Teenagers Combating Adulthood in Disgaea 4
For a teenager, facing adulthood can be frightful. Even in fiction, teens must still face this scary truth which observable is Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. This video game revolves around a group of demon warriors determined to overthrow the government in the netherworld.
Along the way, the group comes in contact with a disease known as the A-Virus that turns its victims into clones of a cocky blonde-haired rock star named Axel. The event of the virus outbreak deals with several themes with teenagers facing adulthood as one of them. The perspective given is only viewable through Wimsatt and Beardsley’s theory that “Poetry is a way of fixing emotions or making them more permanently perceptible” (1260).
Chapter 6 of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten displays distaste for vain masculinity and assimilation in society through Death Emizel’s disgust at the sight of blonde hair growing on his body and Fuka and Desco’s fear of turning into the boastful Warden Axel.
Emizel’s disgust at the sight of finding blonde chest hair on his body echoes fears of becoming an empty shell of masculinity. At the start of Chapter 6, Emizel discovers that there is a virus in the netherworld turning demons into copies of the egotistic and vain Warden Axel. After contracting the disease known as the A-Virus, Emizel slowly begins to grow blonde chest hair on his body and the sight of this symptom terrifies him.
On the surface, Emizel appears to just be afraid of turning into someone else, but beneath that layer is a truth revolving around a male teenager’s dread of becoming a negative stereotype of a man. The terror of becoming a stereotype is only perceivable through Wimsatt and Beardsley’s theory and without it the reader may only see the surface conflict.
Moving back to Emizel’s fear, he believes he will become a stereotype because he has taken notice of the Warden’s narcissist actions like being over-confident in front of women and believing himself to be superior because of his looks. Though he believes himself to be the pinnacle of manliness, Axel is actually shallow minded and weak in battle which are qualities that scare Emizel. The young teenager admires strength, courage, and cleverness which are qualities Axel does not possess. This fact is learned after Emizel watches Axel lose in battle more than once in previous chapters. The key to Axel’s defeat was overconfidence and a lack of knowledge which made him appear worthless.
Although Emizel was once influenced by Axel, he realized that using boasting and good looks to compensate for true strength of body and mind is foolish. Like any other young man, he would rather be influenced by another more respectable man. The A-Virus he contracts is nothing more than a metaphor to show the fear a young man can have of growing up into a failure.
Fuka’s dread of contracting the A-Virus shows a teenager’s fear of losing her individuality through assimilation into society. Like Emizel, Fuka also is infected by the disease that turns its host into clones of Warden Axel. However, where Emizel’s fear is based on vain masculinity, Fuka’s dread emerges from losing her identity. She has already proven herself as an outspoken girl by showing obstinacy and not giving up her belief that everything she experiences in the netherworld is a dream.
Of all the characters in the Disgaea 4, Fuka proves to be the most strong of will and the idea of becoming a copy of Axel is frightening not only because she will become a man, but also for the reason of losing herself amongst a large community of Axel look-alikes. The fear of becoming a man is only a shadow compared to losing her individuality and this relates to her fear of growing into an adult.
As an adult, Fuka will have to take her place in society and follow principles that other humans must follow. Fuka will be unable to expose her creative side the way she can as a teenager and she is aware of this inevitable fact. Because her time is limited, Fuka plans to use whatever time she has left as a teenager to expend her individuality and A-Virus is only a metaphor resembling adulthood’s reckoning. Becoming Axel means Fuka must take on the role of an adult and like Emizel, she has witnessed his vanity and submissiveness to authority. When confronted by the Demon President’s soldiers, Axel falls to his needs despite his over-confident nature in front of Fuka which repulses her. Submitting to any person is beneath Fuka and it is reasons like the one mentioned which explain why she fears becoming an adult. As an adult, a person has no choice but to be submissive like Axel at times which appears like a weakness.
The shallowness of masculinity as well as fitting in with the norms of society are criticized through Emizel’s and Fuka’s horrid reactions. The A-Virus, which Emizel and Fuka, contract represents more than just a fear of becoming another person. For Emizel, the virus represents his maturity into a man and the fear of becoming weak surrounds it. This weakness stems from overconfidence and a lack of intelligence which are not idle traits for a respectable adult. To be strong and brave is what Emizel wants which is why he does not want to transform into Axel. Where strength is Emizel’s reason for hating the disease, retaining individuality and freedom are Fuka’s reasons behind dreading the virus. Both characters fear issues like vanity and submissiveness which can likely be a part of becoming an adult.
Harada, Takehito. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. Nippon Ichi Software, 2011. Computer software.
Wimsatt, William and Moroe Beardsley. “The Affective Fallacy” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Norton, 2001. 1246-1261. Print.
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