The “Not-So-Casual Commentary” tag originally referred to a column I wrote on a now-defunct gaming site. In order to reproduce the content that is now hidden behind links that go no-where, I managed to get my friend who kept a backup of the articles to send me them, so that I can now reproduce them as articles on my blog. Here is the one that I’ve probably missed being able to reference the most.
10) Margarete G. Zelle, Shadow Hearts: Competent, skilled, irreverent. She basically takes the events in stride — mostly — and takes no guff; she in no way indicates that she’s out of place on the team, and always presents herself as an equal partner. She’s fun to watch in more ways than one.
9) Karin Koenig, Shadow Hearts: Covenant: She leads the military force that starts the game. Sure, she doesn’t do much, but she’s fighting Yuri, so she isn’t going to be successful. She remains a competent fighter the entire game, and can bring Yuri up short in conversation. Her outfit is revealing but they lampshade it; she’s not exactly happy about it but it’s what was available, and there’s a very funny scene about it . And she does have a very, very strong desire for love, which might count against her, except that while it does drive plot points it doesn’t define her character.
8) Mission Vao, Knights of the Old Republic: For a teenager, she’s competent and reasonably intelligent. She’s hopeful and naive enough to give a hopeful vibe to the ship without going overboard. And killing her is your proof of being a dark sider in the game, making her a useful morality pet. Almost every time I go dark side in that game, I try to find a way to save her life, but I can’t . Why? Because while Carth will run away when you go dark side — even if you’re supposed to be in love — Mission won’t leave you, and will still try to convince you to do good. You have to kill her because she has guts.
7) Mira, Knights of the Old Republic: Sith Lords: Mira is competent, intelligent, tough, and looks quite good in the dancing girl outfit [grin]. She has an interesting nemesis arc. Her path to becoming a Jedi is interesting. And most importantly, she rejects a romantic relationship with the lead outright. And it doesn’t come across as excessively “feminist”, in the sense of being proof that a female character “doesn’t need a man”; her analysis is pragmatic while conceding that she might find it interesting.
6) Visas Mar, Knights of the Old Republic, Sith Lords: She has an interesting background and is an interesting character. She’s tough enough to be a main character and even a team leader when she has to be despite being technically blind. There’s an underlying romance there and it’s a somewhat interesting one. She’s also clearly intelligent and interesting.
5) Chris Lightfellow, Suikoden III: She leads the knights in her section of the game, and is probably the best overall fighter amongst them. She cares about people and wants to help. She has a strong sense of honor. Everyone’s in love with her, but it’s for good reason rather than as a Mary Sue. She’s certainly a character that you can admire and even feel for as you play her story.
4) Chie Satonaka, Persona 4: Ultimately, she gets to be this high on the list only because when I looked at the artbook I thought I’d like Yukiko and not her. After playing it, I like her and not Yukiko. Converting me is a good way to get on my list of favourite characters! Anyway, she’s strong physically and mentally, really seems to care about people — she’s the first to try to include Nanako, and her S-link is all about that — and while she has a quick temper and isn’t exactly smart and is a bit of a tomboy in terms of personality, she’s really nice and embarasses cutely, which she does a lot. She ends up knowing what she wants to do and her link isn’t about her own personal selfish desires, but is about her figuring out her path in life. That makes her a very interesting character, who made me a believer.
3) Lyon, Suikoden V: Strong, cool under pressure, competent, loyal, honourable. Rose from a tragic backstory with the help of the MC’s father to join the nights and become the MC’s protector. But she’s also a very nice person, and someone who you can really, really like if you like nice people. For me, she’s the reason I’ve never finished Suikoden V; if you don’t get all the Stars of Destiny, I don’t like her ending, and getting all the Stars is pretty hard in that game. Since getting that ending would ruin the game for me, I can’t finish it. That’s how much I like her character.
2) Mitsuru Kirijo, Persona 3: I’ve long felt that Yukari in this game is a strawman of a modern, strong female while Mitsuru represents the ideal. Yukari is strong in a totally uncompromising and often idiotic way; she’s often inconsiderate and has to have everything her own way. Mitsuru, on the other hand, is strong and incredibly competent. When she gets angry, things happen. There’s no denying, then, her strength . But Mitsuru really does care for people, even if she may seem a little cold, and if you follow her S-link you can see that there is much more to her than strength. She ends up looking for someone who can be as strong as her so that she doesn’t have to be strong all the time. That makes her a character that isn’t one note, and I think best represents the ideal of a modern woman: demonstrating strength and weakness at the same time.
She also gets bonus points for being a character that I didn’t think I’d like the most and then becoming my favourite character.
1) Miku Hinasaki, Fatal Frame: Of all the female characters, she’s probably the most real. She’s not a hard-boiled mercenary type, tough as nails. She’s a young girl who decides to go to a haunted mansion to find out what happened to her only remaining family. She doesn’t even start out with the camera weapon; she gets it later. She’s brave, but still demonstrates fear. She gets the chance to feel compassion for the ghosts that she ends up having to free. With only a little effort, you can imagine meeting someone like her in real-life. She’s a heroine that manages to maintain being female without pounding you over the head with it.
Honourable mentions (in no particular order):
1) Alice Elliot, Shadow Hearts: She’s an interesting character, and her heroic sacrifice almost got her into the top ten. She leads the team successfully while Yuri is … incapacitated. But at the end of the day, she’s just too typical a damsel in distress for most of the game to be really interesting, even though she is very likeable.
2) Bastilla Shan, Knights of the Old Republic: She has the exact opposite problem of Alice Elliot, as she’s clearly not the typical damsel in distress but is too annoying to make the top ten. I can tolerate the character, but she really is annoying.
3) Fuuka Yamagishi, Persona 3: She’s really nice and really intelligent, and she gets some growth in the game. But in terms of personality she isn’t all that interesting; it’s a fairly standard “girl with pressure from her parents” plotline. She’s nice and an enjoyable dateable character, but that’s not enough to make the top ten.