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Jotari

Haha. She's a recluse. Wait, that's kind of messed up.

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Not sure how the fanbase feels about her, but the character of Bernadetta kind of disturbs me. We've had characters with tragic pasts in the series before (hell it's possible Lene was outright raped during the course of the story) and we've had comic relief characters whose gimmick relies tragic (let's face it, if Kellam was a real person suicide would have happened long ago. That man's life is an existential nightmare). But with Bernadetta they try to have their cake and eat it. She's not exactly ha ha funny, but her massive reclusiveness and general fear of humans is depicted in a light hearted and quirky, even endearing way. Then the game turns around and sincerely explains that she's like that because of really, really horrible abuse. It just kind of ruffles me. You can't have it both ways. Either tragedy should be funny or it should be tragic. I guess the closest character we've had to something like this before is Noire, who Thraja also significantly abused, but the abuse in that situation is always depicted in a comical way. Even if when looked at objectively it's kind of horrible. The game doesn't seriously expect us to sympathize with Noire and view Tharja as evil, it's meant to be amusing she has this split personality. Some people were kind of disturbed by that though (didn't bother me all that much because it was at least consistent), so I can't be the only one who thinks the way they handled Bernadetta is a bit off. What do you think?

Edited by Jotari

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1 minute ago, Espurrhoodie said:

I see it a bit like a (as TV Tropes defines) "Funny Aneurysm" moment.

I think it's deliberately done so you feel bad at laughing about it.

Perhaps. But then the format of Fire Emblem fails it as she's continued to be treated that way by the narrative after you discover her background due to it being regulated to supports.

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Wouldn't it be great if we could recruit her father to our team and they'd have to interact? Wouldn't that be wacky? And then my waifu Tharja places a hex on her room so she has to stay out?

I wish I had access to Mangs' YIKES image that she is the face of. It's too perfect.

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I agree that the way her abuse and general fear of people being the butt of a joke is awful. As someone who also had an abusive parent to deal with and has similar anxieties to her own, the way it's played up as funny angers me a fair bit. Abuse is not funny and neither is a general fear of people.

With that said, I don't think the portrayal of it is entirely unrealistic: because this is just the way people who don't have those kinds of fears perceive others with them. They're something irrational, something they cannot get. I went through years of bullying and being made fun of due to my past at school, I know what I'm talking about when I tell you that people will take opportunities to make fun of you for your anxieties (not all people, of course, but assholes be assholes) - and subsequently kill every desire you have to ever interact with them again.

Wow, that sounded a lot more preachy than I meant it to be. Excuse the rant, this is just something very personal to me.
I'll leave it at this: Bernadetta is one of my personal favorite characters in this game, because I can identify with her. And her portrayal, while wrath-inducingly awful, is sadly very close to how this stuff usually comes across to others.

Edited by DragonFlames

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I don't know if she's not funny because her situation is not funny or just because she doesn't have ANY comic relief worthy of this name, but I'm sure she isn't funny.

I usually can laugh at pretty much anything really, so it's not that her situation is too dark or anything else, she's just not a fun character at all. Every single one of her lines feels forced, every single one of her lines wants to make you laugh and instead you cringe. Add in the terrible voice with the absurd screeching and you've got the full picture of an annoying one-sided character that completely missed the mark. And it's a shame, because the concept was an interesting start, but if you go the funny road you have to make it funny, otherwise go serious (though I guess that side of the spectrum was already covered by Marianne, which is a good example on how to write stuff like that).

That said, there's one thing to consider, if I remember right not everything comes from her abuse. Not sure if that makes you feel better on laughing about it, but I'm pretty sure she mentions that she's always been kind of a loner, and that triggered her father to do what he did which in turn triggered her to become even more recluse.

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Bernadetta is definitely treated a bit like a butt joke in the game; but I think it's a matter of perspective.

Seeing someone act "cringy" would be weird and sometimes funny if you don't have proper context; I think that is something most of us have been at fault before.

Edited by Troykv

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That's definitely my main problem with Bernadetta. Bernie and her anxiety are being played for laughs rather than being played straight. Her crippling fears are supposed to be funny and endearing instead of tragic. Her abusive parents making her this way because less tragic when you realize the abuse is there in order to set up a punchline for Bernie's wacky gimmick. 

Its not like these traits would prevent Bernadetta from being cute and endearing. Futaba, the abused shut in from Persona 5 is often adorable. The lack of social skill and awkward behavior that Futaba got from shutting herself off for years can occasionally lead to funny scenarios. But when it comes to her issues themselves the game is crystal clear that its supposed to be tragic, that its very unhealthy and that Futaba really, really needs the main cast to help her recover from it. 

When it comes with Bernie's archetype you can have your cake and eat it too. But for that to happen the writing team needs to accept that the gimmick is primarily a problem that must be overcome instead of a joke we should all laugh at. 

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Marianne definitely feels like what Bernie should have been. Marianne has kind of a similar background and similar social anxieties, but she's played more straight. Definitely has some comedic set-ups with her social anxiety, but it's usually not the focus like with Bernie.

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Bernadetta didn't strike me as comic relief.  Noire's situation is different, since we get to see her mother (but that's for an Awakening discussion).  In Bernie's case, all we have is her side of the story.

And then there's the time skip.

Spoiler

I can't tell if it's supposed to be a message of hope, or written from the point of view of someone that's never been in Bernie's situation before.

 

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3 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

I agree that the way her abuse and general fear of people being the butt of a joke is awful. As someone who also had an abusive parent to deal with and has similar anxieties to her own, the way it's played up as funny angers me a fair bit. Abuse is not funny and neither is a general fear of people.

With that said, I don't think the portrayal of it is entirely unrealistic: because this is just the way people who don't have those kinds of fears perceive others with them. They're something irrational, something they cannot get. I went through years of bullying and being made fun of due to my past at school, I know what I'm talking about when I tell you that people will take opportunities to make fun of you for your anxieties (not all people, of course, but assholes be assholes) - and subsequently kill every desire you have to ever interact with them again.

Wow, that sounded a lot more preachy than I meant it to be. Excuse the rant, this is just something very personal to me.
I'll leave it at this: Bernadetta is one of my personal favorite characters in this game, because I can identify with her. And her portrayal, while wrath-inducingly awful, is sadly very close to how this stuff usually comes across to others.

My issue is that the two sides don't seem to be working in tandem. Maybe it can be some subtext built into that's how people perceive anxiety, but the serious parts of her story don't directly address that at all. 

3 hours ago, timon said:

I don't know if she's not funny because her situation is not funny or just because she doesn't have ANY comic relief worthy of this name, but I'm sure she isn't funny.

I usually can laugh at pretty much anything really, so it's not that her situation is too dark or anything else, she's just not a fun character at all. Every single one of her lines feels forced, every single one of her lines wants to make you laugh and instead you cringe. Add in the terrible voice with the absurd screeching and you've got the full picture of an annoying one-sided character that completely missed the mark. And it's a shame, because the concept was an interesting start, but if you go the funny road you have to make it funny, otherwise go serious (though I guess that side of the spectrum was already covered by Marianne, which is a good example on how to write stuff like that).

That said, there's one thing to consider, if I remember right not everything comes from her abuse. Not sure if that makes you feel better on laughing about it, but I'm pretty sure she mentions that she's always been kind of a loner, and that triggered her father to do what he did which in turn triggered her to become even more recluse.

I think part of the way Three Houses decided to make use of it's cast probably lead to her lines being forced. I imagine Bernadetta was conceived after the idea of the monastery was proposed. "The playable characters are all found in the hub world from the start. They all have their own set locations to be found in based on their personality." "How about we have a character who's only ever found in their room and their dormitory. Their gimmick can be that they're a recluse."

Then, separately later on someone had this conversation. "You know what would be great, if we gave more lines to the disposable characters so they feel like they have real presence in the game."

Fine ideas in isolation, but in practice that means Bernie despite preferring to stay in her room and interact with no one, Bernie is in almost every scene and she has to deliver some mandatory line in a lot of them because the side characters all have to speak and provide something to the group conversations. And as her gimmick is being a recluse, all her lines are about how she doesn't want to do something, despite actively being there in a group. A character like that is already going to  lean on willing suspension of disbelief as you can actively put them on a battle field which seems pretty unsuitable, this just forces it extra far.

1 hour ago, Etrurian emperor said:

That's definitely my main problem with Bernadetta. Bernie and her anxiety are being played for laughs rather than being played straight. Her crippling fears are supposed to be funny and endearing instead of tragic. Her abusive parents making her this way because less tragic when you realize the abuse is there in order to set up a punchline for Bernie's wacky gimmick. 

Its not like these traits would prevent Bernadetta from being cute and endearing. Futaba, the abused shut in from Persona 5 is often adorable. The lack of social skill and awkward behavior that Futaba got from shutting herself off for years can occasionally lead to funny scenarios. But when it comes to her issues themselves the game is crystal clear that its supposed to be tragic, that its very unhealthy and that Futaba really, really needs the main cast to help her recover from it. 

When it comes with Bernie's archetype you can have your cake and eat it too. But for that to happen the writing team needs to accept that the gimmick is primarily a problem that must be overcome instead of a joke we should all laugh at. 

I haven't played Persona 5, but I could see this kind of plot working if it recontextualizes an earlier depiction, as Espurr suggested. But the way Fire Emblem is set up with most of the characterization coming from supports which can be viewed in many different orders and never actually influence the plot, it means it becomes disingenuous. I don't really have much of an issue with the quality of the actual serious scenes where she opens up about her abuse (the voice actor did a great job with the Bleyth support as far as I can remember), but context ruins it entirely. I'm not sure how Persona handles things, I think it has something like a support system too, and I could see it working, but there'd need to be significantly more cohesion between the having and eating of the cake.

1 hour ago, Slumber said:

Marianne definitely feels like what Bernie should have been. Marianne has kind of a similar background and similar social anxieties, but she's played more straight. Definitely has some comedic set-ups with her social anxiety, but it's usually not the focus like with Bernie.

My very thoughts upon encountering Marianne after Bernadetta. She's handled much better, almost to the extent that it's hard to even believe it's in the same game.

Edited by Jotari

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Yeah. To be honest, I felt this way about Bernadetta too. I was even considering making a thread about it.

Like others have already said, it's a pretty bad portrayal of social anxiety. If someone laughed at their behaviour, which happens a lot to Bernadetta, a socially anxious person would most likely close off and isolate themselves even more, like Marianne does. Bernadetta doesn't do that; we see her with the rest of her house a lot, so she mostly acts, at least how I see it, like someone who is just nervous/jumpy and slow to warm up to people. 

What really irritated me about Bernadetta, though, was that her past is used to make her cute and waifu-able. For example, her confession CG shows her clinging to Byleth as if she's a vulnerable ~kawaii~ thing that needs to be protected by someone big and strong because she's been abused. Abuse isn't cute... The CG becomes even more disconcerting if you think of the reasoning behind her parent's treatment of her. 

Spoiler

The reason they abused her is because they thought it would make her a quiet and timid wife, and therefore more attractive to suitors.

 

Edited by lazu

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From what I heard she's sounds more psychotic in JP. Might be why I found her to be cringey as the voice direction for her was made to be cutesy even though she was a disturbed individual with the end result of Bernadetta coming off as grating to me. Whether or not they still try to play her experiences off as comic relief in JP is unknown to me. I'll try playing BE with JP voices once I get the chance after GD. While I do appreciate writers exploring things outside of the boundaries they're usually used to, sometimes they really don't know what they're doing.

You want to write someone in a way that makes the readers go "mush protecc"? Make them like Marianne

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1 hour ago, eclipse said:

Bernadetta didn't strike me as comic relief.  Noire's situation is different, since we get to see her mother (but that's for an Awakening discussion).  In Bernie's case, all we have is her side of the story.

And then there's the time skip.

  Hide contents

I can't tell if it's supposed to be a message of hope, or written from the point of view of someone that's never been in Bernie's situation before.

 

She kinda does in some of her support conversations 

Like her conversations with Hubert

where she feints standing up

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1 minute ago, Captain Karnage said:

She kinda does in some of her support conversations 

Like her conversations with Hubert

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

That support is available pre-timeskip.  I was talking about her generic dialogue post-timeskip (along with the other supports that are locked).

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I haven't gotten many Bernie supports just C + B with Byleth and C + B with Felix (currently playing Golden Deer). I'll be sad to find out that other characters make fun of her anxieties in supports if that's the case. Also haven't played Black Eagles so I will concede that it may feel more forced and disingenuous when she's there at every group chat and important plot moment but as someone who has been anxious for as long as I can remember, I never felt like she was funny or meant to be comedic. I could see how others might think the fact that it gets brought up or shown in nearly every interaction is a sign that it's being played for laughs but based on personal experience I can say that when anxiety is that severe it really does begin to envelope you and show up all the time.

Thankfully, I don't have any experience with the kind of abuse Bernadetta received and our anxiety stems from different places so I'll defer to those that do for any final judgment on the portrayal. I will say that from her background she seems like someone who would internalize more than externalize and we do get some indication that she does but due to the need for outwardly spoken dialogue and reactions I am not sure how to handle it better than they do.

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1 hour ago, lazu said:

Yeah. To be honest, I felt this way about Bernadetta too. I was even considering making a thread about it.

Like others have already said, it's a pretty bad portrayal of social anxiety. If someone laughed at their behaviour, which happens a lot to Bernadetta, a socially anxious person would most likely close off and isolate themselves even more, like Marianne does. Bernadetta doesn't do that; we see her with the rest of her house a lot, so she mostly acts, at least how I see it, like someone who is just nervous/jumpy and slow to warm up to people. 

What really irritated me about Bernadetta, though, was that her past is used to make her cute and waifu-able. For example, her confession CG shows her clinging to Byleth as if she's a vulnerable ~kawaii~ thing that needs to be protected by someone big and strong because she's been abused. Abuse isn't cute... The CG becomes even more disconcerting if you think of the reasoning behind her parent's treatment of her. 

  Reveal hidden contents

The reason they abused her is because they thought it would make her a quiet and timid wife, and therefore more attractive to suitors.

 

Agreed. I also suffer from anxiety (not from abuse, thankfully. But I am on the autism spectrum with Aspergers) and do not find it funny at all. Abuse and anxiety should not be portrayed as humor. I like Bernadetta as a character, but it honestly annoys me to see her abuse handled that way. It's jarring and just...ugh. Marianne was done much better.

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Given it's track record when it comes to fetishize genuine issues that cause plenty of suffering for the people affected, modern Fire Emblem really doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt here.

Edited by BrightBow

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I'm going to be a dissenting voice here, in that tragicomedy is something that has been around for over two thousand years, at least. Enough people have always liked it that it keeps coming back as a niche genre generation after generation.

Besides the long tradition of stories being written like that, people who have gone through all sorts of hell and just had to soldier past it if they wanted to live have been laughing at exactly the sort of suffering they went through forever, in a "if I don't laugh I'll cry" sort of way. It's often a coping mechanism, some people identify with that coping mechanism very strongly.

Though, I will say that Bernadette herself doesn't seem to have been able to really grapple with how messed up her own upbringing has been, particularly by the start of the game, when it really seems like she's basically had nobody remotely normal to interact with for any length of time. Like, she knows to be terrified of her father, but she actually doesn't seem to understand what a healthy parent-child relationship looks like, or what exactly she's missing as far as social bonds, or how much of her anxiety seems to be based on expecting people to be like her parents and/or her parents somehow showing up and repeating her past traumas despite basically having washed their hands of her.

Too bad the monastery doesn't seem to have any therapists that could be pointed at her.

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Part of it seems to be a general problem in a lot of Japanese anime and anime-inspired games where a running gag has a tragic origin yet is still used as a gag even when the reveal has happened.

One example being Guy from Tales of the Abyss, whose gynophobia is treated as one big joke throughout the game until you learn the gruesome origin behind it. But then, even after that reveal, it's still a running gag.

Fire Emblem even has its own example with Lon'qu, another gynophobic character in which the origin is very sad yet it's a running gag in most of his supports.

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6 minutes ago, Sentinel07 said:

One example being Guy from Tales of the Abyss, whose gynophobia is treated as one big joke throughout the game until you learn the gruesome origin behind it. But then, even after that reveal, it's still a running gag.

Fire Emblem even has its own example with Lon'qu, another gynophobic character in which the origin is very sad yet it's a running gag in most of his supports.

Oh please. Not like I am entirely happy with how Abyss handled this, but don't compare Guy to Lon'qu. Lon'qu is a complete asshole to women. How the fuck does letting your girlfriend die lead to you treating all women like crap? It's a thoughtless excuse made up by some random IS employee in an half-baked attempt to justify the character's hat.

Guy treats women the same way as he treats every other person. He doesn't blame them for his struggles and his perfectly socialable as long as he is allowed to keep his distance. That behavior is actually pretty relatable for someone with a phobia.

Edited by BrightBow

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It seems like they took their character inspiration from Persona as well huh (hi Kanji and Ryuji).

Mainstream JRPGs aren't exactly known for tackling social issues that well.

Edited by Eltoshen

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Personally, I think they just have an awkward balance of it. It's clearly meant to be exaggerated how terrified she is of everything, but the level of abuse she suffered was pretty serious so it does come across as a bit unusual that she isn't taken more seriously~

14 minutes ago, BrightBow said:

Oh please. Not like I am entirely happy with how Abyss handled this, but don't compare Guy to Lon'qu. Lon'qu is a complete asshole to women. How the fuck does letting your girlfriend die lead to you treating all women like crap? It's a thoughtless excuse made up by some random IS employee in an half-baked attempt to justify the character's hat.

Guy treats women the same way as he treats every other person. He doesn't blame them for his struggles and his perfectly socialable as long as he is allowed to keep his distance. That behavior is actually pretty relatable for someone with a phobia.

1. Lon'qu doesn't "let her die". She was murdered, he wasn't able to stop it.

2. He's harsh to women because he's afraid of getting too close to one and losing her in the same way as Ke'Ri. I don't know any female in the game Lon'qu treats "like crap". The worst he does is just tell them to keep their distance. And he's also clearly capable of suppressing it in serious situations and some women don't even affect him at all by like Support B, so I really don't get how you reached the conclusion that he treats all women like crap.

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I just wonder how Bernie was even accepted in the academy to begin with (I know her mother enrolled her)

You would assume sonmeone of her personality wouldn't suit to lead soldiers into combat

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