I’ve talked about my love for certain characters in the past and because of the whole pandemic thing going on I’ve obviously been reading, watching and playing more than I perhaps usually would as there’s not been much else to do. As such I’ve encountered new characters that I’ve taken to heart and I’ve experienced new story arcs for characters I already know and love. With that in mind I thought I’d touch on a few characters, bear in mind there’s going to be some spoilers in here.
Nightwing – It’s been an odd couple of years for Dick Grayson, he was shot in the head and lost his memory and started going by the name Ric and this hasn’t been great. In that time it’s turned out the memory issue is down to brainwashing and there’s subsequently been 2 further brainwashings, the latest of which has been done by the Joker. Thankfully we’re coming to the endgame of this bollocks and Dick Grayson will be back soon, I’m hoping that once he’s back we get some decent stories out of him re-discovering himself but at this point I’ll just be glad to see the back of the Ric Grayson story. Ultimately it’s gone on too long and barring the last couple of months has been largely pointless besides keeping Dick away from his friends family. The worst part is that apparently the post gunshot story was going to be about Dick suffering from vertigo off the back of his injury, this would have been way more interesting as it would have been the same character struggling with not being able to do what he previously could have, to be honest I’d still like to see this story at some point in the future as I honestly think it’d be fascinating.
In the meantime though it’s just going to be nice having my favourite comic book character back, I’m hoping the return is suitably epic too. I’m also very excited with the potential stories that can come out of it, I’d personally like to see a series that initially doesn’t tie him down to one place and has him travelling around more like the Grayson series did. I’m also hoping that as part of this there will be a chance to re-connect with his friends and family as a lot has happened while during the whole Ric arc. There are characters I’m really excited to see him interact with as himself again, the obvious ones being Damian Wayne and Barbara Gordon but also people like Superman too given the connection there. I’ve also been making my way through the various books collecting older runs of the Nightwing comic which has been alot of fun as I missed alot of them as I got back into comics well after they’d come out originally and I never bothered picking up any trades until quite recently which was stupid on reflection. Still it’s been nice to have while the Ric storyline has been playing out so every cloud.
Cloud Strife – The Final Fantasy 7 remake took the initial Midgar portion of the game, which was originally a few hours long, and made an entire 40 odd hour game out of it so Cloud essentially be the exact same character he was as that would have been awful. What we got instead was a character who is starts to get invested in people much quicker than he did originally and I loved it. You see him warming up to the Avalanche members and interacting with them far more than he ever did in the first game which is fun. The interactions with Aerith are also hugely expanded on and the seeming changes to her character make this great too as she’s alot more playful in their interactions in comparison to the original game which was especially great for me as I loved their dynamic so to see it expanded and changed in this manner was a big plus for me. It’s a necessary change to his character (and to all the other characters to be fair) as dropping him into the game as is just wouldn’t have worked I don’t think.
What’s especially interesting is that there are alot more hints to Cloud not being quite right, which if you’ve played the game or read about it you know the reasons for. As the game progresses there are things that are seen that appear to be glimpses of what’s to come which is cool as you get the impression that Cloud is seeing this too. Then the game decides to basically stop being a remake and go in it’s own direction which is utterly fascinating, I mean part of me is horrified that they’re seemingly diverging from the established events of the game as it almost seems to set up 3 different timelines – the original game, what follows this one and then seemingly another one where Zack survives. It’s bloody ballsy and opens up so many possibilities for character development. Part of me is appalled that some of my favourite moments potentially won’t happen but on the other hand it also means that there are potentially new moments which this direction makes possible so I’m cautiously optimistic.
Catra – If you’d told me at the start of the year that a gay cat girl with serious mental health issues, from a cartoon that’s a remake of an 80s cartoon, would become potentially the character I hold dearest to me I’d have been sceptical at best. But here we are and it’s very much happened, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a character that I feel such a personal bond with. I’ve spoken about it in the She-Ra blog I did recently but her lack of self worth, her appalling decision making at times, the lashing out and putting walls up while pushing people away all hit incredibly close to home for me as they take me back to a time when I really struggled with all those things as part of what I was dealing with (or not as the case realistically was) while I was struggling with my depression. The scene where she apologises in the final season was very raw for me as it really made me think to the time where I hit my breaking point and actively tried to do something to help myself, not that I can say for definite that I’d have got to that point without the support of my friends and family.
Her redemption arc is something that to me is insanely important on a personal level as the changes she makes are ones she chooses to make. At the point she makes the initial decision she’s basically given up and expects to die but wants to do something good and protect Adora, who we know she cares about deeply. Once she’s rescued she takes steps to try and be better, there’s never any indication that she’s doing it for anyone else or that she feels like she has to, she’s decided she wants it for herself and that to me is incredibly powerful as it offers a very hopeful message to people that are struggling. I don’t necessarily believe that the arc we get in the show sees her fully redeemed by the end, there’s to much that’s been done up to that point that needs to be dealt with fully, but I always took it as this being something that Catra would absolutely deal with in due course and accept any judgement that were to come her way as it always felt to me that she had no issue trying to atone for her past actions. And this to me is what makes her such a fascinating character, you can make these sorts of connections (which I appreciate are purely opinion based) and interpret them in a certain way, and that’s exactly what she does as she’s such a well written character. I honestly hope that we get more She-Ra as I’d very much love to see more of her and how she’s navigating the world after everything that has happened by the end of the final season as it would be utterly compelling for me.
Arthur Morgan – The protagonist for Red Dead Redemption 2 had a tough act to follow as the previous games main character, John Marston was excellent. Somehow Arthur surpasses him, I think part of this is down to having a vague idea of how things have to play out going into the game given that alot of the characters present don’t appear in the first game which chronologically follows, the second game being a prequel. What you don’t necessarily realise is just how badly things are going to go for the gang you’re a member of and this comes about due to the failings of Dutch as the leader of the gang. Dutch is very much a father figure to Arthur and over the course of the game he starts to question Dutch’s motives and his decision making. Arthur initially is interesting because he’s a man of contradictions, he’s quick to anger and can be incredibly violent but he also takes issue with some of the things the gang do to get by, he also likes to keep a journal where he’s surprisingly forthright with his feelings and likes to draw.
What really makes Arthur so interesting is a character is that you have some control over how you act to other people, you can be a decent person to strangers or an utter shit. This mechanic comes into play quite nicely late in the game when Arthur gets diagnosed with tuberculosis, realising that this is a death sentence and knowing that he got it from beating a man to death he finds himself with a moral quandary and tries to be a better man. If you play the game from here on with the intention of being honourable you get some genuinely heart wrenching scenes of Arthur coming to terms with his impending death and worrying about the man he is all while trying to get John and his family out of the gang and to safety at a point where things are unravelling and looking progressively more bleak for everyone. It’s honestly some of the strongest writing I’ve seen in a game, the scene where Arthur has a conversation with a nun very late on and confesses that he’s afraid about dying is honestly heartbreaking but also incredibly powerful.
Animal Crossing villagers – I appreciate the rest of this piece is about individual characters that are complex and fit into narratives, where this one is about a collective and there’s no story behind them they’re cute as fuck and having spent well over 400 hours at this point chatting to them, doing chores and giving them presents has meant that I’ve gotten rather attached to them. There’s a good chance that this is at least partially to do with the aforementioned sheer amount of time I’ve played the game coupled with the fact that I’ve not really seen much of real people for most of the year owing to the whole pandemic thing. But it’s also because they’ll do silly little things like have arguments with each other that I then have to help them patch things up. Its silly little interactions like that the make the little fuckers as endearing as they are but then there’s little things that they do which make them individual.
Hornsby, for example, is obsessed with snacks which is something that I can definitely relate to, and then there’s Tangy who is a cat that essentially has an orange for a head, and she was one of the villagers I had on an earlier game almost 20 years ago so there’s a very sentimental attachment there. Bluebear basically wants to be a popstar and is always super cheerful which is somehow always weirdly comforting, I have friends that are disgustingly cheery and while I give them shit for it it’s one of those things it’s never a bad thing to have those sorts of friends, in real life or a virtual one. The absolute favourite resident of my village though is Kiki. She’s a little black cat and there’s a reasonable chance that she’s named as a reference to Kiki’s Magical Delivery Service, given that Kiki had a black cat in that. She’s really sweet and I’ll regularly find her sat under a tree reading or looking at flowers through her magnifying glass. She’s also sent me really sweet letters where she tell me to take better care of myself or that I deserve nice things, which have sometimes been when my depression hasn’t been great so yeah not the typical entry to this list but definitely a distinct one.
What’s nice about characters is that there’s always a decent chance that you’ll discover new ones that impact you, that you’ll get new stories for the ones you like already or at the absolute worst you can go back and re-experience the stories of the ones that don’t have new stories for whatever reason. Nightwing for example will definitely get new stories, and Cloud will get something though this could be an expanded older storyline or a brand new one, who knows at this point. Arthur probably won’t given that there was a very definitive end to his story, though they could go back to his past I guess. No one is really sure with Catra, people definitely want more She-Ra but the story that the people working on the show told the story arc they wanted to tell so what, if anything, right come next is out of their hands a little I guess. I’m highly confident that I’ll find new characters that will come to mean alot to me though, it seems to be a pretty fluid thing. And as I have friends recommend new things to me which might take me out of my comfort zone that’s only going to increase the chances of such discoveries, and discovering new things is generally a good thing on a personal level.