Quite possibly my favorite execution of the classic ‘overprotective childhood friend’ and ‘master/servant’ trope. Usually the childhood friend gets the cheap or rather bland story line that helps set up the following routes, but in this case Gekkamaru was given the loving that his role truly deserves. His route fleshed out the overall plot of Nightshade and felt rather satisfying in terms of story, romance, and character development balance. What can I say, there was just enough tragedy laced in for my liking which in turn highlighted the growth between both Gekkamaru and Enju physically and mentally. I appreciated the fact that although Enju wasn’t as badass as she was in Hanzo’s route, she did show some backbone with Gekkamaru despite his overprotective nature. As the plot generally remains the same among all routes, I also thoroughly enjoyed following the love story that felt rather natural (and probably the most canon) as it unraveled amid inner-conflict and heartbreak.
I am a sucker for incessant teasing turned burning sexual desire and unabated longing. Gekkamaru why are you so moe 萌え~!~! ≧ヮ≦ And of course, Enju is the inner fangirl that lives inside all of us and continually bullies him until he is at his limit. Well why wouldn’t she when she gets the pleasure to witness some of the most adorable reactions. I would have loved to see our serious Gekkamaru-bae let out a little laugh or even a chuckle; but alas, serious bae is serious. How he takes his role as the bodyguard so seriously is honestly what makes the tale of his growing affection for Enju that much more meaningful and endearing. I mean, it was pretty clear that his love and devotion for Enju had existed for as long as she could remember, and could possibly be in part by the curse; however, I thoroughly appreciated the depth that was added by exploring the romantic subplot that reflected all facets of Gekkamaru’s love for Enju–love barred by duty and social class in contrast to love stemming from childhood, selfish desire, longing, insecurity, understanding, commitment, tragedy, and growth.
I can honestly say that any lady would be lucky to have a man that gazes upon her just as lovingly as Gekkamaru does every time he even gets a passing glance at Enju. And whenever he showed up in the subsequent routes I played, I just couldn’t. Y u do dis Gekkamaru pls I’m trying to romance other men rn.
Not only did Gekkamaru’s route have the best CG set (in my opinion) and satisfying closure to the plot, I was ultimately won over by how the art (by Teita) and stellar background music could consistently and accurately capture Gekkamaru’s intensity, passion, sincerity, and devotion toward Enju. That alone made me forgive most of the shortcomings that presented itself among other routes in the game.
Overall Route Rankings:
Hanzo > Gekkamaru > Goemon > Kuroyuki > Chojiro