I’ve noticed every mainline Final Fantasy game has no more than three heroines. This might not sound true but check for yourself.
Why is this?
When I discussed this on /r/FinalFantasy, I got a lot of interesting responses. The top comment from QueenNoah states:
Storytelling when it comes to Fantasy in general is usually Male centered. The male characters in Final Fantasy games are usually overly emotional and self-destructive, and the female characters are there to provide support or bring them back to their senses.
Final Fantasy at least makes “strong female characters” pretty well.
But the best comment (according to Reddit) comes from Conyeah:
I would presume it’s simply FF having a history of its majority audience being young males. The trend of 3 is a bit strange but probably a consequence of later games cutting down the number of unique playable characters while at the same time tending to even out the cast of the party. For example.
FF1,3 (original) – I believe it’s likely you are to presume the characters are male but there’s no actual indication as far as I remember.
FF2, 4 – Casts are clearly male heavy when considering temporary party members, FF2 only has Maria end-game, FF4 only has 3/12 characters female, with 2 end-games.
FF5 – 3/5 characters are female, so the trend is reversed here. But total characters is greatly reduced.
FF6 – 3/14 characters female, with Gogo undefined. This is the one point where you noting the maximum of 3 characters in the main games actually seems odd to me.
FF7 – 3/9, cast size getting smaller.
FF8-13 – Here is where it generally equals out. The cast size stays relatively small from here on out and until a title comes out with a cast of 8+ I doubt you’ll see more than 3 female characters. FF8 has 3/6. FF9 has 3.5/8 female — Quina is an unknown, but arguably does have a gender/sex. Vivi tends to be viewed as a male but technically he has no sex and doesn’t really count in this topic unless you want to argue gender politics for the character (I am not interested). FF10 has 3/7 female, but while Kimahri is male, he is non-human. To me this seems like another trend carried over from FF7 and FF9 – more recent games tend to opt for more balanced casts in gender but also more likely to feature non-human members, who if not ambiguous tend to be male. FF12 and 13 are simple, 3/6 female.
As I said before, in past games the casts tended to be male-heavy likely because at the time the audience would likely have been predominantly male. As the series has progressed its casts have tended to be more equally represented but due to the simultaneous reduction in party sizes and the more frequent inclusion of beast and non-human characters, there has yet to be more than 3 playable female characters.
Still, we can’t deny that three is a pattern for females. Men can in groups of two, three, four, six or eleven. But for women, it’s consistently three. Why? That’s when AOrtega1 replied:
It’s a well-known phenomenon. Some fans call it”the three female rule”. Also, the three females always follow the “three faces of eve” archetypes: madonna/whore/girl.
Madonna: polite/classy girl, would be ideal mom. Rosa, Lenna, Terra, Tifa, Rinoa, Garnet, Yuna, Ashe*, Lightning.
Whore: older, probably more certainly sexually experienced, maybe emotionally damaged/cynical. Rydia, Faris, Celes, Aeris, Quistis, Freya, Lulu, Fran, Fang.
Girl: immature, peppy girl. Porom, Krile, Relm, Yuffie, Selphie, Eiko, Riku, Penelo, Vanille.
*They don’t all completely fit, but the main idea holds.
The Three Faces of Eve theory suggest each female represents three defining stages of a woman’s life. Using AOterga1’s terms:
- Madonna represents wisdom.
- Whore represents sexuality
- Girl represents innocence.
And each Final Fantasy game seems to fit this pattern.
|Final Fantasy IV||Porom||Rydia||Rosa|
|Final Fantasy V||Krile||Faris||Lenna|
|Final Fantasy VI||Relm||Terra||Celes|
|Final Fantasy VII||Yuffie||Tifa||Aerith|
|Final Fantasy VIII||Selphie||Rinoa||Quistis|
|Final Fantasy IX||Eiko||Freya||Garnet (Dagger)|
|Final Fantasy X||Rikku||Lulu||Yuna|
|Final Fantasy X-2||Rikku||Yuna||Paine|
|Final Fantasy XII||Penelo||Fran||Ashe|
|Final Fantasy XIII||Vanille||Fang||Vanille|
Of course, the outliers are the first three games (along with the MMOs). White Mage from the first is female now, but she was just another androgynous character (similar to the Red Mage). Maria and Leia are the sole playable characters in the game. But even then, you could say they follow the same structure:
- Maria is the Madonna.
- Princess Hilda is the Whore
- Leia is the Girl.
But even here the characters aren’t as defined. Final Fantasy III has genderless children. The remake includes Refia, who is a Girl that acts as a Madonna. But perhaps we can list two different women. Princess Sarah could fit the role of the Madonna, and the Legendary Blacksmith, the whore. Yet while one of them can join your party, none of them are playable.
So what do you think of all this?