On Luna, Final Fantasy 15's Most Visible Woman

Discussion in 'General News' started by News Bot, Aug 16, 2016.

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  1. News Bot

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    Last year, I wrote about how Final Fantasy XV's all-male playable cast didn't bother me because of the way they’re portrayed. Real intimacy between men isn't something we see often in video games, and although our industry is slowly breaking down barriers and moving away from the default "dudebro" display of male companionship, Noctis and his pals stand out as a rarity. They playfully whack each other, wrestle, and slap each other's butts, but they also lean on and assist one another in physical ways that we don't often see play out in other games.

    The focus on these four men and their regal road trip has brought some criticism down on the collective heads of developer Square Enix. Where are all the women? Final Fantasy games have often featured parties with an equal male-female ratio. For reference, Final Fantasy XII and XIII all had an even split, with three women and three men; Final Fantasy X and IX both had three women, four men, and IX included a genderless being.

    What we know about the women of XV's universe doesn't come close to what we already understand about our quartet of heroes. Cindy, the daughter of Cid, plays a large role as a mechanic and caretaker of the Regalia, the boys’ car. But she is--unfortunately--largely eye candy, with her highly impractical heels and barely-doing-its-job bra are her most notable traits--so far. Maybe she's incredibly smart. Maybe she can kick a Behemoth's butt. We don't know this, though, because the game isn't out, and we've spent little time with her in the numerous XV demos. But it's still all we have to go on. Additionally, we’ve seen a woman named Gentiana, about whom we know absolutely nothing--other than that she's connected to Luna. We've seen her once in concept art and once in the game’s anime series, Brotherhood. That's it.

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    But so far, we've seen a lot of Luna--full name Lunafreya Nox Fleuret. She plays a role in the anime. She's splashed all over trailers and marketing materials. She's the princess, the woman Noctis must meet and marry, and presumably a powerful ally in helping him reclaim the throne of his kingdom, Lucis. We know she's an oracle, the youngest ever in the world, and she can commune with the gods. Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata has described Luna as having "extreme inner strength," but we had yet to see anything to back up that statement.

    Until now. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV stars a man named Nyx Ulric, an elite solider serving Lucis' King Regis. The story of the film begins and ends with his struggles. But it's Luna who pushes the narrative along, Luna who drives many events forward, and Luna who’s ever-present throughout the conflict. And it's what Luna says and does that makes me believe Tabata's comments about her character.

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    Luna has a lot of her plate: her controlling older brother, Ravus, her 12-year status as a royal hostage of Niflheim, and her sudden betrothal in which she has no say (although she doesn't seem to mind). She’s buffeted about throughout the film, dragged from one place to the next but never losing her composure or giving off the slightest whiff of "damsel in distress." In arguing with her brother, with Nyx, and with the insidious General Glauca, Luna remains calm and steadfast. The look on her face, her body language, and her presentation give off an aura of surety.

    Her relationship with King Regis is another element that clues me into her moral fiber. Despite the circumstances surrounding her capture by Niflheim, Luna comes to Regis as he is: an old friend she hasn't seen in years. She’s open and honest with him, and during Kingsglaive’s dire moments, it’s her shoulder upon which the king leans. In fiction, women are often regulated to the role of nurturer or healer. Luna accepts both of these roles and plays them out with an unfamiliar fierceness that unravels the very trope.

    But she's not all sweetness and light. In several scenes, she’s part of the fight on the ground, escaping killer magitek alongside Nyx or climbing up the debris of a wrecked airship. She falls through the air, scrambles up burning flotsam, climbs through windows in her heels and fancy dress, and even takes the wheel during a high-speed car chase. She gets shot. She's an action hero, just like all the "dudes" sweating and hacking their way through the film.

    Lunafreya Nox Fleuret is not an immaculate, pristine princess--she gets so incredibly dirty by the end, the curl falls out of her hair, and although she leaves the scene certainly down, she's definitely not out. Throughout the entire movie, you can see the fatigue beneath her eyes. Kingsglaive presents her as just a woman, but a woman with exceptional fortitude. And after all we've heard about her from the Final Fantasy XV team, this is our proof that it's all true. I’m more excited for XV now, knowing a girl like me is still leading part of the charge. And although she may not be playable, rest assured: She has a strong start as one of the game's biggest badasses.

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