Despite having a long, RPG mumbo-jumbo type name, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is quite an impressive RPG from Namco, a very artistic work that comports itself with a dignity and style more like a Hayao Miyazaki film than a regular video game. It's like a...poignant, emotionally-driven artistic anime version of Fallout. While I don't find it as amazing as several people do, and it's certainly true that too much of the details and history of the plot are left unexplained or a little too open to interpretation, I do have to say that basically every part of it seems stylistically thoughtful and laden with emotional meaning, and every step of the gamer's journey through the moonlit ruins and haunts left by a gentle apocalypse is an enjoyable one, a significant one. This is a game that grips your hand tenderly as it tells its tale of emotion, and growth, of loneliness and friendship, and you're happy to hear the story.
Oh, except for this one part which is TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT.
By necessity, this rant now will contain spoilers for Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon. Big ones. So, if you haven't played the game, don't read this.* Go do something else, instead. Watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, or read something by Mark Twain. He's better at witty writing than I am, anyway. A lot better.
Alright, so. What is bullshit about FDFRotM? I'll tell you what is bullshit about FDFRotM. What is bullshit about FDFRotM is the fate of Shin. That is 100% bullshit, and it sours the entire ending. And it pisses me off!
Alright, so, quick refresher--Shin is the main villain of FDFRotM. He is, or was in life (he's an artificial intelligence hologram-thing during the game--but since it's patterned exactly after his memories and personality, and planning to again activate the world-ending Glass Cage project, this version of Shin is as legitimate an antagonist entity as if he were the original), a scientist who achieved semi-psychic abilities to read the emotions and thoughts and whatnot of other people, by making himself the first test subject of his research to improve communication through empathy. After losing faith in humanity because of all he heard in the minds of people around him, Shin brought about (or helped bring about--if I recall correctly, it's not exactly stated that he was responsible for the negative effects of Glass Cage, but it's definitely implied that he had a huge hand in the whole fiasco) the quiet apocalypse of the Glass Cage project that left the world almost wholly without human beings. Shin gives up his quest to eliminate the last remnants of the human race at the end of the game when protagonist Seto combats him, and Seto's companion Sai, another ghost left behind from the old world, confesses that she had always secretly loved Shin. This, of course, shows Shin the error of his ways, he gives up on his plan and he and Sai fade away, happy and content thanks to their love for one another. How nice.
How very nice.
How very WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU, NAMCO?
I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Namco. Did I just see that right? Did you just give the GENOCIDAL MADMAN who killed over 6 BILLION PEOPLE a HAPPY ENDING? Maybe you missed the part in your own narrative where Shin brought about the END OF CURRENT HUMAN CULTURE. Maybe you forgot that he caused 6 billion people plus to go to sleep and never wake up again. Perhaps you have not quite considered that this fellow eliminated a PLANET'S worth of sapient organisms.
I'm sorry, but come on. Maybe I don't have enough perspective, but I feel like any individual who knowingly and maliciously participates in the extermination of an entire species, one numbering 6 thousand millions, does NOT deserve to get the girl and ride off into the fucking sunset! This is not a minor lapse in judgment. This is not a child's TV show where we're going to smile and encourage Shin because he realizes he made a mistake that was hurtful to others but has now learned his lesson. Big Bird, Lambchops, and Captain Kangaroo are not going to burst into a cute little song about why it's important not to do what Shin did so we all learn a happy little lesson. Twilight Sparkle is not going to dictate a letter that starts with, "Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned that it's not good to condemn everyone everywhere to death." This is a crime against humanity that makes every previous transgression committed, every war crime conceived, look like cute misdemeanors! If your story is going to involve a guy who expunged a sentient species from all existence, there had better be some serious consequences for him! Particularly if they're offset by the reward of a love interest!
And I mean APPROPRIATE consequences, here. Yeah, Shin does die, but look at the way he goes! Happy, content, satisfied! His notion that humanity sucks is proven wrong by a chick saying she digs him--but his mind is only comprehending the "I HAS GIRLFRIEND NOW" part. What it's NOT contemplating is, "Oh shit. I guess I condemned 99.9% of my species to death based on an assumption that was wrong." You do not see a single twitch of regretful conscience from the moment Sai proves him wrong to the moment he disappears in a golden, misleadingly divine light.
My God. Just...it's so unbelievable to me that Shin gets off virtually unpunished. A happy ending for the mass mass MASS murderer!
There are, of course, some extenuating details to this situation that make it even more stupid. Such as Shin's motivation. What was it that caused Shin to do this horrible thing? What unimaginable travesty was committed against him that could bring him to attempt to wipe out the human race? Twice? Get ready to shed some tears, guys: people weren't as nice as they should have been. When Shin became able to hear people's emotions and thoughts and such, he found out that what people think isn't always as nice and socially acceptable as what they say and act like. And so, because the people around him had petty negative thoughts in their heads, Shin decided that humanity was irredeemable and had to be eliminated, too petty to be allowed to live.
Because, y'know, finding out people aren't as nice as you want them to be isn't a petty reason to murder them, or anything.
I've seen versions of this idea a few times, and I have to say, every iteration I've seen has been better than Shin's experience. Take the show Torchwood. In Season 1, an alien chick gives one of the show's characters, Tosh, an artifact thingy that will let Tosh hear the thoughts of those around her. Upon bringing it to work, Tosh finds that her coworkers and friends speak and act nicely enough toward her, but think unpleasant things about her, criticizing her for her interests, her attempts to socialize with them, and even her style of dress. She's shocked and dismayed at finding out the secret vices and petty thoughts of the people around her, and it disorients her, makes her question herself, her place in Torchwood, and her beliefs.** Watching Tosh try to make the best of the situation, seeing her shocked loss of faith in people at knowing what they truly think, it all comes across as very believable. It's done well (one of the few parts of Season 1 that is, in fact). But you know what Tosh never gets around to feeling during her emotional turmoil? The desire to kill all humans. Somehow, her experiences, which for all appearances are extremely similar to Shin's, never cause her to question whether she should take an active part in destroying her species. You know why?
Because she's not a PSYCHOTIC IDIOT and the Torchwood writers were actually making an effort to create a character that could be taken seriously!
So not only is Shin homicidal on a species-wide scale, but he's that way for really stupid, selfish reasons. REALLY stupid ones, when you consider that he was a SCIENTIST who somehow thought that a specialized sample group of, say, 50 people could be trusted to be a completely accurate representation of a population of 6,000,000,000. So not only were his reasons for causing an apocalypse those of a whiny douchebag, but he didn't have any reasonable proof that these pitiful reasons were even ACCURATE.
Here's another thought to compound how stupid this scenario is. The reason Shin gives up on trying to kill everyone again is because he finds out from Sai's ghost that she always loved him. He apparently somehow didn't pick up on it. Um...how the hell could a mind-reader miss one of the most intense emotional and intellectual sensations one can feel happening in the patient he worked with every day? Particularly when the love was directed at him? This is either a disturbingly bad plot hole, or, if you want to make a stretch and fill in said hole with a quick bit of logic, it means that for whatever reason, Shin just wasn't able to hear love in people's minds, expressions, pheromones, whatever level the damn empathy power worked on. And if he couldn't hear love, who knows what other positive emotions he couldn't tune in on? No damn wonder he thought everyone around him was a jerk if he wasn't capable of hearing the parts of them that were at all decent. So not only did he murder for petty reasons, and not only were those reasons basically entirely unverified and impossible to determine whether they were actually accurate to the human race as a whole, but it's ALSO questionable now whether the experiences he had were even accurate of the handful of people he stupidly decided should be indicative of the whole human race.
We're supposed to feel any sort of sympathy for this guy? We're NOT supposed to be absolutely enraged that he finds peace and romantic fulfillment with no observable feeling of guilt?
And hey, regarding that romantic fulfillment, exactly why does Sai still love the guy, anyway? I mean, I can understand where her feelings came from during life. The game has her explain how they developed, and it's believable enough, if not particularly compelling. But honestly, I feel like Sai knowing that Shin deliberately killed everyone on Earth and is now trying to squash the few humans he missed the first time should maybe cool her passions a bit. Maybe I'm just crazy. Ladies, help me out. If you found out that the dude you'd been crushing on was the bringer of Armageddon, basically a more effective Hitler but who lacks even Hitler's (insanely misguided) wish to improve humanity, would you still have the hots on him? Or would whiny global genocide turn you off just a bit? I'd like to think that the latter would be true, and, by logical extension, I'd like to think that Sai's continued romantic interest in Shin is IDIOTIC.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a great RPG, it really is. It's compelling, it's creative, it's artistic. Overall, I highly recommend it. Nonetheless, the circumstances of Shin's defeat and demise are stupid, nonsensical, and infuriating. It really feels like an instance where the writers just couldn't be bothered to consider the character and situation for very long and just threw in a few tired cliches to get it over with, cliches that they couldn't even execute well.
* This probably will leave this rant with no one to actually read it. Oh well.
** Why it would surprise Tosh at all that Owen is thinking mean things is anyone's guess. It's not like Owen goes out of his way during Season 1 to hide the fact that he's a complete and total asswipe.