Hello dear readers and welcome to a historic day for Shoot the Rookie! What makes today so special is that for the first time we are welcoming a guest writer into the fray! I am extremely excited and happy to welcome @sebg2258 to Shoot the Rookie and I hope you all will give him a warm welcome!
For those of you that don’t know me personally, I should probably introduce Seb in more detail! If you’ve been reading Shoot the Rookie for a while you may have seen me refer to my partner. Up until this point his identity has been a mystery to most of you, but in fact Seb is that person! He has been super supportive of me writing this blog and I genuinely couldn’t have done it without him. I may be biased in this but I think he has a pretty awesome Instagram account, so I hope you’ll all check it out and give him a follow!
Without Seb I may never have got into JRPGs and we have played a lot of them together. One thing we’ve noticed though is that we often have quite different takes on the characters in the games. So when me and Winst0lf announced The Great JRPG Character Face-Off a few weeks ago, Seb was keen to take part, however when he submitted his five favourite JRPG characters to me I was STUNNED to discover that they were all pretty ladies! Now I am giving him this opportunity to explain himself and get back in my good books! So take it away Seb (and beware spoilers!)…
In Defence of My Selections for The Great JRPG Character Face Off
I think I may have said something like ‘All JRPG men are idiots’ when first trying to explain myself. I’ll admit that’s a little unfair – I quite like Wakka from Final Fantasy X and Sojiro from Persona 5. There are others too, but none who particularly sprung to mind when the call went out last month for The Great JRPG Character Face Off. It occurred to me that this might raise an eyebrow, so I decided to double down and submit my selections in pictorial form, which is what you see above. The camera roll on my phone is now full of this kind of thing, although I suspect this is something I have in common with our esteemed host here on Shoot the Rookie, so I think it’s probably fine.
I should say at this point what an honour it is to be writing the very first guest post on this fine website, even if it is an attempt to dig myself out of a hole. Below I will endeavour to put any suspicions to rest and counter the charge that I have simply selected five ‘hot ladies’ – not my words, please be assured. I will now make the case that these five women are in fact the greatest characters ever to grace the world’s greatest videogame genre. Without further ado, I present my top five JRPG characters of all time.
Mythra (Xenoblade Chronicles 2)
I’m often drawn to characters who carry huge responsibilities, either through the strength of their convictions or sometimes simply because of the power they wield. I also like characters who are absurdly over-the-top and make no secret of how they think everything around them is lame and boring. Characters who are capable of destroying the universe, but who put most of their energy into winding up their companions. Mythra has all of these strange contradictions. I’ve been trying to think of others who share her divinely overpowered narkiness, and for some reason keep coming back to Beerus the Destroyer from Dragon Ball. Maybe it’s all the desserts.
They’re not so similar though. Where they differ is that Beerus is genuinely not bothered about the idea of destroying a world and all of its people. This is not the case with Mythra. Her story is too tragic to dwell on here, but it’s the Torna expansion in particular that illuminates the burden she carries. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and just spends all day complaining sarcastically and sassing her friends around. I think she’s absolutely great.
Serah Farron (Final Fantasy XIII Series)
Serah spends most of the first game as a crystal, which alone probably wouldn’t have been enough for an entry into this list. It’s sad that this may be all some people know of her, as anyone who has persisted with the XIII series will have got to experience all the wonderful things that make XIII-2 my favourite FF game of the post-PS1 era.
Serah is a kind and likable character who comes over as fairly easy-going but is actually hard as nails and single-minded in her determination – traits that she shares with her formidable sister. There are plenty of lighter moments throughout the game, but what I find particularly compelling is the way she continues to battle on in the knowledge that pursuing her goal will bring about her death. She is unfaltering in the final showdown with Caius in which he tries to break her nerve. ‘But don’t you see? I don’t care.’ is an entirely unanswerable comeback, so Serah wins for me. I’m not sure what she sees in Snow though.
Sae Niijima (Persona 5)
There’s a moment in Persona 5 when Sae slams her hands onto the interrogation table. There may actually be quite a few of these. She’s ambitious, ruthless and tough, and she quite simply has to win this prosecution. She knows perfectly well that what Joker is telling her is completely unbelievable, at least by any normal standards. But as the pieces keep falling into place, the situation becomes increasingly impossible to deny and her instinct for the truth eventually leads her to adjust her perspective. It’s fascinating to watch how this unfolds – every time something big happens we see it retold through these interactions, which begin frostily but gradually develop into something like a friendship.
Sae has an involving story in her own right, as much as any of the other confidantes, but since you’re locked in a cell you don’t really have a choice about spending time with her. As the plot develops and takes you to all sorts of fantastical places, it always comes back to talking it out in that room. She is a captivating presence throughout the game.
Lora (Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country)
Lora is genuinely someone that you’d want to be around if you were in a real-life JRPG, or if you needed someone to cheer you up while staring certain destruction in the face. She’s the main character of the Torna expansion of XC2, which is set in the distant past of the main game. This means that you basically already know everything that’s going to happen, which puts you in quite a difficult position as the player. You don’t have much choice about it though – you just have to get on with it, even if there really is no way of avoiding tragedy and disaster.
So, with a smile on her face, an unlimited reserve of generosity and the odd cheeky quip here and there, Lora travels from titan to titan and touches the hearts of everybody she meets. If your world is going to pass into the realm of myth and legend, the kind of thing that’s still popular in theatres some 500 years in the future, you might as well do your best to make it a world worth remembering. Stories of her journey will be told – far, far away.
Eleonora Yumizuru (Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE)
The main thing about Ellie is how much fun the game is whenever she’s featured. Pretty much all of her side-quests are hilarious, and I’m still waiting for Horror Hunter Angel to be made into an actual TV show. I probably don’t need to watch her other show, the Yashiro-as-moon-dwelling-boyfriend high school drama, but if that’s what it takes for her to make it to Hollywood then I wish her all the best. Ellie uses a bow and arrow, which is of course the best JRPG weapon. She also has a good upside-down attack. I think she might also have the best song in her duet with Tsubasa, the ultra-catchy Dream Catcher. That’s a close call though – Kiria, Tiki and Mamori all have their moments too. I realise that I’ve just kind of dismissed all the guys here. Maybe there is something going on.
Ellie is a little different to my other selections in that her story isn’t quite so heavy with peril, conflict and tragedy. She has her struggles, but it’s the fun aspects of her personality that really shine in this fantastic game. Go and listen to Dream Catcher if you don’t believe me.
So, there it is. What do you reckon – do you buy this? By all means cast your judgement in the comments below, or come and find me on Instagram @sebg2258. I occasionally post stuff about games and anime, although to be honest it’s mostly cookery and birds. Thanks very much for reading, and also many, many thanks to @pix1001 for allowing me the honour of being published on Shoot the Rookie!
Interesting list, well done to Seb! I really need to play more modern JRPGs cos some of these characters sound cool as hell!
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Awesome to see some Serah and XIII-2 love! In my opinion she is one of the most underrated Final Fantasy protagonists ever. The character growth she goes through is amazing.