Not all otome games offer happy endings, but tend to provide ones with varying degrees of satisfactory resolutions. Maybe your beloved is doomed, but you’ll have some period of peace to enjoy together before the end. A war could be coming, but a momentary solace can be savored. Ozmafia doesn’t shy away from unfortunate or uncomfortable situations. Poni-Pachet recognizes that every relationship doesn’t get that fairy tale ending, and acknowledges it with a number of Ozmafia’s routes.
Sometimes, people can’t be together. Circumstances don’t align and, even though they’re perfect together and they share feelings for each other, the relationship can’t work. A job could keep you apart. Family issues could as well. Things happen, and three of Ozmafia’s pairings help us understand and come to terms with uncomfortable and unhappy situations.
Editor’s note: this article contains spoilers for Axel, Fuka, Caesar, Hamelin and Soh’s routes.
Fuka and Soh’s relationship in Ozmafia is a perfect example of this. Their story has two endings and in each one they’re forced to part. Neither one allows them to be together, due to the nature of their existences. Because Fuka is Dorothy’s soul and Soh is the manifestation of Toto and the tower holding her body, there’s no way the two can safely be with the other and survive. In each ending, Fuka and Soh try to run away from it all, escaping the trappings of the town and its mafia conflicts.
The problem is, Caesar is the only one who can survive outside of town, as he’s the embodiment of Dorothy’s magic. In one storyline, Soh dies after the two spend too much time in the forest. In the other, Dorothy falls ill and the only way she can live is through Sou removing her memories of him. Both of them get to live, but what existed between them is gone. We don’t get what we want as players, but this doomed relationship helps us realize that it’s okay if things fall apart, because it was the experience leading up to it that mattered.
Hamelin and Fuka’s relationship is similarly doomed, helping players learn to accept consequences and understand the detrimental effect reckless actions can have on a relationship. Again, forces drive the two apart. Hamelin is considered one of Ozmafia’s big bads, but not by choice. Soh controlled his mind and forced him to shoot Robin Hood’s wife at their wedding. Since this happened on a Sunday, he was exiled. In an attempt to end his life, he keeps performing horrendous acts, hoping someone will be able to finally kill him. But it never happens, due to his “role” within the story.
Both of Hamelin’s endings reflect the results of a relationship where redemption is and isn’t an option. The happier of the two has him working things out and accepting the proper punishment for his crimes. He’s imprisoned until every normal human alive who remembers his immoral activities dies, with Fuka acting as a prison guard. They can’t officially be together until his time has been served, but they’re both immortals and know that day could come. In the other, Hameln absolutely loses it. Everything that happened has been too much for him, he even threatens to kill Fuka, is permanently disabled by Robin Hood and Fuka becomes a nun. Again, the two don’t get to be a couple, but Fuka finds a way to move forward.
Two of Axel and Fuka’s routes are, perhaps, the most interesting examples of a love affair gone awry. They involve infidelity. Some otome titles like to make a game of this behavior, encouraging love triangles where you string two men along or start with one and leave for another. While there is some of that in Axel’s routes where Fuka betrays the tinman to pair up with Caramia or Kyrie, Ozmafia is unique in that you see the repercussions of such deplorable behavior.
Instead of giving people a happy ending with no consequences, Ozmafia shows you the damage you’ve done. Fuka betrays Axel’s trust; it’s an unforgivable act. The game doesn’t let you get away with it. If you cheat on Axel the lion, Caramia and Fuka will find him crying over her, drunk at some bar. Going with the scarecrow, a man often shares his distaste for, has an even unhappier end. Axel’s hurt so deeply that he decides he’ll never love again. Ozmafia doesn’t let you ignore the damage you’ve done. You chose to tear this relationship apart by betraying someone’s trust, and the game is going to make you face that decision.
Again and again, Ozmafia isn’t afraid to make things uncomfortable. It goes ahead and offers you unhappy endings, because life doesn’t always give us what we want. A story can be romantic and tragic at the same time, and this otome acknowledges that. Players are richer for it, thanks to an experience that isn’t always what you’d expect.