Because of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de's success, the game has give rise to a franchise including several sequels, numerous drama and music CDs, a manga series, two OAVs, a movie, and an anime TV series, and a live-action theatrical.
On the first day of a new school term, high school student Akane Motomiya, her classmate Tenma Morimura, and their underclass friend Shimon Nagareyama are sucked into a mysterious old well. When they awake, they are in Kyō (京?), another world that resembles Kyoto during the Heian Period. According to the young scion of the Star Clan (星の一族?), Fujihime, Akane is the Ryūjin no Miko (龍神の神子 Priestess of the Dragon God?) who has come to save Kyō from the ambitions of the Oni Clan (鬼の一族?). In this task, Akane has the help of eight sexy, and single men known as the Hachiyō (八葉?), and her friends Tenma and Shimon number among them. Initially, Akane is bewildered by her new circumstances, but she gradually comes to face up to her own destiny and understand the world of Kyō.
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de places the player in the role of a girl who is surrounded by attractive young men, and gives her the option of trying to win the heart of one and live happily ever after. The heroine must also fight evil with the help of the attractive young men. The result is a hybrid game with an visual novel-like interaction mode, a simple CRPG battle mode, and a board game-like map.
Haruka is made up of ten chapters, eight of which involve the core gameplay. These chapters take place over a 2 week period and involve traveling around the Kyō map, searching for various key items. Kyō is made up of roughly 20 areas and it is possible to visit three in one day. However, most areas are possessed by onryō (怨霊 vengeful ghosts?) that must be dispelled before you can enter, and fighting them consumes one of the three visit chances.
Haruka's battle system is limited in comparison to most CRPGs of its day. The maximum party size is 3 characters, but only Akane is under the direct control of the player. Though Akane can attack and defend, her other abilities - the use of healing items and spells, and the ability to encourage her comrades, are more useful. There is no magic point system as such. Casting spells is based on the morale of the Hachiyō members and the number of elemental fuda (札?) cards Akane has. Furthermore, there is no experience system and the character's hit points are refilled automatically between fights. The main reward for fighting, besides gaining entrance to a given area, is the chance to gain the trust of Hachiyō. The greater a Hachiyō member's rapport with Akane, the more effective he will be in battle.
- The main character, she is a cheerful, forthright high school freshman. This character's default name is Akane, but the player can pick other names for her. Akane is summoned into the world of Kyō and becomes the Ryūjin no Miko (龍神の神子 Priestess of the Dragon God?). She is the only person capable of communicating with the Ryūjin, and with the help of the Hachiyō, she can use the powers of the five elements to defeat the onryō that the Oni Clan has unleashed throughout Kyō.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Seiryū of Heaven (天の青龍?). Yorihisa is a samurai in the service of the Imperial court. Serious and disciplined, he swears fealty to Akane as his master, and he always obeys Akane's commands. His elemental attribute is Wind, and his dragon jewel is located on his left ear.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Seiryū of Earth (地の青龍?). Tenma is Akane's classmate and friend, who is pulled into Kyō with her. He has little concern for formality and can be abrasive, but he has a strong sense of responsibility to others. Tenma's younger sister has been missing for some time. His elemental attribute is Thunder, and his dragon jewel is located on his left arm.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Suzaku of Heaven (天の朱雀?). Inori is a blacksmith's apprentice. He has a fierce hatred of Oni. Though he can be hot-headed, Inori has an open, honest personality, and he values his family. His elemental attribute is Fire, and his dragon jewel is located on his forehead.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Suzaku of Earth (地の朱雀?). Shimon is junior high student and a friend of Akane who also is pulled into Kyō. The Oni Clan is said to have blond hair and blue eyes, and because Shimon has a similar appearance, the people of Kyō often mistake him for an Oni. His elemental attribute is Earth, and his dragon jewel is located on the back of his right hand.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Byakko of Heaven (天の白虎?). Takamichi is a nobleman, and he works in the government as the Vice Minister of Civil Affairs. He has a serious but calm personality, and a strong sense of justice. His elemental attribute is Heaven, and his dragon jewel is located on the right side of his neck.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Byakko of Earth (地の白虎?). Like Takamichi, Tomomasa is a nobleman, employed as a Lieutenant of the Left Imperial Guard. He is aloof and easy-going, and though he hides it much of the time, he is a good judge of character. His elemental attribute is Swamp, and his dragon jewel is located between his collar bones.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Genbu of Heaven (天の玄武?). Eisen is the Emperor's half-brother who has left the Imperial Family and become a monk. He is a refined youth who hates conflict. He plays the flute skillfully. His elemental attribute is Water, and his dragon jewel is located in the palm of his left hand.
- One of the Hachiyō, he is the Genbu of Earth (地の玄武?). Yasuaki is an Onmyōji, and a disciple to the famous, historical Onmyōji Abe no Seimei. He is cold and analytical. Because he is an artificial human created by Abe no Seimei, Yasuaki lacks human emotions. His elemental attribute is Mountain, and his dragon jewel is located beneath his right eye.
- She is the only remaining descendant of the Star Clan, who is destined to assist the Ryūjin no Miko. Fujihime is very responsible, and laments that her young age keeps her from being a greater help to Akane.
- The leader of the Oni Clan, he summoned Akane to Kyō. Akuram intends to use Akane's powers to rule Kyō. Akuram is a callous leader, who sees his fellow Oni as pawns.
- An Aide to Akuram, Ikutidaal is in love with Inori's older sister, Seri, and the divide between Oni and humans causes him to suffer.
- The only female among the Oni Clan, Shirin holds affection for Akuram. She flaunts her feminine charms as a shirabyoshi, and uses them to snare men. There was even a small chapter in the manga where she offered herself to Takamichi, but he refused her, sensing a sort of distrust about her when she danced for the officials. In the end of the chapter, he fights her to defend Akane and wounds her arm. Instead of killing her like most men would, he, instead, bandaged up her arm. If one were to look very closely at the scene, you could see her blushing and having a very thoughtful expression as she watches him wrap the sling around her forearm and as she leaves him to go back to Akuram.
- This half-human, half-Oni boy was abandoned at birth, but Akuram took him in and raised him. Sefuru has no love for the Ryūjin no Miko.
- The one among the Oni Clan that can summon Onryō. Ran is actually Tenma's long lost sister, whom Akuram abducted. She is the Kokuryū no Miko (黒龍の神子 Priestess of the Black Dragon?), and she controls the yin aspect of the Ryūjin.
The world of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is based on the height of the Heian Period of Japanese history, and many aspects of Heian culture, as described in the great literature of the time, are depicted in the game.
Other videogames in the series
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyousho
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Maihitoyo
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 Unmei no Meikyuu
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 Izayoiki
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 4
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Yume no Ukihashi (Nintendo DS)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Yume no Ukihashi Special (PS2)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 with Izayoiki Aizouban (PSP)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Ajisai Yumegatari (遙かなる時空の中で 紫陽花ゆめ語り In a Distant Time: Hydrangea Dreamtale?) (Two parts and "making of")
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Kokoro no Yukue (In a Distant Time: Where the Heart Dwells?) (one episode, extra to the TV series)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Maihitoyo (劇場版 遙かなる時空の中で 舞一夜?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Houga no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉萌芽の巻 In a Distant Time: Sprouts of the Eight Leaves (Hachiyō)?) (Two parts)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Misato Ibun Ichi - Kenka no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 壱・剣花の巻 In a Distant Time: Hachiyō Capital Side Story 1 - Kenka Chapter?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Misato Ibun Ni - Yuzuriha no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 弐・譲葉の巻 In a Distant Time: Hachiyō Capital Side Story 2 - Yuzuriha Chapter?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Misato Ibun San - Matsuyoi no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 参・待宵の巻 In a Distant Time: Hachiyō Capital Side Story 3 - Matsuyoi Chapter?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Misato Ibun Yon - Seiran no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 四・青嵐の巻 In a Distant Time: Hachiyō Capital Side Story 4 - Seiran Chapter?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Misato Ibun - Hana no Utage (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 花の宴 In a Distant Time: Hachiyō Capital Side Story - Banquet of Flowers?) (a mail-in present for buying the Hachiyo- Misato Ibun drama series)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Kachōfūgetsu (遙かなる時空の中で 花鳥風月 In a Distant Time: Flower, Bird, Wind and Moon?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Onban Sōshi: Hakkō no Maki - Seiran no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～音盤草紙 白虹の巻・青嵐の巻 In a Distant Time Musical Storybook: White Rainbow Chapter - Seiran Chapter?) (LaLa magazine special)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Onban Sōshi: Ten no Maki - Chi no Maki (遙かなる時空の中で～音盤草紙 天の巻・地の巻 In a Distant Time Musical Storybook: Heaven Chapter - Earth Chapter?) (LaLa magazine special)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Uta Sōshi: Ryōfū no Utage (遙かなる時空の中で～歌草紙 涼風の宴 In a Distant Time Vocal Storybook: Banquet of Cool Breezes?)
Vocal and Soundtrack CD
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyo- Misato Ibun - Miyabi no Hibiki (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 雅の響 In a Distant Time: Hachiyo- Capital Side Story - Echoes of Refinement?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyo- Misato Ibun - Kimi Koi Furu Uta (遙かなる時空の中で～八葉みさと異聞 君恋ふる歌 In a Distant Time: Hachiyo- Capital Side Story - Kimi Koi Furu Uta?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Utagasane (遙かなる時空の中で～うたがさね In a Distant Time: Overlapping Songs?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Ajisai Yumegatari: Otoshizuku (遙かなる時空の中で～紫陽花ゆめ語り 音滴 In a Distant Time Hydrangea Dreamtale: Sound Droplets?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Shishin Miniarubamu (遙かなる時空の中で～四神ミニアルバム In a Distant Time: Four Gods Mini Album?)
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyō Shō
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3
- Angelique Series
- Kiniro no Corda