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I love Sylvando from Dragon Quest XI, but I can't tell if he's supposed to be mocking gay people.

Manfred

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,961
Geneva, Switzerland
After a moment of floating about writing's intentions, I found his story greatly endorsed by the game, as everything around him (spell, clothes, intervention etc.). I think about him as a positive char, and refreshing in an heroic fantasy world.
 

Soulsis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
608
I'm queer and I love seeing queerness in video games (well anything really), but I get the unease when it comes to the creator's intent. For one, I love our stereotypes, and think femininity and flamboyance are lovely traits, so I find Sylvando to be refreshing and inspiring considering the medium.

If the creator's intent was to make his flamboyance a punchline, then the joke's on him/her, because flamboyance is wonderful to me. It's important to call out characterizations that are harmful, but calling out characterizations just because they're feminine or flamboyant does nothing but reinforce the idea that those traits are wrong.

I guess the question to ask is how Sylvando's perceived in the game. Is he celebrated and accepted? Do the "straight" characters play along with the "gay" character, or are they uncomfortable by him? Is he a joke character or do his actions have consequence in the story? If the characters in this universe are totally accepting of him, then there's your answer.
 

caliph95

Member
Oct 25, 2017
21,217
I mean yeah he's flamboyant and effeminate but from the little I played (and he's fucking great) so far he doesn't feel like the butt of jokes that other games or shows would be a bit more mean spirited than this game is so far who are having fun with his antics and he's shown so far to be wise and competent

It's not Persona
 

PlanetSmasher

The Abominable Showman
Member
Oct 25, 2017
31,800
I'm queer and I love seeing queerness in video games (well anything really), but I get the unease when it comes to the creator's intent. For one, I love our stereotypes, and think femininity and flamboyance are lovely traits, so I find Sylvando to be refreshing and inspiring considering the medium.

If the creator's intent was to make his flamboyance a punchline, then the joke's on him/her, because flamboyance is wonderful to me. It's important to call out characterizations that are harmful, but calling out characterizations just because they're feminine or flamboyant does nothing but reinforce the idea that those traits are wrong.

I guess the question to ask is how Sylvando's perceived in the game. Is he celebrated and accepted? Do the "straight" characters play along with the "gay" character, or are they uncomfortable by him? Is he a joke character or do his actions have consequence in the story? If the characters in this universe are totally accepting of him, then there's your answer.
Sylv is an incredibly plot-important character and the driving force of a lot of scenes. He's a camp boy, but he's never inappropriate with his fellow adventurers and they all regard him as a true and loyal friend. He's absolutely not the butt of the joke, he cracks a lot of jibes himself. It's so damn refreshing, really.
 

Swift_Gamer

Member
Dec 14, 2018
998
Rio de Janeiro
Sylv is an incredibly plot-important character and the driving force of a lot of scenes. He's a camp boy, but he's never inappropriate with his fellow adventurers and they all regard him as a true and loyal friend. He's absolutely not the butt of the joke, he cracks a lot of jibes himself. It's so damn refreshing, really.
It's really great that he doesn't serve as an inconvenient "sex talk only" character. This is really refreshing.
 

Mobyduck

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,409
Brazil
I don't find him bad or good. He is your stereotypical gay/effeminate man, which I guess is better than nothing when it comes to representation. I do dislike how he is introduced by being followed by a parade of men, including some very young looking ones, which feels like a nod to some negative stereotypes. I much prefer Soldier 76's take on homossexual characters.
 

Y2Kev

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,330
Need Tim Rogers here. The whole sequence with the desert prince is about toxic masculinity and him just not being into all that.
 

Crayon

Member
Oct 26, 2017
10,176
I'm not familiar with that character but I've definitely felt this same exact thing and other Japanese media. Well that I have it all figured out, but so far I've learned that I have to keep in mind a) it may be hard for me to understand how Japanese people feel about homosexuality. It's ingrained in our culture, but it might be ingrained in their culture in a slightly different way. B) I only have a few gay friends I'm not that good at guessing what they would be offended at and what they would not.

So. For now, I suppose I'm content to feel confused about it. :>
 

Taruranto

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,006
His followers are incredibly annoying, but Sylvando himself is OK. He's clearly an okama, but he doesn't have the usual negative traits associated with that type of character (He doesn't try to molest anyone and is always very respectful).
 

Seik

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,446
Québec City
This does raise an interesting question: does a character need to call attention to their sexuality to be a positive portrayal? Sylv never really seems to want to dwell on things that aren't the mission, and he's not really a flirty person in general, but at the same time, I don't remember him ever actually confirming his sexuality in any way, which could itself be a means of the devs trying to avoid taking a firm stance on the whole thing.
Interesting point indeed, on a negative stance it could be the devs avoiding the subject in fear to upset anyone but on the positive it could also just be the normal circumstance that not everyone clarifies their sexual attractions for a sex or the other when meeting/hanging out with people.

I'm not a japanese culture expert, even though I use the copy-pasta a lot lol, but maybe it's a step toward normalisation of homosexuality, that would be great. Perhaps I'm a bit too optimistic too though.
 

gblues

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,047
Beaverton, OR
Sylvando is a great example of the importance of good VA. Shai Matheson's performance absolutely sells the earnestness of the character. He's my favorite character in the game.

It's also not the first time the Jester class has been subverted. In Dragon Quest 3, if you got a Joker up to level 20, you could reclass them into a Sage, without needing whatever macguffin item you needed otherwise.
 

Mickagau

Member
Dec 11, 2018
397
France
At first I was confused meeting him...but as the game progressed I found him awesome. It is also to note he is referring to himself as female in the jp game. I think that would have been a bit too much in the west.
 

Jamie

Member
Oct 27, 2017
284
Like others, if the intent was to mock him, they failed. I thought he was the best character of the lot personality wise.

But, I can completely understand if gay people saw him differently, and we can only hope the makers behind the game had the best intentions when creating the character.
 

Fjordson

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,942
Obviously there are certain stereotypes present, but I feel like the game and the other characters in the game treat him with respect and that he isn't mocked by the writing for being flamboyant. I thought he worked pretty well.

Also helps that he's often the most competent leader of your group, is incredibly likable and empathetic, and the cutscenes paint him as the most skilled fighter in the entire party (save for some magic / story stuff that happens later on with other characters).
 

Ouroboros

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,670
I haven't finished the game, but I feel like he is the least cliched character tbh. He is my favorite character of the group and is in my party even though I hate his skillset.

I'm a straight male, so I don't know if I'm wrong.
 

Jamiaro

Member
Jan 8, 2018
276
Finland
At first I felt really akward when Sylvando showed up. In the end he became my favourite. Such an honest, flamboyant character! A true example of self-expression.
 

croc

Member
Oct 27, 2017
192
Indianapolis
It's interesting so many people seem say he's so stereotypical. I think I'd strongly disagree with that. Just being flamboyant is not stereotypical. Many people are actually like that. You can be flamboyant and have other important character traits too. He is essentially the emotional core of the team and is even focused in on cut scenes about how courageous he is which I think is about the least stereotypical thing you can do for a flamboyant male character.
 

Swift_Gamer

Member
Dec 14, 2018
998
Rio de Janeiro
This does raise an interesting question: does a character need to call attention to their sexuality to be a positive portrayal? Sylv never really seems to want to dwell on things that aren't the mission, and he's not really a flirty person in general, but at the same time, I don't remember him ever actually confirming his sexuality in any way, which could itself be a means of the devs trying to avoid taking a firm stance on the whole thing.
His whole acceptance arc is pretty much an allegory to gay acceptance.
His father wanted him to be a knight and he didn't want that.
You can take this as his father disappointed that he wasn't straight but in the end coming in terms with it and embracing who his son really is.
That was my interpretation of it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,641
I'm still kinda early in the game so I feel like I can't make a proper judgement yet. On one hand, I love the character so far, mostly cause he seems badass and empowered. However, apsects of him make me uneasy cause (to me) he harkens to the typical, cheap "haha a gay man!" trope in other works of fiction.

But, if he continues to be badass as the game continues, without constantly hamming up stereotypes, it should be fine.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,641
It's interesting so many people seem say he's so stereotypical. I think I'd strongly disagree with that. Just being flamboyant is not stereotypical. Many people are actually like that. You can be flamboyant and have other important character traits too. He is essentially the emotional core of the team and is even focused in on cut scenes about how courageous he is which I think is about the least stereotypical thing you can do for a flamboyant male character.
His mannerisms are stereotypical as far as cheap/problematic tropes go in works of fiction. Of course that's not to say that portrayal of flamboyant men in general is inherently problematic.
 

croc

Member
Oct 27, 2017
192
Indianapolis
His mannerisms are stereotypical as far as cheap/problematic tropes go in works of fiction. Of course that's not to say that portrayal of flamboyant men in general is inherently problematic.
Right, but in this case I don't think I ever once felt like those things were supposed to be laughed at in the game world, which is where things go south really quick. If people feel uncomfortable about it it's probably because of so many bad portrayals in real life that ARE supposed to be laughed at that it can be uncomfortable to see those things in a different context. Maybe others would disagree but that's how I felt about it.
 

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
13,984
This does raise an interesting question: does a character need to call attention to their sexuality to be a positive portrayal? Sylv never really seems to want to dwell on things that aren't the mission, and he's not really a flirty person in general, but at the same time, I don't remember him ever actually confirming his sexuality in any way, which could itself be a means of the devs trying to avoid taking a firm stance on the whole thing.
Again, I’m straight, but...

Generally my understanding on these things is that ideally, you want actual representation, with the creators in mind as well. Speaking geneally, there’s a real tendency for people to cling to subtext - even imagined and/or incredibly small subtext - in big popular things and treat those scraps as great representation, rather than seek out works by creators that are actually representing themselves sincerely in their art.

But at the same time, completely devaluing subtext isn’t really worth it? You can still find value in characters and stories where they didn’t/couldn’t quiiiite go all the way, even if that’s disappointing (or worse). And at times a story that focuses enough on that subtext may still be more powerful to you than one that outright tries to represent but just isn't written as well, and so on.

So this is just what I’ve picked up from others. Basically, I don’t think it’s my place to decide if he “counts” as representation or not, when a gay man may or may not find value in it (as responses here have shown).
 

Tizoc

Member
Oct 25, 2017
19,075
Oman
The only bad thing about sylvando is going up against that one boss early on and his attacks wake the boss up.
Otherwise he is qmong the best characters in the game if not the best
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,641
Right, but in this case I don't think I ever once felt like those things were supposed to be laughed at in the game world, which is where things go south really quick. If people feel uncomfortable about it it's probably because of so many bad portrayals in real life that ARE supposed to be laughed at that it can be uncomfortable to see those things in a different context. Maybe others would disagree but that's how I felt about it.
That's fair.
 

Disclaimer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,368
His whole acceptance arc is pretty much an allegory to gay acceptance.
His father wanted him to be a knight and he didn't want that.
You can take this as his father disappointed that he wasn't straight but in the end coming in terms with it and embracing who his son really is.
That was my interpretation of it.
The point is that if homosexual representation and experiences have to be hidden behind allegory, as if homosexuality is an "adult topic" unsuitable for all ages, then that's stigmatizing even if their heart is in the right place (as it seems to be here).

Even if he isn't flirtatious, or in a relationship, or anything, his sexuality could still be made overtly but respectfully clear, rather than implied. Gay people have constantly had to settle for subtextual representation and relationships, and that needs to stop. Homosexuality isn't an adult topic — it's a human topic.

Sylvando seems to be great and all, certainly a positive character, but they could have gone all the way.
 

Ænima

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,920
Im straight, and while playing the game i never felt Sylvando was suposed to be a mockery of gay ppl. He has his funny moments like all other characters, but he seems a great character to me.
The game never mention, question, or make fun of sylvando sexuality.
 

Swift_Gamer

Member
Dec 14, 2018
998
Rio de Janeiro
The point is that if homosexual representation and experiences have to be hidden behind allegory, as if homosexuality is an "adult topic" unsuitable for all ages, then that's stigmatizing even if their heart is in the right place (as it seems to be here).

Even if he isn't flirtatious, or in a relationship, or anything, his sexuality could still be made overtly but respectfully clear, rather than implied. Gay people have constantly had to settle for subtextual representation and relationships, and that needs to stop. Homosexuality isn't an adult topic — it's a human topic.

Sylvando seems to be great and all, certainly a positive character, but they could have gone all the way.
They could've, but this is Japanese media we're talking about and they're not known to be open about these topics, so the way this was presented in the most successful game in Japan, a game with a shonen demographic, is mind glowing.
Yes, Sylvando was amazing for what he is and where he stands.
 

fundogmo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
397
As a queer person playing this videogame, I think Sylvando is part of an extremely short list of unapologetically camp and vaguely feminine yet macho action heroes. The only other example I can think of off the top of my head is Shore Leave from Venture Brothers. He fulfills a small laundry list of tropes, but is treated with respect by the world and all the characters around him, and his arc with his father may not have broken a lot of new ground in queer fiction, but it definitely made my heart swell with how sweet it was.
 

PlanetSmasher

The Abominable Showman
Member
Oct 25, 2017
31,800
As a queer person playing this videogame, I think Sylvando is part of an extremely short list of unapologetically camp and vaguely feminine yet macho action heroes. The only other example I can think of off the top of my head is Shore Leave from Venture Brothers. He fulfills a small laundry list of tropes, but is treated with respect by the world and all the characters around him, and his arc with his father may not have broken a lot of new ground in queer fiction, but it definitely made my heart swell with how sweet it was.
Now that I’m done with KH3, I might as well push forward into the second half of the game just to see how they execute the rest of Sylv’s arc.
 

Delio

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,699
As a gay guy i found Sylvando to be amazing. Really confident, strong, and sure. His arc with his dad was great and i loved how then Party just doesnt mind. Honestly he was the light in he game for me and the most fun person in the party.
 

petitmelon

Member
Oct 25, 2017
253
Texas
Sylvando is the reason I loved DQXI so much. The second half when you meet him with his brigade is legit one of my favorite game sequences ever in a RPG. It was unexpected and fun, especially when the Luminary gets a costume and joins in.
 

John Rabbit

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,737
I was also unsure about him for a majority of the game (whether or not it was a bad caricature) but ultimately his personality is never mocked, exploited, or satirized in a mean-spirited way. All the other characters accept him without question (other than his unclear past) and he's frequently the source of inspiration for the group at large and a crucial member of the team in providing a means of travel and knowledge about the broader state of things.

His arc with the Smile Soldiers really caused me to raise some eyebrows, but ultimately the sexuality/effeminate behavior of his followers is completely irrelevant to their story and the game's larger plot. It's never a plot point as to whether or not he, or his followers, are gay.

He's definitely one of my favorite characters in the game.
 

Hours Left

Member
Oct 26, 2017
7,762
There’s is absolutely nothing wrong with being flamboyant and campy. The only problem is when homophobes use it to mock gay people and enforce negative stereotypes.

Sylvando is a perfect example of how to portray it correctly. He’s amazing.
 

splash wave

Member
Oct 25, 2017
574
Bay Area, CA
He's incredibly flamboyant, but he strikes me a character you can laugh with rather than at. He rules, and all of the characters in the game really respect him.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,020
I thought Sylvando was intentionally flamboyant and borrowing from a lot of cliches but turns what one might perceive as negative on its head as he's a positive, empowering character.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,950
I played the whole game, I LOVE Sylvando.

My problem is assuming his sexual orientation just because of the way he is, did I miss the moment in which it's said that he's gay or bisexual? I don't recall any moment with that, I mean... "I get it", but still.
 

PlanetSmasher

The Abominable Showman
Member
Oct 25, 2017
31,800
I played the whole game, I LOVE Sylvando.

My problem is assuming his sexual orientation just because of the way he is, did I miss the moment in which it's said that he's gay or bisexual? I don't recall any moment with that, I mean... "I get it", but still.
At least as far into the game as I am (right before Big Moment #1), he's never actually acknowledged it directly. I'm willing to chalk it up to just being that it never really comes up in conversation, but I can also see it as the developers just trying to be cagey and not actually say it so they can preserve deniability.
 

DevilPuncher

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,062
If he was intended to be a caricature, I think the localization team did an excellent job of turning him into an incredible character. His whole arc is wonderful, and he's easily my favorite character in the game.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,950
At least as far into the game as I am (right before Big Moment #1), he's never actually acknowledged it directly. I'm willing to chalk it up to just being that it never really comes up in conversation, but I can also see it as the developers just trying to be cagey and not actually say it so they can preserve deniability.
Then why are we all saying that he's gay? is it that impossible that a man as FABULOUS as him could still be straight(or bisexual).

I mean, I'm a bisexual dude and I fucking adore him but I just don't like the "well of course he's gay" conversation.

I feel pretty erased when people act like everyone is either gay or straight.