Compared to my first husbando post, this one is more of a throwback — and is one that’s really telling of my age, since it ties in with one of my earliest gaming memories other than TimeSplitters.
Luminous Arc first released in 2007; a few years later I ended up purchasing it on a whim based solely on its gorgeous art – the talented Kaito Shibano is always appreciated after all. It happened to be my first exposure to strategy based RPGs, and kickstarted my passion for playing video games in earnest, so not only does it have my thanks in leading me into the wonderful world of gaming — specifically JRPGs and visual novels, of course — it also led me to always expect an eye-catching, reliable guy to fall head over heels for when playing.
So despite the literal buffet servings of potential waifu candidates across the Luminous Arc series as a whole (just see below), I have merely one question for you. Have you seen the perfection that is the humbly honourable and strong Knight, Heath?
Please beware of spoilers for the game ahead!
Heath, the strong yet soft hunk
Despite how strong Heath is — and how much of a source of inspiration he is for his admirers — he is only 25 years old. He has impressive battle skills and is a headstrong and capable leader despite his young age. He even cares for and trains Luminous Arc’s main unit, known as the Garden Children, and is a reliable father figure to the main characters. He’s also used not only as our tutor in the tutorial segment, but as a constant source of aid to everyone in the game.
Heath is a protector of the Church and loyal to a fault — say it all together everybody: “protect the Light, condemn the Dark”. As the game progresses, the reveal of the true enemies within the Church is not only a nicely paced piece of narrative for us to enjoy, but also provides the opportunity for Heath’s strong sense of justice and loyalty to be questioned and crushed by the midpoint of the game.
At the very beginning of Luminous Arc, Cardinal Kingston is already spewing manipulative lies from his deceitful mouth, having told Heath that civilians are being attacked by Witches as they attempt to revive their God. Heath and his unit’s task is to exterminate the Witches before the world ends. Nothing new, right?
A loyal Knight with a heart of gold
The clash between Heath’s strong sense of justice and his loyalty to the Church provides a key turning point within his character arc, but still indicates how damn perfect he is since he had already suspected Kingston before faced with any proof. He’s got the brains and the brawn, to be sure!
The level of deception and manipulation Kingston goes to over the course of Luminous Arc is disturbing, and yet even in his demise, Heath still feels sympathy and sorrow for him succumbing to greed and plotting against everyone in the hope he could become an all-powerful being. All this is despite Kingston being the cause of so many of his companion’s deaths; this makes Heath an exceptionally deep and complex character who still makes an effort to understand his enemy, even when said enemy impacts him personally.
There are many notable moments of Heath’s fatherly side coming out when we look at the youngsters he’s cared for, trained with and wanted to protect for all these years. He lies to protagonist Alph about their first “Witch” confrontation — their target was actually not a Witch, but someone who wanted to use the Water Lapistier for her own purposes that would harm others.
To avoid Alph feeling any sense of remorse for their victory, he willingly lies about the situation, and when he has to join the Crow Knights division, separating him from the Garden Children, he is clearly and vocally concerned for his students’ safety. He even sends the Witch tracker Saki as some intiial help for them. And later on, he also sends Kai, a cadet from his training days, for further backup when their lives are under threat.
All the feels
We have a one-on-one fight as Alph against Heath when he’s ordered to restrain the Garden Children as they oppose the Church. This critical moment mirrors their previous one-on-one fight when Heath declares that Alph should lead the Garden Children if he can defeat him before their separation.
Once Alph secures a very much earned victory (seriously, Heath does not go easy on his dear student this time despite it all an act!), Kingston arrives with the Steel Witch, Iris. This presents my favourite relationship of the entire game and series, and it’s only slightly hinted at — which makes the moment all the more tragic and haunting.
From a cut-off love confession from Iris before she disappears, to Heath’s unnamed loved one who was executed for being labelled a Witch — an incident that would cause his lifelong hatred for Witches — their relationship is never confirmed, but it does nothing to negate my childhood tears from pouring at this reunion that is turned immediately into a goodbye.
This man-made Witch Iris was once an orphan Heath took care of, much like the Garden Children, but had her memories erased and body modified to take the Thunder Lapistier so she could use Witch powers. Not content with simply damaging Iris beyond repair so that she could no longer remain human, Kingston also tricks her into attacking the Fatal Hounds (Alph and friends) once cornered.
Kingston also manipulates the situation to make Heath surround the team with 500 soldiers; his hidden intention is to sacrifice them all to Zehaal, their God, while everyone has rather conveniently ended up on the sacrificial grounds.
It’s touching how Heath manages to remain protective of his students even in the midst of so many tragedies: losing his comrades to Kingston’s manipulation, the wiping out of the Eurus nights by Vanessa and the demise of Iris. As a Knight, Heath’s life lesson for Alph and the others is to always protect those they care for. While Heath feels like he failed to fulfil this purpose on several occasions, he manages to keep his head high, never gives up, and delivers in the end.
While Luminous Arc 2 is a step up in every single way, from less clunky controls, a more intriguing plot and a better developed cast overall, it’s missing one thing and it’s Heath. Bias be damned!
The Luminous Arc series as a whole (or at least the first and second, since the third never got localised — which is a shame considering protagonist Levi appears to have taken the best traits of Heath, looks-wise) features casts of lovable characters that always make the journey worthwhile, and they even feature some fun twists and hidden identities to be revealed.
But it’s hard to beat Heath so far as the series’ enduring appeal is concerned.
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