ASAHI’S REVENGE: Queer Representation in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Sign saying "WARNING: SPOILER ALERT"

So a few weeks ago, I posted this on Tumblr:

Screencap of a Tumblr post reading "Final Fantasy XIV is a great game, but it'd be a lot better if the most significant queer character (you know, other than all the bis the Warrior of Light keeps attracting) wasn't a yandere creep who dies and gets possessed by an omnicidal maniac."
and nobody cared

And while nothing in Endwalker leads me to want to change my characterization of Asahi as a yandere creep or Fandangodaniel 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…”

Screencap of a white-haired Miqo'te identified as Distressed Chef saying, "I could well try to steal them back myself, but goodness knows how many hours it'd be before I stumbled upon that blasted bandit.  I'm only one man--I can't cover all that ground by myself!  So, be a friend and help me get my apples back, would you?"
i don’t have any screencaps of it, but someone mentioned a miqo’te that uses they/them pronouns as well

…Sadu is more or-less-explicitly confirmed to be gay:

Screencap of Sadu saying, "As if any woman of worth would wish to be warmed by you, 'little sun.'  Should we find such a warrior within, she will bask in MY glorious flame."
apparently she’s got a thing goin’ with cirina, so that’s cool

…and, Livingway refers to Urianger as “your Urianger” while talking to Thancred:

see?

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:

Screencap of my Warrior of Light (a Keeper of the Moon Miqo'te with long black hair, black skin, and yellow eyes dressed all in black) smiling warmly at G'raha Tia, who's holding his head in embarassment.
i don’t know if this actually supports my point but it’s cute. look at my warrior of light’s face
he adores him

And then there’s Asahi.

Asahi sas Brutus, a.k.a., That Bitch.
nice bangs, nerd. did your mom cut them for you?

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.

Screencap of Asahi dragging Amon's ass to hell to spend eternity kicking it.  Quote That Bitch: "Now you are at my mercy.  I shall drag us both into oblivion, and you will never see the fulfillment of your magnum opus!"
get his ass

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…

Screenshot of my Warrior of Light with his hand right below G'raha Tia's chin, as if he's admiring his face/about to kiss him.
i guess this’ll have to do

shout out to noah for reorganizing my words into some semblance of a coherent order

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