Thanks to All_this_hype for the post!
Oh Rinoa. I used to say Rhy-Own-Nah, I guess for having slight dyslexia. Besides the name, I remember her as a character.
The FF fandom is one of many conflicts. There is controversy about pretty much everything; games, directors, soundtracks, summons and of course characters.
While this is to be expected in such a huge franchise with each game being drastically different from others, there are some topics that get way more hate than they deserve. One of them is the leading lady of FFVIII, Rinoa Heartily.
I had no idea Rinoa Heartilly got the hate at all. Everyone in Final Fantasy VIII was a bit ditzy, of course. But really, did anyone hate her for it? I think that besides Headmaster Cid, Rinoa actually comes off as the most likable character in the game. But I don’t have any proof for this. In fact, for all I know, Rinoa does get a lot of hate for being a stubborn brat. Yet, as All_this_hype
Rinoa comes from a pretty controversial title. FFVIII came right after THE Final Fantasy game, so comparisons were inevitable. Sooner rather than later, Rinoa was found to fall short compared to Aerith and Tifa and was branded a generic love interest and damsel in distress.
In my opinion, however, she is neither. She’s actually a pretty great character!
THE Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy VII, I’m sure All_this_hype means. In that game, we had several females with memorable personalities. Aerith Gainsborough was the sweet, feminine
What many people do not notice is that Rinoa is a mirror image of Squall. Her life has been just as hard as his and just as filled with loneliness as his, if not more so. She lost her mother early on and her father became cold and distant, locking her up out of overprotectiveness and leaving her with only a dog to keep her company. While Squall always had people around him… Rinoa only ever had a dog and her servants after a certain age.
What All_this_hype may unintentionally be setting up is Rinoa’s status as a Manic Pixie Dream Girls. These are females who exist to help the protagonist achieve happiness without ever seeking any independent goals themselves. This isn’t purely Rinoa. She has a goal of her own: take back Timber from Galbadia. However, somewhere throughout the game, she makes Squall her project. She exists to bring Squall out of his shell.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t take away from her character. In fact, it actually new depth to her.
However, she did not grow bitter and distant because of it. She longed for affection, love, recognition and friends, coming in sheer contrast with Squall. She also allows herself to be goofy, flawed and a real person living in the moment instead of acting cool, posing and living mostly in her head.
Rinoa does feel more real than the other characters. She’s kind of dumb, but no where near Selphie or Quistis level of stupid. She doesn’t jump up and down singing songs about trains. She doesn’t leave her post during a mission to apologize to a friend. She shows more believable emotion than both girls. Not only that, she seems more of a person than Zell, Irvine and even Squall. Unlike the other Balamb students, Rinoa seems to have dreams and goals. But halfway through the game, her dreams and goals become helping Squall become the best person he can be.
This, of course, makes her often have conflicts with Squall. She calls him out when he puts on a front or when he has his internal dialogue and he hates how happy-go-lucky he is… because he can’t understand how someone like her could have a personality like that. He admires her strength to let people in after everything she’s been through and she admires his strength to keep the people he loves safe.
The girl’s setting up Rinoa as a character apart from Squall. Zell, Selphie, Irvine and Quistis aren’t like this. Unlike other girls in the series, such as Rosa, Rinoa is her own person. But she still exists to unravel Squall as a character. However, we can see personal reasons behind Rinoa for acting this way.
But enough about her relationship to Squall and being a foil to Squall. After all, this thread was supposed to prove that she’s more than a love interest.
I think a big part of the criticism against her character is because of the mistakes she made. The problem with Rinoa is that she is neither a stoic female like Yuna, Garnet, Ashe and Lenna nor a badass warrior like Beatrix, Aranea and Lightning. She’s an everyday girl with no combat experience that wants to make a difference. She becomes the leader of her own resistance group (partly to get her father’s attention because again, she craves love) and later joins the war of the witches because she wants to help.
She is rash and inexperienced and makes stupid decisions and as a result, she needs saving a couple of times in the game, and people hold that against her… but is that really something to be held against? For me, the fact that she’s so out of her league but still persists is something commendable, not condemning.
Also, if we want to keep score, she does plenty of saving to make up for the time she needs saving like when she forces Irvine to help her save Zell’s group or when she saves Squall at the end of the game, not to mention saving him from his loneliness and positively changing him throughout.
The other thing I see her getting unjustified hate for is her romance with Seifer prior to meeting Squall. I understood this as a kid but the older I get, the more misogynistic this reason seems to I won’t even comment on it.
So yes, Rinoa has many flaws, but I don’t think the intention is to view her as this stupid, naive girl, but rather a young woman who was dealt a bad hand who yearns to be loved and tries to make a positive change. Honestly, her flaws make her more endearing to me, from the atrocious painting of her master plan to trying to take on the sorceress by herself. I can respect people who allow themselves to be real and don’t bother with pretenses. She’s the “heart” of the game, so to speak.
Also the fact that Rinoa does the romantic pursuit and not the male counterpart was pretty damn revolutionary at the time.
The last point is just like a manic pixie dream girl. For introverts like Squall depend on a girl to break them out of their shell. But just like Final Fantasy, it’s fantasy. These girls don’t exist in the same way as they do in media. In a sense, Rinoa is the girl next door. But there’s one twist. All_this_hype gives Rinoa motivation for who she is as a character. She’s manic pixie dream girl with depth. This is something that almost no other media really touches upon. But who she is as a person gives us more information about why she chooses Squall. Opposites attract, and she wants stability to her flighty ideals. We never get this type of character development from other manic pixie dream girls, which is what sets Rinoa apart from others.
Finally, and this is my strongest argument in her favor…. she shoots a dog as a projectile. How can you dislike that badass?
Don’t worry, no animals were hurt during the events of Final Fantasy VIII.
If you got here, congrats! I don’t know if this will be a series of defending various hated aspects in the FF franchise, but I had a lot of fun writing this one! I hope you enjoyed it too.
What do you think of it?