mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I am seriously bummed out today. See, my most excellent spouse and I have some mutual friends we've known for about fifteen years. We all met on the same Usenet group in the late 90s and they, like us, became an item after a few years and have been together now for more than a decade. We've stopped by their apartment in the next state over, petted their cats, gone out to dinner, and maintained an online relationship through the years. They mean more to us than 99% of our friends from the brick-and-mortar universities we attended in those halcyon Usenet days.

Now they've broken up, for good, with the root cause being mental illness that's basically crippled one of the pair. It's terrible and sad and, given the length of time things have been crumbling, inevitable. Some people can't be fixed, or the fix is something that costs them the life they used to have. But it's just depressing as hell.

So, I will resurrect a post I started on last year, after feeling another overdose of fannish sentiment that Fire Emblem is aaaaaall about making happy love relationships. Whatever you think of FE13, that sure wasn't always the case. Here's some relationships that weren't built to last, and I don't mean relationships that were doomed from the start because of trickery or some other coercion (Hardin/Nyna, Arvis/Deirdre), or something like Lewyn/Fury wherein the supernatural is clearly at play. I mean relationships that people fuck up themselves on their own time, because of who and what they are. Fifty percent of this is old news to y'all because the germ of this post is so old, but two of these topics are things I've never harped on before that are at least worth a look.

Relationshippy spoilers for Archeanea, Jugdral, Elibe, and Tellius )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Shouzou Kaga's final Fire Emblem game was the ambitious and underperforming Thracia 776.  With former driving force Kaga gone to pursue other things, FE went in a new direction-- handheld games instead of console games, with a new system of support mechanics.
 
Cut for length, again )

Since FE8 and FE7, with their similar support systems, were the first to be released worldwide, many fans have the idea that these A-B-C supports with paired endings are simply how Fire Emblem works.  Clearly that is not the case.  You may like it the best, but that doesn't make it the norm.  

The next continental saga challenged that assumption, hard.
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
So, I've been scrounging around in the FE department of pixiv, looking for something to satiate my Jugdral fix.  It's amazing how we learn to recognize characters (favorite and otherwise) based on cues-- color schemes, hair styles, design elements, proportions.  Take this mini-celebration of red and green cavs that Sriya and Raphi reblogged on tumblr-- fans know who's who and who's what.  To non-fans, it might look like four variations on the same two characters.  Raphi and I also had a conversation recently regarding a mis-labled picture of the Senior Jugdral Lord Trio (Sigurd, Cuan, Eltoshan) which was identified as the Junior Lord Trio (Celice, Leaf, Aless).  Believe me, I can see how people make the mistake (especially with Elto and Aless).  There are simple things like "Cuan wears black, Celice has a headband," and there are these other nuances of what defines a character that we as fans internalize and learn to apply across all kinds of different styles and media.   

It allows a Marth fan to recognize Marth when he's sporting Ephraim-teal hair, while an Ephraim fan still zeroes in on Ephraim! when a non-fan wouldn't know him from Geoffrey.  It allows someone looking for pictures of Tate with a a certain red-haired cavalier to glance past pictures of, say, Catria with that other red-haired cavalier.  It enables someone to tell Lugh from Lleu from twenty paces away-- even if they're identically dressed in that picture.  And good fanart, IMO, somehow captures that essence of a character, communicating the crucial personality difference between Lleu and Lugh, even in low-res and at thumbnail size. Recognizing fanart relies on "anchor" points in the way that fanfic does, IMO.  The personality traits of the "adorkable" mage or the brooding turncoat wyvern rider come through somehow... or perhaps get delightfully subverted in ways difficult to express in text.  Either way, we know "our" favorite characters when we see them. 

And I don't just mean in flattering situations.  We "know" them in the skeevy pix and the wtf pix, the ones of Hardin and his men celebrating Halloween, or of Dr. Celice getting naughty with Nurse Yuria.  That's why they work-- we might have to think for a couple of seconds about what the hell the picture is about, and what the artist was smoking, but we know exactly who that is in the cow costume.

And when fanart doesn't work for me, it's not always a question of aesthetics, exactly.  I just don't think that some fanart shows anything close to the character I like-- you know, the reason I'm hunting fanart.  I could point out lots of "eh, no" artwork depicting Marth, but I'll illustrate my point with something less obvious.

See this.  A pretty youth, messy hair somewhere between lilac and blue, details of outfit vague.  Which Fire Emblem cutie is it?  

Any takers?

Well, it's Finn, but I wouldn't have known it for certain without cross-checking the name.  I mean, it's not a displeasing picture by any means, but if there's only the vaguest suggestion that it's Finn and not some kid from some random anime series or whatever... well, it doesn't work for me as fanart.

But this pic is by CrossEMPIRE, whose stuff I don't care for in general.  Most of it is sketchy, messy, sloppy, with arbitrary choices about recoloring characters' eyes and such.  There's a lot, and I mean a LOT, of art on CrossEMPIRE's old site, but only a fraction of it works for me.  
 
Take this one.  (Not graphic, but fairly suggestive and arguably not the best thing to be viewing at work or at Grandma's house!).

Adult male with a young woman over one shoulder.  The impression I get from this image is that the girl is being hauled away for a spanking.  Something like that.  The guy this time is at least recognizable as Finn, but the chick over his arm is... I dunno, Lily Evans Potter maybe.  Oh, wait, that's supposed to be Altenna with green eyes?  Why green eyes?  Where's her headband?  Where's her attitude?  Seriously, what?

Artistic license is one thing.  I prefer dark-eyed Camus to blue-eyed Camus, but it doesn't make the dark-eyed version "better" or more canon.  But if I can't tell who I'm looking at, much less what I'm looking at, without some detective work, something just seems a bit off.  And I pretty much feel that way about all CrossEMPIRE's work, from the Michalis/Minerva pix through all the FE4 stuff through the Elibe artwork.  I don't feel that I'm really looking at Hector chillin' with Eliwood.  It's a red-haired dude and a blue-haired dude, and... eh.

Back to pixiv for lulz, I guess.      
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)
I said I wasn't bringing headcanon into this.  

That doesn't mean that some characters didn't take a fair amount of consideration before getting on this list.  A little thought, a little reflection, a bit of compare/contrast with others of their "type."

Case in point, #7: Eliwood.

Psst. He's the actual main character of his game, too. )
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)
#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)
This is something I won't write because it'll take too long and I don't know FE6 enough, but it's occupying valuable mental space and needs to be offloaded.

Ereb: city of the modern age, astonishingly beautiful and astonishingly corrupt. Fifteen-year-old Roy, scion of a wealthy family, leads a fairly ordinary life; he goes to school, spends time with a few friends, and tries to be the "young master" while his father recovers from TB in a sanatorium. He also, in secret, reads sword-and-sorcery fantasy comics, tales of winged horses and dragons and enchanted weapons. There's nothing like that in Ereb, though a generation ago, a team of shadowy masked vigilantes beat back a crime wave and restored order to the city.

Even as Roy reads his escapist comics, a new crime wave threatens to engulf Ereb, and the source of these crimes appears to be the very highest levels of the city's political and industrial elite. With some nudging from family retainer Marcus, Roy uncovers a shocking secret. His own father Eliwood was the Blue Falcon, leader of the masked vigilantes that once saved Ereb. Will Roy manage put on his father's mask and cape and save the city? How many other secrets about Ereb's past will be revealed along the way?

So, yes. FE6 by way of Watchmen. Anyone wants to take this and run with it, please do so.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
First off, a word about marriage in general in Fire Emblem-- there seems a fair amount of evidence that formal marriage, though practiced across classes, is more of a concern to the upper and titled classes and that overall the inhabitants of Fire Emblem 'verses are quite comfortable with the practice of shacking up.

Read more... )


 As I said in the part about Elibe, the unconventional forces are the ones who carry the day.  They might end up remaking their continents from the family unit on up-- or, after a few generations, may just settle back into the ways of the ruling classes they decimated back in the war.  Marriage-markets, trophy wives, brothels and all. 


ETA: LJ's formatting is so jacked up these days...

On Fathers

Aug. 18th, 2011 09:48 am
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
As I said earlier, suggesting that Vigarde abused Lyon as a means of explaining Lyon’s actions doesn’t sit well with me for a number of reasons. After reading a recently posted FE8 'fic, I have a little more clarity on why I feel this way, beyond the reason I already gave.

Lyon used the Demon King’s power to manipulate his father’s dead body. This is macabre, but there’s more to it than that. Souls exist in Magvel, and we don’t know if Vigarde’s soul was still inside his shell of a body, or whether he was outside of it. Either way, it’s entirely possible that Vigarde knew what was going on— both his son’s actions, and his own alleged actions. That’s not just macabre, it’s horrifying.

It’s not impossible that Vigarde was abusive to Lyon. At the very least, he might well have been neglectful. But what we actually see, in canon, is Lyon’s abuse of Vigarde—of his physical form, of his legacy, of his reputation, of his kingship, and possibly of his soul/will. Even if Vigarde were a terrible man (see: Jiol, Lang) or a very… complicated one (Trabant, Alvis, Desmond), what Lyon does is a transgression on a shocking number of levels—and that’s just one specific crime out of Lyon’s list of offenses. And as we don’t have solid evidence that Vigarde belongs in either of those categories, well, that just makes it all the more awful.

Vigarde is ultimately one of his son’s victims, and to assume that he had it coming, or bore the responsibility for it, seems like an overreach. And I think the simple fact that you can’t save Lyon says that we’re intended to see Lyon, not his father, as the one at fault for this disaster.

-x-

Mind you, I do agree that just because Vigarde’s generals are loyal to him and distressed by the “change” in him doesn’t mean he was necessarily a model of kingship and parenthood. Parental figures in Fire Emblem often have a bit of shading to them—I’m in the camp that thinks that Elbert wasn’t a squeaky-clean character. Politics is politics, man. Uther (a substitute parent of sorts) definitely wasn’t squeaky-clean, and Hector may not have been either by the time that FE6 rolled around. Nyna’s father seems to have been a pretty repellent character, all told (providing refuge to disgruntled ex-slaveholders?), and I suspect that loyalty to Nyna’s father was, at the bare minimum, why Cornelius wasn’t spared in the clean sweep that took out every elder head of state across Archanea besides the kings of Aurelis and Talys. Either Cornelius was too naïve to realize that his suzerain was bringing disaster on them (entirely possible, given THAT family), he had an understanding of the situation but acted only within the narrow parameters of defending his lord (maybe he was more similar to Camus than we thought…), or he was actually okay with the things Nyna’s father was doing. Any way you slice it, we have some possibilities for why the divine forces that pull the strings in Archanea didn’t want him as their designated hero, and we don’t even have to bring child abuse into it.

That’s what anime adaptations are for. :P
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, I have two mutually exclusive Elibe headcanons now.  I consider one of them to be kind of... normal.  Eliwood marries Ninian, Hector marries Lyn, Erk marries Priscilla.  Maybe not the most popular iteration of everyone's destinies, but not that off-the-wall.

Then there's the other, more recent headcanon invasion:

Take Two )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Combining Tellius with the other worlds is a bitch.  

Anyway.  So, I've been toying with a serious take on It's All One FE World for months, and some time ago I thought about using the device of an interconnected myth cycle or something equally hazy.  Finally got there, or as close as I'm going to get.  At a certain point, I said "screw the research, it's all about myths anyway."

Brief story discussion )

With apologies to the Tragically Hip.
mark_asphodel: (Ephraim!)
 Haven't updated "Starchild" in a while, but I was working on the retooled Chapter 14 today.  My momentum still hasn't recovered from that "Just write!" error a while back.  It'll still be twenty chapters, and from here on out it's going to be really weird.

-x-

I've written three of the seven one-word prompt fills, so I'm behind schedule.  I'm working on #4 at present but the characters are not cooperating.

-x-

Not sure about the FE Big Bang, as my summer looks really disruptive.  We'll see.

-x-

Had a very cracky Lyn hypothesis that I should better keep to myself.  Yet another "why Lyn REALLY left Caelin" deal, only more wacked-out than most.  CGs are to blame.

-x-

I think the chances of that FE6!Eliwood/Rebecca story actually being written are pretty good right now.  See, I need a balance of life-affirming characters and bleak characters in my life, and once Raphi convinced me that Ephraim fell into the "bleak" category I glommed onto the idea of survivor!Eliwood to compensate.  So I've been all warm fuzzies over Eliwood ever since.

-x-

I guess "When Mila Walked the Land" will get its own post later.  Dinnertime! 
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I don't believe that Ilia is a matriarchal society.  Yes, I realize that Farina's supports with Karla indicate that women put food on the table, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to hear that female children are welcomed eagerly and mothers held in high esteem.  But there's one rather glaring detail in the way if someone wants to paint Ilia as a truly "women first" society.

After FE6, Ilia becomes a monarchy.  Ruled by a king.  And not some guileless youth-- someone's son, or brother, or some special orphan-- who might conceivably be the puppet of wisewomen.  Zealot is a strongman, an active and experienced general, the leader of that "pretty terrible" brigade of male mercenary knights so mocked by Farina.  His wife Yuno, meanwhile, is portrayed as courageous but retiring, given the title "Grand Flightleader" only in death. 

In context, I do not find Farina's information reliable.  Granted, the mercenary knights folded like wet paper against Bern without Zealot on the scene, but the peg knights didn't do any better.  

-x-

My radio show is a repeat tonight... but it still says LIVE! on the calendar.  I am confused.  I feel like I'm missing something.

ETA: Nope.  Definitely a repeat.

-x-

Where's my jar of rambutan honey?  That wasn't cheap.  :(

Speaking of the rambutan, nothing like coming up to the grocery counter waving a bag filled with what looks for all the world like severed testicles.  The shop boy was deeply perplexed until I explained that they were kind of like lychees.

-x-

Just when you think you've overstated the horrors of slash cliches in FE-dom, someone comes along and posts something really flabbergastingly awful.  Then again, we were discussing the likelihood of Rolf going sociopathic...

WIP Meme

May. 22nd, 2011 11:08 am
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 SInce [livejournal.com profile] raphien , [livejournal.com profile] xirysa , and everyone else is doing it....

I'm not going to bother with whatever was on the WIP last time around, unless I'm actively trying to finish it at present.  Just new stuff.

Cut for length, et cetera... )

That's it for now.  There was more Archanea stuff, but it was all sentence fragments instead of coherent scenes or even full sentences.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I've seen some speculation that Rutger could potentially be the son of Kent and Lyn-- or, rather, that they're a retcon possibility to be his parents.  But after finding out that Priscilla runs off with Guy in the FE7 novelization, I have to wonder... could the red-haired mercenary be considered as the son of the original Sword Saint and his red-haired bride?

Is there anything that rules this out?
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Yes, that's a Dylan quote.

Anyway, I was inspired to write something other than "Starchild" (still plugging away at Chapter 13 with that one).  I'd been wanting to write some adult!Eliwood for a while, and I kind of wanted to write a non-sappy Mother's Day story, and the two came together in my head to form this.

Cut for 'fic discussion )

Totally hooked on Eliwood/Fiora.  Yeah, it's not the pairing the game "wants" me to go with, but if we go by, say, the canon of the novel adaptation, that gives us Eli/Ninian, Hector/Florina, and Lyn/Rath.  I don't see hordes of people shipping Lyn/Rath just because the official novelization says so, so have some more Eliwood/Fiora.  Have lots more.

Also, a fairly new writer has produced a Kyle/Lute romance that is very enjoyable except for the unfortunate depiction of Forde.  Since Forde isn't the focus of the story anyway, give this a whirl. 

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