279: Wussy RPG Girls

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Xander_VJ:
The root of the Japanese archetype in the Kabuki plays is an interesting thing to look into as well.

As equally interesting as the link between Greek tragedy and modern Western game development. :) Inspired by, yes, but drawing the direct connection between Kabuki and modern video games that Stahl attempts to? No, no, no. Just - no.

Xander_VJ:
However, we have to remember that liking a fictional character is, at the end of the day, like liking a real person. In other words, there are personality traits that we are more fond than others, and if a character have the kind of traits we dislike, not even the best writing in the world is going to prevent us from hating that character.

Exactly. Pointing at a character and saying 'Oh, she represents a horrible female stereotype' and ignoring the fact that she is in fact a fictional character designed to move the plot forward somehow just struck me as truly disingenuous.

Thomas Guy:
A very well written article. I totally agree with what was written about Lightning from FF13. She was such a bad character who stood out in a game full of bad characters. But they did have the helpless Princess character in that game. His name was Hope and I wanted him to die from the beginning.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who wanted Hope to die, which is ironic if you think about it (don't lose hope, lol). It's like his character was designed to bring out the worst in me. Snow wasn't any better at times, what a whiny #$%@#.

PedroSteckecilo:
A most excellent article looking at Princess Characters (who were still all to prevalent in North American Fiction a decade or two ago).

As much as I like Lightning (I have a thing for ass kicking ladies >.>) she does fall pretty far on the reverse of the Princess Scale. I'd be curious to see how FFXII's Ashe rates in your books, I've always considered her to be one of the finest JRPG heroines.

The Suikoden Series is also packed with great female characters who don't fall into the whole "meek and mild" princess cliche but also aren't constant ball busters. Hell Suikoden 5 takes place in an honest to goodness Matriarchy where you play as the (in that nation) cliche'd useless Prince, not good for much other than marrying off for alliances.

I agree, the Suikoden series has some great female characters (e.g. Nanami, the protagonist's overprotective martial-artist older sister), but it was never especially rooted in fantasy JRPG tropes (the games are more historical/political epics in JRPG format).

Other than that series, the various Final Fantasies had a few subversions; for example, while praised for the gameplay, FFXII was generally dismissed by the fans for the detached story, regarding which everyone seems to agree that Asche or Balthier should have been the protagonists.

article:
This might be tolerable if she were also a dynamic character, but Wussy RPG Girls rarely have much going on in the personality department

Luckily, no JRPG characters have much going on in the personality department, so they're among equals! OH SNAP. Yeah I went there

.
Also, it's really true what she said about JRPGs being very popular among women. I remember in highschool - in a classic gender reversal of the 'humoring a boy's obsession to win their heart' - I pretended to like obscure JRPGs and anime in order to get with the geeky girls.

Grand_Marquis:

Luckily, no JRPG characters have much going on in the personality department, so they're among equals! OH SNAP. Yeah I went there

Yes, you did. And on the way to over "there" you apparently fell down a flight of stairs and hit your head quite hard....

As for the article, I did enjoy reading it, if nothing else simply because it was well written.
However, I always cringe somewhat when someone decides to label a certain type of stock character as "bad", no matter how articulate the labeling might be.

I do believe that most stock characters, as long as they are not used out of habit or without any reflection, CAN and DO serve a purpose. Some games DO require a figure that must be rescued. And what if you simply need a weak, feminine character to pull of certain stories or character relations ? Is it bad to use one ? Bad all the time ? Really ?

Then again, I do enjoy a good rescue romance and whatnot.
So I might simply be talking out of my ass.

Edit:

tklivory:
Exactly. Pointing at a character and saying 'Oh, she represents a horrible female stereotype' and ignoring the fact that she is in fact a fictional character designed to move the plot forward somehow just struck me as truly disingenuous.

Seems like I skipped your post for some weird reason.
Because this is exactly what I meant.

Nice to see that I wasn't the only one who notice how irritatingly incapable Japanese female "heroines" were/are. I fall in with the women who dislike the wussy girl. Japan so far in has yet to get the mix of toughness and girly-ness right.

I mean why do I have to save the girl with powers that should technically make her stronger than the hero for the 2nd time. Couldn't she have done it herself or something better than just sitting around and looking helpless. Like in baulder's gate the hero there admitting isn't exactly female but is up to the player to decide the gender. Still it was amusing to have the daughter of murder reply in comedic ways. But I agree with afrosan it's not really due to sexism and it more the fault of bad writing.

The Cheezy One:
Rinoa from FFVIII at least seems self capable. While she does end up in mortal danger at least once, she doesn't have a fit over her own usefulness. At least, not that I can remember.

Oh come on. You spend half the game literally carrying her on your back. She's the quintessential Oh What A Burden It Is To Be Female character, especially because she's exactly as useful as a pack of hay through almost all certain parts of the game. She's pretty much there only to serve as a tool to force feed ham-fisted character growth to Squall and we're supposed to empathize with him because he went from 'withdrawn emo kid that doesn't care about anything' to 'withdrawn emo kid that spends all his free time beating himself up over the loss of a girl he barely knew'. Who by the way is a princess.

Speaking of FF8, my pet peeve about it is how even though Selphie is portrayed as capable and even a bit psychotic, she's useless as a physical combat character. Even though you should be able to refine each character in it to your wishes in practice all female characters have low physical power and high magical power (or whatever the game called them) so it was dumb to use them as anything other than spellcasters, which is playing right into the 'women are weak but at least they're smuht!' trope. Wow, stats man. That was a well hidden one.

However, this:

afrosan:
I wish the blame on poor videogame heroines would be taken off of sexism and placed where it belongs: with bad writing.

Quite true. I mean, sexism is why they pick a female stereotype that's a poor fragile thing; but bad writing is why they pick a stereotype on the first place.

Then again, laying the blame on JRPGs is like blaming the guy who didn't shower for the bad smell at a pigsty. Bad female characters are all over gaming. Hell, it's all over every single piece of media ever. And while in the subjecive of diversity keep in mind that black people are essentially in the same bus as females (even getting the same 'it's okay if we put a token character if we make them really badass treatment). Characters of other ethnicities are barely a blip on the radar. It's changing, but videogames have so many bad things with their story that you can't possibly work everything out at once. Videogames have stereotypical characters. They have no understanding of subtlety. They glorify violence (which is OK in certain cases, but they do even when it's not). They don't have a concept of character growth. There are exceptions to all of these, of course, but pick a random game and chances are its story would be so bad that if it had been written for NaNoWriMo they'd change the rules only so you couldn't win.

Not to say it was a bad article - MovieBob's cool new show™ makes a nice point this week about what you mean to say and what you actually mean, compare it to his complaint of the Twilight saga - but to expect change in the way women are portrayed in media to come from one of the countries in the world that has seen the least progress in women's rights without even having a religion-controlled government as an excuse, in the media that's the least well developed in terms of stor telling, in a genre that relies heavily on stereotypes, is kind of wanting too much.

Then again that's pretty much how Samus came along.

One notable JRPG girl in the past is from Lufia (I forgot her name) why is she notable? While her friends fight cosmic horrors with swords,magic,staffs etc. She fight cosmic horrors...with FRYING PAN!

I hoenstly ever understood the lightning hate, Fang Is Much manler than Lighting, really If fang was Male the only thing that would change would be the relationship between her and Vannile would be Romantic (Or if you think it was already romantic more obvious) the punching of snow wasn't a consistant thing and when it happened I Found it justifided by Lighting Chareter...

Shadowsole:
I hoenstly ever understood the lightning hate, Fang Is Much manler than Lighting, really If fang was Male the only thing that would change would be the relationship between her and Vannile would be Romantic (Or if you think it was already romantic more obvious) the punching of snow wasn't a consistant thing and when it happened I Found it justifided by Lighting Chareter...

I'm fairly certain i read somewhere that Fang did in fact start out life as a male character, but they changed it to a female character to remove any and all sexualisation from Lightning and project it onto Fang. I think that's also why there's a psuedo-sexual arguably 'lesbian' relationship between Fang and Vanille; because Fang was initially a male, and so they would have been 'partners' in a very literal sense. Hence why Fang comes off as an extremely disjointed character; they should have started out with her as a woman or just kept her as a man.

My thoughts to come on this article when i'm less tired and it isn't half past two in the morning. It's always fascinating to read the comments on a controversial (but not one that encourages flaming) topic.

I never liked these characters! And I still do not see the appeal.
Okay, martyrdom for the sake of a loved one, a nation, an ideal is a very noble act, but is so out of place in a world like the Cyber-Fantastic "Tales" and "FF". The characters are slaves to 'destiny', good god just look at "FF-10" and seem so unable to deal with it that they don't even make the most of what life they are given, they don't fight back against it. It comes off as more pathetic than selfless.

Christ was dignified in the myth!

Rocketboy13:
I never liked these characters! And I still do not see the appeal.
Okay, martyrdom for the sake of a loved one, a nation, an ideal is a very noble act, but is so out of place in a world like the Cyber-Fantastic "Tales" and "FF". The characters are slaves to 'destiny', good god just look at "FF-10" and seem so unable to deal with it that they don't even make the most of what life they are given, they don't fight back against it. It comes off as more pathetic than selfless.

Christ was dignified in the myth!

The answers to your queries are within your own post.

This article focuses on the bad, and makes no mention of the good.

You mention Wild Arms 4, but not Wild Arms 3's Virginia, a strong woman who perfectly stands on her own.

Digital Devil Saga's Argilla devours her enemies whole. Angel from the same series is downright vicious.

Persona 2 had a slew of female protagonists who didn't need any male protagonists to save them.

Suikoden III's Chris Lightfellow is as brave and unwavering as female protagonists get. The article subject matter is an unfortunate trope, but there ARE exceptions, and they deserve equal mention.

cj_iwakura:
This article focuses on the bad, and makes no mention of the good.

You mention Wild Arms 4, but not Wild Arms 3's Virginia, a strong woman who perfectly stands on her own.

Virgina start's out kind of bratty, but matures a lot over the course of the game. It's a standard character model in that sense, but she is an excellent example of a strong character with feminine qualities. It's kind of that whole transformation from immature teen to mature woman that ties in to several parts of the story. It's hard to explain if you haven't actually played it.

tklivory:
*Wall o' Text Incoming!*

Oooooh, one of my hot-button topics. (I apologize in advance to the author of the article)

SHORT VERSION:

My biggest disappointments in the article were as follows:
1) The disingenuous manner of accusing JRPGs of having poor role models for women and ignoring similar poor role models in western RPGs
2) Cherry-picking a few characters to match her thesis and ignoring the wealth of characters that don't support it
3) Trying to make it sound as if certain common character types (i.e., making a character have low self-esteem about herself) are somehow culturally 'Japanese' and not what they are: common writing techniques used by all writers in all cultures
4) Assuming that the characterization of women has gotten better because "modern women demanded it" (nah, that's too long to go into, let's just say i really disagreed with that part of her article)
Putting the Long version in Spoiler tags... because it is long, but not really a spoiler


/rant

Well, don't be sorry. There's a very shallow, middle school understanding of identity politics here at the Escapist, both in the article and in the comments.

The thing is, Americans may buy Japanese stuff, but they are still often racist against Asians, and love to play, "I'm so superior to you." Even when evidence of such superiority is very sadly lacking.

I agree, I've always despised the females who I had to rescue, I don't mind if your afraid or emotionally distraut about the game. or if physically you aren't as strong as one of your male counterparts. but lets look at Fire Emblem, the 'stand out' for 'I need to be rescued' was Nininan in FE7, until that game any damsal in distress character was oft derived of weapons or was fleeing from a giant army.

Let's look at Yggdra Union where the Titular Yggdra and her thief ally Milanor are both equal as warriors and while Yggdra does eventually get captured, she got captured specifically BECAUSE someone tougher descended from on high to trap her.

and again I don't hate the waif and mysterious girl, Sheba was that in Golden Sun the Lost Age, she spent a total of BEFORE JOINING THE PARTY being shipped around between countries, and once she does join she refuses to sit on the side lines, in fact it's her power that pushes the game along.

I overall agree that the 'waifu' character, that the male player is supposed to fall in love with and have a desire to rescue needs to go. Not only from a narrative stand point (and boy am I big on narrative) but from a gameplay stand point.

Don't make me devote time and resources to raising this party member, giving her weapons, grinding her skills, AND THEN TAKING HER AWAY FROM ME!

It's weird when I can say a HAREM game like Sakura Taisen can get "Strong females" right when other games can't. And in ST the 'strong girls' like Kanna, aren't raging bitches who punch people because 'Hurr I'm angry and unfeminine" Kanna kicks sharks and swims from Osaka to Japan because she's INSANE and good natured, she doesn't understand that Ichiro (the PC) is poor and frail.

Think that's an over exaggeration? during the 'mid season upgrade' part of the game, everyone went off to do training, Kanna's training was punching bears to death.

And she is entirely good natured and extremely kind.

How does she relate to this article? the cast of Sakura Taisen are actors on stage in the 1920's. which means they do act out a lot of stories (like Journey to the West)

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Although I agree with you about Lightning from FF XIII, I still say the times when she punched Snow in the face were the best parts of the game. Seriously, it kept me going through those endless linear corridors. "If I just make it to the next cut scene, Lightning might punch Snow again."

My disappointment in some Final Fantasy games is partially caused by the worthlessness of their heroines. I remain convinced that VII has the best story by far, in part because of the characters. Although Tifa has ridiculous boobies, she still kicked ass pretty hard, and like that chick mentioned in the article from the game I didn't play, she rescued Cloud from his crazy split-personality whatever was going on there. Aeris was more the sacrifice type. I didn't like her as much, but you have to admire someone who will take one for the team (right through the gallbladder). Yuffie was annoying.

By the time I played VIII, I was going through an ultra-feminist phase, and I hated Rinoa for how useless she was, even if in some ways she was portrayed as strong. That didn't really pan out, and by the millionth time I had to rescue her ass, I just wanted her to die. Garnet from IX was even worse. Yuna was better, although she had the whiney low self-esteem thing going, and that part where she married Seymore was just weird and dumb. Dumb and weird. The girls in XII were pretty awesome, even if they were rather boring. At least they were normal human beings who weren't lame or annoying in any way. They went a bit backwards (and nuts) with XIII, considering the role of Serah. And can someone explain Vanille to me? What the hell were they thinking? Fang seemed cool, but they didn't really bother to build her character more than the minimum amount. The only thing that made her interesting was the lesbian vibe they threw in there. But hey, at least there's that. When did this become a rant about FF XIII?

Anyway, strong female characters are still important to me, which is why I tend to stay away from JRPGs. I swear I only keep playing Final Fantasy games out of some desperate hope that they'll pull out something as cool at VII again.

gallaetha_matt:
Wait, wait, wait - Eileen Stahl? 'Raptor Red' from Something Awful? If so, that's awesome. One of the funniest writers Something Awful had (next to Zack Parsons and Bobservo) that didn't have to mention 'piles and piles of dogs!' to get laughs.

This was an interesting article either way. I always like reading about gender politics in the creative mediums (assuming your imagination is tweaked enough to refer to the stereotypical JRPG as creative), it always helps me so I know what to avoid when writing female characters of my own.

A lot of the female characters that I create tend to go more the 'Lightning' route described here. Thoughtlessly cruel and often violent, the sort of women that'd watch a child get kicked to death and the only emotion it'd arouse would be hunger.

I should stop basing female characters on my ex-girlfriends, basically.

Part of the reason I don't play JRPG's anymore is because of all the irritating characters,'Princess Types' included that hang around in them. The last one I played was Final Fantasy 9, the characters in that game annoyed me so much that I couldn't get more than half way.

It isn't just the female characters that annoy me either. The boringly stoic male leads (hmmph... whatever) and bizarrely fetishistic animal characters (who here actually liked Cait Sith? Anyone?) and the constant badgering from the token 9 year old child that runs around acting like they know it all (I really wanted to watch EIko from Final Fantasy 9 get fed into a mincer and then set on fire. That probably isn't healthy).

Which is another thing I don't get. Why does every JRPG have to use teenagers and children as either their main characters or as party members? Children are useless in a fight, and I should know.

For me - JRPG's have been kind of stagnating in medieval Japanese culture for a long time and it's starting to look rather sad on their part. I'd welcome any recommendations for JRPG's that break the mould, but I've been let down before. I'd need to see a total overhaul before I'd even consider playing another JRPG game.

Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey. Your a trained, fully grown soldier working with other (male and female) fully grown soldiers in a dungeon crawler RPG. (seriously no one under the age of 24 is in that game)

The Random One:
Snip

Huh. I'd forgotten about most of that, and never even noticed the stats thing. All I remembered about her was that she managed to lead her own rebellion group. In retrospect, the people in the group were the kind of people that would do anyhing a ditzy girl like Rinoa would ask.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't a princess, that was just her incredibly cliched code name as leader of the- you know, I'm going to stop now, because this is actually one of the worst examples I've ever heard
FF8 is still one of my favourites though, although apparantely as long as I don't play it again.

I believe that the best way to write a female character is to simply put, just treat them as another characer, not T and A, not the infinite feminist movement leader, not as a damsel in distress, simply write for them as you would a man and aside from some new chest hair they should be fine.

I like that somehow people think female protagonists treated as T&A quotient is exclusive to Eastern RPGs.

Skyweir:

Therumancer:
This is a satire right?

snip

Chrono Trigger was mixing it up? Really? Shcala and Marle? Queen Zeal and Ayla? They are all pretty shallow characters that fit either this or other classic female stereotypes.

As for the rest, it is the same anti-feminist drivel we always get in the comments of these kind of articles.
I would like some citations for those studies you mentioned.

The "they like it" argument is begging the question. "Why do girls like to play with dolls? Because they are girls".
Dividing nature and nuture in this case is basicly impossible, but I can garantee that there is no gene making girls play Barbie Horse Adventure more than boys. There are, however, a lot of parents with imprinted gender roles running around buying these kind of things for their little girls, and teaching them how to fit into society...

No he's right. I can't find the source, but I did learn of it in College (and College is if nothing else, very pro-feminist - actually the professor was a woman).

When I was a toddler, I had a "baby doll" (I'm a boy). But you'll notice something a little funny when a boy holds a baby doll, as opposed to a girl. Usually, a girl will "cradle" the doll. A boy will hold it in a more "rough" manner (arm, neck, etc). The boy sees the doll as a playmate. The girl sees it as a baby that's needs to be cared for.

Why is this?

It's a really simple matter to watch animals at play, and human children at play, and draw a correlation. "Play" is simply a matter of learning skills that will be used into adulthood. Adult women give birth to children. In such, they need to learn how to care for the child. That's is exactly why young girls gravitate to the toys and activities that they do.

As much as society has changed, you can't undo millions of years of evolution and instinct in one hundred years. Young boys still play in the manner they do, to foster the ability to work (and hunt) in a pack. Rough and tumble play teaches skills that may be used in the hunt as well (watch young animals if you don't believe me).

OP: Yeah some female characters fit that stereotype in JRPGs, and some don't. Much like any other media: movies, western fantasy/ RPGs, tv shows, etc...

In other news, the sky is blue.

ArkhamJester:
I believe that the best way to write a female character is to simply put, just treat them as another characer, not T and A, not the infinite feminist movement leader, not as a damsel in distress, simply write for them as you would a man and aside from some new chest hair they should be fine.

Women aren't shaven men.
You can't write a woman as you would a man, because it doesn't work. The opposite is also true.

tklivory:

snip

/applause

Excellent refutation of the internal contradiction inherent in the article's thesis. I wish I wasn't so innately emotional about the issue of JRPGs and female characters in general that I might be able to express such an eloquent argument.

And everyone else, do you not realize how ridiculous you sound talking about how little Japan has progressed in womens' rights like you've lived there for a decade or do you honestly think you're part of the master race?

This article tries too hard to be sensationalist. It's so narrow minded it's almost judgmental.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

I feel this is probably a reference that I was supposed to get, but sadly has sailed over my head.

Seriously, I have no idea what the hell you're getting at here... I'm not sure whether it's that you're randomly flopping about without making a point, or that your grammar is so horrendous that I can't make heads or tails of this. The only thing I could maybe decipher is that you're regurgitating the myth that FFVII was the downfall of JRPGs. (Hardly true, it was the pinnacle of the genre.) Yet you don't seem to be doing anything to back that statement up, you just offer one sentence descriptions of Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger characters that don't offer anything substantial.

Seriously, I think I felt my brain ooze from my ear a little bit.

First I never said that FFVII or any of the latter games were bad, my point was just that an assumption in the article, that the depictions of female characters were at their worst in the SNES and early PS years, was false. I feel that as the Final Fantasy series has progressed past FFVII it has had, at least in my opinion, fewer strong female characters and an increasing number of female characters who seem weak and fall into the "Princess Type" disused in this article has increased. And if you read it again you will see that I said the problem starts to get bad after FFVII, meaning that I have no real issues with the depiction of women in the game. Yeah Aris is very feminine and fragile, but it worked within the games story and she was balanced out by Tifa and to a lesser extent Yuffi.

And my feelings on FF7 are entirely my own. It is a good game, it isn't my favorite RPG, but it's still good. I do think it is overrated and hardcore fans of it tend to overlook some pretty obvious flaws, but lack of perfection doesn't make it bad. But what I really think about FF7 was that it was a game-changer, it marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, and since then JRPG's just haven't appealed as much to me. Their are still JRPGs that I like, I really liked FFIX and Beaten Kaos and enjoyed Tails of Symphonia and some other games, but over all the new ones don't interest me as much as the older ones. And me not liking the games as much is not why I was disparaging of their depiction of women. You could say, however, that their depiction of women, and the changing character types found in most recent JRPG's is one of the factors as to why I'm not as excited for newer JRPG's.

I think one of the core issues is I feel that with all of the technical improvements in games it should be so much easier to create a really life like and three dimensional character and have that character develop organically, but generally the characters I see are no more developed, and in some cases less so, than there 16 bit counter parts. It's like people saw FFVII as the ultimate example of video game storytelling instead of just an important step in the right direction.

Using Yuna as an example of a strong woman is kinda off, She gets kidnapped by Al Behd twice and has to be saved by the party both times. She spends most of the game apologising for things beyond her control (which covers almost everything in the game.) From Bevelle onward she starts to get better, yes she fluffs the sending, but it's something she does off her own back and doesn't need the party to come thundering to her rescue, she has an exit strategy. In fact they probably contributed to her fluffing the sending. She does, however, have the most believable about face ever in a JRPG, or indeed anywhere. Rather than simply No, U. She hears what she's expected to do and thinks before finally saying "Actually, no, there must be a better way, so fuck you, I'm off to find it." By the end of the game she becomes a stronger female character, far and away better than Lightning's Man with Boobs persona. But there is no way in hell she starts off as anything other than the Princess. And as one person also stated, so does Tidus. Pair of angsty whining bitches the both of them. And yet, despite this, I still enjoy FFX, it's one of my more favoured FF games. Sue me.

Great article but I'd like to disagree with you using Atoli from the .hack series as an example. While it is true that she fits almost all of the criteria of the helpless RPG girl it should also be noted that it is a far more realistic take on it that any other RPG I have played.

To start with the main character finds her annoying as hell and mostly is just using her for her heals. Secondly her one big scream moment was also the moment when she realized she was in actual real danger as opposed to playing an online game.Fully half of the male readers right now would scream an octave higher if they suddenly found out their WOW character getting ganked might put them in a coma.
She isn't kidnapped by the villain so much as brainwashed over a long period of time ( way before the game even begins) into seeing him as the best thing ever. Lastly once said jerk is giving a good pounding she buckles down and wile still a little flighty serves as a stable member of the cast for the end half of the game.

Given the setting of the .Hack series I think Atoli was a rather realistic interpretation of someone who likes graphically impressive games but ultimately abhors violence.

SpaceMedarotterX:

It's weird when I can say a HAREM game like Sakura Taisen can get "Strong females" right when other games can't. And in ST the 'strong girls' like Kanna, aren't raging bitches who punch people because 'Hurr I'm angry and unfeminine" Kanna kicks sharks and swims from Osaka to Japan because she's INSANE and good natured, she doesn't understand that Ichiro (the PC) is poor and frail.

Think that's an over exaggeration? during the 'mid season upgrade' part of the game, everyone went off to do training, Kanna's training was punching bears to death.

And she is entirely good natured and extremely kind.

How does she relate to this article? the cast of Sakura Taisen are actors on stage in the 1920's. which means they do act out a lot of stories (like Journey to the West)

A fellow Sakura Taisen fan!
Not to forget Maria Tachibana (Russian revolution veteran, exotic and cold as her country) and Reni Milchstrabe (Expressionless miracle child from German eugenic program) from Sakura Wars 2, also Lobelia Carlini(Wanted criminal with over 1000 year jail sentence), Glycine Bleumer(Prideful noble of Viking decedent) and Coquelicot(Tomboy circus orphan from Vietnam) from Sakura Taisen 3.
Sagiitta Weinberg(African-American leader of a Harlem biker gang) from Sakura Taisen 5 too is good but extreme example.

Let's not forget that game often take ques from story and TV drama Archetype/Stereotype. These archetype exist that so the viewer or player can quickly identify the character's role in the story and personality.
These archetype apply to both male and female characters.

The Female Personality of 3 generally applies to many form of story from Japan.
1) Older= mature, sexy, mysterious
2) Same age= helpful, childhood/good friend
3) Younger= innocent, curiosity,

The same reason why anime use different color for hair to relate to personality; ie: pink=innocent, red=tomboy, blue=mature, green=good nature, blond=exotic/outgoing(interesting color to choose isn't?).

By combining the 2 above you can create a large group of characters.
ie:
Older women with green hair= sexy next door good nature or motherly wife.
Same age with blond hair= childhood friend returning from oversea.
Young with blue hair= that creepy child that follows the main character everywhere.
Older man with purple hair= mature and mysterious and equally untrustworthy.
Same age with green hair= smiley faced funny classmate that is the butt of jokes.
Younger with red hair= that hyperactive kid with a tan and band-aid.

Hair style too plays a role in identifying character personally.

Yes, I am quite the weeboo and I live in the region as Japan.

well, what to say about the article?
yes, yes, yes, a thousand times: yes

these helpless, sorry-i-forgot-my-self-esteem-at-home, who cannot do anything besides sobbing, crying and being absolutely powerless, and maybe calling the hero's name in dangerous situations, are the very reason i do not like jrpgs that much.

It's the shameless stereotypying of genders that turns a lot of people off of video games. I've found that there's rarely a happy medium of well-written, well-characterized heroines to keep my interest in games.

Jade (Beyond Good and Evil) was awesome-- fought, took initiative, and wasn't the least bit passive about anything thrown at her-- but I'm hard-pressed to think of any others. As much as I loved Chrono Trigger, even Lucca was second string in the story, and she was the most realistically defined woman in the game. In the sequel, Kid and Harle are still passive-if-badass women who always take the back seat while the male lead drives. It's rarely any better than Western games that constantly have women limited to the realm of "distant/radio support" or "blatant boob fanservice."

It's not a "trend" in games to have a passive "heroine". It's the standard, and while it sells, and the promise of virtual sex and boobs can help promote games, then it stays the norm.

Excellent article.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Chrissyluky:

EileenStahl:
Final Fantasy XIII conspicuously avoided giving Lightning even slightly feminine traits, perhaps for fear they would still carry that ancient connotation of weakness.

I hope you write more of these articles, lightning was a HORRIBLE character among other bad characters in a bad linear game that I wouldn't even call a final fantasy game.

That's an interesting point of view, coming from someone who makes it a point to boisterously advertise their gender.

Huh? I know nothing about Chrissyluky, though her avatar tells me that you are probably right, but I have to know: what train of thought did you follow to come to the conclusion that it had even the least bit to do with her ability to perceive the quality of a character?

ArkhamJester:
I believe that the best way to write a female character is to simply put, just treat them as another characer, not T and A, not the infinite feminist movement leader, not as a damsel in distress, simply write for them as you would a man and aside from some new chest hair they should be fine.

Could not have said it better, except I would clarify that women should not be written as if they were men, merely approached as people like many male characters are.

But not all. No, not all. Most male characters are as poorly written as the female ones, if for different reasons. My main problem with JRPGs is that most of them seem to write not just females but all characters from a short list of stereotypical builds. That's lazy and incompetent writing.

(WRPGs do the same, mind you, just to a slightly lesser degree.)

Therumancer:
Like it or not women do *tend* not to be as aggressive or combative as men, and to gravitate towards certain kinds of professions. Nobody holds guns to the head of young girls and says "play with dolls", "enjoy Barbie Horse Adventuers", and similar things despite what feminists might imply. Sure there are plenty of exceptions, tomboys and the like who are interested in all the same thing guys are, but there is some truth to the simple fact that where boys are interested in action, combat, and adventure, you have girls enjoying their "Disney Princess" products.

I think you're missing the point here. The characters the article is talking about aren't "wussy" because they are effeminate; they are wussy because they are pretty much the antithesis of everything a hero is supposed to be. Unless you're prepared to make the statement that girls are genetically predisposed against being heroic, your evidence doesn't really refute anything in the article.

Sir John the Net Knight:

I'm sad that people approach female characters, especially JRPG characters in such a dichotomous manner. A female character that commits the sin of displaying femininity must be crucified as a bad character. A female character that defies femininity is automatically a good character.

I don't really think that's the case here unless you consider self-sacrifice an aspect of femininity...

tklivory:

I must say I can pretty much disagree with most everything in the article. "In Japan...women were seen as inherently fragile and their 'heroism' was defined by their maidenly virtue..." Citation, please! I'm sorry, is this author talking about the Japan that exists in our world? Or is she talking about Europe? Or is she, in fact, talking about the Japan that Westerners think they know about but, in fact, don't have a clue about. For example, in the Tokugawa period, is she talking about samurai? Ainu? Peasants? Merchants? Imperial? Courtesan? Each strata of Japanese society had different expectations of their women, and absolutely NO class of women in Japan (in any era) were ever expected to let their "heroism" rest solely on their 'maidenly virtue'.

Also, her reference to the Onna Daigaku - really? One could make the same argument about the Bible being a guidebook for proper womanly behavior for the same time period in Europe, but historical study shows that although many people wrote about the Bible as an guide for proper behavior, the vast majority of the society didn't actually hold women to that ideal save through lip service. You'd think she only knows about Japanese culture from one or two books and not from actual historical study... If that's the case, then I challenge you to think about this: how accurate are Disney movies and Looney Tunes at portraying gender roles in the West? If you only read Shakespeare, what would your expectation be of women in Renaissance Padua? If you only read historical romance novels, how would you describe a typical woman of 19th century England? Did all women in the middle of the twentieth century really live and die by the Emily Post guide to etiquette?

Well, for what it's worth, I've taken a few college level courses on Japanese history here in Japan, and most of what the article has to say about women in medieval Japan matches what the professor said. I'm not saying you're wrong, but if you are going to criticize the article's sources at least provide some studies that back up your own claims.

One female character (who I suppose you could place in the Princess archetype) that I actually LIKED was Yuna from FFX. When I first played the game I was just beginning high school, and suffered from almost as much negative self esteem as Yuna did. I could relate to her as a character, and the fact that she was still able to wield some pretty incredible power helped me feel a little better about my own weaknesses; it made me think, "Maybe there are some things that I'm great at too."
When I re-played FFX years later, after I had begun to find my place in the world and was beginning to leave behind my old, timid self, I found myself getting annoyed with Yuna. But then, I started to notice the significant growth her character experiences throughout the game, and I was able to appreciate it as almost mirroring my own.
I think in the end all women, just like men, have their strong and their weak sides. Alice and Lightning are two extremes that just don't do any women true justice, but characters like Yuna who experience believable growth and change ring truer than any of these archetypal female models.
(And let's just pretend FFX-2 never happened, shall we?)

To anyone putting up counter examples:
You're right, the matter isn't cut and dry.

But the article doesn't state that.

These girls (very rarely women, Quistis comes close and then you find out she's 19...) are supposed to be the heroine, as in the female hero, yet practically never actually do anything heroic. They're incentives, plot-devices and its always the guy that has to actually get the job done. That's why they're princesses.

Getting captured and generally victimized simply adds to the argument that they're not heroes but rather (as implied) victims. Whining a lot doesn't help matters either.

And these are also girls who set out to be adventurers. They're supposed to be dedicated to the goal of the party enough to leave their life behind and risk their lives on a daily basis. Yet they're usually about as far from adventurous as you can get.

The article then, explains this by stating that this is ingrained into Japanese culture. It's not that different in the West, but that doesn't change that its true. Its traditional to see the woman as subservient and this rings on in video games. Not the most innovative things I've ever heard but the comparison with the traditions of Kabuki, which largely invented the Japanese character stereotypes, are at least interesting.

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