Final Fantasy 15's female hero deserves the spotlight, says director

Square Enix

Hajime Tabata has never met a woman who was anything less than “strong.” But the director of Final Fantasy 15 — arguably the series’ most guy-heavy installment — hasn’t done much to prove that as he continues to expand the game’s universe.

It may be up to outspoken fans for that to change, he told me at Gamescom. I asked him why the Square Enix team has yet to focus on cast members like Lunafreya in its episodic content and other Final Fantasy 15 expansions, something he sounded remorseful about himself.

“I really do have that desire to depict Luna as an even stronger female personality,” Tabata said. “Obviously the first mission is to get ‘Episode Ignis’ [the third piece of story-based DLC] out. Then when we decided what we do with 15 after, is to decide that together with the fans and community and opinions, just like you gave.”

The boys of Final Fantasy 15 have won over players, myself included. Yet Final Fantasy has always been special when it comes to female representation. There aren’t many high-profile role-playing game franchises that dare to devote a full-budget entry to three pop-singing heroes, after all. Some of my favorite characters in the entire medium are Final Fantasy heroines; they’re a major reason why I grew up loving and relating to the games so deeply.

Tabata wouldn’t commit to giving Lunafreya, or any other Final Fantasy 15 woman, a bigger role in an upcoming episode. But he sided with me that the former princess, who did have a major role in the feature film Kingsglaive, deserved more in-game action.

“First priority you want to see [in future DLC] is Luna?” he responded. “That’s something that I can agree with very well. I’ve also got incredible motivation to do that.”

We’ll see what 2018 brings for the growing Final Fantasy 15 franchise, and if its future is female.

Comments

Happy to hear it, will believe it when I see it.

Square has a pretty spotty track record with its leading ladies but the good ones are so fucking good that it makes me kinda sad that we’re still getting either boob-plated/cleavage-baring buxom babes/lolicon bait or a soulless, lifeless husk for leading ladies.

It’s impossible to describe who Yuna has been for me. She’s attractive, but not eye-candy – if I was skinnier I would cosplay her in an instant. And story-wise, she’s intriguing and powerful in a way that becomes a power fantasy for ME. I was so used to playing protagonists that were power fantasies for men, while shrugging off the need for "someone like me," that Yuna was a revelation.

So yeah, when they go for it, they win. That said, I didn’t resent their direction with FFXV. Still need to play it and see if the execution is good… But someone I trust was frustrated with a number of factors, including pacing. This dude is patience incarnate, so his frustration has pushed this game wayyyyyyy back in my queue.

Yeah, the pacing isn’t just bad. It is very clear that there are large portions of the game missing, and they had to stitch what they did have done together into a somewhat coherent narrative.

There’s a lot that’s missing I feel in FFXV. Not so much from pacing, rather just huge moments of who the fuck is this guy or why the fuck did my car break down as soon as I left the city, why does I get 3 miles on a full tank of gas.

There’s a lot if dumb nitpicky stuff.

That’s what we get for buying low octane fuel.

boob-plated/cleavage-baring buxom babes/lolicon bait or a soulless, lifeless husk for leading ladies.

You must be THIS type of female character, not THAT type of female character.

It’s more like, we’ve got plenty of this kind of character. Let’s do some different shit.

Is that why she’s in the game for about five minutes?

On a sidenote, what’s with that fetish with characters having to be strong ect. nowadays? All sorts of characters can be interesting. Representation of women did lack seriousness in games for a long time, but we won’t improve much by overcompensating and having all women, or men for that matter, be perfect superhumans who can deal with anything.

Don’t let detractors let you believe that people asking for more diversity are only asking for strong. It’s not being "fetishized" just deeply misunderstood and companies are misfiring in an attempt to tap that audience.

She’s in the game for about five minutes because her plot setup is in the Kingsglaive movie and then she only comes back when she’s needed. Having her story as DLC would show what she was doing behind the scenes while Noctis and the Crownsguard were having their road trip.

I saw the movie. Where others were doing stuff in. she was the damsel in distress from time to time. And I don’t care for showing her story elsewhere or in a DLC to begin with. Final Fantasy of the past was able to show the full story in the full game and use the cast appropriately. What’s next, buy each party member as DLC or run around alone? Actually, that doesn’t sound all that far fetched. Thanks, Trump!

she was the damsel in distress from time to time.

this reads to me like you did not, in fact, see Kingsglaive.

I did, in fact, rewatch it not too long ago. Since I’m apparently wrong, you surely could name anything she does on her own in the movie.

Because from what I remember, she spends the first hour of the movie getting kidnapped, being held in captivity and told what to do. The only time she shows a little self-agency is when she says no to the king, because, in her own actual words, her only purpose in life is to help Noctis fulfill his.

Then she gets kidnapped, rescued by the Kingsglaive, manages to get kidnapped again during her rescue and for the rest of the movie gets saved, protected and dragged along by Nyx, later by Libertus, and being told what to do, with the exception of once throwing her hairthingy into an engine to lure monsters away. The movie ends the moment she finally decides to move on on her own to, well, do as she was told.

She isn’t even on screen that much, and most of it are action scenes that don’t really tell much about her that’s important to the story or her as a character that isn’t explained in the game anyways.

because no women are delicate, dainty flowers anymore they are not allowed to be pretty or flaunt that without being represented as a trope or if an actual real life person called a whore or an air head or whatever. the world has gone mental with labels and people can’t just be people.

I never agreed with attacking Final Fantasy 15 for having an all-male cast, but I do agree that it was a shame compared to past entries. The end result did lose some of the magic and I think the lack of a more diverse cast was part of that (by diverse I’m talking more than just sex or skin tone)

It’s understandable why, the director wanted to tell the story of a road trip between friends, and that’s great and all, but it also came at the expense of a lot of what made Final Fantasy great. And there’s certainly nothing about a road trip or being friends that requires a certain gender, the game could have easily given them a larger vehicle and by extension a larger cast.

It wasn’t a bad game, and it did a lot of new things well, but it left a lot behind I’d like to see return.

The boys won me over, but the rest of the game has a pretty poor track record with female characters. There are four of any note to the plot:

  • Iris: She’s awesome, and the segment where she joins the party is fantastic. She’s a well rounded character who isn’t fetishized. She’s also got more chemistry with Noctis than Lunafreya by miles.
  • Aranea: WTF is up with her outfit? Doesn’t match anything else in the game (except perhaps for Cindy). She starts off pretty 1-dimensional, but does develop a conscience and decent character towards the end of the game.
  • Lunafreya: She spends most of the game (~5 minutes of screen time) as a McGuffin, and once you are supposed to actually meet her, she turns into a Deus Ex Machina. She shows almost no characterization at all during the game, beyond being a good person I guess? If they’d given her a segment of time to actually interact with Noctis, like Aranea’s dungeon, it would have helped her character a lot.
  • Cindy: sigh She had the chance to be a nice interesting character. She’s helpful, has a great rapport with the boys, and has some decent characterization. The accent is a little weird sounding in the undefined fantasy world, but she’s not alone in that regard. Unfortunately she spends pretty much all of her screen-time dressed and posing like she’s a cheap calendar girl for some Lucis lad mag.

Again, while I was a little surprised/concerned when I found out the cast was male-only, but I have no problem with the boys after having played the game. Their dynamic is fantastic, and doesn’t need any change… Except perhaps letting Iris hang out with the crew more. I’d happily pay for a DLC that let me add her in for the post-game open world. She even fits in the Regalia without issue, and is a solid fighter.

Aranea: WTF is up with her outfit
she spends pretty much all of her screen-time dressed and posing like she’s a cheap calendar girl for some Lucis lad mag

What is with the slut shaming in these comments?

How is this slut-shaming? I’m pissed at the character designer. These are not real women making real choices, these are characters designed by the very male Roberto Ferrari.

So its not the character but the character designer that you have an issue with? So if this character was designed by a women while remaining the same then you would somehow be ok with it then?

The hell are you talking about? Are you saying I can’t critique a character design?

Yes, if those outfits had been designed by a woman, and still had no in-universe consistency, I’d still have a problem with them. The random fan service is annoying, but its made worse when they stand out so much from the rest of the game. Its clear those designs only exist for fan service.

Compare the female party members in FFX and FFXII. Yuna and Ashe show a lot of skin, but so do their male compatriots. Lulu and Fran are more fanservicy, but there are lots of other characters in the world who wear similar outfits. They look like they exist within a cohesive world, where Cindy and Aranea look like they got dropped into an unrelated game just to appear to hormone addled boys.

The hell are you talking about? Are you saying I can’t critique a character design?

Well, you said you were pissed at the character designer. And because of the way it was worded, you had left it open for interpretation. Especially because of you saying, "the very male Roberto…" as if being male contributed to the problem. So, I was only asking for clarification and to see if there was any consistency.

Are you saying I can’t critique a character design?

I’m gonna be upfront and just say that I’m not sure how you came about that one. But if it needs to be said then your criticism is just as valid and worth just as little/big as my own.

Its clear those designs only exist for fan service.
where Cindy and Aranea look like they got dropped into an unrelated game just to appear to hormone addled boys.

Why is that wrong though? If these characters, like you’ve said before, are not real women and not making real choices, then what does it matter? And if it does matter to you (which is fine btw), then why even play that particular game? And if these things are so important that they need to be removed or addressed then what does that say about you, yourself, who continues to purchase and play these type of games that feature such sexist and problematic elements?

I mean, there’s times when this type of criticism can feel so out of place. Its as if having an interest in Rap music but then having your criticism consist of things such as cursing, violence, drug abuse, etc. One would start to wonder why i had any interest in rap music to begin with.

Sorry, it seems I overreacted to your earlier comment. Moving on to the latter part of your response.

Why is that wrong though? If these characters, like you’ve said before, are not real women and not making real choices, then what does it matter? And if it does matter to you (which is fine btw), then why even play that particular game? And if these things are so important that they need to be removed or addressed then what does that say about you, yourself, who continues to purchase and play these type of games that feature such sexist and problematic elements?
is
I mean, there’s times when this type of criticism can feel so out of place. Its as if having an interest in Rap music but then having your criticism consist of things such as cursing, violence, drug abuse, etc. One would start to wonder why i had any interest in rap music to begin with.

While character designs like this do exist all around the gaming industry (MGS’ Silence comes to mind) there’s nothing saying they are intrinsic to any genre. Dead or Alive’s jiggle-physics and sexual-assault mini-game doesn’t reflect all fighting games. In general (talking industry wide) the portrayal of female characters tends to skew erotic, but I see no reason that has to remain the case, or why it would be intrinsic to the idea of video games.

If we’re talking about just JRPG’s, how about contrasting Persona 5. It’s got more Anime pervert tropes than I would like, but I recognize those are par-for-the-course with the High School Anime style, and while somewhat irritating, they’re mostly harmless and the game takes time to show that the men are assholes/idiots, and learn from their mistakes. In terms of direct comparisons, there’s Ann’s costume, which is a red latex catsuit. It’s definitely jarring when you first see it, but by the time you assemble your full party, it makes more sense. The characters also comment on it in-world, and as you get to know her character, you can understand how she views "owning" her sexuality and attractiveness as a rebellious act given the pervasive rumors about her at school and with her work as a model. Her outfit and design fits her character and the world in which the game takes place.

Even if we strip away the concerns about sexism and objectification, in FFXV these character designs are a sign of poor game-design. If the game designers wanted to include beautiful sexy women, they had plenty of ways to have them fit into the world as it exists. In this case they didn’t do that, and just dropped them in with no regard for the world or game itself, seemingly just checking off the "fan-service" box on a project schedule.

All-male was fine with me, but the characters where poorly written and Square-Enix can shove their "Oh, but we’ll explore them more in our DLCs" up their behinds for all I care. They were as unfinished as the whole game and I’m not going to reward them for it.

It’s made all the more vexing when you hear the rumors that Iris, Aranea, and Luna/Stella were all going to be in the party at some point in development.

Pull an Uncharted and give us a Lunafreya + Aranea game somehow.

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