Hibari lives in a rich household and is close with her butler who is basically her caretaker. She starts her first day of school at an all girl’s academy. After school, she encounters four mysterious men that all ask her to marry them. Super confused, Hibari is sent back home with her butler, Kasuga. She talks to her strict grandfather who tells her that he decided on these marriage candidates for her so that they have a man worthy of taking over the Tojo name. Hibari is completely against it but her grandfather is relentless and tells her she needs to face reality. So she’s taken to a villa where the four men are staying.
They introduce themselves to Hibari one by one. She also finds out that Kasuga lied about going to study abroad to accommodate to the suitors whom Hibari is set to marry. After that, Hibari goes to her room and Kasuga visits her. He apologizes for lying but tells her he couldn’t disobey her grandfather’s orders. She understands since in the past her father was also pressured by her grandfather as well which led him to go off and elope with her mother in another country. They ended up dying in accident though and never ended up raising Hibari.
Hibari then decides to read up on the candidates. Ichiya apparently attempted marriage fraud, Taiga who likes to gamble, Shion who’s a Gigolo by nature (this guy is half french and from france), and Nayuta is in debt. Hibari is in disbelief and wakes up the next morning after having a nightmare of these guys. She reluctantly greets them in the morning and while Ichiya goes on a tangent about making her any breakfast she’d like, Hibari ignores him and slips away to school. During this, she rants angrily to her friend about how she can’t stand them all. Her friend Tsumugi who is a closet otaku, starts to gush about how its like she’s in an otome game lmao.
When Hibari gets back, she’s greeted by Ichiya who tells her he’s longed for her to come home. She slams the door in his face and Kasuga tells her to chill LOL. So after that, Hibari decides to interview each and everyone one of them. But it doesn’t do her much as Ichiya just continues to use forced sweet words on her, Taiga is a natural dick who likes to gamble and take chances, Shion is over-the-top about beautiful things but is also very lazy, and then there’s Nayuta who’s in debt cause he gets scammed all the time plus wants Hibari to step on him (literally) and order him to do shit to be useful. 😂
After this, Taiga messages Hibari that they’re planning a BBQ that she’s required to attend. Much to her reluctance, she’s forced to attend but is told she should stay in her room to wait while everyone will prepare even after she continues to offer to help. After getting so bored from waiting she decides to check on how everyone is doing. Ichiya is in the kitchen making food and he tries to feed her radishes he carved into roses but fails spectacularly. Taiga just came back from on his motorcycle and puts the helmet on Hibari’s head since she seems interested in it. She tells him it stinks and he closes the helmet’s face protector on her lmao. Shion forces her to take a selfie when him after deciding not to do anything lol. And when Hibari checks on Nayuta, she notices he’s being ordered around like a dog by Shion and Taiga so she decides to use a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off of Nayuta which makes him super happy.
So finally the barbecue is prepared as Taiga grills up some meat. Hibari gives a short toast and Taiga suggests that Hibari also grills meat and she does so proudly. But it doesn’t last long since a neighbor’s dog ends up running loose and heads towards the barbecue. Kasuga yells for Hibari to watch out and Ichiya immediately steps in front of her to “save her”. But Nayuta pushes him aside and screams on the top of his lungs how he’ll protect Hibari lmao. They end up chasing the dog and knocking down things so Taiga suggests to put the grill’s fire out. But Shion being an absolute idiot puts oil on the fire LOL. Taiga kicks the grill over and it ends up spreading even more. Hibari calls for Kasuga’s help and finally he puts out the fire with a fire extinguisher lmao.
After that, Hibari is in shock but the rest of them start finding ways to laugh about it. But Hibari lectures them that it’s no laughing matter and they were all very careless. They apologize and Kasuga sends Hibari back to the Tojo residence until they all are forced to clean up. In doing so, her grandfather comes into her room and asks how the her marriage candidates are. Hibari demands an explanation for why they have sketchy backgrounds but he just tells her that they all possess something that she does not have and leaves. When Hibari returns, they all welcome her back.
After this, Hibari decides to invite her friend Tsumugi. She’s a fan of gothic lolita so she decides to visit wearing it. She greets all of the suitors at the house and challenges them to a game of cards saying that of they win, she’ll tell them the secret to opening Hibari’s heart. In the end they lose, but she gives a hint to them that they shouldn’t lie and being honest will ensure them to be able to reach Hibari. At school, Tsumugi reminiscences on how she first met Hibari and how she pushed and pushed until she could become friends with her. Although Hibari was reluctant at first, she slowly began to talk with her more.
At school, Hibari meets a girl named Arimura Noa who asks her a question in class. After that, Tsumugi brings Hibari to a cafe to meet with Arimura who is completely different outside of school where she’s quiet and seen as an honors student. Tsumugi suggests she give love advice to Hibari. They then decide to do an experiment with all the boys. Arimura pretends to flirt with all of them to see what reaction they’ll have. In the end, they’re all pretty loyal Hibari. She then reveals to them all that it was a method of seeing how likely they are to cheat lol. After they leave, Hibari exchanges contacr info with Arimura who asks her not to draw attention to her at school.
So after class, Arimura gives Hibari a pet robot named Rabi that has recording functions in order to make sure the boys at home aren’t doing suspicious things. Hibari keeps it a secret from the others and tells only Kasuga about it. One day, Hibari wakes up to Tabi malfunctioning. She contacts Arimura who helps fix it for her at Hibari’s home. In doing so, she’s asked by Hibari to stay longer and asks about how she met Tsumugi. She apparently witnessed Tsumugi wear gothic lolita and she saw Arimura put on a wig and wear more stylish clothing. From then on, Tsumugi decided to just pry into her business lol. She ends up telling Hibari about how she wants to do her own thing when she graduates and plans to live freely when she can.
One day the weather is bad and it starts looking like it’ll thunder which makes Kasuga remind Hibari she used to be afraid of thunder when she was young. All the guys start to realize Kasuga is fairly close to Hibari and even Tsumugi mentions it as well. But Hibari assures her that her relationship is with him is because he’s her butler. After school, Hibari reminiscences when she was terrified of thunder when she was young and hid under the bed. Kasuga came in and decided to comfort her by staying with her until she fell asleep no matter how many times Hibari pretended she was okay.
One day, Hibari meets a mysterious man named Kazu after he helps her from a guy trying to pick her up. He ends up treating her to pancakes at a cafe and she talks to him about her living style with four men. After getting along they exchange contact info in hopes of talking to each other again. Not long after, Hibari meets Kazu again and asks Arimura if she can use visiting her as an alibi. So she meets him and talks to him about the boys at her place using different names. She doesn’t know she likes them or not but knows she doesnt hate them. Kazu suggests that its perhaps she doesnt trust them well enough for her to open up to them.
One day, Kasuga decides to take a day off suddenly which throws Hibari for a loop. Taiga leads her to believe he needs a break from her and ends up making her upset. To make up for it, he takes her to cafe but ends up spotting Kasuga on his day off looking as through he’s enjoying himself. Hibari immediately leaves and Taiga believes that someday Hibari should consider that the two of them will have their own lives at one point. So when Hibari gets home, Kasuga mentions seeing her and tells her would not consider leaving her side and reassures Hibari that she’s not stealing his time from him.
One day, Hibari encounters Arimura kissing some guy. It makes her super embarrassed and Arimura invites Hibari to talk at a cafe for a bit. Unlike Hibari, Arimura likes to socialize and hang out with boys and leave them when she’s bored. In contrast, it takes a while for Hibari to get close to others because she lacks the trust. One day, Hibari’s father calls to meet Hibari and says she must make a choice for her marriage partner now or the relationship with Tojo will crumble. If she does not choose at least a name, she’ll be paired with a rando. However, in choosing she must keep it a secret for now.
Hibari is called by her grandfather to make a choice of whom she would want to marry. She argues about it but her grandfather tells her its either she picks or she’ll just marry someone (Kazuki who’s part of a rich family) but Hibari tells him she’s not choosing anyone and leaves. She encounters Taiga there who ends up revealing he’s a “spy” or rather he’s not a marriage candidate and was hired by her grandfather to keep an eye on her. Hibari goes on about how she believes her grandfather doesn’t care about her at all but Taiga tells her she’s wrong and her perception of him isn’t completely accurate.
Meanwhile, Kasuga discusses the matter of Hibari’s marriage to her grandfather. He doesn’t necessarily agree with it and Hibari’s grandfather reminds Kasuga that there may come a time where Hibari becomes dependant enough to not need him anymore (which is what he doesn’t want). Hibari’s friends Arimura and Tsumugi believe its Kasuga who’s been overly controlling to her and reveal he even threatened them when they both became closer to her. After this, Taiga forces her to come along with him to meet her grandfather. He begins to reveal that her parents are not dead and actually they lived in England where they bore a son named Tsubame. Its then when they came back to Japan they bore a daughter named Hibari.
Tsubame became so attached to his sister to the point he felt his parents were unfit to take care of her and tried to run away with Hibari. In doing this, Hibari got injured and lost her memory. They didn’t want Tsubame around her after this but he then decided to go back to Tokyo and even made a suggestion to Hibari’s grandfather that he throw away his name for the sake of Hibari taking over the Tojo name instead while he become her butler. Hibari can hardly believe this and runs out saying she’s heard enough. However, she does have a scar on her head which explains the accident she supposedly had when Kasuga tried to run away with her.
After this, Hibari wakes up but doesn’t want to see Kasuga. He ends up barging in her room anyway and asks her what’s wrong and what she talked about with her grandfather. She demands to know answers about him and her grandfather but Kasuga just smiles and tells her everything her grandfather told her is a lie. However, he gets interrupted by everyone else and they tell him that Taiga told them everything and they know he’s lying. Kasuga then decides to run out the door and leaves. Hibari tries to stop him but everyone tells her to leave him be.
After this, they come up with a plan to delay Hibari’s marriage candidate choice by adding Kazuki, Ichiya’s brother, into the mix. The rest of the boys agree that they’re their first and foremost goal is to protect Hibari rather than be rivals. Meanwhile, Hibari constantly worried about Kasuga ever since he left and even received a text message from him to meet with him on Christmas Eve. Hibari doesn’t tell anyone this, but suddenly on her way back from school, Kasuga appears and pulls her into a car. He tells her he intends to run away with her and take her to England while Hibari demands answers from him.
They end up getting stopped by traffic due to Hibari’s grandfather and he pulls Hibari out of the car and start to run on foot. Taiga and Nayuta catch up to him but Hibari ends up tripping over which causes her to recall her memory of Kasuga trying to run away with her but she ends up getting hit by a car in the process. Hibari calls Kasuga “Tsubame-niichan” making him realize that she has regained her memory. Afterwords, Hibari finally has the chance to talk to Kasuga about everything. He confirms he is her brother and has an obsessive siscon to the point where he was overly attached to her in his childhood. Their father noticed this which is why they were separated and Kasuga hates them for this fact.
Hibari lectures Kasuga for his bullshit and tells him to properly apologize. In doing so, she hopes he’ll live as “Tsubame” from now on but he refuses. He doesn’t want the word to get out that he is actually a Tojo that should inherit the family head. Instead, he wants to see how beautiful and wonderful Hibari would look as a Tojo head. Hibari thinks he’s ridiculous though and they argue after she calls him a siscon lmao. After that, Hibari’s grandfather and her friends come over for the party as well. After Hibari makes a speech of how she’s learned a lot from everything that has happened, Ichiya and Shion flirt with Hibari while Taiga and Nayuta agree they want to be a marriage candidate as well.
Final Thoughts: This game was so fun!! I loved the characters and the story. I don’t know if it really warranted so many delays, but I do think playing and waiting was worth it in the end. I really wish they just ported this game to switch (since it was originally for PS4) but eh, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. My favorite ended up being Taiga, but man Nayuta’s route was so much fun. If I omit the true end, this game would honestly be perfect in every way. However, that true end put a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t like it at all. The last thing I expected was Kasuga to be Hibari’s brother, but as the true end progressed I already knew and I hated it. I hated that Hibari/Tsubame date it made me want to barf, balgh… I see Otomate LOVES the brocon/siscon trope but I’m really not digging it. It would be one thing if Kasuga was just a butler who harbored intense feelings for his master (which would still be annoying to me but I mean I could accept this) but nopeeeeeee. Well, now it makes complete sense why Kasuga isn’t a route. But I honestly would’ve preferred if he was just a route without being oniichan. This felt so fucking pointless and just an excuse to abide to people with the love of that trope. But gdi Otomate, it was not necessary so I really don’t understand why they would do that… Aside from that, the characters were all great for the most part. I would absolutely love a FD too. I really want more Taiga……
Story – The story in general is supposed to be silly so I can tell I’m not supposed it take it 100% seriously, but it was very enjoyable regardless and suited the cast of characters well. Usually the format was Hibari picks a suitor, then she ends up falling for them or vice-versa (she learns about falling in love). You don’t usually (if ever) have a heroine who is being pursued in that manner, so it was an interesting and new take on an otome game. Especially since she comes from a rich family and is naive about certain things. Not only that, but this was actually a game that would make you laugh throughout the story. If I omit a certain part in the true end, I think it would’ve been a perfect way to end the game.
Characters – This is the first time in a while where I actually enjoyed pretty much all of the characters (excluding Kasuga). I think all of the characters complimented each other and it was nice to see them all work together even when they’re technically ‘rivials’. While I didn’t really enjoy Shion’s route, I didn’t mind him as a character (he just wasn’t my type). I think the star of this game though was definitely Hibari. She had enough attitude to tell these boys off whenever she wanted to. Giving her a voice really helped with that, so I’m glad she wasn’t just a plain self-insert heroine.
Visuals & System – The art was so perfect for this game and I am so glad Usuba Kageroo was able to work on it. I think her very realistic and beautiful style fit very well with a game like this. Even the CGs felt very equal in quality and I loved all of them honestly. In most cases there’s some sort of downgrade in quality as you progress with CGs or it feels to simple or half-assed (like a zoom in of a odd area of a character) but not with this game at all! I think some people didn’t really like the way this game did their system with individual scenes in these set flowcharts, but I didn’t mind it. It was interesting it would show when you would get a CG in a scene or give a little description on what the scene would be about. I think it was a unique system that was pretty straightforward. Also, the individual endings were adorable!! Usually I feel like the visuals of the EDs are half-assed, but they were actually very cute and had little chibi versions of the characters doing unique things related to the characters.
Music – The opening of this game was very catchy and I noticed they used different instrumental versions of the song in different scenes which was nice. Overall, I didn’t have any complaints about the music. Each main character had their own theme which fit nicely with them all.
Overall Thoughts: Because of my trip to Japan for a month, it took a bit longer to finish this game. While this game wasn’t perfect, but it was damn near close! If that true ending didn’t exist (or if I could scrap that part out of it) it would have ended on such a perfect note for me. Unfortunately, the true end left a bad taste in my mouth and I really rather they didn’t incorporate it into the story. Regardless, I truly don’t know how anyone could complain about Hibari as a heroine. She is literally a heroine most people (I think in western culture anyway) would want. She’s tsundere, but she also speaks her mind a lot. Of course, she’s not a self-insert which makes sense that she has more personality. I could definitely see this game being ported to Switch eventually, but its unfortunate they released it so late just to be on Vita while its a dead system. I’m really hoping for a FD but I don’t know how likely it is because I’m not sure how well this game did in Japan. It was a super fun game though and if Otomate made more games like this, I could see myself actually enjoying their games more. Plus, its nice to have a game that’s super silly once in a while instead of the games that try so hard to different that it ends up being a flop. Anyway, I would highly recommend this game to anyone who likes a heroine with a more outspoken personality and a fun set of characters. This is an otome game that actually stood out from most I have played and it was definitely worth buying the animate set for. Even though I don’t know when it would ever happen (especially since its Vita exclusive) it would be really neat to see this game localized in English. It was a great game and I think the west would love it.
5 thoughts on “Variable Barricade – Common Route/True Route + Final Thoughts”
Not gonna lie – I really wish the PS4 release hadn’t been cancelled. Trophies are addicting enough rofl. Well at least the switch offers you the option to still play it on the big screen. Nitpicks aside I’m really happy to see that not only is the heroine a badass, but that the cast is all likable even if they start out kinda sketch. Thanks for the review!
I’ve literally never left a comment on these before, and haven’t even finished this game yet, but I needed to look up stuff on Kasuga before I got my hopes destroyed if he wasn’t a secret route… which obviously he isn’t. This almost makes me want to stop playing because while I could accept if he was just a hot side character, I hate what they did here. Literal lowkey fantasy for me is a hot butler who is devoted and sassy to me and I feel like this game taunted me with that and then decided to rip it up in front of me, stomp on it, light it on fire and then rub the ashes into my face while I’m crying.
I’m still gonna finish it because I’m enjoying this game outside of Kasuga and I only have 1.5 routes left, but fuck if this isn’t disappointing.
LOL I honestly completely understand where you’re coming from. I figured if he didn’t have a route, maybe he’d at least get some sort of fanservice in the game or eventually a FD route but after playing the entire game I realized they completely squandered that idea with a trope I absolutely hate. I do think the game itself at least makes up for it because I enjoyed everyone else’s routes a lot at least!
It’s super fun outside of that, so I’m choosing to delude myself into believing the true end is someone’s weird fanfic, and that they just decided to waste Kasuga lol.