My addiction to the Trails of Cold Steel series is still running strong and as a result, we’re going to be talking about the leading man of the series — Rean Schwarzer.
The Trails subseries of Falcom’s The Legend of Heroes franchise is an incredibly ambitious series of games with intertwining stories all taking place in the same world that all connect with one another — it is genuinely an incredible series of games that really rewards players for their time investment in playing all of the different arcs involved.
Cold Steel is also known as the Erebonia Arc due to the location in which the game is set, and the main characters being residents of the empire of Erebonia. The game boasts a fairly large cast of characters that gets even bigger as the series goes on — however, the main man of it all is Rean Schwarzer, an interesting character that I have only grown to like more and more over time.
Who is Rean Schwarzer?
Rean is the main protagonist of the Trails of Cold Steel series. Upon first meeting Rean, he seems like a fairly ordinary guy who has been enrolled into the prestigious military academy known as Thors. Rean grew up in the northern province of Erebonia in a small town called Ymir, a town famous for little more than being the home of some famous hot springs.
Rean grew up as the adopted son of the Schwarzer household, a residence owned by Teo Schwarzer, a nobleman and the ruler of Ymir. While he was considered a legitimate son by the baron, his wife, and their daughter Elise, Rean always suffered from a sense of not truly knowing where he belonged.
While living in Ymir, Rean becomes the last disciple of the “Sword Hermit” Yun Ka-fai. He is the founder of the Eight Leaves One Blade style of swordsmanship, a style combining the elements of numerous eastern sword techniques. With his eastern blade in hand, Rean leaves his hometown of Ymir and travels to Thors Military Academy.
Why we love Rean Schwarzer
My enjoyment of Rean as a character definitely wasn’t something that was acquired instantly, it’s something that built up over time and as he grew more as a character I came to really like him. Rean has a lot of insecurities and these become quite evident over the course of the first game alone.
Rean is a talented swordsman, yet he decides against joining any clubs such as fencing and instead uses his free days helping out the student council by fulfilling requests put in by other students from the school. It becomes quite apparent that Rean still keeps those around him at arm’s length and only feels comfortable when helping others rather than himself.
Throughout the course of the first two games, he comes to slowly learn where his place is in Class VII, and it’s the people around him that break down some of the barriers that he had placed around himself. It’s in this growth that I really began to love the character more than I thought I would. Sure, he still has his martyr moments but he is an incredibly tortured character who has been beaten, bruised and bloodied more than anyone.
Why you’ll love Rean Schwarzer
Ignoring some of the more deep-seated complexities and insecurities that make up Rean’s character, he is very much a depiction of the classic selfless heroic type. Always more than willing to put himself in harm’s way if it means saving those around him, he is very much the altruist and while there may come points where you wish he would snap out of this self-sacrificial mindset, you can’t help but like something about a character so selfless.
I won’t spoil too much about his own personal development or the things that take place around him, but just know that there is more to Rean than meets the eye — and his whole story is pretty damn anime. He is a tragic protagonist who goes through way more than his fair share of shit, yet despite that, he still manages to see the light on the other side, and goddammit, I love him for it. Despite staring so much adversity square in the face, in a very Rean way, he remains a beacon of light for those around him.
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