Valkyira Chronicles 4 is a great tactical JRPG. I’m playing it on Switch where it fits nicely, it plays great both as a console game and as a portable game. I’m not too far in but I’m really enjoying the missions, the tactics, the overarching plot, and the variety in characters and classes. My annoyance at the character Raz won’t stop me from completing the game, but I do wish he was not in it.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 released at the height of the chaos surrounding Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has, as of my writing this, three different women accusing him of inappropriate behavior and/or sexual assault. Additional people have come forward stating he has misrepresented himself throughout his life, particularly his younger years, including a former roommate, other students, etc.
I wrote most of this while watching Ford, the first accuser, give her testimony about what happened. In the game the character Raz is the typical misogynist archetype present in a lot of anime and JRPGs: he’s completely immature, he regularly sexually assaults and harasses women, talks about women in a disgusting way, but is treated as a hopeless friend who jokes around too much.
I have always hated this archetype. Even as a young boy I was, thankfully, aware enough to think behavior like his was unacceptable and disgusting (thanks mom for teaching me to be a decent person!). As a nerdy and sensitive teenager I regularly saw and heard other boys speaking repulsively about girls. I went to parties where boys raped girls, assaulted them, harassed them, drugged them, etc. I knew Raz and I knew Kavanaugh.
In the game, sexual harassment and assault is treated as a joke. Raz sexually assaults Kai, another soldier, by grabbing her butt. They then get into a fight that’s treated as two soldiers play fighting. During this Claude, the protagonist, accidentally sees up the skirt of another character, Riley, and she kicks him in the face. Raz then jokes around after saying the both of them will have to watch out for those women. Women’s responses to an accident and a real assault are equated - the implication being in Raz’s jokes that women’s thoughts and actions are impossible to understand. I’m fairly confident if I accidentally saw up a friend’s skirt they would not kick me in the face, but that if I sexually assaulted them they would be fucking furious and feel betrayed and hurt. This equation of actions and responses is disgusting.
Raz’s entire character is a clear representation of everything wrong with “boys will be boys”. During Ford’s testimony she said the most memorable thing was the laughter of Kavanaugh and his friend while Kavanaugh attacked her. I played this game while listening to her testimony and I couldn’t help but compare it to Raz’s cavalier smirking during and after his assault of Kai.
I’m tired of this shitty writing, these terrible characters, and this sexist garbage. It sends a horrible message to young boys and girls who play games and it is a consistently large smear within an otherwise enjoyable and compelling plot. I can only assume, given experience in other games and anime, that romance will ensue between Raz and Kai or Raz and some other woman he disrespects despite him being predatory and a piece of shit. Why? Because we teach men through media, through cartoons, through TV and film, through books and comics, that if you just stalk or hurt or harass a woman long enough, no matter how many times they implicitly or explicitly say no, they will fall for you. I, unfortunately, don’t see Valkyria Chronicles 4 falling outside this pattern.
Maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe Raz will be arrested for assault and prosecuted by military police and go to jail, apologize for his behavior, and serve the sentence he deserves and go on to be an advocate for better treatment of women in the military and work to educate other men.
Somehow I doubt that will happen.