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The hate against Vaan (FF12) is unfair and frankly weird

♡♪!?

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,731
I guess he was hated 30% because he underdeveloped, 70% because of character design, and how 'pretty' people found him.

His main development is at the beginning and his new relationship with Bash and Balthier, which is overshadowed by Ashe's journey to seek a power, to destroy the empire and prove her lineage.
 

UraMallas

Member
Nov 1, 2017
2,580
Iowa
I just recently played FFXII for the first time about 3 months ago and loved the entire main cast including Vaan. To me, there isn't a better, more human cast in all of FF.
 
Nov 13, 2017
4,767
User banned (3 days): thread whining + multiple prior warnings for the same thing
What year is it? Do people even care anymore?
 

Dnomla

Member
Oct 27, 2017
582
United States
I never understood the hate either, especially his design. I can get the dislike for his character, because being honest, he does feel underdeveloped and kind of just...there. I guess he was meant to be a stand in for the player while we follow the other real (and more interesting) main characters, but I don't think he turned out too engaging. Overall though, he's pretty inoffensive.

And like, I don't really see anything wrong here design-wise.

 

Glass Arrows

Member
Jan 10, 2019
1,413
One thing that's important to clear up here is that Vaan is not actually the protagonist. It's an understandable misconception given how heavily he's used to market/represent the game, but within the story proper that's not what he is. He's a viewpoint character. The story doesn't revolve around him at all, and his role as the viewpoint kind of fades away after the first few hours. That's part of the problem.

The other is the simple fact is that he's not really the viewpoint most people would have wanted for the story. Some version of Vaan might have existed before but he exists the way he does in the final game for entirely cynical marketing reasons, and the obligation to have marketable bishounen leads even if that's not the best or most interesting thing for the story.

I agree that he's vastly over-hated and he has a purpose in the story, on his own merits not a bad character, but he suffers because the audience is forced to see the first few hours from his perspective when the rest of the cast is far more interesting. IMO if they needed a marketable JRPG lead, they should have just told the game from Ashe's perspective since she's the closest thing to a main character the game has. Vaan would be much more well-liked if he was just a secondary party member.
 

BriareosGAF

Member
Oct 28, 2017
950
He's largely an empty vessel for a hackneyed story, which is a shame, as the plot actually starts out very strongly by killing Ashe's husband in the exposition and Vaan's brother in the early gameplay. Balthier is probably the only truly interesting character in and of himself, with a decent character design/aesthetic. I wish they had the courage to do something more grounded and less save-the-world trope.
 

alpha

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,171
Thank you.

This is what I've been saying about Vaan for literally years.
 

Imitatio

Member
Feb 19, 2018
1,962
Don't get the Vaan hate myself. While I find him to be one of the weaker FF protags, he's boring at worst, a good way to identify with someone suffering from the war at best. I'm rather content with having him in the party. Which I can not say about Bash or Penelo, both of which seem completely ... irrelevant (up to Archadis, that is). Both were introduced as being sidekicks that mattered to a certain extend, but now they're just there. Generally I find XII's cast to be rather dull overall, I don't really like them. Balthier is actually the one I think I like the most and even he's got his very mediocre parts within the story so far.
And the battle system is getting sooooo boring only 55h into the game. Meeeh. I'm not really convinced that I'll finish it. Would be the first game in years which I played for more than 50h and still didn't finish. Feels ... bad somehow. But my attention really starts fading.
 

CRIMSON-XIII

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,276
Chicago, IL
I thought he had cool hair and I was not bothered by the way his abs were showing. I was just interested in being this kid in a sky pirate world. I love some of the other characters though. The cities and world are awesome.

I think the issues with Vaan and Penelo came because they are kids and do not really add too much to the story or world. One might say Hope and Vanille do more on their own in XIII than Vaan and Penelo do overall. One might say this.
 

Elodes

Looks to the Moon
Member
Nov 1, 2017
753
The Netherlands
I haven't played XII so I don't have much of an opinion on this, but this is a really great and well-researched thread, OP. Props to you for making this argument so well.
 

Cyclonesweep

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,711
Someone else said it first. Horrible protagonist, average character.

He seems like a worse character because he is supposed to be the protagonist and fails at it spectacularly
 

DarknessTear

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,175
The problem with Vaan is that he should never have been in the game. He's part of the reason the story isn't what it could have been. Basch should have been the main character as Matsuno intended.
 

LegendofLex

Member
Nov 20, 2017
2,992
Given that the other big protagonists are a Princess, a knight in service to the kingdom, a mercenary with ties to the villains, and an outcast from a foreign land, axing Vaan and Penelo would mean there are 0 Everyman characters in the party. Would be kinda shitty for a game that's about fighting oppression.

And I think it's actually refreshing that Vaan and Penelo *aren't* special or pivotal to the quest. Vaan is connected to the main events primarily through his brother (who dies in the opening act), and because he steals the stone the Empire is after. He continues to be relevant to the plot because he becomes friends with the main cast and with Larsa, not because he's got a secret backstory that's bound up with the ongoing plot.

The world feels much bigger than Vaan's orbit as a result. And that's something we rarely get from post-PlayStation FFs.
 

Gurgelhals

Member
Oct 27, 2017
879
The hate probably stems from the initial impressions given by the look – the ridiculous outfit, the abs (which they thankfully toned down in the remaster), etc.

I remember my initial reaction back in the day having been along the line of, 'Oh fuck, no, they're going with another one of those unbearable douchebag main characters in the vein of Tidus and Squall.' Which wasn't true, of course, but that's just how it seemed when the game was revealed and all those memories of the Nomura-nightmare that was FFX were still fresh.

The discrepancy between tacky character design and actually interesting (or at least solid) characterization doesn't just apply to Vaan for that matter. Ashe's outfit is arguably even more ridiculous (and doesn't fit her character at all!) and Fran's stripperiffic look is just dumb, but both are actually quite cool characters.
 

Hate

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,822
People hate that he is the “protagonist” when the story clearly isn’t focused on him.
 

Glass Arrows

Member
Jan 10, 2019
1,413
Given that the other big protagonists are a Princess, a knight in service to the kingdom, a mercenary with ties to the villains, and an outcast from a foreign land, axing Vaan and Penelo would mean there are 0 Everyman characters in the party.
I don't think Vaan and Penelo should have been axed, but the game should have followed Ashe's perspective and had Vaan and Penelo be party members you recruit later. A big part of the reason why people dislike them is because even though Vaan does have a narrative point he still feels largely sidelined for most of the game after the party comes together and even if he isn't bad, the other party members feel more interesting and important.

Having Ashe be the MC would have been the best decision given that her motivations and quest to gain back control of her country forms most of the plot, and it would have led to a much more coherent story.

Granted it doesn't help that most of Penelo's backstory and characterization was cut.
 

Dreamwriter

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,416
I don't think people hated Vaan as a character, he would have been a decent add to the team. The problem was he was the main character, and that just didn't fit at all.

And where did this "They hated him because of the look" come from? I've never read that, ever, until now. It was a PS2 game, nobody expected amazing looking character graphics, and Final Fantasy games have always used outlandish clothing styles.
 

TheChocoboCadet

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
295
Agreed OP. I do think the lack of screen time for him may be what drags him down some. More time for all the characters to develop would do wonders, but every scene in that game that is there is a treasure.

Outfits are an important part of a characters perception look at Quiet.
Once you recognize the secret reason for Vaan's exposure, you will feel ashamed of your words & deeds.

deserts are hot
 
Nov 13, 2017
4,767
That's a great question Dreamcast. Let's see, the fact that people are posting in this thread and engaging the discussion might prove that yes, people still care.

(Probably could have figured that one out on your own though)
This response was so corny omg.

OT: I've always found Vaan to be pretty inoffensive.
 

Vault

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,362
He's just boring as fuck and completely forgettable, at least characters like Tidus and Squall make me feel something even if they can be annoying.
 

Frecklestein

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,449
Vaan is pretty great, glad to see time serving FF12 well when it comes to overall discourse and discussion of the game.
 

Canas Renvall

Member
Mar 4, 2018
581
For me, it's because Vaan is so very clearly not the protagonist of the game. That wouldn't bother me if the team hadn't admitted he (and Penelo) were just shat out into the game to make the game "relatable" to Japanese youth.

I'd be fine with that, even, if he added jack squat to the plot. Reks has more core plot relevance than Vaan ffs, and that's to say "next to none". Vaan and Penelo just exist in the plot and get dragged along for the ride while everyone else has actual reasons to be where they are beyond "wrong place, wrong time". Tidus appears to be wrong place, wrong time for FFX but the plot reveals all sorts of details that show why he's specifically chosen to be there while still being a fish out of water, so to speak.

Couple that with a freakish set of abs that would make Superman blush, and you have a recipe for a poorly-implemented character imo.
 
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kaebie

Member
Oct 27, 2017
648
All the complaints/assumptions of him supposedly being designed by committee to appeal to teenage girls rings incredibly hollow when you consider the literal thousands upon thousands of video game characters designed to appeal to teenage boy sensibilities at the exclusion of girls and women. He wasn't, but so fucking what if he was?
 

Dream Machine

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,927
I'm sure some people don't like him for being a thin character, or not actually being the protagonist in the game itself.

A lot of the hate though, I think, is because people used to be much more comfortable mocking characters that weren't masculine enough. Probably because it made them uncomfortable, and there was just a lot more toxic masculinity throughout gaming discussion in the aughts. They had him with the exact same design but a white shirt under the vest in the DS sequel, and everyone was like "they fixed it!" so I don't think it was really ever about the costuming as much it was about seeing this character posing like this

and having a visceral reaction to hate it for... some reason. 🤔


The thing I disliked about Vaan was his weird insect carapace chest in the original ps2 game. Otherwise his design is just like medieval fantasy Aladdin, which is what he is.
 

Kalor

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,200
I started it this year with the PS4 version and I never really got the hate against Vann. He's not the most important character in terms of the world but he doesn't need to be. He provides the more grounded perspective in the group and helps with the development of other characters. All the complaints that I had seen over the years seemed overblown like with Vann, the story which has been continually engaging and with great direction and the combat system which is pretty fun.
 

Vault

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,362
Why would you wear that much steel living in a desert?

I hate ridiculous designs that look completely out of place with the world
 

jett

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
18,412
There's hate? More like total indifference for a guy that leaves no mark whatsoever on the game he supposedly stars in. At least that's how I feel about Vaan.
 
OP
OP
Dreamboum

Dreamboum

Member
Oct 28, 2017
14,734
All the complaints/assumptions of him supposedly being designed by committee to appeal to teenage girls rings incredibly hollow when you consider the literal thousands upon thousands of video game characters designed to appeal to teenage boy sensibilities at the exclusion of girls and women. He wasn't, but so fucking what if he was?
nail on the head
 

Pooh

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,244
The Hundred Acre Wood
I never had a huge problem with him

The entire cast was such a massive step up from the garbage that was Tidus and co in FFX that I was thrilled even with Vaan
 

Yerffej

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,150


On-topic: Vaan looks lame, which made me predisposed to dislike him, but I think that Zidane from Final Fantasy IX looks lame, too, but Zidane won me over by being a fun character; Vaan didn't win me over, as I usually just wondered why he was even in the game.
Agreed. Zidane had spunk. Vaan just...is.
 

MP!

Member
Oct 30, 2017
2,817
Las Vegas
I agree OP ... He's not even the least bit offensive... coming right off X it's apparent that he doesn't suck nearly as much as Titus... albeit he doesn't play a huge role in the story so far... I enjoy his perspective and his reaction to events more than I remembered the first time I played it back in the day.
 

Persephone

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,366
I'm not gonna say all of the criticism of Vaan is down to homophobia..........but a lot of the criticism of Vaan is down to homophobia. I cannot count the number of times I've seen people complain about him looking "gay" and/or [insert homophobic slurs here].
 

BasilZero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,311
Omni
The people that raged against Vaan at the time already formed their opinion based on his outfit alone. Had he looked like he did in Revenant Wings...



...the hate wouldn't even have been half of what it was. Not that there isn't any valid criticism against Vaan but the loudest detractors poisoned the well before the first person could take a sip from it.
This legitimately look like they put his head on someone’s body lmao
 

Woozies

Member
Nov 1, 2017
13,615
My issue with Vaan is my issue with basically everyone not Ashe and Balthier.

Those characters fall by the wayside in no time flat. There's a very clear point where everybody not Ashe stops mattering to the plot.
 

Uthred

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,133
Categorising whether people like or dislike a fictional as "unfair" is fairly cringey.
 

Nikus

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,851
France
I'm sure some people don't like him for being a thin character, or not actually being the protagonist in the game itself.

A lot of the hate though, I think, is because people used to be much more comfortable mocking characters that weren't masculine enough. Probably because it made them uncomfortable, and there was just a lot more toxic masculinity throughout gaming discussion in the aughts. They had him with the exact same design but a white shirt under the vest in the DS sequel, and everyone was like "they fixed it!" so I don't think it was really ever about the costuming as much it was about seeing this character posing like this

and having a visceral reaction to hate it for... some reason. 🤔


The thing I disliked about Vaan was his weird insect carapace chest in the original ps2 game. Otherwise his design is just like medieval fantasy Aladdin, which is what he is.
Yup, when the game released I remember many people using "gay" as a slur to talk about him.

I never had any issue with Vaan, because yeah he had this Aladdin vibe that I liked.
 

GeekyDad

Member
Nov 11, 2017
1,009
USA
I genuinely enjoyed his character and humor in the DS RTS that came out -- loved the game overall for what it was and how it worked on DS -- but yeah, just his visual design in the original...ugh. The character himself was fine, but he just looked...silly. And his nose and face. They were kinda smeared in a weird way. Don't know how else to describe it. But I never hated him. Just wasn't all that jazzed about his visual design. The outfit was just silly.