Hatoful Boyfriend will have you flapping for joy


The recently released game Hatoful Boyfriend deals with friends, feathers and falling in love.

The game is a Japanese dating sim in which users play as a young who transfers to a fantasy high school that’s inhabited entirely by birds. As the game progresses, the player’s human character befriends, dates and falls in love with her avian classmates as well as teacher.

“This game started out as a joke because all the characters that you can date are birds,” said Nico Blake first-year Textile student and localizer of the Hatoful Boyfriend manga Absolute Zero. “[it] is kind of satirical but is actually very in-depth, it is very dramatic and actually kind of sad. You actually forget that they are birds and you start to think of them as people.”


Localizing is when North American fans take foreign video games, manga or anime and translate them for western audiences.

Although Hatoful Boyfriend love interests are pigeons, they still use the classic dating sim archetypes. There is Ryouta Kawara, the childhood friend that is slowly becoming something more. Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane is a French exchange student. The popular upperclassman and ladies man appears as Yuuya Sakazaki, while Nageki Fujishiro is the quiet and introverted mourning dove. San Oko is a hyperactive and odd track and field captain with a short temper. Anghel Higure is president of the manga club and has an overactive imagination and refers to his classmates as if they were RPG characters like mages, warriors and spell casters. Lastly there is Kazuaki Nanaki the teacher and Shuu Iwamine, the school’s doctor.

The manga cover of Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero. Provided by Nico Blake

The manga cover of Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero. Provided by Nico Blake

Anghel is actually the main protagonist of the manga version Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero that Blake localized with the company MOA. The manga centres on Anghel, and is based in his fantasyland. The manga’s text was to be translated from Japanese to English. Then the pages were processed in Photoshop to update the text bubbles to fit to the new translated text. Localizing also involves westernizing sound effects. For example, in Japan mice say “chu,” while in North America we think they say “squeak”.

“I think actually the hardest part was trying to figure out what the sound to put in certain places,” said Blake. “We had to think like what is the sound of wings flapping or the sound of smoke. So we had to play with it a little bit, but besides that it was really fun.”

A page from Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero. Provided by Nico Blake

A page from Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero. Provided by Nico Blake

Although Japan does make more traditional dating sims both hetero and same-sex romance, they also have pushed the envelope with the genre. Jurassic Heart is a dating sim similar to Hatoful Boyfriend, but instead of dating pigeons the player courts dinosaurs.

There also is Namco High in which has the love interests are classic ’80s video game characters such as Pac-Man and the ship from Galaga. Another sim is Osananajimi wa Daitouryou: My Girlfriend is the President, in which players assume the identity of a teenage boy who falls in love with an alien that has becomes president of the United States.

Hatoful Boyfriend is currently available on Steam. The book Hatoful Boyfriend: Absolute Zero is available on Amazon for Kindle.