Ishida Mitsunari | Character Review | Ikémen Sengoku

Your guardian angel in a turbulent time of war – Ishida Mitsunari is a pure-hearted genius who’ll soothe your anxieties with his gentle voice, kind nature, and endearing love of books… if only he had an ounce of common sense, too.

Alas, his uniquely brilliant mind is so filled with military strategy that there’s no room left for any life skills – like remembering to eat three meals a day or brush his hair in the morning – or even knowing how to pour a drink without spilling it everywhere.

It’s thanks to this clumsiness that, in an effort to save Mitsunari from himself, Oda Nobunaga has appointed you as Mitsunari’s guardian. To earn your keep at Azuchi Castle, you must ensure that Mitsunari eats all of his meals each day, and gets a decent night’s sleep each night. Sounds easy… right?

But, don’t forget, Mitsunari isn’t an ordinary man. As you spend your days and nights with him, you come to appreciate the traits that caught the attention of great warlords like Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as well as one particular quality that truly causes Mitsunari to stand out in a sea of war, violence, and deceit – that is, his infallible kindness, even in the face of cruelty…

Ratings
Sweet-hearted, gentle angel with a wholesome relationship dynamic
Mostly on the innocent side with some infrequent spicy scenes
Consistent character design and unique in the context of the game- just not my personal favourite
Entertaining banter with Ieyasu, and compelling character growth with a satisfying payoff at the end

Character

Similar to: Sarutobi Sasuke (Ikemen Sengoku), Blanc Lapin (Ikemen Revolution), Vincent van Gogh (Ikemen Vampire)

I should start off with a quick disclaimer that Mitsunari’s character design just isn’t my cup of tea. I don’t think he’s a poorly designed character– he’s just not my type. However, Mitsunari is probably one of the best examples I’ve seen of a gentle, sweet-hearted love interest. This is particularly impressive given the game’s context of war and violence – the sengoku era of Japan.

Mitsunari will appeal to otome game players who prefer to play a more dominant role in the relationship dynamic. In this route, MC is initially tasked with quite literally being Mitsunari’s carer, so be prepared for a lot of fussing over him and helping him remember to take care of himself. Mitsunari is a genius, particularly when it comes to military strategy, but his superior intellect seems to have come at the cost of common sense.

It’s from this that Mitsunari has formed an entertaining – seemingly one-sided – friendship with Tokugawa Ieyasu, who often chastises Mitsunari for his clumsiness and general inability to pay attention to anything other than a book. There are lots of jokes made around this ‘ditzy genius’ punchline, whether it’s failing to do something simple like pour a cup of sake, or his perpetual-case of bed hair.

Deredere / Tensai / Megane

But, Mitsunari more than makes up for his lack of life skills with the other aspects of his personality. Aside from being a strategic genius, Mitsunari is often described as ‘angelic’. In fact, he’s so pure-hearted that his only rival in that regard would be MC herself. And she’s an otome protagonist. Pure-heartedness is kind of her thing.

Thanks to this kind, gentle demeanour, Mitsunari becomes a refreshing oasis in a chaotic era of war where MC’s entire world-view has been turned upside-down. Whenever she starts to feel overwhelmed by accidentally travelling back in time (understandable), she can find relief in knowing that Mitsunari will sincerely help her with anything and everything that troubles her, to the best of his ability.

Story

Even when I don’t particularly enjoy one of the characters, Ikemen Sengoku inevitably makes up for this with its high-quality storytelling– and Mitsunari is no exception. The comedy in Ikemen Sengoku is what truly makes it shine, and I particularly loved the banter between Ieyasu and Mitsunari in this route.

The plot spends a lot of time on Mitsunari’s personal character growth and it almost felt a little like a coming of age story, as Mitsunari starts the route in the early stages of his career – a promising, but somewhat unrefined bundle of budding potential – only to experience certain feelings for the first time, which then prompts a sudden growth spurt in his emotional maturity, as well as his career.

“I’ll always be there for you. That’s a promise.”

– Mitsunari Ishida (Ikemen Sengoku)

I wouldn’t say the romance is particularly ‘slow-burn’, but due to Mitsunari’s innocence, it doesn’t exactly happen straight away, either. However, the pacing felt pretty natural, and I don’t remember ever feeling frustrated at the lack of romantic progression.

There was a scene that I loved in the first chapter (the ‘cat scene’ for those of you who’ve read it), but this largely seemed to be a hook to draw the reader in at the beginning, as there weren’t any other scenes like that later in the story, except for a brief call-back in the romantic ending (albeit with a very different tone).

I think I would have enjoyed his route more if the writers had explored the ‘sensual’ side of his character a bit further. He’s often described as being attractive, and his character selection screen labels him as ‘smouldering’, but the few spicy scenes that we did get were often toned down with sweet, wholesome dialogue, and a fade to black before the couple could go beyond anything other than kissing and maybe getting a bit touchy-feely.

That being said, despite not being particularly drawn to Mitsunari in a romantic way, I still enjoyed getting to know his character, and I still found his interactions with the other warlords entertaining. It was heart-warming to watch him grow over the course of his route, and the payoff in the final chapters for all of Mitsunari’s prior character development made me feel almost as much of a ‘proud mama’ as Hideyoshi… almost.

In short – Mitsunari’s route is a sweet, feel-good story about a wholesome couple who help each other achieve their goals and realize their full potential. It’s not something I’d necessarily expect in a game about warlords, samurai, and ninja, but it’s a refreshingly sweet option for a typically dramatic setting.

Story Options: Premium vs. Normal

Story branches: at several intervals in the main route, you will be prompted to choose between a ‘Normal’ and ‘Premium’ special story option. The normal story is cheaper and can be purchased with ‘gold’ – an in-game resource acquired through completing ‘princess lessons’ – whereas the premium option is purchased with ‘coins’, an in-game currency bought with real money.

While they may need to be purchased with coins, premium stories are typically longer, more romantic, and saved to your collection – meaning you can re-read them at any time. This is why it can be difficult to know whether or not to splash out for the premium option, especially with only a limited preview to hint at what to expect.

Below is a list of all the special stories in Mitsunari’s route, along with a mini-review to help you choose whether to opt for the normal or premium option at each story branch…

Special Story 1
You’re My Respite

Sweet: 4/5
Spicy: 1/5
Recommend: Yes

‘You’re My Respite’ is a sweet, gentle moment between Mitsunari and MC that – despite happening early in the plot – features a lot of adorable flirting. Due to Mitsunari’s innocent personality, the writers can get away with much more physical contact and affection earlier in the route, as the couple haven’t necessarily realised the true nature of their feelings yet.

It’s a very cute bonus story that was still enjoyable to re-read after finishing Mitsunari’s route – and it’s definitely one of the better ‘Special Story 1’s that I’ve read, even if Mitsunari isn’t my favourite character in the game. If you’re enjoying Mitsunari’s route by this point and you want a heart-warming, affectionate special story, then I recommend choosing the premium option here.

Special Story 2
Temptation and Tempter

Sweet: 3/5
Spicy: 2/5
Recommend: No

I’ve said ‘no’ to recommending this Special Story, but if you’re head over heels for Mitsunari, then it may be worth getting anyway. My main reason for not recommending it is that it’s just not quite as sweet or spicy as some of the other premium options. Special Story 1 beats it in the ‘cute and wholesome’ category, while Special Stories 4 and 5 contain much better (and longer) spicy scenes, so I’d have to recommend those premium options over this one.

That being said, ‘Temptation and Tempter’ is still an entertaining special story, and I loved MC’s inner monologue in this scene. Mitsunari also has some great lines, but MC definitely took the spotlight with her less-than-innocent thoughts. The story does get a little bit spicy, but the word ‘Temptation’ in the title is a hint at how far Mitsunari and MC actually go in this scene. If you’re looking for spiciness, I’d recommend waiting for a special story further into the route.

Special Story 3
The Purpose of a Kiss

Sweet: 3/5
Spicy: 1/5
Recommend: No

‘The Purpose of a Kiss’ isn’t a bad special story, per say – I just don’t personally feel the need to re-read it outside of the context of the route. The entire scene feels more like the set-up for something bigger (and more romantic) to come – which is fine when you’re reading it during the actual playthrough, but it loses its appeal when you read it as a standalone story, without the following chapter to fulfil the anticipation built up throughout the scene.

Special Story 4
I Want Everything

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 4/5

Recommend: Maybe

If you’re choosing the Romantic Ending, then I recommend saving your coins for Special Story 5, ‘A Not So Innocent Desire’, as it’s basically a slightly-better version of this special story. If you don’t mind purchasing both, or you’re thinking of choosing the Dramatic Ending, then Special Story 4 is the next-best premium option, especially in terms of spiciness.

Special Story 4, ‘I Want Everything’, spends less time on the actual moments shared between Mitsunari and MC (and it’s a shorter story overall), so the final romantic moment doesn’t last as long as the similar one in Special Story 5. However, I haven’t read the Dramatic Ending yet, so I’m not sure if the same can be said for Special Story 6.

Special Story 4 comes in at a close second on my ranking of Mitsunari’s premium options, so I’d recommend it if you’re not going to get Special Story 5 – otherwise, save your coins for ‘A Not So Innocent Desire’, instead.

Special Story 5
A Not So Innocent Desire

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 4/5
Recommend: Yes

This special story takes place in Mitsunari’s romantic ending, and I typically recommend Special Stories 5 and 6 in Ikemen Sengoku, as it essentially means you have a reminder of that ending in your saved collection to re-read later, without needing to replay the route and choose the same ending in order to remember what happened.

As for ‘A Not So Innocent Desire’, specifically, this special story was blissfully romantic – befitting of Mitsunari’s romantic ending. It’s a decent length (which is good, as the later special stories can be a bit pricey), and it includes the ending’s climax – along with one of the most wholesome spicy scenes I’ve ever read.

This special story is a sweet moment of relief after the major events of the final chapters and it showcases the satisfying results of the couple’s romantic development, as well as Mitsunari’s personal character growth. If you’ve made it this far in Mitsunari’s route and you enjoy the relationship dynamic he has with MC, then you’ll definitely enjoy ‘A Not So Innocent Desire’.

Special Story 6

*This Special Story takes place in Mitsunari’s Dramatic Ending, which I have yet to complete. When I do my second playthrough of his route, I’ll choose his Dramatic Ending and update this review*

Endings

Romantic

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 4/5

This was just about everything you’d expect from an Ikemen Sengoku romantic ending. The plot drama was resolved early on, allowing for the majority of the ending to focus on the romance and general sweetness of day-to-day life as a new couple. It felt very low-stakes and easy to read and, if I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say it’s a soft and cuddly finale for a soft and cuddly Mitsunari.

There were also some great scenes with the other warlords, especially one of the final scenes with Mitsuhide and Masamune (although I did feel Masamune went very Scottish-English in the translation, with the phrase ‘Bonny Lass’ being used at one point). So even if you’re not a huge fan of Mitsunari himself, there’s plenty of content with the rest of the cast to keep you entertained.

CG: I love the CG that comes with this ending (including the call-back to the ‘cat scene’ from chapter 1) and it feels fitting for his character – cute and romantic, but also a bit sensual, in that ‘effortless’ kind of way.

I’ll do a second playthrough of Mitsunari’s route (and choose the dramatic ending), so I can compare the two options and give a proper recommendation. But, based on this first playthrough, I can safely say I enjoyed Mitsunari’s romantic ending a lot – even more so than some parts of the main route – so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this option.

Epilogue: If you have enough ‘love points’ by the time you clear Mitsunari’s romantic ending, you’ll be able to read a special epilogue. I personally loved Mitsunari’s romantic epilogue. It’s a classic rom-com bonus story, with equal parts adorable and funny, and it felt like a natural continuation from the tone of the romantic ending.

Nothing particularly major or important happens, but it’s a very cute, silly scene that ends Mitsunari’s route with a warm and fuzzy feeling. If you have enough points (or you can spare the items to get there), I definitely recommend reading the epilogue before you switch to a new route!

Final Thoughts

Ishida Mitsunari is a bit too sweet and innocent for my tastes, but I still enjoyed his route. I’m often impressed by the quality of writing in Ikemen Sengoku – and Mitsunari’s route is no exception. Despite not falling head-over-heels for his character, I still found him intriguing, and watching Mitsunari grow into his full potential as a genius strategist and respected warlord was compelling enough to keep me interested in reading more, regardless of how I felt about the romantic elements of the story.

As for his personality, Mitsunari is a gentle, kind character, with an accidental suave side. His innocence means he doesn’t always understand the implications of what he’s saying or doing, so he can get away with being relatively affectionate towards MC earlier in the route than some of the less-than-innocent warlords.

The romance does take a little while to pick up, but thanks to all of the accidental flirting and ‘friendly’ affection, the pacing doesn’t feel too slow. I loved the contrast of Mitsunari’s naivete and MC’s more ‘mature’ inner monologue, and I think that otome fans who prefer to play a more proactive and dominant role will enjoy their relationship dynamic a lot more than I did.

You’ll like Ishida Mitsunari if you like: taking care of ditzy geniuses; innocent ikemen discovering love for the first time; analytical types who rationalise everything; kind and gentle love interests; pretty boys who don’t know that they’re pretty; and sweet, wholesome angels with sweet, soothing voices.

Screenshots

Voice Actor

Yamaya Yoshitaka (山谷 祥生)

Also voiced:

  • Junpei Yoshino (Jujutsu Kaisen)
  • Kensuke Asagi (World End Syndrome)
  • Tomohito Sugino (Assassination Classroom)
  • Akita Toushiro (Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru)
  • and more!

Game Info

Game name: Ikémen Sengoku: Romances Across Time | イケメン戦国・時をかける恋
Developer: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Publisher: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Platform: Mobile
Age Rating: 17+ (Google Play) / 12+ (Apple Store)
More information: here!

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Mary Safro

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