Listening to: Id~Serenity – Hiroki Morishita (Fire Emblem: Awakening)
Mild spoilers follow for Mass Effect and Fire Emblem: Awakening. (I mention that they have endings, but there aren’t any actual plot details involved.)
I’ve never been one to get emotional at the end of movies, but other varieties of media are another matter entirely. There’s a running joke in my friend group that I don’t actually have emotions, but that’s just because very few of them have ever seen me finishing a series at 1 AM in the morning and trying hard not to cry. But why, exactly is that?
Emotional investment is a topic that I touched on (twice) last year, although I was mainly focused on emotional investment as expectation. However, emotional investment can also refer to the amount of time that you have spent involved with the work in question. Movies, with their usual run-time of (at most) an hour or two, are a relatively low-risk, low-reward option. If a movie ending is underwhelming, you don’t feel as cheated because you only invested a few hours of time into it. On the other hand, if the ending of a TV series or video game doesn’t meet expectations, it’s inevitable that a significant portion of the fandom will be up in arms about it.
Everyone say “Normandy!”
Take, for example, the ending of Mass Effect 3. When it was initially released, the general reaction was outrage. It was “too inconclusive” or “too out of the blue” or simply “not good enough.” The outcry was enough that BioWare (bless their hearts) released the Extended Cut, a longer version of the ending that elaborated on all of the “inconclusive” plot points and added more build-up in the final moments to make the ending seem less “out of the blue.” The release of Citadel–a DLC that was, in essence, a love letter to the fans and the entire franchise–helped even more.
I have an admitted soft spot for the ME3 ending: partially because by the first time I played it, I had the Extended Cut and Citadel; but also because I wanted the feeling of having to work towards my happy ending. Even if I had disliked the ending, I don’t think it would have colored my feelings toward the franchise as a whole. By the time that I finished the final mission of Mass Effect 3, I had spent over 100 hours with its cast of characters, shared in their best and worst moments, and had my character fall in love. If a few minutes at the end were enough to make it “RUINED FOREVER” for me… well, that would probably mean that it had never meant that much to me to begin with.
“There are better places to take a nap than on the ground, you know.”
Then, on the other hand, there’s Fire Emblem: Awakening. No controversies about the ending here (well, at least, none that I’ve heard of). Instead, the game is almost entirely about the journey. The plot isn’t what matters here, it’s the characters. Their relationships with your character and each other is what makes the game great rather than merely good.
Normally, I don’t get particularly into shipping characters, but that all flies out the window in the face of Awakening and I start shipping everyone with EVERYONE. Do I like Olivia more when she’s building a theater with Robin, or bonding with Henry over their love of cute animals? Is Lon’qu more endearing when awkwardly interacting with Lissa, or being used as Miriel’s test subject? WILL I EVER GET OVER HOW ADORABLE MORGAN IS WITH EVERYONE?*
*no. the answer is no.
So, what have I learned from tossing out this giant amalgamation of words and feels into a text box? Well, firstly, I learned that my level of articulation sharply drops when I’m trying to express FEELS. And secondly, that I really want to start a fourth full playthrough of the Mass Effect trilogy. Or an eleventh full playthrough of Awakening. For… reasons.
Signing off, until next week!