Harukanaru Toki no Naka de (loosely "Within the Expanse of a Distant Time") is a series of otome games developed by Ruby Party and published by Koei. It is a part of the NeoRomance label, which also includes Angélique and La Corda d'Oro.
The basic premise involves a female Ordinary High-School Student — often accompanied by a couple of friends — drawn into a parallel world that bears a strong resemblance to historical Japan during the Heian (and later -- Bakumatsu) Period, where a lot of traditional Japanese/Eastern myths and beliefs have a material form, co-existing peacefully with some of the more generic element-based spells. (It was hardly, if at all, identified as Japan until later games: most characters tend to only refer to the setting as "another world".) There, the girl assumes the position of the Miko, or priestess, of the Dragon-God, a deity believed to be capable of saving people from current disasters. On her quest to complete the mission, she is accompanied by eight attractive young men called the Hachiyou (lit. "Eight Leaves"), who gain their powers from The Four Gods.
While the plot of the original game (and to a greater extent its manga/anime adaptations) has been
accused of plagiarizing noted as having a lot of similarities to Fushigi Yuugi (or, sometimes, Inuyasha), the franchise definitely stands on its own, and the later entries actually managed to improve the premise enough that it no longer feels "borrowed". Each of the five main games features a new set of characters and a new conflict, so the series doesn't get too repetitive while still keeping (loosely) the same general theme.
This series consists of the following games, sorted by the main stories:
First story (Miko - Akane Motomiya):
The "original" storyline featuring the Miko and her two friends from school having to save Heian-Kyou from the ambitions of the powerful Oni Clan who want to rule the city on their own.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de (2000-04-06 - PS, 2002-08-23 - GBA)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Banjou Yuugi (2003-06-26 - PS)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou (2005-04-01 - PS2) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Iroetebako (2005-04-01 - PSP)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Maihitoyo (2006-09-21 - PS2) note
- Pocket Scenario Series: Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Maihitoyo (2006-11-30 - Nintendo DS)
Second story (Miko - Karin Takakura):
Skipping a hundred years (on the parallel world timeline) from the first game, the second one employs the new Miko from "our" world to sort out a conflict between the emperor and the retired emperor which brought chaos to Kyou once again.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 (2001-09-28 - PC, 2002-02-28 - PS2, 2005-06-30 - PSP)
Third story (Miko - Nozomi Kasuga):
Skipping a hundred years again, this time the three summoned characters arrive into the parallel world right in the middle of what is clearly an equivalent of the Genpei War, and have to side with the Genji in order to bring an end to the battles.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 (2004-12-22 - PS2)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 - Izayoiki (2005-09-22 - PS2)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 - Unmei no Labyrinth (2006-03-23 - PS2)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 with Izayoiki Aizouban (2009-03-19 - PSP)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 - Unmei no Labyrinth - Aizouban (2009-10-22 - PSP)
Fourth story (Miko - Chihiro Ashihara):
This entry abandons the historical theme in favour of the mythological origins of Japan, thus technically acting as a prequel to the series. The conflict is now between two countries in another world, the Miko being an amnesiac princess of one of them who didn't know about her past before getting involved with the story.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 4 (2008-06-19 - PS2/Wii, 2010-12-22 - PSP)
Fifth story (Miko - Yuki Hasumi):
The entry that returns to its roots in historical themes yet managed to get Tainted by the Preview due to skipping over to the Bakumatsu Period (therefore marking itself as a rival to Otomate's Hakuouki franchise) and replacing the main voice cast. Unusually for the series, it doesn't have the heroes permanently Trapped in Another World, but allows for travelling between the modern and historical settings.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 (2011-02-24 - PSP)
Sixth story (Miko - Azusa Takatsuka)
The latest entry in the series. The heroine this time has been whisked away to the Taisho era.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6 (2015-03-12 - PSP, PS Vita)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Yume no Ukihashi (2008-08-21, Nintendo DS)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Yume no Ukihashi Special (2009-01-29, PS2)
The original game spawned a 17-volume manga authored by the series' character designer Tohko Mizuno; originally published by Hakusensha in LaLa magazine, it ran from July 1999 note to January 2010 (shifting to LaLa DX in February 2007). There are also extra chapters dedicated to the second and the third game, and an entire extra volume concerning the fourth one. The manga is licensed in North America by VIZ Media under the title Haruka — Beyond the Stream of Time.
The popularity of the franchise led to creation of several anime adaptations:
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Ajisai Yumegatari (OVA, 2 episodes, 2002-2003) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2: Shiroki Ryuu no Miko (OVA, 3 episodes, 2003-2005) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Hachiyou Shou (TV, 26 episodes, 2004-2005; aired on TV Tokyo. There are also two OVA episodes released under the title in 2005.) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Maihitoyo (theatrical movie, 2006) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3: Kurenai no Tsuki (TV special, 2007; aired on KIDS STATION) note
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei (TV special, 2010; aired on AT-X) note
In addition, two live-action stage plays based on the franchise were made in 2008 and 2009, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Maihitoyo and Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Oborozoushi. The former, as the title suggests, is an adaptation of the theatrical movie; the latter is a completely original story note , still starring the cast of the first game.
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de franchise contains examples of the following tropes:
"Core" tropes (related to the concept in general):
- The Anime of the Game: See the list above. Of course, there's also a manga in the mix, but it in itself is supposed to be an Adaptation Expansion of the original game.
- Bishōnen & Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Like with other otome games, this is the point of the series.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Maihitoyo movie. Suefumi's relationship with Akane was doomed from the start note , but consider that the alternative outcome for him was apparently to be exorcised by Yasuaki...
- Calling Your Attacks: The Hachiyou. This includes Combination Attacks.
- Cutting Off the Branches: Inverted. The "default" pairing is the Hachiyou in the position of the Seiryuu of Heaven note . However, chronology-wise, the only game where the choice arguably matters is Haruka 4, due to its "prequel" nature. Furthermore, the remake of the first game added an ending for a character whose "branch" was already cut by the sequel.
- Dragons Are Divine: The White Dragon, a god representing purity and virtue that likes to live in rivers while in the form of a giant fish, and directly serves Shangdi, the Jade Emperor. Their more malevolent (but not completely evil) counterpart, the Black Dragon, represents endings and death, and both are required to be in harmony for Serenity to reign in their combined form of Yinlong. Both are so powerful that they have two pairs of Light and Dark Kirins respectively that are second only to them in terms of power.
- Elemental Powers: The Hachiyou. Twofold, actually, since the power assortment comes from both the Five Elements (pair) and the Eight Trigrams (individual).
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: We swear, it's not Time Travel, just Another Dimension that happens to look like ancient Kyoto! This concept works very well for justifying any historical discrepancies (including allowing the creators to use as much of the era setting detail as they want while safely skipping over anything that would look too gross in an otome game). Though even the "fantasy" part is derived from very real eastern mythology and religions.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Though they adapt quickly enough. It helps to have history classes, after all.
- Foe Romance Subtext: Akane clearly falls for Akuram after seeing his face, which causes her a bit of trouble throughout the story.
- The Four Gods: The power source for the Hachiyou. Although they were more or less important to the first storyline, later plots put them completely out of the focus. On the other hand, Haruka 5 went so far as to give them pretty-looking human forms...
- Historical Beauty Update: Blackened teeth, whited out faces, and eyebrows drawn on in the middle of the forehead were requisites for beauty in the historical Heian period. Of course, as noted above, the series has its parallel world setting to justify the discrepancies... but there still, are a few characters who comply with the historical standard. They're too bizarre-looking to be anything but Played for Laughs. Then there's a number of characters in Haruka 3 and Haruka 5 who are based on actual historical figures, with predictable results...
- Miko: Well, they're called that, at least; although Akane does wear a typical miko outfit in anime at some points.
- Multiple Endings: The games, obviously, but also Hachiyou Shou TV and Owari Naki Unmei, via DVD omake.
- Power Crystal: The Dragon Gems (gyoku) that Hachiyou have on their body are used for attacks and provide a Psychic Link with the Miko (whose gem is implied to be inside her). After Haruka 3 the Gems do not necessarily appear on the bodies of the Hachiyou, but still play an important role in the games.
- Third-Option Adaptation: None of the anime adaptations have a clear-cut ending, despite the existence of the de-facto "default" pairings. Subverted with Hachiyou Shou TV and Owari Naki Unmei, where, instead of just sticking with an "open" ending, you are allowed to make your own choice.
- Trapped in Another World: The series' premise, easily confused for Time Travel if not for the fact that the characters occasionally do discuss the actual matter between each other.
Elemental Powers elaborated:
- Casting a Shadow: The Oni Clan; this includes Ridvan from Haruka 3, who is a Hachiyou.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Suzaku of Earth Hachiyou.
- Making a Splash: The Genbu of Heaven Hachiyou.
- Playing with Fire: The Suzaku of Heaven Hachiyou.
- Razor Wind/Sword Beam: The Seiryuu of Heaven Hachiyou.
- Shock and Awe: The Seiryuu of Earth Hachiyou. In Haruka 4 the character even has the nickname "Kuroikazuchi" (black lightning).
- Alternate Character Reading: Toki ("time") in the title is rendered with two kanji (ji-kuu) that mean "time-space".
- Anachronic Order: Haruka 4 is a prequel to the series set in ancient times (and thus before the Heian trilogy). Haruka 5 then jumps centuries past Haruka 3.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The "Kotengu Classic" segments in Hachiyou Shou TV.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: The opening of Kurenai no Tsuki.
- Battle Aura: The Hachiyou, sometimes.
- Bishie Sparkle: Seems to be the purpose of the existence of Hachiyou Shou OVAs.
- Bodyguard Crush: All Hachiyou are subject to this trope, but it goes double for Seiryuu of Heaven characters. A defining trope for Minamoto no Yorihisa and Kazahaya (Haruka 4).
- Brown Note: The eight-stringed kin in the manga and Hachiyou Shou.
- The Chains of Commanding: The Sadistic Choices that come with being a ruler are a frequent theme of Haruka 4.
- Changed My Jumper: Kind of; apparently, a short skirt is required to attract guys. Sigh...
- Cherry Blossoms: Hachiyou Shou is obsessed with these.
- Colon Cancer: Several of the titles in the series fall into this territory.
- Combined Energy Attack: In Hachiyou Shou TV's Grand Finale; also in Maihitoyo movie.
- Crossdressing Voices: Played straight with Sefuru (Yuu Asakawa), but averted with Shimon (Kouki Miyata).
- Cross-Popping Veins.
- Delayed Reaction: Karin in Shiroki Ryuu no Miko, when told about her new status. Also Akane and Shimon in one Hachiyou Shou OVA.
- Disguised in Drag: Hachiyou Shou episode 18. Poor Eisen...
- Double-Meaning Title: Hachiyou Shou episode 23, "Kawatare". A bit of a Genius Bonus for non-Japanese audience, as it is rendered in hiragana, and knowing the origins of the word is required to understand it. See the Trivia page for details.
- The End Is Nigh: One of the ways Haruka 2 shows its work is that its backstory involves widespread fear of the coming of Mappou, the Latter Age of Dharma. According to this Buddhist teaching, once Mappou sets in, people will no longer be able to gain enlightenment through Buddhist law, bringing chaos and disorder to the world.
- Epigraph: The tanka poetry at the end of Hachiyou Shou episodes serves this purpose.
- Expy: Much of the cast of the second game suspiciously resembles the cast of the first one.
- Face Fault: Tenma in Hachiyou Shou episode 5.
- The Faceless: Abe no Seimei, in both the manga and the Hachiyou Shou TV.
- Fanservice: Tiny bits of it here and there (involving the guys, of course).
- Fiery Redhead: Most of the Suzaku of Heaven Hachiyou, almost literally.
- Flashback: Hachiyou Shou TV has tons of these, though many at least serve for Character Development.
- Glamour Failure: The onryou in the Yasuaki intro episode/chapter.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Yasuaki, of all people, gets these in one Hachiyou Shou OAV.
- Gotta Catch Them All: The Hachiyou, and later the Four Seals, in the manga and TV series.
- Hand Behind Head.
- Hero Secret Service: Discussed in Hachiyou Shou... though the second arc proves otherwise.
- Hidden Eyes: Several instances.
- Historical Domain Character: Abe no Seimei, plus about half the cast of Haruka 3 and Haruka 5, even if they're technically "parallel world" versions.
- Hostage For Macguffin: Hachiyou Shou episode 20.
- Hot Springs Episode: The "chibi" special for Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Yasuaki, having hurt Ran when breaking her curse on Akane - "I could not let the Miko die".
- I Have This Friend...: Inori resorts to this in Hachiyou Shou TV to get Akane's opinion on the situation with Seri.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Akane in Hachiyou Shou TV on two occasions; Yasuaki at some points in TV and manga, for different reasons.
- Image Song: Tons. Even Yasuaki got one.
- Luminescent Blush: Akane, though she is easily out-blushed by some of the guys.
- Magical Gesture: A few attacks involve these.
- Magic Skirt: The mikos.
- MayDecember Romance: Some of the Hachiyou are quite a bit older than the Mikos.
- Modesty Towel: In the Haruka 3 Hot Springs Super Deformed Special. They swim in these freely.
- Narnia Time/Year Inside, Hour Outside: More prominently seen in Haruka 3, where one character ends up spending extra time in Kyou compared to other two due to getting lost during the transition.
- Not What It Looks Like: One incident in Hachiyou Shou TV, involving Akane and Yorihisa.
- Oddly Visible Eyebrows: Pretty much anyone who has bangs.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: In Haruka 3 Minamoto no Yoritomo uses Kagetoki's mother as leverage against him, forcing him to act as a mole/assassin. How 'bout that Obfuscating Stupidity?
- Official Couple: Apparently, Miko x Seiryuu of Heaven, regardless of the game (not counting side games).
- One Side of the Story: The source of much humor in Hachiyou Shou OAV "Kokoro no Yukue".
- On the Next: Hachiyou Shou TV previews.
- Opening Narration: Hachiyou Shou episodes 1-5, done by Fuji-hime.
- Personality Blood Types: Discussed in the manga.
- Personality Powers: The Hachiyou, to an extent.
- Power Glows: Applies to pretty much anyone who has any powers.
- Psychic Link: The Miko and her Hachiyou.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Kotengu in Hachiyou Shou TV, on at least one occasion.
- Quivering Eyes: Several instances in Hachiyou Shou TV, notably the one involving Yasuaki.
- Reflective Eyes: Near the end of the Maihitoyo movie.
- The Scream: Tenma in one Hachiyou Shou OAV.
- Sempai/Kohai: Akane and Shimon; Nozomi and Yuzuru.
- Seppuku: Referenced in relation to Yorihisa; thankfully never commited.
- Setting Right What Once Went Wrong: Happens over and over in Haruka 3. Main example - altering the course of events to save the Hachiyou from a horrible fiery death.
- Ship Sinking: The manga ending established the Official Couple.
- Ship Tease: Endlessly.
- Shown Their Work: Despite the notes on Fantasy Counterpart Culture on the main page, the series makes heavy use of actual historical and mythological material, to the point where one starts wondering if the "parallel world" thing only exists just so that some of the details could be changed or excluded without ruining the overall picture.
- Single Line of Descent: The Star Clan.
- Slash Fic: This franchise is basically a Slash Fic Writer's Paradise...
- Spell My Name with an "S": The Oni often become victims of this. Then there's "Honest Sato" from Haruka 5...
- Sprint Scrubbing: Akane in Maihitoyo movie.
- The Stinger: Maihitoyo movie.
- Stock Footage: Some amount of it is present in the Hachiyou Shou TV series.
- Super-Deformed: Many instances in Hachiyou Shou.
- Taking the Bullet: Yoritada for Karin in Shiroki Ryuu no Miko, Yorihisa for Tenma in Hachiyou Shou TV, Masaomi for Nozomi in Owarinaki Unmei.
- The Teaser: Hachiyou Shou TV episodes.
- Theme Twin Naming: The two deers that followed Nue around are named Momiji and Kaede (both mean "maple"). Wait... hmm...
- Title-Only Opening: Hachiyou Shou TV episode 26.
- Token Non-Human: Yasuaki, Yasutsugu, Hakuryuu; if the Oni Clan counts, Ridvan.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: Oborozoushi's tagline is "Yasuaki dies!?" (though note the punctuation). Fans just went "Like You Would Really Do It".
- True Companions: The Hachiyou; this even gets explored a bit in one Hachiyou Shou OAV.
- A Twinkle in the Sky: Kotengu, in one Hachiyou Shou OAV.
- Villain Teleportation: The Oni.
- Visible Sigh: In some anime adaptations, usually reserved for comedic scenes.
- Visible Silence: Several instances in Hachiyou Shou OAVs.
- Weird Moon: Specifically, red moon.
- X-Ray Sparks: Kotengu in one Hachiyou Shou OAV.
- Yonkoma: Several manga omake.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Way far on the "impossible" end of the scale.
- Your Universe or Mine?: See the premise. The game allows for both choices, although the real-world endings are apparently the "true" ones.