“Velloa, from now on, whilst in that body you shall be called Vain.” Father proclaimed.
Mother knelt in front of me and placed a hand on each shoulder of mine. “After a week you will be taught magic alongside your brother. However…” Her face turned grave, “You will only be taught how to use the element water. Until your father and I permit it, you cannot -under no circumstance- use darkness magic. Do you understand, my child?”
I wanted to ask “Why?” but I could tell how tense my parents felt, so I simply nodded once again.
“Good child. You may go to bed now. It’s late. We’ll let you get used to your new body for a day.” Father then broke the tense atmosphere with a languid smile.
Mother and father led me to my room and even helped me with my clothes. Whilst tucking me in they wished me a happy birthday and patiently sat by me until I fell asleep.
'Oh yeah, today was my 6th birthday wasn't it?'
The world of Gaea is a fantastical world full of wonder and magic. It is the typical kind of setting you would expect from an otome game in a fantasy setting with castles, nobility, a magical school and what not. The magic which exists in this world is similar to that of a certain show about a certain person who was called “Avatar” (if my past life memories serve me right), except there are six elements: air, earth, fire, water – with the two incredibly rare elements darkness and light. In "Hera: Captured Hearts", the main setting of the game is the prestigious magical school “Yohso Academy”.
There are four main capturable love targets – all of which correspond to the main elements, unsurprisingly, their appearances also match the colour of their element. Starting from the easiest route to the hardest we firstly have Dmitri Hammond, and he has the element of earth(green). In the game, he has the largest build out of all the love targets, however he is the gentle giant kind of guy with forest green hair and eyes, along with glasses -despite his somewhat roguish attitude- he’s quite a cute one. Although he does come from a family of royal knights and is actually created with the knight-in-shining-armour trope in mind.
Next is Zephyr Reve, the genius shota love target, despite only being a year younger and being taller than the in-game MC (but only by an inch or two); he comes from the richest merchant family. Zephyr has the element of wind(yellow) with the appearance of caramel hair and yellow topaz eyes. He is the soft and kind-hearted, healing sort of character who looks frail but can surprise you with his strong protectiveness.
Then there is my brother, Virgil Imitheos, the water(blue) elementalist and is the oldest of the love targets; same with the in-game MC he is five years older than me. Virgil is the scholarly type who normally displays a strict attitude but when you read between the lines of his words it can make one’s heart go “Awww.” Similar to mother, he has azure-violet hair which he has kept long (practically as long as mine, most likely due to father’s original appearance) and cerulean eyes. Our parent’s titles are that of Grande (equivalent to Duke in my previous life’s history) and Royal Researcher, so it comes to no surprise that he was the teacher character in the game.
Finally, we have Kai Regieren, the one who has the element of fire and the next ruler of the country of Ogygia. With his pale blonde hair and blood red eyes, he has the second largest build compared to the other love targets and truly has the making of a future ruler, for he had showed quite an amount of leadership and strategy skills. However, he becomes quite soft in terms of the MC, so soft that the player could practically taste the sweetness.
As for the MC, she has the typical cutesy appearance of platinum blonde hair and pink-ish eyes. In all honesty, practically every player summarizes the MC as “Typical.” She’s cutesy, air-headed (or naïve – if you want to be nice), a ‘nice’ girl and one hell of a lucky girl. Because she was a sickly commoner who lived in a far-off village she had missed her magic elemental test, but just before the start of a new school year she was found to have a large amount of mana and an affinity to light magic. She was found by brother no less who was tasked to test for any children who had the future to be magic users around rural areas. And so, she enters Yohso Academy as a second year at the age of sixteen, and this is where the otome game begins.
Then there’s me, Velloa Imitheos, the stalking horse (A.K.A the Villainess) of the game. My bad end depends on which ever love target the player chooses to capture. For Dmitri, Velloa is a childhood friend who is in love with him, however her jealousy gets the better of her and she angers Dmitri when she nearly hits the MC in anger, therefore, causing Velloa to get humiliated in front of the student body due to Dmitri’s white-knight act. Her relationship with Zephyr was that of an older sister and younger brother type, well, an overprotective older sister and over-reliant little brother type more like. Through the MC’s actions, Zephyr realizes his ‘mistake’ of a relationship with Velloa and so proceeds to humiliate (again) her by denouncing Velloa in front of the student body. In terms of Virgil’s route, Velloa’s involvement makes more sense for she was the younger sibling who did not approve of the MC and her brother’s relationship. Of course, she was then condemned in front of many people (there seems to be a pattern), including their parents. Finally, in Kai’s route Velloa is engaged to him and she continually disapproves of the MC’s relations with the future ruler. However, ‘surprisingly’, in the end Kai is the one who disapproves of Velloa and also annuls their engagement during a ball in front of his parents as well as Velloa’s.
What the fuck? The MC’s heroine halo is stupidly strong… It’s no wonder I wasn’t so fond of ‘shoujo’ in my previous life (although I may or may not have read and watched quite a lot of said genre).
I didn’t actually play the otome game in my previous life, it was only after a close friend’s strong recommendation that I had watched the "Hera: Captured Hearts" anime. Almost immediately I had liked Kai Regieren, for he had that type of domineering yet surprisingly gentle kind of personality that I had a thing for. Whilst watching the anime I thought: What the hell? Velloa actually has common sense, it was only because of her standoffish personality and blunt words –as well as the fact that she was against the MC– that she was considered a so-called ‘Villainess’. The humiliation that she had experienced was incredibly undeserved compared to the lack of wrong things that she had done against the MC. Wait, wasn’t the MC’s name in the anime Ariana? That’s right, it was simply Ariana because she was a commoner…
However in the anime, Velloa didn’t get a humiliation ending – under her father’s instruction she was told to assist him due to an oncoming demon attack and that was her last appearance (in the anime Velloa was surprisingly shown to be a competent water user). To my friend who had played the game, she thought that the demon attack plot was weird since there was no plot of that kind during her play-through. Towards the end of the anime, the main characters had to fight off a disastrous demon attack, and in the midst of this demon attack – Vain appears as the mastermind of it. When the main characters confront him they were overpowered, but they fought back valiantly. The ending scene was that of the main characters combining their powers as a last all-out attack, however, the viewers don’t actually see them defeat Vain. The anime cuts to Vain just as the combined attack launches with him smirking and saying, “How naïve.”
Needless to say, despite his short screen time, I fell in love with his character. I was a sucker for dark, strong and mysterious type of characters. My friend agonized over the appearance of Vain for she had never encountered him in the game, so I had suggested that perhaps he was a hidden route. With a fiery glint in her eyes, she had dragged me (a person who did not play otome games) on a mission to unlock Vain’s route. It didn’t take that long to figure out, since the MC (Ariana) hadn’t chosen anyone in the anime. We thought that perhaps there was a way to play the entirety of the game without specifically choosing a love interest – and there was. It was difficult though, for whatever reason, all four of the main love interests’ affection levels had to be maxed out. During this kind of play-through Velloa only appeared a few times, most likely due to the fact that the player hadn’t chose a specific love target. Once my friend had achieved the max level affection of each character, the game suddenly changed into a turn-based RPG game. We were stunned. The anime’s demon attack plot arrived. With me being the one more familiar with that kind of game, my friend had handed me the controls. Using the MC and the four love interests, I fought off an assortment of mobs and bosses until finally reaching Vain.
“Why the hell does an otome have this kind of gameplay?!” My friend and I exclaimed. The game’s RPG element was actually pretty good too. Hiding this precious gem in a typical otome game?! What the fuck were the game-makers thinking?!
Once we had finally gotten Vain to appear, the typical otome game format came back and I gave back the controls to my otome game master friend. With the fiery glint in her eyes reappearing she promised for both our sakes that she would conquer him, by now I had realized that I was completely swept into her flow. Alas, no matter what the conversation offered, Vain stayed elusive. With the words “Why?” coming out of the MC’s dialogue, Vain gave his signature smirk from the anime and the famous words, “How naïve.” Then the RPG game element kicked in again with Vain being the last boss.
With a grunt of frustration from my friend, I was handed the controls once again, but the first thing I had noticed was that I could not see Vain’s health bar; it should have appeared just above his night blue hair like the characters I was controlling. After twenty or so minutes of trying to defeat Vain, the CG for the main characters’ last all-out attack played, but instead of cutting just before the attack hits (like the anime), Vain takes the hit and comes out unscathed! Not only were the main characters shocked but the players too!
Vain’s dialogue came up, “Ridiculous. I was told that there would be a powerful light magic user here, but it turns out that this was a waste of time.” He then launched an incredibly powerful darkness attack which rendered the main characters immobile and kneeling in pain on the ground.
Lifting the MC up by the neck, the players are shown his condescending smile and the way his electric blue eyes shone made me fangirl internally. “Weak.” He then gestured to the love interests bent in pain. “You are stupid to think that the obsession of these men is enough to faze me. How stupid can you get?” Then the screen fades to black and the credits roll.
Wha…? I thought to myself initially. But then my friend and I immediately burst into laughter. HOLY SHIT DID THE GAME MAKERS JUST SHIT ON THEIR OWN GAME?!
Now that is why I wrote that Vain was a 'love target' instead of simply calling him a love target. The players were made to think that he was a capturable target, but in the end - he was a non-capturable character made for very questionable reasons in terms of the game and anime's plot-line.
“...ell. Vell? Vell!” With a start, I look up to see who was shouting. It was Virgil, kneeling in front of me with a concerned look. “Are you alright? Is your body not feeling good?”
Oh, right. “Vell” is my nickname. Currently, I was still in Vain’s body and I had insisted on watching Virgil’s magic training. I was told to relax while getting used to this body, and so I had decided to watch Virgil whilst being served apple juice on a seat under a tree on this fine spring day.
With a smile I gave a reply, “I’m fine brother. I was only thinking. Sorry if I worried you.” With these past life memories mixing with the current ones, I am now overly mindful of my actions. Virgil didn’t look convinced so I offered my juice as a distraction. Glancing at the cool glass of juice, he gave a simple “Thank you”, drank some, did some stretches and went back to his training. As nicely as I could, I asked the maid next to me, Ana, to pour more juice for me.
I properly observed Virgil this time. With me being 6 years old, he is currently 11. At the moment, he has his azure-violet hair tied up in a ponytail, with his younger features and Tai Chi-like movements as he controls around a bucket’s amount of water around him, he has quite the eye-catching and pretty boy look about him that really assures me that this is the world of an otome game.
I hid a frown as I took a sip. For whatever reason, despite not knowing how, I just know that I died young in my previous life – most likely around the age of 18 or 19. That's quite sad. Also, Velloa only had the affinity of water, was her dual affinity a result of her inheriting her family’s forbidden art or her compatibility to Vain’s body? Or perhaps she had it from the beginning? But then that brings into question why Vain is dead and how he ended up in the ‘possession’ of the Imitheos family? There’s still so many things for me to contemplate. At least with me currently being six years old I have at least gotten rid of the humiliation flag somewhat by knowing what would happen... I hope?