The Star Ocean Universe

The Star Ocean Universe

[sticky post]31 Days of Halloween Prompt List
Luther Lansfeld
star_ocean_fan
01. orange blinking lights
02. skittles and starburst
03. chocolate
04. apple cider
05. bobbing for apples
06. mask
07. costumes/dress up
08. invitation
09. the party
10. trick-or-treat
11. the veil between the living and the dead
12. fall colours
13. ghostly excursions
14. witch's brew
15. black cats and paper mache' bats
16. haunted
17. pumpkin carving 101
18. "That's scary!"
19. Friday the 13th
20. moonlight madness
21. popcorn balls
22. night of the werewolf
23. "I vant to suck your blood."
24. not suitable for young children
25. in the forest at midnight
26. paint (can be anything)
27. "the best kind of lawyer is . . ."
28. scream; zombie's fright
29. the magic behind it
30. Day of the Dead
31. Halloween

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Ask the Star Ocean Character Reminder
Luther Lansfeld
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A reminder for Ask the Star Ocean Character:
I'm trying to reboot the interactive series. The first character to be interviewed all over again is Reimi Saionji from The Last Hope. The segment will re-appear next Friday. Anyone interested in asking her anything, please feel to do so in the comments. Limit three per person, and keep it nice/clean. The deadline for questions to be submitted is September 27th at midnight U.S. central time.

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Second Look at the Female Cast of Star Ocean
Luther Lansfeld
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I really do want to explore a bit more about Fayt's character and the revelation he might be one of the first pansexual characters Tri-Ace and Square Enix have created. Not to say other main characters aren't pansexual. Cloud from Final Fantasy VII comes to mind as well, but Fayt strikes me as the one being the most comfortable in his skin about who he's attracted to throughout the game. I mentioned a year or so ago that there are few characters throughout the game who actually gain Fayt's attention to the point where he's thinking about them after he's met them (this being Mirage, Nel, and Albel. Sophia is a given, but his worry over her is very understandable given that they've known each other from very young ages).

Anyway, I got to thinking about something else in regards to the female characters of Star Ocean throughout the entire series. Mind you, I still haven't played the first two games, either at all or all the way through at this point, but there is something quite formulaic going on with the female cast members.

There are very few close range fighters amongst the women characters.

In fact, I daresay there's maybe one female character per game that is a close range fighter. Ilia from the very first Star Ocean game is a fisticuffs fighter, if her little bio from the game manual is anything to go by. I'm not entirely sure on the second game - I'm guessing so for those of you who have played, please chime in on this - but I believe Precis is the only close range combat fighter in the game. Again, I could be wrong. My current play-through I've recruited Ashton, and he's not a well-liked character by other characters you haven't met yet.

Getting into the games that I have played and therefore do know, it becomes clearer that it is about one female character per game. Till the End of Time has Mirage but also might be the only exception to the one female close range fighter per game. The only symbology she learns is whenever you get the tomes that teach Common Attack Symbols and Common Support Symbols, if you so choose to do that with her. Otherwise, she is straight up fisticuffs on par with Cliff. Nel Zelpher and Peppita Rosetti are the other two that are close range fighters. Nel uses daggers, which can be short range or long range for attacks, and symbology. Peppita basically uses her acrobat skills. The difference amongst the three is you have a choice on whether or not to recruit Nel and Peppita to the party. Mirage becomes automatic after Styx. Other than that, well, Maria and Sophia are actual distance fighters. Their classifications in the whole questing party puts them at a great disadvantage after a certain point in a tight combat situation. (Sophia is basically classified as a mage, and, because we're going with classic Dungeons and Dragons style gaming with our video game RPGs, Sophia is unable to handle any type of weapon beyond a staff. She also has lower hit points compared to other players and thus makes her an easy kill if you have her out and are not paying a lot of attention to what it is she's doing. For some reason, Adray is the only one who gets to break the rule of a mages not being allowed to wield swords, going more Lord of the Rings style in that Gandalf carried a sword with no penalty. I digress.)

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time seemingly breaks the rule for close range female combat fighters, but The Last Hope and Integrity and Faithlessness resume it. Meracle Chamlotte and Anne are the only close range fighters of the female persuasion. The rest - Reimi, Lymle, Myuria, Sarah, Miki, and Fiore - they can fight close range, but, again due to their classifications, they're long range fighters.

This is kind of disheartening for me because, well, I love sword fighters. That is the truth. I love sword fighters. And to realize a series I love doesn't have the option for a female sword fighter is . . . boring and, well, not up to date with the types of warriors a person can play. Even in the old days of table top gaming, women/female characters could be sword fighters. After all, there are a wide range of blades out there that a woman can wield.

Maybe the game writers for Star Ocean will finally take the hint that the writers for Final Fantasy did when they went into production for Final Fantasy XIII. Female lead, female sword fighter, and no need for a love interest.

Those are just my thoughts, though.

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Connecting With Star Ocean's Female Leads/Fanfiction Thoughts
Luther Lansfeld
star_ocean_fan
I feel confident enough to say that the majority, if not all viewers and readers of this blog, are gamers. I feel even more confident in making the claim that we find characters to love beyond what other people would consider normal. I chalk it up to our ability to idenity with the character that we like the most. Of course, identifying with a character isn't always the reason why we love those characters. There are other factors involved, and everything from this point about connecting with the female leads I've encountered in my Star Ocean gaming experience (Rena, Maria and Sophia, Reimi, and Miki) is coming from my own personal observations.

Trust me, as a woman, this is actually rather hard for me to do, identify with the majority of Star Ocean's female leads. Hard to do, but, at the same time, not impossible. It does become a matter of personal reflection and character analysis, and, when it comes down to it, I am going to blame bad, cliched writing on the part of the gaming writers because they're going with what they know, what they deem acceptable, and so on and so forth (based on things I have been told so I'm rather guilty of listening to hearsay . . . if anyone who has been to Japan and studied Japanese culture more in-depth than what I've been able to do, feel free to chime in and lend me your thoughts).

This is also actually a bit of a rant because the gaming writers have gotten stuck into a bit of a rut. One, we have genetically modified individuals in at least three of five games. THREE of five (because I'm not counting Blue Sphere or the cell phone apps that are in Japan only and, if you're lucky, you've gotten it here in the U.S., too) games where one or more (often) character has been genetically modified against his or her own will. Those who have done so willingly (Arumat, Miki, Fiore) are on a very short list. We can't seem to break away from genetically modifying individuals.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say four of five games, and we have individuals modified (because SO2's Ashton is now coming to mind as I write this). I am going to attribute this to Final Fantasy VII's insane popularity for this.

Anyway, moving forward with the rant about the gaming writers' rut. The whole genetic modification thing could go across several entries, tragic backgrounds (parents dying to protect their children or a child) but this isn't about genetic modification or the tragic "Daddy was killed in front of me" backdrop. It's about connecting with the established female leads in the games that I have played.

I haven't gotten very far into Star Ocean: Second Story. I'm rather hooked on replaying Star Ocean: Till the End of Tim. Here is one thing I've noticed about these two games.

Rena, Maria, and Sophia do not treat the male leads (Claude and Fayt) like they're totally incompetent of going off to some location without them. In fact, Sophia has no choice in where she ends up at the start of the game because the goal was to separate her from Fayt and to have that reveal about her powers be even more of a punch to the gut (plus, if you want the Defeat Luther at Level One trophy, you kind of need Sophia to be not there at the beginning - but that's also a battle trophy thing).

Maria doesn't even act like Fayt is incompetent. Clueless (because, yes, Fayt is adorably clueless on a few things - note, I find his cluelessness to be on the adorable side - others might not) but not incompetent. By the time they connect on Elicoor II, Fayt has already endured a great deal, and for her to do so would be a very gross insult to everything he's endured.

Rena, I actually admire her for the same reasons. She doesn't treat Claude like he's incompetent. If anything, she's been the one to take off with Claude going, I hope she's all right.

Reimi and Miki . . . Oh my goodness. Edge and Fidel can't do anything without them? They're too reckless? They'll do something stupid? That tends to sum up a lot of people's adventures in life. "You won't believe the stupid thing I just did!" aspect of storytelling is what makes us laugh at one point or another or has someone wondering, what is wrong with you? . . . and leading into another interesting conversation.

To note on something here. This is not a stamp of approval for doing things you know are stupid, ie running a red light and so on. What irritates me about Reimi and Miki is they're already in dangerous situations, Edge and Fidel are given tasks by those they answer to, which is what they are supposed to do in those types of situations, and they're still treated like they can't do it alone. In the case of Miki, she literally goes all dramatic, drops to her knees in a form of a temper tantrum, in order to get Fidel to relent in his decision to leave her behind. And these are two characters who like to act like they're more mature than the male characters. This tends to be, for me, the reasons why I dislike the female leads, preferring the secondary female characters like Nel, Mirage, Myuria, Sarah, Anne, and Fiore.

Now, whether or not it's cool for females to do this in Japan is rather irrelevant. I've noticed a changing attitude amongst people in the United States, Canada, and Europe where female characters are concerned. Characters like Reimi and Miki, yeah, they grow but they still fill a stereotyped female role, and it's annoying. (There is more to the annoyance of having a crush on your childhood friend aspect, too, that's been going on in the Star Ocean series, but that also comes from personal experiences in my real life, and have no forebearance on my ability to at least try and connect with the female leads.) Why can't, for once, we get the female lead who isn't interested in the male lead as a husband? The behavior I see on display with the female leads, specifically Reimi and Miki, tends to border on narcisstic and abusive. How many times did Reimi slap Edge because he did something that made her cry? Or because she wasn't paying enough attention to her surroundings (alternate Earth, anyone)? Why not, for once, have that female lead that isn't so prudish and has zero interest in becoming someone's wife? Someone really needs to ask that question of the writers! (I may just do it.)

Anyway, now with the ranting out of the way, it's time for me to scale back and look at the more admirable traits of the Star Ocean female leads I'm familiar with.

Again, I do love Rena because she doesn't really need Claude. She has no interest in him as a husband, or so the story starts out. How it ends, I don't know just yet (okay, maybe I do, but that doesn't mean I've played it out just yet), and she's not afraid to stand up to Claude. She's not afraid to let him go on his own. She may not like the new lady hanging around, but she doesn't treat Claude like he's a pervert and can't be left alone with her. (That's so far, from my gaming experience.)

That takes care of Star Ocean: The Second Story. I know it isn't much, but chances are, none of these are going to be extremely long. I'm sure everyone knows by now, I'm not fond of the female leads in these games.

I think out of everyone right now, the one I can really get behind is Sophia, and I can thank a really old SO3 fanfiction for that, a story in which Luther is disguising himself as an Eternal Sphere resident in order to monitor Fayt, Sophia, and Maria as they grow up. The story itself is centered on Sophia some, how, if he had to choose who to save of the three children, Luther had chosen Sophia because of her powers of Connection. And that power is more than just being a bridge between two realms. It's also her ability to have great empathy for those around her. It's because of her increased empathy to others that this author picked up on that makes her less annoying. And, when I get right down to it, I do have to look at her age, at where she's at in her life, and, so, yeah. As annoying as it is for us who have to hear her say, "That's not nice!" after a bad guy beats her up some, it's also . . . realistic. She's 17, a high school student, never been in combat before the whole Vendeeni thing, and truly does expect, on a naive 17-year-old level, everyone to be nice.  She has a naivete that not many of us possess anymore because our experiences in life have been very different from her fictional world.

I can relate to Maria's impatience with others. If they're wallowing for an extraordinary amount of time that I deem is beyond reasonable, I admit. I get irritated. She had to grow up fast, and, so did I, after a certain point in my life. (Not due to parental death but divorce and because my mom needed to work in order to support me and my brother. Being the oldest, I was expected to be the responsible one and to make sure that things got done.)

Reimi is a bit harder, but she can be relatable in the sense that she hates her own body. And I feel like a lot of women hate their own bodies (myself included) because of everything we see on what is deemed to be "ideal" for what women are to look like. She is an intelligent young woman - she studied botany as part of her training for the SRF and USTA; she obviously got good marks to handle working on a space ship for space exploration. I'm not going to deny she's an intelligent young woman, determined and all that. That's where I'm going to leave it with Reimi as everything else portrayed about her casts not only her in a negative light but all women, and I'm quite honestly tired of those tropes.

Finally, Miki . . . I find her desire to protect Relia (and, by default, Feria) to be her most admirable trait. She does defy, if you look at her planetary society, some social norms. Yes, it's typical that she knows how to cook and do laundry, be a mother type, but she is the only female character from her village to run to the village's defenses when the rest are all guys. And it took some courage for her to get her first symbol etched onto her body. I don't know how it's done with the symbology for Faykreedians, but getting a tattoo hurts. And I'm presuming it's like a tattoo. I have a tattoo. And I'm scared to death of needles. If she is, too, it took guts. That's all I'm saying.

So there we have it on the female leads. I do understand other people will find other traits about the female leads to like, more than what I mentioned in this entry, but please remember that these female characters are not amongst my favorites. They will probably never be amongst my favorites because they do display annoying and alarming behavior, at least in my personal opinion.

As always, people are welcome to chime in with their thoughts on these characters. Just remember to not get carried away with why you dislike them. There are others who do like them and more so than other fan favorites, like Albel and Faize.

Finally, I have some ideas for some fanfiction to write. One is stemming from a desire to put Fayt and Faize in the same room and letting them talk symbology and the like. It's probably going to be a chaptered piece, mainly because it's going to look into the history of Asmodeus. Just the thought of putting Fayt (from the year 772 S.D.) into the same room as Faize (from the year 10 S.D.) led to an interesting revelation (of course, my own theory) on Asmodeus and how Faize nearly became the archfiend of Roak. It's an idea I'm jotting down for future reference.

The other idea is more of a one-shot offer, a look at Fayt wanting to be normal. Again, I'm jotting down the idea, mainly because I do find Fayt to be an interesting character to, well, torment. (I'm a writer. I'm sure it's in my job description somewhere.)

And that's it for today. With me going through on Star Ocean: Till the End of Time again, I've had some time to consider Fayt's character and how the endings are set up based on Private Actions, answers, and the like. This will be a topic for another day, too, but I wonder, I wonder, I wonder . . .

Is Fayt one of the first pansexual characters in modern gaming history? I'll be exploring that thought soon enough!

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State of the (Star Ocean Universe) Union
Luther Lansfeld
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Tossing this out there real quick. I am looking for logo artwork for the Star Ocean Universe for the facebook pages and for the deviantart group. It is a goal of mine to get like a min Star Ocean convention going for fans. I still have a lot to find out in regards to hosting a convention, but it is on my dream wish to do list. (I mainly want to see SO artists, crafty peoples, and cosplayers in one place. Who can blame me?)

So, here we go with the State of the (Star Ocean Universe) Union update.

I've currently played and beaten three out of five games. Star Ocean 2's first play-through has stalled just a wee bit, Star Ocean 3 on the PS4 has stalled (system wants to update, and the PS4 belongs to my stepdad), and Star Oceans 4 and 5 need another go-round in the play-through department.

Right now, my biggest complaint is on Star Ocean 5, and my lack of understanding of the characters (this includes the hero, Fidel Camuze). Of course, I have a tendency to burn through a first play-through (on any game, really) to get to the ending. I try to take my time and rediscover/discover what I didn't the first time around. I mean, I've played Star Ocean 3 how many times now? LOL

With all of that said, and I know I keep saying this, too, (but I never get around to it), I am rebooting the Ask the Star Ocean Character series. With what I've currently played, I'll be revising the order of character that get featured. Participation in the series - yes, I invited my fellow Star Ocean fans to join in on the fun here - is not required. I understand that, if someone hasn't played 5 yet and I get to a character like Miki Sauvester, said fan isn't going to know what to ask. (That's for those who haven't played the game in question.)

Since it's been a while on the whole Ask the Star Ocean Character, I'll go over the rules then announce who I'm rebooting the series with.

1 - Keep all lines of questioning clean. This means refrain from cussing, sexual innuendo, death wishes/threats, and so on. The overall goal of Ask the Star Ocean Character is to get a feel for the character and to learn more. As I'm the one immersing myself into the character's point of view, if I'm immersing myself into Reimi or Cliff or even an NPC like Deputy Director Shimada, I am not going to be appreciative or even responsive to someone who is being blatantly disrespectful. (Note: If I'm Albel, I may just return the favor and insult the querent back, which may not be appreciated by the  querent upon seeing the response.) While we may not like certain characters like Reimi Saionji or even Sophia Esteed and Miki Sauvester (my personal least favorite characters), there are others out there who do love these characters, and I respect that greatly. I would want someone to treat my favorite characters with respect when it comes time for me to see them on a page. I will return that favor to those who like the characters I find annoying.

The other side to this is everything about these pages are open. The last thing I want is for some underaged individual to bypass Mom and Dad's secruity on the computer, see this exchange, get caught seeing the exchange, and the end result being my pages being shut down because a line of questioning went into Not Safe For Work territory. As the administrator/governor of the blogs, dA group, and facebook pages, I do reserve the right to answer any and all questions at my discretion, to delete lines of questioning I feel are inappropriate, and so on. I would expect other people running similar pages and similar activities to do the same thing.

Final note on this rule: I will be posting the entries to archive sites like fanfiction.net, archiveofourown.org, and as a deviation on deviantart.

2 - Limit the number of questions to three per person. This used to be one question per person, but, after the first go-round with Reimi and only one other participant, I felt it prudent to expand it to three.

3 - Questions can be submitted via comment, private message, or email. My email addresses are thestaroceanuniverse@gmail.com and luthersfayt@gmail.com

4 - The deadline for each character is by midnight the Wednesday before the segment is to appear. For example, if I announce Reimi Saionji (again) as the first runner-up for the segment and that her segment will appear on September 29th, then everyone who wishes to ask her a question or three has until midnight, September 27th to get their questions submitted.

5 - Requests for Specific Characters
Honestly, I am not taking them. Not because I don't want to delve into the deeps of a fan favorite (I'm looking at you, Albel Nox), but rather I want to say the ones I deem to be fan favorites (and my own personal favorites) for towards the end. So, yes, I will get to Albel Nox at some point or another, but it will be after I get through my list. (So write your questions for your favorite characters down and submit them when I announce that character's segment is coming up.)

6 - Have fun!
This is meant for some good, lighthearted fun in the grand scheme of things. Participation is encouraged but not required. Questions can be as light or as serious as you, the potential querent, want them to be.

With all of this said, I am announcing the reboot of the Ask the Star Ocean Character. In case you missed it in the deadline rule, it's Reimi Saionji from Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Given I am also quite busy with real life, the Ask the Star Ocean Characters will be done once a month, at the end of the month. I'm gearing up for a major publication release (the third book in my Arc of Fantasy series) in November, I do have a full time job, plus I am working on a variety of fanfiction and original material projects. This is one of many that I will be investing time into because, well, I do love Star Ocean quite a lot, and it is the inspiration behind my Arc of Fantasy series.

The deadline for all questions to be submitted is on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017, by midnight central time. I will not be capping the number of questions answered in total. I plan on answering any and all questions sent Reimi's way. On Thursday, September 28th, 2017, I will announce the next character in the segment. Given October is my birth month, i may just treat myself to either announcing Fayt or Luther. We shall see.

That's the final note on the Ask the Star Ocean Character of this entry. Moving forward.

As I noted with the Ask the Star Ocean Character segment being interactive with my fellow Star Ocean fans, this whole endeavor is meant to be quite interactive with my fellow fans. I see us as a community of individuals who share the same love of a series. We're no different than the Star Wars or Star Trek or even the Game of Thrones communities that exist out there. By all means, share your favorite moments. Share why and how a beloved character is for you. For the livejournal, blogspot, wordpress, and dreamwidth blogs, email those moments to me - again, my email addresses are thestaroceanuniverse@gmail.com and luthersfayt@gmail.com - and I will post them to the blogs. For dA users, send them to me in a note, and I will highlight that in the blog there. For facebook, post directly to the pages. Share pictures of your crafts and cosplays, no matter how old they are. Share your fanfiction and your art. Just remember to keep everything work-safe and to be respectful of your fellow fans.

We're all fans of Star Ocean for a reason. We still stick with the series for a variety of reasons. We might be a small community, but that's also quite all right. It's an awesome fandom either way.

Have a good Monday! 

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