279: Wussy RPG Girls

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Meemaimoh:

Sir John the Net Knight:

Chrissyluky:

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?

A perception over many hard to miss posts, along with that bubbly "lookit me" avatar that would suggest she wants everyone to know that she is a she. And I'm not privy to any deeper aspects of that opinion, but it would seem that someone who is dead set upon advertising there gender that they would add more here than a simple, "X character is horrible because X game is horrible because the article author says so." I wouldn't have bothered to say anything, but I had to consider the subject matter here.

boholikeu:

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...

No, not really. And that's not even close to what I was trying to say...I don't really feel like I want to go back and point it out again, I'll just ask you to re-read what I wrote.

Long time reader first time poster, so hello everyone!

I am amazed no one has mentioned any of the original Phantasy Star games (I - IV). Maybe it's a generational thing?

For example, in PSI we have Alis Landale, who takes up her brother's cause, saves the planet and becomes Queen! And this was originally released on Sega Master system, dating it somewhere between, what, 1986 - 1988? Plus, Alis's characterization was not overally agressive and I don't believe she punched anyone the whole time.

PS2 is a bit weaker for references but I would say Shir and Anna, who are two supporting characters. Likewise, in PS3 many of the supporting females are strong in their own right, if not well developed. Lena, who helps you rescue the princess after springing you out of jail, Sairi (her daughter) and Kara were all strong female roles.

Finally, PSIV...I would argue Alys Bragwin is an exceptionally strong character. She can be a teeny bit overbearing sometimes but you can see she has a softer side. Also, some who played this excellent game may argue she falls into the "sacficial lamb" category because she dies saving the protagonist. Point, but she chooses to in a split second, not bemoaning her fate or being set up as some of "saviour of the universe". Rika, the next main female in the game has many strong points - she is smart, a strong fighter and despite her childlike qualities, matures well through the game.

Btw, many have brought up excellent points and I am enjoying the discussion.

So....

Need a competent proof-reader for Escapist articles? I edit in both British and American English. References on request.

Estelle is pretty much a wussy staff chick to a T; princess, heals, gets captured and used as a battery, is a nice person, and so on. But she plays the trope so straight that I find her endearing anyway, even when I did grumble and roll my eyes at the kidnapping arc. It helps that I think her voice work is so cute. (Male weeaboo speaking, if that provides context.)

Can't really stand Colette though. Actually, I don't know anyone who can. I feel like she embodies the archetype SO MUCH and is just SO sugary sweet that there's no way there isn't some kind of calculated intent behind it all. Like she must be deconstructing something

Also, she tanks like an Abrams. So, that's a bit of a departure.

I read the article all the way through and thought it was a rather interesting assessment of modern day JRPGs. It was successful at bringing to my attention how the "distressed damsel", in trope terms, is often tossed in one way or another in this genre.

My one complaint, however, is the poor representation of the character of Alice in your article and your criticism of the writers behind the story. I believe she becomes far stronger than anyone in the rest of the game. The curse you mention that causes her to suffer and "writhe" was taken on by her own will to spare the main character. Even so, she endures the pain and suffering and assists the party when fighting the final boss. She does not get set aside and put in the corner. She does not get removed from the party. She does not suffer from being a useless character in the game. Game mechanics-wise she is not weakened at all. In fact, she proves to be one of the more powerful characters to have in your party. She makes it quite apparent she possess traits of bravery and stoicism. She dismisses any concern the party has for her as she tells them that the time of reckoning is before them and that they must move on in order to save the world.

If you were to look deeper into the Shadow Hearts series as a whole all of the primary female characters could not be caught in a situation where they were entirely helpless. Sticking to the first game you reference, Margarette, the super spy, is completely self sufficient and proves to be intelligent. In the beginning she proves that she is completely independent, and when she joins the party it is often by her actions that the party escapes great peril.

Holy Crap! I njust realized the title picture was from Shadow Hearts! You have made my day!

OT: Preety interestin g read, there.

Cyan.:
Japan still has a highly patriarchal society.

This is news to who now?

You'd be surprised, I've run into people who strongly believe it's feminized and that's why they're having a population crisis (one criticism was, seriously, "feminism makes population pyramids shaped like rockets." Because a pyramidal population structure totally won't have a dependency ratio the size of the sun).

Yeah, I've been to scary parts of the internet.

gallaetha_matt:

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.

Play Odin Sphere if you haven't already. It's an action/rpg with 3 of the 5 playable characters are ass kicking women leading armies bent on domination and/or revenge. One of them is actually punished for treason by being forced to become a house wife. Play it on a ps3 though, not a ps2, if you can because on a ps2 the game is hampered by slow downs when too many characters are on screen. It also has gorgeous 2d graphics and a great story line where you play through the same period of time with each character and see the events unfold through their unique perspectives. Only after you've played them all do you get a complete picture of the events.

A random person:

Cyan.:
Japan still has a highly patriarchal society.

This is news to who now?

You'd be surprised, I've run into people who strongly believe it's feminized and that's why they're having a population crisis (one criticism was, seriously, "feminism makes population pyramids shaped like rockets." Because a pyramidal population structure totally won't have a dependency ratio the size of the sun).

Yeah, I've been to scary parts of the internet.

Feminism causes population decrease actually. Women who are empowered, get educated, and get jobs, usually don't opt to have more than 1 or 2 children as opposed to traditional women roles which are to obediently pump out as many babies as possible.

A society needs a birth rate of 2.5 to maintain their population numbers. The more femenized and educated a country becomes the more their number drops. Several European countries have birth rates below 2.5 and would have shrinking populations except for immigrants from third world countries bent on having armies of children. America has a stable population rate of 2.4. While we are very feminist we are lacking in the education side of things.

As feminism and education takes hold in more and more cultures, world population will start to (thankfully) decline from the fast approaching breaking point where we don't have the water to sustain ourselves.

ALSO! I have a Japanese female friend who was born and raised here in America. I'll tell you the horror story of her brush with her home country's culture.

Her parents moved to America when she was about 1 or 2 years old because her father was transferred to his company's American branch. They loved and embraced American culture and she was raised very much like any American child would be. Then one day they received word from her very traditionalist grandfather.

He didn't think she'd find a good husband in America. So he found her one and arranged for them to get married. Her betrothed was on his way to America to meet her and finalize the arrangement.

She loved her grandfather and did not want to offend him so she decided to agree to meet this man and act as American as possible so that he would become uninterested in her. So she interrupted his monologues about how promising his job was and how she would produce him sons with questions. She walked ahead of him instead of behind him. Ate with silverware. And cussed. Until eventually he was so disgusted with her he left. Her grandfather soon contacted her saying how ashamed he was of her. Again, she loved her grandfather and decided to go to Japan to apologize to him directly.

She didn't know to stay away from the subway trains during the afternoon rush as work let out. She was packed into a car like a sardine with her cousins who were giving her a tour around some part of Tokyo. One of the many business men she was pressed up against decided he wanted to grope her. She screamed and thrashed until the train stopped and let them off. Her cousins were furious with her for screaming and explained that when stuff like that happened you quietly endure it. It's not ladylike to cause a scene.

She now hates Japan and will never go back there.

To say Japan is a feminized country is so utterly moronic it gives me an aneurysm.

Sir John the Net Knight:

boholikeu:

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...

No, not really. And that's not even close to what I was trying to say...I don't really feel like I want to go back and point it out again, I'll just ask you to re-read what I wrote.

Let me rephrase my point: just what about the article approaches female characters in the "dichotomous manner" that you described?

The article doesn't even talk about femininity. The "wussy" qualities it talks about are whining, depression, and self-sacrifice, not actual effeminate things like wearing dresses or liking shopping. Unless you consider the first three traits to be "displays of femininity" I really don't see how you can accuse the author of falling into the usual effeminate=bad butch=good dichotomy.

Also, for the record, I agree with you that the above dichotomy is way too common in debates like this, but you seem to use it as a catch-all argument against feminists in general (it's not). You bring it up in nearly every discussion about gender politics here on the Escapist, but half the time the other side isn't actually doing what you're accusing them of.

I approve of this article.

I think this is the reason why I like Heather in SH3 so much. She's not a wuss - but neither is she extremely bad ass. Heather's just a teenage girl who stumbled into a situation that is both frightening and insane, yet she refuses to go to her knees before it; she fights back. I dare say she's one of the best female heroine's I've ever seen.

Yup. A large portion of the RPG market is men.

Most men don't want strong women - they want submissive, cute and idealized heroines.

A product of its market, this is, yes.

Darkauthor81:
snip for space

The implication I was making is that the people I've run into think said population decrease is a bad thing (fun fact: being on the verge of exceeding China population-wise isn't something for India to brag about). Also, I'd say their population drop has more to do with their baby boom than anything (because that much density really would put you off kids), and they serve more as an example of why you should keep your birth rates consistent than anything.

As for moronicness, welcome to internet branches of the men's rights movement.

Quote from article:
"And just in case being weak and boring isn't compelling enough, JRPGs go through the trouble of making the her emotionally pathetic, too. Sometimes she was tortured in her childhood, like Yulie from Wild Arms 4 or Atoli from the .//hack series. And she frequently suffers from low self-esteem, fretting that she's a "burden" on the party or blaming herself for events that are beyond her control."

You know, Japan has done this not just to RPGs
*cough* Other M */cough*

Well this post has certainly generated a lot of responses!

One thing I would like to point out, even though its unlikely that it will get across to most people at this late stage, is that the author is slightly confusing the issue.

For example, there is a distinct difference between sexisim in regards to if the issue is that you do not have the ability to make a *choice* about your behavior or role in society and for instance, what those behaviors or roles are. The author, in making the parallel between a female choosing to exhibit culturally male behavior as the litmus test, is defining the issue as "unless the female can freely exhibit stereotypical enforced male behavior, the society in question is sexist." as if the behavior itself (and in many case this is not true...) is actually a *desired* behavior.

To reinforce the point, just look at the "working woman" phenomena of second wave feminism in the united states, where success was defined as a woman adopting culturally stereotypical male aspirations and behaviors in regards to the work place, that were (and are) in fact actually *damaging* behaviors for a person in question regardless of their gender. We've wised up a lot since then and have adopted better policies instead like flexible working hours and expectations around home/work life balance that instead of forcing women to act like men in order to have success, allow them to balance certain biological imperatives (like for instance, reproduction - hello, this is a big deal!) with being able to have success in the work place.

Finally, the really great thing about the new approach and way of thinking (and I hesitate to call it new, since it really is more mainstream first wave feminism, unpolluted by second and third wave gender/identity politics) is that the benefits carry on to everyone in society regardless of their gender or aspirations. Case in point - today, as a man, it's far more acceptable for me to take time off work to be with my kids or my family than it was 40 years ago. In fact, where I work, we actually get paid paternity leave, which is really an amazing concession if you think about it for the work place, and it was all brought about by instead of warping women to fit into the work place, modifying the workplace so that it enabled women to contribute more, while respecting that in a very basic and biological way, the genders are different.

A random person:

Darkauthor81:
snip for space

The implication I was making is that the people I've run into think said population decrease is a bad thing (fun fact: being on the verge of exceeding China population-wise isn't something for India to brag about). Also, I'd say their population drop has more to do with their baby boom than anything (because that much density really would put you off kids), and they serve more as an example of why you should keep your birth rates consistent than anything.

As for moronicness, welcome to internet branches of the men's rights movement.

H.... HOW could population decrease be a bad thing? Aren't 7 billion people enough? For what possible purpose could population increase have?

Where do you find these people? lol

Darkauthor81:

A random person:

Darkauthor81:
snip for space

The implication I was making is that the people I've run into think said population decrease is a bad thing (fun fact: being on the verge of exceeding China population-wise isn't something for India to brag about). Also, I'd say their population drop has more to do with their baby boom than anything (because that much density really would put you off kids), and they serve more as an example of why you should keep your birth rates consistent than anything.

As for moronicness, welcome to internet branches of the men's rights movement.

H.... HOW could population decrease be a bad thing? Aren't 7 billion people enough? For what possible purpose could population increase have?

Where do you find these people? lol

Look up The Spearhead, and for these specific instances, look for their articles on Japan.

To be fair, one argued Japan's not feminized, but the comments for that article were where I got thing about rocket-shaped population pyramids.

Edit: Nevermind, the comments for that one article were deleted. They do occasionally go on about how the west will be taken over by more traditional baby-heavy societies like in the middle east, though.

am I the only one who noticed that the guy in the background of the link on the top is poking her boob?

MrChainsawNinja:
I read the article all the way through and thought it was a rather interesting assessment of modern day JRPGs. It was successful at bringing to my attention how the "distressed damsel", in trope terms, is often tossed in one way or another in this genre.

My one complaint, however, is the poor representation of the character of Alice in your article and your criticism of the writers behind the story. I believe she becomes far stronger than anyone in the rest of the game. The curse you mention that causes her to suffer and "writhe" was taken on by her own will to spare the main character. Even so, she endures the pain and suffering and assists the party when fighting the final boss. She does not get set aside and put in the corner. She does not get removed from the party. She does not suffer from being a useless character in the game. Game mechanics-wise she is not weakened at all. In fact, she proves to be one of the more powerful characters to have in your party. She makes it quite apparent she possess traits of bravery and stoicism. She dismisses any concern the party has for her as she tells them that the time of reckoning is before them and that they must move on in order to save the world.

If you were to look deeper into the Shadow Hearts series as a whole all of the primary female characters could not be caught in a situation where they were entirely helpless. Sticking to the first game you reference, Margarette, the super spy, is completely self sufficient and proves to be intelligent. In the beginning she proves that she is completely independent, and when she joins the party it is often by her actions that the party escapes great peril.

We know. Alice exists to suffer and then heroically sacrifices herself to save her man. That's exactly what the article said she does, and is exactly the purpose the "Princess archetype" serves in theater.
Of course, the people here keep trying to rebut Stahl's points by pulling random characters out of various RPGs when the article specifically stated that the lead female character/love interest is the focus because that's where the trend is. And indeed, all the characters she profiled were the lead female character/love interest.

The Cheezy One:

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.

Saying she "leads" it is a stretch.
Calling the Forest Owls competent is an even bigger stretch.

Stuntkid:
Quote from article:
"And just in case being weak and boring isn't compelling enough, JRPGs go through the trouble of making the her emotionally pathetic, too. Sometimes she was tortured in her childhood, like Yulie from Wild Arms 4 or Atoli from the .//hack series. And she frequently suffers from low self-esteem, fretting that she's a "burden" on the party or blaming herself for events that are beyond her control."

You know, Japan has done this not just to RPGs
*cough* Other M */cough*

That was Ninja Theory; they're a UK developer.

Nazrel:

Stuntkid:
Quote from article:
"And just in case being weak and boring isn't compelling enough, JRPGs go through the trouble of making the her emotionally pathetic, too. Sometimes she was tortured in her childhood, like Yulie from Wild Arms 4 or Atoli from the .//hack series. And she frequently suffers from low self-esteem, fretting that she's a "burden" on the party or blaming herself for events that are beyond her control."

You know, Japan has done this not just to RPGs
*cough* Other M */cough*

That was Ninja Theory; they're a UK developer.

Wait, I thought the story wasn't written by team ninja, but the co-creater of the metroid franchise.
*Tortures myself through Other M again, so I can see the credits*

Whichi:
Aeris: healer princess. gets "sacrificed". no one really cared or remembered after disc 1 until the end of disc 3.

CitySquirrel:
I am also surprised Aeris didn't appear in this article. The quintessential sacrificial lamb... although she may be almost Messianic, so perhaps she is an entirely different kettle of fish.

Sonofadiddly:
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).

I've always seen Aeris as quite a strong character, actually. Like every other character in Final Fantasy 7, she has a tragic past, but she's the only one who doesn't let it bother her and is actually pretty cheerful and well-adjusted. When she first meets Cloud, she's attracted to him, so she immediately (and unnecessarily) asks him to guard her on the walk home so she can spend more time with him. Compare to Tifa's passivity when she has Cloud all to herself.

She's even pretty active in the date sequence. During the gondola ride, it's revealed that she's somehow realized that Cloud's personality is a put-on (though she's confused by this counterintuitive) and she says that she wants to meet the real Cloud. She's not asking him if he likes her or blushing at going on a date with him, she's directly telling him "I want to know you better".

When Aeris leaves the party, she does it to go save the world with her awakened special power so she and Cloud and everyone can all be happy together. When she realizes she can fix the problem, she goes right out to do it without Cloud. She's stronger than the hero!

Aeris' death wasn't a "sacrifice". She didn't even see it coming and it didn't benefit anyone but the villain. She was simply murdered, which is the point. The strongest, best person was killed by the villain because she was going to save the world. What's everyone going to do now?

Final Fantasy 7 has fairly good writing, and I'd welcome a cash-in remake only because it'd actually have a competent translation the second time around.

Nazrel:

Stuntkid:
Quote from article:
"And just in case being weak and boring isn't compelling enough, JRPGs go through the trouble of making the her emotionally pathetic, too. Sometimes she was tortured in her childhood, like Yulie from Wild Arms 4 or Atoli from the .//hack series. And she frequently suffers from low self-esteem, fretting that she's a "burden" on the party or blaming herself for events that are beyond her control."

You know, Japan has done this not just to RPGs
*cough* Other M */cough*

That was Ninja Theory; they're a UK developer.

No, no, you're thinking of Team Ninja. Totally different company, and they are Japanese. They've also made Dead or Alive and its Beach Volleyball spin-offs and the current-gen Ninja Gaiden games. All of these games have jiggle physics.

Fronzel:
Aeris' death wasn't a "sacrifice". She didn't even see it coming and it didn't benefit anyone but the villain. She was simply murdered, which is the point. The strongest, best person was killed by the villain because she was going to save the world. What's everyone going to do now?

Are you sure? I thought her death is what unleashed the white materia. Also, it seemed like she was part of the worldstream that stopped the meteorite at the end..."If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine" type deal.

CitySquirrel:

Fronzel:
Aeris' death wasn't a "sacrifice". She didn't even see it coming and it didn't benefit anyone but the villain. She was simply murdered, which is the point. The strongest, best person was killed by the villain because she was going to save the world. What's everyone going to do now?

Are you sure? I thought her death is what unleashed the white materia. Also, it seemed like she was part of the worldstream that stopped the meteorite at the end..."If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine" type deal.

She did appear at the end and apparently had something to do with the spewing of the lifestream which saved the world, but the reason that Sepiroth killed her in the first place is that she was in the process of doing that while she was alive. Otherwise she would have popped the evil metor and FF7 would only have had one disc. Killing her meant he was able to keep her spell under his thumb, which is why he had to be killed the save the world.

Obi-won spoke of dying before deliberatly dropping his guard and letting himself be killed. Aeris spoke of everyone having a happy life together when she had saved the world. I just looked up the script and the last thing she ever says to Cloud is "Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over."

In fact, let me just put their entire last conversation down. I think it shows that Aeris is pretty badass. I'll spoiler it just so that it's hidden because it's kinda huge on the page.

Also, take a look at her death scene(with a nice piano version of the scoring). I tend to interpret the fact that she rises from her prayers to smile at Cloud and the expression on her face while being stabbed to indicate that she didn't see it coming, though I guess there are other ways to interpret it.

I agree that FF7 was a nice subversion of this trope. Fronzel pointed out that for all her usual Staff Chick traits (healer of the party, fights with a staff, not tough physically, tragic life/death,) she's the more assertive of the two female leads, while the tough bruiser who also owns a bar is more shy and clingy. Really, the Final Fantasy games in general at least try to avoid this trait, Rosa excepted. Even then, she and Rydia would rebel against the casual sexism of Cecil and company by the end of the game. The series also brought us Terra (who was fairly passive but countered it with a strong character growth and quite a lot of power,) the above-mentioned Celes, Ashe, and several others. Even Yuna rebelled against her very cliched sacrifice role in the end. Its helps that the series always has exactly three female characters in the standard "weak healer/strong warrior or black mage/spunky kid or teenager" roles. It means at least one of them tends to be fairly strong.

Fronzel:
She did appear at the end and apparently had something to do with the spewing of the lifestream which saved the world, but the reason that Sepiroth killed her in the first place is that she was in the process of doing that while she was alive. Otherwise she would have popped the evil metor and FF7 would only have had one disc. Killing her meant he was able to keep her spell under his thumb, which is why he had to be killed the save the world....

This does sort of make sense.

However:

Aeris: And Cloud, you take care of yourself.
She walks back behind the tree, off-handedly leaning back so that we just see her head.
Aeris: So you don't have a breakdown, okay?

and then:

Aeris: At least it should be. ...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something.
She cocks her head to one side and waves, cutely, femininely, childishly, to Cloud.
Aeris: Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over.

"Take care of yourself" sound like final words. You don't say that if you expect to see the person in the near future. She does then explain it...but there is a beat. As if she is adding that. This is more of double meanings than her literally telling him he needs to take care of himself so that he doesn't lose it. Then, "it feels like I'm being led by something" suggests fate, destiny, or purpose. There is not just an internal drive or a decision to just end all of this but external forces are driving her. She does say "I'll come back when it's all over" but this doesn't necessarily mean that she is planning on actually coming back soon. After all, "I'll return" fits right in with the messianic theme I mentioned. Furthermore, she does return when it is all over... as part if the life stream that stops the meteor. This, combined with her knowing smile and the holy(!) materia rolling away from her towards Cloud when she dies, makes me believe that she was a sacrifice. Furthermore, Aeris stops the meteor by being part of the life stream; she appeared to play a rather large role in it. This would not have been possible if she were still alive.

I'm not saying this makes her a wussy RPG girl... being a messiah is pretty badass, and not a role a lot of women are given. But it does mean she had to die to be so awesome, so maybe it still fits in with the noble sacrifice trope. I'm undecided on this.

For the most part, the article is entirely correct... and most non-wussy RPG girls overcompensate in the opposite direction, coming off as childishly confrontational... with the proverbial "chip on her shoulder". My favorite exception to such (from a game right smack dab in the middle of wussy RPG girl popularity):
image

I just remembered something else interesting about Aeris; the hero isn't her first love. In fact, she's initially only attracted to the hero because he resembles her first love so much (which isn't a coincidence), though she does get over that and becomes genuinely interested in him.

Japanese pop-culture is pretty obsessed with first loves, so this is pretty weird.

CitySquirrel:

Aeris: And Cloud, you take care of yourself.
She walks back behind the tree, off-handedly leaning back so that we just see her head.
Aeris: So you don't have a breakdown, okay?

and then:

Aeris: At least it should be. ...I feel it. It feels like I'm being led by something.
She cocks her head to one side and waves, cutely, femininely, childishly, to Cloud.
Aeris: Then, I'll be going now. I'll come back when it's all over.

"Take care of yourself" sound like final words. You don't say that if you expect to see the person in the near future. She does then explain it...but there is a beat. As if she is adding that. This is more of double meanings than her literally telling him he needs to take care of himself so that he doesn't lose it. Then, "it feels like I'm being led by something" suggests fate, destiny, or purpose. There is not just an internal drive or a decision to just end all of this but external forces are driving her. She does say "I'll come back when it's all over" but this doesn't necessarily mean that she is planning on actually coming back soon. After all, "I'll return" fits right in with the messianic theme I mentioned. Furthermore, she does return when it is all over... as part if the life stream that stops the meteor. This, combined with her knowing smile and the holy(!) materia rolling away from her towards Cloud when she dies, makes me believe that she was a sacrifice. Furthermore, Aeris stops the meteor by being part of the life stream; she appeared to play a rather large role in it. This would not have been possible if she were still alive.

That does work. I'm not sure now.

When she went to that place where she died (its name escapes me) she's definitely supposed to have used the white materia and set something in motion that Sepiroth had to suppress lest it zap the meteor. Would that not have worked if she were alive? I always thought that if she lived, Sepiroth wouldn't have been able to stop her spell, which wouldn't have needed to be as powerful anyway since the meteor was further away at the time.

So, is the problem that video game female heroines are too delicate or too butch? My opinion is that the answer is neither and both. The problem with video game female heroines(and it's true for the video game male heroes, as well) is that they exist primarily in only 2 infinitesimally narrow bands of possibility. The fact is that in real-life, you find females that are the princess-type, and you find females that are the butch-type; so, it is perfectly reasonable that these types should exist in the game. However, in addition, you also find a vast spectral band of female's whose personalities span a continuum in between those extremes and then pierce, fractal like, into a direction normal to the spectral line. Video games, so far as I've seen, have failed to explore this vast middle region of the spectrum, instead, focusing on two specific possibilities.

With male heroes, the situation is about the same or potentially worse, depending on how you view the situation, because the male hero is usually restricted to 1 possibility depending on the game's cultural origins. In the western culture, the male hero is usually the gun-toting, apathetic, foul-mouthed, over-muscled bad-ass. In the eastern culture, the male hero is usually a weapon-toting(they like more than just guns) effeminate, but his personality is choice of apathetic bad-ass, neurotic mess, or caring affectionate. In comparison, the 2 possibilities for female heroines seem to occur regardless of culture.

In either case, video games just don't do a good job exploring the possibilities of the human experience. It is this lack of exploration that has made video games difficult to take seriously as an artistic medium because the industry is not allowing video games to BE an artistic medium(note that I am implying video games are every bit capable as an artistic medium; however those making video games have so far, in my opinion, with a few noted exceptions, failed to use it as such).

(After writing on this a bit, I realized there is a third female portrayed quite often in video games, the porn-star. That scantly-clad, voluptuous, dominatrix vixen who is there for no other purpose than to pique the testosterone of young male video gamers. While such women do indeed exist in real-life, it is an overly abundant character in video games.)

Wutaiflea:

I really don't agree with the article. Yes, JRPGs do sometimes have weak heroines, but they also have very strong, positive female leads, such as Tifa from FF7 and Yuna from FFX.

wait, wait... you actually consider Yuna a strong, positive female lead? Yuna was such a wilting daisy that she was unbearable. sure, she had moments of strength, but overall she was characterized as frail and weak.

i do agree that Tifa was positive, but then again, she was less of a lead and more of a sidekick.

I have to agree with you. Women in video games tend to be eather completely usless ((Rosa)) or a raving b*tch. ((Lightning))

Dont get me wrong. There are many shades of women. Smart, kind, independint......

But in video games, there seems to be a large biased against them. In some games theyer completely removed. ((play black ops. You only see 3 women the entire single player. And one of them dies.))

Game designers seem to be cought on the idea the women are eather little girls, or psycho killers. One of the few women i can think of that was accually strong and independant, without being a b*tch was Tifa. But even then, she had breasts you could build a country on!

okay, some valid points here, but the girls from Legend of Dragoon spent the majority of the game kicking some serious ass (yes even Shana had some moments). Seriously, Meru was the strongest one in the whole bloody game once you ranked her up

Fleaman:
Can't really stand Colette though. Actually, I don't know anyone who can. I feel like she embodies the archetype SO MUCH and is just SO sugary sweet that there's no way there isn't some kind of calculated intent behind it all. Like she must be deconstructing something.

She was. She was an outgoing and friendly character who loved dogs, was willing to give a chance to anyone to be good, and was willing to do anything to help other people. Then you realize that most of these are traits that were cultivated (and in some ways, bred) into her. Then you realize that she's so sweet and caring to others that she has almost no sense of self-worth left. Then you have to consider what effect it's had on her, when her life goal, everything she was raised to believe, turns out to be a complete lie.

Naturally she embodies the sugary, friendly, self-sacrifical archetype. It's all she knows, and after the Tower of Salvation incident, it's all she has left. To put it another way, for most of the game, she's basically insane. The deconstruction is complete when that insanity very nearly kills her.

...yeah, she's actually my favorite character, if it wasn't obvious. She's like Tohru Honda (manga version) with superpowers.

Also, she tanks like an Abrams. So, that's a bit of a departure.

Heh. What do you get when you mix the Life Thief and Spirit Thief compound skills with the S-tech line? Colette in God Mode.

Really, I don't know why people think she's a primary magic-user. She's the party jack-of-all-trades (close combat, ranged combat, offensive/support magic, and stealing), and she's master of the one you least expect...

ThePurpleStuff:
Muramasa: The Demon Blade isn't exactly an rpg, but the female lead, Momohime, also fits into this category, she is an actual princess, seen innocent, gentle and kind, yet I never once heard her whine. Well.. except when the male lead came into the hot springs around the mountains at times while she was bathing but that's understandable.

Her masculine parts in personality though come from an evil, murderer's spirit, possessing her body so he may either get his body back or get revenge for those who killed him. Both parts of her are likeable, though you only see her feminine parts near the start of the story and at the hot springs. She's strong but wouldn't waste her breath on punching the nearest person or killing more than she needs to defend herself from.

Momohime is pretty much just a straight princess-type, but given the setting it fits. It also helps that the emphasis is more on her being a mundane and sheltered girl caught up in a world run almost entirely by corrupt officials and evil spirits rather than on her being ideally female. She does have her moments though, like her faux-sacrifice (which feels right out of a fairy tale), tricking the Big Oni into swallowing her so she can reach Jinkuro's soul, which he had previously eaten.

I don't get why you're conflating Momohime and Jinkuro, as they're separate characters. And no one killed him, he was terminally ill and lost his body when he tried to soul-jack Momohime's fiance's. True to type, she jumped in the way.

drivel:
For your consideration - KOS-MOS and Shion from Xenosaga

As a JRPG, Xenosaga is refreshing because it is based on sci fi anime cliches instead of JRPG ones.

Something to take note of is that the article is mostly concerned with the main female characters. The leads in JRPGs tend to have little variety. The main girl is almost always a princess type, while the main guy is either blandly angsty or generically earnest. Sure, FFX has Lulu and Auron, but the mains are Yuna and Tidus.

Speaking of Yuna, I always liked how she has some solid mettle and conviction underneath her soft spoken and accommodating exterior. When she finds out the sacrifice herself to stop Sin deal isn't all it's cracked up to be she rejects it outright, and in the sequel she rails against the idea that anyone might have to be sacrificed to beat the big bad.

Squigie:
I don't get why you're conflating Momohime and Jinkuro, as they're separate characters. And no one killed him, he was terminally ill and lost his body when he tried to soul-jack Momohime's fiance's. True to type, she jumped in the way.

Well.. that's my bad since I haven't played the game for a while and forgot how it all went. I apologize.

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