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  1. I know this has been touched on in more than one thread - usually one not just about the topic - and seeing it again might annoy some people. If you don’t want to rehash your side of the argument, that’s fine. Skip this thread. But I feel that what I consider my side, the side of wanting to criticize Ryoma for his actions is often not well argued or fails to touch on the parts that really bother me about his actions here. I’ve always felt there is a real lack of clarity to why Ryoma comes across badly here. I mean, I remember reading discussions surrounding dislike of Robin’s actions in Awakening when the enemy fleet is burned and the lack of remorse/discussion among the characters about the act. But for some reason whenever someone says “Ryoma was kinda a jerk in Chapter 12” he gets defended a lot. But while Nohr is presented as a “morally ambiguous place” that often does questionable things, the story presents Hoshido as good and honorable. Which is why it is so easy to have a kneejerk disgusted reaction of Ryoma’s choices in Chapter 12. Because it’s a guy claiming he’s on the high ground while doing questionable things. Skip to the end for the Tl;dr version. We can look at it this way – people were so bothered by the treatment in war of prisoners and the wounded, we got the Geneva Conventions (back in 1860s) which defines the basic rights of wartime prisoners (civilians and military personnel); established protections for the wounded and sick; and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. Specifically it states that persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat (aka taken out of combat) by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, taking of hostages, outrages upon dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, executions. Plus a second part which states after combat the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. But the Geneva Conventions weren’t the first historical event where people came out and considered just what was considered ‘acceptable’ during times of war – there is much literature on basically the treatment of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked that date quite a ways back. Back in the day, that could include the injured giving their parole (a promise not to fight) and retaining their weapons, or giving up all their weapons in order to pass. But, more problematically, what if you have a cultural tradition of killing the enemy’s badly wounded, or not giving aid? – people turned around and returned the ‘favor’. Many cultures therefor went out of their way to do both. Saladin sending his physicians to a sick Richard the Lionheart – talk about an early example of helping an enemy who was not all that well liked by his enemies because it was honorable and the right thing to do in Saladin’s eyes. A similar debate was engendered when Edward I took the female relatives of Robert the Bruce captive, then hung them in cages outside the castle walls for years at a time as bait to get Robert to surrender. Edward claimed he was justified because Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated, and bringing him to heel was more important than other moral imperatives. There was, however, a lot of criticism, both straight up moral outrage and worry about what might happen if English noble noncombatants were captured. – though this is a much more extreme example. I’m outlining this not as an argument that Fate’s had this sort of laws in place, but that humans have long had a knee jerk reaction to certain acts they define as inhumane. Ryoma’s act in the chapter where he not only refuses to allow Elise to seek aid but then uses her as a bargaining chip to get what he wants can easily fall under what people classify as lacking morals. Some of my personal problems with his acts here are thus: - He uses Elise’s condition to further a person vendetta – not to help the war effort: He wants Nohrrin, not a surrender of the Nohrian army. (If you’re going to do something questionable, at least make it useful. As it stood, he didn’t do anything to actually help end the war here and still went down a path that put a non-combatant (as outlined by hocs de combat) in danger. I struggle to even tell myself that Ryoma “was trying to capture an enemy general” since at this point Nohrrin has actually not held any campaigns on Hoshido soil, unlike other divisions of the Nohr army, nor was Nohrrin currently heading to fight on Hoshido soil. Nohrrin is running around dealing with uprising in Nohr. Which mean Ryoma had to ignore all those segments of the army actually fighting Hoshido along the border to enter Nohr and track down Nohrrin. I can’t see it as anything other than personal) - He puts his own men at risk to literally stop Nohrrin from saving Elise – he was not holding the castle because it was strategic, but because he knew Nohrrin would be there and wanted Nohrin back. “I’ve been waiting for you!”(This makes me irked as his ability to lead and his lack of care for the men under him. He shows he’d rather put his own men in danger to take a location in the first place just to confront Nohrrin. Then when Nohrrin proposes they don’t have to fight, that Nohrrin only wants the medicine Ryoma pushes the fight. He engages even though other options are on the table – and Nohrrin is willing to negotiate - and does so because he wants Nohrrin. This kinda ties back with my first point of personal vendetta, but has to do with endangering your men for something personal) - He is aware of Elise’s condition and doesn’t offer aid: When presented with the reason why Nohrian was there, he didn’t care (this goes against the previously presented ‘kind’ and ‘honorable’ character Ryoma. Would you consider it inhumane if an enemy commander refused to let a sick and dying person past to receive aid? He could have let just Elise past. Or let a doctor leave. But he refused both options – well, ok, they’re not presented, but there is hardly any discussion about his options. Once Nohrian refuses to surrender but wants to talk it out, Ryoma literally attacks instead, saying it’s surrender or fight, no in between. You could easily argue that Nohrian wasn’t even given a chance to request a doctor or turn Elise over to the enemy to be treated. Neither action reflects particularly well on Ryoma imho. He chose to let Elise suffer to further his agenda that wasn’t even a strategic or military one. This is a hard thing to feel good about, especially since the game has set up Ryoma as a “good” and “honorable” man. It’s the same thing with Xander being a “good” and “honorable” man who is tortured by his actions which he commits in the name of “duty”. At least the game acknowledges his actions are wrong, yet Ryoma doesn’t even see the moral problems with his.). Now, that all being said, it is clear from the game that Hoshido regularly employs practices that would be against today’s morality standards about war. Jacob and Oboro have a conversation about battlefield ‘clean-up’ aka, killing the wounded. This is also directly against today’s standards. But the reason I’m outlining this is I often see people saying we shouldn’t hold Ryoma’s actions in Chapter 12 against him. But that’s ignoring the understanding of war and rules we hold today. (I’ll note here that Japan subscribes to the Geneva Conventions. So it’s likely that their current society does take umbrage with poor treatment of wounded and sick. So this might actually be a purposeful enacting of trying to create disgust with a “good” man). By the morals and rules of warfare we uphold today, his actions are something that results in kneejerk disgust . Even more so because he’s been present as an honorable and good man who claims to be better than Nohr. But that isn’t shown through his actions. I think leaders should lead, not extort. Which was what Ryoma was doing in Chapter 12, and worse, he was doing it for personal reasons, not combative ones. So I think it is fair for people to hold these actions against him. Tl;dr In the end, I am bothered by the claim that Ryoma’s actions were logical – he marched across enemy territory to confront his missing sibling and get them to come back with him. Not logical, emotional. Once he’s there, even though the option is on the table to discuss things, he demands surrender or fight – putting the lives of his men in danger in favor of a personal need to have a sibling “come home” with him. Still emotional, not logical. Further, a poor sign of leadership as he’s literally prioritizing his personal need over his men. His refusal to give Elise medicine or let her have access to doctors? I’ve seen it argued that it’s pragmatic, but it’s not. He loses nothing by allowing her treatment. However, considering she is a royal who he is willing to let die in a non-combative situation, he has now set the standard for how his own sisters and brother might be treated as prisoners. He loses any goodwill they might otherwise have. One might argue that the goodwill was never there, but to Ryoma there is no evidence of this. While Nohr has treated its prisoners of low birth poorly (see Kaze and Rinka), it currently has a history of treating prisoners of high birth well. After all, his last sibling to be taken by Nohr wasn’t killed....and was raised as a royal. Letting Elise die is almost guaranteed to change this. Saving her, however, builds goodwill towards how himself or his family might be treated during the war. Definitely not logical or smart, especially since Nohrrin was willing to negotiate, so it was not like he didn’t have any other choice. Ryoma was the one who made the choice that it was surrender or fight. So this is my argument that we should be able to hold Ryoma’s actions against him as they feel moral questionable, that he did not act logically nor pragmatically, and that he failed to behave in manner befitting a leader and general.
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