Over a year ago I started playing Ikemen Sengoku, a mobile otome game. I play a lot of mobage so what's particularly unique about this game is the merchandise I ended up collecting along the way -- a rarity for mobile otome due to the niche market (although it has definitely been more accessible lately compared to past years). I thought it would be fun to document that journey so I could look back and see how my collection has grown over time. I also wanted to track where all the different merchandise came from as most of is from limited time events or stores.
Just a warning that this is a very text- and photo-heavy article.
Ikemen Sengoku: Romances Across Time (IkeSen) is a fantasy/history-based otome* game developed by Cybird. IkeSen is a free-to-play mobile app for Android and iOS which runs of a ticket-based system to progress the story. You play as a fashion designer who has been whisked away to Sengoku Japan via a wormhole. She arrives at the infamous location of Honnou-ji on the night Oda Nobunaga was supposed to die -- and unintentionally saves his life and changes history as she knows it. She later learns that the wormhole will return in three months to take her home, but she must survive the tumultuous times and avoid falling in love in the meantime.
Ikemen Sengoku◆Toki o Kakeru Koi (イケメン戦国◆時をかける恋) originally released in Japan back in June of 2015 while an international version of the app entered the market in June of 2017. In March earlier this year, a PS Vita version came out in Japan. As if the existence of a PS Vita game didn't say enough about the game's popularity, it has also spawned several drama CDs, a manga and anime series, three stage plays (with a fourth coming out next year), and multiple café collabs and special events.
Currently the international app features 9 out of 12 possible routes/love interests (with 3 unofficially announced for an eventual total of 15). It has a social aspect that allows you to chat with and visit other players and periodically has in-game events which tend to be AUs or spin-offs of the main routes. A unique feature of IkeSen is each route branches off into two possible endings: a romantic and dramatic one, which presents two different ways for the story to positively play out. (This is opposed to the usual good/bad endings you find in otome games.)
Here is some other media you may find interesting for reference:
Character ChartCharacter Chart
Special First Anniversary Video
Special Third Anniversary Video
* In case you are unaware of the term, otome games are visual novels aimed at women. One of the central focuses is for the female main character to romance one of several, mostly male, suitors.
I originally meant to write this article to celebrate the international app's one year anniversary in June, but I had a few items on preorder (mainly the absolutely gorgeous art book I will showcase later) so I wanted to wait for that. Well, the art book arrived, but I had more even more items on order and thought, "Hmm I want to add this other item into my article too" and kept waiting… and putting things off… (Un)fortunately I will always have incoming IkeSen loot so welp, here's my article so I can finally check it off on my to-do list and be productive elsewhere LOL.
When I first started playing IkeSen, I never anticipated what a huge impact it would have on my (collecting) life. The Sengoku period is my favorite time in history to study so I've always been drawn to media that uses figures and events from the period as their basis or inspiration. But due to the saturation in the market, I've only had a few favorites I've latched onto which is the Sengoku Musou franchise and Samurai Love Ballard: Party. (And low key Sengoku Night Blood.) "Sengoku Basara isn't on your list?!" I can hear my friend screaming in the distance… It's not, I'm sorry. OTL
Kenshin is the primary focus in my IkeSen collection although I collect Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide items as well. I especially love group merchandise but those are surprisingly few and far in-between.
The Loot: 07/2017 - 11/2018
(Click on the images for a full view!)
As mentioned previously, the international version of the IkeSen app came out in June. To celebrate and promote the game, Cybird sold IkeSen merchandise at Anime Expo.
I picked up a Masamune acrylic illustration plate since I had been playing through his route and the other options (Nobunaga and Ieyasu) did not interest me. I also bought some acrylic keyholders of Kenshin and Hideyoshi since I really liked their character designs although they would not become my favorites until a few months later.
The badges were all blind packs, but the Cybird staff were kind enough to let people trade for characters they wanted. My luck with blind packs is abysmal (pretty sure I got two Yukimuras...) so I traded for Kenshin, Hideyoshi, and Mitsuhide.
The artwork for the keyholders and illustration plate were created to debut specifically at AX while the badges feature artwork from the game’s homepage.
I also got some freebies for buying merchandise, playing the app, and chatting with the lovely staff.
The folded towel was originally for Ikemen Sousenkyo 2016 (Ikemen Series General Elections 2016) which is Cybird’s popularity poll event for all their characters. The shikishi was originally sold at AGF 2016 ~Idol Edition~. I’m not sure what event or campaign the bromide was originally from, but it features one of Hideyoshi’s main route CGs, while the bag was an exclusive freebie for AX.
The pamphlet was also created for AX and contains information regarding the game along with a little “quiz” to help you choose which available route may suit your interests the most. I’ve included it under the spoiler:
Find Your Match!Find Your Match!
I hosted a Suruga-ya group order the previous month and managed to grab this postcard from there.
As noted on the postcard, the artwork was drawn to celebrate the second anniversary of the game in Japan and was included in an issue of B’s-LOG.
Cybird had a limited time shop in Namba and Shinjuku during August for IkeSen’s second anniversary and the 2017 Ikemen General Elections. An acquaintance of mine was studying in the country at the time and was able to attend.
She picked up some Kenshin and Hideyoshi keyholders for me along with a Mitsuhide metal charm. She also tossed in some items she got duplicates of from blind packs.
Some of the items from the event were later given a standard release and I picked up this acrylic cell phone stand of Kenshin from AmiAmi.
The next set of blind pack items were originally purchased in April 2017, but since I had a friend order them for me, I had her hold onto them until other items I ordered through her arrived. I purchased them before playing the game since I anticipated it would be hard to obtain later on. Considering these items were sold for the first stage play, I was correct, and the Kenshin acrylic stand which I did not manage to obtain haunts me to this day. Luckily I was able to get the Kenshin badge, but my history with blind packs should have taught me this was definitely not the ideal way to start collecting IkeSen items.
With this batch of merch, I have yet to realize I will be cursed to have Mitsunari and Yukimura (and sometimes Shingen) follow me around for the rest of my collecting days. (I also don’t technically count the Mitsunari, Yukimura, and Shingen items as part of my collection as I’m trying to get rid of them, but here they are to reinforce my point lol.)
Cursed BoysCursed Boys
I preordered this box set from Stellaworth in November 2017 for Kenshin's birthday. It was originally sold to celebrate Kenshin ranking in the top three of the 2017 Ikemen General Elections. Unfortunately it was about a week late for his birthday. I didn't expect the box the items arrived in to be a beautiful display piece as well.
The acrylic illustration plate is a bit larger than the Masamune one I bought at Anime Expo 2017. The second and third badges display artwork from CGs obtained from his romantic and dramatic main route endings.
The charms and badges below were ordered in January from Nadema but arrived with the set above.
The Kenshin balloon charm was originally sold at the previously mentioned Cybird Shop back in August while the snowmen charm were sold at a Cybird Shop held in Shinjuku in December 2016. The badge and bathing charm were sold as a tourism promotion/collaboration between Gifu and Seki City back in August 2017.
I was so shocked I managed to get three Kenshin charms from the blind packs along with two Hideyoshi items… Of course life has a way of balancing out and my dearest Yukimura and Mitsunari filled out the rest of the haul. OTL (Again, not part of my collection, but they do look lovely nonetheless lol.)
Please Go AwayPlease Go Away
I browse Otamart once in awhile for IkeSen merch and came across the huge shikishi below.
It was given out at the 2017 Summer Festival. I adore shikishis and autographs, and while this is merely a reproduction of a drawing done by Yamada Shiro (the game’s artist), it is one of my absolute favorite pieces in my collection as it features Kenshin with his trusty ninja, Sasuke.
The art book I briefly mentioned earlier was preorderd from Animate and arrived at the end of June. It was released for the three year anniversary of the game and features an array of artwork done by Yamada Shiro such as:
- Special group illustrations from in-game and in-person events
- Main route and birthday CGs
- Character profiles + full body sprite art
- Concept art
- Sketches/doodles/promo art from Twitter
- Merchandise artwork
She had a special autograph session at Animate to celebrate the book’s release and attended Anime Expo 2018 to do the same.
You can view additional images under the spoiler although I did not include too many.
More Art Book PhotosMore Art Book Photos
This was a very busy month for loot. While I was not able to attend Anime Expo this year where Cybird had a booth once again...
A friend helped me buy a Kenshin and Hideyoshi acrylic keyholder stand from the con along with a humongous acrylic illustration plate. The keyholder artwork was based on the winning designs created for Cybird’s costume contest. The illustration plate’s artwork was drawn to celebrate the new year for 2016.
Next up, I preordered the character song and drama CD below back in April from Animate. It is the fourth one to be released. It contains two scenarios with Kenshin (VA: Miura Hiroaki), Sasuke (VA: Akabane Kenji), Kennyo (VA: Shingaki Tarusuke), and Ranmaru (VA: Aoi Shouta) along with a song by Ranmaru. I bought the special edition since I wanted the badge but it also came with a microfiber cloth.
And then one tiny item on its own: a chibi Kenshin acrylic stand I grabbed from Otamart. It was sold at the same Cybird Shop that the snowmen charms were from.
The following large batch of merch arrived mid-July and contained items sold for the third IkeSen stage play. While I had been vaguely aware of the IkeSen stage plays since the first one back in spring of 2017, I only became really interested in merchandise for the actors this year and placed a preorder for the items in June from Animate.
I’m going to take a bit of a tangent here regarding stage plays. Feel free to skip over it if you’re only interested in merchandise photos:
Stage Play TangentStage Play TangentI’ve been aware of stage plays as an artform for awhile now (my introduction to them was either the first Haikyuu!! or Price of Tennis one), but the IkeSen stage plays (specifically the third one) smacked me straight down a rabbit whole I’m still clambering around in. I became particularly enamored with Tachibana Tatsumaru who plays Kenshin.
I’ve never been too big on following a celebrity’s personal life or social media (the most would be passively keeping up with a handful of my favorite K-pop/J-rock groups and seiyuus on Instagram), but most stage play actors prefer Twitter or Ameba blogs, so now my Twitter feed is basically 50% stage play news. If you thought obscure otome merch was hard to obtain, try keeping up with stage play merch for said otome game, haha…
If you are interested in the IkeSen stage plays, here’s a quick break down and some related footage:
「イケメン戦国THE STAGE〜真田幸村編〜」 / Ikemen Sengoku THE STAGE ~Sanada Yukimura~
- Website / Promo Video / Extended Overview Video
The first stage play was performed in April 2017 and is based on Yukimura’s route.
「イケメン戦国THE STAGE~織田軍 VS “海賊”毛利元就編～」 / Ikemen Sengoku THE STAGE ~Oda Army VS “Pirate” Motonari Mouri ~
- Website / Brief Overview Video / Interview (JP)
The second stage play was performed at the end of August/beginning of September 2017. It features an original plot not based on any preexisting route, although the imminent conflict with Motonari has been mentioned offhand on some occasions. Motonari was first introduced through the anime which was airing at the same time (July - September 2017).
「イケメン戦国 THE STAGE 〜織田信長 編〜」 / Ikemen Sengoku THE STAGE ~Oda Nobunaga~
- Website / Promo Video / Interview (ENG)
The third stage play was performed in April 2018 and is based on Nobunaga’s route. Unlike the first two, this one has two different versions: one based on the romantic route and the other based on the dramatic end. It also features two new characters who have only had significant roles in the PS Vita game so far: Mori Ranmaru and Imagawa Yoshimoto.
「イケメン戦国 THE STAGE～上杉謙信編～」 / Ikemen Sengoku THE STAGE ~Uesugi Kenshin~
- Website / Announcement
The fourth stage play is set to perform late February 2018 and is based on Kenshin’s routes. The cast list and visual were released on October 28th while the announcement confirmed Tachibana-san is reprising his role as Kenshin. Similar to the stage play based on Nobunaga, this features two alternative endings.
More Program PhotosMore Program Photos
The clear file in the middle contains the main visual illustration which was created for the third stage play specifically while the item on the far right is the program for it. Inside features the main visuals, info about the stage play, and bios of each actor and the character they play.
I got a bit carried away with the bromides. The very first three of Kenshin, Sasuke, and Ieyasu are actually sets of three (forgot to display the rest) while the others were singles sold as blind packs. The singles each had four possible versions per actor. I was mostly aiming for Kenshin, Sasuke, Ieyasu, Nobunaga, and Mitsunari (ironically) as I like their actors the most, but I’m pretty fond of the cast as a whole. The only duplicate I got was one of Ieyasu and Motonari.
The shikishis and badges were blind packs as well and managed to get a pretty decent pull. The badges on the other hand… I did get a total of three, although two I’m trying to get rid of which I have included in the spoiler below.
Whoo badges!Whoo badges!
I received a random assortment of items during this month which I picked up from Suruga-ya and Otamart.
The Kenshin bromides were sold as a set for the first stage play. They’re incredibly difficult to find online, and I am still shocked I managed to grab them before they sold out as Tachibana-san’s merch is ridiculous to track down in general.
The two Kenshin badges were sold to celebrate the release of the second and third volumes of the manga while the acrylic stand was a blind item sold at AGF 2017 ~Ikemen School~.
As pictured above, I also picked up the program for the first stage play. You can view more under the spoiler (although I forgot to take a photo of a bio page as an example):
More Program PhotosMore Program Photos
A box of mochi mascots arrived this month. They were first sold at Comic Market 94 but had a general release later which came bundled with a badge depending on the store you ordered from. I ordered from Animate and received a Masamune badge.
They were beyond cuter than what I could have imagined and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of clothing detail they came with. Nobunaga, Masamune, and Ieyasu were adopted by a few friends while Mitsunari and Yukimura are still looking for a new home (remember how I was mentioned I was cursed by them), so I only have Kenshin to show up close:
However I do have a few photos I sent to friends after I opened the box:
Show me some mochis!Show me some mochis!
I like to take Kenshin on small adventures or take snapshots of him with my latest purchases, so I’ve included a few of those photos here too:
Kenshin Mochi AdventuresKenshin Mochi Adventures
I originally wasn’t going to include these items since I didn’t think they would arrive on time, but here they are, a last minute add. As with much of my random IkeSen purchases, they were all from Otamart.
I really can’t resist shikishis and these are just as big as the previous one with Kenshin and Sasuke. The one with Nobunaga was from the third stage play and contains reproductions of autographs from all the actors. The Kenshin one was a purchasing bonus from buying premium tickets to Cybird’s 2018 Summer Festival.
These set of items came from a variety of events and stores although they were purchased from three different sellers. To be honest, I only got the Sasuke and Motonari items because the seller had a bundle condition on the Kenshin clear file. However, I do like their artwork quite a bit.
The Kenshin and Hideyoshi keychains along with the Motonari clear file were from the Third Anniversary Festival where several of the game’s voice actors also attended. A side note about the Motonari clear file, it actually opens up so you can display it like a poster!
Continuing on, the Sasuke shikishi and Kenshin “skeleton” clear file (スケルトンクリアファイル) is from an ongoing tourism collaboration (October to December 2018), this time focusing on onsens and wine in Fuefuki City. The Sasuke acrylic stand is from the limited time Cybird Shop in Shinjuku, which was opened from September to October 2018, while the group sticker was given out if you stayed at the Nihonbashi Muromachi BAY HOTEL and proved you retweeted a specific post on Twitter. This hotel collaboration occured from March to April 2018 and is the second one they’ve done. (You can see more photos about the collab from this article. It’s pretty interesting to see the decor and features they added in.)
And last but not least, one of my most prized possessions in my entire collection: a bromide signed by Tachibana-san. They were given away at the third stage play performances by lottery and have a few different photos per actor. I actually saw this specific one for sale back in the spring but the seller removed it a bit later. I saw it for sale again in October and couldn’t miss the chance again.
MISC. AKA MANGA
The manga series is drawn by Kajiyama Mika and follows Nobunaga’s romantic route. I tend to pick up manga during random trips to my local Kinokuniya so unfortunately I did not keep very good track of when each one was bought and have no easy way to check unlike my online orders.
The first volume was most likely purchased in August 2017 while the third was in probably in June 2018. The second volume was picked up somewhere in between the aforementioned dates. The fourth was bought on October 20 and is the last volume.
Shh secret manga photos!Shh secret manga photos!
THE REST OF 2018 & BEYOND
While I should probably slow myself down, I do have some items on preorder from The Chara, set to release at the end of December. They were originally sold at the limited Cybird shop the Sasuke acrylic stand is from. Hopefully I will write another blog next year to show them off.
In additional news, Cybird has already shown off the characters they'll be focusing on for the next AGF and I'll be eagerly awaiting the time I can snag some of the merch they'll be selling there.
(This will be Sasuke’s debut at AGF! A great way to celebrate the release of his route in Japan in October.)
If you made it this far, thank you for sticking to the end and I hope you enjoyed the read. Here's to another painful wonderful year of collecting!
Bye bye!Bye bye!
I am a dummy and forgot to take a photo of everything together so here’s mochi Kenshin with Tachibana-san and Ume (one of Kenshin’s pet rabbits). <3