Why Did Pretty Buckled Japanese Boys Go Out of Style?

Illustration for article titled Why Did Pretty Buckled Japanese Boys Go Out of Style?

In a world where rough and gruff is the new heroic norm, commenter Paradox Me wonders why everyone is hating on Japanese character design lately.

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What the heck happened in the last ~6 years that made Japanese character design into such an undesirable thing? I have never seen so many people rage over things like "belts, buckles and zippers" or "young pretty boys."

What do people want from character designs these days? Plain leather armor or bulky plate mail? Everything done in the most realistic fashion possible? And who wants to go on a quest to save the world with a group of scruffy, middle aged men?

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These kinds of designs didn't seem like a big deal last generation. Why now?

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DISCUSSION

"And who wants to go on a quest to save the world with a group of scruffy, middle aged men?"

I do, because it's fitting. While I wish I was every bit the hero at 18, I realized that good looks alone don't save the world. I'm much older now. Well, 27, but I've come to appreciate a true hero based on their merits rather than the amount of accessories that are "in style" they're wearing.

On the left is an early concept for Basch. He's not ugly is he? Perfectly acceptable design. Heck, even the final design he took in FFXII was acceptable, with the exception of that ridiculous set of street clothes they gave him. I'm not saying that a hero has to be all gruff and armor, but he needs to make sense. Well, the Japanese weren't having it so the execs at SE threw in the Lesbian Vaan. Now, I don't have an issue with male beauty, but it needs to make sense. I myself still have very youthful looks (a thing many old friends comment on), and while it's nice to be aging at a slow pace, many tend to see me as less capable or even weaker. That's more so because of my perceived age rather than my looks, but nevertheless, heroes have to make hard choices, hard choices causes stress, stress causes aging, and age + experience = wisdom. All the aforementioned amounts to someone with a slightly different take than what most Japanese game heroes look like.

Now, I'm not saying you can't look good and and be capable at the same time. On the contrary, take a look at Ezio or Balthier. Whatever it is they have going on is fitting. Squall on the other hand? No brooding and angsty goth-punk pretty boy is going to just pull together and kick ass like that. So what if he has a scar? Tidus? What....the....hell...is he wearing? Well, that's perhaps another gripe altogether. No part of FFX made sense, really. It was all beach themed.

Really, what I'm trying to say is: Sell us a character with substance, Japan. Stop throwing vapid fashionistas at us and expect us to believe that they're going to save the day/world/princess/whatever. If they're going to be eccentric, let it makes sense and stop doing it for the sake of sales or just for the hell of it.