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Hatoful Boyfriend

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Hatoful Boyfriend
Hatoful Boyfriend cover.jpg
Japanese CD-ROM cover of the original full version of the game
Developer(s) PigeoNation Inc.
Publisher(s) MIST[PSI]PRESS
Devolver Digital
Director(s) Moa Hato
Producer(s) Moa Hato
Writer(s) Moa Hato
Engine FamousWriter
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux (remake only), PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release date(s) Free version
  • JP July 31, 2011
Plus version
  • JP August 14, 2011
Full version
  • JP October 30, 2011 (CD-ROM)
  • JP April 13, 2014 (download)
  • WW February 15, 2012
  • WW September 4, 2014
PS4, PS Vita
  • WW Q2 2015[1]
Genre(s) Visual novel, dating simulation, otome game, nakige
Mode(s) Single-player

Hatoful Boyfriend: A School of Hope and White Wings (Japanese: はーとふる彼氏〜希望の学園と白い翼〜 Hepburn: Hātofuru Kareshi: Kibō no Gakuen to Shiroi Tsubasa?) is a Japanese dōjin soft otome visual novel released in 2011 for Microsoft Windows and OS X. It was developed by manga artist Moa Hato's dōjin circle PigeoNation Inc., and is the successor of a Flash game of the same name she created for April Fools' Day in 2011. A free demo version of Hatoful made with the FamousWriter engine was released later that year, followed by a full commercial version released on October 30, 2011 at COMITIA 98, and an English version released through digital distribution in February 2012. An international remake by developer Mediatonic and publisher Devolver Digital was released on September 4, 2014 for Windows, OS X, and Linux. The game will be ported to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Q2 2015.[2]

Hatoful Boyfriend is an interactive text-based visual novel that follows a branching plot line, with the player's decisions determining which of the game's multiple endings they receive. The title is a pun on the wasei-eigo word hātofuru (ハートフル?, "heartful", also "hurtful"[3]), and the Japanese word hato (?, "pigeon", "dove"), as the game features pigeons and other birds as major characters. The game is set in a version of Earth populated by sapient birds, and its main story follows the player character and protagonist—the only human attending St. PigeoNation's Institute, an elite school for birds—as she finds love among her avian acquaintances.[4] Bad Boys Love, a hidden alternate story mode, opens with the discovery of the protagonist's corpse, after which the player follows her best friend Ryouta Kawara as he investigates the circumstances of her death and unravels darker conspiracies surrounding the school.

Hatoful Boyfriend received generally positive reception; reviewers praised the game's characterization and surprisingly complex story, while repetitive gameplay and the length of individual routes received a more mixed response. A sequel, Hatoful Boyfriend HolidayStar, was released on December 29, 2011, with an English version being released on Christmas Day the following year. In addition to the main games in the series, Hatoful Boyfriend has made transitions into other media: a monthly webcomic was serialized in the anthology Manga Life WIN+, several supplementary materials and official dōjin works have been released, and four drama CDs based on the series have been made. An episodic web series began in 2014.


A bird, Ryouta, flirting with the player in the original version (top) and the 2014 remake (bottom). The in-game date is shown in the top left, and the arrow button in the top right allows the player to skip dialogue.

Gameplay in Hatoful Boyfriend is similar to most other visual novels for the PC, with the controls limited to the mouse and the only interactions being clicking to forward the game's narrative or to choose between multiple plot choices. The keyboard can also be used instead of the mouse, with the 'enter' key serving the same purpose as clicking. The save button can be employed at any point during the game, which also features several pages of save slots, allowing gameplay to be easily picked up from prior to a choice the player made. An arrow button in the upper right corner also allows the player to skip dialogue and interactions they have already experienced.[5]

The player assumes control of the protagonist, a teenage human girl. As the game follows a branching plot line with multiple endings, at various points during gameplay the player is allowed to make choices that determine which character's romance route the player will encounter. On weekdays, the player can also choose which classes to attend, which change one of the protagonist's three stats depending on the activity chosen. Having certain stat values are required to obtain the good endings for each love interest and to otherwise advance along certain routes.[6] There are thirteen (fourteen in the 2014 remake) endings in total: one ending for each of the main love interests, three extended endings for three of the love interests based on stat values, one ending for the gaiden-esque Torimi Café storyline, and one ending attained if the player fails to romance any character.[5]

When routes are completed, documents are unlocked that provide insights into the game's overarching storyline. These documents can be viewed at any time in the game's archive feature, which is accessed from the title screen. After obtaining the four specific endings required to trigger it, the player is given a new prompt to either "fulfill the promise" or live "a normal life" upon starting a new game.[5] Choosing to live a normal life will result in a normal playthrough, while choosing to fulfill the promise locks the player into the much darker true route or scenario Bad Boys Love, or BBL (also known as Hurtful Boyfriend[5]), which explores the full extent of the underlying plot alluded to by the documents and various points of foreshadowing in the dating simulation portion of the game. If the player chooses to fulfill the promise, gameplay at first appears to continue normally, aside from several ominous dream sequences—until the in-game date is September 2. The player's perspective then switches from the protagonist to the protagonist's best friend, and the events of the scenario begin regardless of any other choices made by the player up to that point. In a departure from the generally lighthearted romantic routes, Bad Boys Love is presented as a murder mystery psychological thriller with elements of horror, and is significantly longer than any other route in Hatoful Boyfriend, making up most of the game's actual length.[3]

There are several changes to gameplay and the way text is displayed during Bad Boys Love in the original version of the game: saving is disabled except at certain points in the story, the function to skip dialogue and interactions is removed, and plot-important dialogue and narrative are highlighted with colored text; usually yellow, though text of particularly critical importance is highlighted in red. In the 2014 remake's rendition of Bad Boys Love however, the option to save is available at all times, the skip function is retained, and text is no longer highlighted. In both versions, during one character's route and segments of Bad Boys Love, the game's interface and controls change from that of a standard visual novel to similar to that of a 90's-era turn-based role-playing game.[5]



Hatoful Boyfriend is set in an alternate version of Earth in which sapient birds have seemingly taken the place of humans in society for reasons that are hinted at, but not fully explained in the dating simulation portion of the game. In Bad Boys Love, it is revealed that Hatoful is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future—in which a pandemic of a deadly, mutated strain of the H5N1 virus, or bird flu, nearly wipes out mankind in the year 2068.[7][8] The release of a counter-virus, cultivated to destroy the virus' avian carriers in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of the disease, ends up backfiring as birds who resisted the counter-virus instead developed human-level intelligence.[7][9][10] War soon breaks out between the newly uplifted birds and the remnants of humanity, resulting in birds emerging as the planet's new dominant lifeforms as humans continued to succumb to the disease.[7][11] By the year 2100, total human population has dwindled to 140 million virus-resistant individuals from a pre-outbreak height of 10.2 billion in 2068;[7] following several terrorist attacks by a human insurgency, all remaining humans have been forced to live in the wilderness away from civilization in a form of apartheid-like segregation.[12]

Most of the game's story takes place primarily at St. PigeoNation's Institute (聖ピジョネイション学園 Sei Pijoneishon Gakuen?)—a bird-only high school located in the fictional Japanese town of Littledove Hachiman City (小鳩八幡市 Kobato Hachiman-shi?)—long after open warfare between humans and birds has ended.[13] Society has adjusted to the avian conquest, though with minor bird-related cultural changes—for example, while some holidays such as Christmas and Tanabata are celebrated much as they are in the present day, a major event in the game is Legumentine's Day, an amalgamation of the traditions of Valentine's Day and Setsubun.[14] In a more grim case, the terms war dove and war hawk have been re-purposed as labels for two opposing political factions divided over the ongoing mutual hostility between birds and the human minority: the altruistic Dove Party, who advocate for cooperation and peace between the two groups, and the militant Hawk Party, whose goal is to exterminate humanity altogether.[15] By the time Hatoful Boyfriend‍ '​s narrative begins, the Dove Party, the Hawk Party, and their respective schools of thought dominate much of the world's politics.[16]


The primary playable character in Hatoful Boyfriend is the human protagonist, a boisterous hunter-gatherer who lives in a cave in the wilderness. Her eight potential love interests, who together make up the rest of the main cast, are Ryouta Kawara, a rock dove and the protagonist's sickly but hardworking childhood friend;[17] Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane, a fantail pigeon and snobbish French aristocrat;[18] Sakuya's older half-brother Yuuya Sakazaki, a popular and flirtatious but strangely secretive fantail pigeon;[19] Nageki Fujishiro, a quiet, bookish mourning dove who never seems to leave the library;[20] San Oko, an athletic, hyperactive fantail pigeon who is obsessed with pudding;[21] Anghel Higure, an eccentric Luzon bleeding-heart who lives as if he were in some kind of fantasy role-playing game;[22] Kazuaki Nanaki, a kind but narcoleptic button quail and the protagonist's homeroom teacher;[23] Shuu Iwamine, a creepy, antisocial chukar partridge who serves as the school's doctor;[24] and Azami Koshiba, a no-nonsense Java sparrow and takoyaki saleswoman introduced in the expanded re-release.[25]

While most of the characters are normally represented in-game with pictures of birds, if the player toggles on the ICPSS (Intra-Cerebral Playback Synchro System) feature at the start of the game, or NS3 (脳内再生シンクロシステム Nōnai Saisei Shinkuro Shisutemu?) in Japan, each of the possible love interests, when introduced, are shown with a version of what they would look like as a human.[26] Although the ICPSS feature also lists voice credits for each of the main love interests in the original version of the game, the game itself is unvoiced; however most of the voice actors who were credited later signed on to actually voice their respective characters in the drama CDs based on the series.[27]


The events of Hatoful Boyfriend begin in the year 2188,[28] when the protagonist, a teenage human girl invited to attend the prestigious bird-only St. PigeoNation's Institute, starts her second year of high school.[29] After a hectic and surreal freshman year of attendance at St. PigeoNation's, the protagonist has grown accustomed to the confusion of being the only human in a school full of birds, and is looking forward to her sophomore year.[30] The story of the dating simulation portion of the game follows the protagonist, and the inter-species love and hijinks—of both the mundane high school and quasi-anthropomorphic bird-specific varieties—that ensue as she draws the attention of and attempts to romance one of a number of eligible birds she comes in contact with over the course of the year.[5]

Bad Boys Love[edit]

Should the player choose to fulfill the promise, the protagonist begins her sophomore year at St. PigeoNation's largely as normal, but with one exception - she begins to have recurring dreams of her younger self and Ryouta, and her parents lying dead in front of an unfamiliar house. A mysterious man approaches them, promising to grant any wish that they make.[31] On September 2, she decides to check on Ryouta, who had gone to the infirmary earlier that day—the next morning, she fails to show up for class. Kazuaki asks Ryouta to retrieve their class' box of print handouts, and upon retrieving it, blood is discovered leaking from a corner of the box. Ryouta opens the lid, and it is revealed that the box contains the protagonist's severed head.[32] A siren sounds and there is an order to evacuate to the gymnasium, where Ryouta overhears other students mention that more pieces of a human corpse were found in the other print boxes. Doubting the headmaster's explanation of a natural disaster, Sakuya and Ryouta resolve to figure out the identity of the protagonist's killer and leave the gymnasium, discovering a large metal dome surrounding the school.[33] Upon returning to their classroom and finding the box empty, Yuuya explains that the protagonist's body had been gathered in the chemistry lab, where Kazuaki supervises Shuu as he performs an autopsy concluding that the protagonist died of asphyxiation caused by illness or poison with the dismemberment occurring afterwards.[34]

The player's first encounter with Labor 9 during Bad Boys Love. Elements of horror are prevalent throughout the scenario.

Assisted by the school janitor Mister One, and pursued by a grotesque scarecrow-like being named Labor 9[35] who suddenly appears on the school grounds, Ryouta and Sakuya begin investigating the dome and the murder. They visit the lab and compare alibis; Shuu, who Ryouta distrusts, asks if Ryouta has forgotten anything important, to which he replies that he hasn't. Upon investigating the headmaster's office, they discover the headmaster had likewise been poisoned to death, what they saw earlier being merely pre-recorded footage;[36] they also find a computer and a pair of documents, one titled The Human Representative and a torn, unreadable one titled Operation Hatoful. The Human Representative reveals that if the protagonist, a symbol of humanity, were to die, the campus would be sealed off and the birds inside handed over to humans as sacrifices—something confirmed when the computer is used to open a small hatch in the dome and students are shot dead as they attempt to flee—when the dome is lifted twelve hours after her death is reported.[37]

In trying to find a way to escape before the dome rises, Ryouta and Sakuya discover records in the library mentioning a medical center that was shut down due to a fire, and that Nageki, who Ryouta encountered previously, died in that fire,[38] revealing his ghostly nature. Sakuya deduces that an unused building on the school grounds was the medical center and after investigating, they find its basement blocked off. They also encounter Anghel in the building, who recalls the protagonist going into the infirmary the day before,[39] contradicting Yuuya and Shuu's shared alibi. As Ryouta searches the infirmary for clues, he finds medical records for himself, the protagonist, Nageki, and Sakuya, but is knocked out immediately after. When he regains consciousness, he discovers the protagonist's bloody student ID—now with concrete evidence, Ryouta prepares to confront the doctor and Yuuya, only to discover that Sakuya had left to do so alone. Ryouta returns to the infirmary as Yuuya shields Sakuya from Shuu's attempts to kill him; the doctor telling Ryouta that he will be waiting for him in the medical center's basement before escaping with Labor 9. Yuuya apologizes, affirming that while neither he nor Shuu killed the protagonist, they were the ones who dismembered her,[40] and asks to speak to Sakuya alone. He reveals that they are full-blooded siblings, having switched Sakuya's egg with the real Le Bel's to save Sakuya from being abandoned upon their mother's remarriage[41]—with Shuu using knowledge of Sakuya's true heritage to blackmail Yuuya into assisting him.[42] Yuuya dies, Shuu's scalpel having been laced with the same neurotoxin that killed the headmaster,[43] leaving Sakuya in a state of shock.

Ryouta, searching for a way into the basement, seeks out Nageki in the library to ask him about his death in the medical center fire. Upon discovering documents revealing that Operation Hatoful was a Hawk Party project into developing biological weapons for use against humans using the school as an experimental facility[44]—with a focus on a strain of H5N1 almost immediately lethal to humans dubbed the Charon virus—Nageki recalls that the fire was caused by his committing suicide by self-immolation after months of forced experimentation in order to destroy and remove any trace of the virus, which was isolated in his body.[45] After hypothesizing that some of his remains may have survived the fire, Nageki mentions that researchers often went in through the chemistry preparation room. Ryouta, Kazuaki, and Anghel make their way into the medical center's basement through the chemistry lab and encounter Labor 9, electrocuting it using a stun gun given to Ryouta earlier by Mister One. They confront Shuu, who imprisons Kazuaki and Anghel, leaving them to die of poison gas before leading Ryouta away. Meanwhile, San comforts Sakuya, and the two of them arrive to break Anghel and Kazuaki out of the prison.

Alone with Shuu, Ryouta finally remembers what he had forgotten due to the traumatic nature of the events: he recognizes the doctor as a man who promised to grant his wish for peace between birds and humans after he and the protagonist witnessed a human terrorist incident at a bird orphanage in which the protagonist's parents, crisis negotiators, were killed,[46] and that the protagonist died when she visited him in the infirmary. It is revealed that she died by Charon virus after coming in contact with Ryouta,[47] as Shuu had induced the virus into Ryouta's body though grafts from Nageki's remains for the purpose of using him to exterminate humanity—since there can be no more fighting between two factions if one is wiped out, this would grant Ryouta's wish.[48] Shuu then remarks that Labor-Model New Humans require a brain to function, adding that Labor 9 in particular was powered by the protagonist's now irreversibly damaged brain.[49] A broken Ryouta submits to Shuu's offer of becoming a living weapon of mass destruction after these revelations, and a struggle ensues during which the protagonist's spirit intervenes, snapping him out of his brainwashing. Ryouta then asks Shuu why he decided to grant his wish, to which it is implied that Shuu's affection towards Ryouta's deceased father, Ryuuji, was greater than Shuu himself would like to admit, and that he was motivated by his dying request: do something for his son.[50]

Shuu admits defeat and offers to lead them out of the school through a safe passage, but Kazuaki pulls out a gun and shoots him as the group prepares to escape. Shuu then recalls that Nageki's only relative—his adoptive brother—was a quail.[51] The terrorist incident occurred at the orphanage where Kazuaki and Nageki lived and the attack claimed the lives of their entire adopted family, leaving them as the only survivors;[52] Nageki's subsequent death drove Kazuaki insane, leading him to fake his own death, assume a new identity,[53] and join the school's faculty to take revenge against Shuu, the head of Operation Hatoful.[54] Ryouta, channeling Nageki, eases Kazuaki's guilt and convinces him to move on.

They reunite with the other characters and exit the school along with the other students and faculty brought there by Mister One; however Ryouta, now thoroughly infected by the Charon virus, elects to stay behind in cryonic storage until a cure is found.[55] The scenario ends with Sakuya vowing to come back for Ryouta, and Ryouta offering to recap the day's events to the protagonist's spirit as the door to the storage facility closes.[56] If the extended epilogue is unlocked, it is revealed that Yuuya survived being poisoned long enough to receive an antidote,[57] and the game's closing lines imply that with Shuu's cooperation, a cure for the Charon virus has been developed.[58]


Hatoful Boyfriend is the first game developed by manga artist Moa Hato (玻都 もあ Hato Moa?)—author of the series Vairocana and a one-time Dengeki Comic Grand Prix honoree[59]—under her dōjin circle PigeoNation Inc. She first came up with the concept for Hatoful as a 2011 April Fools' Day joke: despite her lack of familiarity with the genre,[59][60] she initially intended to create a parody of otome game stereotypes—with birds in particular being used as a theme due to her love of pigeons.[59] The first "pilot" iteration of the game was created over the course of half a day and posted as a browser game made with Adobe Flash; but due to strong word of mouth from social media it was taken down after immense traffic caused the web server it was hosted on to crash on two separate occasions.[59] Following the unexpected popularity of the pilot, development began on a longer visual novel using the FamousWriter game engine.[59] While most aspects of the roughly seven-month development of the game from a one-off April Fools' gag to the finished product—including scenario writing, game direction, human form illustrations, scripting, and programming—were done by Moa Hato alone, artist Damurushi assisted with some minor aspects of the script and art direction.[59] Moa Hato explained her choice of medium and approach towards the project in 2014:

Parts of Hatoful Boyfriend‍ '​s lore were inspired by The Birds.

Certain locations and personalities featured in the game directly correspond to real life venues and people—blogger Brian Pigeon is mentioned as one of the Hatoful world's most influential writers,[61] and the Torimi Café, where the protagonist can work during summer vacation, is an actual bird-themed café located in Kobe.[62] Likewise, some aspects of Hatoful‍ '​s narrative were influenced by real world events, media, or people: the deadly H5N1 pandemic forming the basis of the game's post-apocalyptic setting was inspired by historical outbreaks of disease, most prominently the 1918 flu pandemic;[7] depictions of the in-universe war between humans and birds, appropriately named "Hitchcock's Winter", bear several similarities to Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds;[7] and Operation Carneades—the human countermeasure against H5N1 that instead granted intelligence to birds—was named after Greek philosopher Carneades and one of his thought experiments, the Plank of Carneades.[7] However, complications arose from the construction of more character-intensive parts of the narrative: resolving the darker elements of the plot with facts established in the quickly conceived and largely comedic pilot proved to be difficult, with inconsistencies in the overall timeline becoming a major concern.[63] Moa Hato later remarked about the writing process in a postscript written for the game's official guidebook:

Kobe Kachoen, a source of birds photographed for sprites used in Hatoful Boyfriend

Most of the background images and photography used for the characters' sprites in the original games and associated media are taken from royalty-free sources or fan submissions,[64] though in some cases pictures of birds and backgrounds used are Moa Hato's own artwork or photography—the character San Oko is depicted by and based on her real life pet bird Okosan,[65] and several of the sprites featured in Hatoful Boyfriend were derived from pictures she had taken of birds kept at the Kobe Kachoen (known today as Kobe Animal Kingdom) or the aforementioned Torimi Café.[66] All of the music tracks and sound effects used in Hatoful are also similarly taken from royalty-free sources.[67]

Release history[edit]

The original Hatoful Boyfriend was an Adobe Flash web game released on April 1, 2011,[59] which served as a prototype for its first release in its current format, a freeware demo released as a downloadable application on July 31, 2011. The demo version contains basic routes for seven of the love interests, and also functions as a benchmark for players to assess if the full game will run on their computer before purchasing it. The first commercial variant of the game, Hatoful Boyfriend Plus, introducing Anghel as a love interest, was released on August 14, 2011. Plus, a precursor of the full game used as a debugging site for new content and additional scenes intended for the final release, was discontinued on October 28, 2011 when it was patched with the finalized full version.[68] The completed full game itself, Hatoful Boyfriend -hurtful complete edition-, was released at COMITIA 98 on October 30, 2011, and includes all content in previous versions of the game as well as the Torimi Café and Bad Boys Love scenarios.[69] In Japan, Plus and the full game were initially available only as physical CD-ROMs; a downloadable version in Japanese was eventually released two years later on April 13, 2014.[70] Due to limitations of the game engine, all versions of Hatoful Boyfriend made with FamousPlayer are only supported on computers running Windows XP or OS X 10.1-10.5, but are fully playable—though unsupported—on computers running Windows Vista, Windows 7, or OS X 10.6.[6]

An international high-definition remake of the full game developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital—allowing the game to be fully compatible with computers that run Windows Vista, Windows 7 or OS X 10.6, and playable for the first time on those that run Linux or OS X 10.7 or newer—was first revealed to be in development on June 6, 2014,[71][72] with a formal announcement coming shortly afterwards at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014.[73] The remake, known as Hatoful Boyfriend HD in Japan,[74] was slated for release via Steam on August 21, 2014;[75] however release was later postponed to September 4, 2014 to allow for final adjustments to the Japanese version.[76][77] The remake includes a new route for Azami,[78] full screen capability, and redrawn backgrounds.[73] A collector's edition of the remake titled Hatoful Boyfriend Summer of Dove Collector's Edition was released for pre-order along with the normal edition, and bundles together the remake, the original Hatoful Boyfriend -hurtful complete edition-, a digital version of the game's soundtrack, a new comic illustrated by Moa Hato, exclusive wallpapers of Okosan, and a St. PigeoNation's Class of 2014 yearbook.[75] The game was also included in the Humble Bundle pack for Valentine's Day 2015, which exclusively featured dating sim games, along with a Hatoful Boyfriend pillowcase for the highest price point option.[79] A port of the game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita will be released in Q2 2015.[80]

English localization[edit]

On November 22, 2011, freelance translator Nazerine released a fan translation patch of the free demo version of the game.[81] The initial project involved Nazerine translating, writing, and revising the game text, while another person hacked the game so that the translated text displayed properly on the game screen.[82] This English patch launched the first wave of western interest in the game, with several video game publications reporting on it due to the game's unusual concept.[83][84] The success of this translation attracted the attention of Moa Hato herself, who then offered Nazerine the opportunity to translate the full game – and later its sequel, HolidayStar – for an official English release.[85] As with the demo, the translation process of the full game was a solo effort by Nazerine; however, Moa Hato removed the need for hacking by directly supervising the translation, adjusting images in the game for English sentences.[86] The official English version of the game was released for download on February 15, 2012.[87] As the demo's English patch was made before Nazerine had access to the full version of the game, several lines of dialogue were translated differently to reflect context revealed in Bad Boys Love; for example, third-person pronouns from Kazuaki Nanaki's route implying that he had a female lover in the fan translation were replaced with gender-neutral ones in the official translation. Few dramatic changes were made, though several jokes were added in Nazerine's translations of the game that were not present in the original Japanese text. The 2014 remake has also been confirmed to be using Nazerine's translation.[86]


Books and publications[edit]

Several official dōjin works and supplemental materials illustrated by Moa Hato and Damurushi have been released alongside the games.[88] An official guidebook with extra information regarding the game's setting and characters was released at December 29, 2011 at Comiket 81.[89] The second edition of the guidebook, re-branded as a "fanbook" (ISBN 978-4-7580-1280-5), and Absolute ZERO, an anthology about the fantasy universe perceived by Anghel Higure, were both released on August 11, 2012 at Comiket 82;[90] an English version of Absolute ZERO was later released for Amazon Kindle on August 27, 2014.[91] Kazuaki-kun's Book (一明くんの本 Kazuaki-kun no Hon?), featuring an alternate universe retelling of events discussed in HolidayStar, was released in Japanese at COMIC CITY SPARK 7 on October 7, 2012,[92] and on December 23, 2013 for Kindle in English.[93] Focus on the Hawks! (フォーカス・ホークス Fōkasu Hōkusu?), an anthology featuring the Hawk Party researchers, was released in Japanese at Comiket 84 on August 12, 2013,[94] and on May 29, 2014 for Kindle in English.[95] Watari Bādo Kimama ni TORIARUKI Katte ni Sutema Kōbe Kachōen (渡りバード 気ままにTORIARUKI 勝手にステマ神戸花鳥園?), a side story featuring the Kobe Kachoen and written as part of a fundraising event for the venue, was released on February 1, 2014.[96] Sabishii Uzura (さびしいウズラ?), a collection of haiku poems written from the perspective of the original Kazuaki Nanaki, was released on August 15, 2014 at Comiket 86.[97]


A webcomic based on the series, written and illustrated by Moa Hato, was serialized in publisher Takeshobo's webcomic anthology Manga Life WIN+ from June 8, 2012 until the anthology's discontinuation, containing sixteen chapters. Each chapter is composed of several four-panel comic strips, followed by a short story in which the characters are in their human forms. The first twelve chapters have since been collected in one tankōbon volume, which also contains a feature where the series' characters answer questions sent in by fans.[98] A subsequent dōjin anthology containing chapters thirteen to sixteen plus a bonus ten-page comic, Hatoful Boyfriend Overload! Overflow! EX (はーとふる彼氏 はみでた!もれでた!EX Hātofuru Kareshi Hamideta! Moredeta! EX?), was released on December 30, 2013 at Comiket 85 in Japanese, and on Kindle in English.[99]

Drama CDs[edit]

Four drama CDs by Frontier Works based on the series have been released. The first CD, titled Prologue (プロローグ Purorōgu?) had a preliminary release on December 29, 2011 at Comiket 81, and was released for general distribution on January 25, 2012.[27] The second CD, titled Primal Feather, was released on April 25, 2012,[100] followed by a third CD, titled Summer Vacation, on August 10, 2012 at Comiket 82, which had a general release on September 12, 2012.[101] A fourth CD with a Legumentine's Day theme, titled Hatomame Sweet Blend (鳩豆スウィートブレンド Hatomame Suwīto Burendo?), was released on February 14, 2013.[102]

Web radio[edit]

An internet radio show for the series titled Habatake! Sei Pijoneishon Gakuen Housōbu! (はばたけ!聖ピジョネイション学園放送部!?) was broadcast from December 24, 2011 to January 25, 2012 on the Animate TV website, with the voice cast from the drama CDs reprising their respective roles.[103] The show was hosted by Shintarō Asanuma, who played Ryouta Kawara in the drama CDs, and Hirofumi Nojima, who played Kazuaki Nanaki.[104] Each episode consisted of four segments: Hatoota (はとおた?), a normal talk corner, Hatalk (ハトーク Hatōku?), in which various questions regarding life as birds were answered, Koi no Denshobato (恋の伝書鳩?), in which lines from the game were read, and The How and Why of St. PigeoNation's! (なぜ?なに?質問箱 Naze? Nani? Shitsumonbako?), a question and answer corner where the voice actors answered any questions from viewers in-character.[104]

Web series[edit]

A trailer for the web series was released in Japanese on October 20, 2013,[105] with an English-language translation of the trailer being released on May 23, 2014.[106] The first episode, titled Tamesareru Ketsui! Saraba Sei Pijoneishon (Zenpen) (試される決意!さらば聖ピジョネイション<前編>?), was released on May 19, 2014.[107] The series is released in visual novel format on the Adobe AIR platform, and takes place in a different universe than the game series.[108]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic PC: 68/100 (35 reviews)[109]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 6.5/10[110]
IGN 8/10[111]
Joystiq 7/10[112]
PC Gamer (US) 7/10[113]
Polygon 8/10[114]
Guardian 8/10[115]
Hardcore Gamer 3/10[116]

As a dōjin soft title, Hatoful Boyfriend was created on a limited budget and had even more limited promotion; however, due to strong word of mouth on Twitter and other social media[59] Hatoful has enjoyed a degree of commercial success, especially when compared against its minimal production costs—with Mado no Mori reporting that the game was a "popular title" whose physical CD-ROM copies "consistently sold out at dōjin markets and wherever it became available for purchase",[117] and noting that the game disk was difficult to purchase due to overwhelming demand.[118] Outside of Japan, where it is only available by download, the English release of the game is dōjin soft distributor DLsite English's best-selling title with 7,000 separate purchases as of 2014.[119]

Hatoful Boyfriend has received generally favorable reception, with reviewers focusing on the surprising depth of the game's writing and storyline. In a weekly game spotlight, Kouichi Kirishima from Mado no Mori recommends the game to "not just pigeon-lovers, but anyone who enjoys visual novels", remarking that the game is "at times surprisingly serious and emotionally involved".[117] On the other side of the Pacific, Hatoful Boyfriend was named the best PC game of 2012 by GameCola. The game won over the honorably mention Borderlands 2, succeeded 2011's winner The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and was followed by 2013's BioShock Infinite; Paul Franzen explains the game's inclusion among these higher budget and more technically sophisticated titles as being due to the strength of its storytelling and pathos, stating that "Hatoful Boyfriend isn't just a weird game about heathen human-animal relationships [...] there’s an actual, serious, emotional game here, too".[120] In a Gamers With Jobs analysis of the game, Julian Murdoch comments that the scenarios featured in Hatoful are "elaborate and multifaceted", and that Moa Hato herself "isn’t just a storyteller, she’s actually a good storyteller".[60]

Dora from Jay Is Games praised the game, saying that "with a huge amount of replay value, creativity to burn, and some of the most shocking plot lines you could ever hope to encounter, Hatoful Boyfriend is a fascinating and surprising text adventure well worth checking out", though she also observes that "the delayed payoff and the abruptness of some of the endings combined with the oddball concept may not appeal to every fan of the visual novel genre".[5] In an article discussing the E3 announcement of the 2014 remake, Carly Smith for The Escapist remarks that Hatoful Boyfriend is "absolutely hilarious", but recommends that players "start the game for a laugh, but stick with it for a ride you wouldn't have expected by looking at the cover".[73] Alexa Ray Corriea's Polygon review of the remake gave it an 8 out of 10, concluding that the "witty dialogue and absolutely bonkers scenarios are genuinely fun to discover, and the handful of different storylines make repeated playthroughs worthwhile".[114]

Much attention was drawn to Hatoful Boyfriend‍ '​s surreal concept in both its native Japan as well as overseas. Mentions of the game's "bird romance" spread through Japanese social media, leading several news agencies and publications to report on Hatoful and the "newness" of its premise.[121][122] As translations began to make the game accessible to an English speaking audience, western media reacted similarly: Alec Meer for Rock, Paper, Shotgun comments on Hatoful‍ '​s premise, citing it as being "reason enough to play it";[123] also for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Craig Pearson stated that the game "could only be better if it was a secret game from Valve and Bioware".[87] One of the main spurs to the game's popularity was a playthrough recorded by Angie Gallant on the Quarter to Three forums.[83] In a retrospect, Jeffrey Matulef for Eurogamer remarks that Hatoful Boyfriend‍ '​s "outlandish premise caught on and the English speaking world demanded it not be left out of this surreal creation".[124] Several Japanese commentators have also noted the game's overseas success, especially following the E3 announcement of the remake by British developer Mediatonic and American publisher Devolver Digital.[125]


The sequel known as Hatoful Boyfriend HolidayStar was released in Japan in December 2011,[126] with an English patch being released a year later.[127] The game is set as a episodic prequel that follows the character Anghel Higure, one of the love interests from the original game. Anghel possess the psychic ability to bring situations in the real game world into a fantasy RPG scenario, an ability that a mad scientist named Tohri tries to utilize to destroy St. PigeoNation's. Unlike the original Hatoful Boyfriend, HolidayStar is entirely a visual novel, with no choices or actions possible on the part of the player other than clicking through the text to reveal the storyline.[128]


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  8. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Kazuaki: Back when we birds were still beasts and pests, a virus known as A(H5N1) appeared. At first it only affected birds, but it underwent a mutation and spread to humans. This mutated strain was highly infectious and had an extremely high mortality rate. 
  9. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Kazuaki: So the humans engineered a powerful virus to cull birds and prevent A(H5N1) from becoming pandemic. In hindsight it seems foolhardy and rash, but the world leaders of the time saw no better option. 
  10. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Kazuaki: ...except the new virus didn't work. Infected birds didn't die. Rather their brains grew in size and power. Starting with doves. 
  11. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Kazuaki: The few that are left now live peacefully with birds, though in the past there were large conflicts. 
  12. ^ PigeoNation Inc., ed. (2011), p. 20
  13. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: But I thought wars with humans were over! 
  14. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Protagonist: Today, Legumentine's is a holiday where you give beans to the boy you like, but apparently it used to involve throwing them at pigeons. Disgraceful! 
  15. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Yuuya: The Dove party believes we should live peacefully with the remaining humans, while the Hawk party believes we should exterminate them to make room for birds. 
  16. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Sakuya: There are two schools of thought driving the politics of today. The Dove Party, who believe we should live peacefully with humans, and the Hawk Party, who believe we should exterminate them. 
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  28. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: 2187... that's when we enrolled here. 
  29. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Protagonist: It's already been a year since I ended my ordinary life and walked through these gates. 
  30. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Protagonist: It was all I could do to adjust to the atmosphere last year. Better make up for all that lost fun! 
  31. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Protagonist: That dream again. Ryouta, my parents and me, at a stranger's house. The strange bird who comes to me is a magician. He says he'll grant any wish that Ryouta and I make. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day... 
  32. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: I feel sick. But I reach out and open the lid anyway. Inside the box is a human's head. The eyes are glassy. But even like this, I still recognize her. She wasn't late. She was here all along. 
  33. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: A wall. A huge, grey... / Sakuya: A dome, rather... we appear to be shut in from above, as well. 
  34. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: The cause of death was asphyxiation. There are no signs of any strangulation or smothering, so she was either poisoned or sick. / Sakuya: She was dismembered after death, then, Doctor? / Shuu: It would appear so. There is little evidence of bleeding, so we may assume that she was cut up sometime after death. 
  35. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: Yes. Alas, the body is now useless, but... I shall tell you about Labor 9 - the being you call the scarecrow. 
  36. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: ... poisoning. Only a few hours ago. I believe he was already dead when the announcement was broadcast this morning, though. 
  37. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. System: If the representative is to die in the school, the entire campus will be sealed off, and all the birds inside will be given to the humans as prisoners. The seal will be lifted twelve hours after the death is confirmed, and the birds will be delivered to the humans. The school will be declared an extraterritorial zone, and avian protests of any human reprisal will not be tolerated. 
  38. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. System: 2183 - Medical Centre shut down due to fire. Freshman Fujishiro Nageki died in the basement, where the fire started. 
  39. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Anghel: The gate was sealed with the Power of Darkness! However, Edel Blau did venture within. / Sakuya: Edel Blau? Who is that? Explain in terms known to sane individuals, please. / Anghel: The Apostle of the Blue Sky, Edel Blau. She also goes by [protagonist's name]. 
  40. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Yuuya: I have to... apologize to you. The Doctor and I were the ones who cut her up. 
  41. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Yuuya: I waited. Until she laid a new egg. Until she laid an egg with the new father's child inside... I had hid him away, in the mansion. And I switched them. So he will raise my brother as his own son. The new father hates me. But he will love my brother. He will give him nice food, and nice clothes, and a nice bed. My brother will not know. No one will know but me. 
  42. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Yuuya: Ahaha... we had... a deal. Of course, he broke it without a second thought... 
  43. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Sakuya: Pull yourself together, Yuuya! You can't leave like this! You said a little scalpel like that couldn't kill you! / Yuuya: ...I should apologize about that, too... remember the headmaster...? That was nerve toxin... / Sakuya: You mean that the scalpel had...?! 
  44. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: This is talking about... using carrier individuals as biological weapons... to fight humans...? It has the same title as the file in the headmaster's office. But I never expected anything like this... Meaning... this school has been used for biological weapons development for at least five years. 
  45. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Nageki: And in return... I killed another human with each experiment. Simply by standing in the same room as me... by breathing the same air as me... they would collapse. I couldn't stand it. I had no reason not to hate them, but... watching them die in front of me shaved away at my heart, little by little. And so I decided to end it all. I had only one wish. I wanted... I wanted to disappear from this world without a trace. 
  46. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: Two humans lie in a twisted pile. They are [protagonist's first name]'s parents. She said they work as mediators between birds and humans. They were trying to say something to the humans barricaded on the other side of the wall. But they received only bullets as a reply. 
  47. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: The experiment was a resounding success. Miss [protagonist's last name] displayed the archetypal systems of a human infected with Charon Virus, and passed away. 
  48. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Ryouta: I asked... for a world in which humans and birds no longer fight. / Shuu: You and Miss [protagonist's last name] both said you would be glad to die to bring it about. And so I am carrying out your wish, just as you had stated it. Even symbiotic relationships are not free from strife. In order to end the wars between humans and birds forever - one race would have to be completely destroyed, you see? 
  49. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: You gave poor Labor 9 quite a shock, shall we say. Alas, Miss [protagonist's last name]'s brain is no doubt irreversibly damaged. The wonders of modern medicine can do nothing for her now but sigh and shake their heads. 
  50. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: You vanished from my life before I ever told you my feelings. And I've chased your shadow since then. Is this what they mean by quitting while you're ahead? Or was it just cowardice? No matter how I study life, its past, its future, I will never be able to surpass you. And that was my only goal. Kawara Ryouta... the son of Doctor Kawara. Carrying half his genetic material, and otherwise unrelated. But, this boy - he may be the only way for me to catch your shadow now. 
  51. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: ... oh, is that it? Hoho, I had quite forgotten. Mister Fujishiro's brother... he was a quail... 
  52. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Hitori: ...everyone. Everyone is covered in blood, immobile. The humans, the security forces, and my family. What did we do? We had nothing. Our parents and our homes had already been stolen by humans. All we had left were each other. Why do they have to keep stealing from us? Why? Why? 
  53. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Shuu: ...Uzune Hitori. I had heard that he had died after the fire, but it seems that our investigation had been lacking. It is hardly easy to change your name and face. 
  54. ^ PigeoNation Inc. (October 30, 2011). "Hatoful Boyfriend". Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X. MIST[PSI]PRESS. Hitori: Soon after the start of 2183, a letter arrived. It was from a researcher at the St Pigeonations' Medical Institute. A Mister Isa Souma. 
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  • Hatoful Boyfriend Official Guidebook. Japan: PigeoNation Inc. 2011. 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend Official Fanbook. Japan: Ichijinsha. 2012. ISBN 978-4-7580-1280-5. 

External links[edit]