SullyMcGully

Racial Diversity in FE

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So, when I was looking at the new Echoes artwork, I noticed something. Some of the characters who were originally white in Gaiden are being portrayed as being black. I don't have a problem with this, but I think it's cool that Fire Emblem might be starting to embrace a bit more racial diversity than it has in the past. I mean, who have we had before now? Devdan? Kellam? Basilio? A bit more diversity would be great, in my opinion.

So what are your opinions? And are there any characters from previous games that you think would go over better with a different ethnic flair?

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I can see Sacaen nomads being darker. Like a southeast Asian tan.

I would like to see more racial diversity in Echoes, mainly because having a big redesign seems to be a trend and most of the Gaiden characters didn't really have a set looks anyways. I also wouldn't mind seeing Alec/Arden/FE4 characters being redesigned either (but Alec's turban HAS to stay. No ifs ands or buts.)

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Personally, I'm not a fan of the drastic changes to already canon characters. Call me a traditionalist, but I love what they did with characters like Alm, Celica, Mae, Genny, and Saber so much, that seeing they felt the need to make characters like Gray (and Boey as much as I love his new design), black for the sake of diversity is disappointing. Especially when they're already adding new characters as shown by Faye, who could very much fill those roles. I would respect it more had they at least kept the characters appearance somewhat similar to how they looked in the original gaiden but Gray and Boey are arguably completely new characters in terms of appearance and the only thing that stayed were their names and roles in the story

Edited by Jagen

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I'm all for adding diversity in FE in order to reflect the real world and their own fanbase. It's nice to finally get some more non-white (or non European-coded/pale-skinned) characters outside of the very few we've gotten in the past. Hope IS continues this in FE switch and beyond.

7 minutes ago, Jagen said:

I would respect it more had they at least kept the characters appearance somewhat similar to how they looked in the original gaiden but Gray and Boey are arguably completely new characters in terms of appearance and the only thing that stayed were their names and roles in the story

....Considering that the old characters had very little in the way of actual character, how is changing their skin color completely changing their characters? You said it yourself. "Their names and roles in the story stayed." So....

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I'm not sure if Gray/Boey are supposed to be "black". If you were to make a map of the Fire Emblem world that was parallel to our world(Just going by what real life imagery and names that clearly influence the designs of each world), Valentia seems to be based on the Mediterranean area, likely between Italy and Greece, given the somewhat Roman/Greek designs we see flavored throughout the trailers.

And even though these areas are still considered Caucasian, and most people there would probably self-identify as "white", they can have tanner/darker skin than the rest of Europe.

The skin tones of Gray and Boey were likely changed to reflect that.

Edited by Slumber

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7 minutes ago, Slumber said:

I'm not sure if Gray/Boey are supposed to be "black". If you were to make a map of the Fire Emblem world that was parallel to our world(Just going by what real life imagery and names that clearly influence the designs of each world), Valentia seems to be based on the Mediterranean area, likely between Italy and Greece, given the somewhat Roman/Greek designs we see flavored throughout the trailers.

And even though these areas are still considered Caucasian, and most people there would probably self-identify as "white", they can have tanner/darker skin than the rest of Europe.

The skin tones of Gray and Boey were likely changed to reflect that.

I dunno, man, they're most definitely not tanned light-skinned people. They may not be black in the traditional sense (i.e explicitly African or African-descended), but they're definitely not white like Alm, Celica and the like are. They're pretty dark-skinned.

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6 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:

I dunno, man, they're most definitely not tanned light-skinned people. They may not be black in the traditional sense (i.e explicitly African or African-descended), but they're definitely not white like Alm, Celica and the like are. They're pretty dark-skinned.

Look at a picture of Sicilians vs. Italians from northern Italy(Sicilians can be very dark), or look at a picture of a large number of Greeks and you'll see a pretty wide variety of skin tones. Sicilians generally do have some African ancestry, given their position in the sea, but I think most of them consider themselves white(If I'm wrong, correct me).

Boey definitely looks like a dark skinned light person, and while Gray's a bit darker, he's not that much different. When you compare them to units who are definitely supposed to be black(Devdan/Danved, Basilio), there's a pretty clear difference in how they're drawn.

Edited by Slumber

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35 minutes ago, Slumber said:

Look at a picture of Sicilians vs. Italians from northern Italy(Sicilians can be very dark), or look at a picture of a large number of Greeks and you'll see a pretty wide variety of skin tones. Sicilians generally do have some African ancestry, given their position in the sea, but I think most of them consider themselves white(If I'm wrong, correct me).

Boey definitely looks like a dark skinned light person, and while Gray's a bit darker, he's not that much different. When you compare them to units who are definitely supposed to be black(Devdan/Danved, Basilio), there's a pretty clear difference in how they're drawn.

Spoiler

FERD_devdan.png

So here's Danved, coded as black.

character002_l.png


Gray, whose skin is darker than Danved's. Their facial features are different, sure, but this is simply due to the difference in art styles.


fe1280-1484777121142_1280w.jpg

Alm. Clearly white, pasty and all.

The huge difference in skin color between Alm and Gray is why I can't see Gray as a "tan light-skinned/white person." Same for Boey.

edit: Fixed. Made sure they're working for real this time.

Edited by Extrasolar

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Oh wow Devdan's black? I legimately never noticed some how...Even though he rocks a semi-afro.

Edited by Jotari

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While I'm not really all that fond of changing an already-established character's race (in either direction), for something like Gaiden where most characters didn't have any serious thought put into them in the first place, I'm willing to make a special exception that I would probably not make for any other game in the series (e.g. Genealogy.)

I mean, Alm didn't have a canon hair color until literally this year, and as far as we can tell none of the old Gaiden design sources are necessarily canon (Alm is very different from everything other than the cover and the manual, which are both wrong for Valbar), so skin isn't really that much more of a stretch.

Although honestly in Boey's case I'm pretty sure he's just tan. Gray's definitely been changed, although it's a bit hard to say exactly to what; he doesn't really look black to me, either, though he's clearly not white.

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4 minutes ago, Jotari said:

Oh wow Devdan's black? I legimately never noticed some how...Even though he rocks a big ass afro.

Yeah lol. He's the only one in POR though.... So I mean...

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There's more people than black people and white people out there. A dark-skinned person could be Latinx or South/South East Asian, for example.

Hell, a lot of people from Southern China are pretty dark.

Also I feel a lot of people--not particular about this thread, but just fandom in general--don't see the Hoshidans as Japanese for some reason (possibilities include not being portrayed as an "other"). I also see Navarre and characters from Isaach as some kind of East Asian (based on attire), and Sacae is fairly clearly based on Mongols. I definitely want more representation of darker-skinned people by a significant margin, but I feel people also forget sometime that people who have light skin aren't necessarily white, either.

Edited by Thor Odinson

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3 minutes ago, Thor Odinson said:

There's more people than black people and white people out there. A dark-skinned person could be Latinx or South/South East Asian, for example.

Hell, a lot of people from Southern China are pretty dark.

Also I feel a lot of people--not particular about this thread, but just fandom in general--don't see the Hoshidans as Japanese for some reason (possibilities include not being portrayed as an "other"). I also see Navarre and characters from Isaach as some kind of East Asian (based on attire), and Sacae is fairly clearly based on Mongols.

You're right about that. I'm definitely not saying that Boey and Gray are 100% black-coded and can't possibly be south- or southeast Asian-coded. That's just how I see them, personally. I know people say that they see Boey as tanned, but he looks like a light-skinned black guy to me, just based on the huge difference between him and most other characters we've seen so far.

But there are people that don't see Hoshidans as Japanese?! But...their entire kingdom and culture...is a feudal Japan analogue... I don't understand that part. Not to mention, when they have names like "Hinata," "Oboro," "Takumi" and "Ryoma..."

Considering we got Kamui redesigned to be more East Asian, I'm hoping that in a hypothetical remake of FE4 we get the Isaach characters as more East Asian as well. It would only make sense, since that's the flavor of Isaach in the first place.

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14 minutes ago, Iridium said:

While I'm not really all that fond of changing an already-established character's race (in either direction), for something like Gaiden where most characters didn't have any serious thought put into them in the first place, I'm willing to make a special exception that I would probably not make for any other game in the series (e.g. Genealogy.)

I mean, Alm didn't have a canon hair color until literally this year, and as far as we can tell none of the old Gaiden design sources are necessarily canon (Alm is very different from everything other than the cover and the manual, which are both wrong for Valbar), so skin isn't really that much more of a stretch.

Although honestly in Boey's case I'm pretty sure he's just tan. Gray's definitely been changed, although it's a bit hard to say exactly to what; he doesn't really look black to me, either, though he's clearly not white.

Pretty sure Alm's hair was cemented in Canon as Green when he appeared in Awakening. Unless you're talking about the particular shade of green.

 

Overall I'd probably like Boey's new design a lot more if they kept the red hair his in game portrait had.

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17 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:
  Hide contents

FERD_devdan.png

So here's Danved, coded as black.

character002_l.png


Gray, whose skin is darker than Danved's. Their facial features are different, sure, but this is simply due to the difference in art styles.


fe1280-1484777121142_1280w.jpg

Alm. Clearly white, pasty and all.

The huge difference in skin color between Alm and Gray is why I can't see Gray as a "tan light-skinned/white person." Same for Boey.

edit: Fixed. Made sure they're working for real this time.

God, I really don't want this thread to devolve into "black features" vs. "white features", because that's a slippery slope that's difficult to climb back up from when you slide down it.

But, Danved being explicitly black, and Grey not, is not JUST the artstyle. Basilio had a completely different artist, with a completely different artstyle, and still conveyed the sense that Basilio was black beyond just "he had dark skin". Maybe it's just because he was actually comically similar to Sam Jackson's Nick Fury, but it was still there.

Grey has wavy, shaggy hair. Which is something you'll find on more Mediterraneans than black people. Boey has wavy/feathery light hair.

Again, looking at the places that IS seems to be drawing inspiration from for the new design of Valentia points really heavily towards the Mediterranean. The characteristics of Grey and Boey fit a lot better with Caucasian people from the Mediterranean.

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3 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:

You're right about that. I'm definitely not saying that Boey and Gray are 100% black-coded and can't possibly be south- or southeast Asian-coded. That's just how I see them, personally. I know people say that they see Boey as tanned, but he looks like a light-skinned black guy to me, just based on the huge difference between him and most other characters we've seen so far.

But there are people that don't see Hoshidans as Japanese?! But...their entire kingdom and culture...is a feudal Japan analogue... I don't understand that part. Not to mention, when they have names like "Hinata," "Oboro," "Takumi" and "Ryoma..."

Considering we got Kamui redesigned to be more East Asian, I'm hoping that in a hypothetical remake of FE4 we get the Isaach characters as more East Asian as well. It would only make sense, since that's the flavor of Isaach in the first place.

The flavor of Isaac always seemed more Middle Eastern to me than East Asian though I'm not sure why. I think it might have something to do with the presence of a desert and the sort of robes the Lopt Sect wear. Balmung also seems to be a Shamshir which just brings images of ancient Middle Eastern empires to my mind.

Edited by Jotari

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Hoshido is Japanese, fact. I consider anime's aesthetics to at times be describable as "Europanese"- some idealized blur of Asian and European features able (on an individual by individual basis) to be portrayed as one or the other as the writers/whoever's in charge, dictates.

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Well... I for one don't really care about whether or not there's diversity in any media honestly. If the writer/director wants a character to be of a certain skin tone, then they can do whatever they want if they ask me. Doesn't matter if every single person is light-skinned or dark-skinned. I think people are overthinking this racial diversity thing.

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6 minutes ago, Slumber said:

God, I really don't want this thread to devolve into "black features" vs. "white features", because that's a slippery slope that's difficult to climb back up from when you slide down it.

But, Danved being explicitly black, and Grey not, is not JUST the artstyle. Basilio had a completely different artist, with a completely different artstyle, and still conveyed the sense that Basilio was black beyond just "he had dark skin". Maybe it's just because he was actually comically similar to Sam Jackson's Nick Fury, but it was still there.

Grey has wavy, shaggy hair. Which is something you'll find on more Mediterraneans than black people. Boey has wavy/feathery light hair.

Uh... Please don't tell me that you're saying that because Gray and Boey don't have stereotypically "black" features or act in a stereotypically "black" manner then they can't be black... I mean....

You know that the Mediterranean is really close to north Africa, right? Egyptians and Ethiopians were a huge part of Greek and later Roman culture and life. They knew about them, many travelled to Greece and Rome, and whatnot. There's no reason they can't be black in a Mediterranean-style setting.
 

Edited by Extrasolar

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2 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:

You're right about that. I'm definitely not saying that Boey and Gray are 100% black-coded and can't possibly be south- or southeast Asian-coded. That's just how I see them, personally. I know people say that they see Boey as tanned, but he looks like a light-skinned black guy to me, just based on the huge difference between him and most other characters we've seen so far.

But there are people that don't see Hoshidans as Japanese?! But...their entire kingdom and culture...is a feudal Japan analogue... I don't understand that part. Not to mention, when they have names like "Hinata," "Oboro," "Takumi" and "Ryoma..."

Considering we got Kamui redesigned to be more East Asian, I'm hoping that in a hypothetical remake of FE4 we get the Isaach characters as more East Asian as well. It would only make sense, since that's the flavor of Isaach in the first place.

Isaach, oddly enough, has gotten more IRISH over the years. The country is basically samurais, but Shannon is an Irish name, Holyn's name is officially Cu Chulainn, an Irish folk hero, Ulster(Ayra's son) is a region of Ireland. Galzus has a Celtic root in his name. All of the Isaach males have explicitly Irish names. Ayra and Larcei are completely made up.

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16 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:

You're right about that. I'm definitely not saying that Boey and Gray are 100% black-coded and can't possibly be south- or southeast Asian-coded. That's just how I see them, personally. I know people say that they see Boey as tanned, but he looks like a light-skinned black guy to me, just based on the huge difference between him and most other characters we've seen so far.

But there are people that don't see Hoshidans as Japanese?! But...their entire kingdom and culture...is a feudal Japan analogue... I don't understand that part. Not to mention, when they have names like "Hinata," "Oboro," "Takumi" and "Ryoma..."

Considering we got Kamui redesigned to be more East Asian, I'm hoping that in a hypothetical remake of FE4 we get the Isaach characters as more East Asian as well. It would only make sense, since that's the flavor of Isaach in the first place.

Oh yeah, I'm not saying Boey also can't be black either. Just from a quick glance I see a lot of mentions of tanned vs black in this thread and not really mentions of Latinx/South(East) Asian/Other dark-skinned ethnicities out there.

It's nowhere near a majority thankfully, but you'd be surprised to how dense some people are. I've heard someone call Ryoma a white boy once and I nearly flipped the fuck out. 

Also @mediterranean setting and black people--there is certainly a lot of trade across the mediterranean during that time. Boey could very well be either a very dark skinned Italian or a black person--esp in an anime style it's hard to tell. 

Othello, anyone?

7 minutes ago, Slumber said:

Isaach, oddly enough, has gotten more IRISH over the years. The country is basically samurais, but Shannon is an Irish name, Holyn's name is officially Cu Chulainn, an Irish folk hero, Ulster(Ayra's son) is a region of Ireland. Galzus has a Celtic root in his name. All of the Isaach males have explicitly Irish names. Ayra and Larcei are completely made up.

FE4 is pretty Irish + Nordic in naming, but everything culturally in Sacae points to Mongol and yet we get Rath, Sue, and Guy as names. Names don't mean too much it seems--except Hoshido because that's Japanese people doing Japanese people things. 

I don't think Isaach necessarily has to be East Asian, but the clothing styles--esp Shanan and Ayra--somewhat resemble Qi Pao-esque robes to me. Now I am Chinese so I clearly have China bias, but I do like seeing things that resemble things in my culture.

That being said Middle Eastern Issach would also be cool. It's not as clear cut in that case as Hoshido, certainly.

Edited by Thor Odinson

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5 minutes ago, Jotari said:

The flavor of Isaac always seemed more Middle Eastern to me than East Asian though I'm not sure why. I think it might have something to do with the presence of a desert and the sort of robes the Lopt Sect wear. Balmung also seems to be a Shamshir which just brings images of ancient Middle Eastern empires to my mind.

That's fair. I looked again at their costuming and the Balmung itself, and it does seem to borrow a lot from Middle Eastern styles. Hopefully a remake of FE4 could flesh that out more.

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9 minutes ago, Extrasolar said:

Uh... Please don't tell me that you're saying that because Gray and Boey don't have stereotypically "black" features or act in a stereotypically "black" manner then they can't be black... I mean....

You know that the Mediterranean is really close to north Africa, right? Egyptians and Ethiopians were a huge part of Greek and later Roman culture and life. They knew about them, many travelled to Greece and Rome, and whatnot. There's no reason they can't be black in a Mediterranean-style setting.
 

The reason for the darker skin tones across the Mediterranean is because of the proximity to Africa, not denying it. But region and race wise, they're all still considered "Caucasian". And, again, slippery slope. Probably best to drop that former argument before it gets worse.

Again, looking at Sicilians, Greeks, and various peoples across the Mediterranean. You'll find very dark skin tones, you'll find some very pale and light. Point is, I'm pretty positive this is the route IS is intending to go with Boey and Gray. I don't think this is some sort of "race changing" like the OP seems to think.

Edited by Slumber

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2 hours ago, Jagen said:

Personally, I'm not a fan of the drastic changes to already canon characters. Call me a traditionalist, but I love what they did with characters like Alm, Celica, Mae, Genny, and Saber so much, that seeing they felt the need to make characters like Gray (and Boey as much as I love his new design), black for the sake of diversity is disappointing. Especially when they're already adding new characters as shown by Faye, who could very much fill those roles. I would respect it more had they at least kept the characters appearance somewhat similar to how they looked in the original gaiden but Gray and Boey are arguably completely new characters in terms of appearance and the only thing that stayed were their names and roles in the story

This basically sums up my thoughts. Plus, it kinda bugs me because I'm pretty sure Boey at least was in Awakening's DLC and he was white.

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7 minutes ago, Thor Odinson said:

Oh yeah, I'm not saying Boey also can't be black either. Just from a quick glance I see a lot of mentions of tanned vs black in this thread and not really mentions of Latinx/South(East) Asian/Other dark-skinned ethnicities out there.

Yeah, that's fair. I did neglect mentioning other possibilities. Just my bias.
 

3 minutes ago, Thor Odinson said:

It's nowhere near a majority thankfully, but you'd be surprised to how dense some people are. I've heard someone call Ryoma a white boy once and I nearly flipped the fuck out. 

Let me guess: Those are the same people that think all anime characters are white (even though they clearly have Japanese names and live in Japan)? Argh. Yeah, that's frustrating as hell. Luckily I haven't run into many of them as of late, and none dense enough to call the clearly Japanese analogues from Hoshido white. Seems like a lot of the time people want stereotypical depictions of other races in order to make them believe that "x" is non-white, and that's ridiculous.
 

3 minutes ago, Slumber said:

The reason for the darker skin tones across the Mediterranean is because of the proximity to Africa, again, slippery slope. Probably best to drop that former argument before it gets worse.

Not because of proximity to Africa, but because Africans were coming and going. People have been traveling to other places since the dawn of time, settling down and interbreeding. I find that a lot of people are confused and stunned when you mention non-white people in European settings. Like @Thor Odinson brought up: Othello, black Italian. Boey and Gray could be the same in Mediterranean Valentia.

But yeah, we can agree to disagree in the interest of not turning this into some sort of pithy internet argument. If you don't see them as black, that's fine. I do, personally. And we're both fine to think that way.

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