wallwalker: Venetian mask, dark purple with gold gilding. (Default)
[personal profile] wallwalker posting in [community profile] personalapocalypse
I want to do a more general post on my tendency to like non-canon pairings. But this is a good way to demonstrate it, so I'll start with this. It's sort of related to this post I made a while ago, about the ladies in SO2 and how they're portrayed.

Star Ocean: The Second Story (and its remake, Second Evolution) is one of my favorite games ever, and between the two versions I think I've finished it seven or eight times. It's also one of the games where this particular tendency definitely shows. Out of all of the possible couples in this game, I anti-ship only two of them, and one of them - Claude/Rena - is the primary canon pairing in the game.

I've tried to explain it before and never got beyond "it just doesn't work for me," not really. I mean, the game gives that pairing more attention than, oh, any other possible relationship in that game - and considering that one of the big selling points back when SO:TSS was released was its "multiple endings" that you can get between almost any possible pair of characters, that's something. You would expect a game where practically any pairing can be theoretically canon to not push anyone together in the narrative, but that's what the game does.

The remake is even more so, what with the addition of the anime cutscenes. They're nice cutscenes and all, and the voice acting is much better than before, but none of them feature any party members besides Claude and Rena. I understand in technical terms why this has to be so, since those are the only two characters that absolutely have to be in your party. But I sometimes feel like the only person who would rather have had no anime cutscenes and added even more Private Actions, more interactions between characters that really don't get a lot of interaction with each other even in the remake.

So why don't I like Claude/Rena as a pairing? It's not because I don't like them as characters. Claude is charmingly dorky and really not so great at this hero thing, and that's a plus for me. And... well, if you want to know in detail how I feel about Rena, read that bit of meta I linked above. She's one of my favorites, despite a lot of things that the canon falls down on concerning her characterization.

Frankly, I think that one of the reasons I don't like the pairing is because it's directly related to some of those things that the game does to its female characters. Rena's interactions with Claude start off with Claude rescuing Rena from a monster. They continue with Claude declaring that he's not a hero and Rena becoming extremely upset, because she was so sure he was going to save everyone... and then with Rena getting kidnapped and being unable to save herself despite her best efforts, and Claude rescuing her. It's made worse by the fact that in gameplay terms Rena can hold her own without that much trouble. I think that's part of it, right there. I think that it's just that I want her to be in a relationship where she can be on more equal terms with someone, and it's just... not happening with Claude, from what we see in the game. The writers make sure that it doesn't happen by setting that precedent, and so the thought of Rena-the-damsel and Claude-the-protector is established early on, and that just... isn't my cup of tea.

Also there's the fact that the writers decide to play the jealousy card, and that might work for a pair of childhood friends... or, you know, people who've known each other for longer than a few days. But for Claude and Rena, almost as soon as they've met they're acting jealous of each other's other possible romantic interests - or even non-romantic interests. Rena's immediately jealous (and won't usually admit it, even) of any girl who shows even a small interest in Claude, and Claude does the same when Rena shows any interest in someone else. Dias gets the worst of it, but if you're playing with Rena as protagonist, he behaves as if he feels the same way towards Celine as well. He doesn't give specifics, only that he just doesn't feel like they can trust her, but the context and his reaction implies that he's unhappy about having her along because it'll mean it's not just him and Rena anymore. (It's not just Claude, though; in his scenario, Claude wants Celine to come along, and Rena reacts negatively.) It comes across as very petty and childish for both of them, since they've known each other for almost no time at all. One of the things I've already said about Claude/Rena was that they just seem to bring out the worst in each other, at least when the possibility of being lovers comes into play. That, I think, is the best example.

More than that, though, I think that the main reason I just don't like the couple is because I don't like it being shoved down my throat. The game does this a lot, despite its so-called multiple endings. Just about everyone in the game treated the two as if they were actually a couple during the main plot, even when both of them were firmly paired off with other people. There were only a few small scenes that acknowledged their actual feelings towards each other and the people around them, as determined by the Relationship Values. And it would've bothered me less if the multiple endings hadn't been such a huge selling point, I think, because then it would've been expected.

So basically, for all of the reasons above, I honestly would rather see the two of them in practically any other relationship than with each other. There are so many other relationships that are possible where Rena can be on a more equal footing, and where Claude can be with someone who isn't jealous and uncertain about her feelings. This isn't meant as bashing either of them individually, not by any means, but just the fact that the romance in the canon isn't working for me, at all.

...and yes, I admit it. Part of it is probably me being contrary and wanting something different from the usual JRPG romance plot. I could apply much of this to any other game where I like to ship non-canon pairings, and it would also fit. But it's not the whole reason.

(tl;dr - I like Claude and Rena individually and would probably like the couple better if it hadn't been written in a way that I dislike.)

Date: 2011-12-10 04:46 am (UTC)
electric_butterfly: (glowing baralai)
From: [personal profile] electric_butterfly
Yup. I agree. Course I shipped the yaoi pairings, BUT the remake pushed Claude/Dias in the m/m front. I didn't mind that, but I know that others did.

Date: 2011-12-10 02:56 pm (UTC)
traxits: A close up of Reno, from FF7: Advent Children Complete. (Default)
From: [personal profile] traxits
I actually thought there were a lot of canon-pushed pairings. Claude/Rena, Ashton/Precis, Opera/Ernest. I'm not very fond of any of them in particular. They all have particularly unhealthy character notes in them, and all three pairings seem to bring out the worst in one another.

I do agree though. I would have loved to have had more PAs instead of the anime cutscenes. Especially more PAs with Dias, because really, it seems like the only characters we get to see him interacting with are Rena and Claude, and let's face it, there was a lot of that during the whole event in Mars.

Date: 2011-12-10 05:03 pm (UTC)
traxits: Dias Flac, from Star Ocean 2. (SO2 Dias Flac)
From: [personal profile] traxits
Yeah. Ashton/Precis is canon in the anime and in the manga. Which kind of breaks my heart.

It's funny, but I'm in the exact same boat as far as these three pairings go. I actively anti-ship Ashton/Precis and Claude/Rena (although admittedly, I frequently pair them and kind of shove them over to the side if I'm not specifically writing about one of them; then I tend to make a note somewhere that they "didn't work out," if I feel it's necessary, and move on with the story), but I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other about Opera/Ernest. I wonder if that's because I have never been very good about remembering to recruit Opera and Ernest?

Agreed though. Opera and Ernest are much better suited for any number of other pairings. (Opera/Claude! So good. I think they are fabulously suited for one another.)

Date: 2011-12-11 07:15 pm (UTC)
stealth_noodle: Max, Sam, a gun, and a popsicle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] stealth_noodle
they just seem to bring out the worst in each other, at least when the possibility of being lovers comes into play

You just wrapped words around why these two drive me up the wall as a pairing. In PAs with other characters, they are both likable! Put them together, and I just want to grab them both by the shoulders and shake them. They act like they're entitled to each other, ugh. The first time played through the game, I picked Rena as the protagonist, and Claude behaves SO BADLY toward her over Dias that it took me most of the rest of the game to stop disliking him.

Ashton/Precis is the only other SO2 pairing that rubs me completely the wrong way, and it's why I never watched very much of the anime.

Date: 2011-12-12 12:23 am (UTC)
stealth_noodle: Max, Sam, a gun, and a popsicle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] stealth_noodle
Claude/Dias has waaaay more chemistry than Claude/Rena, seriously. I'm not sure if they ramped it up in the remake or if I just had my slash goggles on tighter, but damn.

Ha, when I watched a bit of the anime and saw the Ashton/Precis cropping up, my reaction was "WTF, they made him straight?" I think it was the date PA with Claude that did it for me, and I haven't seen most of his PAs with Precis, since I tend not to recruit them both on the same playthrough.

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