> “She must not be forgotten.”
At least this is what Toriyama thinks. I don’t know who he’s talking about.
Either way, women can play a very important role in Final Fantasy. Of course, Aerith was pretty brave to sacrifice herself, in a sense, to summon Holy. And Yuna was pretty brave too, to potentially sacrifice herself to save Spira from Sin. But how many of the girls in Final Fantasy XIII…
Oh, I guess Fang and Vanille did sacrifice themselves at the end of the first game. Serah did die to resolve the paradoxes.
But there’s also a different vibe to many of the heroines in Final Fantasy XIII. Of course, Vanille might be seen as the ditzy type, but Lightning and Fang are probably seen as masculine in Japan. But whereas women generally seem as static in video games. Final Fantasy XIII’s female protagonists actually grow and their personalities change with their status in power and position. For Lightning:
In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning is determined, concentrated and independent. Initially, she is cold and standoffish, distancing herself from her companions. She only looks out for herself and doesn’t care if others are left behind.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning has almost become a new woman due to the experiences and emotions she has endured. She has learned to trust others and ask them for help and expresses her emotions rather than keeping them bottled up. Her recognition of her past “sins” has made her more somber.
In Lightning Returns, Lightning is initially cold and distant, most of her emotions sapped from her, although her memories remain intact. Her wish to save Serah remains, and she still shows concern for her former allies.
Fang is cocky, confident, and stubborn and (like Lightning) is sarcastic, determined, and independent, but insecure whenever talking about her past. Fang is also very protective of Vanille:
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Fang still greatly cares about Vanille but seems to have become detached and resigned towards the world’s condition and the new status quo. She now also comes across as hesitant at times as she looks unsure of what to do, not as sure of things as she used to be.
So as we can see, not only are the female characters unique in personalities. But their personalities change depending on the circumstances (mostly due to the specific positions they hold).
Both Fang and Vanille could represent second and third-wave feminism, respectively. And it could be argued that they engage in a type of lesbian feminism, which encourages women to “direct their energies toward other women rather than men”.
Serah, the damsel in distress type saved by Lightning, becomes the main protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Serah is a strict grade school teacher with a short temper, and like Lightning, can be scary when angered, which earned her the nickname “Meanie Miss Farron”. Serah can hold her own in battle despite not having much prior experience in combat. She is determined to save the future despite learning of the peril it could put her in.
And even other female NPCs seem to play a strong role in Final Fantasy. Nora is a pretty tough mom who’s very protective of her son Hope.
Lebreau is pretty independent and acts like a mother, or at least the “cool chick”, of the group NORA. She also seems to have just a little bit more sense than the lead male protagonist, Snow…
Oh, wait. Well, it’s OK. Women can be idiots too.
They can also be the antagonist, as it shows with Alyssa.
From a social constructivist standpoint, the females in Final Fantasy XIII portray traditionally socially constructed gender roles. Yet they rely on self-sufficiency and self-reliance, even the more “girly” Vanille and Serah. Final Fantasy XII says it’s impossible to generalize women’s experiences and personalities across cultures and histories. All of the women are unique (at least, as unique as the tropes can allow them to be).
Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised feminists are still angry at Final Fantasy XIII for the addition of Chocolina, who was first a pet and then a sex symbol…