RR-sama Talks: So the Soleil S Rank conversation just got released...

The conversation that started the entire Fire Emblem: Fates controversy line has now been recorded, and they're strangely... worse than before?

Hello! RR-sama here again, and this time we're going to discuss the Soleil controversy from Fire Emblem: Fates!

For those who don't know, Soleil is a character from Fire Emblem: Fates who was both the first part of the game to stir up controversy, and the last thing to have its truth be revealed. The controversy started over the character's sexuality and what some deemed a "homophobic" scene, which also involved another character doing something comparable to drugging a woman's drink. For more information, you can quickly pop over to the original article that broke the news last year.

Not long ago, the first video of the localized versions featuring Soleil's support conversations was released. That's why today on RR-sama Talks, we're going to discuss the facts, and come to a conclusion if the changes made were for better or worse!

[WARNING: This should be a given, but there are a lot of spoilers in the following article. Proceed at your own discretion!]

Allergic to Love - A common anime trope

[While not entirely necessary to understand this article, the original conversation in question can be found here.]

In the C Rank conversation between the player character - who will be referenced as Corrin for accessibility sake - and Soleil, the latter comes to the player in search of a method to cure her weakness around women. In order to help her, Corrin puts a powder in her drink that causes her to see women as men. During their B Rank conversation, Corrin admits to Soleil that he slipped the powder into her drink, and it causes her to see all the men in the army as women (and vice versa). She then asks for more of the powder so she can basically go around swooning over all the genderbent protagonists.

For those who don't know, the irrational fear or paralysis around women is a fairly common Japanese trope, especially in anime. That said, it is typically attributed to male characters. There are multiple variations of this trope as well, and the most well known to Western audiences are:

  1. A strong love of women, paired with an irrational fear or paralyzing weakness around them - see: Guy from Tales of the Abyss
  2. Strong respect for women, but a strong aversion to them due to personal trauma - see: Lon'qu from Fire Emblem: Awakening

Essentially, Soleil falls into the former category beside Tales of the Abyss' Guy. She loves cute girls, as Guy does, but finds herself paralyzed when in close proximity to them. However, Guy is a man, and Soleil is a woman. This is partially where the issue comes in...

What is Soleil's true sexuality?

So let's just get this little tidbit out of the way before we start discussing Soleil's sexuality: under no circumstances is putting anything into anyone's food or drink acceptable. If there is one merit to the game's censorship, it's this. Now that that's out of the way, let's look at Soleil's sexuality...

The first thing that everyone should know is that both Conquest and Birthright have access to a single homosexual unit. These characters are Niles and Rhajat, respectively. While these characters can be married to Corrin regardless of the chosen sex, their marriage options are exclusively heterosexual otherwise.

As such, we can assume that Soleil - as a homosexual character - would be able to reach an S Rank (and thus marriage) with the female Corrin. However, this is not the case.

The complexity of Soleil's sexuality...

Soleil appears to be the first of a very specific form of alternate sexuality in gaming, or at least it would seem so given the backlash. Unlike Niles and Rhajat, who are clearly bisexual characters, Soleil is no such thing. In fact, for the sake of argument Soleil is not homosexual at all since she cannot marry any female characters. So what exactly is she?

Before we can answer this, I think it's time we look at the official English translation. This can be viewed in the video below or watching it on YouTube. 

Video courtesy of Mrperson0, via Youtube

In this video we see the reality of Soleil's condition. According to the official translation - which, in reality, isn't too far strayed from the original - Soleil is one of the first (if not the first) character in a video game to display conflicting romantic and sexual attractions. 

In particular, Soleil is actually divided on her romantic and sexual preferences. Despite her fascination with the female form, she states in plain text the following:

Corrin: I understand if you're not interested [in me], since I'm only a woman in your imagination.

Soleil: Oh, that's not such a problem. I like men just fine. I think I could even get to like one for real if I knew him well enough.

It should be noted that the S Rank conversation is where the most deviation from the original text happens. In the original, Corrin states that the sun reminds him of her, and so he proposes to Soleil with a sun-shaped ring. She stutters for a bit, and reveals that she is in love with the female version of Corrin that she saw through the powder. However, she then goes on to reassure him that regardless of male or female she loves him for who he is.

Angry Protester: That means they made her no longer lesbian! Raise your torches!

Whoa, wait up just a second! Before we get our smallclothes in a knot, let's take a moment to look at another support conversation first.

Let me introduce you to my friend Foleo...

Foleo (or Forrest in the localized version) is another trope-filled character. Fans of Fire Emblem have seen his like before through characters such as FE7's Lucius, and FE: Awakening's Libra. 

Foleo is Fire Emblem: Fates's resident pretty-boy, yet another Japanese anime trope that revolves around male characters who are often mistaken as women, usually due to their choice of attire. The one who makes the biggest mistake of confusing Foleo's gender, however, is none other than our Queen of Controversy - Soleil.

In their Japanese support conversation, Soleil believes Foleo to be a woman. That is, until, she gets verbal confirmation from both Foleo and others that he is in fact a man. However, it is their S-Rank conversation that is the most interesting part of their relationship...

Foleo: ... Um, er... Soleil, you do like girls, is that right?

Soleil: Ahaha! Do you really need to ask me after all this time? Of course I do! I love cute girls!

Foleo: Then are boys unacceptable? As, um... romantic partners...?

Soleil: I wouldn't say unacceptable, but girls are preferable by far. I mean, like, boys don't have any beauty, right? Looking at them doesn't get me all fired up.

Foleo: Yes, I thought so...

Soleil: Oh, but I like you, Foleo. Whenever I look at you, my chest feels all tight, and I get the urge to give you a nice big hug.

This is where Soleil's sexuality becomes a bit more... confusing. Before we make a final verdict, however, let's look at what we have:

  1. Soleil gets squeamish around women due to her irrational levels of attraction toward them.
  2. However, Soleil never explicitly states that she is romantically inclined toward them outside of the Japanese version of her conversation with the transvestite character, Foleo.
  3. We know that her only marriage options are with male characters, namely: Corrin, Kana, Shigure, Dwyer, Siegbert, Forrest, Ignatius, Percy, Kisaragi, and Asugi.
  4. Due to a lack of availability of translations for other support conversations, and the definitive masculinity of the other marriageable candidates, we must assume that: A) the conversations revisit the fact that she is attracted to women; or B) they are not explored at all.
  5. More often than not, Soleil states in her conversations that she enjoys the aesthetic qualities of women, but also enjoys the personalities of men.
  6. She is also capable of producing a child with whomever she marries, provided that the male character has a related child character (or isn't a child themselves).

Therefore, we must come to one of the following conclusions:

  1. Soleil is sexually bicurious, if not fully bisexual. This would mean that she is physically attracted to both men and women. She is also romantically heterosexual, meaning that her relationships with women never go beyond physical intimacy.
  2. Soleil is homosexual, but for the sake of fitting in chooses to repress these feelings and act as a heterosexual.
  3. Soleil is heterosexual, but she simply enjoys the female form in all its beauty.
Angry Protesters: So what does this all mean? *Raises pitchfork slowly*

This condition that Soleil has is one that is rarely visited, especially in Western media. Very often, the media draws very distinct boxes to categorize the LGBT community, namely the very ones that make up the acronym. However, Soleil represents the grey area in between.

To list Soleil as bisexual would be wrong, as we know for a fact that she is only romantically attracted to men. Based on evidence, Soleil's romantic and sexual desires go in very different ways. She legitimately enjoys the female form - as seen in her conversations with Foleo, however, she also is physically attracted to men - enough so that she can conceive a child with them. She also lacks significant evidence in her female-to-female support conversations that signify anything beyond superficial attraction.

The fan reactions

Fans are heavily divided on what they think of the translations as a whole. For the most part, they tend to be positive - at least on the Fire Emblem subreddit. Conversely, /r/KotakuinAction - the GamerGate subreddit - has been clinging to the controversy for a lot longer, as they still are complaining about the Nintendo Treehouse localization. There is, however, the growing concern about the C Rank conversation between Beruka and Saizo being nothing but "...", suggesting that it may be an error or a bad joke.

When it comes to Soleil, the story is very much the same. /r/KotakuinAction is complaining about the changes in full force, and meanwhile, the people over in /r/FireEmblem are generally accepting the changes. In fact, some Fire Emblem subreddit followers are actually praising how Treehouse handled the translations, as very little story content (and support conversations) has been altered.

So what do you think about the changes that were made to the international release, RR-sama?

Well, everyone who followed my Fire Emblem: Fates controversy articles knows that I've always been one for companies making the least changes possible. When it comes to Soleil, I suggested in a previous article that they simply changed the original powder into a consensual magic spell instead. This would provide a believable, and yet much less controversial scene.

When I read through the new conversations, I actually cringed a little bit. A blindfold is surely better than magic powder. By all means this new method is consensual, as it happens in conversation instead of off-screen. But if we think about this for a bit...isn't the new conversation actually more homophobic?

Proposing that we still believe Soleil to be a purely lesbian character, wouldn't a blindfold and pretending that Corrin is a woman allude to gay conversion therapy more than the original? I mean, seriously... Imagine I walked up to you (regardless of your sexual preference) and said to you:

"Put on this blindfold, and pretend I'm X instead of Y. This will get you to stop being afraid of X, despite your attraction to X."

Wouldn't this still lead to the same controversy once we reached the S Rank conversation where she states that she might eventually fall in love with you? I mean, sure... Soleil says they'll take it slow, and eventually she will decide whether or not to be together as she gets to know the real Corrin. However, I think it's pretty obvious that this "conversion" was successful, as they proceed to make a baby soon after.

That, and the whole blindfold-imagination thing is a little farfetched...

Yet people seem to be taking this change pretty smoothly, and everyone seems satisfied with the result. Maybe people realized that they had it all wrong? Maybe people just don't care anymore? I have no idea. Regardless, it is clear to me that I will never truly understand society. In any case, at least people can stop worrying about Soleil's sexuality and maybe focus on what makes her character great now.

But hey, that's just me! What do you guys think of the changes to Soleil's conversation with Corrin? Would you have prefered my "consensual magic spell" over the blindfold technique? Is Soleil totally your waifu? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!

Published Feb. 22nd 2016
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