mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Just to get these thoughts down in one place...

I don't know about y'all but I found little things about the way female characters were handled to be a very off-putting thing in FE13. I didn't like a lot of the Big Things in FE13 either but small disparities really got under my skin. At this point, the high-water mark for the franchise treatment of female characters looks to be Tellius, but it's worth examining the baby steps-- both forward and backward-- it took to get to that level, or even to FE6's level of female empowerment.

Spoilers for FE1-FE10 )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
All right. Tellius.

[Information about Nintendo of Japan script courtesy of [personal profile] amielleon ]

On the surface, it seems to be a big break from tradition, what with non-noble Everyman protagonist Ike and a world populated by beast-people and bird-people as well as dragons who aren't quite the same as the "manaketes" of earlier games. Despite these surface changes, FE9 and FE10 aren't as big of a departure as they look; in fact, I'd say that for their return to console gaming IS pretty clearly took a look back at the previous console era and returned to the SNES well for these games. The skills from FE4 and FE5 are back, as is the differentiation between Wind, Thunder, and Fire magic. Many characters are obvious echoes of long-ago beloved predecessors-- the relationship between snarky sniper Shinon and his green-haired apprentice Rolf evokes Archanea's Jeorge and Gordin, while layabout Makalov reincarnates loser-brother Matthis from that saga. The Jugdral character tributes are somewhat more subtle, though Micaiah in particular evokes FE5's Linoan on a couple of levels.

There's a feel of "old canon in a blender" to this despite the new distractions of 3D graphics and… cat people. 

Once more into the breach )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I've only owned this game since April of last year, after all.

Prologue-Chapter Two, First Impressions

Bandits! And stuff. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Fire Emblem: it's got incest.  I don't know about you, but I'd heard about that one long before playing a single game.

I'm not going to wonder why this is so prominently featured, to the point where FE4 was allegedly toned down prior to release yet still contains it as a plot point.  But, let's explore it a bit, and not in the kink meme way.

Humans appear to have a mechanism, or mechanisms, to avoid boinking their siblings.  Have you ever seen a romantic couple where they looked, and even maybe acted, like siblings and yet weren't?  They're pretty common.  In fact, there appears to be a phenomenon known as genetic sexual attraction where people do indeed click in every possible way with close blood relatives-- provided they've been strangers for the early part of their lives.  The Westermarck effect is thought to have developed to defuse that attraction; basically, if kids are raised together, they end up not being interested in one another in that way.  Even if they're not blood relations.  There's a critical period for this reverse imprinting, though-- the kids need to get desensitized to one another before the age of six or seven.  

This is analysis of the topic and not a celebration thereof. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
What makes a "favorite" character?  In my case, it's kind of a visceral appreciation and not purely an abstract "what-if" meta obsession.  Put simply, I often know if a character (or pairing) is truly a favorite by how I respond to artwork.  If seeing a little fan-doodle or icon provokes a reaction in me, that's a beloved character.  If I see the picture, think "meh," and skip on by, I don't really like them all that much-- not for what they are in-game, or in-media.

I'm also skewing this list toward the characters who have a substantial amount of material upon which I can base my opinions.  I love Norne to bits, but she has, what, three lines of translated dialogue?  That's not enough to hang anything on.  

So, if this entry feels like a bit of a cheat, it's not.

I don't write 'fic about him.  I don't have complex meta posts about him.  I haven't played the second of the two games he's in, cause I rather dislike the first game.

But if you mentally give a power salute to virtually everything that character says on-screen, I think that makes them a favorite character.

Therefore, at #8... Soren.

He is so. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
One thing I see Ike criticized for, a lot, is his distinct lack of prejudice.  To have Ike emerge from a world as screwed-up as Tellius with such an egalitarian attitude (especially when he grew up around people like, uh, Shinon) strikes a good many fans as unrealistic.  Fair enough, though really it kind of goes with the role of being the Game Hero, at least as far as Fire Emblem is concerned.  (Eliwood's own egalitarian bent could be deemed equally unrealistic, but I guess the "common touch" thing goes over better than "the not-racist in a totally racist world" angle.)  

It wasn't motivated by species hate; that xenocide kind of just happened along the way. )

TL;DR, cut Ike some slack, I guess.  At least in a big-picture sense, as you can still argue that the characterization doesn't entirely work.  But he's hardly an isolated case.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I've been wanting to talk about this for a while, and conversations with [personal profile] amielleon  and [personal profile] scarletmorning  spurred me to post it now.  Now, originally I had the post formatted in a proper fashion, defining my terms and explaining the difference between fandom "theories" and a true scientific theory, but I'm guessing nobody cares.  If you want to go into that sort of detail, please ask.

Anyway, use of Occam's Razor in fandom (or anyone else, really) amounts to this: the more complicated an explanation is, the more machinations it requires to work, the less likely it is to be true.  Doesn't mean it can't be true; some "elegant" explanations are wrong.  But the "elegant" explanation is more likely to be the correct explanation for whatever it is you're trying to explain and/or predict.

As Ammie said here (locked post), one explanation for Ike's FE10 ending is that he's a selfish character.  Well, that's pretty simple and to-the-bone.  But accepting that Ike is fundamentally selfish above all else requires ignoring, or bending, a great deal else in Tellius canon.  It's a seemingly elegant explanation that requires pretty complicated machinations to work, and is therefore suspect. 

Fandom isn't science, so perhaps it makes sense that we've borrowed terms from religious debate for fandom discussions.  We invoke "canon" aka "Word of God" to indicate that we get material from a media creator that can't be overturned, but creators can be sloppy.  Creators can change their mind  Creators can give supplemental materials to explain (or contradict) what's in the text.  Things can get altered in translation (see: when Ammie exploded my nice little idea that used the wording of the NoA FE8 script as opposed to the NoA FE7 script to explain the relative ages of the Lord characters).  

And then we can always play "Death of the Author" or exploit readings of the text that are likely unintended but nonetheless make sense on some level (ex: Kirby is the true villain of the Kirby games).  That's part of what makes fandom compelling for those of us who are into the meta and fanfiction.  But the basic rules of constructing a logical argument shouldn't be ignored, even when it's all in fun.  Delightful crack theories are delightful precisely because they make an alarming amount of sense.  Delightful theories exploit "gaps" in the canon, or explain things that hang out there unanswered.  Ideas that exist completely inside a gap in the canon with nothing to support or contradict them, or that explain things that don't require an answer, don't have quite the same impact on a reader. 

Example: Raphi and Sriya were batting around the crack idea that Lyon somehow got transformed into Legault.  It's cute, there's not really anything to contradict it, and Raphi even made a 'fic out of it.  It doesn't really shed any light on Elibe canon or Magvel canon, though-- it's a self-contained little bit 'o crack.  Whereas the idea that [personal profile] kyusil  proposed regarding Roy and his marriage options (that Roy's various unromantic matchups are in fact a demonstration of his alleged political ability in action) is, to me, a highly compelling one.  Do I think that it's necessarily what the scriptwriters intended?  No, I think they were likely just being sloppy.  But the political angle is to me a very interesting one that a 'fic writer can (and should!) exploit to good use.  It offers a new way of examining Roy that takes two things from canon (his diverse marriage options and his stated political skills) and unites them in a way that can be used to shed light upon the characters, their world, or both.  And with Roy being the arguable central figure of the entire Elibe saga, something that illuminates his character "matters" a great deal, inasmuch as any meta-fun "matters". 

And then there's the deep end of fandom meta.  Or the "off the deep end" sector, the kind that constructs amazingly elaborate theories, air-castles of assumptions piled upon tiny projections of canon, just begging to be demolished.  Harry Potter fandom was terrible in this regard.  Please look up "Archiving the Banana Peels of Imagination" if you want to see some of this in action; I will say for this particular theorist that they seemed to be a very nice and enthusiastic person, but their meta was just... incredible.  In the original sense of that word.  The problem with a lot of the HP meta crowd, both the cheerfully zany sort and the oddly... malicious... sort, was that they started with one assumption, slapped another upon it, and then another upon that, and finally they had this great towering edifice of headcanon that made sense to them but had little to do with the actual, you know, books.  Whether the idea was "Dumbledore didn't really die" or "How Snape will save everything" or "Dumbledore is evil" or "Ron will become a Death Eater," they cherry-picked canon (took what they wanted and ignored the rest) and employed complicated machinations to make everything work.  We're talking Rube Goldberg contraptions, if not MC Escher mechanisms.

Well, elaborate contraptions, whether physical constructions or meta constructions, break down easily.  These meta writers had made themselves the meta equivalent of the Space Shuttle-- magnificent and fundamentally faulty.  And when their meta-shuttles exploded, many of them had the nerve to get pissy with Rowling.  If they'd showed respect for basic logic and the principles of argument on the front end, not to mention a bit of respect for canon, they might have come up with sturdy and functional vehicle for their meta instead!

By all means, ignore Occam's Razor in fandom if it's all fun and games.  But if you're expecting to convince other theorists, or if you're trying to provide a serious explanation of a problematic text (film, book, videogame, TV script...), or if you're so invested in your pet theory that it makes you upset and angry to see a rebuttal[*], it's good to keep the basics in mind.  The more convoluted your pet explanation is, the less likely you are to convince anyone, and the more likely you are to be entirely wrong.

And we've all gotten things entirely, 110% wrong. 

* Not kidding about the HP crowd when it comes to anger and vitriol re: exploding headcanon.  Not kidding at all.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
#14:  Best Designed Character/Artwork

Design.  Interesting topic.  Of course, we have to suspend disbelief on the front end to accept FE designs; spikes on armor and long swirls of clothing and hair all invite immediate speculation on how they might harm the wearer in actual combat.   

Read more... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Back to the meme.

#11: Favorite Level-- Uhhhh.  That one that's a TARDIS.  FE6 16X = FE8 Valni 8 = FE11 24X.  Because it's a TARDIS!  WMG on TV Tropes said so. 

#18: Best Storyline-- 

Storyline in FE is a little hard to evaluate because of prequel/sequel/sidestory issues; FE7 gains a great deal of resonance if one has foreknowledge of FE6, for example, though as Raphi and others have pointed out, the two could've been tied together better.  FE1 and FE9 turn out to be set-ups for sequels that knock over key assumptions about Archanea and Tellius respectively.  Also, FE recycles itself.  A lot.

As a self-contained story, I adore FE2.  It's not epic.  But it's a sweet little story about two great kids and their battle against some deeply ugly forces, featuring a human "villain" and a not-human Big Bad who just aren't the usual "Rawr, destroy humans" enemies.

But, overall... I still love the War of Heroes plotline from FE3.  Both in the way it's set up, as a mundane and often brutal political story whose extra-ordinary dimensions are revealed one facet at a time, and in the way it deepens, expands, and in key senses inverts Archanea as presented in FE1.  For a retcon job, it's a damned good one, one that makes sense of things (like the titular Fire Emblem) that could've been left unexplained as just your basic gameplay assumptions.  And, crucially, the relationship between humans and The Other-- so essential to the character of the franchise as a whole-- first takes shape here as the player learns what's really gone on between humans and the various dragon tribes.  FE4 gets the props for its horrific Chapter 5 plot twist, and the FE10 plot does a similar demolition job on the received truths of FE9, but I don't think they-- or key revelations contained in FE6 or the essential core structure of FE8-- would ever have existed if Kaga and the gang hadn't first cut their teeth on FE3 Book II.  

#23: Something Epic--

Jagen in FE3.  Because he's the BAMF Tactician to beat all BAMF Tacticians.

OK, Second-Gen Levin's pretty epic, too.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Yay, another four-day weekend.  I've never gotten New Year's Eve off as a holiday before, not as a working adult, anyway.

And the fact that I helped get this holiday for the division makes it especially sweet.

I want to get out of town this weekend.  Not sure to where... just get.

-x-

Anyway, Day Two: Favorite Pairing.

If we're going to discount crack and stuff whose appeal for me rests entirely on great reams of speculation...

Alm/Cellica is a couple I don't have a single misgiving about, and my affection for them has nothing to do with the potential for it becoming a train wreck.  They have a solid childhood friendship for their first ten years, the bond between them is still incredibly strong when they meet up six years later, and they feel like they're on such an equal footing.  Yeah, its embedded in the game mechanics, but the quest literally cannot be accomplished without each of them taking action and doing things.  

A little spoiler for Chapter Four )

And neither of them comes through the war a mess, and they live happily ever after and found their thousand-year dynasty and all that.  

Runners-Up:

Jugdral, Magvel, Tellius, Archanea... )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 So, back to the meme.

#5: Favorite Villain: If we're going with the penultimate Big Bad, the human sort, I have to say Rudolf.  If we're going with the final, not-human, Big Bad, it's harder to say... Medeus (humans have it coming), Idoun (not what was expected) and Ashera (whoa) have their interesting points.  Fomortiis and the Fire Dragon, not so much.  At all.  And if we're just going with a villain, any villain... I do have that soft spot for Caellach.

-x-

So, Harry Potter.  Since people on the f-list are getting interested, I will present the following recs.  These are not necessarily the "best" stories out there, as I have only read a fraction of what is available and my tastes are idiosyncratic, but these stuck with me.

"The Shipping Forecast"-- nothing to do with 'shipping!  A glimpse of Snape as a lad looking to better himself.  I really like this author's take on Snape, which was firmly in the "he's lower-class and possibly Yorkshire" camp well, well before HP7.  This writer also wrote some interesting HG/SS and the only HP/SS I've ever liked, but she yanked her stuff off the 'net when she decided to go pro.  Sad times.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel"-- A Percy Weasley redemption story that made me silly-delerious happy upon reading it.  I mean, really, this sort of "behind the scenes fix-it" tale is precisely what fanfiction is about.

"Dark Gods In The Blood"-- My favorite of the SS/HG post-Voldemort epics.  Sucks to be Harry, but oh well.

"Somewhere I Have Never Travelled"-- Another post-Voldy SS/HG epic, with time travel and stuff.  There are parts I loved and parts, like the whole psychoanalysis bit with the healer from Newfoundland, that just tick me off.  (Also contains some bonus HP/HG, which is Fine.  By.  Me.)

"The Prefect's Portrait" by Arsinoe de Blassenville.  Marvelously entertaining, ingenious, Slytherin apologist BS.  There's an illustrated version out there that's quite lovely.  Ms. de Blassenville has a few other equally marvelous and ingenious works of BS out there that are worth a read if you can stand the deconstructionist stance, I mean canon warping

A word on the SS/HG-- it was really kind of a subgenre unto itself, a very literary subgenre whose writers seemed, at the time I was following it, to be mostly adult women.  It's a crack/AU pairing in its very inception, but the good writers recognized this and tried to run with it anyway.  Hermione is, IMO, usually an author stand-in, or some kind of... I dunno, Jane Eyre stand-in subbing for the author.  And Snape is a smoldering wounded romantic hero in need of a right fixing up.  It gets old after a while, but after plowing through highly-touted and bloody ridiculous Harry/Draco stories, not to mention the complete works of Cassie Claire, the SS/HG was a nice change of pace.

There was also a SS/HG one with Hermione as a ghost (death by potions class accident) that was really sweet and moving even if it went kind of fluffy at the end, but the title eludes me and I never did bookmark it.  Oh well.  I was following some interesting Lupin/Tonks stories, too, but after the way they ended up in canon I lost the taste for it.

I also don't actively seek out HP/HG stories, but I do welcome recs on their behalf.  
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Nanna.  Priscilla.  Cheiney.

One of these does NOT belong.  I'm not sure to find it amusing or kind of disturbing.

Also, this does not strike me as inadvertent.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 The spouse and I figured that rundown video game section of the San Leandro K-mart might have a game as old as Radiant Dawn new in the box.

We were right.

Fortunately despite the $49.99 list price, we got it for twenty.

Now I have to finish FE9.  Argh.

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