So last weekend I started up Cold Steel I with my friend and at the end of the prologue it was interesting to hear my friend's perspective on each character introduced. Of course I know so much more so my perspective will be different, but how he viewed each character was interesting and in a way aligned a bit with how I view each of the characters by the end of the game. It got me thinking how well does the prologue do with introducing each character and how the game goes about fleshing them out by the end. This list will be all of Rean's classmates and how we are introduced to them and how that works towards their future development, so I will not be dissecting Rean at all with this. Any spoilers from the first game will be open but if there are any spoilers of the second game I will indicate that in a spoiler tag. Fie There are two parts to her, one which at first gives the point that she doesn't take much seriously by napping and just her outside demeanor (As well as with Sara commenting how she should actually put in some effort). However, we also see that she is extremely competent, being the only one to notice the trap door and escape the situation, and how she effortlessly goes through the dungeon by herself and even returns back to Rean's group at the halfway point to let them know where they are at. I admit bias on my part as she is my favorite character of the Class, but this is a really good way for an introduction. In that short time we learn a good bit about her and there's a sort of mystery to her character. We also find out she has some sort of connection to Sara. Then there is the question of how is she so good when she seems disinterested in everything and lazy (though there was always the possibility of the trope of the lazy but very competent person with no explanation). We do get this answered pretty well later on, where we found out she was raised by Jeagers, and a pretty well known group as well. Living on the battle field and being taught various skills from her "family" explains why she is so good as scouting and very good at combat. Finding out that her father figure died, causing the group to split and abandoned her explains her lack of interest, and more importantly her difficulty in integrating into the class. By the end of the game we see her get a bit closer to some of the people in the class and she considers them her new family. From introduction to end of the game she has a nice little arc that works well. Since I'm talking about Fie, it's only logical to talk about this person next. Laura Prideful and powerful would be the two words I would describe her with from her introduction. Her father is Victor Arseid, who may be around the same level of ability of Cassius Bright. While we don't know that until much later, her last name and the sword style she uses makes everyone quickly realize that she is a force of nature among them. The way she conducts herself shows she takes great pride in her ability and is always focusing on striving to greater heights. Simple but can be a great conduit. So before moving on, I have to make a confession. The first two times I played Cold Steel I always found Laura's sudden grief against Fie to come out of left field and felt it was unnecessary. Part of it was how it came more across as petty to me, but I think the bigger part was how this happens after we get a resolution between Machias and Jusis, so having another problem between two different members felt like treading old ground. However, playing through with my friend and picking up a little bit more stuff it finally clicked and I think this is actually a nice little conflict, playing off of Laura's prideful side. Before Fie we do get an idea of two other conflicts Laura goes through, however short or in the background it is. There is her time trying to help Monica become a better swimmer which you can easily miss if you don't keep track of them during the school days. Laura gets frustrated at Monica's seeming lack of progress and that starts making the relationship between them quite strenuous. Then there in the part in Celdic where Laura gets aggravated at Rean when he says he's not worthy of the eight leaves style. In both ways pride causes her to act in a more harsh manner than we are used to, Rean because she feels everyone should take pride in the way of the sword, and with Monica she feels she is inadequate at teaching and doesn't understand how Monica is unable to get to her standards. Especially in the case of Monica, she feels effort will eventually produce the results but ignores everything else. So here's Fie who isn't putting in effort, and on top of that she comes from being raised from Jeagers who are considered to be dirty in a way, or the opposite of bracers. So Fie is pretty much the opposite of Laura in personality, drive, and background, but in capability in battle are almost equal (As we see in their swim match). Fie doesn't want to reach out and Laura is unable to understand Fie and that creates the conflict even though neither of them are petty people. Once Laura gets a chance to have a match where they both give it their all, and Fie is able to give her story, Laura is able to accept Fie and also understand that she still has much to learn and was not as open minded as she thought she was. When I put it in that context, it's a pretty good character arc, because many times prejudice against people isn't always upfront and in your face, and having struggled with this myself in some cases I can really appreciate her character more. Elliot By the end of the prologue, Elliot is definitely the odd man out in a way. He wanted to do something very different and attend the music academy, but his father forced him into the academy as that is what he expects from a man form Erebonia. There is also the fact that he is out of his element in fighting, where everyone else is fine with that but just one battle winds him. He joins the Wind club to continue to play music so the idea going forward is that he wants to find a way to continue to do that and perhaps convince his dad to allow him to do that. Perhaps someone else can chime in and correct me, but in this game, and even in the second game, I don't feel like Elliot has an arc. At most for the first game, we learn a bit more about his background and get a moment when they are in the capital that he does want to continue with his love of music. I suppose the most generous interpretation I can give is Elliot was holding back on his love of music to stop being disappointed, but even then his arc felt seriously lacking. From start to finish there didn't seem to be a whole lot going on and nothing to really latch onto. Gaius I love this character, he's the levelheaded guy and very dependable. Being from outside Erebonia but having a close relationship to the country is neat. While not upfront I do like how you can tell there's a friendship between him and Jusis that would be great to see more of. That said, from introduction to end of the game, there is no character arc to speak of. When you go to Nord you see how responsible he is and how he is so well composed, but there is no conflict he has to really go through to change as a person. The most we get is how he desperately wants to protect his homeland when war between Erebonia and Calvard in the highlands seems inevitable. Once that is over nothing more with his character. A character does not need to have an arc or growth to be liked, but being static means he doesn't stick out quite as much. Emma Emma practically has the least presence in the introduction, at least for me personally. She's polite and we learn that she is smart, but that's all that I can give you. Overtime we do get the idea that she is hiding something, or rather the game is pretty upfront that she is a witch with how she heals Rean, opens the locked gate, and knows about some of the more supernatural stuff. So for her she is a more mystery to learn about and her story is more for the second game. I suppose her lack of standing out in the prologue alludes to her being more secretive to everybody. Perhaps I'm missing something but she just doesn't stand out in any way. Even knowing the second game I'm baffled how there are people that really like her. I don't hate her but there's nothing she does to make me like her or hate her in any way. Jusis and Machias I need to pair both of these up to make explaining things easier. The prologue has these two butting heads, and is to show how conflict between commoners and nobles is causing disarray, which by the end of the game we have a civil war break out with the Nobles taking over the capital and wanting to take out the rest of Osborne's faction. This is an upfront way to show that and their eventual ability to work together is to show that nobles and commoners can work together for a better future. A bit simplistic for a complex topic, but I'm fine with that and simplicity can allow for further introspection. The big problem here is how this rivalry is introduced with little context, and the context we have skews perception. When the class is brought to the old School house, we only have a brief idea of some of the classmates, and when the fact that class VII is about having nobles and commoners mixed together, Machias is the one to show dissatisfaction. From his outburst there we see him constantly complaining about nobles, where the only two we get an idea of is Laura, who does not exhibit any of the negative traits he talks about, and Jusis, who only seems to goad Machias since he's the one complaining but has no problem mingling with the rest of the class. By the end of the prologue this easily makes Machias look like a stubborn mule and Jusis the better person. Jusis gets a solid arc, where he is distant and just wants to get through class, but in Bareahard we see he looks up to his brother and wants to get recognition from his father. From there he opens up a bit more to the class when we learn he is a bastard with commoner blood in him, and we learn what he thinks it means to be a noble. Of course he isn't friends with Machias, but he can work with him and gets along with the rest of the class pretty well. Machias on the other hand, is a mess. So he does eventually put aside his feud with Jusis after learning about his situation. However, leading up to that it always feels like he makes thing worse for himself to be a likable character. The Jusis stuff in the prologue was bad enough, but then he gets angry at Rean for not being upfront about coming from the family of a Baron, even if he is adopted. I understand being upset that someone wasn't forward with you, but this makes Machias look even more petty and by then I see everything in the Machias/Jusis situation as Machias's fault. Celdic did start to show the ugly side of nobles, but still, with that Machias doesn't really have a leg to stand on with everything we've gotten to that point. The only thing that we can get at that point is the underlying problem and why Machias is so toxic towards nobility in general. With classism involved in the obvious power struggle going on, along with his dad as the Governor there is a lot that could shape him. This is where things need to be a bit more fleshed out and show some complexity. However that's not what we get, and just find out his sister figure died from grief because of her love for a noble that couldn't be consummated because of customs. As a story by itself, not the worse thing, but that being what caused Machias to be such a huge prick for so long in a story about the struggle between classes doesn't make things better, is actively made things worse. He does get an arc with the chess club where he seems to be okay with mingling with nobles, but all things put together his arc just does not work for me. So with the introduction and by the end of the game, you get two characters that each have an arc and growth, but one suffers from a terrible introduction and only becomes bearable later in the game after many setbacks. However, there is another character who had a bad introduction and kepts having moments that could make it hard for players to become attached to. Alisa I'm just going to dive right into it, Falcom made a terrible decision to have Alisa's character start of with an even worse version of accidental breast touch trope. If it was just that scene with a slap and then nothing came of it, fine. Not something I wanted, but at least it was one and done. However, Falcom had different plans where Alisa stayed mad the whole time during the exercise, and continued to stay mad for a few more weeks after that. Even after apologizing she had to even point out that the results of the accident still mattered. This is a terrible starting point, so much so that for me at least it didn't make me realize the problems with Machias until my second playthrough. Ok, late in the game we do get an understanding for her abrasive nature at times. Her father died and after that her mother put all her time into work, and their relationship is in tatters. Alisa has to come to terms with that loss and try to build a working relationship with her mother, and that creates a lot of issues for her. I can only imagine what it feels like to be in that situation and mad respect for people that have to go through that. All that said, I can never get myself invested enough into her arc because that whole sequence always leaves a bad taste in my mouth by the time her arc is going full force any subtle build up I miss and her arc doesn't feel natural. There's also the fact that there are later moments that push me away again and make me just not want to deal with her. Her arc isn't bad and is probably one of the better arcs, but her personality and the way certain things are done just makes it impossible for me to get invested enough to appreciate it fully. I think Machias is my least favorite since Alisa's story at least can excuse some of it for me, but as petty as it may be, that fall scenario gives her the worst first impression. So those are my thoughts on how the class in introduced and how it works towards their development and growth. Some work well and set things up pretty well, some don't do much, and in the case of two, actively hampers them. I think this is a pretty good case study to look at how important character introductions are, and how introducing so many at once can be hard. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, and please, if I missed something or misinterpreted something, let me know. So much happens in these games I can't remember every single thing.