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Ryudo, Elena, and Mellinia

I'm technically skirting the definition of "couple" by writing about three people at once, but I think I can get away with it considering that Elena and Millenia are two sides of the same coin. Ryudo's relationships with these polar opposites is important for many narrative reasons, my favourite being that this ménage à trois acts as a microcosm of Grandia II's central conflict.

When we first meet Ryudo, he's been hired as a bodyguard for Elena, a naive Songstress of Granas (the God of light) who is venturing into nearby ruins to renew a seal that is holding a piece of the fallen God of darkness, Valmar. It is during this process that she is possessed by the Wings of Valmar, which manifest through Elena's body as the spitfire Millenia. Elana and Ryudo then venture towards the church headquarters where it is made clear that people all over the world are also being possessed by these stray pieces of the dark God. The two are then tasked with tracking down the other fragments, which Millenia happily consumes to grow her own power. The entire time, we are made to believe that Elena and the Church of Granas represent everything that is good and pure while Millenia and Valmar represent suffering and all that's evil. It is through this three-way relationship, however, that this black and white perception is deconstructed.

In spite of her natural tendencies to pillage and destroy, Millenia falls head-over-stilettos for the pragmatic Ryudo. She frequently possess Elena simply to spend more time with him, and even breaks personality by pushing him to be kinder to others. Elena, being extremely conservative and initially put-off by Ryudo's morally ambiguous ways, comes to feel the same way but isn't quite as forward as her other half. Throughout the narrative we witness Ryudo acting as the neutral party while each women's ideals and wishes pull him in either direction. After being pushed through a crisis of faith with Ryudo, Elena learns to become more assertive and less judgmental. Mellenia, following a similar crisis, muses on how wonderful it was to experience love with him, even if it was for a short time. Both of these characters move away from being defined by moral perception, and Grandia II's overarching message becomes clear: people aren't good or bad, they're just people. — Trent Seely

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