Yuri Game (or not): Final Fantasy XIII Guest Review by Taz

July 7th, 2010

51D6yXi2hjLI’ve said this before, and you know it well if you are a regular reader but, for anyone who might discover this review through the magic of search, I don’t play games. It’s not that I am philosophically opposed to them – I don’t find them an entertaining way of spending my time. Not board games, card games, RPGs, Visual Novels or computer games. Games simply are not my cup of tea.

So, I am always thankful when someone who has played a game with Yuri content writes a guest post for us! In this case, I’d like to welcome Taz, who answers the question, “Is FFXIII Yuri, or not?”

This review, like pretty much every review on this site, contains spoilers.

Take it away Taz!

In brief summary, the plot of FFXIII is as follows: A band of heroes, some more likely than others, get branded with the “l’Cie” cursed seal that comes with a mission, called a Focus: to become the beast Ragnarok and destroy the world. Through positive thinking and sheer bullishness, they resist their mission and instead defeat the being who tried to make them tools of apocalypse.

A large portion of the game involves your characters discovering new abilities, burdens and challenges. At the end-of-chapter divisions you’re often rewarded with a cut scene flashback from the near two weeks preceding the beginning of the game. Both the chapters and the flashbacks go towards showing you just how much can go wrong in a fortnight. This is balanced with heartfelt speeches about not losing hope (and sometimes not losing Hope) and being true to themselves. The speeches are in turn balanced by some wonderfully badass fight scenes and the characters Lightning and Fang (yeah, the names in this game border on unfortunate) being generally awesome.

Fang was a good suspect for being lesbian from the first release of her character design. She had the anime version of tough-girl styling and was named Fang, for a start. Also, Square couldn’t be accused of subtle weapon design: Her double sided lance must have raised a few amused and appreciative eyebrows. When first mentioning Vanille, Fang refers to her as her ‘partner.’ Considering that they were given the same mission at the same time, it’s not such a telling remark. That one of her next comments is about being willing to tear apart both worlds for the other woman does sort of draw attention to the possessiveness of the title, however. When Vanille is in more peril than usual, Fang starts to invoke the nearly requisite Psychotic LesbianTM scene, but it’s not so bad since she can’t actually make herself go through with it.

Vanille is a lot less obvious contender. My first impression was that she’s the bubbly, happy, possibly dim archetype with a little of the feral child (a la Mikoto of Mai HiME). Her attitude and actions in the early part of the game take on some very different implications when you learn more of her story. Of course, she’s still a version of the bubbly, happy type, but she’s not nearly dim enough to misunderstand just how seriously not good things are.

Yuriwise, what the game doesn’t have are the markers that define “couple”– no kissing, no confession. Fang and Vanille do hug a number of times and exchange significant looks. They are also inclined to shout each others names in distress, and at least once (well, Fang does, Vanille is busy feeling guilty) in happiness when they’re reunited. At the end of the game, they do become one… literally become one beastly Ragnarok who doesn’t destroy the world, but wipes out the monsters that are rampaging around, and makes a crystal pillar between Pulse and Cocoon which……might have served more purpose than looking impressive. Inside said impressive pillar, the two have become crystal versions of their human forms, holding hands in a sort of yin-yang like pose. It makes an absolutely gorgeous screenshot but also tends to make you think, “But actually, that would really suck.”

Art – 10
One of the few things that people really agree on concerning Final Fantasy is that it’s pretty.

Characters – 8
This, people are not going to agree on. There are some tedious moments, but by the end I even liked Hope and Snow fairly well, and I really didn’t think I would. And, though not mentioned specifically before in this review, Sazh is fantastic.

Story – 7
The story is uneven. There are some wonderful parts and some distinctly not-wonderful parts. It could just be me who feels this way, but I think that epic plots need to stop having significant connection to God, for at least a decade, so that it actually has a little shock value again.

Yuri – 3
There’s quite enough fodder for fond hopes, but nothing leaves the realm of implication.

Service – 3
It’s a video game, which with their semi controllable characters could be the impetus behind most self insert fan fiction…. Maybe I’m going easy on it, but as I don’t remember any bouncing boob shots (remember Tifa?), I think they kept it comparatively classy. Of course, manly Snow did get the Eidolon that was actually two hot babes.

Overall – 8

Final Fantasy XIII is what it aims to be: a fun game. It would still be a fun game even if there weren’t highly slashable characters, but they are a huge bonus.

Thank you Taz for an excellent – and amusing – review. Sounds like they’re the next generation’s Xena and Gabrielle.

It’s a safe bet that the ambiguity is placed there on purpose, since ambiguity sells. I’m beginning to understand that, too – by forcing you, the viewer/player to make decisions about the characters, it means you *make decisions*. Once you’ve picked an opinion, you buy into that opinion, and so, work harder at reinforcing it. That means you have to buy into the game as a whole, or why would you care at all? The more ambiguous a situation, the more you have to care to make your decision make sense. So, in effect, the less the story tells you, the more you’ll defend your point of view about it. It’s an interesting bit of psychological manipulation, isn’t it? ^_^

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8 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually, there’s been news that Fang was originally scripted to be male, but towards the latter end of getting things worked out, someone thought it would be sexier in so many more ways if Fang was female.

    I wholeheartedly agree. :)

    -RemiLou

  2. Val says:

    I just LOL’d at their reunion scene, where Fang flipped up Vanille’s skirt. “Checking her mark”, sure… *smirks*

  3. Pocky says:

    oof… this game is pretty terrible y’know, alleged Yuri or not

    any experience that requires you to read a novel worth of back-story, JUST to get the terms used in game (with no explanation in-game) immediately takes me out of the experience

    and the game play is just a big lie; the choice is fake (customization is like, fill out a straight line of things, then stop, and the weapon system actually has no effect to power. the story determines your strength, not your stats) then there’s the waste of the over-world, the exploration is the equivalent of being on a themed ride that has no interesting things pop out at you.

    I honestly can’t understand who can like this game, I mean I hate FF8, but I would replay that whole game than sit through the first 20 hours of FFXIII

    avoid it like the plague, it’s possible that it beats FF2, 3 and 8 as ‘worst in series’

  4. Ayra says:

    Gah! I knew I shouldn’t have read that review and yet I still did out of curiosity. I played about 15 hours before putting the game aside, so safe to say it hadn’t exactly grabbed me. I am planning to continue it eventually, although I’m now a bit more spoiled about the storyline than I would have liked… But I was too curious to see Taz’s opinion on it so it’s my fault entirely! Thanks for the review! I unfortunately can’t comment about the Fang-Vanille relationship yet considering Fang isn’t even a playable character at the point where I’m at.

    I really hadn’t thought about psycological aspect of ambiguous storytelling… It does make a whole lot of sense, though!

    Game-wise (Excluding open games like Mass Effect 1 or Dragon Age), I’ve heard that Grim Grimoire has an extremely obvious lesbian relationship between the main character and an NPC, but I haven’t played it yet (Game is rare and semi-old). The game that had the most Yuri I’ve played is Suikoden 5, with Lelei and Lucretia that is pretty much a couple in the open. It’s in a game with 108 playable characters so it’s definitively not a major plot point, but they are major character so they do get a lot of screen time (relatively).

    Chris and Yun from Suikoden 3 can easily fit under that, and most of the Alma Kinan tribe for that matter.

    “Once you’ve picked an opinion, you buy into that opinion, and so, work harder at reinforcing it. “

    That reminds me of the ‘debates’ about Nel and Claire of Star Ocean 3. There’s been threads with hundreds of posts about that subject about people arguing if Nel and Claire are lesbians or not and of course in the end no one budget on their opinion and everyone was frustrated at the other side… And it’s obviously not something worth arguing about. Orientation of a videogame character isn’t exactly important in the grand scheme of things yet people defended their points tooth and nails.
    1) Long hug between the two at one point in the game. Only hug in the game, actually.
    2) One of Nel’s level up quote was “I did it Claire!” Only character in the game referencing another character while levelling up. Since Claire is not a playable character she obviously doesn’t get a quote like that.
    3) Both obviously care for each other whenever they talk between themselves and they talk to the hero about the other a few times during the course of the game. There’s nothing romantic ever said between the two, however (Both are generally more focused about saving their country and duty and being generally absolutely awesome female characters that we need more of rather than the usual meek and vulnerable princess types).

    Based on this amount of information, people argued and argued for over a year about that. So it seems that psychological manipulation did work awfully well…

  5. DynamiteiSei says:

    Since Fang was previously scripted to be a male character, she possibly was to be paired up with either Lightning or Vanille. Most likely, it would be Vanille, considering how many ‘Yuri’ scenes they shared. They are together in the end…in another form that is much like death itself, but they’re still together. Right now, I just hope that the producer come out and say whether they are canon or not… D; It’s killing me.

  6. Artemis says:

    SPOILERS
    *
    I found FF13 full of Yuri stuff, or it could have just been in my head :P

    LeBreau, the girl in the NORA gang was totally hitting on Fang in the bar scene in Bodhum (the free drink scene–Fang has no money?!)

    Lightning–super gay. Lots of sexual tension between her and Fang, especially when Fang opens up her shirt to see her mark.

    and of course there was all the Vanille/Fang cuteness.

  7. Yuri is in the eye of the beholder… At least in this game.
    I prefer, of course, to see as obvious all the inuendo between Fang and Vanille.

    But, Yuri-goggles aside, I must remind that in JRPG it’s common, even with het pairings, we don’t get much in-your-face love action (kisses, sex…). Actually, the kisses would normally go somewhere between a key scene in the middle of the game and the grand finale.

    So I guess if there’s anything subtle being used to sell the game, well is WAY bigger than it was in others Final Fantasy games, for example.

    As it was stated before (with previous comments), Fang was originally a male character, while playing, I tried to picture her as male and her(his) interaction with Vanille would look more couple-y. So I guess there’s no harm in using Yuri-vision with those two.

    I will not comment on the playability or how good the game is. It doesn’t seem like the point in the whole review. Yes, it was totally linear and blablabla, but if you put that behind you and see it as a really gorgeous movie in which you can interact, to me, it was worthy the time played.

    But I’m a RPG-addicted/FF-fangirl. So I’m biased…

  8. Yuppers says:

    I also thought Lightning was a lesbian too lol. In addition I also though Hope was gay and that Lightning was like the lesbian older sister. Would have made a lot more sense for Hope though.

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