Feral Phoenix (feral_phoenix) wrote,
Feral Phoenix

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Ledah Argument

Sometimes the answers you seek lie just beyond your reach, especially when you need or want them the most. This is especially true in RPGs, which never quite seem to elucidate *everything* a player wants to know--the principle is that you have to work things out and connect the dots on your own. At least in the gaming world, almost nothing is an accident, and even accidents are worked into a game plot's overall design. I like to try to figure these things out--though most people tell me I just think too much, I believe that this helps me understand my games that much better.

Anyway, to the point: Ledah.

He's just about the only character in Riviera that's left with a mostly undisclosed history when everything is said and done. You can learn about Malice on the drama CDs, as well as Ein; if you make it into chapter 7's secret area, you discover that back in the day, even Hector was once a good guy, and one of the heroes of Ragnarok. But all you really know about Ledah is that he and Ein are best friends, he's the only other successfully created Grim Angel, and that he gave up his emotions in order to be one. That's it. End of story. If you really dig, you can pick up his Grim Angel's license on the Introduction disk, which discloses his power class (Caldyna), his identification number (1482), and his last name (Rozwelli).

What about the symbolism of his design? Ledah's very fair coloring and red eyes serve to make him seem high-class and remote. So much for that. However, he does wear very formal, almost old-fashioned clothes--dark crimson robes and vest (he does wear pants under those, if you haven't noticed) with an actual *ruff* (yes, that is what you call the "white thing" he has tied around his robes' collar). Stuff that a priest would wear. And even for a Grim Angel, he's way devout--Ein is faithful, but nowhere near Ledah's degree, and Malice is damn near atheistic (or as atheistic as you can get when you're serving the local theocracy). There are lots of fan-based theories about why he's so devoted; most of us agree that he went through some sort of trauma as a child that made him turn to religion for answers... perhaps the same answers he references briefly in Yggdrasil before dying.

One of the more interesting aspects of Ledah's character is only briefly hinted at in the game, but is extremely intriguing and almost troubling. If you paid attention to the area descriptions in Heaven's Gate, you learned that in olden days, it was where fallen angels were tried and then sentenced. To this, most gamers will simply respond, "So?"

And my reply? So, if you were REALLY paying attention, you know that in 1-2 (Skywalk), right before you head out to the next area, there's a T-section: Head left for a Mana Wisp, or head right for an empty chest and the ever-important "NEXT" move trigger. On the screen of the T-section itself, you can see the giant pair of scales that makes up most of Heaven's Gate. There is only one look trigger here, which lets you examine the sky.

Do so, and Ledah gives a brief explanation of the scales to Ein, then comments to himself on the irony that he should travel to Riviera this way. Most players will again go, "So? Isn't it ironic for a Grim Angel to have to travel the paths of fallen angels?"

To that, I have to say, So don't you remember what happened at the end of the scene at Yggdrasil? When he died, Ledah gave off the essence of a fallen angel. On its own, this could just mean he was condemned for betraying Hector (or for following him, if he was judged by a higher power). But when combined with that interesting little tidbit above, it's pretty easy to add two and two to come up with four. When you meet him, Ledah's already a fallen angel, and he knows it.

Why is he a fallen angel? Don't know. Why is he still so preachy if he's a fallen angel? No clue. There are a lot of holes in the story of Ledah's life, but the few details we have are fairly concrete ones. You'd have to ask the Japanese officials at Sting about it--and who knows if they'd even tell you?

To me, one of the most interesting questions about Ledah--and a very debatable one at that--is this: Is it really possible for one to completely lose one's emotions?

I don't think so, and I don't think Sting thinks so either. Instead, Ledah's emotions are very deeply and probably near-completely sealed. (Note I said, "nearly".) They may be extremely minimal, but Ledah's emotions are still there. They've been reduced, yes. Instead of feeling "anger", Ledah would most likely experience "dissatisfaction"; "happiness" is replaced by "contentment", "fear" or "worry" by "unease", and so on. But if you look closely, they're still evident in his behavior.

Ledah's emotions regarding Ein tend to be a little stronger than the rest. I wonder why that is? I suppose it could just be that their friendship forms a bond and a sense of obligation that even the loss of most of Ledah's emotions can't dent, and that Ledah is used to being more open with Ein anyway. (Notice that when talking to Ein, Ledah actually does make an effort to seem normal and even "smiles"--at least as much as he can; the pixellation of Ledah's "smiling" face still depicts his mouth as a perfectly straight line. For his own reasons, he doesn't want Ein to know the truth about his emotions. Could that be to preserve the innocence in Ein that Ledah is also so wistfully envious of, or for something else? Hmmm...) But in conjunction with the way he ultimately sacrifices himself to save Ein and is also always extremely patient while Ein is still learning (whereas when he's tired of anyone else, i.e. Rose, he flatly expresses his desire to have them stop whatever it is they're doing to annoy him, RIGHT NOW), I can legitimately say that it's probably a little deeper than that.

I can give you a million reasons why, but the bottom line is that somewhere in there, so deep that he himself probably doesn't realize it, Ledah is a little in love with Ein.

Which only makes his situation that much more heartbreaking, of course. A noble death in the name of mingled friendship and star-crossed love is a tragic, beautiful thing. Poor Ledah.

Whether or not Ein loves him back, of course, is in the hands of the player--and of Ein himself. But no matter which way it's taken, their relationship has a deep and fulfilling intimacy that can only be obtained by people who've known each other as long as these two. It's that fact that allows the fangirls (and fanboys, if there are any) to believe that Sting could actually have gotten away with the rumored Ledah bath scene (which, folks, we still do not know whether it's a gaming myth or just a very deeply hidden Riviera secret).

Another note of interest that most gamers probably didn't pick up on is that Ledah actually cries in the end. Only those who paid attention to Rose's talk with Ein on the third screen of the first area of Chapter 7 and the people who've heard the sound clip of that scene with full Japanese voice acting get that fact, though. It's awful and beautiful at the same time to hear Ledah's voice twist with tears as he says goodbye to Ein and begs him to live...

And still, we have people who say that Ledah doesn't feel...

Because of how very faint Ledah's emotions tend to be, he often misinterprets them, as in the case of the jealousy he harbors towards Ein. And also because of that faintness, Ledah often has trouble comprehending things that require deep emotion to fully get a grasp on, such as Ein's compassion towards the Sprites. There's just something unbearably cute about a twenty-four-year-old cocking his head prettily to one side and softly saying in a slightly confused tone of voice, "I don't understand you". Ledah has all the best backwards question mark* moments.

I wish I could see what Ledah would look like if he were truly happy. I want to see a real smile on his lips, and I want to hear him laugh. Would it look strange on him, after so long, or would he seem like Rei Ayanami, suddenly lit from within and overflowing with pure joy?

Ledah's lack of strong emotion makes him seem very delicate and frail sometimes, despite his physical power. He can be strangely innocent and naïve, even though he always acts so jaded. There is something very pure about him, because he cannot hate; there is also something very sad about him, because although he can love, he cannot recognize it for what it is. In spite of his outer coldness and the things that Hector has made him do, deep in his heart Ledah is a good person, with only the best intentions.

I have to believe that, because I love Ledah--deeply and protectively--and that is the truth.

I started thinking about this more deeply because of my recent discovery of Neon Genesis Evangelion and my encounters with Rei, who is so similar to Ledah that it's almost frightening. She, like Ledah, is almost expressionless, and she carries the same air of loneliness. Speaking about her to her original Japanese voice actress, Hayashibara Megumi-san, the voice talent director said, "It's not that she doesn't have emotion, but that she doesn't know what it is". Almost the reverse of Ledah's situation, if you think about it. Rei never learned to connect her emotions to facial and vocal expressions; Ledah believes that he has no emotion left. In the end, the result is hauntingly similar: a person who is almost expressionless and has the same almost deadened sense about them.

Rei doesn't know what expressions she should make based on what she feels, and once she learns, she has to make a conscious effort to produce them. Ledah, on the other hand, only automatically makes expressions based on physical sensations of pleasure or pain. When it connects to him that "I should be smiling now", he tries to arrange his face appropriately, but the result often looks halfhearted or forced. This is because when humans (and other related organisms, such as angels) learn when they are very young indeed to copy expressions by the way they feel. From a young age onward, it then becomes unconscious--strong emotional change causes certain muscles in the face to contract, which produces the desired expression.

So, of course, the question is: Ledah and Rei are expressionless, but does that mean that they don't feel emotion, or just that they can't express it?

I'll leave that conclusion up to you.


*Backwards question mark: Sort of an "inside joke"-type thing. It goes like this... if a character is reading, say, a computer manual, and they don't understand it, they get a question mark over their head, right? Well, if the character reading the computer manual has no idea what a computer even is, THEN they get the backwards question mark. ^_^
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