Tag Archives: Feminism

Podigious! A satisfying, critically thoughtful podcast about Digimon

Disclaimer: Podigious! briefly referenced my blog on one of their episodes which was awesome.  In critically reviewing this podcast, I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

Review Summary: Podigious! is a Digimon podcast which critically reviews the entire animated series, arc by arc, and analyzes various aspects of the show.  The hosts’ great chemistry and contrasting personalities liven a podcast that would otherwise be bogged down by its own geeky fandom.  Unfortunately, the fan feedback and Digimon news update that accompanies the beginning of each episode can drag on but luckily, you can easily skip that section and jump into the episode’s stronger portions of engaging debate.  If you cannot deal with people both positively and negatively critiquing Digimon then you should move on.  But if you can realize that not everything in our childhood was perfect then you’ll have a pleasant time listening to this “interesting” podcast.

Full Summary: I’ve listened to Podigious! for more than a year now but it wasn’t until the past few months that I have been able to (mostly) catch up to its latest episode.  I mainly listen to podcasts in the car and since I have done a lot of driving this summer and fall, I was able to burn through episodes rather quickly.  In doing so, I have become rather familiar to the show as if the hosts, Jeff, Ashley, Asher, and Andrew, were right there in the car with me, talking about Digimon while I silently listen to them.

Podigious! is everything I wanted in a nerdy podcast.  The hosts, particularly Jeff, the ringleader of the podcast, are very earnest in their love for Digimon and want to talk about Digimon simply because they can!  I like that.  What’s more, the episode-by-episode discussion of the Digimon anime series is great as you can jump into any podcast episode you want and listen to certain arcs without missing a beat.  I personally did this when I skipped the Devimon Arc and jumped right into the Etemon Arc and it worked just fine.

Of course, a good podcast needs good hosts and luckily, Podigious has them.

Three of the four hosts are very close to my age and in fact, they went to high school the same year I did as well (and the only reason why I know this is that they talked about when Harry Potter 7 came out in one of their episodes).  Because of their age, I highly, highly, identify them as they have the same Digimon nostalgia factor that affected me as well for these past 15 years.  And that actually plays into a big part of their show as they are critically evaluating the show and trying their best not to have nostalgia cloud their reviewing senses.  Sometimes, they’ll even mention how a particular scene has stuck with them for all these years and their reaction to that same scene may now be different due to a more adult perspective on it.

And it basically works.  The hosts point out certain inconsistencies or problems with the show and offer suggestions on how they could have improved the scene and the plot.  A few that stood out to me was the use of prophecies in season 1, how Yolei should have gotten the Digiegg of Knowledge and Cody should have gotten the Digiegg of Love (mind blown btw), and why in God’s name did Tai give Davis’ his goggles and not Kari or T.K.?  These inconsistencies are great as they point out what could have been on a show that surprisingly stuck to certain tropes passionately.

I don’t know what Jeff looks like so here’s Donald Duck from Kingdom Hearts. Image from http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com/wiki/Gallery:Donald_Duck

Of the four hosts, Jeff is probably the one I identify with most and represents the hardcore nerd in a fandom. Jeff is the like the heart of the show as he edits the episodes, he’s in charge of the discussion topics, and he talks, a lot.  Which is unfortunate as he dominates the conversations, especially in the podcast’s early episodes.  Sometimes, he would go on and on for a particular topic, such as, and especially, real life geography, and the other hosts would only respond minimally.  Luckily, the other hosts have found their voice and have been participating more and more in the episodes which is great.  Jeff has certainly relaxed as the series progressed as he used to be a little more uptight but now he’s kind of taking it more easy for the discussion topics and the “Follow Up” portions of the show.  Also, he should get a Word of the Day calendar.

Again, I don’t know what Ashley looks like so here’s Riley from Inside Out. Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suT-csNs9U

Ashley represents the casual fan of a franchise and let me say, it’s nice to hear her be so verbally confused about certain aspects of Digimon as it sometimes takes a sane person to point out the rather weird and contrived world of Digimon.  She’s definitely been more vocal as the series progressed and it’s nice as she points out the gender B.S. that Digimon portrays.  It’s also funny how she can be just so fed up with Digimon at times, especially towards Kari.  Her playful frustrations towards Jeff also add a light touch to a show that can be bogged down at times by its own geekery.

You get the drill, how about Joe and Gomamon? Image from http://hero.wikia.com/wiki/File:JOE_Kido_%26_Gomamon_(ADVENTURE_51).jpg

Asher represents the shipping fan of a franchise and he is just like Ashley in that he points out Digimon’s gender B.S.  Asher also found his voice fairly early on and, again, like Ashley, talked more as the podcast progressed.  It’s always nice to hear Asher tear down Jeff’s nostalgia-filled world and make Jeff verbally uncomfortable with the stark, and let’s face it, unfair, reality Digimon has towards boys vs. girls.  From what I heard, Asher is the favorite host of the four and I believe it (he’s my favorite too).  Asher’s grounded, and sometimes apathetic, nature, contrasts nicely with Jeff’s enthusiastic and almost intense personality.  Jeff would have notes upon notes detailing certain aspects of an episode and then he would ask Asher what he thought about the episode/topic and Asher would respond that he didn’t write anything down (lol).  His shipping knowledge is very humorous as he would gush over scenes involving Davis/Ken or Matt/Tai.  I know appreciate Davis/Ken pairing more thanks to him.

Gundam! Okay, I’m done. Image from https://sddude.wordpress.com/tag/sd-gundam/page/3/

Unfortunately, Andrew, Asher’s brother, is the weakest of the four hosts.  Briefly mentioned in the podcast’s season 1, he became a part-time host in season 2 and unfortunately, he does not add a lot to the other hosts’ great chemistry.  It seems to me that Andrew barely mentions anything, even when compared to Ashley and Asher’s initially reserved nature, and does not fully pay attention to the conversation at hand.  I wouldn’t mind it as much if he had anything worthwhile to say but a lot of times he would just react awkwardly to the other hosts’ sometimes personal interactions or he would mildly insult Jeff and his nerdy nature.  He is kind of…stiff I want to say?  It doesn’t bode well with the more playful side of this show.  I shouldn’t be too hard on him though as a lot of times, he can contribute to the conversation by incorporating his Japanese and anime knowledge.  His status as a hardcore nerd can match Jeff’s knowledge which is nice that it’s not just Jeff talking in-depth about some esoteric thing about Digimon.

The weakest portion of the show is by far the aforementioned “Follow Up” which is Jeff and Ashely responding to reviewer feedback and questions, talking about Digimon news, and revealing who won the Ridiculous Dialogue Draft (RDD).  This section is at the beginning of almost every episode and man does it drag ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon.  This is the part of the episode that I usually let my mind wander.  And, truth be told, the Digimon news update kind of hurts the “timelessness” of the show as the main portion of the podcast episodes focuses on things that happened 15 years ago while the news update tells us things that we already know by now.  Sometimes, this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would play in my head during the Follow Up:

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Follow Up though as you can skip it easily.  It kind of begs the question why I even listen to it in the first place.  Good Question.

I have no reasonable answer.  Maybe I just like hearing Ashley and Jeff talk (it does get lonely in the car at times when you’ve been driving 4+ hours by yourself).  Although, I have to say that it’s nice to hear Jeff and Ashley go out of their way to respond to reviewer feedback and respond to questions viewers may have about the previous episode’s content.

If the Follow Up is the weakest portion then by far the strongest is the RDD that is at the end of every episode and I love it.  God, listening to how…ridiculous…the DUB could be is amazing although I wish they threw in the occasional “touching” line since there can be a few in the show.  Maybe they’ll throw some in when they get into the heart of season 3 cause man, that season is an emotional roller coaster.  Anyway, I appreciate Jeff editing in the original lines of the show and give us the full (no) context it deserves.

The gender studies portion of the show is perhaps the most (in)famous section of the podcast.  Here, emotions can run a little high as the hosts break down Digimon’s less appealing gender aspects.  Ashley, and in particular Asher, go at the show strongly and tear it apart while at the same time offering constructive criticism on how the show could have made it better.  Although the hosts dominantly talk about the role women have on the show, they do occasionally focus on the guys and the show’s conservative take on what it means to be a man.  I admit, I was at first frustrated at listening to Asher and Ashley criticize one of my favorite childhood animated shows but I soon could not help admit that a lot of Digimon’s take on gender is indeed, Bullshit.  It definitely makes the podcast not just a simple fan gushing and instead, treats it like an actual show that has its flaws.  In general, I just love how Asher is so unapologetic about her opinions and it sharply contrasts Jeff’s desire to try and offend the least amount of people as possible.

Also, and on a side note, the hosts sometimes talk about the Legend of Korra and other cartoon shows during the gender segment which is nice as Korra is particularly strong when it comes to gender representation.  One show that they have surprisingly left out of the conversation is Steven Universe and it got to the point that I finally tweeted them and asked if they had seen the show.  I am relieved that they have (that show is great in all aspects of animation, plot, and, of course, gender representation).

This is actually a nice segue to my last point about the podcast in that the hosts are very responsive (well, Jeff is at least, Asher just doesn’t give a shit) to fan feedback.  It actually makes up a large portion of the Follow Up.  Jeff and Ashley respond to feedback whether it’s on twitter, reddit, or itunes.  I like how they bring up critical feedback and admit when they are wrong.  It’s nice for creators, of any kind, to respond to both negative and positive feedback and it shows they are not afraid to change things up and try to constantly improve the show.

As for the future of the show, I’ll definitely continue listen to them for their Tri and Tamers segments but after that, it’s hard to say as I really don’t like Digimon Season 4.  Regardless, Tamers is, and will be, fun to listen to as it’s Jeff’s favorite season and it has a super crazy plot that is neatly combined with its more mature vibe.  I’m hoping for more endless driving so I can become reacquainted with them once again.

Oh yeah, and I’m looking forward to this scene.


The Childhood Sweetheart Trope as Interpreted by 999 and Danganronpa

One of the most predictable and used tropes for anime, and in general other media, is the Childhood Sweetheart Trope (CST). A pre-ten year old boy and girl meet each other for the first time, acquire puppy love, and then are tragically separated due to extraneous circumstances before they meet up again as young adults. They fall in love again through a series of mishaps or adventures and then get married. There can be some fidgeting with this but for the most part this is basically the sub or main plot for a lot of romantic/semi-romantic anime ranging from the humorous Love Hina to the very gruesome Elfen Lied.

I am critical of this trope though for several reasons besides its foreseeable conclusions. One is that the characters, especially the female ones, are quite dull or one sided and have no overall personal goals or conflicting feelings that paint them as actual people. Two is that we as the audience already expect them to get together and thus when we see the boy or the girl dating someone else we know it will end badly. Three is that the trope has a very predestined feel behind it, especially if the boy and girl make a marriage promise, as the girl and boy are fated towards this end result no matter what they do. Finally, the girl characters are treated like rewards or trophies for the boy, especially if we primarily follow the boy’s POV, and not as actual humans.

Now I know this is not always the case (e.g., Elfen Lied) but CST is certainly prevalent in the story telling community. As such, I want to discuss two stories, the DS game 999 and the visual novel game/anime Danganronpa, and their unique interpretation of this dry trope. These two stories have an interesting approach to this tired theme and I wanted to gush why I think these two nailed it (and of course, spoilers).

Lower row, directly in the middle is Makoto and to his right is the blue-haired Sayaka. Image from http://www.egmnow.com/articles/reviews/egm-review-danganronpa-trigger-happy-havoc/#

Let’s start with Danganronpa, our main character, Makoto Naegi, likes Sayaka Maizono, a pop idol girl, whom he became acquainted with in middle school. The two hadn’t seen each other until the events depicted in Danganronpa and they hit it off well as they’re the only people they’re familiar with in the whole cast of characters. There is an implied mutual attraction and support between the pair.

Though they didn’t know each other before middle school, this is still the CST at heart as they were separated at a young age before being reacquainted several years later. When the terrible events of Danganronpa unfold, the story seems to set up the notion that their relationship will only get stronger before they become an actual couple.

However, this does not happen as a fellow student murders Sayaka and as such, we see the first twist Danganronpa offers for the CST. Makoto and Sayaka’s relationship will not blossom but Sayaka now becomes a martyr for Makoto, a beacon to for Makoto to triumph in the end.

Although Sayaka’s death may be inspirational, she is still a rather flat character. That was the case until an episode after her death revealed her hidden intentions. Sayaka, in all her innocent goodiness, was planning on murdering a fellow student and then frame Makoto for it. Of course, the murder doesn’t go as plan and she got murdered instead. This shocks both Makoto and us the viewer. We are set up at the beginning that Sayaka would be an innocent, loving girl and yet her actions had proved otherwise. Why did she do it? Well, we’re shown in the previous episode that her band members were severely hurt/already dead and probably would not be saved unless she murdered someone and successfully got away with it.

This…is awesome.

Her reasons for murdering actually seem sensible (besides, you know, the whole murder thing). Her band members are in grave danger and she has known them for years, they’re probably like family to her! Seeing them in peril prompted her to act the way she did so she could try and save them. She tricked Makoto into switching rooms with her, lured a student to the said room for the promise of teaching him music, and then attempted to murder that student and blame it on Makoto. Since she barely knows Makoto, she didn’t have any strong emotional attachment to him and thus didn’t have a problem in framing him for murder. I actually want to see an alternate universe where she did murder the student and and how Makoto would react to that.

Though I kind of thought she would be the first one to get murdered, I definitely did not see her ulterior motives coming and was nicely surprised by it. These first few episodes definitely set the tone for the rest of the series. Well played, Danganronpa.

Guy in the middle frame with the blue vest is Junpei and to his right is Akane.  Image from http://zeroescape.wikia.com/

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors just takes this trope though and blows it out of the water. Now, this game has so many ideas, themes, and morals behind it that I try to find any excuse to talk even just one of them. In this case, I want to talk 999’s interpretation of the CST as it’s just amazing.

Our main character is Junpei, a 21-year-old college student who is found on a rigged-to-blow cruise liner and must play the “Nonary Game” in order to escape from it. He meets eight other characters after escaping from his cabin room, one of which is Akane Kurashiki (alias “June”), whom he knew when they were kids. IMMEDIATELY, when Junpei explained who she was I was like “Ah, crap, here we go, another Childhood Sweetheart story.” I was not looking forward to Akane and I actively avoided her early on in the game. She seemed like such a flat character, another one of those innocent, sweethearts or whatever.

Well, as you may know, there are multiple endings to the game. After the first time through (I died of course), I went a different route but this time I actively engaged with Akane more often.

Holy crap, she’s funny, and a bit crazy too. Her sexually suggestive quips embarrassed Junpei (lol) and her crazy metaphysical concepts made him question her sanity. I was happily surprised how untypical she was while I was playing the game.

In fact, the more I played the game the more I realized that there was something really special about Akane but I couldn’t figure out why.

And then, wham, I came across the true ending to the game and my mind was blown. It was revealed that all along she was the one behind the “Nonary Game” and it was all an elaborate setup to not only get back at the people who hurt her ten years ago but also to save her from her own death.

Okay, where to begin.

When Akane was a kid, she was trapped in a room that was going to burn her alive. Her only way out was to solve a puzzle that she didn’t know how to answer. Her only way out was to telepathically communicate Junpei and have him solve the puzzle instead. How? Well, this is the part where things get crazy. One of the themes of the game is that the past is set but the future has multiple paths laid out. Akane tapped into that idea by communicating to Junpei ten years in the future and have him solve the puzzle instead. Her future self created an environment that was exactly similar to her past’s environment. This allowed Past Akane to look into the different future paths and try to steer Junpei to the puzzle that she could not solve. This is why the game has multiple endings (which blew my mind, this game did that a lot for me), Akane is trying to find that perfect ending. Once Junpei figured out the puzzle in the exact same environment, he telepathically communicated the answer back to past Akane and then she was able to figure it out.

This is actually why present Akane would inexplicably collapse when she and Junpei were exploring their environments. If the player chooses a wrong path (i.e., the path that takes them to the life-or-death puzzle) then present Akane would become sick because Junpei is not exposed to the puzzle, which means he can’t solve it, which means he can’t communicate the answer back to past Akane, which means she will die in the burning room, which means present Akane will die as well. Wrap your head around that one.

There are internet articles out there that like to deconstruct this concept into pieces and explain why this is so amazing so I won’t go into that. But what I do want to say is that all of this…the telepathy, the puzzles, the multiple endings, and the character herself just utterly destroy the CST. Whether done intentionally or not, 999 builds up CST and then just tears it down piece by piece and I really liked that. It’s not often that a storyteller has effortlessly guided my initial opinion of a character into making me think one way of them and then pull the rug from me and reveal what truly lies there. So good.

Image from Amazon.com

Okay, so what do these two stories have in common?  Why do I like them both?

Both of them set up the boy and girl’s relationship very casually, almost as if they were simply cookie-cutting the trope into their twisted plots but still keeping true to CST.  In Danganronpa, Makoto and Sayaka would get out of the murder game alive and become a couple; in 999, Junpei and Akane defeat Zero through the power of a emerging love.  However, this does not happen.  We are given a scenario where both Sayaka and Akane have ulterior motives and are trying desperately to win no matter what the costs.  We see what makes them tick and why they acted the way they did.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that these two females felt like actual people to me.  They feared, they planned, they made hard decisions, and they are not defined by simply trying to find that special someone or being in love.  That may be a part of them yes but it’s not the full picture.  I really liked that but it’s unfortunate that these characters stood out to me because they directly oppose a rather flat trope.  Regardless, because of their actions, they are what help make 999 and Danganronpa great as they took this trope and punched it right in the face.  Now that is awesome.

Unapologetic Nerd will be on hiatus next week in preparation for an extensive Star Wars article for Star Wars Day.  It will focus on one of my favorite novels in the series.  Don’t forget to check it out!

Ms. Marvel More than Satisfies the Hype

When a certain movie, TV show, or in this case, comic book, is hyped up there’s a certain amount of expectation you have for it. Sometimes, the hype can be to such an extent that no matter how good that thing may be, it still is not as good as you hoped it would be.

Ms. Marvel is thankfully not that.

The amount of hype surrounding her release was astonishing during 2015. First, when it was announced that there would be a new Ms. Marvel and she would be played, of all people, a Muslim-American teenager, the amount of press this got was crazy and for good reason too. This would be Marvel’s first Muslim superhero that starred in her own series. As such, this was a pretty big deal.

After the initial release of the revamped Ms. Marvel, a new hype took over the first one as people began to realize that the comic series was actually pretty good! For months, I would hear or see little things here or there, maybe a few pages from her comic or a few responses from people who read the series and it gradually took my interest. It wasn’t until I saw her humorous interaction with Spiderman that I decided I wanted to check her out and see what all the fuss was about.

Let me just say that after buying and reading volume 1, I’m already looking forward to volume 2!

Kamala Khan is climbing fast to be one of my favorite superheroes. She’s likable, she has emotions, she has goals, and she has self-doubt. Both her good and bad traits make her a well-rounded and relatable character. I just like how dorky she is in general. She definitely has a modern vibe about her and that’s pretty relieving actually.  And oh my God is she funny!  She has this attitude about her that’s just so likable!  She’s not grim or depressing, she’s funny and uplifting!  I adore that.

I was wondering about her Muslim identity. How much will that come into play for her story? Thankfully, I was surprised how natural it felt. Her and her family’s religion was treated pretty normally and they could have easily been a Christian or Jewish family. Just because she was Muslim doesn’t mean that’s all she is. She has interests and hobbies such as idolizing her superhero Captain Marvel.

That’s the second thing I like about this comic. It’s very feminine driven. Her idol is a well-respected heroine and there’s not an over reliance of a man to help her out. Instead, she has friends of both sexes to support and give her advice. I kinda like how natural her friends are and how non-hokey or problematic they are. But again, her identity as a woman is just like her identity as a Muslim, it’s there but it does not fully define who she is. She has many parts that make up Kamala.

Also, her fangirling is one of the best parts about this comic.  I don’t know if it’s the way Kamala is interpreting the world or if that’s how the world actually is but random things have an element of cuteness to it like her visions or her fighting that trash monster.  It’s great.

The only problem I have so far is that since I only read volume one I have to go through all the introductions and backstory. Who she is, what her problems are, her powers, her awkward reaction to the powers, her first crime-busting scene, and so forth. It’s very formulaic and has been done many times. A lot of it is necessary but nonetheless you see all these awesome issues covers with her in costume and you’re really hoping she’ll kick butt in this issue but it doesn’t happen. I’m hoping that once I read volume 2 that Ms. Marvel will pick up and continue to carve out its own storyline.

As a final note, whoever Marvel has hired to do marketing for them should get a bonus. Not only was I enthralled with Ms. Marvel, it made me want to learn more about the Marvel Universe such as the Inhumans and Captain Marvel herself. I’m looking forward to her movie and what’s more, I hope they reference, in one form or another, Kamala Khan. Now wouldn’t that be sweet?

Gender Roles in Harvest Moon (SNES)

Harvest Moon on the Super Nintendo has always been a staple game for me since late elementary school.  I have played this game multiple times and I’m quite fond of it.  The only other game in the series that I like more than it would be Friends of Mineral Town on the Gameboy Advance.  Yet despite my admiration for this game there is a flaw that, whether done consciously or not, negatively reinforces gender roles in today’s society.

Before I go further, let me clarify that I am by no means a gender studies person nor have I taken any classes in gender studies.  This is from a personal view that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Society, though not as big on this as it once was, force men to accomplish three goals in life in order to be viewed as successful.  Athletic prowess, economic stability, and sexual conquest.  If you do not accomplish all three of these goals, you could be considered a failure. And though I can’t speak for all of my fellow brethren, I know that I fear, to an extent, not being able to accomplish all three of these things (especially the economic one).

Harvest Moon on the SNES embraces all three of these goals very nicely.  After all, the game is about a boy growing up to be a man.  In the beginning of the game you are a boy who has taken up his grandfather’s run down farm and are tasked to make it great once again.  Not an easy trial that’s for sure.  While conquering this feat, you simultaneously fulfill the three criteria of society’s man definition  In fact, the game’s ending (yes, there is an ending to the game) depends on your accomplishing these three criteria.

First, athletic prowess.  At the beginning of the game you are a pretty weak boy.  Doing hard tasks like chopping wood and breaking stone can wear you down pretty quick.  But as you explore the world and continue to work hard, you are rewarded with magical items called Power Berries.  Eating these Power Berries increases your stamina and makes you last longer while doing hard labor.  There are ten of them and though some of them can be found doing random tasks, most of them are acquired by doing hard labor.  You might find one while plowing the field or inside a stump after you chop one up.  As you eat them you become a strong man.

"God, I hate eratics" taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEfdF6GFh4Y

“God, I hate eratics”
taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEfdF6GFh4Y

Eating these Power Berries also helps attain your goal of economic stability.  You are able to expand your fields, build your house, and obtain stronger and better items.  Even without the Berries, you could still obtain economic success by raising chickens and cows.  However, the game can be cruel to you by showing that life isn’t always fair.  Hurricanes in particular are nasty as they can ruin your farm and make your animals go hungry.  It’s up to you to pick yourself back up and keep going forward.  Through every hardship you must persevere and become a better man.  Don’t look back or else you won’t succeed.

And finally, we reach sexual conquest.  Women in Harvest Moon are as objectified as the cattle you raise and the crops you harvest.  They are nothing more than a desirable object which you have to tend to as much as you tend your farm animals.  Even the women’s privacy is cast aside as you are able to sneak into their rooms and look through their diary to determine how much you like them.

Found a one way ticket to a black eye!

Found a one way ticket to a black eye!

You might say I’m overreacting but this objectifying and simplifying women becomes truly apparent when you marry your sweetheart.  In the game there are five potential women to marry, all of whom have their own unique sprites and (relatively) distinct personalities.  There’s the barmaid, the flower girl, the mechanic, the farm girl, and the church girl.  Boom, individualistic girls who have their own set of likes and dislikes and personality traits.

HOWEVER, this is all toss aside when you marry the girl.  Her distinct avatar and personality vanishes and is replaced by a docile wife who looks 30 sprite years older.  And oh yeah, the wife sprite is the SAME for all five wives!  The only difference is the hair color.  I honestly don’t think marriage matters in Harvest Moon since the end result is a partner who is nothing like the woman I wanted to be with.  I’m not even exaggerating, all of the wives’ dialogue is exactly the same no matter who you’re married to.  The only time your wife’s personality comes through is the end of the game where you spend time with her and that’s like a 15 second clip.  Big whoop.


Wives, taste the rainbow

What’s worse is how useless your wife is.  Her main purpose is to give you support and give birth to two children.  That’s it.  She doesn’t help with the livestock or the field, she just sits in the house and makes you meals while popping out babies.

Granted…Harvest Moon is not a romance game.  It is a game that has romance in it, but it’s not solely about it.  Exploration, harvesting, and animal husbandry are also important factors in the game.  But even so, three small changes could have been made to improve the game’s romance.

-Distinct wife sprites: What was honestly wrong with their original sprites??  I wouldn’t have mind it at all if they kept their original sprites.  Why do the girls change appearance while the boy remains the same?

-Special wife traits: Each girl in Harvest Moon has a distinct hobby and personality.  If this carried onto the wives then this would add a layer of depth to the game.  Ann the inventor could give you a cool farming instrument.  Ellen the farm girl could feed all of the cattle.  The list goes on.  If you’re trying to build a certain farm, maybe the girl who you marry can help build that farm for you!

-Unique Dialogue: Oh God, yes!  Honey!  What’s wrong with you?? You seem so zombie like and dead inside!  Where’s the girl that I fell in love with??  Say something that makes me know you are still you!

*Cough* In the end, the women in Harvest Moon are subjected to the game’s definition of what it means to be a man.  In order to be viewed as successful, you must have a wife who can cook and bear you children, in other words, sexual conquest.  They are not human beings who have equal status to their husband.  They are simply an item to obtain.

To finish this off, I would like to say that the Harvest Moon series has improved dramatically since their first game when it comes to gender roles.  As more complexity is allowed in more advanced systems, the women evolve into actual characters who retain their personality throughout the game.  What’s more, you are now able to play as a girl farmer who is looking to develop a successful farm and marry just like the boy farmer.

What are your thoughts?  What are some game series whose gender roles improve (or not) as the series progressed?