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The FF series: we love to search for trends. Face it, it's one of our common RPGaming pastimes. In our search for trends among heroes and villains, have we taken a close look at the female characters? Hmm... might there be a trend there?
There is, and a very strong one. Although I can't speak for the NES FF games, having never played them (shame on me!), the number and type of female main protagonists ("main" being defined as one which fights in your party for an extended amount of time, can be renamed, et cetera,) is ALWAYS the same. There are three, and they fall into three types:
Rosa - Lenna - Terra - Aeris - Rinoa - Garnet
The Sweetheart. This is the sweet little princess (or princess-type) who's very innocent and feminine, and usually the leading lady. If anyone's romantically involved, it's most likely to be her. She is usually a healer instead of a fighter, and even when she's emotionally strong or determined, she acts like a perfect lady.
Rydia - Faris - Celes - Tifa - Quistis - Freya
The Fighter. She is a well-trained soldier, and she's there to prove that women can fight as well as the guys. Yes, you know who she is. Sometimes she's in love, but this probably (with one exception) means unrequited love or a tragic relationship. Sometimes she's just out to kick butt; you might put her in your party for the difficult bosses because she does some real damage, whether it's with magic or physical attacks.
Porom - Cara - Relm - Yuffie - Selphie - Eiko
The Cutie. The other girl is either drastically younger than the adult heroes, or just so immature that you tend to think of her that way. People tend to either love or hate these characters: if you don't think they're adorable, you want to knock their teeth out.
This covers the entire range of female main characters (people like Edea and Beatrix don't really count; they only fight in your party for a very short time, and while they might have a lot of significance for the plot, that doesn't make them "one of the gang.")
What does this mean? Does it mean we need more variety, or that girls should be better represented, or that more female characters are necessary? I think not necessarily. It's worked well so far. However, if Square ever gets in the mindset of "we have to make three female characters because it's a tradition," regardless of what the plot or setting or game design calls for, that will be trouble. It's one thing to have a Cid in every game, but if something as vital as the number and type of characters that can be in a game are restricted, the creative freedom of the series is restricted also. In other words, it's all right if all FF heroines can be categorized this way-- so long as it happens to be a coincidence.
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