Finally covering another one of my top three favorite characters in Hakuoki: Kazama! The only demon amongst the twelve available bachelors! Cool and charming, voiced by one of the greatest voice actors, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kazama stole my heart from the moment I first encountered him when playing the game! His type is often the first one that won over me in general~
In the original game, I was disappointed that his route was too short, I wanted to see more. Otomate made the right decision to add more content into his route in Shinkai. Overall, it’s still short compared to the other routes, but much better than the original.
There will be HEAVY SPOILERS! Read at your own risk, don’t say I haven’t warned you!
Kazama is the leader of the Kazama Clan, the strongest demon clan of west Japan. After discovering Chizuru is not only a female demon but also descended from pureblood lineage of the extinct Yukimura Clan that used to be the strongest clan of the east, Kazama deemed her worthy to be his wife and tried to kidnap her, causing him to get into conflict against the Shinsengumi who were protecting her.
In most routes, Kazama is portrayed as an arrogant antagonist with hatred for Furies and disdain for humans who go after Chizuru to preserve their demonic bloodline. In his route, we see another side of Kazama that is not shown in other routes.
Unlike the original, in Kyoto Winds, Kazama’s route begins during the fight at Ikeda Inn if you choose the right option. Chizuru encountered Kazama alone and when he noticed her kodachi, he saved her from a Choshu ronin who was going to attack her. Kazama has an inkling of her identity since he recognized the kodachi as the heirloom of the Yukimura family, which he later confirmed when they met again for the second time during the Shinsengumi’s pursuit to Mount Ten’nou. As pureblood female demons are rare, Kazama made it his goal to take Chizuru as his bride so they can give birth to a more powerful pureblood demon offspring.
People would think that he’s just some selfish guy who wants a bride, well, playing his route would prove them wrong. Kazama is more than he appears to be. As a pureblood demon, Kazama holds his lineage with pride, always boasting about how demons are superior to humans and Furies. To Kazama, humans are nothing more than greedy foolish creatures and Furies as a pathetic excuse of fake demons. They’re like insects to him. If he had a choice, he wouldn’t want to be affiliated with them and continue living in the shadow away from humans.
For those reasons, he couldn’t understand why Chizuru insisted on sticking with the Shinsengumi, humans who confined her and forced her to dress up as a man. He believed that demons belong with demons. Furthermore, he thought that the Shinsengumi was only using Chizuru to get to Kodo. Throughout his life, he has seen humans solve disputes by destroying each other just to prove that they’re superior, betraying each other for the sake of their greed.
Shinsengumi are infamous as a group known for their ruthlessness. No matter how much they protected the people of Kyoto, in the end Shinsengumi as a whole still has bloodshed, torture, and other dark sides of humanity as part of them. Kazama has every reason to believe that they don’t necessarily care about Chizuru, so he was determined to take Chizuru away from the Shinsengumi even against her will. He warned her several times not to place her trust in the Shinsengumi, believing they’ll eventually betray her. His approach was wrong, but he was trying to help Chizuru. Oh, Kazama. If only you come a few years earlier when Chizuru was still in her early days with the Shinsengumi. Maybe she would have at least considered your offer to go with you. (^o^)
During all those times Kazama tried to kidnap Chizuru, he hasn’t developed a romantic feeling for her yet. He wanted her as his bride to protect their demonic bloodline from dying out. But it didn’t mean he didn’t care for Chizuru. He’ll look after his kin when needed. After all, it’s a male demon’s natural instinct to protect the female demons. His feelings were not romantic yet, but he was genuinely intrigued by Chizuru. Kazama has a broad perspective that can see through every side of the problems, thus, he can be too harsh on his words, but he only speaks the truth.
Long before meeting Chizuru, Kazama has always respected the Yukimura Clan for upholding their honor and pride as demons. His interest in Chizuru was partially due to his respect for the clan. In Memories of the Shinsengumi side story, Kazama had said that he won’t marry if the woman is not of his interest. When Amagiri suggested Sen, who descended from an ancient respectable demon lineage that was even above the Yukimura clan, Kazama showed no interest as ancient doesn’t equal goodness. Demon of important lineage is good, but it means nothing to him if he’s not interested. He won’t get married if he doesn’t find what he wants.
Kazama is different from other bachelors who have fallen for Chizuru mainly for giving them emotional support. Kazama doesn’t suffer from any emotional crisis or having any internal struggle that needs Chizuru to support him in his route. What made him fall in love with Chizuru is her growing maturity and strong heart in facing the tragedy coming at her. Watching Chizuru overcoming her sadness of losing her loved ones time and time again touched and amazed Kazama. His feelings gradually grew from a simple concern for fellow demons, respect and acknowledgement to her as the head of the Yukimura Clan, and finally to love Chizuru for who she is.
This route didn’t focus much on Kazama himself. However, if you look carefully, you’ll see some hints about Kazama’s upbringing that’ll make his character development all the more satisfying.
From the way Kazama talks and his interactions with Amagiri and Shiranui, he doesn’t have any personal attachment to anyone. Yes, he protects his kin and looks out to any demon he finds got dragged into human affairs, but that is more leaning to fulfil his responsibilities as a chieftain and honor as a demon. Even Amagiri, who is loyal and listens to almost every word, is nothing more than a subordinate (or perhaps even a servant) to him. Kazama actually dislikes whenever Amagiri tells him what to do. If Amagiri is pushing his button, he’ll threaten his life if he wants to. With Shiranui, he’s only with him to exchange information or if there’s a matter related to demons that requires their cooperation. It’s strictly business.
There’s one time in Shiranui’s Stories of the Shinsengumi DLC where Kazama helped Shiranui cut ties with Choshu (and that involved him none-so-gently stabbing Shiranui) so the latter don’t need to take orders from them anymore, but this help is more of their shared sentiment of helping fellow demons and nothing more. If anyone gets to his bad side, even if they are demons, then they would be as good as getting into Kazama’s killing list.
Chizuru is perhaps the first person that Kazama ever has personal attachment to, his first love. Through his interaction with Chizuru, he became kinder, less selfish, and capable of empathy. When revealing how the humans destroyed the Yukimura Clan, Kazama could have used it as an opportunity to make his point of humans’ cruelty and greed to Chizuru like he had done once before. He didn’t. He only asked how she felt and admired the way she didn’t give in to anger. He’s pleased that Chizuru wasn’t so naive to think that all humans were good. She didn’t blindly approve of humankind, but based her opinion on facts and experience. It’s no doubt that he changed, though this is overshadowed by his penchant to give snide remarks. Chizuru is the only one who probably can tell when he’s being sincere. (^_^;)
Other than his growing relationship with Chizuru, the growth of Kazama’s character also involved the Shinsengumi. He has a broader perspective of things, but it’s not in-depth. Because of this, he was pretty biased, overgeneralizing that every human craves senseless mass destruction. Initially, Kazama took interest in Shinsengumi as opponents to ease his boredom. He even used Chizuru as an excuse to play with them for his own entertainment. But since they’re still humans and even conducting Fury research, Kazama still saw them as no different from foolish humans in general. He planned to eradicate them once he grew bored of them. He at first dismissed their sense of conviction as a desperate show of self-defense, no different from a cornered injured beast fighting for survival. He’s extremely stubborn about this point, dismissing any argument Chizuru retorted in their defense.
As he accompanied Chizuru in their pursuit of the Shinsengumi, however, Kazama became personally invested in their fate. The same way Chizuru was drawn to the Shinsengumi, Kazama was drawn to them. Hearing the Shinsengumi led by Hijikata still refusing to give up, adhering to their principle to the very end even when odds are clearly against them, Kazama couldn’t help but be impressed. Never had he seen humans who were willing to selflessly shed their own blood to protect their belief even in the face of inevitable defeat like the Shinsengumi. In the midst of chaotic times where humans only cared for money and status, Kazama didn’t hate the Shinsengumi’s way of living. Kazama recognized them as true samurais, never wavered in their belief. With the Shinsengumi, he was never bored. They fascinated him that he felt they weren’t just human any longer, but something more. They earned his respect and Kazama would engrave them into his memories.
In fact, he’s envious of the Shinsengumi. Demons don’t often value upholding personal conviction however temporary they may be. As the head of his clan, Kazama must always put the needs of his clan above his own. All his decisions are made with consideration of how it will affect his clan. That’s why he envies the Shinsengumi, he wished he could walk like them, putting his needs before the collective needs of his kin. Kazama has no doubt that he will never love humans as a species, but he will remember the Shinsengumi as rare members of their race with the conviction to stand their ground.
Just like how Kazama is different from the other bachelors in his way of falling in love with her, Chizuru’s progress developing feelings for Kazama is also different. Since they were originally enemies, not to mention she was almost kidnapped by him a few times before, Chizuru was understandably distrustful of Kazama. She has every reason to be wary of him. When she decided to go with him to look for her father and brother to stop them, she did so after she’s sure that Kazama wouldn’t do anything to her thanks to Sen’s authority. It didn’t mean she had forgiven him.
With just her and Kazama alone, Chizuru started to truly get to know him, from reading his moods to a way to counter them. Throughout their quest, Kazama never mistreated her. It’s the opposite, he looked after her. He desired to marry her, but never once forced himself on her (his reason is he refrained from doing the deed until they got married). It took Chizuru a while until she finally realized that Kazama has his own way of showing how much he cares for her. From all those times he respected her decision and listened to her request, Chizuru learned to trust him. Above all, Kazama became her pillar of support. When she was grieving for her dead family and friends, he was there to give her comfort and encouragement.
The most memorable moment of Kazama supporting her is when she was on the brink of despair after hearing the tragic fate befall on the last remaining army of the Shinsengumi. Instead of comforting her like before, Kazama firmly reminded her of her commitment, her duty to be the keeper of the Shinsengumi’s memories. This was like a slap for Chizuru, hitting her potent nerve. But that slap was exactly what she needed because it prevented Chizuru from wallowing in sorrow.
Chizuru’s growth in this route is one of my favorites. I’m amazed by Chizuru the same way Kazama was. She lost her father and brother, and then her friends in the Shinsengumi one by one. Each time she thought she’s going to catch up to the rest of the Shinsengumi who were still alive, again they slipped from her fingers. Still, it didn’t deter Chizuru from continuing to pursue them. She could’ve given up, she could’ve avoided meeting them to avoid the pain. But no, she went through with her quest.
For most of her life, Chizuru believed that she’s a human. Meeting Sen and Kazama has made her aware of her real nature. Although a demon, Chizuru’s knowledge about her kind was close to none. From Kazama, she learned about her clan and the way demons live. The additional content showed a glimpse of what Kazama usually does in his free time. When hearing about demons, she imagined them as destructive and violent. For this reason, she’s hesitant in accepting her true lineage. Kazama wasn’t helping since he didn’t make a good first impression on Chizuru. It’s not strange that Chizuru was suspicious of him whenever they met, coincidence or not. However, Kazama made it clear that demons are actually similar to humans and can pose as one save for their healing abilities and superpower strength. Demons breathe, eat, drink, the same way as humans.
The more she spends time with Kazama, the more she understands herself and her clan. After recovering her childhood memories, she understands why Kodo and Kaoru did what they did. She accepted that she’s the last head of the noble Yukimura Clan of the east. In all other routes, Chizuru never fully accepted her demon lineage, always wishing to be a normal human girl and live a peaceful life. In this route, however, Chizuru realized that she could no longer turn blind eye and fully embraced her identity as a demon.
From Chizuru, we can learn how to cope with the death of our loved ones. During her grief, she could just try to forget all about her pain and sadness. She could just save herself from the pain of watching her surviving friends’ demise. However, doing so might make her forget her deceased loved ones. She cherished the moments she spent with them when they were still together. She was glad she could meet them and would never trade all those moments with anything. That’s why she’ll remember her sadness, because it’s proof that her feelings and the moments they shared are real. She wouldn’t want to act like those moments never happened.
In regards to demons, Kazama’s route obviously, as I stated above, revealed more information about demons. Demons are ruled by a law that must be followed, which is called the Demon Code. All demons are obligated to follow this code or face punishment. One rule that is absolute for all demons is that they must never interfere with human history, demons live in the shadow. Anyone who defied this code will be banished from the demon community and become a Stray Demon. However, there are exceptions to this rule, like how Kazama, Amagiri, and Shiranui assisted the Satsuma and Choshu to repay the debt of their clans.
In Chizuru’s case, I think the reason she’s allowed to remain with the Shinsengumi is not simply because of her friendship with Sen. For one, Chizuru didn’t have any clan to return to since it was destroyed. Another thing, Chizuru mostly only assisted in menial tasks or medical support, so she wasn’t exactly interfering directly with human history. This means that as long as demons do not make any big changes in human history or expose the existence of their kind to the public, demons are allowed to live with humans.
Demons killing each other is also a heavy crime that will be punished by banishment. Demons only allowed to kill each other if one of them violated the Demon Code and refused to give up, like Kodo and Kaoru did.
Chizuru’s family, the Yukimura Clan, while is said to be the strongest demon clan of the eastern Japan, was pacifistic. When requested to fight for the anti-shogunate faction, Chizuru’s birth father and the other villagers refused as they adhere to the way demons live and put their dignity first. There’s no way they, especially Chizuru’s father, didn’t see the attack coming. Chizuru’s father refused knowing full well that they’ll most likely be attacked. When it happened, all clan members were complicit, not using their true powers against them. They stick to their conviction as demons even at the face of death. It’s no wonder that Kazama respects the Yukimura Clan, and later Chizuru who represented the clan. Maybe I’m reading this too much, but if Chizuru’s parents knew of Kodo and Kaoru’s plan, they wouldn’t approve of it, they’ll agree with Chizuru.
Overall, Kazama’s route is one of my personal favorites. The dynamic between Chizuru and Kazama is one of the best in the whole Hakuoki. I place this pair number two after Okita/Chizuru in my favorite list. It’s amusing to see how Kazama always so confidently said that she’ll be his wife and he’ll be her husband while Chizuru denied it despite her growing feelings for him. I can understand. If I’m in Chizuru’s position at that time, I would’ve denied it too since Kazama is just so full of himself that it made it hard to admit even if I do love him. Realistically, guys with that kind of personality can be annoying and no matter how much you like him you couldn’t help but still want to punch the guy. XD
Both Chizuru and Kazama’s character development is properly balanced with their growing romance. In most routes, usually it’s mostly focusing on bachelors’ growth while Chizuru serves as their support. Here, Chizuru’s growth as an individual is the most powerful I’ve ever seen. Chizuru is the one who takes action while Kazama is the one who does the supporting. I feel that Kazama brings out the best from Chizuru more than any other bachelors. And the way Chizuru being somewhat tsundere around Kazama is also cute. (^w^)
If there’s anyone other than Hijikata who can become Chizuru’s canonical love interest, then it would be Kazama. Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms’ opening movie seems to make it obvious. Both Hijikata and Kazama’s routes are the only ones that explored both the fate of the Shinsengumi and Water of Life to the very end, making them feel a truly complete story of Hakuoki as a whole.
The downside to this route would be the lack of explanation about Kazama’s own background. There’s little to no explanation to what kind of past he has, his family, etc. For players who wish to know more about demons, there are still questions that remain unanswered, such as why female demons are biologically more similar to humans in terms of strength or why female demons are so rare, and still many more.
Lastly, even though this route is heavily focusing on demons, Chizuru never learned to transform into her real demon form. She fully accepted her identity as a demon in this route, yet she’s not shown in her demon form. (TT_TT)