Jean D’Arc | Character Review | Ikémen Vampire
Unapologetically angsty; Jean d’Arc is the quintessential vampire. He’s brooding, ethereal, and filled with a self-loathing that sets the stage for beautifully melodramatic lines such as, “You’re too radiant for me,” and, “Is it okay for me to go on living?”. As a former emo kid who grew up reading gothic romance novels, I found Jean’s route to be especially nostalgic, while still maintaining its appeal to a more mature audience. If you love an elegant, graceful love interest who’s resigned himself to darkness due to his fervent belief that he deserves nothing more, then I wholeheartedly recommend indulging in Ikémen Vampire’s Jean d’Arc.
“Don’t touch me. I’m impure.”– Jean d’Arc
Similar to: Zero (Ikémen Revolution), Harr Silver (Ikémen Revolution), Napoleon Bonaparte (Ikémen Vampire)
There’s just something about Jean and this type of character that really appeals to me – you find a beautiful, kind man who thinks he’s a monster and places very little value on himself, and through an endearingly stubborn determination you begin to show him that he’s wrong, that he’s actually incredibly kind and thoughtful. With wide eyes he clutches his heart, which he feels beating for the first time in a long time, and now he’s eternally devoted to you, the one who showed him the light after he thought he was doomed to the shadows. This sort of relationship, of course, would be terribly problematic in real life, but maybe that’s exactly why indulging in something so dramatic in fiction is so appealing.
Kuudere / Dandere
Tropes: The line between a kuudere and dandere is very thin, as both tend to be aloof and require lots of work from MC to warm up their frozen hearts. The main difference is that a ‘kuudere’ is often a product of inexperience in relationships with others, sometimes unaware of their own kuudere traits, whereas a ‘dandere’ tends to be gloomy, with their isolation being self-imposed.
I’ve labelled Jean as both of these archetypes, as he is definitely brooding and chooses to distance himself from others, but he also has a level of naivety and innocence that stems from being ostracised in the past. His icy heart was born from a combination of shyness, inexperience in socialising, and a self-enforced isolation driven by his dramatically low opinion of himself.
Melodrama is a difficult genre to write, as it can easily feel unnatural or forced. Jean’s route in Ikémen Vampire is a perfect example of melodrama done well and I adored the brazen, unapologetic approach the writers took. Rather than trying to be grounded or add a sense of realism to the fantastical and dramatic, they leant into it, providing us a feast of overly-poetic imagery and metaphors for good and evil.
Furthermore, even in a route filled with angst, Ikémen Vampire still manages to inject CYBIRD’s signature sense of humour. I loved the adorable ‘Mararons’ scene and several moments with Arthur (and his mischievous nature) allow us to discover a more vulnerable, naïve side to Jean’s personality. The quality of writing in this route is truly phenomenal, providing an immersive experience into a quintessentially vampiric story with characters that remained consistent while also showing believable growth.
MC: The heroines in the Ikémen Series are fairly unique in that their personality changes depending on the route you choose. Personally, I loved MC in Jean’s route; she’s mature, compassionate, and makes the effort to try and understand Jean, despite the enormous gap in their experiences.
She doesn’t shun him for being a soldier or having killed people, instead, she sees the beauty in his determination to protect people and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. She aims to see the good in him, even if she can never fully understand what his life was like, or how he came to be who he is today. This feels very refreshing after experiencing MCs in other Ikémen routes where she chastises the love interest despite knowing he’s a soldier, emperor, or even a Sengoku warlord, without trying to understand his point of view first.
Story Options: Premium vs. Normal
Story branches: As you progress through the story, you will encounter several sections where you can choose between a ‘normal’ and ‘premium’ option. The premium option is saved to your ‘saved story’ 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.
Chapter 4: Premium Story
Where Angels Fear To Tread
I adore this premium story. It highlights the aspects of MC’s personality that I really enjoyed and it’s a cute scene between her and Jean that feels especially nostalgic after finishing his route. It happens before any romantic development in their relationship, but it’s wholesome and their interactions in this scene set the foundation for their dynamic going forward.
Chapter 10: Premium Story
A Mighty Downpour
I might be a bit biased (I loved Jean’s route), but this scene was beautifully dramatic. It’s one of my favourite moments from the earlier half of the story as you get to uncover another layer to Jean’s character. As with Chapter 4’s premium story, I enjoyed MC’s personality, and the way she handled the conflict in this scene is another example of why I liked her in Jean’s route.
Chapter 15: Premium Story
Tomorrow Is Promised To No One
Okay, I’m definitely biased. The audaciousness of this route in its melodramatic angst is so beautiful to me and this scene perfectly encapsulates this feeling with its language and imagery. I’m pretty sure there’s a line that says something like “the darkness around him shivered in response” and honestly, I can’t get enough. This premium story features some truly iconic lines and I know I’m going to be going back to re-read it multiple times, even though it’s not particularly sweet or spicy.
Chapter 19: Premium Story
No Wish Is Impossible
It pains me to say I wouldn’t recommend this premium story, however, compared to the previous options, it’s not as interesting. It’s a beautiful scene but, honestly, MC outshines Jean. She has some great lines but the majority of this part is her dialogue (or, monologue), with very little response from him. As with the rest of this route, there’s a lot of poetic imagery that I enjoyed and it’s a sweet, romantic moment; I just don’t think it quite has the same level of impact as its predecessors and it’s my least favourite of Jean’s premium stories.
Chapter 24: Premium Story
There Is No Fear In Love
Who doesn’t love a love confession? Beautiful, romantic, dramatic… This scene perfectly weaves together the character growth we have seen so far from both Jean and MC, creating a satisfying moment of happiness and reprieve after the intensity of the previous chapter. Even upon re-reading, it maintains its appeal as a standalone confession scene and still manages to convey a sense of relief, despite being read out of context.
Jean’s romantic ending is blissful and beautiful. As with most romantic endings in the Ikémen Series, it has a sort of slice-of-life feel to it, as it takes you through the everyday lives of the couple after overcoming the hardships they endured throughout the route. I loved the incorporation of the story of the Ugly Duckling and the finale in the field of lilies made me smile so much my cheeks hurt.
Despite being an aloof, distant man throughout his story, Jean finally opens up, confidently showing his sensitive side to MC. This feels particularly satisfying after persistently pursuing him for so many chapters. Amongst a sea of Ikémen who play it cool for a sensitive and emotional MC, Jean reverses this dynamic by being the one to shed tears while MC holds him. What I loved most about this is that Jean’s vulnerability isn’t used to diminish his character in any way, instead highlighting the positive growth he has experienced.
Tl;dr: Jean’s romantic ending is the sunny day following a turbulent storm, providing some well-deserved, feel-good moments after a hard-won romance.
Jean d’Arc epitomises the vampire aesthetic: brooding, ethereal, and haunted. He may not appeal to every player, as his route does get pretty dark in some parts, however, these heavy topics are handled in a gentle, compassionate manner with an emphasis on forgiveness and growth. While Jean’s route is absolutely a smorgasbord of melodrama and angst, it’s also a story about not giving up on yourself, or others, and how one person showing kindness can be the catalyst for finding your way out of an abyss of self-loathing and depression.
Choose Jean if you love: angsty gothic romance, men in eyepatches, melting the ice around a kuudere’s heart, beautifully poetic imagery, and a proactive/dominant MC (seriously, I may have fallen a little in love with MC in this route too).
Toshiyuki Someya (染谷 俊之)
- Hijikata Toshizou (Bakumatsu)
- Momoya Soushi (Choujigen Kakumei Anime: Dimension High School)
Game Name: Ikémen Vampire
Available to download: here!
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