Sakurai Ruka from Tokimeki Memorial GS3

I'm a shameless Tokimeki Memorial GS fangirl and I'd played both GS3's predecessors before it came out. The previous games were fun, albeit a bit cheesy and dated (everyone looks like they walked out of a 90s anime) but TMGS3 boasted many new and updated features prior to its release. But nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster ride that GS3 was going to be. Or the Premium version later released on the PSP, which put me on that roller coaster a second god damn time, with even more ways to terrorize your various love interests. I watched the news of the game roll out as the day closer and closer to the release date came. Let me preface this with a statement: I never planned to fall in love with Ruka. His design didn't appeal to me whatsoever. Even worse, I laughed when I found out he was going to be voiced by Sugita Tomokazu. Yes, THAT Sugita Tomokazu. If you were anything like me at the time you knew him for his more comedic roles and did not expect him to exactly fit the "Tokimemo Prince" steoreotype. Or any sort of prince, for that matter.

Boy was I wrong in that assumption. After all, every girl who plays otome games will eventually find her prince charming. For the first time in my otome gaming history I was going to fall scrape-your-knees and break-open-your-skull-because-you-didn't-wear-a-helmet hard for a character.

"What makes a guy's heart throb when he's with a girl? Are we... talking about something naughty?"

Ruka reminds me a lot of what you think of when you consider a cat: adorable but incredibly weird, super mischievous, comes and goes as he pleases. (Based on quite a few of his CGs he'd also probably land on his feet jumping from the roof of a building!) He and his older brother, Kouichi, are the childhood friends of the heroine (lovingly referred to as Bambi). Ruka's definitely the oddball of the two brothers: he loves super sentai, hotcakes (the only food he can cook), and being in high places. He's a hopeless flirt and a little bit of a pervert (much to the dismay of Bambi), and is generally known around the school to be stealing people's lunch food and up to no good. However, even though there seems to be something a little bit off about him, he's generally well liked by everyone.

Ruka is a pretty stark contrast against the former TMGS princes: rather than your typical TMGS tsundere, he absolutely adores Bambi, and isn't afraid to tease her mercilessly for it. Fall for Ruka during your first playthrough and expect to feel guilty through all your others because he's a total sweetheart. Sugita definitely silenced my laughter with this role: while I wasn't expecting anything "princely" to come out of that goofball, Ruka really brings out an incredibly tender side of Sugita you wouldn't expect. If you're into "class clown" types like I am, Ruka will definitely be your type! However, he's definitely more than meets the eye. As he gets closer to Bambi he becomes all the more protective of her and you learn more about the inner demons that lurk beneath his carefree smile. Believe me when I say that Ruka's the kind of character who will break your damn heart when you see the sadness in his eyes!

I've played TMGS3 a disgusting amount of times and Ruka's route probably 10x as much as anybody else's. Konami could re-release TMGS3 a third time and I wouldn't even be mad it wasn't a proper sequel if it meant I could be with Ruka in a new, gimmicky way. So thanks Konami, for introducing me to my otome game Prince Charming, and successfully ruining every other otome game route I'll play after his. ;__; (This game is over half a decade old now and I still weigh otome game characters next to Ruka.)