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.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
The story and most of characters really suck. Valvatorez really is just diet Adell, and Fuka is easily the most annoying character in the three games I’ve played. And that’s impressive because 2 has Tink, Taro, and Hanako. I gotta disagree with you on Fenrich being best boy. I can’t stand Fenrich because his entire character can be boiled down to: Asshole to everyone, simp to Valvatorez. Emizel is fine. He doesn’t stand out much but at least he has something of a character arc. Artina is just the most boring girl in the franchise. She just doesn’t stand out in any way, and the fact that when she was human she was a saint and was reborn as an angel because of it makes her so boring. Desco is great though. I love her thing about being a final boss in training.
Special mention to Chapter 6: The A-Virus Pandemic. Which I genuinely believe is the absolute worst main story chapter in any Disgaea game. You are fighting nothing but Axels in this chapter. If this was 2 it would be great because Axel is one of 2’s best characters. But oh no, this isn’t Disgaea 2 Axel. This is Disgaea 4 Axel. Who FUCKING SUCKS. He’s so annoying, so dumb, so aggravating, and you gotta deal with your party members slowly turning into him over the course of the chapter. And this chapter has the audacity, the NERVE, to end it on an asspull that angel blood can cure any illness, which was never even HINTED AT in any other game or this one beforehand (maybe in 3 which I can’t play but I highly doubt it), but Artina didn’t do it earlier because of the bullshit “angels can’t harm themselves by law” rule. Garbage writing for a garbe chapter.
ALSO, are we going to ignore that twist near the end about fear energy? It’s so mean-spirited because it’s the game condemning humanity to be helplessly attacked and taken advantage of by demons or else the demons and angels we play as will literally die off. And it’s especially baffling when demons constantly do terrible shit to each other all the time and can get away with it. But when humans do things even slightly bad like “having the ambition of taking over the world as a young child” (Hello Fuka), aka literal thought crimes, they become prinnies when they die and have to slave away with awful working conditions for who knows how long until they literally pay off their sins.
And holy FUCK the Land of Carnage is a mindfuck to unlock. In 2 I already had most of the maps from naturally playing the game without even knowing the Land of Carnage even existed before looking it up. Here though? I had to look up so many guides to figure out what to do to unlock it.
It also doesn’t help that 4 has the weakest soundtrack of the games I’ve played. It has some really good ones like Crimson Cross and the final boss theme, but when compared to 1 and especially 2 (2 has the best soundtrack by a long shot) nothing really stands out.
Something else personally I dislike is how Guns got nerfed into the ground in this game. In 2 Rozalin was one of my best units due to guns gaving good long range skills and only scaling off of the hit stat. In 4 though they’re based on hit AND speed which just gimps them and makes minmaxing damage for guns so much harder because you now have two stats to balance out. Which is just one more thing going against Artina since she’s proficient in Guns and bows.
At least monsters are actually useful in this one. Between Magichanging being much better and monster fusion, monsters are much more useful in 4 compared to 1 and 2. And Desco is one of the best units in the game due to her great stats, aptidudes, evilities, huge AOE skills, having flight, and the benefits of being a monster.
I still liked 4, but with all of its changes that I just didn’t like and the weakest story and characters of the three I played, I just don’t like it as much as 2. I still think it’s better than 1 due to 1 being the most bare bones in the franchise in terms of gameplay since it’s the first one, but lemme tell ya it ain’t the story or music that has it above 1.
Emizels is the only thing wrong in disgaea 4.
Something I’d love for the Disgaea series to do is have cosmetic customization. Being able to give a Prinny a hat, or something else that wouldn’t clash with the character’s original design(like giving a character a hat who already is wearing one). I do feel like that’d be bait to add hundreds of dollars of DLC though.
Disgaea can be very overwhelming. I think 4 clamps a bit too much of it’s mechanics on top of each other, specially with the Cam-Pain. It’s fun when you get everything to work, but goddamn, sometimes organizing all the Evil Sybols, Deputy positioning, Cabinet Members, Cheat Shop, Equipment, Active and Passive skills, takes a lot longer than the combat.
Had the DS version, 4 on Vita and 5 on Switch.
Now this looks like a fun and cheeky game. But I am not getting sunk in turn based much anymore unless it’s table top.
Kind of reminds me of a mix of Shin Megami, Fire Emblem, Persona, and Xcom. All fantastic game series. Thanks for the detailed analysis. May have to spend more money this month.
I feel like 5 had more memorable main characters but D4 was my first that I played and its definitely overwhelming at first but once you get in that groove it’s a great time.
I’m a big fan of Disgaea 4!
Disgaea 3 was my first game in the series. I remember playing disgaea 4 on Ps3 I enjoyed the visuals, all the different attacks and classes and the crazy story. These games are great for taking on the go.
Easily my all time favorite in the series. The dynamic between the characters and their designs is the strongest of the titles, and it had some solid, refined game play that improved on what was established in past titles.
i never understood how people have time for this series. every weapon has 100 dungeons, most maps are not small, and recruiting all the enemies is crazy addictive. so many games, so few days.
I tried getting into these games, I couldn’t though.
It’s nice to read someone’s take on a series that has brought me hours upon hours of isolation from my friends and family.
I finished the 5th on Switch yesterday and it was my first Disgaea game. Now i’m looking what to play next to get the fix.
The mechanics reminded me of Yggdra Union. Tbh, they have few things alike but the quite confusing game mechanics made me remember that.
I’ve already played Disgaea 5 and have now started 4. I’m finding the step backward to be rather jarring, so I can’t say I recommend starting with the most recent one if you plan to play the others.
It’s been a while since I played Disgaea, and I’ve only played 1 and got to try 2 a bit. I’m still on the fence about buying 4 on Switch (not interested in 5 at the moment, 4 initially caught my attention since one of my fave voice actors is in it…) but this analysis makes me a bit more convinced to buy it.
Disgae looks like it has some complex systems, and I have not found a place where I was ready for its tone, I’m just not sure where it is and I tem to like the big stories and all types of combat systems. Honestly kinda scared to start liking another franchise since I cant keep up now!
I love this series, been playing them all since the original came out on ps2. 1 will always be my favorite, still has the best characters to me. 5 is my favorite to play though with the quality of life improvements compared to 1. 4 felt the weakest of the series, plot seemed a bit less interesting and shorter, but still a very fun game.
I’ve never been a fan of turn based games, but lately I’ve bought Octopath and Ni No Kuni. I’ve yet to play either of them, but look forward to getting to the. I definitely enjoy the artwork in this game, but will have to wait to see if I enjoy turn based. The zooming in and out seems like it would get on my nerves. Also appears daunting to pick this game up and just play.
Honestly I enjoyed D1 so much more than this game also enjoying D5 much more. This one is just eh
Disgaea 3 and 4 seem to be the points where they started going wild and making mosters good.
In defense of Valvatorez’ character.
Valvatorez is, deliberately, a character that shouldn’t be the protagonist. He’s what would happen if Obi Wan, or Gandalf, or someone like that were forced to be the main character. And Valvatorez knows it.
He repeatedly states as such. It’s absurd that a character like him be the main character, and speaks to the degradation of the Netherworld that characters like Fuka or Emizel SHOULD be the ones taking up the torch of rebellion, but no, Valvatorez has to do it.
Valvatorez is a completely flat character, because he has already had his big defining adventure in the past. Twice even. He’s a very meta-aware and meta-challenging character, whose only goal is to fix the netherworld to a point where one of the young kids who should be protagonist can take over, and he can go back home to his 9/5. But it keeps dragging him back in, because counting on Fuka is a disaster waiting to happen.
Playing this game and thus far it’s great! Good and loveable character and the story is looking to be solid! A great balance of comedy and seriousness! And of course this game is just addictive. You find yourself grinding even when you don’t have too.
I wish this game was on xbox.
D4 has got the best cast of characters for me.
Freakin love this game series! So glad I picked up my Premium Edition.
I bought discaea 5 some time ago on the switch and had a blast playing it. The story was of course horrible but the gameplay was really fun and addictive. Would love to try out the fourth one.
I like the story of 4, Fuka and all.
This was my first Disgaea game and I loved it. Definitely one of my favorite RPG on the PS3.
I found this article interesting! I’m not familiar with the source material so I am curious about the parallel between the A-virus and adulthood. Because, while their individual fears of falling to toxic masculinity and losing individuality are things that can be worked though, ultimately adulthood and aging is unavoidable. This is purely a question from someone that isn’t familiar with Disgaea 4 but is succumbing to the A-Virus just as inevitable as becoming an adult? Is that something that they have to come to peace with ultimately or are they able to cure it?
I question comparing something like a virus to becoming an adult if it’s something that is meant to be fixed within the universe of the game. However, if it really is something that just cannot be avoided then it’s an interesting metaphor.
It’s a classic
There is a truism here: everyone has a fear that he must bear.
Alright which one of y’all let some Disgaea fan in the news writing room and paid them to talk about Warden Axel. my distress is unfathomable
Now this looks like a fun and cheeky game.
Interesting take on the themes in the series. Makes me want to go back and play it!