by on May 18, 2015
Welcome to Timeless Samurai, Mikari's mini-site to Hajime Saito from Hakuoki. This site was made for the #ValentinesDateChallenge organized by Emrys. Participants made an otome character one page shrine. We had only a few days to do the challenge and I personally didn't get started until the 11th. I had thought about making a site to a different character from a shorter otome due to time, but I had been thinking about making a small site to Saito and with with some encouragement from my fellow fangirls, I went for it.

Rather than trying to go into extensive technical details about the different possible events and timelines (which would require just as much research to refresh my memory of the games I played), I decided to focus the site on the things that stood out to me the most. This is what came out of that concept, a collection of information and opinions fangirl rants about the most memorable details about Saito... which means that yes, there will be pretty pictures, this is an otome game, what else would you expect the most memorable thing to be? Let's start with this, from the left: Sanosuke, Heisuke, Kazama, Okita, Saito ? and Toshizo.

Hajime Saito is one of the dateable characters from the interactive story game, Hakuoki. The series is mainly known for being an otome, or maiden game, where the female protagonist, Chizuru Yukimura, falls in love with one man (sometimes more) out of a group of handsome men, in this case the Shinsengumi. There is also an anime and a hack and slash style fighting game, along with many versions of the interactive story. The game usually takes place in the past in Japan, during the final era of the samurai, featuring versions of the Shinsengumi that drew inspiration from real life men, (in sword style, rank and name only, I wish real men looked like bishonen ?).

Out of all the bishonen in the game, who could I choose? Maybe Sanosuke Harada, the redhead, because I tend to like redhead bishonen, a trend that started with Reno from Final Fantasy VII. Maybe Toshizo Hijikata because he was the leader and had a very 'main character' feel to him. But Cherri and Snow had already chosen Sano and Toshi respectively, so I felt like I knew them through them and wanted a new bishonen to get to know. Snow and Cherri were the ones that got me into Hakuoki in the first place. I didn't initially think Chikage Kazama was even available, and I considered going for the playful Souji Okita. I didn't really give Heisuke Todo any consideration because I saw him more like a little brother type of character than a bishonen to fangirl over. Then there was the quiet Hajime Saito with his cool scarf and pretty eyes. He seemed mysterious and that made me curious about him, so I decided to go after him.

In my first time playing Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom for the PSP, I got the Chizuru ending, meaning that the main girl ended up alone. I didn't plan it out and just went with the most appealing options, which were the most adventurous and independent. That left little time for flirting with the Shinsengumi, but I kept expecting my samurai to show up in the next scene. I'm kind of glad he didn't, it showed that Chizuru was more or less okay on her own and wasn't doomed to inevitably be the damsel in distress. It also showed that the Shinsengumi boys weren't just sitting around waiting for the opportunity to save her. They had their own lives to live, unlike other otome boys, which made them seem more developed as characters.

I later took a stalker-ish approach and unlocked Saito's story. Just kidding, I just took a friendlier approach that had Chizuru and Saito crossing paths by convenient coincidences more often and showed a little interest instead of expecting him to give chase unconditionally like otome bishonen often do.

Saito is the leader of the Third Division of the Shinsengumi. In Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, as in most of the Hakuoki games, he ends up being turned into a fury, a vampire like creature who generally stays away from the light and needs blood to survive (and does not sparkle). He also appears to join Itou, who the Shinsengumi are fighting against, but it turns out to be an infiltration mission that Toshizo sent him on. This and other events highlight his loyalty and willingness to cross enemy lines despite the risks, without being tempted to switch sides for real.

Saito is left handed, which brought him some trouble earlier in his samurai career, as his sword technique was slightly different than that of right handed fighters, but that didn't stop him from becoming a great swordsman. He has a calm quiet and strategic personality and gives me the feeling of being a very classic swords and honor samurai. He's ready to give it all and values his mission more than even his life, which he is very willing to risk, even if the situation is clearly against him. He won't go down without a fight and is a good strategist, but he won't back down, even if the odds are completely against him. In Saito's ending in Demon of the Fleeting Blossom he survives the Shinsengumi's final battle and lives with Chizuru. She calls to him by Saito, but he doesn't really answer until she calls him Hajime. It is not surprising that she had been calling him Saito that whole time even if they fell in love and faced a number of near death scenarios together. Saito, as I too am used to calling him, is a very formal person, quiet and respectful. Yet after everything he finally, in his own way, expressed the desire to be treated in a more personal way, after the battle ended.

Saito laments the end of the era of swords, as the world has shifted to doing battle with more advanced weapons, such as firearms and canons, but he resolves to keep on living as himself regardless of how the world changes. He is very loyal, full of determination and keeps that samurai aura of mystery around him to the end. He is faithful to his comrades and true to himself and his beliefs regardless of how the world around him may change.

This Saito isn't the only one based on the historical figure. There's the Saito from Rurouni Kenshin, which was the first Saito I knew of and is quite different from Hakuoki Saito. There are also a number of other otome games based around the Shinsengumi, though Hakuoki is my favorite. As for the real Saito, who lived from 1844 to 1915, I don't recall when I realized that he had existed, but it was not for a while after I already knew about the fictional Saitos.

Demon of the Fleeting Blossom was my first Hakuoki game, it followed the classic otome style with a storyline and choices that led to different endings. Then I played Warriors of the Shinsengumi, a hack and slash that I actually enjoyed a lot more, less reading, more action, and just as much fanservice, if not more. Those are the only two games I have played, though from what I've seen online, Saito's personality is consistent in the many different games. There are many Hakuoki games that were never translated and there's also a modern day version.

To summarize, I like Saito because he's loyal, calm, determined and not too easy to impress. I like it when otomes include guys that don't immediately fall in love with the main girl. This is rarely done without making him a full on tsundere that goes to the extremes, super mean at first and cheesy romantic later. Saito is distant at first, but he's always polite. Saito is devoted to being a samurai and it would take a very special girl, more than just a pretty face, to make him dedicate some of his time to her, he's hard to get and well worth it.

The pictures in the gallery are screen shots from Hakuoki Demon of the Fleeting Blossom and Warriors of the Shinsengumi. That's why you're here, isn't it? For the fanservice. I won't delay the eye candy for much longer, just let me drop some links where you can find additional information about Hakuoki Saito, the Hakuoki games and the real Saito.
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