Heian-Kyo: Kill Limbo Part 2

| By Jess
Thoughts on Lostbelt 5.5. Obligatory Spoiler Warning for those who may not have finished the chapter—or have not yet had a chance to play it.

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Side-note: I am very happy that Heian-Kyo dropped the same day I went on vacation and not two weeks from now. Why? I’m on vacation this week. Despite having a megacrapton of work to do, I still have time to do the things I want to do.

I forgot all about bringing Caenis along to finish Limbo off 😞 Seriously irked that I forgot that detail.

⚠ Warning: Spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

⚠ Warning: what follows below are merely the author’s opinions.
Don’t be a sponge and let this affect your own opinion of the story and game-play.

I can’t let that missed opportunity for a clown-punching joke go 🤣 Anyway, while not quite on the level of the life-or-death struggle of Shimousa, Heian-Kyo was still pretty enjoyable. Also, no forced supports like Shimousa! There was one instance of forced support, but it was only once and it was for story reasons that’ll become apparent if you haven’t got to that point yet.

Let’s goooooooooooo!

Story, Pacing, and Characters

Story-wise, Heian-kyo was good but not Shimousa good. The pacing seemed a little off at times—sometimes, the story moved too slowly while other times, it moved too fast. Particularly with the conveyor-style sequence of boss fights.

I think the purpose of Heian-kyo was a character-building arc for Kintoki, while the rest of the characters seemed more like afterthoughts than anything else.

How the Pandemic May Be to Blame for Story Quality

Just a thought before I go any further. I suspect the reason for the weird pace of the story may have more to do with the pandemic than just writer laziness. At the time Heian-kyo was released, Japan was severely affected by the pandemic. I noticed overall how event stories didn’t seem to have much substance to them, if that makes sense?

Other things I noticed that I thought were weird, like the Summer 2019 event rerun coming almost two months early.

Taking that into consideration, let’s not be too harsh on the writer. Also, trying to be creative on a deadline is a real pain in the butt.

Kintoki

My only real introduction to Kintoki was the London Singularity and Onigashima I almost got this event confused with Rashomon—hey, 2019 was more effed than 2020, for me at least. Honestly, then I didn’t really like his character design. The Heian-kyo warrior dress is a vast improvement over his original design.

Since he was the main focus of the story, he got a lot of character development. He went from being a delinquent when we meet him, to being a responsible adult willing to fight for anyone and everyone at the end. To be fair, we get a sense of that with his introduction. He didn’t know who the protagonist and Danzo were, but he was willing to defend them against Tsuna.

What was so awesome was that this was more than just character development, you see the classic Hero’s Journey arc in action. The best comparison I can bring up off the top of my head is Garion from The Belgariad. In Garion’s case, he came off as whiny in Queen of Sorcery and Magician’s Gambit, but matured a lot by the end of Enchanter’s End-game. The biggest difference between the two, is that Kintoki didn’t whine incessantly about “why him” or “why did he have to be the chosen one.” Which basically demonstrated that while Kintoki was being a delinquent and had yet to find his path, he still had a strong sense of responsibility, and a desire to stand up for someone weaker than himself.

Hero’s Journey (click to open)

Honestly, I’m being unfair to Garion. By the middle of Castle of Wizardry, he had good reason to be bitchy about how things turned out for him. First, finding out that he’s the long-lost heir to the Rivan throne, then remembering The Accords of Vo Mimbre, that he was required to marry Ce’Nedra—I’d balk at that too, considering her character. Once again, to be fair, she does improve in The Malloreon.

Finding out that he has to fight Torak to the death. Maybe he should have been gently guided into a warrior’s path instead of being a scullery boy, but I know it was for plot purposes.

Chosen One Arch-type (click to open)

I am really glad that the writers (I’ve heard Sakurai?) didn’t try to cast Kintoki into the arch-type of The Chosen One. Frankly, that arch-type is irritating and overdone. Once again, looking at David Eddings, it got way overplayed between The Belgariad/Malloreon and The Elenium/Tamuli novels.

There’s a related arch-type known as The Mortal God, *side-eye glance at Gene Roddenberry and David Eddings* but I’m not diving into that right now, though.

I think Mercedes Lackey did a very good job of breaking that mold with Elspeth in The Mage Winds novels. You get some hints that she’s going to be important in Arrows of the Queen, and while The Last Herald Mage was Vanyel’s story, you see the setup for both By the Sword and Mage Winds. Elspeth throws off being The Chosen One—which is what the Companions wanted—to follow her own path. As the series progresses, you can see her growth from naive young woman (she’s 26, I think?) who emulated her mentor, Kerowyn (this causes issues between Skif and Elspeth somewhere in the middle of Winds of Fate). By the end of the series, she has grown into becoming her own person.

In Mage Winds, Stefan tells Skif and Nyara (<– the *OG cat girl!) that “Glorious Destinies get you Glorious Funerals.” He’s quoting Vanyel here, who has plenty of reasons to dislike “Glorious Destinies.”

*Some people might argue that title should go to Felicia from Darkstalkers or Cheetara from the original Thundercats. For me, personally, at the time I read Mage Winds, I didn’t know about Darkstalkers (hey, I was too poor to afford a game console) and as a teenager at the time, I had already put Thundercats out of my mind because 8-year-old me hated the character designs. 80’s Thundercats looked more like clowns to me. The 2011 reboot made up for that, though.

It’s interesting in comparing the two series, it comes down to pre-destiny vs free will. Eddings attempted to address that by throwing in that prophecies can be interrupted by chance, but because of plot armor, that never actually happens. Regardless of “chance”, Garion had no choice but to become the Rivan King and fight Torak.

Danzo

Back to characters that were afterthoughts. A good example was Danzo. One thing that bothered me was that Danzo was basically a background character and, at times, a punching bag. Here was an opportunity to learn more about her, plus maybe throw in some hints about what Limbo did to her in Shimousa—so that players who haven’t played Epic of Remnant get an idea of Danzo’s—and Kotaro’s—connection to Limbo. However, that wasn’t really followed up on. Yes, Danzo had a purpose in being there but if I remember correctly, she wasn’t quite part of the final battle—I could be misremembering but I’m not 100% that Limbo even paid attention to Danzo, focusing most of his attention on the protagonist.

I may have to go back and re-watch the story in Materials. My memory is really hazy about the final battle, and it shouldn’t be.

Some players have noted this, but it seemed like Danzo’s purpose was mainly as an information dump. Which, yeah fine, that works but you can only pull that off so many times before it gets boring and obvious. A lot of telling; not showing. That she was basically filling in for Mash in this chapter.

When I think back on it, that’s always been Fate/GO’s weakness. In the case of the visual novel format, it seems to me that “show; not tell” is hard to pull off. It’s even harder to pull off when the characters are already card-board cutouts. Each character that’s a major player in the story needs to have a detailed backstory to seem more like characters you should care about instead of card-board cutouts.
It’s something that I’ve learned from writing the script for my old webcomic, Silent Shadow. The stumbling block early on was that I didn’t have an established backstory for any of the characters, so you really don’t get a sense of what motivates them. I’m in the process of correcting that by working on detailed backstories for all of the major players.

The thing is, I’ve played Kotaro’s Interlude but I barely remember it because that was over three years ago, and a lot has happened since then (that’s an understatement). I do have Danzo in my second archive. I should spend time leveling her up.

Watanabe-no-Tsuna

My first impression of Tsuna wasn’t a good one (he gets better later on). He came off as that arrogant rival that tries to one-up the protagonist at every turn. As the story progressed, he lost that impression and became more human.

Tsuna wasn’t as big of a dick as I originally thought. Either someone is cutting onions in my hobby lair, or that unrequited love story was a bit of a tear-jerker. I probably have a strong sentimentalist/romantic streak (heh, I’m actually in the process of writing romantic/semi-erotic short-stories at the moment). Anyway, this is where Tsuna ends up doing his reassessment, and I couldn’t be happier. In all honesty, I could tell that he was a good guy—if a bit stiff and formal.

What does tick me off is that his connection to Ibaraki is mentioned but never really explored. There’s the mention of a love-interest that had been hidden away by her family, but that’s all the detail we get other than that she was killed by an oni. There’s a lot of supposition about why her family chose to isolate her, including that she got pregnant out of wedlock.

Funny, I had a feeling that’s where they were going when Tsuna was explaining what he had planned to wish for. Even if the Imperial Holy Grail war had been legit, that feels like a wish that had strong potential to backfire. Reminds me of Kiritsugu’s wish from Fate/Zero. At this point, you think people would realize that the Holy Grail is basically a monkey’s paw.

It’s that “aha!” moment in the aftermath of the fight with Kintoki that shows us a different side of Tsuna.

Death-match: vs Medea+Tsuna

A miscalculation on my part made that boss fight with Medea and Tsuna a fucking pain in the ass. I used double Castoria + Space Ishtar with Tamamo+CasGil+Mash in the back-line. At first, it looked almost like I’d have it done in 3 to 6 turns. Lol nope. I accounted for Tsuna’s evade skill but not the damage nullification—which he fucking used like every goddamn turn! In the end it took me 24 turns that included a revive—I haven’t had to do that in ages. Either way, I still won and progressed the story.

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