Saturday, February 20, 2010
After much painstaking work, I reveal to the world Suikoden 2’s openly lesbian female NPC.
I recently wrote an article for a UK print magazine on localisation, which I’d hoped would feature these 3 screenshots. Someone sent me scans of the article today, and it turns out they weren’t used. Which is fair enough, I guess. But having spent close to 4 hours trying to grab them, I feel they’re too good to go to waste.
The NPC is located in, if I recall, the university town of Greenhill, which isn’t easy to get into. Using a PS1 emulator on my PC, and an original PAL copy of the game, I tried using save states to reach the town. Problem is, the majority are states for the US version, which meant I had to fiddle with conversion programs to change the data in the save file so they were PAL compatible. This required trawling the net for the PAL version’s product code, which didn’t always work on all save states for some reason. Several hours later I had working states. Except that states towards the end of the game don’t allow you to enter the town. So I had to load an earlier state and play for an hour to reach this section.
Oh, the things I do for journalism. It’s a mug’s game, honestly.
The NPC is located on the path up to the Greenhill Academy. She’s clearly female, with a green sash and red hair – Suikoden 2’s standard housewife NPC. Her first dialogue square asks you to say “Hello” in speech marks, to the academy’s receptionist Emilia, after which the NPC sighs.
Box 2 is the big reveal, where the NPC comments on Emilia’s beauty and intelligence, before admitting she’s smitten.
When speaking to Emilia I have to admit the hand-drawn portrait for her conveys a rather attractive image – it reminds me of a girl from my math’s class years ago. She’s also likely to ignite any fantasies the player might have about young, sexy, strict school-teachers, as she quite clearly tells you to behave yourself.
Actually, for those unable to project the hand-drawn visage into something lifelike, I’m surprised to find I actually have a photo (above) resembling Emilia on my harddrive, from my Curious Photography folder. The glasses are a different colour, but they’re certainly the right shape. I can’t recall where I got it.
Speaking with Blaustein he’d commented on the overall difficulty of working with Suikoden 2’s text assets, which weren’t provided in an easy to follow manner. There were also several translators. It was my opinion at the time, that this NPC’s dialogue box had been mixed up with another’s – possibly a male student walking the grounds.
On reflection though, it might not be a mix-up. Instead it’s possibly a cultural difference to the west – especially since the Japanese don’t/didn’t have a strong Christian/Judaic religious foundation, which for a long time governed sexual behavioural norms in western society. Views on sexuality in Japan has shifted over the centuries, and today in anime and manga there’s the genre of ‘yuri’ which covers womenly love, but it’s a catch-all term and manga fans in the west have also created the term shōjo-ai – to describe specifically non-sexual relationships between women (though in Japan itself, the term means something drastically different). I recall reading a source long ago, possibly in defunct magazine Manga Mania or some other publication, which said that female love commonly does happen in Japan between young friends, but it’s something they usually grow out of as they reach marrying age. It could be that the NPC has nothing more than an innocent crush.
Could this NPC be an example of shōjo-ai? Or am I exaggerating a simple mix-up in text files for the sake of a hyperbolic blog post and the excuse to post provocative photos of women with their eyes closed? We’ll probably never know unless we interview Suikoden’s creators.
I had a very vague recollection that one of the key designers on Suikoden 2 was a woman, but searching Mobygame I appear to be mistaken. Does anyone know if this was the case?