My summer internship at my new place just started and I’m in the process of trying to get used to… EVERYTHING… starting from learning how to take the right buses to which streets of the city will not let me live to see another day. \o/ My commenting rate will slow down a lot, so I hope you’ll bear with me!
Koujaku is Aoba’s childhood friend, though they didn’t grow up together: Koujaku left Midorijima for a short while after having gotten to know Aoba, and it has been relatively recent since he’s moved back. Despite this, Koujaku has an understanding of Aoba, and Aoba of him, that allows them a very comfortable and open companionship. Koujaku looks out for Aoba as something akin to an older brother. The main source of conflict in Koujaku’s route is how to maintain friendships and trust as individuals grow apart.
If only Koujaku was a pop star and not a hairdresser I could have just plugged this song and I would have been done with the post, but alas.
For the portion of the common route that this branches off of from, please refer to this post.
Koujaku tells Aoba that he pushes himself too much. He can’t help but worry about Aoba, what with him getting involved with Ruff Rabbit, Weirdo Gas Mask-kun and Scratch’s leader, but reassures him that he won’t ever think of Aoba differently in spite of his powers. Aoba thanks Koujaku for trying to comfort him in his own way.
Aoba is sleeping when Virus calls him to warn him that the police are about to arrest him on charges of being a terrorist. The group gathered at Aoba’s place scatters as they make their escape. After Koujaku and Aoba successfully evade Akujima, they both get a Silent Oath game demo sent to their inboxes. Aoba obtains the invitation to Platinum Jail after running it. Haga follows up with an email that tells them where they can enter Platinum Jail from.
The obnoxious panda mascot they meet at the entrance directs them to an area named Flame Willow. As soon as they enter, two women approach them and invite them to a party they were just heading to. Koujaku seems to be bothered by something on one of the womens’ neck, but doesn’t explain anything to Aoba as he leaves him behind wearing his pimp hat. Koujaku tells Aoba they should gather information separately, but that obviously just sounds like an excuse to him. He can’t help but be disappointed in Koujaku for playing around with women even at a time like this. After some time wandering around, Aoba makes his way back to the inn designated to them.
Koujaku gets back rather late. He enters the inn with a cloudy expression, but tries to mask it before Aoba – who decides to just let it go. Aoba grows annoyed when Koujaku reveals that he didn’t gather notable information from his pimp trip and their conversation escalates into an argument, but things eventually settle and they head off to sleep.
Aoba wakes from a sound in the entryway, just in time to see Koujaku sneak out. When he tags him, he comes upon a building which turns out to be a closed club (restricted to members). Aoba can’t get inside until some fashion terrorist who just HAPPENS to pass by has VIP prowess; he helps Aoba get past the bouncer and even gives him an extra membership card he had on hand.
Aoba however gets extremely sick from the lights pulsating throughout the club. The lights are a new form of drugs / hallucinogens designed to get people high; unfortunately, Aoba is having a terrible trip. He ends up collapsing on the floor and some douchebags that find him in their way almost abuse him, but Koujaku comes to his rescue. Aoba feels so sick at this point that he throws up, and some of the bile even ends up on Koujaku’s kimono. Koujaku paying it absolutely no heed, however, and even piggybacks Aoba all the way home since he can’t stand by himself. Koujaku’s kindness makes Aoba feel extremely guilty about having secretly trailed him.
At home, Koujaku asks why Aoba was there and how he got in. When Aoba explains, not forgetting to mention the creeper he met outside, Koujaku seems extremely disturbed and firmly tells Aoba to never get near that place again. They get into a little argument since Koujaku won’t explain to Aoba the meaning behind his actions.
When Aoba awakes a little while after, he decides to go to apologize to Koujaku. He hears that Koujaku is in the bathroom, likely washing the kimono off, and peeks inside to make sure he’s able to talk. Through the crack in the door, Aoba sees an elaborate tattoo and scars all over Koujaku’s back. Aoba remembers that Koujaku didn’t have those before he left Midorijima, then grows a bit unsettled that there is such a large part of Koujaku that he doesn’t know about despite being childhood friends. He quietly leaves without saying anything.
Koujaku himself goes to talk to Aoba about what transpired the day before, but Aoba can’t quite pretend everything is normal between them. He tells Koujaku that has trouble trusting him and asks him to explain what he is hiding. Koujaku tells him what he’s hiding is something that he can’t reveal “at all costs,” but asks him to believe that there is no falsehood in his feelings of wanting to protect him.
When Aoba sleeps afterwards, he sees a dream of a long time ago when Koujaku kept him company as he cried with worry over Tae, who still hadn’t shown up three hours past the time promised. Aoba thinks that after Koujaku and he became adults, they’ve lost the ability to trust in each other completely, since adults obviously consider and think a lot more than children do. He however decides to trust that Koujaku’s desire to protect him is unchanged.
news reports that there has been an angel sighting in midorijima
Aoba tries knocking on Koujaku’s door to talk to him, but he is gone. He decides to go looking for him, but with a different mindset from when he tailed him before: Aoba gets an unsettling feeling that if Koujaku is left to his own devices, something bad will happen to him.
Aoba runs into the creeper in front of the club again briefly, though he tries to keep their talk short by saying how he’s just looking for someone today and he has no business inside. The other guy chatters pleasantly on until he suddenly pauses, seemingly spotting something over Aoba’s shoulder, then yet again pleeeeeasantly, excuses himself. Ren tells Aoba that he could tell Beni was around here until very recently, so Aoba continues his search around the area. He only returns home when it starts pouring outside.
Koujaku returns a little while later after him, but completely wet. Aoba hurries to help him dry off, but Koujaku suddenly grabs him and pushes him down on the bed, demanding what he talked about with that guy. He starts acting like a completely different person, gnawing at Aoba’s neck and licking his ear, and although Aoba resists, Koujaku simply pushes him down again and snakes his hand up Aoba’s shirt. Koujaku sticks his tongue into Aoba’s ear as he snakes his hand down further and strokes Aoba. Aoba recalls the creeper’s words from that day, that he’s “defenseless” so he “might just get… devoured by someone he trusts.” Aoba’s Other persona tells him to destroy Koujaku if he hates this, but Aoba resists him. The Other tells him to do so with increasing intensity… and Aoba ends up using his voice to tell Koujaku to stop. Koujaku stops immediately as Aoba’s fist moves on its own to punch him.
Koujaku won’t say anything to explain himself, however, not even as he gets up and leaves the room. Aoba thinks about how the Scrap told him to crush Koujaku, but even without using it, their bond might have already been destroyed by what transpired tonight. His last thought is that despite whatever the Other’s voice said, he doesn’t want to lose his relationship with Koujaku.
Aoba takes a walk outside to try to forget what happened. Outside the club, Aoba meets the guy… again… who tells Aoba to return home quickly since it’s raining. Aoba however tells him he doesn’t to, leading the stranger to invite him inside for a warm drink at least. Since this man seems connected to Koujaku in some way, Aoba hesitantly complies, thinking that he might be able to learn something about Koujaku. The creeper pulls Aoba close to him under his umbrella on their way inside… UNNECESSARY.
The man introduces himself as Ryuuhou, a Tattooist. Aoba recognizes the biggest design on the wall, but can’t quite place it (which is ridiculous if you consider what the cause of all these problems in this route is lmfao \o/). Ryuuhou offers to tattoo Aoba if he wants one, leading Aoba to ask him why he’s so kind to him. Ryuuhou “jokes” that it was love at first sight (he’s so not jfc), then reveals it’s because he sensed Aoba’s powers within him. He can sense a harmony of reason and destruction mingled inside Aoba, and draws an analogy to his own tattoos: each stroke, designed in a calculated manner, that once put on allows Ryuuhou to distort or taint the human canvas. Aoba suddenly feels the effects of a sedative kick in, likely mixed into his tea. The last words he hears from Ryuuhou before he passes out is how interested he is in Aoba and the distorting potential of his tattoos compounded with Aoba’s powers.
Aoba comes to himself bound and Ryuuhou gleefully towering over him. He happily leaves to get some tools he’ll need, during which REN COMES TO THE RESCUE with Koujaku in tow. \o/! When Ryuuhou returns, he toys with Koujaku, pretending not to know him until Koujaku pulls his bangs from the right side of his face to reveal a tattoo. Ryuuhou continues provoking Koujaku until he’s about to unleash his inner hulk, then… makes a run for it lmfao. Aoba, sensing that letting Koujaku go after Ryuuhou would have terrible consequences, clings to him to physically restrain him from chasing after Ryuuhou. Aoba ends up using his voice to force Koujaku to calm him down.
Koujaku’s Lib members then come to their aid, revealing they were able to sneak inside Platinum Jail due to laxer security as part of the preparation for the major event. They inform Koujaku that a few of them are tailing Ryuuhou now, so they all relocate to a warehouse as they wait for a report.
Once Aoba and Koujaku are left alone, the atmosphere is awkward, with neither knowing what to say or how to start talking. Koujaku speaks up first and apologizes for what he did. Aoba thinks he can’t be the one receiving from Koujaku all the time, and tells him directly that he wants to hear more about him – all the sides of him that he doesn’t know anymore – rather than waiting for him to open up, and convincing himself that he was being “understanding” of Koujaku’s reasons. Koujaku seems to understand and starts answering by explaining that he didn’t want to drag Aoba into his issues, and that a part of him was afraid of Aoba finding out about this side of him at all.
Koujaku says that when he left Midorijima, he was going back to his real home: the yaukza. He originally ran away with his mother to Midorijima to escape group succession, but was eventually called back. During that time, his father forcibly tattooed him – via Ryuuhou. Koujaku had since been looking all over for him, and explains that one of the two women that approached them when they first came to Platinum Jail had been sporting one of Ryuuhou’s tattoos on her neck. This is the agenda behind Koujaku’s suspicious behavior the entire time they had been inside. Koujaku is furious because Ryuuhou had a hand in his mother’s death, on top of being a bastard who will sacrifice anything for his “art” and trying to do something to Aoba.
Koujaku tells Aoba he doesn’t want to drag him into his vendetta, but Aoba calls him an idiot. Koujaku had always been there for him to rely on when he was little, but this time, he’s going to return the favor. Koujaku laughs because he was the one that told Aoba to tell him anything when they first infiltrated Platinum Jail, and Aoba answers they’re the same when it comes to not handling their own issues very well. Koujaku also admits that he was surprised when he saw Aoba grown up so much after returning to Midorijima, because there stood an Aoba he did not know before him. Aoba says that he, on the contrary, thought Koujaku hadn’t changed at all; he was still the hero he could rely on.
They do a handshake per their usual make up ritual, which entails Koujaku telling him, “don’t lose.” Koujaku notices a red mark on Aoba’s neck akin to a needle prick then, but his question about it goes unanswered as a member of Koujaku’s group interrupts to inform them Ryuuhou escaped to the Toue tower. Everyone decides to head there and brawl their way inside. An email to Aoba from Entrapped Princess saying “the key of the heart opens all,” consequently opens the door inside for them.
Aoba wonders why Koujaku’s group members told them to head to the top floor, but they find Ryuuhou up there soon enough. Koujaku flies into rage because Ryuuhou is Ryuuhou. Aoba tries to stop him, but Koujaku’s team members get the same glossy look as Mizuki and restrain him instead. Ryuuhou explains that he prickled Benishigure members and Aoba with a drug that leaves them vulnerable to his control, the latter especially since he wanted Aoba ever since laying his eyes on him.
Koujaku says he’ll never forgive him, but Ryuuhou only laughs in his face and reminds him of the danger of letting his anger get to him now that he (and his tattoo) have matured into adulthood… only to deliberately call him, “matricide Koujaku” immediately afterwards. Koujaku loses all his fucking marbles and essentially becomes a red hulk. His tattoo extends down his body while turning crimson.
Ryuuhou explains that Toue scouted him and asked if he wouldn’t consider using tattoos as means to control people. He decided to test this on Koujaku, making him Ryuuhou’s first research rat. Ryuuhou’s tattoo apparently feeds on Koujaku’s anger, growing bigger and bigger doing so until it can swallow and fuse with Koujaku’s heart completely. Case in point, feral Koujaku kills Ryuuhou with a sword clean through his back. Ryuuhou, killed by his life’s masterpiece, laughs in delight as he dies.
Having lost all reason, Koujaku begins attacking Aoba. The Other Aoba surfaces in his mind and compels Aoba to use Scrap to enter Koujaku’s mind.
Aoba finds himself in a yakuza home, and eventually comes upon a scene of young Koujaku being tattooed.
Other trippy things happen, like the black coil-like substance that hounded Aoba as he made his way here cocooning Koujaku, masses of blood conglomerating into Ryuuhou’s shape which Aoba scatters, et cetera. Adult Koujaku eventually appears and starts explaining what transpired on this night. Koujaku had passed out in the middle of the tattooing from the pain, and when he woke up, everyone around him had been cut and covered in blood – including the sword he held in his very hands. Most clan members recovered, since despite the weapon, Koujaku had after all been a child… with the exception of his mother.
Koujaku says he wanted to kill himself then and there, but images of Aoba’s smiling face in his mind stopped him. As much as he wanted to die, he wanted to live just as much. Koujaku made the decision to move back to Midorijima to go see Aoba again, to take himself back to a time before all this happened. But of course, he found traces of Ryuuhou there, reminding him that he could never run from his past. His mentality thereafter was that if he was going to hell anyway, he would seize this one last revenge.
Aoba’s Other starts acting up again, so channeling him, Aoba uses Scrap to destroy this Koujaku that is bound by his past. Seemingly back in reality, Aoba tells Koujaku everything is over, then suddenly clings to him; there is no need for words, as Aoba understands everything about him. Koujaku asks if he can embrace, kiss, then touch Aoba, who repeats that he can do anything he wishes.
If Aoba fails to convey to Koujaku “don’t lose,” Koujaku slowly grows mad from Aoba relentlessly offering himself to him despite this not being what he truly wants. He loses all reason and becomes a full-fledged monster.
In the aftermath, Toue takes him and locks him up in the basement of the tower to keep him from running everyone through. Aoba, meanwhile, is overrun with guilt with having broken Koujaku since what pushed him past the point of no return was Scrap’s failure. Aoba’s Other, or destruction personified, takes over his weakened will and surfaces at last.
Toue has successfully brainwashed Midorijima and established itself as an independent country. The new Aoba does Toue’s bidding from the shadows, since he finds pleasure in destroying reason of people. The scene at present shows Aoba making a visit to Koujaku’s cell, like he makes sure to everyday. Koujaku’s entire hair as well as the markings on his body have grown red, and the way he behaves is far from the Koujaku Aoba had known. This new Aoba, however, loves this Koujaku, the one that has forsaken all reason, much more. He whispers to Koujaku that he is his, just as he wished.
Aoba conveys to Koujaku to not lose – he shouldn’t remain “here.” The “real” world, or rather, the illusion of, shatters at Aoba’s words and the two find themselves back inside the yakuza mansion of Koujaku’s mind. Aoba tells Koujaku firmly that he can’t erased the past. He has sinned, and that is a fact. If Koujaku were to die, it would be a way for him to run away and free himself from the pain, but what of the people that would be left behind, like Aoba and Benishigure? Aoba persuades him that the only thing he can do is live on with what he did. Everyone, or rather, him especially, will be there for Koujaku and remain steadfast in his belief in him.
Aoba truly destroys the Koujaku shackled by his past. The Other Aoba tells Aoba that it’s over – Aoba is over, that is. The tower begins collapsing as Aoba’s headaches reach a climax, and Aoba tries to hurry everyone ahead with the intent to stay behind. He can feel that his powers will go out of control (after tipping the balance between him and the Other by using Scrap on Koujaku) and eventually destroy everybody, but Koujaku of course won’t stand for it. As they try to escape, they sense someone watching them, but decide to prioritize getting to safety first.
At the tower’s collapse, the Toue conglomerate becomes defunct and everyone more or less returns to their daily lives. Koujaku had slept for three full days after the escape to recover physically. It’s been a week since then and Aoba hadn’t seen him at all, but that day, Koujaku drops by during Aoba’s work break and asks if he could come over that night. He wants to talk over everything slowly.
Koujaku likes the dinner that Aoba makes him and they both head on over to Aoba’s room. However, unlike usual, Koujaku doesn’t start conversation; he simply sits next to Aoba on the bed and just sort of stares at his feet. After their several failed attempts at speaking, the atmosphere getting so awkward that it made me want to punch my hand through my monitor to try and feel the THICKNESS, Koujaku asks Aoba to listen to his story. (FFX.jpg) In Platinum Jail, he focused only on hunting Ryuuhou down without getting others involved. When he first returned to Midorijima, however, he swore to himself that he wanted to protect Aoba. Koujaku apologizes for having failing to do that, but Aoba apologizes back to him for thinking of only himself and getting upset at the prospect Koujaku was hiding something from him.
Koujaku says he’s been thinking about a lot of things from when he came back to Midorijima until now, and one thing he realized was that head is full of Aoba. Regarding the incident at Glitter (the inn) where he was not totally himself, the fact that he acted out in that way perhaps meant that he had subconsciously wanted to touch Aoba all along. He finds girls attractive and feels attracted to them normally, and he thinks of Aoba as a good friend, so this should be ridiculous, but Koujaku confesses that he found Aoba’s expression as he lay listening to his music erotic (remember when Aoba collapses after the Rhyme confrontation and the MYSTERIOUS NOISE HE DISMISSES… it was Koujaku unknowingly walking in on him \p/) Koujaku says that he’s tried to suppress it, but it kept coming back, which attests to how strong his feelings must be. He says… he’s fallen for Aoba, and that he loves him. He asks what Aoba feels for him.
Aoba thinks that his answer was decided as Koujaku told his story. Sexy timezzzzz.
Their sex is really playful and the pinnacle of SEISHUN EXPLOSION as Koujaku gets a nosebleed from getting turned on so much lmfao what the fuck. Afterwards, Koujaku asks Aoba if he would let him fulfill his childhood dream of cutting his hair. Since the sense of pain had left Aoba’s hair for the most part after Toue’s fall, Aoba complies.
Three months later, Aoba wakes up in Koujaku’s bed via Koujaku’s tickle attack. \o/ Since they have been friends for so long, their comfortable companionship / relationship hasn’t changed that much. They have an adorable conversation about how they were each other’s firsts (for guys) and how Koujaku had preserved the portion of Aoba’s hair he cut like a… relic……… ok.
I remember thinking that Koujaku will feel very different compared to Clear and Noiz just as I was starting his route, since the former two have the tendency to get under Aoba’s skin by just being themselves. Their natural personalities made for naturally hilarious scenarios. Koujaku, on the other hand, is a bona fide good guy, so even as Aoba was having trust issues, as a player I never doubted that Koujaku didn’t have Aoba’s best interests at heart. This made me a little annoyed that the aforementioned CAN I TRUST YOU storyline was such a big focus here, since I don’t even like them in general / in any context. My rationale is that everything would be solved if they would just talk it out; no need to drag out the issue for the entirety of the route as a lot of VN’s are privy to. DMMd doesn’t necessarily fall into that trap, but just THIS STORYLINE…
Anyway, my dislike for the theme aside, I do adore the childhood friend trope and Koujaku and Aoba’s relationship wasn’t an exception. ;; It was sweet that despite Aoba looking up to Koujaku like an older brother, Aoba isn’t afraid to speak his mind with him. The relationship dynamic is casual and playful, even after they change from being just friends, which I thought was adorable. The nosebleed scene was mostly a source of facepalm for me since it’s such an overused cliche, but other than that, I actually liked what it stood for – the SEISHUN. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
In hindsight, though, Koujaku as a character by himself was not my favorite. Him learning not to run away from his issues was a big development point for him, which is a trait that I generally have little patience for. Granted, his issues are not something someone could overcome easily; just that RELATIVELY speaking, compared to some of the other characters in DMMd, Koujaku didn’t resonate as much with me. Fundamentally, I think the writers meant to set Koujaku up as a reliable, older brother character, then purposely wrote in aspects of him that would be considered “uncool” to break that image so as to equalize him with Aoba. Some people like characters like this, while others can’t help but make fun of them (Kula and me). In the end I believe it all comes down to personal preference. \o/ I enjoyed Koujaku’s route to be sure, but Clear and Noiz rank higher than him as a character by a landslide for me.