Sanada Yukimura | Character Review | Ikémen Sengoku
Sanada Yukimura (真田 幸村)
He calls you ‘dummy’, he takes you to a festival, you share a romantic moment as fireworks light up the sky… Sanada Yukimura covers all the classic teen romance tropes we’ve come to love, but he’s a samurai, not a high-schooler. One of the original three routes, Yukimura has a more youthful disposition than the other warlords, especially compared to his sworn lord, the flirty ‘Oji-san’, Takeda Shingen.
Tropes: Yukimura has all the awkward charm of the tactless tsundere, yet this somehow blends perfectly with the proud nobility of the Ouji-sama (Prince). I’ve labelled him ‘Shota’, but he doesn’t particularly act like a little brother to the MC. I chose it more because he’s treated this way by Shingen, and that both Yukimura and the MC give the impression of being (or at least acting) younger than some of the other characters.
Yukimura falls into the ever-popular category of the loveable rude boy. While Tokugawa Ieyasu (Ikémen Sengoku) and Isaac Newton (Ikémen Vampire) are more on the ‘contrary’ side of this spectrum, Yukimura isn’t so much awkward and shy as he is blunt, honest, and tactless. While his insults can come across as rude, it also sets a standard for a certain level of familiarity that you don’t necessarily attain so quickly with the other warlords. From the very beginning, Yukimura feels like a friend or a ‘bro’, someone you can be casual with and comfortable around.
He also has the stoicism that you come to expect from the warlords of Ikémen Sengoku, giving him an aura of dependability that should contradict his teen-like attitude, but instead elevates his character, making him much more nuanced and interesting than he would be otherwise. Having a reliable, best-friend type character as part of the original three contrasts well with the more mature, domineering Oda Nobunaga and the sexy, wild Date Masamune.
Even if teen romance isn’t your thing, the addition of the responsibility of a samurai – and the emotional maturity that comes from living in a time of war – allows Sanada Yukimura to grow beyond the limiting box of ‘immature tsundere’ and appeal to both older and younger otome game players.
After spending so long romancing dark, broody vampires and complicated yanderes, the familiarity and nostalgia of Yukimura’s route was a welcome breather from more ‘difficult’ stories. Indulging in the comfort of classic tropes and premises can be relaxing for veteran players, and a great gateway into the world of otome games for new players.
While the story begins in this comfortable fashion, it does shift in tone towards the middle of the route. As the harsh reality of a world at war begins to interfere with the idyllic, sweetheart romance that MC and Yukimura have developed, his character makes some surprising decisions that add a welcome twist to an otherwise ‘trope-y’ story. Yukimura’s route was sweet, nostalgic, and memorable, distinguishing itself (in a good way) from the other routes I’ve played in Ikémen Sengoku.
Story Options: Normal vs Special?
Story branches: As you progress through the story, you will encounter several parts where you can choose between a ‘normal’ and ‘special’ option. The special option is saved to your ‘memories’ collection, which means you can return to it for re-reading at any time. It’s also extended slightly, with an extra portion included in the scene. However, the normal version is cheaper and can be purchased with in-game resources rather than real currency, meaning you can unlock them without spending any money.
Special Story 1
While I don’t necessarily recommend this special story, it is a very cute standalone scene that works well as a saved story in your memories. If you’re really enjoying Yukimura’s route, it may be worth choosing it anyway, otherwise, it’s not my favourite of Yukimura’s special stories and you can get much sweeter and more impactful scenes later in his route. If you want a cute, romantic special story in Yukimura’s route, I recommend waiting until Special Story 2: Fireworks, instead.
Special Story 2
I absolutely love this special story and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a romantic scene to save to your memories. I mentioned earlier in the review that Yukimura is like the samurai version of a tsundere teen love interest and this scene in particular feels very much like a high school date. It’s cute, it gets a little steamy, and it’s perfect if you love the classic anime and otome ‘fireworks’ romance scenes.
Special Story 3
I’ll be honest… I didn’t actually like this scene at all. It’s not particularly sweet, nor is it particularly spicy. It’s very angsty and, when I read it for the first time, I was completely absorbed in the emotions of the scene, but when I go back to it now, I just feel frustrated. I would call it bittersweet, except it’s not that sweet, so it’s just… bitter. As with most Ikémen Sengoku special stories, it does work well as a standalone scene, but I don’t plan to re-read this one, so you can safely choose the normal option here.
Special Story 4
Yukimura’s route has a bad habit of fading to black too soon during the steamy scenes, so if you want spicy content, this special story is your best bet. It still cuts a little short, but it’s the spiciest special story in his main route. It’s also very romantic and super sweet with plenty of the typical banter between MC and Yukimura, so no matter which part of Yukimura’s personality you like best, you’ll find it in this special story.
Special Story 5
(Special Story 5 takes place in Yukimura’s romantic ending, which I haven’t played yet. When I do my second playthrough of Yukimura’s route I will choose his romantic ending and update this review.)
Special Story 6
I usually recommend getting the special stories for the endings (when people replay a route it’s typically to achieve a different ending, so they’re unlikely to play the same ending twice unless they really like it). Choosing the special story here is like giving yourself a reward for making it to the end.
These stories also tend to highlight the success of the relationship, as, by this point in the route, you’ve overcome the many obstacles you faced along the way. Yukimura’s dramatic ending was exciting and romantic, and this special story perfectly captures that. It takes place over a particularly memorable and climactic moment in the ending, so I recommend choosing the special option to have it saved in your memories.
I absolutely loved this ending. The intensity of Yukimura’s route grows in a pretty linear fashion, with the latter parts building to a powerful climax. Choosing this ending felt pretty natural as the plot had already gotten quite dramatic right before it branched. I also found it interesting in terms of the implications it has on the common plot across all the routes, seemingly setting the stage for recently released content, despite a release date gap of several years.
For those who got to the ending branch having absolutely fallen head over heels for Yukimura, this ending naturally builds on the plot set-up in the main story and provides a beautifully romantic finale. For those who reached the end but didn’t particularly connect with his character, it also includes some heart-warming moments with most of the other warlords, so you can get some quality content with your favourite love interest, even though you’re not in his route.
All in all, a very satisfying conclusion to Yukimura’s route and I highly recommend it if you’re having trouble deciding which ending to choose.
If you’re a new player wanting to choose an easy-to-love character that won’t hit you with any problematic content, I recommend Yukimura. If you’re a veteran player looking for a nostalgia trip that will remind you of all the loveable tsunderes you romanced in all those high school otome games, I recommend Yukimura. If you really just feel like having a cute guy pat your head and call you ‘dummy’, then heck, go for Yukimura because boy will he deliver.
Yukimura isn’t my personal favourite of the Ikémen Sengoku cast, but he’s inoffensive and a safe option if you’re testing out the game. I enjoyed seeing classic otome dates in a sengoku context and the shift in tone halfway through the story kept it interesting, making Yukimura’s character much more memorable and distinct. Easy to read, easy to love, Yukimura is a solid choice no matter what you’re looking for in your next samurai love interest.
Ono Kenshō (小野 賢章)
- Kuroko Tetsuya (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (Bungou Stray Dogs)
- Nanase Riku (IDOLiSH7)
- Giorno Giovanna (Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Fujiwara Shū (Tsurune)
- Diluc (Genshin Impact)
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