My Female Gaming Role Models: Rinoa Heartilly

Rinoa Heartilly as drawn by Ezrah

Rinoa Heartilly as drawn by Ezrah

Now, before you’re completely turned off because *insert prejudice against Rinoa here*, just hear me out. I know a lot of people didn’t like Rinoa, or Final Fantasy VIII for that matter, but I will tell you exactly why I have no idea… why. Ever since the opening scene of Final Fantasy VIII, I was in love. I remember getting home from the store, running into my bedroom with my sister, turning it on, and just being in sheer awe. I don’t know how many times mom called us to dinner. We couldn’t stop watching. “Hold on mom I have to save it!” I think this was my childhood catchphrase when Playstation came into the picture.

As I played through the game, I related to Rinoa more and more. From the first time I saw her until the end of the game, she spoke to me. She was my video game counterpart. My soul mate, if you will. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that one character that could have been you. More than any other character you ever encountered? Maybe it’s Lara, Quistis, Celeste, or Princess Peach. Whoever it happens to be, you understand what I’m trying to say. If not, I will do my best to explain.

The Dance

When I think of Rinoa, I think of persistence, free spirit, optimism. Her introduction was perfect. Walking up to Squall, telling him he will like her, dragging him onto the dance floor, and in record time, teaching him how to dance (I kid). This was the part of her that she wanted people to see, confidence.

We meet her again in the town of Timber. She is the princess of the resistance against the Galbadian army, and you find out her goal at the dance was to get to the headmaster. She wanted to hire SeeD forces to help liberate Timber. In her naive optimistic view, all they needed were some mercenaries to follow out their plans, and the rest would fall into place.  Her narrow view of how the world works, and her passion to save it, are only the surface of her, and stem greatly from her military brat upbringing and rebellion against her father. In changing her last name, moving away, and offering no connection to the Galbadian Army until absolutely necessary, she shows her feelings for her father in a very realistic way. Having come from a military family myself, this drew me to her.

My father was, and still is, your typical retired military man. As a teenager, he would protect me from the dangers of the world the only way he really knew how, by not letting me in it. It wasn’t until college when I had moved out of the house, that I was truly able to become my own person and find out who I truly am. Looking back I realize now that he was only doing what every parent does the best they know how: Protect their child, however his tactics and methods were firmly rooted in his military upbringing. Even in the face of danger, her passion for her friends, what she believes is “right”, and her defiance against her father, fuel her to try and help them defeat the sorceress (how she doesn’t run into Quistis’ team is beyond me).

In her quest to help, she comes to a very scary realization. She is not as strong as she believes herself to be. When she was attacked alone, she didn’t have the confidence to handle what was being thrown at her. This may seem weak to some people, but I saw this as a very real side of anybody, and a lesson to be learned about people. She gave off a sense of confidence, because with others around her, she was confident. When left alone to her own devices, she didn’t have another person to be confident with, therefore, the confidence was not there. Many times in life, we are most ourselves when we are alone. The person we show to people is the outside layer that we would like to be, or how we would like to be seen. This being true of Rinoa, she seemed to believe this to be true of Squall as well.

Even when faced with a cold and unemotional Squall, knowing her own feelings for the world, she refuses to believe someone can be this person that he puts off. Squall has an amazing ability to keep people at a distance, and guard his emotions. Coming from an orphanage, this must have been common practice his whole life. The people he relied on as a child are no longer available to him as a young adult, and he sees this as a sign that everyone will eventually be left alone. Refusing to believe that is all Squall has to offer, Rinoa does her best to break through his barrier, finally succeeding when he realizes he may never hear her again. Things that he found annoying, he missed, and in true Squall style, decides that he, alone, can save her… maybe. 

Even though her absorption of sorceress powers was an accident, she embraces it with dignity, volunteering to be cast away in fear that Ultimecia may strike again. Knowing this will forever keep her alone, she looks to Squall, who initially accepts her decision, but then chooses to save her, vowing to forever be her Knight. In the end, as he is overwhelmed by the time compression, she is the one that finds him. She doesn’t think of a time period, or a place to return to. She thinks of him. As they have grown individually, and together, throughout their journey, as long as they have each other that is all that matters.

Rinoa, to me, has always been an inspiration to face your fears head on, but hope for the best outcome. There is always another side to the story, and things always will work out in the end. Be confident in yourself, no matter what, and do not be afraid to look for help if you need it. These are the things she has taught me. 

Whether you love her or hate her (or somewhere inbetween) let’s open the discussion! What did you think about Final Fantasy VII, or Rinoa specifically? Has she inspired you in any way? Good or bad? Who is your video game soul mate? Is there a character that has spoken to you?

 

/bow

 

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