Ace plays Final Fantasy X-2: The Sexism

So I guess I could do a whole other series on the sequel as I did for the original, but that’s more effort than I want to expend. As a whole, I do enjoy and its sequel. X-2 is a bit different than what I had expected, and though I don’t believe it’s a good Final Fantasy game, it’s still a good game. The graphics are improved, as well as the voice acting, and though the battle system was fun and unique in X, I like it a lot better here.

The story follows Yuna on her quest to find spheres about the past in hopes of seeing Tidus again. She and Rikku are now sphere hunters, being helped out by a new character Paine. Also along for the ride, we have Rikku’s brother, who is actually called Brother, his buddy, named Buddy, and a small genius kid, called Shinra. Yuna, Rikku, and Paine form the playable party, while Brother, Buddy, Shinra, and everyone else are all supporting cast members. So this is, I believe, the first and only Final Fantasy game that has an all-female party.

In Final Fantasy X it can be argued that Yuna is the main character while the story is simply told from Tidus’s point of view. Here, there is no doubt that the protagonist is Yuna. So overall, considering that this game has an all-female party and should act as a means to further develop the characters and the world, it should seem like a step in the right direction for female representation. I still hold that Final Fantasy is nowhere near as sexist as other games, and to be honest, with the exception of all the breast shots of Lulu, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed sexism in this story at all if it hadn’t been for X-2.

People always assume games and stories with a mostly-female cast will alienate male audience members, as if they think that being centered on women can never be interesting enough to attract male audiences. So they try to sexualize the girls as much as possible. It’s that mindset where anything masculine can be perceived as good and entertaining, but femininity? Oh, boy, we’ve got to sex that shit up if any guy’s going to be interested in it! Lord knows, character development and story arcs aren’t enough for a fulfilling game if it’s all about women.

So this is possibly the most sexist Final Fantasy game I have ever played, just from that aspect.

So let’s start off with our characters. We’ve got Yuna, whom I already talked about, both her character type and as possibly a sexist stereotype. However, in my original post of sexism in Final Fantasy X, I did comment that she’s not objectified. She was still the main character, and she had a lot of motivation and depth to her. In X, she’s a good solid character. However, I feel as though her story more or less ended in the first game. In the sequel, she’s just sort of going through the motions and trying to be someone she’s not, only to be dragged back into the role of the world’s savior. In the first game, there was a sadness to her, a mellowness brought on by her impending death, so now that she’s got her life back, she wants to live for herself. That’s fine, and I support her all the way. Yuna’s problem, however, is that she still cares more about other people than she does her own self, and so here, she just seems bland and awkward. On top of that, her new motivation is to find Tidus, not to be her own person. There is an awkwardness to her characterization, and though some of it may be intentional, because she’s in a foreign role, some of it’s really not. Yuna doesn’t know what to do with herself, and the game really doesn’t know either. Everything about her now is a complete contradiction of her characterization in the first game. For example, in X, she’s passive-aggressive at best, while still getting shit done.

Now, she’s trying to be full-out badass, and so the first change we notice is a complete shift in her sense of fashion.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the very reserved, shy girl in the first game is at all comfortable in an outfit that doesn’t cover her full chest. She didn’t seem like someone who would be comfortable with that much skin showing. And while there’s nothing wrong with female characters who just like to wear short-shorts and show off skin, for Yuna, this is a complete 360. It can be argued that her awkward characterization by itself is not sexist, just to be clear. If she were male, we’d still have the same problem; that is, we’d still have a main character who has no idea what to do with himself. What’s sexist in this game is how it’s done with Yuna’s character, and that’s more or less in the clothing.

Though the battle system is fun as I said earlier, it’s about changing clothes. The first Final Fantasy game with an all-female party is about changing clothes. And forgive me, but some of these outfits are not conducive to battle.

Yes, some of them are, but let’s keep in mind that in order to change outfits, the girls actually magically undress and then redress. So while their body positions have censored what we can see, we do see them naked. In fact, in the one Japanese version, the magical sphere’s holding their outfits can break, and if that happens to all of them, the girls then fight in their underwear. And yeah, I admit, some of their outfits are cool, and if I had money, I would gladly pay Saika to make one or two of them for me to cosplay, but the premise of the battle system is still about changing clothes. And posing the moment they’re done changing.

I’d I say that at least in terms of characterization, the game is decent, but it’s really not. Yuna may be awkward and occasionally bland, but it’s nothing compared to Paine. I honestly don’t know anything about her, nor can I bring myself to care. She’s the badass with the mystery past, only I personally cannot relate to her at all. Numerous times through this game, I don’t get her. My issues with Paine might just be a me-thing, but I don’t feel comfortable taking about a character whom I know nothing about, other than to say that no matter how hard I try, I cannot think of any reason to view her as compelling. She’s just there. And I will admit that that’s not necessarily sexism either. She’s just bland.

Then there’s Rikku. She was sexualized in the first game, and now two years later in the sequel, she’s really sexualized. And she’s also still a minor by our standards.

That said, Rikku is possibly the best character in the game. While playing, Rin told me that it’s not like anything happening in half the scenes should matter to anyone because Rikku is the only one with any kind of personality. When I first played the game years ago, Rikku was the one I related to, but that’s probably because she’s the only one out of the three I could relate to.

And then, on top of that, we’ve got a female antagonist character who is every kind of stereotype possible. Within the first ten minutes of knowing her, the game wastes no time in setting up a situation where the audience can look up her—I’m not sure “skirt” is the right word for it. Furthermore, she’s also motivated by a man, and she acts like a love-sick puppy whenever he’s around. And when he disappears, she practically cannot function at life. Here, it’s presented as humorous, but it’s a stereotype shown over and over again in more serious situations. And this is not done to be a commentary of stereotyped female roles to show why they are ridiculous. It’s done to make the character look ridiculous compared to Yuna, Rikku, and Paine.

All this aside, the game doesn’t seem too fond of its male characters either. This is another thing I see accompany badass female characters. In order to make them look good, the story has to cut down on the male characters. This is sexist for a couple reasons. First, it makes all the men look like idiots. Second, it assumes that women cannot be strong unless the men are weak comparatively.

We’ve got Leblanc’s henchmen, Logos and Ormi, who are best summed up as creepy womanizers who like to look at sphere recording closeups of Yuna. They also cannot think for themselves and rely on Leblanc for everything. Then there’s Brother, who is just odd. I’m a little hesitant to talk about him for fear that I’ll make some offensive able-ist comment. There is something medically wrong with him and I don’t know what. On top of that, he has a weird incestuous obsession with Yuna. Brother is the scariest person in the game, and once more, this situation is played off as humorous. And again, he’s downplayed to make the women look better, because women cannot be strong unless men are weak, I guess.

Though other Final Fantasy games are still problematic is some regards, on the whole, they have been a step forward for female characters. Unfortunately, X-2 is not a step in the right direction. It’s still a fun game, but it’s not a good representation of female characters.

16 thoughts on “Ace plays Final Fantasy X-2: The Sexism

  1. You missed the entire premise of the game.. It’s a final fantasy made for females, its uses dress spheres and even the text in menu’s use caligraphy to make it all pretty so that it will appeal to females. If all you do is look for sexism in any game you’ll find it eventually…. You should try playing the game for fun instead of to see if you can find something to whine about.

    • Hello, and thanks for commenting.

      I am going to argue that the game isn’t marketed entirely for females. If it was marketed to only women, it wouldn’t be so sexualized. While there are women who do like to look sexy, as it were, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it makes no sense for the characters in the game to pose or dress the way they do for battle.

      Furthermore, though from that aspect I’d say the game was also marketed toward men, I very much agree that the original intended audience is female. And knowing that they had a female audience, the characters are now no longer people who happen to be women, but a collection of female stereotypes. As you say “to make it all pretty so that it will appeal to females”, that is also a stereotype. Liking pretty things and dressing up is a stereotype placed upon women that women are then told that they like, regardless of whether or not they actually like those things. I take issue with the fact that the entire battle system of a game with all female characters is based solely around changing clothes. Yuna is the high summoner on a mission to save the world. She was not bombarded in the first game with so many female stereotypes. In fact, she didn’t even seem interested in them in the slightest, impending death by Sin aside.

      Please trust that I did not miss the point of the game. I do enjoy playing it. I don’t play games to “find something to whine about” as you very kindly put it. I have at least four files for X-2 saved, and they are each over sixty hours long. I assure you, I would not spend that much time on a game if I didn’t play it for fun. I am not blind, however, to sexism.

      You said, “If all you do is look for sexism in any game you’ll find it eventually”.

      This is true. But I didn’t actively look for the sexism. I saw it as I played the game, and then I wrote a post about it. I hold that Final Fantasy games are nowhere near as sexist as other games, but the excuse that looking for sexism will result in finding it does not make sexism better. People need to be aware of what sexism is, even the more subtle kinds, and they need to draw attention to it. Otherwise, there will be no chance of living in a sexism-free world.

  2. I like this post! & your opinion of it!! When this game came out, it was when I was in high school and my friends were mostly girls & they were really excited about x-2!! We all liked it so much because it looked so fun. can’t wait to play it on ps vita!!! yay!!!!

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  11. I just wanted to point out that in Japan, there is no stigma to cousin love like there is in the modern western world. Also, Albert Einstein was married to his first cousin. This whole “ick” factor is a fairly recent development for the west, just so we have a bit of context here.

    However, Brother’s obsessiveness is still creepy. I do not disagree with that, just wanted to point out the cultural thing. Also, to be absolutely fair, let’s not forget to punish Rikku for also having an incestuous obsessiveness with her “Yunie” and just because she’s female, she doesn’t deserve a free pass at having the other extreme.

    Also, I totally related more to Yuna than I did anyone else, but I’m also a bit altruistic in nature myself, so that might be why. I totally agree with Paine just being there, though, and honestly, if it was just Rikku and Yuna, I don’t think it would have had made much difference.

    Also, it’s funny, because this game is either “too girly” for the boys, or too sexist for the women, and because of this, it’s very underrated as a game.

  12. “I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the very reserved, shy girl in the first game is at all comfortable in an outfit that doesn’t cover her full chest.”

    This is my problem with X-R’s critics, they completly miss the fact that Yuna never got to explore she was till X was over. Her situation is entirely different and so yes I think her dressing Sexier makes a lot of sense.

    • Nobody “misses the point,” the notion that “exploring herself” means “dresses like a stripper” is just dumb.

      It also ironically misses the point of FFX Yuna. Nobody forced Yuna to be a Summoner, the people closest to her didn’t even want her to. Plus Summoners don’t really have a dress code, look at Donna. The reason she felt repressed in X had nothing to do with wanting to wear less clothes but not being allowed, it was the weight of the responsibility of having to bear everyone’s hopes, & the knowledge that she couldn’t just go out & see the world if she wanted to protect people from Sin.

      If her outfit is supposed to symbolize the lifting of this burden from her, then if any of her Dresspheres get it right, it’s probably Songstress.

      Songstress retains some vestiges of her old style; it’s flowing & feminine. This is something the Yuna we know might choose to wear, might feel herself drawn to. At the same time, it’s flirty & more lighthearted, something she wouldn’t have worn when she was “serious to a fault” as Auron put it. But unlike Gunner, it’s not a fashion disaster. It’s not exactly ideal for her new occupation of adventurer, but it IS less restrictive & somehow probably more likely to hold up than Gunner. Even her ability set works so much better, it’s the same general principle as her old skills–magic, & as we later learn, summoning’s origin was in song–but harnessed in a new, more outgoing way.

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