Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tales of Legendia's Shirley's Free Pass

You know, when you think about it, Tales of Legendia’s second half really, really glossed the hell over Shirley’s actions. I mean, this cutesy flower-crown-making dame was going to straight up murder every human being in the fucking world because the guy she liked didn’t like her back!

I love Tales of Legendia, honest to Palutena I do, but when I look back on this game critically, it is frankly astounding that no one, during the second half of the game, seems to take any issue whatsoever with the fact that Shirley was moments away from drowning the entire human goddamn species because her feelings weren’t reciprocated! I think there’s, what, a moment during the second half in which the party makes a lighthearted joke about it? Ha ha, yeah, good natured ribbing, nice one guys, ha ha, you made her blush, ha ha, she was going to murder you all over a teenage crush.

And hey, look, I’ll be fair about this. I know that the catalyst for Shirley’s deciding to go forward with Maurits’s plan* to annihilate the human species is, ostensibly, the death of Shirley’s friend Fenimore. It’s quite a tragic scene, and I myself was moved by her loss, even if she was often kind of a jerk. And I also acknowledge that the influence of the raging water god thing** that Shirley was connected to probably had something to do with the matter. It’s not JUST the fact that Senel rejected Shirley’s advances that galvanize her to go forward with Maurits’s scheme.

Nonetheless, even if there are mitigating factors, I feel that we can only logically conclude that the only truly important part in Shirley’s decision to drown the human race is her desired romance with Senel. Her guiding philosophy as the Merines is that humans and Ferines can’t live together peacefully; they’re too different and historically humans have treated her people the way white people historically have treated Native Americans. It’s an idea that’s catalyzed by Fenimore’s death, but maintained by Senel’s rejection, as evidenced by the fact that the moment Senel says, “Uh, you don't need to kill us, Shirley...because...I love you. Oh, yeah, baby! I feel like doing stuff for you, and stuff,” Shirley calls off Armageddon in favor of smooch time.***

And yet, despite the fact that Shirley’s way of dealing with rejection from her personality-lacking protector is less “write bad poetry in my room” and more “untold millions of innocents must die for no reason”, no one, particularly not her new boytoy Senel (who has, in the proud tradition of Legend of Dragoon’s Dart and Final Fantasy 8’s Squall, spontaneously flipped his brain switch to love her for no particularly credible reason), calls her out after the fact on this incredibly petty rationale.

And it IS petty. So very, very petty, and selfish, not to mention illogical and stupid. Because, you see, it’s not just that Shirley’s mind could be changed by seeing love between a human and a Ferines. She, specifically, has to be the one to benefit and get a beau out of it. How do we know that she’s holding millions of lives ransom for a boyfriend, and it’s not just a philosophical matter of not believing that peace can occur between the 2 species without there being proof that they can love one another? How do we know it’s purely selfishly subjective, and not general and objective? Because Shirley already knows that humans and Ferines can love each other. She was there to witness it! Before Senel settles for this whiny silver medal, he was in love with Shirley’s sister, Stella! In fact, we see far more convincing evidence of Senel’s devotion and affection for Stella in this game, even though it’s all in her absence and after her passing, than we do of his eventual feelings for Shirley!

Oh, and by the way, real fucking considerate on Shirley’s part to get so upset over Senel’s rejection of her confession when he just lost Stella, what, a week ago? A day? Stella’s loss is still fresh and painful when Shirley makes her bid for the guy’s heart. Dyntos forbid the guy take a fucking moment to mourn the loss of the love of his life before doing a forward half somersault dive into your panties, you insensitive cow!****

And that’s not all. Senel may not immediately return Shirley’s affections, but he has been there as her steadfast friend her whole life, and throughout the entirety of the game’s first half, he is throwing himself into dozens of life-threatening situations and running himself fucking ragged trying to take care of and guard her! Say what you will of Senel’s otherwise lacking character depth, but the guy is a loyal, unrelenting protector and friend to Shirley. Forget romantic love, his mere friendship with Shirley is MORE than enough evidence for any objective observer that humanity and magical water plot people can coexist with deep, meaningful bonds!

If Shirley wanted any real evidence that humans and Ferines can come to live in harmony, she has only to look at the entirety of her fucking life for it. The love she witnessed all her life between her sister and Senel, and the intense devotion Senel has to her as a friend and would-have-been brother-in-law, should be far more than enough to convince her not to go through with Maurits’s genocide plans. But that’s only IF she were not just being a selfish, spoiled little twat about the whole affair, using the philosophy of Maurits as an excuse to lash out over a failed teen crush. Yes, the decision to extinguish an entire species of people comes down not to her people’s history, not to the death of Fenimore, not to a philosophical policy of “get them before they get us,” but rather the fact that her fragile feelings are fucking hurt and she’s got the opportunity to throw the biggest tantrum in history over it.

What a petty, stupid, selfish, and just outright horrible person Shirley is. At least when it comes to Fenimore and Maurits and the rest of the Ferines, their hatred for humans and harmful wishes are based on actual tragedy and atrocity witnessed by, and even inflicted onto, them. Genocide isn’t the answer, of course, but at least their lives have born witness to tragedies that you could understand leading to that kind of decision. Fenimore’s death catalyst aside, Shirley won’t snap out of her self-indulgently gloomy murder haze solely because she got friendzoned. Yeah, well, Shirley, you know what? The question of whether you can live in peace together with someone else should NOT have to depend on whether they’re willing to stick a dick in you!

I really like Tales of Legendia. Of the 5 Tales of games I’ve played, it’s my favorite, for its great cast and the terrific sense of family and home it creates among them. But the game’s not flawless, even in the areas in which it truly shines, and nothing proves that better than how quickly and inexplicably the entire cast is willing to completely forgive and forget about the fact that Shirley is a terrible person.

















* Speaking of inexplicable free passes, how about that Maurits? He’s the guy who orchestrates the whole human extinction plan to start with, and unlike Shirley, there was no stage of the plan in which he wasn’t fully aware of what he was doing. And yet during the game’s second half, he’s still alive and well, and even being allowed to continue leading the Ferines village! Look, I know that vengeance is bad and many times harsh punishments don’t really solve anything, but maybe his intention to slaughter millions of people deserves at least a slap on the wrist, huh? Could we perhaps not let this guy keep a leadership role, at least? If Hitler had lived to see the end of World War II, we probably wouldn’t have reinstated him as leader of Germany, don’t you think?


** Not a euphemism for her period, I swear.


*** If anyone can actually find a link to a video of when Futurama’s Bender says this (the episode called Love and Rocket), I’d be grateful. It just isn’t as funny in text form.


**** I realize that Shirley’s also broken up about Stella’s loss, too, and I sympathize and allow her that, but that doesn’t really relate to this situation, so neither does my sympathy. Also, it doesn’t really fit in anywhere else in the rant, but I want to note--Stella’s death is not an adequate factor for Shirley wanting to drown humanity, the way Fenimore’s death is (in theory, at least). Stella may die because of human vice, but her last acts are to protect Shirley and (more importantly) Senel from harm. If anything, Stella’s death is a positive example of the love of a few outweighing the hate of many, and thus should be another reason for Shirley not to go forward with the genocide thing.

9 comments:

  1. Anime RPGs were a mistake. I swear, it's like most of these "writers" learned everything they know from these very JRPGs and low tier anime.

    I never played this game, so I took a Sparknotes course in ToL storylines. Yeah, Shirley alone leads me to think I didn't miss out.

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    1. Oh, now, I think that's rather harsh. Yes, absurd non-human behavior patterns might abound in anime RPGs like this (culminating in the ultimate study of failure to understand human interaction and nature, Xenosaga 3), and even the good anime RPGs have a certain group of cliches and tropes they can't escape from, but Tales of Legendia is legitimately rad, and aside from this one (admittedly glaring) oversight, its cast's interactions and joined development are its best quality. And a substantial number of the greatest RPGs ever made are anime RPGs, like Wild Arms 3, Final Fantasy 9, SMT Persona 3, and, of course, the incomparable Grandia 2. I think this type of RPG has offered more than enough positives to justify its existence.

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    2. define anime rpg. To a certain exstent, suikoden 2 is an anime rpg(It even has a fucking visual novel, which among other things, explain clearly why Luca Blight is so messed up).

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    3. It was mostly a playful reference to that "anime was a mistake" fake Miyazaki quote. I loosely use it as a category based on how heavily the game runs on anime tropes and archetypes, too often a workaround to actually writing a serviceable script. I simply cannot imagine it being hard to bullshit a good plot relative to so much that gets sold for fiat.

      I hold most of the anime tropes I'm aware of in very low regard, and think games and franchises do themselves a disservice in going in that direction, if not bucking off large numbers of installed fans/customers. That said, it is very much a spectrum with a lot of exceptions, it being an arbitrary category and all.

      Persona 3 and Wild Arms 3 with fit the label and I love those games, while Tales of Symphonia and Rogue Galaxy do as well and lie somewhere between running on generic ideas and nearly lacking a single original thought(I was predicting almost the entire plot of Rogue Galaxy five minutes or fifteen hours ahead, down to many scripted lines).

      Mostly my reaction here was founded on the PTSD flashbacks of similar setups, if only similar mostly in apparent pettiness and blindness toward basic facts.

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    4. Oh. Whoops. I totally misread your intent on that, my man. My bad on that. I ruined what I can now see was actually a pretty good job. Damn it!

      Ugh, ToS and especially RG. Yeah, you and me both on that one. The only thing unexpected to me about Rogue Galaxy was that there turned out to be absolutely no part of it that was unexpected.

      Anyway, this is me completely misunderstanding your tone and ruining your clever jibe, and I do apologize for that, sir. Very annoyed with myself.

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    5. "nearly lacking a single original thought"

      What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.


      Sorry. Couldn't help but quote Ecclesiastes 1:9 in reference to that, especially considering your handle.

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    6. Much respect to the timely quote, though Rogue Galaxy is a bit of a deja vu lightning round. Your quote doesn't just apply to the game, it's essentially the premise.

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  2. You forgot the fact that Shirley forgot becoming the Merines would actually do. She though it would only cause everyone to be happy and only remembers during the transformation.

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    1. I didn't forget it, it just didn't seem particularly relevant. Yeah, she's initially misled by Maurits into attempting the Accession ceremony...BUT, as she herself says as she takes the power of the Merines, in the very same speech in which we learn that she had forgotten its implications, she failed the first time because of the sudden realization of what it would lead to. As in, she consciously CHOSE, the first time, to abort the ceremony. So, since she doesn't abort it this second time, but instead fully goes through with it, Shirley is 100% voluntarily accepting her role as bringer of genocide in this instance.

      And that means, as I say above, she's ignoring her lifetime's worth of personal experience regarding the possibility of humans and Ferines coexisting because it somehow doesn't stack up against the tragedy of Fenimore's death UNLESS she gets a boytoy out of it. Because just as she consciously completes this ceremony to become the bringer of watery Armageddon, she consciously (or at least, semi-consciously-based-on-emotions-she's-consciously-aware-of) backs out of the plan at the finale because Senel suddenly loves her, even though, again as I stated above, the possibility of love between magical water elf and human being was already proven beyond question to her by Senel and Stella. Which means that him saying he loves Shirley isn't snapping her out of her murder funk for any objective rationale based on philosophy of whether or not such love is possible, because that evidence was already available to her. It has to be strictly for personal, abhorrently selfish reasons.

      So ultimately, it doesn't matter that she's not fully cognizant of what's gonna happen as she begins to go through with this, because she becomes aware of the consequences before the point of no return, and keeps going. If I get in my car to go to the deli, I don't know, pulling out of my driveway, that I'll hit and kill someone crossing the road halfway to my destination...but once I get to the part of the trip in which I see them crossing the road, if I consciously choose not to hit the brakes and let them by, and instead decide to use that person as a speed bump rather than slightly delay my need for a sandwich, I am still 100% at fault. The fact that I didn't know what was going to happen the moment I turned the ignition key doesn't absolve me from the guilt of consciously doing wrong later, when I DID know what was going to happen and chose not to alter my actions.

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