Nightshade: Hanzo Route & Character Analysis

Hanzo is a character that you just can’t help but fall in love with. And the best part about Hanzo’s route is that we see both Hanzo and Enju’s characters grow in depth as their love, trust, and respect for each other grows simultaneously. Hanzo inspires both hope and strength into our lovely heroine as the story unfolds, whereas in turn Enju teaches him the meaning of what it truly means to ‘protect’ versus ‘keep someone alive.’ He starts out as the epitome of the perfect shinobi–reserved, pragmatic, dutiful, and detached from his emotions; however, as the two protagonists continue on their journey we get to follow the humanization of our beloved shinobi of legend as he begins to care for Enju beyond his orders from his master (and I loved every minute of it! I am a sucker for character development after all °ω°).

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Plus, how can you not adore a man who would willingly take a bullet chakram flying full speed for you. Not to mention that he would also willingly change his merciless combat style to not only protect you physically but also mentally–even if it puts himself in danger. And what makes Hanzo’s character even more endearing is that we’re talking about a rational, pragmatic man who would normally never work inefficiently as it may jeopardize the success of a mission.

And if that’s not already enough for Hanzo to win you over as the best character of the game, he genuinely pushes Enju to become more independent and take hold of her own fate rather than rely on others. Enju is definitely at her best throughout his route and it’s a shame that the badass Enju of Hanzo’s route doesn’t necessarily manifest in the other routes following Hanzo’s.

As Enju travels with Hanzo, her conviction to live becomes stronger as she also physically and mentally becomes stronger with Hanzo’s mentorship and guidance. As more time is spent together, we also get a glimpse of the compassion that lies deep behind the cold facade that Hanzo normally wears as one of the greatest shinobi in history. I just loved how his emotions were always conveyed from minor shifts in his eyes, which was beautifully portrayed by the artist as well. I just adored everything about Hanzo’s budding love for Enju from leaving subtle hints of concern (giving her space because he understood that his presence made her uncomfortable at the beginning of their partnership, motioning her to eat with the help of a leaf ‘blowing in the wind,’ preserving her modesty during the rain scene, teaching her to be self-confident) to more blatant portrayals of his love (picking chives to eat together with miso, taking a scenic route to show Enju a garden he once visited long ago because she mentioned she loves flowers, warming her body by an intimate hug from behind, showing ‘uncharacteristic’ desperation to save her from Goemon) and the list goes on. And let’s not forget how cute Enju was when she was allowed to keep Hanzo’s kunai. These subtle interactions of endearment between the two were just so perfect.

Speaking of the rain scenes, you can see more of my commentary and squealing over his sexy wet hair here. Can you tell that I’m infinitely biased toward Hanzo? ≧ヮ≦

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Overall, I thought the romance and character development of Hanzo’s route was beautifully written as it was tactful and we got to see a wholesome and meaningful relationship grow between both Hanzo and Enju. Also, he is an older romance-able character so obviously I’d have a preference for him – oh how I just love the mature types – gimme all the 伯父さんs ♥◡♥).

Not gonna lie, when I was debating whether or not to buy Nightshade on Steam, it was SparklePoo (I kid you not – I put my faith into someone named SparklePoo) who ultimately convinced me to play this game AND I HAVE NO ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS!

Guide to Perfect Happiness:

Step One: Throw money at computer.
Step Two: Download Nightshade.
Step Three: Play Hanzo’s route.
Step Four: Repeat step three forever, not that you’d be able to stop if you tried.

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After completing Hanzo’s route, any reservations that I may have had about playing Nightshade were instantly erased because Hanzo alone made the game worth the money spent.

Overall Route Rankings:
Hanzo > Gekkamaru > Goemon > Kuroyuki > Chojiro

Nightshade: Gekkamaru Route & Character Analysis

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.

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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.

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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.

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Overall Route Rankings:
Hanzo > Gekkamaru > Goemon > Kuroyuki > Chojiro