Ar tonelico Qoga: Another game to skip over

The PS3 box art for Ar tonelico, showing two female anime-styled characters (Saki and Finnel) in tight clothing standing back to back behind a male character (Aoto).

Ar tonelico is a Japanese RPG series developed by Gust (makers of the Atelier series as well, which we’ve commented on before).  Its third installment Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel has just been reviewed by the ESRB and rated M due to the following:

“Some power moves cause female characters’ clothes to vanish in layers,” the ratings board says. “The characters are often depicted holding (covering) their breasts, wearing only underwear, or standing behind strips of light that obscure their genitals.” Other described scenes feature “male characters [encouraging] a woman to strip” and a scene in which a male character removes a magical crystal from a female, accompanied by what the ESRB calls “suggestive moans and comments.” How suggestive? “Aoto’s putting his hand inside Soma,” for example, and “Fumble around every inch inside of her . . . you will find what you’re looking for . . . !”

(Source: Joystiq)

This is so bizarre that I’m almost not sure it needs commentary.  Disappearing clothes on the women?  Barely obscured genitals?  Reaching inside a woman’s vagina to pull out a magic crystal?  That’s pretty impressively terrible.  The game is launching in Japan on January 28th, and coming to the U.S. sometime in Q1 this year.

Thank you once again ESRB for letting me know which games I should buy and which ones should stay on the shelves.

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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40 Responses to Ar tonelico Qoga: Another game to skip over

  1. Maverynthia says:

    I don’t think he’s reaching into her vagina. In Ar Tonelico the Reyvateils have “ports” on them (they are singing machines that need a MAN to make their mind straight. There are no male Reyvateils) somewhere, where you put in Grathnode crystals. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoODv8LVib8 a video showing one being inserted) It is HIGHLY suggestive to a sexual situation. Thus when he’s “feeling around inside of her” he’s probably going into one of those ports to get the crystal back.

    I’ve ranted about this series of games on my blog. It’s worse that just the snippet you’ve posted. There’s also mind diving, where the (always male) partner goes into the mind of the Reyvateil to “sort her mind out”, no they can’t sort out their own minds, even the Reyvateils being abused CANNOT SAY NO to their partners entering their minds.

    The Reyvateils are ALWAYS presented as singing machines, even the ones you get in your party. There are no male Reyvateils, even those born of Reyvateils. It’s a male power fantasy with the machine/singing idol/mind control. The only good thing from these games are the music and the conlang. Everything else is just trash.

    • Alethea says:

      You’re correct about the installation ports, but I remember the Dive sequences being about consent. The man cannot initiate a Dive or proceed through the Dive without the Reyvateil’s consent.

      Actually, now that I’m thinking back to the games, there was a case where the hero initiated a Dive with an underage Reyvateil who was too delirious with a disease to give consent. He had to Dive in order to heal her. I remember that being a huge shark-jumping moment for me.

      But yes, issues abound. Good music though.

      • Maverynthia says:

        The problem though that you see in the first game is that the abused Reyvateils MUST GIVE consent, even when they are being emotionally abused and degraded. Otherwise they are “disposed of” as that faction treats them like objects. Which the main character does as well in the first game when Misha complains to Liner about the pink idol out HE PUTS HER INTO. She states that he MADE her wear that and that she is being stalked and leered at… and his reaction is “Oh no!” and that’s it. He doesn’t say he’s going to make her take it off or anything.

        Also, the game also makes Diving to be a euphemism for sex as well. So he basically had to force his way into an underage girl’s mind.

        There are a lot I hate about the games. The implied rape, the implied “women are crazy and need men to sort their minds out”. The fact that all the Reyvateils are never male so you’ll never get a “gay sequence” or even a sequence where a woman has to dive into a man’s mind as “men have their thoughts sorted”. Even the Diving sequence the problems and the worlds that are presented are soft and cute and fluffy. There’s nothing scary and Silent Hill about them as if women’s problems are soft and are never too serious.

        • KA101 says:

          The problem though that you see in the first game is that the abused Reyvateils MUST GIVE consent, even when they are being emotionally abused and degraded. Otherwise they are “disposed of” as that faction treats them like objects. Which the main character does as well [...]

          Thank you for pointing out this distinction. There’s a huge gulf between “consent” and “acquiescence in the face of implied coercive/painful/deadly force”. It’s amazing how few people understand that.

        • Nezumi says:

          You make some worrying valid points (as I actually rather like the series)… but on at least one point, you’re horrifyingly dead wrong. People who treat the Reyvateils as disposable “singing dolls” rather than actual people are, at least for the first game (not yet played the second, for various reasons) /universally/ portrayed as detestable villains. Bourd is an absolute leader here for this attitude… and is never even briefly portrayed sympathetically. He’s a complete monster from introduction until death. The overall tone of the game is that humans and Reyvateils can and should exist as partners and equals — the homeland of the lead character is led by a Reyvateil, and while those who treat Reyvateils as slaves are always, always villains, the main villain of the storyline is someone who takes the reverse extreme, and wants to wipe out humanity and create a world only for Reyvateils, where they can never be exploited or hurt… even though the Reyvateils themselves do not actually want such a world, preferring to exist with humans, even if it sometimes means that humans treat them poorly.

          You can say that the worrying rape/female-enslavement parallels aren’t suitable for a light video game and potentially triggering — and you’d definitely be right on the second part, and have a serious point on the first. But you cannot argue that the game portrays such things as positive or normal or good, without being entirely disingenuous.

          • I would assume the “Which the main character does as well in the first game” bit would suggest that while perhaps the most egregious scenes of abuse are perpetrated by villains, the problem is not restricted to them.

            • Nezumi says:

              Except that this isn’t really true, unless I horribly misread the game. I don’t remember the scene she refers to as evidence, but it sounds like the sort of thing that would be in it, so I don’t doubt it… but getting your love interest to dress up in a costume she doesn’t want to, although not a nice thing to do, is a far cry from treating her as a slave or coercing her with the threat of destruction to make her comply. A big deal is made of the fact that Liner comes from a place where Reyvateils aren’t treated any differently from anyone else — in fact, their leader is herself a Reyvateil. He treats the Reyvateils in his group like people, even if he isn’t perfect in his treatment of them at times, and is initially confused why anyone else would treat them differently, before quickly becoming disgusted with such people. His view is consistently treated as the correct view, as the villains are — at least in Misha’s path, not tried the other girl yet– people who want to deprive Reyvateils of their agency, either, as in the case of Bourd and his lackeys, by enslaving them and eventually creating Reyvateils that don’t even have their own minds or personalities… or in Mother’s case, by forcing them into a “paradise” devoid of humanity, even though they don’t actually want to live in such a “paradise.” Mother is a virus who blames all humanity for those who have abused Reyvateils, and wants to wipe them all out to create a world where Reyvateils can exist free from cruelty; deciding that humanity cannot be improved, and must simply be expunged for the Reyvateils’ own good, whether they want it or not.

          • Maverynthia says:

            So we forget the scene with Radolf’s group where one of the men at the airship crash site made HIS Reyvateil sing him to sleep… EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS TIRED. The other comments “Hey why didn’t I think of that!” That’s better? The fact that Misha is FORCED to wear whatever the player/Lyner wants her to wear even though she feels threatened by stalkers. The Reyvateils are FORCED to sing, even in the PCs party. They make statements like “I’m getting tired here.” That you can choose to ignore. You the Player/Lyner tell them what to sing, when to sing it and it is made clear that they are TOLD what to do. They make no decisions on their own. In the game script they never say “I chose to sing this, I chose to wear this”. Even if you were making the choices.
            The Player/Lyner dives into the minds of the Reyvateil to construct song magic and even then you tell them what they have to do. Defeat the fire demon, get a spell. You, Reyvateil, go on to the next cosmo sphere, do this do that. That’s the Player/Lyner doing that.

            How about the scene after you learn grathmelding? The part where the grandfather gives his daughter to you as a prize and Jack perks all up as he says this, only to “ha ha joke”.

            Women in this game are NOT treated equally at all. Even in the characterization. Krusche is characterized as the “jealous female” after you meet up with her with Misha. They start to argue and fight over Lyner. Lots of sexual innuendos abound. The game is trying to tell you “Treat Reyvateils as human and equals” but it’s very muddied by “and by that we mean sex objects lol”.

            • Nezumi says:

              Once again, you make some valid points. But I still have to disagree with you in some places. Making his Reyvateil sing him to sleep (I apologize, I once again don’t remember that particular scene) when she’s tired isn’t slavery. It’s just being insensitive. Otherwise, we argue that any husband who has come home to have his wife cook dinner, even though she’s already exhausted is enslaving his wife. And assuredly, neither behavior is nice, but they’re a far cry from outright enslaving someone.

              Some of this seems to just be Gameplay And Story Segregation leading to Unfortunate Implications. (Your being able to freely choose Reyvateil costumes — which have gameplay effects — leads to some awkwardness, since it deprives the female characters of agency… and is much more keenly felt than changing equipment in other RPGs, as it sometimes has storyline impact)

              And the Cosmo Sphere stuff seemed to me to be about Liner and the Reyvateil working and interacting together to understand each other and help the Reyvateil with her own problems and insecurities… and although I admit my memory is fuzzy, I seem to remember their making their own decisions within the sphere and the storyline fairly often — where it came into effect that “Liner” was ordering them around was where the Player got to dictate. Since I thought of myself as a player as distinct from Liner as a character, I never read those situations as involving Liner ordering them or treating them as slaves, but rather a player controlling them as characters as they might any others in a game — after all, you control Liner and other battle companions as well.

              I may have been wrong in reading the game that way… but my separation of “player” from “Liner” except where it was explicitly both lead to me reading the game in such a different way that some of these did not even occur to me. To be fair, also some of my reading was based on a less developed understanding of feminism, but that is a big issue.

    • tekanji says:

      Sorry, can’t do a direct reply…

      Nezumi said:

      Otherwise, we argue that any husband who has come home to have his wife cook dinner, even though she’s already exhausted is enslaving his wife.

      Actually, if the woman was not in a position to refuse, then I’d say that it is, in fact, possible for her to be in a position that could be termed slavery. More often it’s called abuse, but the lack of ability to consent here is a key factor — can she refuse? If so, how freely? What will happen to her if she doesn’t?

      The point that Maverynthia is making is that the Reyvateils live in a state of literal slavery — they are not given the right to make choices in their own lives. In this context, a Reyvateil who is told to sing for her partner cannot refuse. She can say, “I’m tired” but if he says, “Sing.” she must sing or risk being killed.

      Also:

      but getting your love interest to dress up in a costume she doesn’t want to, although not a nice thing to do, is a far cry from treating her as a slave or coercing her with the threat of destruction to make her comply.

      Not as far a cry as you may think. Forcing someone to wear the clothes you choose is coercion. That kind of coercion often is part of an overall abusive pattern which, as I mentioned above, does have a connection to slavery.

      And, as someone who was forced to wear only clothes approved by an abusive partner, I just want to say that it’s deeply hurtful to me to see that minimized as simply “not a nice thing to do”. Being rude to someone is “not a nice thing to do”; trying to control someone is destructive and abusive behavior.

      • Nezumi says:

        I apologize. I was insensitive and not considering it deeply enough from all angles.

        My problem is that, unless my memory is far more off than I’m willing to believe, the threat of death, harm, abuse, or whatever was only ever held of the head of Reyvateils by villains. It is never suggested that this is the reason other Reyvateils listen to what their partners tell them. Mave’s statements otherwise seem both inaccurate and deeply troubling to me. The game has flaws and isn’t exactly a shining beacon of feminism, but painting it as far worse than it seems to be to me through characterizations I find highly dubious is just worrying to me. It’s not the first time I’ve seen something I like attacked with worrying and dubious or outright false claims — I’ve seen condemnations of Witch Girls Adventures from people who seem to have never even looked at the books or comics, which are far too often taken for granted as true by similarly uninformed people.

        Maybe I am reading the game wrong, and Mave’s evaluation is correct in that aspect… but it doesn’t seem it to me, and despite my fumbles, I just don’t want what I view to be misinformation to stand unchallenged — you have every right to see the Ar Tonelico series as utterly vile misogyny — and god knows there’s reason to, from the psychotherapy/computer-diagnostic/sex element, to putting Reyvateils in various fetishy or moe costumes to alter their stats, to Ayano’s downright absurd outfit — but I want it to be taken as such based on its actual merits and positions, not claims of its content and themes that I find questionable and in contradiction to the actual content of the game.

        • Maverynthia says:

          My problem is that, unless my memory is far more off than I’m willing to believe, the threat of death, harm, abuse, or whatever was only ever held of the head of Reyvateils by villains. It is never suggested that this is the reason other Reyvateils listen to what their partners tell them.

          It is heavily implied that if they do not “become a team player” that they will either be disciplined for their refusals, lose their partners or fired from the job. This can be seen from the musing that Ourica makes about the fact that she starts off with no song magic and when is she going to get a partner. Many of the Reyvateils work for the villains in the first place because it is VERY hard for them to find jobs. There is one Reyvateil in particular that suffers abuse from the locals for running a bar, but she keeps running it anyways. It’s the fact they have to put up with the abuse they receive or go hungry. It actually hits quite close to home now with the unemployment. Many people are being harassed, abused and discriminated against on the jobs and finding a job because they have no choice. Take the job or go hungry. It doesn’t excuse it.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePIFOuFSO94#t=04m35s (Radolf tells the Oracles to “Treat your Reyvateil partners well.” “They’ve sung a lot for us” He treats them in the third person as if they don’t really exist instead of saying “You’ve sung a lot for us, you all must be tired.” The one knight says he is, the Reyvateil calls him a liar and says she was made to sing a lullaby, he CALLS HER AN IDIOT and tell her not to bring that up, the other says “why didn’t I think of that.” Radolf only says “You’ll have plenty of time to talk on the way home.” He doesn’t say anything about calling the Reyvateil an ‘idiot’, verbal abuse.)
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn3waQEp4jI#t=03m40s (Cosmo Sphere, Misha doesn’t want to help someone she doesn’t know and doesn’t want to be the Song Fairy and wants to be human. You coerce/convince her into healing Krusche and continuing to be the Song Fairy. She says on SEVERAL occasions she doesn’t want to be the Song Fairy and why.)
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn3waQEp4jI#t=06m00s ( “I’m just a robot so I shouldn’t complain about work right?” Reyvateils are basically singing machines. She is basically a robot in life that sings to heal/harm people. That then goes into the “You should save this person because it’s the right thing to do, stop being so selfish!”)
          http://www.neoseeker.com/resourcelink.html?rlid=179355&rid=166335 (Talk Script: Search “HOW’S BATTLE WITH MAGICAL SHOWER?”
          Misha: Hy Lyner, I accept and understand your tastes and fetishes. But it’s a
          little embarrassing when you make me wear Magical Shower. I may look like
          this, but I’m close to 20 years old…
          Lyner: I’m sorry, but what did you say about my taste and fetish?
          Misha: I feel like I’m in danger. There was this one time when these weird guys
          were staring at me. It was so scary…Maybe you didn’t notice, but they were
          stalking us for a while.

          Lyner: What!? Seriously!?
          Misha: So, pay better attention! Or else I’ll be too scared to even wear it.
          ::: [emphasis mine]That’s the end of the conversation, he doesn’t say or do anything. She says she’s scared and she’s being stalked. There is no follow up to that.)

          • Nezumi says:

            Aaaand… there is a lot of unpleasant stuff I had forgotten, or not seen due to how far I’d gotten into the game or the route I chose. I apologize, then. … It looks like it misses its mark as for its sex/gender relations message far more badly than I had realized at the time. Very unfortunate, but given how patriarchal Japanese society is, sadly unsurprising. It’s at least trying to have a pro-female message, despite its fumbles, which is more than you can say for many things. On the other hand, “trying” isn’t really enough when it serves to reinforce misogynistic memes, accidentally or intentionally.

  2. That sounds awful. Given a plethora of titles that the importer could port over, it sounds like no one should have bothered with this one… on the other hand, it being available also means that someone was depraved enough to make it initially, which is disturbing enough as it is.

    • Maverynthia says:

      It’s the sad fact in Japan that it’s the way the anime/game otaku culture goes over there. There is a LOT of degrading art and games that come out nearly every week. It’s very sad that NIS chose to bring these over, but NIS is into degrading women and even running contests about their panties and fetishizing them. :/

      • Nezumi says:

        … Oddly enough, Nippon Ichi Software became a major player through creating games marketed toward girls. Their “Doll Princess of Marl Kingdom” series (of which the oft-mentioned Rhapsody is the first game) put them on the map in Japan, and even some of their later developed games have some obvious “female appeal” elements. Which… makes objectification of women by them or their US branch completely bewildering, if sadly not unexpected.

        • Maverynthia says:

          It’s like “Love us as a company..BUT” Though to be honest, their titles that appeal to women don’t get nearly as much coverage as their Disgaea titles. I don’t even think Ar Tonelico got a lot of coverage (they even botched #2′s dubbing buy deleting the Japanese voice yet still offering them ANYEWAYS, and also saying that Hymmnos was “garble speak” and untranslateable.)

          They are one of the few companies I’ll still consider to buy from, they at least brought over Altelier Annie, the Rhapsody remake, Grim Grimoire, Witch’s and Atleier Rorona.

          However they will certainly run a contest about making panties for Etna o.O

          It’s companies like Aksys that I find mind boggling. They bring out games like Record of Argarest War and anime body pillows with the women on it, then want to consider ‘otome’ games? BUH?

  3. I’m not sure the fact that someone would make something like this really surprises me much… it still sounds pretty terrible. ._.

  4. KA101 says:

    [TW: discussion of adult rating standard/sex in games]

    I think the ESRB needs to be a bit quicker with the AO rating. As it stands, the only times I’ve seen it handed down are for visual depictions of sex. It ought to show up for objectification like this (as well as for torture, etc; full discussion feels OT). Might not help things in Japan, but the mainstream USian (read: walmart) commercial clampdown would discourage translation and import of this sort of programming.

    • It would seem like this is a visual depiction of sex. I mean, reaching into a metaphorical vagina is pretty close. I suppose it’s probably not shown but still.

      (Though I’m bothered by how the AO rating works in other ways, at least a portion of that is related more to how movie ratings have been used to erase queer sexuality and thus my not trusting rating boards at all. …either way, it’s not particularly relevant to this example, and I don’t think I would object to it being more harshly rated.)

  5. XIV says:

    People, people, didn’t you know (I can hear those same tired statements already x.x)? ‘Sex sells’, you see. And by sex sells.. every person who says that really means ‘The One-sided Sexual Exploitation of Women Sells And They’re Not Worth Much Else So Why Not?’. I think I’m going to start calling that what it is, because it seems pretty dishonest to present it in such a neutral way when it’s almost never is about both genders being sexualized.

  6. Nezumi says:

    Just have to say… you make some good points… but… yeah. Not reaching into her vagina, but rather her “access port” — Reyvateils are strongly implied to be a sort of biological android. Mave makes some troubling but accurate points as well, but grossly misrepresents the game in others.

    This also made me think of a scene I hadn’t realized has really ugly connotations. A person can “Dive” into a Reyvateil, entering their mindscape to interact with and bond more closely with them. It’s strongly used as a sex metaphor. At one point,one Reyvateil on your team gets infected with a virus, left unconscious and near death, and you have to Dive to save them by purging the virus. From the whole computing system/biological android perspective, this makes perfect sense… but since they’ve established Diving as a sex metaphor, and the Reyvateil in question is unable to consent due to their state… it can also be read as saving them by raping them, which is all sorts of uncomfortable.

    • Well regardless of whether it is literally a vagina, it still comes across as basically a sexual metaphor. So being technically something else hardly matters here.

      • Nezumi says:

        Good point. It end to think of things too much in literal terms, being on the autism spectrum. (Aspergers, specifically) I apologize.

    • Maverynthia says:

      There is someone playing the game on Youtube, fi one doesn’t want to play the game that can watch the videos and skip around if they want.

      • Nezumi says:

        It also occurs to me that as a pre-everything MTF, I don’t have the sort of first-hand experience with sexism that can be valuable to realizing such things. I’m still, for the moment, on the outside looking in, and that perspective can make it hard to see everything.

  7. Sharks says:

    Hey, slightly off-topic, but I don’t know where to post this:

    Has anyone seen the GODAWFUL debut trailer for FFXIII-2? Holy crap, that deserves an entire Border House article documenting the complete character assassination of Lightning in that sh*tty trailer.

    Square Enix took one of the best female characters in recent memory and turned her into a Soul Calibur-esque skinfest. Think Ivy meets Siegfried.

    *Shudder*

    This is like my worst nightmare come true. I was worried when they hinted at a sequel that it would be as cheesy and embarrassing as FFX-2, the last direct sequel they made. But I didn’t really think Square Enix had it in them to take all the awesome stuff in FFXIII and completely flush it down the toilet.

    But it looks like they did.

    The only good news: I heard the Squenix boss is open to fan input at this stage. I’m rallying for a cry to change that horrendous character design before it gets out the door. Lightning–and gaming in general–does NOT need this.

  8. Liifle says:

    Here I go to give a justification for why innuendo Diquity Install and costumes exists from my knowledge of the first two games. I’ll say that I do think Qoga is stepping out of the boundaries of my comfort zone and really perverting the all ready questionable concepts, even as a big fan of the games myself.

    Explanation-time! There are three types of Reyvateil, the origin Alpha, the oldest that were created by humans and manage the Song Server Towers, their genetically altered clones known as Beta, and the most common is the Third-generation, or human-Reyvateil hybrids.

    Unfortunately for Third Generations, they lack a system in their body called the Nuclear Triangle Loop. Without it, they have a lifespan of around 20 years, as their bodies cannot handle the strain of song waves like an Alpha or Beta. The only way to extend their life is a Diquity Crystal (which were developed by an genius Reyvateil name Infel, who is an amazing character herself).

    One of two ways for a 3rd Gen to obtain Diquity is working for the army of the Elemian Church, who do abuse this opportunity. But for a shift in perspective, in Qoga the Beta Reyvateils are dominant because they don’t rely on Diquity, and make humans their slaves, as they can easily kill them.

    Diquity Crystals need to be installed in their Install Port, a circle-based tattoo on a part of their body. Essentially, it is like a portal to the Reyvateil’s emotions, and it is highly sensitive. I’d assume they need to have it inserted by another, as their subconscious reflexes would not allow them to install it by themselves due to the pain as they’re… large,and cannot be broken down. And as the install port reveals their inner feelings, they want it to be done by someone they trust. As a side note, the crystals are really “dissolved” into the skin, not pushed into a… hole. I won’t deny the euphemism, but it’s for their survival.

    As for the costumes, they are obtained from their mind-world known as a Cosmosphere, and are usually a reward for completing a level. In each level there is one or more of the many sides or personas of a Reyvateil, and they are differentiated by their costumes. While outer-world Reyvateil may object to the costume itself in appearance, it was from a side of her she and her partner understood and accepted, like a memento (yes, the wedding dresses from the last levels are the best to use). While not exactly practical for battles, they really shouldn’t be moving around as they need to concentrate on singing. Plus, they are made of the song waves they generate, thus as durable as they need to be.

    I’ll repeat that this can mean something or nothing depending on your wishes. Just please keep in mind there is a place for it in the plot of Ar Tonelico not just mindless fanservice. The world is even vast enough for each game to require a nice guidebook for each game. Even if you hate the game, the Hymnos concerts are gorgeous on their own.

    • Maverynthia says:

      I’ll repeat that this can mean something or nothing depending on your wishes. Just please keep in mind there is a place for it in the plot of Ar Tonelico not just mindless fanservice.

      It IS just mindless fanservice. The only thing there is that they tried to cover up the reasoning for with with pseudo-science. “Men can’t be Reyvateils because they have Y chromosome that blocks EVERYTHING.” But Reyvateils are machines essentially, they are a bio-machine. The “science” behind it it very brittle and weak and only seems to be a very thin excuse not to have male Reyvateils whose Mindscape/Soulscape/Cosmosphere you can explore. That would mean that the innuendo they wanted to “nudge nudge wink wink” at would become uncomfortable for some men playing the game. A woman shoving a large “crystal” into a man’s “port” that is small. How about a man doing the same thing to his male Reyvateil partner? The science is meant to exclude women from having a “fanservice fantasy” with the game. Really it limits it’s potential in plot as it would be interesting for a woman to explore a male Reyvateil’s Cosmo Sphere and try to sort out his problems/insecurities/mind. It’s as if it’s saying “men don’t have problems that need to be sorted”.

      Really making up a pseudo-science to justify the fanservice more or less puts a BIG sign with “Bullshit” written on it in big letters and an arrow pointing to all the flaws. Bascially it goes from “mindless fanservice” to “thoughtful fanservice”. Qoga itself is proof of this when they try to scientifically define why the Reyvateils lose there clothes “Well uh… they need that wave power from their clothes to boost their song power…yeaah!”

      Even if you hate the game, the Hymnos concerts are gorgeous on their own.

      Maybe that’s why I hate the game. I want this to be something I enjoy, something I can partake of. However the designers have hung a sign on the game’s door reading “Boy’s only!” If there was a more expansive plot beyond “scientifically justified fanservice for men only” and having male Reyvateils that are just as fanserviced (sailor outfits, school uniforms with glasses, other fetishes that female otaku have.), the story and plot would become deeper. The main plot and characters could be kept with few changes. Maybe have a character select that changes the female Reyvateils into Male ones depending on the lead if they want to be heterocentric, but the MAIN plot is the same. You still have them sing, there is still trouble in the tower, the secondary characters need not change much. Even then, now the music is more expansive.

      There really IS no reason for no male Reyvateils since the first Reyvateils were human (man) created. They could have worked out the bugs for the male variety, they just chose not too as the whole creation went into the Father-Daughter storyline. (The first creator scientist was male).

      Men singing in Hymmnos is AWESOME, just listen to EXEC_HYMME_MOISKYRIE/. (The Karaoke version preferably). That is the ONLY song with men singing in it at all! The music is wonderful. I just wish I could hear male voices creating and singing song magic too. (Not that the other music is bad, it was the only music I listened too during NaNoWriMo, I just prefer variety.)

      That’s why the game rubs me wrong, a LOT went into building the world. The Hymmnos conlang (one of the few I really want to learn), the alphabet, the songs/music, the look and feel. Only for them to put up a “men only” sign on the damn thing. It’s utter frustration! I feel that they wasted all of that to narrow the whole thing down to a specific type of game for a very specific audience.

      • Nezumi says:

        Ugh… I know what you mean… but there are far too few games that don’t have that sort of “Men Only!” sign on them — and many of the ones that don’t are quite honestly awful token “games for girls” affairs. I’ve mostly tried to ignore it and play what I like, while calling out blatant sexism when I see it… but that’s not an ideal solution — and, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s quite possible that it works in part due to my once having believed myself to the “men” the game was restricted to. On the other hand, if I didn’t play any games with sexism in them… I’d have roughly 5 games I could actually play. I’m still trying to figure out where to draw the line… and what to do with things that still contain sexism, but fall on the “I’m willing to play anyway” side of the line.

        • Yeah, that was (and still is) definitely something that has been an issue for me. Games I found completely fine before–or even really liked–now are completely unplayable because of sexism, assuming all players are male (that one is especially a problem for me), etc.

          It is unpleasant. :\

        • Maverynthia says:

          I usually avoid games that are based on some form of “dating system” like Mana Khemia, Star Ocean, etc. That just goes too far into what I won’t play. However games like Final Fantasy VII that had a small dating element I don’t mind as it didn’t last long, wasn’t the point and was easy enough to forget. Games like that also had characters I could “lust over” like Vincent, Zell, Kiros, Irvine (to a degree). Or games like the SaGa (Final Fantasy Legend) series where I could build my own party and fill it with 3 guys and a woman if I chose (Which I did in the Etrian games ;3). I’m not that familiar with the Tales of series (played part of Abyss and a good chunk of Phantasia), but they usually have a few good characters.

      • Liifle says:

        I do recall some ridiculous reason why the girls strip in Qoga, so I understand the Pseudo-science can’t make amends to gratuitous liberties. To be honest, if there was a Male Reyvateil, that’d be awesome. I do know that the origin of hymmnos is Tsukikanade, whose clan had male members but were persecuted. Too bad the series is a trilogy.

        I’ll point out though that are incorrect about one thing. There are four other songs with male singing actually, by the single male hymmnos vocalist Dahna. One is a duet “The Heart Speaks”, from the end of the 2nd game along with “The Voice of Every Tree”, “Cello’s Light”, and “Moonlight Cradle”, which are in Drama CDs and sung by one of the Tsukikanade members.

        • Maverynthia says:

          Ah cool, didn’t know about the Drama CD’s. I’ll go check those out. Hopefully they are as..spunky as most of the EXEC_command songs. (I like spunky fast music :3) Though is they are like Ec Tisia and Singing Hill that’d be cool too.

        • Maverynthia says:

          I should have specified more. “Men singing in Hymmnos” The ones listed not only are embedded in a drama piece, they are 95% in Japanese. Moiskyrie also has the chorus thing going on, while those have a solo part. I couldn’t find “Moonlight Cradle”

          So, not what I was looking for :(

          • Liifle says:

            I see. Well, I apologize then. The one sung by Croix, “the Heart Speaks” is only 25% male Hymmnos, as 25% is Jakuri Hymmnos and the rest is Japanese.

            http://www.youtube.com/user/HyuugaYumi#p/c/7AF698B2A8BBD310/3/3Uylmc8RL2c

            This is Moonlight Nocturne ~Cradle~. I wrote it wrong, so that’d be my fault and.. there’s one line in Hymmnos. If a guy could sing hymmnos, I’d imagine the game’d be too easy, as it is a way of conveying feelings that other Reyvateil feel directly upon hearing it. Confessing love to a bitter, 7 centuries-old, formerly human-genocidal Reyvateil with it gave Croix my props, along with his passing comment earlier in the game that he wished his own Reyvateil genes from his mother weren’t suppressed by his Y-chromosome. I guess though that with that whole ‘humanity is awful, greedy, selfish, etc.’ theme, most normal people are believed to be too shallow-minded to perform them properly.

  9. Deviija says:

    I remember reading a few articles last year about how the men in Ar Tonelico 3 will also be stripping and getting down to their undies, etc. With everything ooky factored in, having a few guys in regular and non-fetishized underware will not make the scales equal. Buuut… I did find that bit to be interesting.

    http://kotaku.com/5446987/ar-tonelico-iii-has-male-undressing-too

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