So a few weeks ago, I posted this on Tumblr:
And while nothing in Endwalker leads me to want to change my characterization of Asahi as a yandere creep or Fan
dangodaniel as an omnicidal maniac, I am happy to report that the expansion does go a long way toward making up for it.
Not to suggest that Asahi was the only queer character or that Endwalker started the trend of adding more queer representation–there was a gay couple as early as A Realm Reborn, every single incidental female Miqo’te in Eorzea seems to be openly bisexual, there’s an entire tribe of genderfluid Au Ra in Stormblood, the Mystel in charge of the slums in Eulmore is a trans woman, and, as indicated above, there’s no shortage of characters who will either flirt with or have barely concealed crushes on your character regardless of gender–but it did crank it up to eleven.
In only a few examples: Sharlyan features a nameless Miqo’te with a female model who refers to himself as “only one man…”
…Sadu is more or-less-explicitly confirmed to be gay:
…and, Livingway refers to Urianger as “your Urianger” while talking to Thancred:
While this doesn’t mean much on it’s own, when taken alongside the hints that have been dropping consistently since Shadowbringers, it can be taken as an example of their romantic relationship moving from subtext to simply text. And, of course, there’s this:
And then there’s Asahi.
Asahi is not exactly the most complicated villain ever written–he’s a sociopathic little git obsessed with Zenos (a sociopathic big git) who hangs around being antagonistic for a patch or two before Yotsuyu kills him and then dies herself–but he’s fun to watch and his voice actor is clearly having fun with the role. It’s treated as a surprise when Fandaniel shows up at the end of Shadowbringers hanging around Zenos in his corpse, but I don’t remember actually finding it all that surprising. Still, as I mentioned above, the most significant explicitly queer character (at the time) being killed off soon after revealing his queerness and then having his corpse hijacked is not great.
Fortunately, Endwalker attempts to apologize for this in a scene that comes almost completely out of nowhere and then is never mentioned again. After you go to the aetherial sea/afterlife and kill Hermes/Amon/Fandaniel for the second time (long story), Asahi shows up to berate Hermoniel for puppeteering his remains and using them to betray his beloved Lord Zenos, before dragging him off to kick his ass for all eternity. It’s extremely satisfying to watch.
Your mileage will vary on whether this negates their killing of The Evil Gay™ to begin with, but I enjoyed it. The fact Asahi was allowed his revenge combined with the general increase in queer representation as a whole prevents his temporary return from feeling like cheap pandering, while also forming the foundation of an adequate apology for their earlier missteps.
I can’t speak to how well FFXIV fares compared to other games of its type in terms of queer representation–mostly because I haven’t done the legwork to find out, and also partly because I, uh, don’t really play any other games anymore (it’s not a problem until it starts to cause me to miss work, thank you very much)–but it’s nice to see them making an effort, at least.
Now if only they would let you kiss G’raha…
shout out to noah for reorganizing my words into some semblance of a coherent order