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“so can anyone tell me about ladiva granblue fantasy”

a thread /1
for those unconcerned, uninvested, or just curious: ladiva, a playable character in granblue fantasy, is a pro-wrestler, bartender and chef, a role model to many, and an enemy to only those who aren't open to hugs and fond lectures about self-care. /2
she is also a transwoman who is included in many situations where women exclusively interact. she firmly believes in the power of love and optimism and is a lovely person inside and out.

okay, now for the rest of you. /3
when i first got into granblue fantasy, ladiva immediately caught my eye. as someone who is nonbinary, people who stick out in terms of gender presentation tend to catch my attention first. /4
as someone with a love-hate relationship with fictional depictions of crossdressers, drag artists, and okama (we’ll get back to this), i felt that immediate lift and fall i think anyone under the gender/sexuality minority umbrella can relate to when i first saw her: /5
“oh my god, i LOVE her.”
“oh my god, i’m going to have to steal her from this story.” /6
because that’s what i do. i see a character with a marginalized identity, fall in love, then disregard canon when, invariably, an uninvested writer makes them a gay best friend, or a tragedy, or a wise mystic with no particular character arc whatsoever. /7
i’m a connoisseur of narrative and easily bored. if something is bad or trite, i take what i like and i leave.

so i geared up to take ladiva away from the story. just so i was thoroughly prepared for what was to come (and because i am the type to read e v e r y t h i n g)... /8
i read the crossover story between her and cagliostro (another transgirl in the game - canon, another whole bag of worms, but very much actually a transgirl) just to see how bad the damage was.

there was no damage. /9
it’s a very cut and dry story about the girls teaming up to rescue some children from kidnappers. no offcolor jokes, the girls work together well despite some initial friction, and they leave having learned something about each other. they are friends now! /10
(if you would like a slightly more nuanced summary of the scene, especially with regard to ladiva’s transness, clickie the link: ) /11
it’s best to think of granblue’s writing in terms of time. as of the writing of this thread, granblue is one of oldest running, generally story-focused gacha games - it still runs via browser while the vast majority of its competitors have migrated to app based models. /12
(on that note - yes, it runs perfectly fine on your phone’s browser. the ui is notoriously painful but it’s playable and completely translated. there IS an android app but i can't attest to its stability. moving on though!) /13
the writing - the whole thing as a product of collaborative writing - is amateurish at the beginning, but hits its stride somewhere during the second half of the third year. the conversation between cagliostro and ladiva was written somewhere in that third year. /14
“so what”, you might say. (it’s what i might say.) “that’s one conversation out of years and years of content. that’s plenty of time for her writing to get worse.”

that is a perfectly fair concern. /15
the writing for ladiva’s first unit is... very emblematic of the second year of gbf’s writing. (it’s... not great.) whatever you can say about her now, four years ago she was not the character she is today. any evaluation with her that denies that context is incomplete. /16
after her crossfate with cags, ladiva effectively disappears until her winter alt, an april fools’ event, and the “thousand reasons why” battle tournament event. i wasn’t here for the latter so i haven’t mined it for information thoroughly, but... /17
the other two are... fine? ladiva gets all of the ladies on the deck for april fools for a very silly reason, ladiva gets to see her siblings and orphanage mother for christmas and she gets very emotional about it. there’s nothing here to fear besides, like... /18
i GUESS you could take offense to the overblown chivalry power-up sequence, but chivalry is something we are not unpacking here and nothing i could see was specifically transmisogynistic anyway. moving on though! /19
three years after her inclusion within the narrative of the game, there’s a shift. they never once really talk about it, but the more she’s included in events, the more blatant it becomes: everyone on the grancypher uses she/her pronouns for her. and continues to use them. /20
outside of events, she gets invited to things. yaia, a young girl traveling on the ship, asks ladiva and de la fille for help with a sewing project for her father’s christmas present. /21
(also, super wild that it’s a christmas present. feeds my big theory that the world of granblue fantasy is post-post-apocalyptic. ANYWAY yaia calls ladiva "fastiva-chan" and it's super cuteeeeee) /22
during monika’s episodes, ladiva invites her to a casual tea for the older ladies onboard. ladiva is among them. no one thinks this is strange. they talk about normal stuff. /23
their families, what they’ve been cooking lately, whether any of the younger ladies want to get married (ilsa does, monika doesn’t).

it’s domestic. nothing happens. there’s nothing strange about it. /24
i’m sure anyone savvy with the rise and fall of a plotline are waiting for the other shoe to drop. “when does it happen? when does the game make the joke? when does it get uncomfortable?”

it doesn’t happen. i swear, i swear, i swear it doesn’t happen. /25
and it is odd because this DOES happen in gbf, but not to her! in a pre-third year event, cagliostro’s great x500 grandniece makes an off-color “uncle cagliostro” joke that is very haha, what a great joke, look at how upset she is! /26
(to clarisse’s credit, she does apologize to cags and i don’t think she does it again. i humbly ask that you consider being angry at the right people - the writers and whoever okayed that script - for never writing about clarisse understanding what she did wrong.) /27
but never to ladiva. there are some mechanics in her first and second units that are meant to be predatory, little teehee i love boys jokes, but within the context of the story, not a single character who knows and likes her for who she is ever uses other pronouns for her. /28
her new ssr unit has no predatory language at all - it’s a standard (and may i say op) skillset for a melee unit in this game. /29
the latest updates to her plotline via her ssr are flashbacks to her past as a young woman, pre-wrestling... and one of the first scenes is her telling elmott, a regular at her, bar about the moment when she discovered her reason to love her own body. /30
there’s nothing skeezy about it, no winks or nudges. just her finding her purpose and going at it with everything she has. and it’s good. it’s good. it’s really, very good. /31
i want to pause for a minor sticking point i have with pretty much every ladiva critique i’ve seen so far. an okama is a certain flavor of openly gay, flamboyantly camp japanese man who takes on markers of social femininity - body language, aesthetic, pronouns, etc. /32
in ladiva’s as of yet untranslated official profile (which, for posterity’s sake, was written four years ago), the description specifically does not use okama - it uses 漢女, a homonym for otome that uses the character for “(masculine) man” for the first character. /33
i am not sure what to make of this but according to my (very limited) japanese netspeak resources, the term is almost exclusively used for women who have a commanding, vaguely masculine presence. (the resource i used pointed to satsuki from kill la kill as an example.) /34
i’m not sure what it’s used for otherwise, and i am definitely uncertain if it’s a slur, but in any case, the word okama isn’t mentioned once in relation to her in an official form. if anyone has any resources in the contrary, please do send it my way! /35
i'd also like to posit that she has a character niche within the pro-wrestling visual vocabulary as a gross gay camp caricature you’d expect to be a heel back in the 00s but i’m not familiar enough with either us or jp pro-wrestling to come up with examples from that era. /36
the only example i can think of now is dalton castle of the ring of honor promotion, and even he’s not a one to one example (he’s gone on the record to say that the character isn’t gay, just extremely fabulous. which, uh... again, this isn’t the place to unpack that.) /37
anyway, the description has some very facile wink wink nod oh this man (a woman actually) cringey bullshit going on, but as long as 漢女 isn’t some terrible slur i’m not aware of it seems to be a product of its time - not good, but also what it is. /38
so... what should we take away from this? yes, enemies in her first unit’s recruitment stories do express that they’re sick of the “girly way” she talks, but they are absolutely bitter and bigots, everyone thinks they’re losers, and ladiva pounds them into the floor. /39
(a lot of granblue’s early translations went through machine translation and never passed through a competent editorial stage, and while i don’t think it absolves cygames of guilt, it DOES explain the inconsistency in writing quality overall. /40
also, during the research process for this thread, i reread ladiva’s first unit’s fates and was surprised to see that it had changed significantly. in most recent update, the localization team has gone through sr earth ladiva’s fate episodes and edited it for clarity. /41
more importantly, the edit removed pretty much all of the machine generated misgendering from the previous version of the script. it is a really lovely script now!) /42
i don’t know what cygames intends to do with ladiva, nor do i consider them particularly enlightened. i don’t feel like congratulating a writing team for doing what they obviously can and should have always been doing. /43
i can’t be 100% sure of their intentions now, especially as we roll into pride month, even if it's with a story about a transwoman and her bar and her difficulty with functional empathy vs the gentle, warm, overflowing empathy she has as a fundamental part of her personality. /44
(honestly, even if i say she wasn't meant to be an okama, the bar schtick certainly does have a connotation to it. erasing that context would be super careless of me.) /45
what i can tell you is what cygames has now: a character who, despite all odds, travels on a ship where no one refers to her as “sir” or “older brother”, where she gets invited to ladies’ nights... /46
who gives the kind of advice that focuses on loving yourself instead of blindly throwing yourself into a sisyphean effort to be something else for someone else.

and that’s kind of a warm, gentle miracle in a bottle imo. /47
there are problems, of course. my biggest problem is that we never see her thoughts on romantic love! i don’t particularly care if she has a secret crush on someone else on the ship or if she’s content enough with her extended ship and orphanage family to just do without... /48
... but i feel like her complexity as a character who loves and loves love suffers if she isn’t allowed to personally engage with the entire spectrum of love? /49
it makes me think the writers think trans love is intimidating or weird to write and are trying to pigeonhole her into a gay best friend position and it’s a bad look.

(i also just want her to hold hands with hazen HES A SENSIBLE MAN AND HE LIKES HER HMMPH) /50
this isn't a demand for everyone to like her. if your reservations are there, if you’re still suspicious, if gbf has done too much wrong for your anxieties to ease, if you are a transwoman out there who is like, “she doesn’t represent me”? then PLEASE do not change your mind. /51
!!!!if i catch anyone trying to weaponize this thread to silence trans voices i will come and vaporize you on the spot!!!!!!! /52
this is my perspective as someone who is nb and has a background in narrative, japanese, and social politics. i also love ladiva and i will have a wedding ring ready for her if she graces my ship one day. none of this means you're obligated to take my perspective! /53
that’s. really it? that’s it. i’ve my best to address every concern i have or i’ve seen on this terrible bird website. if she was some sort of transmisogynistic caricature of a pre-op transwoman, there would have been some text in the script that takes that pov. /54
there would have been a reference to her as some grotesquerie, to her musculature, to her body that indicates that she is not who she says she is.

this is the text for her exit from the tournament event: /37
and i think that may be what i have to say about that.

if you have any questions, let me know. have a great day!
ADDENDUM: i got a tip from a concerned party (who i think might be an inc🙈l so i’m not going to mention their @ ) that the description for ssr ladiva in japanese does contain the word 彼 (kare, or boy).
however, they failed to mention that it is immediately followed up by the word 女 (onna, or woman) in parenthesis. all i’m getting out of this is that it’s the same eye-roll worthy statement as the one in her original profile that only goes halfway to being remotely useful.
at this point, this is a case where, if this is meant with malicious intent, i WILL just take ladiva from cygames - but only the japanese end. it’s pretty clear to me that the gbf localization team is covering more bases than cygames japan ever will.
however, i’m the type not to try and put intent into other peoples’ mouths. never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. basically, i still think cygames writers are just a bunch of cis ppl doing their best to get their intent across but they’re bad at it.
the person who provided the tip ended their message with “but whatever makes you feel better”, and i think they meant it dismissively? i choose to own it tho. i like to think that i can engage with the truth of reality and take comfort in what i know to be true at the same time.
the reality is that ladiva’s creators may not understand who they’ve made in the same way i do and are going in a tangential direction with her. and that’s fine.

the localization clearly has a vision in mind for ladiva though. i prefer their vision.

death of the author, fuckos.
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