「陽動作戦」 (Youdou Sakusen)
I sort of kind of wanted to talk about Merlin this week because we sort of kind of had a Merlin episode. By which I mean, he actually does something that looked useful (while stealing Sword of Promised Victory, the Fate/ Excalibur theme, as a musical motif even though that’s not the sword he’s associated with). Plus, he got to monologue about himself for a while and I’m not sure if he will be given the opportunity again. But I think there’s probably a better time for that discussion a bit later in the story so let’s shelve it for another day. Instead, let’s talk about yet another adaptation quirk, which is specifically about Ana.
So the F/GO smartphone game is one of those character collector types, and those employ many different ways to induce you to gamble your hard-earned money for a collection of pretty pixels and audio clips. F/GO‘s main method is relatively (relatively) benign; it makes the character collector actually about collecting characters. The chief of attraction of F/GO over its rivals is its visual novel-esque story, in which characters play memorable roles which will make you want you to adopt them. Like how one might adopt a shelter dog; you look into that old mutt’s eyes and you can tell it has seen things. it at least deserves a comfortable retirement.
It conforms to good marketing sense to sell these characters at the same time a new story chapter is released. But here is where gameplay and narrative come to blows; what if the very identity of the character spoils the story? On the one hand you can’t really market this character without telling players who they are but who they are is important to hide in the context of the story. Plus, they’re game pieces so you can’t hide everything about them anyway since players need to use them. This was the case for Ana. In later story chapters F/GO would invent a way to give all the new characters pseudonyms until you’ve finished their associated story chapter but we didn’t have that for Babylonia. For Ana, it was, ‘Spoil away! The gacha must flow!’.
I didn’t think much of it at the time since I had already resigned myself to spoilers, but in hindsight a lot of Babylonia is, thematically, about identities. Ana isn’t really ‘Ana’, Fake!Enkidu isn’t really Enkidu, the Magical Mystery Mascot isn’t just fluff, Merlin can only maintain his personality by juicing and Show Spoiler ▼
I’d love to find out how this affects one’s experience of the story I don’t really know how to measure it. If you have an anecdote I’ll like to hear it, though.
Speaking of identities, the Big Bad is revealed to be Solomon with no fanfare whatsoever (to be fair, I guess the fanfare would have been three story chapters ago and if weren’t there for that TOO BAD). Our protagonist are apparently not ready to face him yet though but fortunately the last boss is content letting our party grind levels before they tackle the final dungeon. Until then, have an actual Final Fantasy boss. Woo.