I’ve finally taken the time to sit down and watch the Fire Emblem Direct that aired on the 18th. While I’m excited for the proposed game coming out for the Switch in 2018 (about which no details have been given yet), and I’ll probably enjoy Fire Emblem Warriors with the same undevoted, “it’s good for killing some time” mindset that I did Hyrule Warriors, I find myself conflicted on the other two titles that were brought up during the event. Both Fire Emblem: Echoes and Fire Emblem: Heroes are beautiful games that will probably be fun and enjoyable. However, with both of them, I fear that the series may be slipping back into some tropes that we really should be past in 2017.
Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castles beyond this trite, melodramatic plot to take back the characters you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my headcanons as great.
All of this is to say that I have finally finished my tour through the trilogy of Fire Emblem Fates, and am now prepared to pass judgment on it. I’ve talked about some aspects of the game before, both prior to release and post-release. While I argued with myself for a good while before purchasing—especially before buying Revelation—what eventually won out was not the possibility of a long storyline delving into the grey morality of man during times of war, but my love for trashy dating sims. Make no mistake, though Fates arguably does have a story, it may as well be secondary to the relationship aspect of the game as the games don’t even try to include even half of the around 68 character cast (around 40 if you’re looking at Birthright or Conquest) in the main plot. And who can blame them: it would essentially be impossible. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Welcome back, lovely readers. I hope you didn’t miss us too much during our short spring break.
I, for one, spent my break trying to beat some of the games I had piling up in the background—as per my usual with any break I get. While I started off strong with my three-game tour of Fire Emblem Fates, I find myself less motivated than ever to actually finish Revelations for several reasons, one of which is that I’m bitter. Oh my god, I am so bitter. Finishing all three games wasn’t even necessary to see just how many characters could have been non-straight, and it’s a hell of a lot more than the two we were given. So, naturally, I looked to fanfiction to fill the emptiness in my heart.
Unsurprisingly, and disappointingly, I found that there was a dearth of wlw fic—although I did discover that Camilla/Hinoka is apparently a popular pairing, which is good. Despite this, however, I managed to find a story that not only gave me some well deserved femslash, but also gave a happy ending to one of the characters who deserved it the most: Scarlet.
Spoilers for all three Fire Emblem Fates games behind the cut.
Fire Emblem Fates has finally released state-side, to the joy of many and chagrin of many others. The translated and localized version unsurprisingly still suffers from the problems that it had in its original release, but I don’t believe those watching the game were that surprised with how it came out. While those problems deserve discussion, and talk of how the translated dialogue itself also deserves some scrutiny, today I’m not looking at any of those. (And probably won’t until I finish all three games.)
In the previous installment of Fire Emblem—Awakening—the player character had to help the royalty of their world to put an end to a war; not a particularly new theme to the series, but neither is it a theme that suffers from possible interesting and poignant takes on it. Again, in Fates, the player character must help to bring an end to a war that will devastate the world if allowed to go on. I don’t have a problem that Fates is using the same plot again—though I would say the writers added a sort of nuance to Fates that Awakening didn’t have—but I do have a problem that its catalyst for the characters getting “serious” is the same. That is to say, the war really only comes to a head over the death of a woman.
Spoilers for Awakening and Fates (Birthright and Conquest), and a trigger warning for suicide under the cut.
Last month had a lot of ups and downs, but two of the largest high points for me was the hope re-instilled in my cold, shriveled heart by this year’s E3 and the I-can’t-believe-it-took-them-this-long ruling on the constitutional validity of non-straight marriage in the US. Namely, that straights ain’t the only ones who can legally put a ring on it in all fifty states anymore. (Though without repercussions to the wedded party? We’re still working on that.) How do these two things connect? In a way that’s coincidental enough for me to use this as a jumping off point.
It seems like the United States isn’t the only thing giving this whole “gay marriage” and “equal rights” scenario a shot. If you read me and Dom’s E3 wrap-up, you might remember me calling Fire Emblem Fates “trash”. I am not taking that back. With interesting problems already surging over the game’s incestual supports (“supports” being conversations that give stat boosts to two characters), money grubbing distribution, and raunchy dialogue that may not be localized anywhere outside of Japan, it’s hard to ignore the waves Fates is making. However, back during the last week of June, Nintendo of Japan made a statement that Fates would be the first game in the series to offer the chance for a homosexual relationship concerning the player character. This should be a great thing, and part of me is still a little excited that they even gave the player this option, but the way I see it, Fates’s gay marriage option is more like a bronze-plated turd than an offer of goodwill and acceptance.
Slight spoilers for Fire Emblem Fates under the cut.
So who saw that Smash Bros reveal on Monday? Can I get a “hell yes” for Lucina becoming the first female playable character from the Fire Emblem series to enter the melee/brawl/etcetera? To some, the choice may not have been that huge of a surprise, or even a big deal, but from a personal standpoint I think it’s a nice step towards having a more balanced roster in the popular Nintendo fighting series. And luckily, it coincides with something I’ve wanted to talk about. For the past couple of days, a certain post has been making multiple appearances on my Tumblr dash, and it brings up a fair point about lady characters in media.
i’ve been thinking about all those posts about “we need female heroes who do girly things”/”why is the female hero always such a tomboy” and then the response posts that are like “uhhh actually we don’t really have any really masculine female heroes either” so i was trying to figure it out—what do we have, exactly?
and really what we get is women who eschew “girly” things while still managing to look like society’s ideal woman. they would never touch eyeliner (they’re too busy with Important Things), but their eyeliner is immaculate. they have a huge, varied wardrobe, but wouldn’t be caught dead actually shopping for clothes. and it reminds me of the expectation that women must be effortlessly beautiful. don’t wear makeup or you’ll seem self-absorbed—but god forbid you look like you’re not wearing makeup. it’s interesting to me, that the impossibilities imposed on female characters are the same ones imposed on real women.
I would say that this is an issue especially present in video games if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so prevalent in all types of media. However, I believe it’s easier to pick it out in video games if only because when you’re trouncing around in deserts or swamps surrounded by haggard looking men, it’s ridiculously easy to pick out those perfect manicures and stylish outfits of the women characters when a cut scene zooms in on them—kinda seems out of place. Truthfully, Fire Emblem: Awakening doesn’t subvert this issue in any meaningful way. Some of the more physical lady fighters still look on point and none of the women seem as though they’ve stepped away from their boudoir for longer than an afternoon. Though, to be fair, the men in this series look equally as prettied up; also sporting stunningly beautiful armor and well-coiffed hair. But, I do think this game tackles the issue of femininity on the battlefield very well. Or, rather, women maintaining their femininity without sacrificing fighting prowess. In fact, there’s a friendship that can be built up (should the player partner the two up in-game) between two seemingly opposite female characters—Sumia and Sully—that portrays the idea that a woman doesn’t have to be masculine to tear zombies and evil do-ers apart.
“…You’re right. We couldn’t do that to them. But, but then, what do we do!?” The pitch in Cynthia’s voice approached hysteria. She wished a Risen was still skulking around, ready to be lanced through by a righteous hero. Even if said righteous hero was currently in the throes of a berserker fury, justice would still be on their side. “Are you saying we just have to hide it? Everything!?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. At least until those two work it out. They managed it once without us; they can do it again. Hopefully.” Severa sighed. “It’ll be harder to keep it a secret now, with both of us here. We have to be careful not to slip what we really are to each other. I’ve already told all the others about our situation – no one’s screwed things up. Yet.”
I have a confession: after I wrote my last Fanfiction Fridays I ventured deep into Fire Emblem: Awakening. Balls deep. So, I’m not quite ready to leave this fandom just yet. And really, I can’t leave when there are so many other good femslash pairings that could be written about; I had to see what the fanfiction authors had to offer. Though, sadly, there weren’t any tales about the female Player Character and Tharja, the hex-obsessed dark mage (I can’t be the only one who ships this), I did manage to find a fic about another pairing that a) I didn’t think about before and b) adds some of the lightheartedness from the games back into the fandom.
Here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends, we address just about every social issue you could shake a stick at; however, in terms of fandom and fanfiction, the issue that speaks directly to my heart is the lack of fics starring a female couple in a romantic relationship. I’ve already made mention of this in an earlier Fanfiction Fridays of mine, but this time I decided to approach it from a different angle. Rather than hoping that some author would kindly decide to extrapolate on the relationship between two ladies already present in canon, I wanted to see if game series that focus on making a customizable main character might be more evenly divided between the types of slash fic—if not evenly divided, at least an easier task to find actual femslash fic.
Before plunging myself into the depths of fanfiction created by Bioware titles—I could lose days sorting through all that fic-y goodness—I wanted to start with a fandom that is a little more reserved in its output. Or at least it seems like it from this side of the ocean.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is the newest addition to the Fire Emblem series of turn-based strategy games. Its plot deals with a huge multi-continent war, a legion of the undead—named ‘the risen’—coming to wreak havoc on everyone and everything, memory loss, doppelgangers, and time travel, just to name a few things. I know, it sounds like standard fare for a JRPG, but what this has over a typical JRPG is
a mechanic in which fighting alongside certain members of your army unlocks new conversations with them, and even marriage later on. It’s a shipper’s dream, and the fanbase loves it. However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no homosexual relationships available for the player character to pursue. This is disappointing especially considering that there’s a pairing that’s so hinted at it may as well be canon (at least in terms of being available for the final, ‘marriage-tier’ conversation).
I had thought that finding a fic based on the seemingly forbidden relationship between the player character and a member of the same gender would have been the easiest path to tread (since self-insert fic is a long-lasting love of any canon), but once more I was surprised: a fic on the front page staring two characters that I hadn’t even thought of together caught my eye. And it was femslash? Be still my beating heart.
Spoilers for Fire Emblem: Awakening under the cut.
[tw: discussions of transphobia in anime]
Also known as Trans Equals Gay, Anime Edition. Let TVTropes explain it for you better than I can:
In Real Life, being gay and being transgender are entirely separate, as they relate to two different things. Being gay relates to sexual attraction, and means being attracted to others of the same gender. Being trans relates to gender identity, and means identifying as a different gender from one’s assigned physical sex. This can be expressed (in a heavily oversimplified way) as being “a woman trapped in a man’s body” or vice versa. However, this distinction is all too often overlooked by straight cisgender writers wanting to insert a little LGBT-ness into their stories.
The root of this confusion is probably the heteronormative cultural attitude that “boys like girls and girls like boys” as a rule, and anything else is an “unnatural” aberration. Faced with the existence of gay people, using this assumption some might think the two are linked: “Well, the only reason these boys like other boys is because they want to be girls”. Similarly, in trying to understand transgender people, they might think “The only reason these boys want to be girls is because they like other boys.”
Japanese culture has a complicated relationship with queer characters in anime and manga to begin with. This is something I’ve touched on before. QUILTBAG anime characters tend to be smushed into a one-size-fits-all stereotype, where trans* and gay and genderfluid and bi and every other kind of character, especially if they present male, will act the same flamboyant way. Perhaps this is an attempt to force traditional gender roles on non-hetero characters and relationships; perhaps the writers just don’t know the difference. Either way, it’s the opposite of good, and has lead me to assume that like 90% of the queer male-assigned characters in anime are just gay guys written by writers who think gay equals trans. (For examples of this outside the characters in this post, see Leeron, Nuriko, Charlotte Coolhorne, that one gay character in InuYasha who they dubbed with a female voice…)
To add to that, fandom doesn’t help—the characters who do seem to be trans* are constantly misgendered by fandom in discussion, meta, fanfic, etc. Let’s look at these two characters from very popular shows. Continue reading