You Have Been LIED TO! Hatoful Boyfriend Is The Evangelion Of Video Games You Never Knew You Had!

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Posted by ZombiePie (7471 posts) -

Preamble (Also, SPOILER WARNING!)

Burn it all to the ground.
Burn it all to the ground.

Anyone who musters the courage to explore Steam's "Dating Sim" portal knows it is a bedrock for the worst "games" ever made. For years, gimmicky visual novels have inundated Steam with no signs of stopping. The unfortunate consequence is genuinely artistic visual novels are forced to compete against literal trash. The primary reason for this depressing situation is Steam's laissez-faire approach to game releases. With the current minimum requirements being nominal monetary fees, dozens of would-be game developers have come out of the woodwork. Most have gone on to release slap-dash fever dreams in hopes of pocketing a quick buck.

Nonetheless, Valve's blasé attitude doesn't explain the "explosion" of interest surrounding the visual novel genre. Part of this development is due to several well-respected games and franchises like Umineko or Steins;Gate coming out to the west. Regardless, none of this explains the proliferation of the more bizarre dating sims or visual novels on Steam. To illustrate, if one were to consult Steam's "Dating Sim" tab, you'd be presented with the ability to date astrological formations, World War II-era tanks, and every imaginable creature on Planet Earth. What could have originated this glut of insanity? To answer that question, we turn to a long-standing personal theory of mine: blame the internet scuttlebutt surrounding Hatoful Boyfriend.

Initially, visual novels were a gaming example of "inside baseball." Up until Hatoful Boyfriend's "memeification," the genre was, for the most part, enjoyed by dedicated consumers of Japanese anime and video games. Altogether, it was rare for non-anime fans to go out of their way to play visual novels, and editorial coverage of the genre, even by mainstream publications, was limited. Then, Hatoful Boyfriend happened, and as the game released during a time when Steam's recommendations were not wholly fucked, it shot up in popularity. The reason for this has to due with a handful of video game streamers playing the game and "enthusiastically" reacting to what they experienced.

Here's your first
Here's your first "hint" of what to expect for the rest of this blog.

What does any of this nonsense have to do with Hatoful Boyfriend's "secret ending?" Well, for one thing, the Western press's coverage of Hatoful Boyfriend has left out some essential aspects of this game. Even intellectuals like Danny O'Dwyer or this site's "Dating Game" feature have failed to explore the game's reason for existing. Likewise, few, if any, have taken the time to discover what the game's namesake even means. As a result, a myth has developed around Hatoful Boyfriend, and this is where I come in. Despite what everyone has told you, this game is NOT about silly anime nonsense and dating bishounen pigeon boys. Instead, Hatoful Boyfriend is the MOST hostile criticism of the visual novel genre you will ever experience. Seriously, it fires on all cylinders and DOES NOT STOP! So, without further ado, let's talk about the game's "Bad Boys Love" ending.

Character Guide

I'm going to be honest with you; following this blog is virtually impossible unless I provide a "character guide." Below you'll find a helpful list of every character in this blog.

  • Hiyoko Tosaka - Female human protagonist in the main game.
  • Ryouta Kawara - Rock dove/pigeon. Primary player character during the Bad Boys Love Ending. Gimmick: The boy next door that is obviously in love with the protagonist.
  • Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane - Fantail pigeon. The temporary protagonist of chapter five of the Bad Boys Love Ending. Gimmick: French elitist and casual racist.
  • Kazuaki Nanaki - Button quail. Your homeroom teacher and math tutor. Gimmick: Teacher who falls asleep in class and is terrible at their job.
  • Nageki Fujishiro - Mourning dove. Loves to hang out in the library, and no one notices him. Gimmick: Classic anime bookworm.
  • Yuuya Sakazaki - Fantail pigeon. Half-brother of Sakuya. Gimmick: French/European playboy and chauvinist.
  • Shuu Iwamine - Chukar partridge. Creepy doctor of the school. Gimmick: He's a creepy doctor that murders you in the main game.
  • Okosan - Fantail pigeon. President of the school's athletic club. Gimmick: A great athlete that is also dumb as bricks.
  • Anghel Higure - Luzon bleeding-heart dove. Member of the school's manga club. Gimmick: A complete Chuunibyou.
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Hatoful Boyfriend's Character Portraits

Class Zero: You Have No Idea What You've Signed Up For

Before we jump into the Bad Boys Love story arc, let's address how one acquires this ending. First, the player needs to romance a certain number of characters. If they wish to experience the game's epilogue, you have to complete every possible romance before attempting Hatoful Boyfriend's secret ending. Likewise, the first chapter of the "Bad Boys Love" ending starts the same as the standard game does. The game's usual female protagonist enters a school that is populated by pigeons, and she can, with your help, romance several of these avian pupils. Where things ducktail is when you reach mid-terms and, as you are about to attempt your exam, the protagonist slips into a narrated dream sequence. Here she recounts witnessing the BRUTAL MURDER of her parents!

We sure aren't in Kansas anymore.
We sure aren't in Kansas anymore.

[It's at this point you realize you are in for a long and wild ride.]

Our next real hint that something is up doesn't occur until the start of the second semester in September. Our female protagonist notices Ryouta is not in class when the final period ends. She enters the infirmary to see if he is recovering from an injury or illness. For those unaware, this is the "point of no return." Once you get past this scene, you are officially entering the Bad Boys Love ending, and there's no going back. The next day, we control the game from the perspective of Ryouta. To everyone's surprise, our female player character is absent. Accordingly, the characters "transform" into slightly modified versions of themselves.

To illustrate, Sakuya, the pompous fantail pigeon, becomes a rabid xenophobe and champions the rise of pigeons over the "vastly inferior" human race. When class continues, things get even weirder. Kazuaki, the math teacher, then commences a lecture that does not exist in the standard game which sets us down a long and dark rabbit hole. We discover, long ago, an off-shoot of the avian flu wiped out more than half of humanity. In a desperate attempt to stop the virus' spread, humankind attempted to reverse engineer it. Their efforts failed, and instead, the virus mutated the avian species, causing birds to achieve sentience. Unfortunately, this development means the avian flu has left humanity in shambles.

All the while, Hatoful Boyfriend doesn't stop subjecting you to its bird-based puns and humor.
All the while, Hatoful Boyfriend doesn't stop subjecting you to its bird-based puns and humor.

But what about Ryouta's human female compatriot? Well, Kazuaki asks Ryouta to pick up a box of teaching materials from the school's staff room. As he picks up the documents, he notices blood seeping from its corner. Shocked, he places it down and opens the lid. To his horror, he finds HIYOKO'S SEVERED HEAD! From this point forward, Hatoful Boyfriend, a game most dismiss as a silly anime-inspired dating game, BECOMES A HORROR-THEMED MURDER MYSTERY! For the next five hours, we begin a long and arduous quest to figure out who killed Hiyoko!

Class One: Are You Ready For This? I Don't Think You Are

Sakuya, hearing a commotion, enters the classroom and asks what is happening. Just as he sees the contents of the box, an alert blares declaring a state of emergency. Not knowing what to do next, the characters frantically run to the school's gymnasium. There we learn not only was Hiyoko murdered, but her body parts were spread all over the school's campus. Eventually, the school's principal, a character that does not exist in the regular game, announces there's been a natural disaster and for the students to remain calm. Suspecting something may be up, Ryouta announces he wishes to collect Hiyoko's body. Kazuaki does not stop him, and Sakuya insists he joins.

Just another day at a school for pigeons.
Just another day at a school for pigeons.

As Ryouta and Sakuya exit the gym, they discover a cement dome has enveloped the entire school. The two decide to continue into the classrooms and find the dozen or so boxes containing Hiyoko's body parts. When they encounter the box that previously contained her head, they discover it is empty. This event leads to the appearance of Yuuya, Sakuya's half-brother. He reveals Hiyoko's corpse is in the school's chemistry lab where a formal autopsy is taking place. The person conducting the autopsy is none other than the creepy doctor, Shuu Iwamine. Before going to the lab, Yuuya encourages us to meet the school's custodian, "Mr. One." It is here, once again, we enter a level, with an accompanying soundtrack mind you, that does not exist in the base game.

Mr. One encourages us to explore the headmaster's office to further our investigation. Before we can, Ryouta returns to the school's chemistry lab where the creepy doctor is conducting a thorough examination of Hiyoko's dismembered body. You know, something you'd expect to see in a high school for pigeons. With Doctor Shuu busy re-assembling Hiyoko's body, Ryouta turns to Kazuaki. Kazuaki assures Ryouta he will stay in the lab to prevent Shuu from engaging in foul play. Nonetheless, as we are about to leave, Shuu has a less than harmless aside with Ryouta. He taunts Ryouta about his investigation by sneering he's "missed something" and lets on he knows more about Hiyoko's death. With our business in the lab finished, we transition to the giant cement dome surrounding the school.

Unfortunately, the walls of the dome prove impenetrable. Thus, our unassuming duo attempts to find an emergency exit. They quickly locate a hatch at the top of the dome, but it appears to be locked. Hoping to learn more about the dome at the Headmaster's Office, the characters head off there but find it inaccessible. As the two prepare to break down the door, they encounter a SILENT HILL LOOKING MONSTER THAT ATTEMPTS TO MURDER THEM!

LOOK AT THIS FUCKING THING!
LOOK AT THIS FUCKING THING!

Class Two: Then This Visual Novel Becomes Silent Hill

Luckily for our characters, the monster proves to be a slow clambering oaf. Nonetheless, a blood-thirsty abomination is roaming the school campus, hoping to murder any out-of-place students. Ryouta and Sakuya rush back to the chemistry lab to inform their teachers of the situation. Kazuaki, the math teacher, however, seems doubtful about the monster's existence. Afterward, the doctor announces the completion of their autopsy. Hiyoko died of asphyxiation, but without any signs of strangulation or drowning. Furthermore, Shuu states her body was dismembered AFTER her death and estimates Hiyoko died yesterday evening. As he says this, he conveniently conjures an alibi absolving him of being the primary suspect.

Admittedly confused, Ryouta and Sakuya leave to interview a handful of students in the gym. After butting heads about the possible guilt of the doctor, the would-be detectives end up encountering Okosan. Okosan testifies he did not see Hiyoko leaving school yesterday evening, but he did see a "blood-stained interloper." Okosan claims he saw the suspect entering the infirmary. The dynamic duo returns to the janitor's office and bumps into Yuuya once again. Yuuya claims to have encountered the scarecrow as well and states it appears to hover around the school's second floor.

Great, now there's someone wandering the school covered in blood. Just what I needed right about now.
Great, now there's someone wandering the school covered in blood. Just what I needed right about now.

As Yuuya leaves to help the teachers in the chemistry lab, Ryouta and Sakuya briefly interrogate him. Yuuya verifies the doctor's alibi and states he was with the doctor all day yesterday. Ryouta and Sakuya then prepare to return to the chemistry lab, but while in route, Ryouta suggests they check the library for any remaining students. They find nothing suspicious, but it is here we experience our first "dream sequence." This scene is "interesting" as it is told from the perspective of Nageki Fujishiro, the "normal" game's proverbial bookworm. With the screen completely black, Nageki asks if something horrible has happened at the school. For those who may have forgotten, Nageki was the rock-dove romance option. In the base game, his storyline reveals he's a ghost stuck wandering the school's campus.

We then abruptly transition to the chemistry lab where we collect the key to the headmaster's office. Yuuya assures he will watch over Shuu in Kazuaki's sted. With Kazuaki accompanying them, the two detectives enter the headmaster's office without issue. Unfortunately, as they open the door, they discover the headmaster dead. Doctor Shuu rushes to the office and announces the principal has died of poisoning, and his cause of death slightly mimics Hiyoko's. Worse, it seems he died meer hours before we entered his office.

Oh, YOU DON'T SAY?!
Oh, YOU DON'T SAY?!

Class Three: The Plot Thickens, And My Brain Continues To Suffer

Upon closer inspection, Shuu discovers the headmaster most likely died before his emergency announcement. Kazuaki agrees and finds the televised statement mirrors that of a pre-rehearsed video from the year prior. Not wanting to spread panic to the general student population, everyone agrees to keep the principal's death a secret. Hoping to find clues about what is going on, Ryouta and Sakuya search the office. Ryouta discovers a locked file cabinet as well as a command terminal. Ryouta and Sakuya rush to the janitor's office in hopes Mr. One can help them.

As Ryouta leaves the office, the sinister Doctor Shuu confronts him. Once again the doctor chastizes Ryouta for not hearing out his previous "hint" and teases him further by providing another. Shuu tells Ryouta this is a mystery that "does not require you to use your brain." As he leaves Ryouta to think, he surmises this mystery has been laid out for Ryouta to discover something about himself. Nonetheless, our characters return to Mr. One, and unfortunately, find the school's file cabinets explode if subjected to force. Mr. One believes he can still open the file, but it will take time.

Breaking News: The Doctor is STILL shitty and probably up to no good!
Breaking News: The Doctor is STILL shitty and probably up to no good!

When the subject turns to the command terminal on the headmaster's desk, he directs us to Yuuya. As we attempt to see if Yuuya is in the lab, the scarecrow monster appears and attempts to murder our party. Ryouta is separated from Sakuya but makes his way safely to the library. As he gets his bearings straight, he quickly encounters Nageki. After the two have an awkward introduction, Ryouta asks if Nageki saw Hiyoko yesterday. Nageki replies he did not. However, things take a weird turn when Nageki claims he knows of Hiyoko's death because he has seen her ghost. Before Ryouta can inquire for further details, Nageki disappears in a burst of light, leaving Ryouta in an unconscious state.

Eventually, Ryouta makes his way back to the chemistry lab and re-convenes with Yuuya and Sakuya. Yuuya agrees to hack the principal's command terminal, and the trio departs for his office. While there, they unlock the console with Kazuaki's blessings. Yuuya succeeds and hands things over to Ryouta. Though he worries about the risks of opening the hatch, he elects to unlock it in hopes of leading the school's students to safety. Ryouta, Sakuya, and Kazuaki leave to examine the roof of the dome and see clear blue skies outside. Immediately, two random students appear and attempt to fly out. However, as they go, an unknown force SHOOTS THEM TO DEATH! Their corpses fall back down to the school; riddled with bullets.

You hate to see that at your local pigeon school.
You hate to see that at your local pigeon school.

Class Four: This Is The Chapter Where The Game Becomes A JRPG

Demoralized to discover their only hope of escape results in instant death, our party attempts to recollect itself. Hoping to gain access to the school's "restricted files," they return to Mr. One. Fed up with Mr. One's mysterious musings, Sakuya demands to know Mr. One's identify, who happily obliges. Mr. One reveals he is none other than "Leone JB," the leader of the "Dove Party." If you recall, when you seek out Yuuya's romance route in the base game, you discover there are two political parties in the world of Hatoful Boyfriend. On the one hand, you have the Hawk Party which seeks to exterminate all forms of humanity. On the other hand, you have the Dove Party which seeks out peaceful co-existence.

Furthermore, Leone states he has unlocked the secret files from the headmaster's office. While reading over the records, we discover several surprising facts about the school and its enrollment of Hiyoko. St. Pigeonation's Institute sought out Hiyoko's admission due to her resistance to all forms of the avian flu. The school felt her graduation would help further the Dove Party's agenda, and even hoped her enrollment would result in cross-species romance. Unfortunately, the file reveals that should Hiyoko die, the school would surrender its students to humanity AS A BLOOD SACRIFICE! Sounds like a real "win-win." You kill a representative of humanity, and humans get to KILL HUNDREDS OF INNOCENT AVIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN!

This guy sure knows how to make an entrance AFTER we find out everyone is in route to be murdered in a blood sacrifice.
This guy sure knows how to make an entrance AFTER we find out everyone is in route to be murdered in a blood sacrifice.

To add insult to injury, we discover the dome will lift twelve hours after its deployment. Once this time elapses, the dome will "deliver" the school's inhabitants to humanity, and in turn, initiate a massacre. With just eight hours remaining, Ryouta and Sakuya continue their investigation in hopes of preventing the murder of the school's population. To help them in their quest, they travel to the school's library in hopes of learning more about its history. While perusing the school's encyclopedias, Nageki reappears. Nageki tells Ryouta what he's looking for can be found behind the receptionist's desk.

Sakuya then turns to Ryouta and shouts at him to cease babbling to himself. When Ryouta tries to explain he's talking to Nageki, Sakuya states they are the only ones in the library. Though Nageki denies being a hallucination, he does admit Ryouta is the first avian student to interact with him. Nageki then disappears, and Ryouta begins to question his sanity. Nonetheless, they find the books Nageki mentioned and learn a few essential facts about the school's history. For one thing, the school was founded in 2180, only eight years before the events of today. Furthermore, we find out a massive fire occurred at the school in 2183. To Ryouta's horror, he discovers one of the fire's victims was a student named "Nageki Fujishiro."

Ryouta, he's clearly a ghost! Like, I don't know how else to spell this out for you!
Ryouta, he's clearly a ghost! Like, I don't know how else to spell this out for you!

Shaken, Ryouta then turns his attention to Okosan's testimony about a "blood-stained bird" roaming the school's campus. Believing Yuuya might know more about this suspect, Sakuya and Ryouta return to the chemistry lab. Yuuya and the doctor rebuke suggestions of suspicious activity, and Ryouta endeavors to find the "medical center" mentioned in the encyclopedia. After a bit of brainstorming, they discover an abandoned portion of the school. Upon entering an old classroom, they encounter a cabinet titled "OPERATION HATOFUL." Inside, we find the same encyclopedias, but with with a notable missing copy. Things get even more confusing when they encounter a make-shift wall blocking what should be a flight of stairs to the hallway's basement.

Unfortunately for all involved, a horrifying sound occurs in the background. Fearing the scarecrow has tracked them down, Ryouta and Sakuya prepare to make a break for it. However, instead of a scarecrow, a small Luzon bleeding-heart dove named "Anghel Higure" stands in front of them. In case you don't know, Anghel is a parody of the "Chuunibyou" trope as well as a dig at Square-Enix. Anyway, Anghel calls Ryouta "the Undertaker," and the game suddenly becomes a JRPG where we fight Anghel in the form of a turn-based battle. After knocking out Anghel, he declares he is on a quest to "defeat the demon spores."

Right, Anghel sure is a character in this video game.
Right, Anghel sure is a character in this video game.

Ryouta and Sakuya drag Anghel back to Okosan who confirms him to be the suspect he mentioned earlier. Anghel admits he attempted to enter the school's infirmary but claims the room's overwhelming presence of "demon spores" prevented him from doing so. He also confirms seeing Hiyoko entering the school's infirmary but claims he did not see her leave. Thus, Ryouta realizes doctor Shuu and Yuuya have been lying about not encountering anyone entering the infirmary. The plot thickens, and unfortunately for all involved, we now have to tolerate Anghel babbling anime nonsense for the rest of the game.

Class Five: Its Time For Drama Ripped From A Daytime Soap-Opera!

Chapter five starts unlike any of the previous ones before it. Unlike the prior episodes, it begins with a flashback to Sakuya's childhood where his father attempts to install a sense of elitism into the young pigeon. There are also several dream sequences involving Yuuya which detail his relationship to Sakuya. Should you romance either, you discover the two are brothers, but Sakuya resents Yuuya and repeatedly refers to him as a "half-breed." Nevertheless, the game juxtaposes to the janitor's office. Here, Sakuya attempts to mount a defense for Doctor Shuu, while throwing his half-brother under the bus. Ryouta isn't having any of it and implores Sakuya to look at the facts and reach an objective conclusion.

OH! You mean to suggest there's some sort of connection between the evil doctor and this school's dark history? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!
OH! You mean to suggest there's some sort of connection between the evil doctor and this school's dark history? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!

Ryouta identifies the school's infirmary as the next place for their investigation. Sakuya agrees and offers to keep Doctor Shuu and Yuuya distracted so Ryouta can investigate the room unimpeded. As they are about to leave, the janitor provides Ryouta with a stun gun and master key. When Sakuya enters the chemistry lab, he finds Anghel declaring Shuu to be "the embodiment of evil." Unfortunately, Yuuya is absent. In an attempt to keep Shuu distracted, Sakuya reveals the doctor's medicinal research saved the life of his father and spends his time trying to get in the doctor's good graces.

The game returns to Ryouta in the infirmary as he attempts to locate clues. While rifling through the doctor's desk, he finds medical files for himself, Hiyoko, Sakuya, and Nageki. Just as he is about to read the entry on Nageki, something knocks him out from behind, and he finds the files missing when he awakes. However, he discovers Hiyoko's blood-stained ID card. When Ryouta returns to the chemistry lab, he finds Shuu lecturing on how someone could dismember a human corpse. Nonetheless, he assures everyone he could not possibly be the one who dismembered Hiyoko because he's partially paralyzed on his right side.

Just normal things school children talk about with their school teachers! Nothing to see here!
Just normal things school children talk about with their school teachers! Nothing to see here!

Our attention then turns to Yuuya, who appears to be assisting the doctor in his evil plots. Sakuya and Ryouta accuse Yuuya of covering for the doctor, but just as they seem to have the upper hand, the scarecrow reappears. Ryouta and Sakuya reconvene at the janitor's office. While Ryouta is busy collecting notes and gathering evidence, Sakuya stealthily leaves to confront the doctor and Yuuya alone. Until the chapter's conclusion, the rest of chapter five is told through Sakuya's perspective. Sakuya confronts Shuu and accuses him of being connected to Hiyoko's murder. Shuu once again asserts neither he nor Yuuya was the cause of Hiyoko's death. Nevertheless, Shuu does not deny being "involved" with her death.

Growing weary of Sakuya's interrogation, Shuu pulls out a knife and ATTEMPTS TO ICE HIM! The screen goes black, but instead of a dead Sakuya, we see a bloody Yuuya with a knife sticking out of his side. Yuuya took the blow for his brother, and as he bleeds to death in Sakuya's arms, doctor Shuu summons the scarecrow. The doctor refers to the scarecrow as "Labor 9" and summons it to follow him to the school's restricted area. Attention then turns to Yuuya whose condition is getting worse. Now, I have to share a bit of a disclaimer. If you have reached this point of the blog and found the zany adventures in Hatoful Boyfriend hilarious, then you will enjoy the next three chapters. Shit is about to get "real" my friends, and it is glorious. Nonetheless, if you have any reservations about reading about murder, death, or acts of genocide; now may be the time to stop reading.

I have no words for this plot twist. None whatsoever.
I have no words for this plot twist. None whatsoever.

Yuuya confirms he and the doctor did not kill Hiyoko and that she was already dead when they arrived at the infirmary. However, Yuuya does admit to helping the doctor dismember Hiyoko's body. With his confession complete, Yuuya asks to be alone with Sakuya. During a private "heart to heart," Yuuya tells Sakuya about his "real" father. Before Sakuya was born, their current father killed Yuuya's father to wed their mother. Their father agreed to raise Yuuya, but only if their mother left behind the egg of an unborn child from Yuuya's biological father. Yuuya raised the egg in secret, and when his mother conceived a child with his step-father, he swapped the eggs. Additionally, in a fit of rage, Yuuya smashed the egg conceived from his step-father. As a result, Sakuya and Yuuya are actually full-brothers.

To clarify, Sakuya has spent his entire life believing his half-brother was a "mongrel" commoner and called him as such throughout the game. Likewise, he spends the vast majority of his time talking about "inheriting" his father's legacy. Now, he realizes all of his snobbish galavanting was fraudulent. Worse, his last "true" relative is now dead. Speaking of which, Yuuya warns Sakuya the doctor is the one who poisoned the headmaster, and unfortunately, Shuu applied the same poison on the blade in his chest. Yuuya then dies in the arms of his brother.

Okay... I really wasn't expecting to see someone die in the hands of their brother in this game, but sure, why not?
Okay... I really wasn't expecting to see someone die in the hands of their brother in this game, but sure, why not?

Class Six: Ghost Problems Part III

I'm going to level with you for a bit. The next two chapters are more or less self-contained character arcs that introduce supporting details to the main story. The consequence is they are far longer than any of the chapters preceding them. Nonetheless, the game's perspective reverts to Ryouta, who is trying to understand recent events at the janitor's office. Knowing the doctor has entered the hidden medical facility, Ryouta struggles to think of a way to follow him. He resolves to go to the library in hopes he can talk to Nageki. Ryouta leaves for the library by himself as Sakuya is still suffering from shock. Upon entering the library, Ryouta encounters Nageki as well as a MASSIVE BLUE FLAME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIBRARY!

THEN GET A FUCKING FIRE HOSE!
THEN GET A FUCKING FIRE HOSE!

The flame disappears, and Nageki admits to knowing he is a ghost. However, Nageki still does not understand why he has only been able to communicate with Ryouta and Hiyoko. In hopes of aiding Ryouta's investigation, Nageki points him to an encyclopedia containing a treasure trove of files about "OPERATION HATOFUL." Ryouta discovers it was an experiment by the Hawk Party to weaponize the avian flu to kill humanity once and for all. A second file reveals Nageki once carried a highly contagious strain of the avian flu, known as the "Charon Virus." Nageki recalls whenever he encountered humans, they would always get incredibly sick. As he spent more time at the medical facility, he came to realize he "needed to disappear."

With these files on hand, Nageki remembers what caused the fire at the medical facility five years ago. During a flashback, he explains he grew up in a home for war orphans following the "Great Human-Bird War." Nageki enjoyed his time at the orphanage, but one day a human extremist group broke into the orphanage and held the children hostage. The extremists began killing the orphan chicks one by one, but when they reached Nageki, they all died of asphyxiation. After the "Heartful House Incident," Nageki accompanied one of the surviving orphans to college. However, Nageki experienced recurring health problems and viewed himself to be a burden. Then he received a letter from St. Pigeonation's Institute offering him an education with medical accommodations. Nageki signed up but eventually found himself becoming a test subject for the Hawk Party.

DOES EVERYONE IN THIS GAME HAVE A TRAGIC BACKSTORY?!?!?!
DOES EVERYONE IN THIS GAME HAVE A TRAGIC BACKSTORY?!?!?!

To Nageki's horror, scientists from the Hawk Party forced him under duress to kill an endless stream of humans. Contrary to what you may assume, Nageki harbors no ill-will to humanity and instead seeks peace. Hoping to end the senseless killings, Nageki burns down the medical facility. Suspecting agents from the Hawk Party would continue to track him down, Nageki decides to burn with the school. Back in the library, Nageki believes the reason he's a ghost is part of him still lives at the hidden medical facility. Furthermore, he fears the doctor may continue the Hawk Party's research on the Charon Virus. After helping Ryouta locate a map of the school, he bids him farewell. However, he promises to meet Ryouta soon, and next time, with Hiyoko.

Class Seven: Are You There God? It's Me, ZombiePie

With a map of the old school campus in hand, Ryouta heads out for the chemistry room in hopes of finding a hidden entrance. This time, however, Ryouta is joined by his math teacher, Kazuaki as well as the infernal Anghel. After a bit of sleuthing, the party quickly locates the entrance to the hidden basement which looks like a science fiction set pulled from a 1960's alien invasion movie. As they progress further into the cellar, Labor 9 attacks them. Luckily, they notice a nearby fire hose and spray the monster with water.

And for once, Anghel proves useful to the party.
And for once, Anghel proves useful to the party.

After dousing the scarecrow, Ryouta shocks the beast with his stun gun. As the trio marches on, the game transitions back to Sakuya mourning the death of his brother. After the childish Okosan gives Sakuya a heartwarming pep talk, they set out to try and catch up with Ryouta. Back at the school's lower depths, Anghel's ability to detect "demon spores" helps the party navigate the basement. Later, the group locates more files about the various students at St. Pigeonation's Institute. When they read over Anghel's record, which details his ability to create hallucinations, we discover every student at the school has some genetic "quirk." Though bewildered, they eventually locate the door to the final room in the underground laboratory.

As they enter the flame-scarred room, they quickly encounter Doctor Shuu. Again, Shuu reminds Ryouta he only mutilated Hiyoko and was not the immediate cause of her death. All the same, Shuu does confirm he was a researcher on "Operation Hatoful." He reviews how he's been working to secure a new host for the Charon Virus for years. He again eyes Ryouta and commends him for being an "exemplary student." After deploying a trap to separate Ryouta from the rest of his party, Shuu pries at Ryouta to think back to yesterday. Ryouta realizes Hiyoko did indeed go to the infirmary before returning home. Her reason for doing so was to tend to a sickly Ryouta; however, as she approached him, she suffocated to death.

Aw, shit. The doctor was evil all along! I sure didn't see that one coming.
Aw, shit. The doctor was evil all along! I sure didn't see that one coming.

The game transitions back to Doctor Shuu who confirms Hiyoko died due to the Charon Virus inside Ryouta. This virus makes Ryouta a biological weapon capable of killing humans within minutes. Then, in what I can only describe as one of the games most shocking moments, Shuu re-directs Ryouta to the scarecrow. Shuu lifts the burlap sack covering the monster's face and reveals A HUMAN BRAIN! And before you ask, yes, it is HIYKOKO'S BRAIN! As Shuu inspects Labor 9 further, he laments that Ryouta's attack may have resulted in irreversible brain damage. Yup, WE KILLED THE PROTAGONIST FROM NORMAL-ASS HATOFUL BOYFRIEND!

You may be wondering why a scientist would go to such lengths to weaponize a virus and put a human's brain in the body of a robot. Well, rest assured my dear children, Hatoful Boyfriend has an answer for you. The game flashes back to the "Heartful House Incident," where Hiyoko's parents served as mediators but were murdered by the human extremists. Moments after the massacre, Hiyoko and Ryouta cross paths with an unusual stranger promising to grant them "any wish they desire." They collectively ask for a world where birds and humans no longer fight. As the mysterious stranger walks away, we find out he is none other than Shuu. When the game returns to the present, Shuu declares he's spent his entire life trying to make Ryouta's wish come true. Being a college-educated professor, he reached the conclusion peace is only possible following the extermination of humanity.

We have two JRPG battles in the last chapters and they are all GREAT!
We have two JRPG battles in the last chapters and they are all GREAT!

Horrified that he is the reason for Hiyoko's death, Ryouta loses the will to live and subjects himself to Shuu's "final experiment." We juxtapose back to Anghel and Kazuaki who are trapped and dying thanks to the doctor filling the room they are in with poisonous gas. Luckily, Okosan and Sakuya arrive and stop them from meeting an untimely demise. They rush forward only to find Ryouta under the influence of an evil force. THAT'S RIGHT; WE FIGHT "SHADOW RYOUTA!" Shuu explains he hopes to send Ryouta to the surface and eliminate all traces of humanity. We then engage Ryouta in a JRPG turn-based battle in an attempt to return him to his senses. When it seems we have failed, the ghost of Hiyoko appears and begs Ryouta to stop.

When Ryouta recovers, he asks the doctor to justify his actions. During YET ANOTHER FLASHBACK, we find Shuu developing a friendship with another researcher at the old science facility. We find out Shuu's real name is "Souma Isa," and the researcher he admired was none other than Ryouta's father. Unfortunately, Ryouta's father contracted an exotic disease during his research, and tragically died. His last words before passing were a request to Isa, now Shuu, to help his son should he ever encounter him. The game transitions back to the present and Shuu thanks Ryouta for allowing him to grant the wish of his only friend.

So, are we not going to mention these
So, are we not going to mention these "charming" scientists are trying to find a way to exterminate humanity? I'm asking for a friend.

Class Eight: Then Hatoful Boyfriend Becomes Persona 6

After a bit of plot summary, Shuu admits defeat and calls an end to his plot. As he does, Mr. Leon returns with the school's entire student-body in tow. Shuu agrees to stand judgment for his crimes, but as he readies himself, Kazuaki PULLS OUT A GUN AND SHOOTS HIM! With his pistol aimed at the doctor's head, Kazuaki demands Shuu locate the remains of Nageki. Remember when Nageki mentioned he survived the "Heartful House Incident" with one other orphan? Well, that other orphan was none other than our sleepy math teacher, Kazuaki!

AW SHIT! WHEN DID THE MATH TEACHER GET A GUN?!
AW SHIT! WHEN DID THE MATH TEACHER GET A GUN?!

What ensues next is another flashback sequence where we learn more about Kazuaki and Nageki's life after the massacre at the orphanage. It is important to note, Kazuaki's real name is "Hitori Uzune," and he was born a different species of quail. No matter, in the years following the massacre, Nageki and Hitori/Kazuaki eeked out a living together. Unfortunately, Nageki's recurring medical issues continually put stress on their ability to enjoy life independently. Worse, any attempts to find out the cause of Nageki's illness failed. When St. Pigeonation's Institute invited Nageki to its state of the art medical facility, Hitori implored Nageki to accept the invitation. The author of this invitation was none other than Souma Isa (a.k.a. Doctor Shuu).

At first, things go well for Nageki at St. Pigeonation's Institute. Unfortunately, as time passes, Nageki's letters become scarce and distressing in content. In one such letter, Nageki assures he is "fine," which is a trigger to Hitori that things are not "fine." Hoping to learn more, Hitori goes to the school and upon entering its medical lab, finds it ablaze. As he ventures into the facility, he discovers Nageki who warns him he must "disappear." While the fire consumes Nageki, he begs Hitori to make sure nothing is left of his body. The game reverts to the present where Kazuaki claims to be able to hear Nageki's voice and asks where the doctor has hidden his remains. When Shuu claims he has transferred Nageki's remains into Ryouta, Kazuaki shoots the doctor twice.

Yeah, about that....
Yeah, about that....

When Kazuaki asks for clarification, Shuu states all that remained of Nageki following the fire was his liver. To seed the Charon Virus into Ryouta, Shuu surgically implanted the organ into him. After pointing a gun at Sakuya, Ryouta is forced into a room with just him and Kazuaki. Kazuaki pulls out a knife and motions at Ryouta's stomach. Nageki returns and takes control of Ryouta's body, and tries to reason with Kazuaki. While trying to convince Kazuaki to stop, we encounter "SHADOW NAGEKI!" What ensues next is a Persona-styled demon negotiation sequence. While controlling the specter of Nageki, you try to counter the shadow version of Nageki to prevent Kazuaki from killing Ryouta.

I don't even know what happening anymore.
I don't even know what happening anymore.

During this "battle," Nageki reminds Kazuaki that he only asked two things of him before he died. First, he asked him to destroy his remains. Second, he asked him to "live and be happy." This helpful reminder defeats Shadow Nageki, and Sakuya surrenders his weapons. As everyone prepares to return to the surface, Ryouta turns to the cryogenic chamber that once housed Nageki. Ryouta then collects the final remains of Hiyoko and readies himself for the chamber. Shuu reveals the Charon Virus has spread throughout Ryouta's body, and he is a walking biological weapon. He also mentions Hiyoko's brain is showing signs of life, but just barely. Citing his newfound friendship with Ryouta, Sakuya promises to one day find a cure for the Charon Virus as well as a way to revive Hiyoko. Ryouta walks into the chamber and hears the voice of Hiyoko. As they fall into a slumber, he pledges to tell Hiyoko all about the day.

BUT WAIT, THIS GAME ISN'T OVER! Because I had had the due diligence to collect every possible romance option in the game, I am "graced" with Hatoful Boyfriend's epilogue! In the first scene, we discover Yuuya is alive and well. It turns out Leone JB revived him with an antidote moments before leading the students in the gym to the medical facility. In the next scene, Sakuya finds Okosan and Anghel up to their usual nonsense. Okosan is on a quest to find pudding, and Anghel is screaming about demons out to bring the world's end.

Alright, so why is the doctor not in prison?!?!
Alright, so why is the doctor not in prison?!?!

When you think things couldn't possibly get any weirder, we find Kazuaki pushing Shuu in a wheelchair. Shuu seems to be less glum, and Kazuaki appears to assist him with his medical needs. After a bit of joshing around, Sakuya turns his attention to Shuu and asks to review some medical trials with him. After disclosing the tests were a "perfect success," Kazuaki declares "today is the day." The three re-enter the chamber housing Ryouta. Upon reaching the chamber, Sakuya excitedly asks Ryouta to wake up, reminding him he wouldn't "go back on his word."

The End

And here we are! The handful of you courageous enough to read through this ridiculous quest are no-doubt confused. Some of you may still be trying to convince yourself it's a harmless game about dating birds. Well, I regret to inform you, you are living a lie. Hatoful Boyfriend isn't interested in telling you wacky stories about romancing an almost endless supply of anime tropes. Hatoful Boyfriend hates the fact you want that; it hates the fact you expect that; it hates the fact you want more of that. Hatoful Boyfriend hates you.

"A lot sure happened today" is the understatement of the year.

Hatoful Boyfriend has an almost Evangelion quality to it. It creates this saccharine world and tricks you into thinking it's just silly anime nonsense. Then, when you least expect it, it burns its shiny happy world to the ground all while mocking you. Hatoful Boyfriend chastizes you for thinking it's merely a dating sim. It reminds you its premise is patently ridiculous, and you were a fool to believe that is all it had to offer. It jabs a knife into your side and whispers you are living a lie and reminds you it is high time you wake up. And then it twists that knife as it descends further into madness.

Let's return to my comparison to Evangelion for a bit. Much like EVA, Hatoful Boyfriend gives you crazy anime bullshit and wants you to know it hates you for loving its crazy anime bullshit. From beginning to end, Hatoful Boyfriend's "secret ending" both dismantles audience entitlement and declares its very own genre trash. And it doesn't stop there. Throughout our nigh five-hour-long journey it fires broadsides at Atlus, Square-Enix, and anime tropes in general. And all of those memorable characters you enjoyed dating? You watch them survive miserable circumstances, one after another. Previously happy and charming characters are thrown into sad and depressing situations. Moreover, few, if any, get a happy ending.

Thanks... I hate it.
Thanks... I hate it.

That is not to say Hatoful Boyfriend's twist is perfect. Some have actively questioned Hatoful Boyfriend's structure, and I honestly do not have any counters to this criticism. It's ridiculous you have to go to such great lengths to discover the game's reason for being, let alone its namesake — nonetheless, credit to Hatoful Boyfriend for placing a Sword of Damocles over those who play it. Every romance option in the "normal" game suggests something is up with its world. Dating Shuu results in him murdering the player and pickling your brain in a jar. Any attempts to date Kazuaki fail as they end with him saying his heart is for another. Something is up in the world of Hatoful Boyfriend, but it's not until you play the Bad Boys Love ending when you discover what that may be.

Finally, let's address your role in this nightmarish blog. Now, I'm not going to try to wax poetic about Hatoful Boyfriend's developer, or the game's legacy. Nor will I lament the glut of visual novels copying Hatoful Boyfriend's premise, but with none of the game's upside. I'm not a wizened local man who can find a deeper meaning in things I don't entirely understand myself. What I can say is the caricature of Hatoful Boyfriend that has permeated on the internet, and even on this site, should stop. And hopefully, you'll join me from this point forward.

Dear God... I have no idea how I was able to survive that. Next time, I'm just sticking to Final Fantasy.
Dear God... I have no idea how I was able to survive that. Next time, I'm just sticking to Final Fantasy.
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#1 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -

I tried watching this live when you played it, completely failed to understand even one minute of what-the-fuckery, and now I feel like I understand it even less. I am actually dumber for having consumed this much Hatoful Boyfriend content. Thank you, ZombiePie. Whatever hell you subjugate us all to next, may it end with you just hammering our heads into concrete.

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#2 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15748 posts) -

Having watched you play this live, this game really does leave all of its weirdest fuckery behind this hidden, literal 5-hour-long route. At some point it just turns into Akira, and that's neat.

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#3 Posted by ZombiePie (7471 posts) -

I forgot to mention, but here's my favorite moment from when I played this "route" for Hatoful Boyfriend on stream:

Loading Video...

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#4 Posted by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

This seems to take it way farther, but would you put all of this ending in the same camp as Doki Doki Literature Club? They both skewer the genre in a weird way, but I’ve found it impossible to explain these games to casual gaming friends who don’t have a passing familiarity with typical dating visual novel games, so the subversion/deconstruction of the genre is lost on them.

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#5 Posted by ZombiePie (7471 posts) -

I tried watching this live when you played it, completely failed to understand even one minute of what-the-fuckery, and now I feel like I understand it even less. I am actually dumber for having consumed this much Hatoful Boyfriend content. Thank you, ZombiePie. Whatever hell you subjugate us all to next, may it end with you just hammering our heads into concrete.

Trust me, I have now played this storyline twice, and I don't think I entirely understand what it is trying to accomplish. That said, parts of this game remind me of your horror novels where shit hits the fan out of nowhere and there's no turning back.

Having watched you play this live, this game really does leave all of its weirdest fuckery behind this hidden, literal 5-hour-long route. At some point it just turns into Akira, and that's neat.

Does that make me Tetsuo? Aw, shit....

This seems to take it way farther, but would you put all of this ending in the same camp as Doki Doki Literature Club? They both skewer the genre in a weird way, but I’ve found it impossible to explain these games to casual gaming friends who don’t have a passing familiarity with typical dating visual novel games, so the subversion/deconstruction of the genre is lost on them.

So, there's a lot the differentiates Hatoful Boyfriend from Doki Doki Literature Club. For one, as you can see in ArbitraryWater's comment, the game's real reason for being is locked behind a 5-hour-long route you cannot access until after you play a normal-ass anime visual novel. Additionally, while I love Doki Doki Literature Club, I don't think that game is engaged in a hostile critique of a genre. It certainly subverts the genre it is working with, don't get me wrong. But in the end, it uses a genre that you would not expect to descend into madness to provide some of the most gripping and creepy moments I have seen in a modern video game. Finally, Hatoful Boyfriend doesn't stop being a visual novel.

I guess the best way to describe these sorts of games is to call them psychological thrillers, but that moniker has been basically run into the ground. Even I struggle to describe films that pro-actively attempt to deconstruct a genre. So, your guess is as good as mine.

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#6 Posted by wchigo (901 posts) -

Wow, I had heard about a secret ending, but I never could have imagined that is how things turn out.

I loved watching Danny O'Dwyer's play through of the game and that motivated me to pick up the game on Steam and I think the Vita (might have it on PS4 as well through PS+?), but reading this blog now kinda makes me want to go and actually experience the madness on my own. Holy heck...

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#7 Posted by ZombiePie (7471 posts) -

@wchigo said:

Wow, I had heard about a secret ending, but I never could have imagined that is how things turn out.

I loved watching Danny O'Dwyer's play through of the game and that motivated me to pick up the game on Steam and I think the Vita (might have it on PS4 as well through PS+?), but reading this blog now kinda makes me want to go and actually experience the madness on my own. Holy heck...

So, I ended up watching a majority of Danny's play-through and it does not appear he ever completed the Bad Boys Love Ending. I know he's busy working on noclip, but this is a wrong that should be righted as soon as possible.

Also, even if you have had a lot of the story spoiled to you by reading this blog, it is still worth playing. A lot of the base game does a great job at foreshadowing a deeper mystery.

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