Deconstruction of a JRPG Hero

The phrase ‘JRPG hero’ conjures up a certain image in your mind and, whilst I may not have every last detail, I have a pretty good idea of what you’re seeing in your mind’s eye right now. Young, male, probably blonde, sharp hair, almost certainly holding some sort of sword. It’s like I’ve ripped your head open and I’m staring at your brain! Does it hurt?!?

The point (I think) is that pretty much every lead character from every JRPG so far produced share many similarities. Thus was born this deconstruction of the JRPG stereotype. Depending on how sadistically minded you are you may, if you wish, replace the word ‘deconstruction’ with one of the following: examination, dissection, autopsy, exhumation.

Gigantic Eyes

A JRPG with cartoon style visuals will feature a hero with gigantic eyes. There’s a law in Japan about it, passed in 1992, the breaking of which is punishable by death (they kill you until you die). What good are eyes big enough to beat a small dog to death with? Well for one, only eyes that big will be able to fully comprehend the gargantuan breasts the female characters will inevitably be carrying around with them.

Whacking great eyeballs are great for spotting enemies too, of course. And if the hero blinks really quickly, it produces a gust of wind strong enough to knock back all but the biggest boss characters. Finally, enemies will hesitate before attacking; taking as they will a moment to say to themelves ‘crikey, those eyes are enormous’.

Spiky Hair

Oh yes. Cartoony or realistic, the heroes and heroines of JRPGs have more pointy haircuts amongst them than a planet full of nu metal bands. Why so many spiky haircuts? Well the boring (and possibly correct) explanation would point out that the JRPG is one of the oldest videogame genres; that the first titles were made when sprites consisted of a small number of pixels, and spiky hair was the quickest, easiest way to distinguish hair from head. It would look a bit silly if everybody was bald, or wearing hats. The hairstyle came to typify the genre, and so survived over years of technological advancement.

Yes, I know they're not usually in RPGs - you're missing the point. Geddit?

I prefer to think that it serves as a last ditch melee weapon. Each spike is also, obviously, an antenna that picks up solar radiation in the atmosphere and converts it into magical energy. Spiky hair even acts as a kind of camouflage. Stand still, and enemies who see the top of your head over a wall will think they’re seeing distant mountains.

Legs On Show And Impractical Battle Bras

This usually only applies to female characters. They do have very very short or incomplete skirts generally speaking, don’t they, the JRPG heroines? Not to mention boobs bursting out all over the place, more often than not. There is a reason for this of course.

There’s a certain type of adolescent male who levels up when he sees a cartoon lady in revealing clothing. He then engages in a brief yet intense training fight, until his stamina is gone and he showers the screen with XP.

Something like that, anyway…

Oversized Weapons

I shall not stoop to Carry On jokes here (unless it gets a laugh). I’m talking about guns large enough to fire elephants out of the barrel or, more traditionally, swords big enough to hide a Vespa behind. The benefits are obvious; maximum destruction and it looks really cool.

It's made of polystyrene.

Naturally, just carrying huge weaponry implies strength and skill. For the female characters, it’s also a matter of balance. A massive sword carried on the back counteracts the two crimes against God carried on the chest. If a JRPG heroine draws her sword too quickly, she falls flat on her face.

Well, she would if her knockers weren’t so perversely huge.

So there you have it, the JRPG hero/heroine ripped apart and the gory dangly bits thrown around for your pleasure. Did I forget anything important? Let us know!

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

One comment

  1. KrazyFace /

    Yeah! You forgot “odd emotional attachments” which makes the Hero/Heroine well-up or cry at the dumbest of things, such as a pet dinosaur-thing being kidnapped (probably to make soup) or seeing a nice little village being caked in some horrible-monster-gas type stuff. Also, “Floating Pointless Armour” as part of their clothing, like those weird floating-but-stuck shoulder pads… WHAT’S THAT ABOUT!?

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