Shinpachi Nagakura is a Hakuoki mainstay. The Shinsengumi’s 2nd Division acting captain has been a prominent character in every single game, often acting as a scene stealer, but the story never actually centered on him. With Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, Nagakura finally gets all of our attention. It also means that, for the first time, we really get to appreciate this well-rounded character.
Nagakura felt like something of a joke character in the first few iterations of Hakuoki. He was absolutely a capable character. You don’t get to be a captain without being strong and reliable. He always stood by his fellow warriors, and by extension our heroine, Chizuru. It’s Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds that allows him to grow and be more than comic relief.
Of course, that is how he begins in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. This is basically a remaster of the original story, so Nagakura beginns in a similar role. He begins by being one of the few members of the Shinsengumi to not know Chizuru is a woman. In one of your first interactions with him after coming under the group’s protection, he’s heading off to the red light district and offering to take you along. Many of his early interactions are of him being a definite “bro.” Which isn’t bad. That was part of his appeal. He’s a goofy guy’s guy; Nagakura is a big brother who’ll make you simultaneously roll your eyes and smile.
It’s the Ikedaya Incident at the Ikeda Inn that gives us our first opportunity to see more sides of Nagakura. The Shinsengumi are involved in a major battle that leaves multiple members injured, Nagakura among them. Even though he’s hurt, he tells Chizuru to tend to his companions and friends, Souji and Heisuke, first. It’s only after they have received care that he allows Chizuru to help him. He seems noble and strong, especially since he tries to downplay his wound, but the second she begins examining him he bursts out with the “Ows!” This scene then leads to him thanking her, apologizing for his earlier behavior to her, and saying he’ll rely on her just as she relies on him.
Nagakura’s storyline also shows how often he notices what other people may ignore. He can be more serious than he seems. Chizuru is basically an assistant to the Shinsengumi, offering aid where its needed. This means when it is below freezing and snow is on the ground, she can still be working outdoors and fetching water. Despite having his own tasks and work, Nagakura realizes this could lead to frostbite and brings her a brazier to keep herself warm while running such errands. He tries to play the gift off as being for the greater good, since her being at her best can help them all be at their best, but it still shows an awareness and gravity in Nagakura the previous Hakuoki games didn’t.
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds gives us more time to appreciate Nagakura for who he is. We had a vague idea of his personality and motivations in previous games, but never really saw the full picture. Here, we do. The two examples I’ve offered are only two of the memories he makes with Chizuru in the early chapters of Hakuoki. The game is filled with more special moments that show you who he really is.