Shokatsu Ryou (CV: Sakurai Takahiro) is one of the new characters in the sequel, the strategist who joins the Maozoku. Everything he speaks is tied down to logic and reason. While his decisions may come off as cold at first, ultimately he places the Maozoku’s safety as his top priority. Remember to read the Common Route first!
I went by a friend’s recommended order so I played Shokatsu Ryou’s route first. It’s a good introductory route as he’s a new character so you do not need to have much existing knowledge of the first game. The plot also follows the original novel quite closely: he travels to Go to negotiate an alliance with Son Ken; in order to stabilise the alliance he offers to get 100,000 arrows in three days. However, the difference is that Kan U pretty much finds herself in-charge of safeguarding Shokatsu Ryou throughout the game since he can’t fight.
Due to his rational way of thinking, he often clashes with Kan U who primarily acts based on her own feelings. For example, when Sou Sou in on his way to attack Shin Ya again: Shokatsu Ryou plans to flee by themselves, while setting the castle on fire as a trap for Sou Sou’s army. Anyone extra would just be a burden to them. However Kan U is concerned for the local villagers, to which Ryuu Bi agrees too. In the end he relents by ordering the Maozoku to put up an anonymous sign, telling the villagers to retreat into the castle. When the time comes for Sou Sou to attack, again Kan U feels sympathetic towards the villagers as the Shin Ya viceroy has basically deserted them. She (and Ryuu Bi) persuade(s) Shokatsu Ryou to let anyone, who is willing to, flee with them. Ryuu Bi is also able to move the soldiers they’d gotten from Ryuu Hou to flee with them, after hearing that Sou Sou has taken the capital down. While Kan U persuades the villagers to believe in her – even if it’s just her human half.
At first, you can see that Shokatsu Ryou is really harsh towards Kan U. But as the game progresses, you start to spot something: the first moment was when Kan U went back inside the burning castle to rescue two children (one human, one Maozoku). Shokatsu Ryou was exceptionally abrasive towards her – and while his words were full of reason, you start to suspect as to whether his words are meant for somebody else instead. Maybe you’ve guessed it already – yup, himself. Something must have happened in his past, which would explain his current behaviour and the fact that his keyword is: 傷 (wound; injury).
I need to add that there’s another reason why Kan U chooses to protect Shokatsu Ryou. She becomes the only one to know that when he’s on the battle grounds, he has a tendency to pass out. And while he’s passed out, he sees the same dream of his past every time. It’s of his village being overrun by soldiers, and him escaping with his two younger siblings. But someway or another, he finds that he’s no longer holding their hands. So basically, Shokatsu Ryou is haunted by guilt as he blames himself for losing his siblings. As such, he’s unable to bring himself to face the rest of his family and kept his distance – even when his older brother (serving Son Ken) tries to approach him. Even though they say that it’s not his fault given the circumstances, Shokatsu Ryou starts to doubt himself. Whether he intentionally let go of their hands so as to escape faster and ensure his own safety. Due to this, he sees himself nothing like a kind person – which the Maozoku once commented of him.
We also learn later on that after Shokatsu Ryou had lost his younger siblings, he himself was cornered by soldiers. However, a mysterious Maozoku saved him. His life was previously saved by a Maozoku, hence Shokatsu Ryou felt indebted to their kind which in turn explains his reason for helping them. Another reason was that he saw his past self in Ryuu Bi – frustrated at his own helplessness. So him helping Ryuu Bi is like helping his past self.
As Kan U interacts more with Shokatsu Ryou, they start to approve of each other’s strengths and to trust each other. To Kan U, he saved the Maozoku. To Shokatsu Ryou, she’s an incredibly strong fighter albeit (in his words) slow, irrational, dense etc. He also finds Kan U the opposite of him, since she readily sacrifices herself for others. The first time he had passed out on the battlefield, it was Kan U who saved him too. Despite not approving of her self-sacrificial spirit, it’s ironic how he was saved by that. And so he had told Kan U to leave him be if it happens again. Of course, Kan U refuses.
While Shokatsu Ryou often reminds her to watch her actions since it can jeopardise the Maozoku’s own well-being – and that is after all, her utmost priority. But you can see him opening up to her more, and growing fonder of Kan U. When on their way to negotiate with Son Ken, Kan U remarks that Shokatsu Ryou can easily lie his way through in order to turn things into his favour. Her words obviously trouble him, as he clarifies that not everything he says is a lie. He adds that he wouldn’t be bringing her with him to an important negotiation site if he only saw her as troublesome and useless. In fact, he disguises her as a normal human girl and upon presenting her, everyone else jumps to the conclusion that they’re offering her as a wife to Son Ken. Shokatsu Ryou leads them on, only to reveal that she’s a strong Maozoku warrior – proving to them that they shouldn’t only see things as they are on the surface. Just like with Sou Sou offering to form an alliance with Go. In fact, it’s pretty much a surrender treaty.
When the alliance is formed, Shokatsu Ryou warns her that it will break off once they defeat Sou Sou. Though Son Ken and Shuu Yu may support them, the rest of the Go officials don’t. They need to always think of the worst case scenario possible. Kan U sees his reasoning, and admits that her idealism does come off as irresponsible words. But Shokatsu Ryou says that there is no need for her to become like him – she can remain the way she is, he’ll do the doubting for her. In fact, her wanting to believe in others is her good point. When Shuu Yu often flirts with her, Shokatsu Ryou would interrupt and either send her or Shuu Yu off elsewhere.
As the game progresses, you also see Shokatsu Ryou growing more concerned with Kan U. In one of her practices, Kan U accidentally injures herself. Witnessing this, Shokatsu Ryou demands on treating her injury – even to the point of asking her to strip so that he can check that she’s fine elsewhere. While Kan U’s overwhelmed by embarrassment, he sees scars everywhere on her body – proof of her protecting her kind. He, on the other hand, has not a single mark. He takes it upon himself not to let her form anymore scars. When Shokatsu Ryou has to prove their worth in the alliance in three days, Kan U worries and thinks of marrying Son Ken after all to strengthen the alliance. Her words infuriate him, exclaiming that she need not go so far in sacrificing herself. Later though, he apologises for his outburst but tells her to just trust him – to which Kan U agrees. After all, he’s kept them alive all this time. You start to see Shokatsu Ryou investing his feelings in Kan U. At one point he admits that he didn’t like Kan U at first. She never listened to him and always spoiled Ryuu Bi. Moreover she always sacrificed herself without thinking twice – but he was irritated by it precisely ‘cos it was something he couldn’t do. But now he has come to trust and rely on her.
The turning point comes when the battle between them (allied with Go) and Sou Sou come to a stalemate. Even though the Go army are adept at fighting on water (or rather boats) and the Maozoku can easily fight as well as they do on land, Sou Sou’s army is too large and their defense gets stronger with each day. There is no way for them to even touch the main boat where Sou Sou is. Go army officials start to grow weak in the knees, saying that they should’ve accepted Sou Sou’s ally offer and start to harbour thoughts of betraying the Maozoku. After witnessing Shokatsu Ryou’s amazing feat of gathering 100,000 in three days, they also see him as a huge threat in the future too. Despite Shuu Yu’s efforts to quell these voices, Shokatsu Ryou knows fully well that the situation is at its breaking point. Unlike the original novel in which other figures were given credit, over here Shokatsu Ryou is the one behind the next strategy. Since it’s rather elaborate, I shall go into detail.
When he’s alone, three Go army officials ambush him. Chou Ryou enters timely and finish them off, but one manages to escape. Apparently he came over to spy on them, but suggests joining hands. And so Shokatsu Ryou proposes to the rest to betray Go, and to surrender to Sou Sou. Naturally, everyone is against this but Shokatsu Ryou reasons that his sole goal is to ensure their safety and that this is the best plan. He knows that it’s ironic since even he can’t trust in himself. But he definitely wants to save those important to him this time no matter what it takes. Ryuu Bi asks for some time to consider and Kan U thinks that this method is wrong. But all Shokatsu Ryou remarks is that someone has to play the role of stating the cold facts, even if it doesn’t sit well with him.
Soon after, Shuu Yu barges in, enraged by the betrayal as heard by the 3rd official who had escaped. Upon Ryuu Bi’s plea, has Shokatsu Ryou locked up instead of killed. Shokatsu Ryou whispers to Kan U to come and see him later. When she does so, she questions his actions but he remains tight-lipped and asks her if she trusts him no matter what. He’s sure that her image of him must be terrible now, and he’s afraid of how she’d look of him from now on. But despite that, he doesn’t change his mind as long as he can save them. Honestly, this becomes a key issue since it pretty much determines the good vs. bad end so be careful!
All along, Kan U has mentioned that she trusts Shokatsu Ryou since he always placed the Maozoku’s interests first and acted for them. When he confided his past in her and said that he doubts himself, she answered that she would trust him in his place too and persuades him to look forward. So even though his keyword is 傷, I feel that the trust between them is an equally important issue in Shokatsu Ryou’s route. Whenever he admits that he is unless on the battlefield since he is unable to fight, Kan U would reply that he has his own ways of protecting them – with his brilliant mind and words. After all, that was how he convinced Son Ken to form the alliance with them etc. So when you think of him pairing up with Kan U, they seriously make the strongest couple.
But back to the story! Chou Ryou interrupts the scene and knocks Kan U unconscious as she protests further. Apparent Shokatsu Ryou has already agreed to ally, and so he and Kan U are brought by Chou Ryou to Sou Sou. Naturally everyone is suspicious of Shokatsu Ryou’s true intentions, and so Shokatsu Ryou offers to aid them by coming up with a proposal to give them the upper hand. Sou Sou’s army is not only made up of his own men, but the remains of En Shou, En Jutsu’s and Ryuu Hou’s armies. But he is unwilling to use Ryuu Hou’s army, whom are equally adept at fighting on water, due to their low morale. As for his own men, they are still finding trouble fighting on water due to the shaky grounds and seasickness. Shokatsu Ryou suggests using iron chains to link the ships so that it will be less rocky. This not only lets his men fight better, as if they were on land, but will strengthen their defense. The proposal sounds favourable so Sou Sou decides to give the go-ahead. Shokatsu Ryou’s only condition is for the Maozoku’s safety and for Sou Sou to give them Kei Shuu. He gestures to Kan U, saying that once they know that she’s missing – the Maozoku would be willing to surrender and promises to bring Shuu Yu’s head. If Sou Sou deems him as unnecessary after the battle is over, he can kill him anytime.
Bad End: Hearing all this, Kan U panics as she believes that Shokatsu Ryou is really on Sou Sou’s side and is doing this for their sake – to make sure the Maozoku are safe. She thinks that they’ve relied on Shokatsu Ryou too much, that they wound up in such an extreme situation. When Sou Sou calls for her, Kan U tries to attack him despite Shokatsu Ryou’s warnings. It backfires and she ends up getting stabbed. Shokatsu Ryou holds her in his arms, questioning why she did not choose to believe in him. He only did everything to make sure the Maozoku stay alive – so what point is there if she isn’t too? He begs her not to let go of his hand, but Kan U can no longer answer him.
Good End: Kan U is devastated to hear this – how could they betray Go after all that happened? But at the same time she doesn’t want to believe that Shokatsu Ryou is really cooperating with Sou Sou. As she remains under watchful eyes, Shokatsu Ryou is given freedom to move about and oversee the operations. Before the Battle of Red Cliffs, Sou Sou recites a poem as he’s in a good mood. Shokatsu Ryou remarks that the last verse does not sound auspicious for it appears to hint that his army will lose their footing after he had headed south.
Soon, they receive word that the Maozoku has come to surrender. On their ship, Shuu Yu is tied up and obviously injured. Kan U tears up at this sight, but Shokatsu Ryou whispers to her to believe in him till the end. When they demand for him to be killed, the Maozoku attack Sou Sou instead. Utilising the jumpboards Shokatsu Ryou previously made for them, the Maozoku wear straw vests and light it on fire. As they jump towards Sou Sou’s fleet, they remove the vests to set the ships on fire. Since the ships are chained, Sou Sou’s men are unable to disperse and the fire easily spreads as Shokatsu Ryou had secretly placed straw soaked with oil on Sou Sou’s ships too. Realising that it was all a trap, Kakou Ton chases after Shokatsu Ryou. This was Shokatsu Ryou’s plan from the start – only he, Shuu Yu, Chou Un and Ryuu Bi knew of this.
He escapes with Kan U, and they soon find themselves cornered by Kakou Ton and Kakou En. Kan U knows that there is little time left till Shokatsu Ryou will pass out, and readies herself to face the cousins. Shokatsu Ryou sees that it’s a disadvantageous situation, for they need to escape the burning ship soon. He taunts Kakou Ton by likening the situation to a chaining of the lion, and the Maozoku being the bugs that will chew the lion inside-out. As he asks Kan U to let him fight with a sword this once too, he continues to provoke Kakou Ton – that he’d planned all of this from the start, even before he met Sou Sou. The goal is a simple one – Sou Sou’s life. He asks if he should’ve left Sou Sou’s side as a bell sounds, hinting that the Maozoku must have defeated him. Unwillingly, Kakou Ton orders Kakou En to retreat to Sou Sou’s side. Of course, it ends up being a lie for him to drive them away. In the end, he did indeed protect her with his own method.
As Shokatsu Ryou passes out, Kan U promises to be by his side when he next wakes up. She safely escapes with him as they emerge victorious against Sou Sou. In his dream, Shokatsu Ryou apologises for letting go of his siblings’ hands. But he wakes up to find himself gripping Kan U’s hand tightly. She tells him to believe in himself, as she explains that he never once let go of her hand. Shokatsu Ryou is thankful that he got to see her face again, he was afraid that he wouldn’t. He admits that he isn’t able to control himself as well when he’s by her side – but he doesn’t mind it. With this defeat, Sou Sou retreats from the borders of Go.
Before they leave, they say their farewells. When Shuu Yu flirts with Kan U again, Shokatsu Ryou firmly replies that Kan U is his. But if it weren’t for Shuu Yu’s cooperation, the plan would’ve failed. He thanks Shuu Yu for saving his life again, hinting that Shuu Yu was the one who’d saved him before. He also goes to find his older brother, admitting that he wasn’t able to believe in himself till now. But thanks to Kan U, he can start to try and move forward.
They sail off to Kei Shuu, having found a place to build their own country. Kan U is still in awe of how Shokatsu Ryou thought so far ahead – from becoming allies with Go to defeating Sou Sou to gaining Kei Shuu. Surely she couldn’t have done it. He answers sarcastically to not compare her brain with his, unlike her he’s always thinking of what will happen ahead of time. Hearing this, Kan U thinks of how to trip Shokatsu Ryou up and surprises him with a kiss. She’s amused to see his alarmed reaction, but he turns the tables against her by kissing her back. He refuses to let her go, asking her to always remain by his side. The couple promise to always trust and support each other.
Considering that this is just one of the many routes to come (and it’s a new character), I thought that Shokatsu Ryou’s route was pretty enjoyable. His behaviour is abrasive at first, but he speaks with reason and he constantly saves the Maozoku. So his actions really speak I guess. I liked seeing how Kan U grew on him, and how he would look out for her without her actually knowing. So basically, I could see how Shokatsu Ryou grew to develop feelings for Kan U – but I’m not sure how it worked out for Kan U. Perhaps I missed something? So yeah, I like this couple but I’m still a bit confused as to how Kan U went from seeing Shokatsu Ryou as their saviour, to someone she loved. I could see how she came to trust him as one of them, but then to someone she loved? Hmm.
Maybe I’m nit-picking but that’s just my opinion. I think it’s good that the end made me curious about Shuu Yu (hinting that he was the one who saved Shokatsu Ryou) since I’ll be playing his route next!
And my review is kind of all over the place, but I’m just happy to have posted this omg. I hoped it made sense and that you came to like Shokatsu Ryou as much as I did. Though he doesn’t look like it, he’s actually pretty touchy-feel-y with Kan U by the end of the game. Ever since then, Shokatsu Ryou would always treat her wounds and inspect Kan U thoroughly to check if she has anymore scars – exactly in the same manner as he did the first time so /o\ I also couldn’t include all of Momozono scenes, and the humourous scenes – such as the rest of the Maozoku making a lot of fun of Shuu Yu and how he’s older than them.
By the way, the bonus content in this game is neat. Besides the usual stuff as in the previous game, we also get the sub-characters commenting on different topics. It’s like the Sangoku Kouhoubu on the official website with the main characters talking about different topics. Shokatsu Ryou’s route unlocked Kan Tei and Chou Sosou’s commentary and it’s hilarious (and voiced). \o/