Weeaboo Wednesday: The Japanese RPG; Disc 2: The Usual SuspectsJuly 22, 2009
This is the second part of the Weeaboo Wednesday look at Japanese Role-playing Games. You can find the first part here if, for some godforsaken reason, you’re interested.
If you’re new to the JRPG genre it’s important to familiarize yourself with the characters you’ll be meeting before you run headlong into territory you’re simply not mentally prepared for. The jarring, abrasive folks that make up most of the cast you’ll find in these games is not something to be tackled while under the ‘ignorant’ status effect. So quaff a potion of knowledge and come with me as we take a look at the characters of Japanese RPGs.
Let’s look at our first subject: the main character. He’s our leading man. Spunky, forward, and a little dumb, he provides a rallying point for the other characters that inexplicably follow him around. His dead parents and kuh-razy hair make him an outcast from society, and ideal for the work of someone who’s irksome attitude and lacking intellect would render him nonviable in any other occupation aside from that of a drifter… with a huge sword.
The next character likely to be introduced in your JRPG experience is the female lead. Quiet, shy, and reserved, she’s the perfect match for the overwhelming personality of our hero (she is the Katie Holmes to his Tom Cruise, if you will). More often than not, she’s the object of desire for the main villain who sees her as the key to his own goals. In turn, the main character protects her with equal fervor. The female lead is essentially an object for all of the other characters. Her bland personality accentuate this fact. Think of her as a sort of Maltese Falcon that blushes all the time (also with breasts).
Next on our list is the most beloved of all characters: that fucking child. For some odd reason, he/she is permitted to emulate the main character’s drifter lifestyle, kill people, and still be insufferably cute (by insufferably cute, I mean insufferable). This character is the embodiment of the absurdity of the JRPG: childish cuteness draped on top of what, throughout the entire game, is basically a murderer.
Moving along, we come to what may be the most ubiquitous of the characters in JRPG: the stoic. He speaks in ellipses, doesn’t give a fuck about anything, and is simply above all of the game’s bullshit. That’s more or less all there is to him really. He’s supposed to be the cool guy, but the irony is that he’s still part of the same silly system all the other characters are caught up in. He still fights the same effeminate villain as the other stupid heroes, statistically identical to the other characters that he is written to be stronger than, and he dresses in the same ridiculous outfits that the other characters don. In the end, his silence seems to be a resignation; an acceptance of the fact that he is trapped with madmen, women robbed of personality, and murderous children.
There are many more cliches of JRPG characterization I could explore, but these are the essesntials. Together they will keep you company as you march inexoarably into that hell we call the JRPG.