Story of Seasons, the most recent localized release of the Harvest Moon series as envisioned by Marvelous Entertainment, is a game that hooked me in for a long while. I wouldn’t exactly call this game and the other games in the series progressive, and I certainly don’t purchase it for any other reason than fun farming times. Yet, for a series that seems to try its best to stay away from anything too, perhaps, “controversial”, I find it interesting that in SoS they reintroduced a character type that could be seen as stereotypical and offensive, at least from my Western perspective. While the characters of Animal Parade’s Julius and SoS’s Marian present a potential conversation about non-binary gender identity and how they interact with the small, rural farming town they’re a part of, this is something that is never exactly discussed. Certainly, this can be seen as a positive thing–that no one treats them any differently because of how they choose to express themselves. In some ways, that’s probably even true, but much of the conflict here is simply untranslatable to mass marketable Western audiences, and in this case, that may be okay.
Speaking as someone who admittedly doesn’t know all the nuances of gender identity and LGBTQ+ life in Japan, there will be some things I mess up on. As such, take my analysis with a grain of salt. If you, yourself, have more experience with these topics, please feel free to chime in!