Friday, February 13, 2009

The Wild Arms Series's Female Characters' Superiority

Y'know, when I was thinking about the Wild Arms series as a whole the other day, I realized something odd--the female characters in the series are way more compelling than the male ones. Now sure, there are plenty of individual games out there for which this is true, as well, and it's not really that noteworthy for them--the characters in them that are the most interesting and have the most depth just happen to be girls. But this is the case overwhelmingly with every game in the WA series to date. I mean, let's look at these things individually.

WA1: Now honestly, I can't say I'm really a significant fan of any of this game's characters. None are bad characters, I guess, but the general cast is just overall bland. Rudy's got all the characterization that having no dialog usually entails, Jack's just there most of the time and his development, which could have been quite compelling with better execution, just comes off as run-of-the-mill, and Cecilia's just another boring magical princess. The villains are no better, just being a collection standard evil-doing demons. Still, if there's one character that stands out in the game, it's Jane. While not a great character, the few poignant moments of the game are pretty much all centered on her, and she certainly has a lot more personality than everyone else.

Good Females: 1 (1 Total)
Great Females: 0 (0 Total)
Good Males: 0 (0 Total)
Great Males: 0 (0 Total)

WA2: Again, not much of a noteworthy cast in general, just your average RPG characters with a little development here and there that doesn't go anywhere you haven't gone before. I suppose Brad is decent enough, and Irving's okay. But the two characters who really make any impression on you are Anastasia and Antenora. Anastasia's a rather neat heroine who has a rather neat and different take on heroism and desire that gives you something to think about, a new perspective to consider. As for Antenora, I've done a previous rant about why she's a pretty cool and different villainess, so check that out for the details. Marivel is also a fairly decent character, so that's another for the girls.

Good Females: 2 (3 Total)
Great Females: 1 (1 Total)
Good Males: 2 (2 Total)
Great Males: 0 (0 Total)

WA3: Ah, my favorite in the series. Hell, the only one I actually really like at all. This game's got some pretty good male characters, actually--I like Clive, Gallows has some good characterization, Asgard is cool, Alfred is neat, Werner's got an interesting gimmick going on (even though he's mostly just there for the protagonist's development), and all 3 of the prophets (2 of which are male) are interesting villains for both their petty, weak human natures leading them to evil and for the fact that they're actually more or less the underdogs the whole time they're villain-ing it up. But even still, the true draw of this game is the main character, Virginia. She's pretty much one of the greatest heroes of the entire RPG genre, characterized beautifully, unique, full of personality, and always being developed, from start to finish of the game. Virginia by herself is about 2/3 of why this game is so good, not only because she's such an excellent character, but because she's so totally immersed in the game's story--everything else in the game that's good becomes better because she interacts and reacts to it, be it plot, character development, or themes. And there's also Maya, Virginia's antagonistic rival, who perfectly compliments and contrasts Virginia, she has some pretty decent characterization herself (which is a nice change for an RPG rival), and has a crazily appealing personality--I've yet to meet a WA3 player who did not love Maya. There may be a lot of decent male characters in WA3, but Virginia and Maya just completely overshadow them in quality and appeal.

Good Females: 1 (4 Total)
Great Females: 2 (3 Total)
Good Males: 7 (9 Total)
Great Males: 0 (0 Total)

WA4: God I hate this game. The characters sucked, the villains sucked, the NPCs sucked. Gawn was decent, but nothing special. However, as terrible as the rest of the cast is, Racquel is such a great, original, and even inspiring character that she almost balances them all out. She's not only the best character in the game, she's its ONLY virtue.

Good Females: 0 (4 Total)
Great Females: 1 (4 Total)
Good Males: 1 (10 Total)
Great Males: 0 (0 Total)

WA5: Once again, a game without many characters that evoke strong feelings (well, besides Dean and Volsung, but I meant POSITIVE strong feelings). Still, if there are any characters that are anything more than standard and boring, I would say they're probably Avril (sure, she does the tired old "Magical Girl with a Faulty Memory and Lack of Understanding of People/the World," but she does it better than most, and she's moderately likable) for the heroes and Persephone for the villains (on the grounds that she's the only villain with any depth at all, even if it's really only a little, and/or the only villain who has depth that is not laughable and stupid).

Good Females: 2 (6 Total)
Great Females: 0 (4 Total)
Good Males: 0 (10 Total)
Great Males: 0 (0 Total)

So yeah. While there are some decent male characters in the series (mostly all found in one installment that's focused on its main females anyway), the female characters are consistently the ones worth noticing in each game, and the best characters in the series are all women.

Why am I bringing this up? I dunno; no reason, really. Just seemed like an interesting quirk when I thought of it, something I don't think any other RPG series does, and made all the stranger by the fact that the WA series purports itself (very falsely) to be a Wild West-style series, which would make you think that the really important and good characters (note the qualifier "and," important and sucky ones don't count) would be male.


  1. What about Wild Arms XF? You should do a revisited version of this post where you weigh in on how XF's characters measured up/how WA's as a series has strong female representation in the party!

    1. Y'know, I had no idea that WAXF existed until this comment. I'll have to check it out some time, and when I do, I'll be sure to update this rant. Thanks!