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"From Squally and Squally alone, Junior receives an Elixir. God only knows why our favorite brunette bishounen is handing out special gifts to little boys, but I like Squally and I'd rather not approach that subject."
     -Sam, Kingdom Hearts Part 3

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10.02.02 :: D?j? vu all over again

The opinions in this letters column aren't necessarily those of Jeanne Rubbo, owner of Even so, Jeanne owns *us* and has locked us in a dark closet with Tidus and Rinoa until we think of something funny. HELP! In the meantime, send in your comments, queries, whining, flames, spam, opinions, facts, opinions that you think are facts, and general idiocy to

Hey hey, kids, it's time for this week's mailbag, and it's d?j? vu all over again! The first person that emails us to say "that's redundant" will get a swift, virtual kick in the ass. With a steel-toed boot. Anyhoo, our topic this week is bizarre comparisons in the world of videogames, and fiction as a whole. We were mightily impressed with the strange similarities our good readers brought up, as well as the obvious ones (Barret is soooooooooooooooo Mr. T). Here's hoping that no one will use these witty ideas to write a Mary Sue crossover fanfic. Onward!

Good God, they're everywhere!
You know, I've had moments watching movies or playing video games where the feeling "I've seen that before somewhere" hit me... and it's not only in movies but in manga as well. The problem is thinking back far enough to remember the dratted examples. The first one to come to mind is the horseclaw riding birds in "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind." If these fowl were yellow, they would be Chocobo. Not knowing when the anime and manga were published in Japan for the first time, and when the first Chocobos showed up in Square games, I can't speak as to who swiped whose idea there. The next thing that comes to mind is the movie "Dragonheart." You got a disgruntled knight opposing an evil king, who teams up with a fire-breathing dragon. This movie sure reminded me of just about every "Breath of Fire" RPG I ever played. Xenogears reminded me a lot of Robotech, with angsty teens running about in giant transformers, only with a religion tacked on. I think the most frequent deja vu comes while watching Star Trek - The Next Generation. They used anime/manga/game character names for the names of planets, star systems, etc. and admitted they sprinkled the scripts with such references. I never played any of the Turok Dinosaur Hunter games, but I wonder how much cross-pollination there was between those games and the Jurassic Park movies. I think the worst feeling of deja vu comes when I try to play any of the Tomb Raider games. I've seen this scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, that scene in a James Bond movie, etc. Worse yet, I see now that a new TV series called Relic Hunter is starting up this fall and from the previews it appears to be a thinly veiled homage (rip-off) of the Tomb Raider games. I didn't even go into the realm of superhero comic books, because if something proves to be popular, be it a game or a movie, references or rip-offs of it are sure to show up in the pages of your favorite Latex-Man comic. The worst I ever saw was the comic series "Micronauts" which was based on a line of toy action figures that came out shortly after a little movie called "Star Wars." You had a Han Solo type disreputable hero/pilot, a princess dressed in white, assorted other characters, and an ultimate villian who dressed in black armor and a flowing black cape - and that was just the beginning. They eventually turned the evil dude into a centaur so they wouldn't get sued by Lucas Film for doing a direct rip-off, but the series had giant, planet-smashing spaceships, and the heroes flying around in little white fighters or a freighter, etc. I think they were planning on doing a SNES game but the idea fortunately went nowhere. And let's not get started with Battlestar Galactica starfighters/X-wings (just give 'em 3 engines instead of 4), Cylons/Storm Troopers (make 'em robots), Base Stars and Battle Stars instead of Death Stars, etc. I am sure some of you can come up with better examples than this. But this raises a question. If games borrow so much from movies and vice-versa, why can't they do a decent game from a movie franchise? In closing, the most obvious example is the continuing presence of Biggs and Wedge in the various Final Fantasy games - of course, that is just done by the translators for humorous effect, but it raises another question - what are those characters named in the original Japanese version? Are they named for popular Japanese movie sidekicks, or do they still have their Star Wars identities?

Wow, Cat Slave. Relic Hunter, the TV show? I think I just lost my faith in humanity for good. I can see it now. Slick, lots of choppy camera cuts, a really bad pseudo-"hard" rock theme song, some homogenous hottie boy or girl dressed in black and looking all big and bad while looting some temple of the country's national treasures. It'll most likely be on the WB or UPN in the 9:30 or 10:00 time slot, just in time to catch the attention of the harried Mumsies and Dads who (most likely) aren't gamers and only know that it's a lot like that Tomb Raider movie, that was a lot like those "Raiders of the Lost Ark" movies (that were so much better, IMO, and not just because of Harrison Ford.). It's enough to make you want to slit your wrists on a fine spring morning, eh? And it's funny you should mention comic book similarities. Why? Well, when I was younger, my new brother-in-law happened to move in to my parent's house with his comic collection. Since I loved comic books, he let me go through the ones in the "not valuable" pile. One of those comic book series was called "Amethyst" and centered around a blond, teenaged schoolgirl who's lazy and whiny, then suddenly finds out that she has special powers and that she's a mystical princess adopted from another world. So, every episode of Amethyst revolved around a nefarious plot hatched in the other world and Princess Amethyst would save the day! Sound familiar? Sure it does.


First things first. What Xenogears really smacks hard of is that king of self-important religious tripe anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Give Ikari Shinji some muscles and a ponytail, and he's suddenly Fei Fong Wong. "Everyone, look at me, look at me, look at me! I HAVE MENTAL ISSUES! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" Fortunately, Xenogears (disc 1, anyway) had this nice thing called "gameplay" that kept me interested, despite the lamewad ripoff plot. Oh, and both of them were (almost) saved by a decent supporting cast. I hate Fei and Elly, but I love Bart and Billy. I really hate Shinji and Rei, but Asuka and Misato are awesome characters.

At least Xenogears' robots don't have extension cords. God.


The man with the topic
Live long and prosper, keepers of the Besaid stash.

First of all, thank you for making this week's topic in inspiration of my previous letter. As someone who enjoys reading the recaps and the mailbag of this fine website, it brings me great joy to know that the fanbase of this site will join in on the fun. That said, let's get crackin'.

When something becomes popular, people will copy aspects from it. Meteor disaster movies, alien invasion comedies, Gundam clones, EVA clones, and all that stuff from which clich?s are born.

Sometimes, however, them creative types forego the use of clich?s in favor of making something in the spirit of previous, popular shows/games/movies. Take the movie Signs, for example; as a good deal of people have mentioned the past few weeks, this film is like the spiritual successor of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Or Final Fantasy X, which shares a great deal of themes with Magic Knight Rayearth (the similarities are best appreciated through some lines delivered by Auron, Seymour and Yunalesca).

And then there are the similarities that are really odd. One wouldn't expect Final Fantasy VIII, the game that _in theory_ is a good ol' fashioned love story, to have so many parallels with Utena, of all shows. And speaking of Utena, was I ever surprised that Suikoden II borrows a few characters concepts from it, too (Dashing, manipulative bastard? Check. Obsessively determined blonde? Check. Hyper friend of the lead who is stronger than she looks? Check. Musically-inclined willowy youth? Check.), not to mention that a certain Rune spell made me think of the Million Swords of Hate.

I could go on, but I think it best to wait and see if someone will delve deeper on the whole FFX/MKR parallels.

~Quartz Falcon

I'm still not sold on your Suikoden II/Utena comparisons, for the reason Jeanne will point out at the end of the column. But I will give you credit for Hungry Fiend looking a LOT like the Swords of Hate, in appearance only, since no one really "casts" the Swords of Hate. And Jowy and Akio may both have ponytails, but Jowy would NEVER pull off Akio's power mullet of doom. But I really dig your Utena/FFVIII comparison. (Until I realize that you're just comparing everything you see to Utena, in the same way I used to compare everything to Lunar SSS.) If Utena had gone the same way as FFVIII, Utena would have lived happily ever after with Touga. And while I like the idea of Touga and Utena as a couple, it still doesn't quite work like Utena and Anthy do. Besides, like Rinoa, Touga doesn't particularly need Utena. Both of them are hot enough where they could (and do, in Touga's case) get plenty of action.

As for MKR and asked for it. BIG FAT SPOILERS for both follow. Yu Yevon is, essentially, FFX's god. He turns out to be an unlikely thing: a Metroid. Similarly, the god of Cephiro is Mokona. Mokona is God. I will never get over how retarded that is, as long as I live. Puu! In theme, they're also very close. A group of people trying to save the world, which they must do through painful sacrifice (summoner and guardian dying to defeat Sin, killing Emeraude to save Cephiro). But in the end, the Magic Knights actually go ahead with what they're asked to do, while Yuna couldn't make herself go through with calling the Final Aeon. Hikaru, Fuu and Umi might actually be better compared to Braska, Auron and Jecht, since they did the deed, despite how terrible they knew it was. Oh, and there are three of them.



Unfortunately, the FFX/MKR comparisons escape me, as I've never seen the series. But FFX reminded me of many a classic movie, considering all the plot points taken from earlier films/games/what have you. As for the inevitable Suikoden II comparisons to other games, well, another letter writer has something to say about that.


Somewhere out there

I've been wanting to write to your mailbag ever since the first edition, but for some reason, I er... didn't. But this edition's subject of discussion just happens to be my absolute favourite. I'll try to keep this letter as short as possible (read: still way too long), 'cause I can talk about this stuff for hours.

Anyway, the similarities. Let's start with FFVI. Now picture Locke as Luke, Celes as Leia, Gestahl as Palpatine. Kefka, of course, is Vader. Biggs and Wedge are a given, as is the infamous scene in South Figaro where Celes tells Locke, dressed as an Imperial Trooper: "You're awfully short for a soldier..."

Skipping FFVII (which was basically a remake of the A-Team), next in line is FFVIII (go figure). I like to compare this one to the Harry Potter books. Squall is Harry, Rinoa is Cho, Quistis is Hermione, Irvine is Ron. Seifer is Draco, with Fujin and Raijin as Crabbe and Goyle. Laguna, Kiros and Ward are the Mauraders. Selphie is Fleur. Cid and Edea are Dumbledore and McGonnagall. Garden is Hogwarts, Balamb is Hogsmede. This is just so obvious, it seems like every single character from FFVIII has a HP counterpart.

Also in FFVIII, there's the references to The Sound Of Music. 'the summer before,' Rinoa was a perfect little Liesl. Seifer was Rolf, Caraway-san can be General Von Trapp. Julia would be the General's dead wife. Of course, SeeD is the German army...

Still on the subject of FFVIII, there's Cowboy Bebop. Now picture Laguna as Vicious. Farfetched? I think not. Julia is Julia, Kiros is Gren, Caraway-san is Spike. Am I causing anyone nightmares yet? Just think about it. It works. And don't even get me started on the similarities between Vincent Valentine and Faye.

Lastly, FFIX and DB/DBZ. Zidane is Goku, Garnet is Chi-Chi, Kuja is either Raditz or Vegeta (though we all know he's most like Frieza). Eiko is Bulma, Amarant is Yamcha, Garland is Dr. Gero. Terra is Vegeta-sei. DragonBalls are gems, and the Eternal Dragons are Eidolons.

Well, I count rant about this for hours, but... let's not. I just wanna say that I love this stuff. And remember: the truth is out there!


The truth is out there, Solle, but delusions are all in your head. At least, that's what those nice men in the white coats tell me week after week. But I digress. Let's look at your d?j? vu moments, shall we? I must say that I'm terribly impressed here. The FFVI and FFVIII comparisons are especially apt. And it's quite interesting that you should draw the same conclusion that another fine letter writer has sent in, as regards FFVIII and Harry Potter. Maybe there's something to this after all? If so, are Harry and Draco going to fall into a passionate embrace after they've come to their majority? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I would personally go for Snape. I can't say that I see Laguna Loire as a good Vicious, Laguna to me was just too darned airheaded to be truly malicious and plotting. Nor does Caraway make a terribly impressive Spike to me. But since you're on the subject of Cowboy Bebop, I'll bring in a comparison point for you to ponder. Auron and Jet Black. Both are "older" ronin, (35 and 36, respectively) both have a vertical scar over their right eye, and both are grumpy as hell and dead sexy to boot. Now, as for FFIX and DBZ, nothing's made me laugh quite so hard all this week. It's just too perfect for words. Well done.


Thanks for writing in, Solle. We always welcome more readers to send stuff our way. It makes us feel all warm and squishy.

But, to your letter: whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a goddamn minute. You draw some good comparisons, I'll give you that. Obviously, the Harry Potter/FFVIII similarities are too much to ignore, since someone else noticed them, too (see below). But RINOA AS CHO? Methinks you are not giving Ms. Chang nearly enough credit in the brains department. And besides, Cho never dated Draco freaking Malfoy. If Cho is Rinoa, then Cedric is Seifer, and that makes NO SENSE AT ALL. And honestly, I don't see the FFVIII/Cowboy Bebop thing. Laguna as Vicious IS farfetched, considering that Vicious is a psycho killer and Laguna is a sweet, bumbling guy and their personalities are exact f***ing opposites. Y'know, it just doesn't do it for me.


The boy who lived...with his gay lover
I hope I didn't miss the deadline. If I did, just ignore me. I promise I won't cry. I know I had a really good example for this week's topic. However, like most of my good ideas, I ended up forgetting it, because I'm old and senile. Therefore, I will talk about the most recent videogame "deja vu" moment I've experienced.

Right around the time I was really into FFVIII, my mom gave me the first Harry Potter book to read. Sure, there are a million reasons why those two worlds don't mesh, but the whole "Guy with forehead scar and his blond rival go to school together" plot made me think of our favorite gay heroes. You've even got the whole Gryffindor lion thing for Harry, which matches up with Squall's "Okay, we get it, his symbol is a God damn lion" thing. The similarities end there, unless you get really creative. And whether or not you think Harry and Draco are gay together is a personal opinion - I prefer not to think about 14-year-old boys in that way, thanks.

And for the record, I think that the reason Suikoden II can potentially be compared to any other anime/game/etc. where the characters are concerned is that there are 108 freaking characters. With that many to choose from, you're bound to find someone to match a particular character type.

Now I have a topic of my own to bring up, which I'm sure you two can definitely relate to (not because it applies to you, but because you've dealt with the people I'm talking about). From bitter old school fanboys to fangirls who randomly share the plots of their latest disturbing fanfictions, gaming (as well as anime and other related things) seems to attract some scary, maladjusted people. It's difficult to find a gaming board where someone isn't getting extremely irate over someone insulting his or her favorite game, or where there isn't a "I'm such a lonely loser and everyone hates me -- WHY?!?!?!" thread. Even among message board admins (of all sorts of different boards, not just gaming ones), gamers have a reputation of being super whiny and annoying. I know there are exceptions to every rule -- I've met lots of cool people at cons and on message boards. So my question is this -- what is it about games that attracts the weirdoes? Or do people become weird by playing games and watching anime?

(A scary weirdo who's always been one ^_~)

All good points as usual, Jeanne. And as for Suikoden II, it's even worse than that. There are 108 Stars of Destiny. This isn't counting all the possible comparisons you could draw with other characters: Highland people, bonus characters, Leknaat, etc. etc. etc. There have to be around 150 actual major characters in the game. And then there are just the OBVIOUS references that you'd have to be completely braindead to miss. The five squirrels=the Power Rangers? *shock*

I thank you for the fab topic idea, as ranting about stupid fanboys has been a favorite pastime of mine lately. Excelsior!



A Harry Potter/FFVIII corollary? Hmm. That brings a strange image to my mind. Squally moping under the Sorting Hat as it shouts out "Gryffindor!" The appropriate reply is, of course, "...Whatever" and a pout at the screen. Come to think of it, FFVIII also had its very own "Fluffy" guarding something or other in one of the Gardens. Of course, Harry Potter reminds me of all the Terry Pratchett books I've read, so it just goes to show you can find similarities everywhere, if you look hard enough. Maybe Jung was right and we have a set number of archetypes buried in our heads that influence what we do. It's as good an excuse as any other I suppose. Why else would there be so many noble, beautiful, magical, talented, beautifully voiced, self-sacrificing Mary Sues out there, huh?


Well, friends, Jeanne's next topic is just too delicious to resist. For the next mailbag, we're taking on the question of "Freaky Fanboys and Fangirls." What is it about our chosen pastime that seems to attract a certain contingent of people? Or, does the pastime make you that way? Yes, you. We obviously think you're creepy. We've all seen instances of this, and not just in the realm of gaming/anime. The floor's yours, folks. Send off your best examples no later than Tuesday, October 8. And we'd prefer that your best examples aren't creepy come-ons to us. Thanks.

- AG and Lita-chan

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