There's a spoiler warning in the title, so I don't think spoiler tags are needed. Everything after this has spoilers.
I've seen a lot of threads about Kamui and Aqua in the story, but I've yet to find a detailed one one about the big brothers. I say it's safe to say that they are supposed to be the important main characters after Kamui and Aqua. The moment of choice in chapter 6 revolves around which brother wins the battle to get Kamui back. They have more dialogue time than their other siblings, and in Nohr or Hoshido, it's a battle against them before battling the final enemy. In Invisible Kingdom, it's a central point in the plot that the two brothers get along, so that Nohr and Hoshido can work together to bring down the real threat.
I don't dislike either of them. In fact, I do like both Marx and Ryouma judging on their supports alone. They have great designs too. But story-wise, I feel that they're... (can't really find the right word) lacking.
Anyone else think the story portrayal of them was flawed and underdeveloped?
This is what I think. Keep in mind that this is just all my interpretation.
The game keeps throwing in our faces about Marx's blind loyalty to Garon, but why is never explained well, if at all. Is it because he truly thinks that Garon will change after claiming Hoshido or that he can't bring himself to go against Garon because of the good father figure he once was? I guess this can be blamed how little info we get about the past Garon. But he had to have been a good father when the siblings were very young at least because of Leon's support with Elise, but if not, then Marx's blind loyalty makes zero sense for me due to his character.
The other siblings seem to blindly follow Garon out of self-preservation. It seems Camilla and Leon knows that Garon will execute them if they fail even if they're his children and this is a driving force for them to battle Kamui, as seen in Leon's conversation with Kamui after beating him in Hoshido and Camilla's convo after beating her soldiers in IK. And Elise appears scared of Garon, just more obvious about it than the others.
With Marx, it's different. His loyalty seems like the real deal and didn't result because of fear. He seems to genuinely think that things will turn out alright if he keeps following Garon's orders. Why? That's the question. It's just that because it's not explained well, Marx seems like a bad first prince. He truly wants what's good for the Nohrian people, but his blind loyalty to Garon is questionable, and it's not explained why. In fact, it's pretty hypocritical for him to say that he's doing it for the good of Nohr when it's quite obvious that Garon is being all but a good king to Nohr.
Ryouma is treated by the story, especially Hoshido, like the perfect role model of a older brother/first prince that his siblings and people look up to, but hey, he's still flawed. I think he is reckless. The most notable moment about would be his role in Chevalier in Hoshido. He goes there to get more support for Hoshido in the battle against Nohr, which is understandable, but the game shows it like he went there by himself ALONE. Yeah, he blends in with a disguise, but come on, he's the first prince. I know he knows how important his life is to Hoshido judging by his retreat quote.
He leaves behind Saizou (I don't think it's clear in the game, but he "disappears" in front of Saizou, but unlike with Takumi's disappearance, it's not explained at all) and tells Kagerou to tell the others about his whereabouts in Chevalier. He could have least kept Kagerou with him and sent a messenger instead. I guess this an excuse to get her to be a playable character at a earlier chapter. But he's basically without his best bodyguards and goes to Chevalier by himself. Huh?
This, this alone makes this a reckless, maybe even plain stupid plan. If it's about raising suspicions about him being a prince among the rebels, the writers could have still brought Saizou and Kagerou with him. They are highly-capable NINJA. Stealth is their specialty and protecting Ryouma is their duty. I bet they can pull off disguises, not raise suspicions AND protect Ryouma with no sweat. Saizou joining Kamui as early as he did is also like an excuse for him to be playable earlier. I don't think it would have detracted the story at all if he was with Ryouma. Orochi is already there to tell Kamui that Ryouma disappeared. Saizou being there is redundant. Also, Saizou has no appearance in the story after this chapter even when meeting Ryouma again. Takumi get's a little scene with his retainers when they're reunited. What about Ryouma's retainers? Nope. It's like all the story development goes to Takumi and Kamui while the other siblings are just there.
Now, all this would have been fine if someone pointed out Ryouma's recklessness. NO ONE does. The siblings are just so happy to be reunited, and I guess the player is supposed to see this as a good plan because all's well in the end? Well, I don't. It was still a crappy plan.
Also, when facing King Garon, Ryouma tries to negotiate with him. Uhm, the guy killed his father, was the mastermind of the sword explosion that killed Mikoto and other citizens, and even Nohr's citizens and royals are suffering under his reign, what makes him think negotiations are going to help? Instead, he gives Garon an opening to attack, and Ryouma is defeated by a fireball.
Seriously, if Ryouma wanted to negotiate, do it sooner! Like, before fighting a series of battles into Nohr to face Garon? Has he ever heard of messengers? I know he does since that's how he knew Sakura and Hinoka were being attacked by faceless.
Ryouma's other flaw is his favoritism toward Kamui. Now, this could be applied to other siblings, but I think it makes the least sense from Ryouma, especially in the Nohr route. Yes, he knew Kamui when he was young, but that was when he was young. He didn't grow up with Kamui and knows that Kamui was raised by an enemy nation. He takes his duties as first prince seriously, so why, why is he not the slightest bit wary about Kamui like Takumi was? Even if Ryouma was very subtle at it, then I would be satisfied about it, but no, complete trust just like that. Hinoka is just the overprotective sister and grew up as a warrior to get Kamui back, so I understood her trust of Kamui. Takumi is already wary of Kamui. Sakura makes sense too since she comes off as young, naive girl who's kind to everyone pretty much.
In Nohr, Kamui's betrayal even after Mikoto's sacrifice should have rang a ton of alarm bells. Instead, you see Ryouma trying to get Kamui back not once, but twice (Ch 6 and 12), and overall, he's still a kind pretty kind character to Kamui considering they're enemies in a war. Take Ch.17 for example and the forgiveness scene. I think the whole Ryouma and Takumi forgiving Kamui is BS. Kamui betrayed them even after Mikoto's sacrifice and helped invade Hoshido and slaughtered their citizens. In Nohr, Kamui doesn't deserve ANY of their forgiveness. Yeah, Kamui spared the sisters, but the brothers and a lot of Hoshidans are dead and things would have turned out better for them if Kamui didn't betray them in the first place, so yeah, the forgiveness part is BS. At least Marx and Elise grew up with Kamui and know that their father is wrong, so the forgiveness thing makes sense there.
Even when siding with Nohr, Marx shows some distrust toward Kamui and even accuses them of betraying Nohr when Kamui tries to convince the siblings that Garon is a slime monster. So, ironically Marx is more wary of Kamui, so why can't the writers have more Ryouma show some more lack of trust if they aren't afraid to do so with Marx?
If they focused a little less on Kamui and Aqua, I think we'd get more development on Marx and Ryouma, who I think are just as important to the game's story, but is treated as minor-ish characters to give more limelight to Kamui and Aqua. The older brothers show up in chapters often, but it's more to show the player that they're still there and doesn't contribute a whole lot to the story. Kamui and Aqua, IMO, are more suited for the more minor character roles like the other siblings rather than be the very main characters, but I'm not here to debate about that, I'm just wondering if anyone else thinks that the portrayal of Marx and Ryouma in the story is lacking/flawed.
Edit: Wow, didn't realize I wrote so much. Sorry for the long post.