The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, October 15, 2021 – Impressive opening

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon everyone! We’ve reached the end of another week, and so it’s time for your correspondence in The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page as usual!

Don’t forget you can submit letters to us any time throughout the week simply by clicking the “Write to Rice” widget over on the right side of any page. They all go into our mailbag, then we’ll dredge ’em up and respond to ’em the following Friday. It’s a better means of getting your message heard than leaving a comment, because they’re guaranteed to be read!

Anyway, we got a few letters to go through today, so let’s get right into it, shall we?

Original art by Hubrael.

Errata

Dear Rice,

You put the wrong date on the Letters Page last week.

Andy


I know. Well, I realised shortly before I read this when I was setting up the page. You know why that happened? A day of reading dates in American format in press releases and whatnot. My brain was still in the “second number is the day” mode. Also I was very tired. Pity me. This work is harder than it looks, you know.

No, in all seriousness, thanks for spotting that! It’s been corrected now. We’ve got to look out for each other. I’d find something to criticise about your letter in exchange but it’s grammatically flawless. Good job!

The way in

Dear Rice,

You asked for some more favourite JRPG opening scenes, so here are my picks:

1 – Final Fantasy VII bombing mission. You suggested this one in the article, but it really is great. Dramatic music, big explosions, just amazing stuff. I thought Final Fantasy VII Remake did a great job of recapturing that feeling.

2 – Breath of Fire III. You play as the kid version of the main character for quite a while, and then he grows up later in the game. I thought this was really cool as you get to see how the characters change over time.

3 – Persona 3. Burn my Dread. Enough said.

JT


Hi JT, and thanks for your contribution to this week’s Letters Page.

I can get behind all of these choices. Final Fantasy VII’s bombing mission is a personal favourite of mine — when I first played Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation all those years ago, that whole opening sequence was what convinced me that the game was going to be something special. I’d never really played an RPG prior to that — but you can be sure as hell I played a lot more after that! And yes, I agree, FFVII Remake absolutely nailed the recreation of that scene. So impressed.

Letters page: Final Fantasy VII

Breath of Fire III is an interesting one. The narrative potential of showing a character at a younger age can work quite nicely — though it can also drag a bit if you’re not careful. You find yourself wanting to get out of the “kid” bit and into the “real” adventure, as it were. I personally found Breath of Fire III’s opening sequence to walk a bit of a fine line in this regard — but I still remember it pretty vividly all these years later, so there must be something to it. Don’t that just beat all?

As for Persona 3, yes, absolutely. While the Persona series often gets flak for its opening sequences going on for two hours or more before you get to fight anything… the Persona series is all about atmosphere, characterisation, setting and all that sort of thing. The amount of time it takes to establish those things really pays off in the long-term — and as Persona 3 aptly demonstrates, you can still start things off with a “bang”, as it were.

Great choices, anyway. Anyone got any more?

The C-Word

Dear Rice,

I’ve read in a few places that Blue Reflection Second Light is censored compared to the first game. Have you heard anything?

LimeLove


Hi LimeLove, welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. You have good taste in either Gust girls or citrus fruit. Or both.

I don’t think “censored” is quite the right word here because no-one’s applied any particular pressure on Gust or Koei Tecmo to change anything; instead, it sounds like they’ve simply altered the artistic direction of the new game a little bit compared to the original in order to fend off any accusations of “fanservice” that might undermine what the game is actually trying to achieve.

Our friends over at Digitally Downloaded posted a great interview with series artist Mel Kishida recently where he talks a bit about this side of things. When you’re done here, go give it a read — I think you’ll find it will set your mind at rest somewhat. Kishida’s intent for the series was never for it to be particularly “sexy”, and so people looking at it from that perspective kind of goes against what they were really aiming for.

Letters page: Blue Reflection

I mean, personally, I never really thought of the original Blue Reflection as particularly fanservicey anyway, but it seems a few people (in the west) took exception to things like the shower and changing room scenes, even though they made sense in context. Despite the fact that bathing/changing together in Japan has different social connotations to over here, the western viewpoint tends to be to look at that sort of thing through a sexual lens regardless, which was not the intent of those scenes at all.

Given that the game has such scope to appeal to a broad audience who are interested in an emotional story — and articles from western prudes lambasting fanservice are so very, very tiresome — I can completely understand why they might want to redirect people’s attention a bit.

But based on our experiences with our preview a little while back, it still felt very much like Blue Reflection — and there are still a few light fanservice elements in there, too. The girls still get wet in the rain, for example, and Kokoro’s thighs give Ryza a run for her money. I think you’ll be satisfied — unless you were hoping they’d go full-on yuri eroge with this one, in which case I’m not sure what to tell you! Maybe try Yukkuri Panic?

Husbando Uncovered

Dear Rice,

Looking at your articles on Sentimental Shooting and Waifu Discovered 2, I find myself wondering why there aren’t any games like this with pictures of men?

Daisy


Hi Daisy, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page.

I actually saw this very matter being discussed on Twitter the other evening; the Waifu Uncovered/Discovered devs and publishers were asking the audience what sort of “theme” they might like to see in a possible third game, and someone brought up whether a game with husbandos would be possible.

Eastasiasoft’s project lead Joshua Michael French mentioned that he’d be more than happy to support a game with such content like this — but obviously there needs to be enough interest to make it commercially viable. The developers behind the game said that they’d explored the possibility, too — but had found it difficult to secure an artist who was interested, and also hadn’t received very much feedback from prospective audience members either.

Letters page: Waifu Discovered 2

I think it’d actually be quite an interesting angle to explore, but I’m not sure the market is quite there yet. While ecchi and eroge titles aimed at women and/or gay men most certainly do exist, they’re still considered to be rather niche interest and thus rather a risky proposition from a commercial perspective. Otome games at least have the cross-gender/sexuality appeal of telling an interesting and dramatic story as well as being full of gorgeous men — if your sole selling point becomes those gorgeous men, I still feel you might struggle a bit.

I guess it’s a symptom of a broader issue — it’s the same reason why we have approximately three billion times more female VTubers than male ones, or why Japanese marketing campaigns use cute girls rather than cute boys. Cute girls are seen as inherently more universally appealing and marketable than cute boys — even to women in a lot of cases. Perhaps men are seen as inherently more “threatening” or something. Or perhaps society’s persistent insecurity over sexuality makes it harder for everyone to admit an anime boy is attractive, even if they have no problem saying the same thing about a girl.

I don’t have an easy answer, unfortunately. We’re probably due some sort of sexual revolution with regard to this sort of thing — and indeed on social media people are a lot more willing to talk about their sexuality (including positions outside of the societal “norms”) than they were in the past — but we still have a ways to go, I guess!

Ever considered learning game dev yourself? You could be the author of the first ever commercially successful husbando strip ’em up!


And that’s that for another week! The curtain falls on Friday, and we look forward to a weekend of rambunctiousness and plenty. Or probably just video games and anime.

However you’re spending your weekend, be sure to have a lovely one — and we’ll see you again next week!

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