Shujinkō ( 主人公 ): Protagonist; main character; hero/ine (of a story)
Whether you choose to play through the Heroine’s point of view or by placing yourself as the Heroine, there is no right or wrong way about this, the genre is flexible and can accommodate to the player preference.
But please note, a Heroine and a self insert character are not the same but are 2 separate things.
Otome Games are Novel based games, which means it is a fictitious narrative with illustrations, and it is designed to have a story base rather than an experience base, so when a character is created no matter what type of character they would be given their own traits.
Sub characters, pursued characters, and the Heroine herself will have their own traits and this is done in order to fit into the story and the theme of the game.
The Purpose of a Heroine:
The purpose of a Heroine in an Otome Game is to react and interact with the other characters, to have an aim in the story, and to get to that aim by the end of the story.
Heroines are created to be the center being of the game, this is very important for the players as they act as a guide like character who the players can proceed with the game.
By reading the thoughts and facial expressions of the Heroine, the players can determine the mood and the situation that they are in. This is also the reason why scripts for the Heroines are longer, and much more detailed compared to the pursued and the sub characters.
Personality + Characteristic:
Just like the pursued and sub characters, the Heroines are created and given traits of their own and are fitted into the theme and story of the game. The traits given to a Heroine are different from another heroine, this is because the theme and story created by the writer is different from game to game.
As the writers place Heroines as the center being of the game, when the Heroine interacts with the pursued character she will gradually develop her traits along with them. This is an important part of the game as this is the purpose of Otome Games, developing and forming a relationship with the pursued character.
As the writers and developers create the Heroine, they will give her a background story as well as a name. The background story of the Heroine has been set and cannot be altered, but the given name can be changed as the players prefers.
When the name entry screen opens, the given name by the developers and writers will be automatically placed in:
Image example: Code: Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~:
As we can see the name カルディア(Cardia) is already placed in, of course as stated previously the given name can be erased and the player can insert their own name or create one for the Heroine.
One of the features in recent Otome Games is that when you proceed with the given name, the character that you are pursuing will voice out the name.
But when the player has placed their own or created name for the Heroine, the pursuing characters will replace the name with other words such as 君(kimi),お前(omae) or あんた(anta). And in other cases they could silent the name part of the script and proceed onward.
But themes in games such as AMNESIA, where the Heroine does not have any memories of herself or anyone, the game ask the players for a name to be inserted:
Image example: AMNESIA (Japanese Ver.)
As seen where usually a name should be is left blank, and when the players insert a name for the Heroine then the game will proceed.
Because of the unique theme in this game, the Heroine cannot completely guide the players through the story, so another character called Orion is introduced to have help out the flow of the game, and guide the players through. And the decisions are still left for the players to choose.
In games like this, it is easier for players to self insert into the game as it asks for a Name to be created by the player, as well as the thoughts and expressions of the Heroine are not said or shown, but it is said and expressed by Orion in place for the Heroine.
To be noted, in AMNESIA the game may start with the Heroine in the state of amnesia, but before the Heroine went into that state she did have a trait of her own, and this can be seen through the game play as she regains her memories.
Designs of Heroines:
Whether they have silver or brunette hair with magenta or gold colored eyes, each individual Heroine that is designed and has been drawn will look different compared to another Heroine in other titles.
Starting from the Left:
Mihagi Sonoo - Teikoku Kaigun Koi no Bojou
Amane Aika - I DOLL U
Kayo - Ken ga Kimi
Mihara Suzu - POSSESSION MAGENTA
Heroine - AMNESIA Series
As shown in the above image every Heroine is drawn differently,this is because Artists who are in charge of Character Design will need to communicate, and follow directions given by the Scene and Script Writers and the Director to fit the Heroine into the theme, and story of the developing title.
Heroines in Otome Games are drawn with different styles as the company developing the games would hire a variety of Artists, but there may be cases where a company will hire an Artists to work on not just a series but also on another developing title.
Even when the company hires the same Artist still the design would be different compared to the previous title the Artist would of worked on.
While the decision of the Heroine having a voice or not having a voice is entirely on the Director, generally it is around the cost wise of the game development.
The Director of the game will consider what they want to portray to the players as well as how they want the game to be played, for example what kind of experience does the Director want the players to have?
Majority of the time Heroines are not voiced, but there are titles currently out in the market that has a voiced Heroine, for example Koharu/Kuga Mikoto/Shiranui Nanami in NORN9 series from Otomate/Idea Factory:
In the video the 3 Heroines are shown all voiced by different Sieyuus, but not all of the texts are voiced such as thoughts and what is seen or felt by the Heroines.
The reason for why the texts aren’t completely voiced could be as mentioned previously for cost wise, and or what the Director wants for the players to feel and experience in the game play.
…am I the only one who wants to see what happened to at least one of the sacrificial brides before Yui? Like, how long ago had it been since they received one? How often do they receive them? What were their personalities like? Were any of the boys especially interested in any of them? Maybe Ayato never got too much time with any of them, which is why he latched onto Yui so fast? Or maybe he’s always like that with them, giving a reason as to why Shuu said he could be such a “possessive freak” sometimes? Maybe they couldn’t take the abusive treatment and just agreed to become one of Kanato’s dolls to escape their changed realities? These girls always end up dying. I want to KNOW.