to balance school on top of this! How will she handle this predicament?
Its pretty silly as a game premise, and theres not a lot to the game, but the writings well done for a free indie game. Also, since this game is written by a Western team, the archetypes tend to be more based on Western media archetypes. So in this case, the athlete character is going to be arrogant and flirty and making fun of nerds. While this may extend how the athlete character is used in otome games, it doesnt seem like itd make for any more desirable characters overall.
Derek Nevine is a year older than Merui and is the star of the basketball team. On top of that, he also has high grades and is at the top of his class. He looks like kind of an asshole, and he definitely starts out like one, especially if you dont follow his route. Hes a player on the court and with the ladies, and hes used to getting what he wants. However, Merui wont have any of that and always keeps him at a distance. This doesnt always work, since Dereks big on physical contact and flirting, but it keeps him at bay enough to interest him. He constantly makes fun of Merui for wearing childish clothes and says shell be taken more seriously (especially by him) if she wears more sexy clothes. Thats a lot coming from him, since he wears a tacky shirt that has ChicMag (Try Not Be Jealous ♥) printed on it, so I dunno if any kind of fashion advice should be taken from him. But under his flirty, sporty attitude is a sensitive kid who just wants to be cared for. His parents are mostly negligent and tend to criticize him for every little thing, no matter how much he accomplishes. Hes also really kind and caring himself to girls that get past his initial courting litmus test, like Merui. Merui is always there to encourage Derek, and ignores his status at school and treats him like a regular person with regular desires and cares. Though he himself treats women like objects so who really knows where the standard is there. She even helps to explain that his parents do appreciate the work he does, but they dont know how to express it. Eventually, Derek admits that he is Alistair, and that he was just griefing the first person he saw online that night due to a fight with his parents. He says that while he was mostly just playing with Merui in the beginning, she definitely changed him for the better, and so they decide to go steady together. They have just enough time before the credits roll to say sickeningly sweet things to each other as well.
Traditionally, athletes are a lot of work for a lot of payoff, but overall the archetype is largely ignored in otome games by fans, and probably one of the least popular standards within the genre. By putting the characters focus more on their hobbies than their own personality, and by tying such a large part of their personality to their sports hobby, it becomes difficult to relate to the character or find a strong reason to pursue them. With games that are supposed to have a larger appeal to every type of girl, such as Tokimeki Memorial, this tends to work, as it gives characters that are relatable. With many of the recent otome games focusing on a small scope of players, however, athletes tend to draw in fewer fans. The most popular athlete characters tend to be well-distanced from their sport, where the focus becomes my experience as an athlete has helped to define my character rather than my character is defined by my position as an athlete, if that makes any sense.
Next Analysis: Rich Kids