A real highlight of Rance 5D is the amount of time you get to spend with Athena 2.0.
Utterly devoted to her master, but in a completely different way to the genuine feelings Sill holds for Rance, this rather peculiar artificial lifeform is a reliable source of comedy, cuteness and, more often than not, erotic scenes.
She’s definitely a memorable character for sure, and her interactions with Rance, Sill and the rest of the cast form an important part of Rance 5D as a whole.
(There’s a disappointing lack of Athena fanart around the Internet, so there’s a couple of mildly NSFW images from the games after the jump; consider yourself warned!)
Athena 2.0 was created by a strange old woman called Frostvine that Rance encountered back in Rance IV. As her name suggests, she was a second attempt to create an autonomous “doll”, originally intended as a toy for a child. Athena 1.0 was apparently “too human”, and ended up running off with one of the pig-like Ham Barbara monsters, so Frostvine changed tack, asking the conveniently present Rance for the “honey” (use your imagination) of both an angel and a devil to perfect the process. Since Rance is not the sort of person who does anything for free, he did so on the understanding that he would receive the new prototype as his own property.
Rance managed to convince his long-suffering personal level god Willis to give up her “honey” by lying that he needed it for a quest to save the world, while he extracted the other ingredient from the devil Feliss, originally bound to him back in Rance 03’s narrative and seen once again during 5D’s story… an encounter which would end up having consequences for Rance VI. Unfortunately, the… process through which he extracted Feliss’ essence meant that it was contaminated with, shall we say, an extra ingredient, courtesy of Rance’s Hyper Weapon, and this caused issues with Athena 2.0’s creation — most notably her woefully poor intelligence, attention span and common sense.
Believing intelligence was not necessary for what he intended to do with Athena 2.0, he took her home with the intention of enjoying himself with his new “pet”, only to discover that she lacked both nipples and functional sex organs, since Frostvine sold those separately and hadn’t informed him of this fact. After threatening the elderly tinkerer’s life unless she added the missing components, Rance finally went away with a fully functional (if exceedingly stupid) artificial human.
Athena 2.0’s IQ is roughly on par with a dog, though she is capable of communicating in human languages rather than being completely animalistic. Her behaviour is, however, often very much based on instinct, making her appear very dog-like in the way she interacts with and reacts to the world around her — though she is reasonably proficient with a bow and, more notably, is in possession of a skill called “Learning” that allows her to quickly adapt to new situations, even those unfamiliar to her. Both her skills are only level 1, so she does not excel in her fields, but she’s competent enough to stand out among those with no talent in those areas.
As an artificial life form, Athena only has a level cap of 1 and lacks the ability to progress, unlike real humans — though her base statistics are very strong indeed, particularly for a “level 1” character. This is perhaps an oblique reference to other games where robotic characters do not “level up” in the same way as organic characters — good examples include everything from Square’s SaGa series (in which Mec characters’ stats are determined entirely by equipment) to EA’s elderly space exploration sim Starflight (in which android crew members are extremely capable at the outset of the game, but impossible to train beyond their initial levels, unlike all the other races).
Athena 2.0 is often the butt of a number of Rance’s jokes, though it’s interesting to see how differently he treats her compared to Sill. While his relationship with Sill involves both genuine-seeming affection alongside verbal, physical and sexual abuse, Rance is less explicitly “mean” to Athena 2.0 in many situations. Or perhaps that’s not quite accurate; he’s still mean to her, just mean in a different way. While he’ll generally give Sill a smack around the head if he thinks she’s done something wrong, he will usually “punish” Athena 2.0 by neglecting her or denying her the things she wants — often sex. Perhaps as a result of this, Athena 2.0 doesn’t like Sill all that much, presumably feeling some form of jealousy towards the woman who has stood by his side for so long.
Despite his harsh treatment of Athena 2.0, it’s clear Rance trusts her capabilities, however; in one memorable scene in Rance 5D she falls out of the window of a tower and Rance is completely unperturbed, not because he doesn’t care about her, but because he knows she’ll almost certainly be absolutely fine. Sure enough, a few scenes later she shows up again none the worse for wear and acting as if surviving a fall from that height was a perfectly normal thing to do.
Athena 2.0 is an appealing character due to her many juxtapositions and contradictions. In many ways, she’s the embodiment of childish innocence and wonderment, but this is contrasted by a voracious sexual appetite and willingness to submit herself to pretty much any humiliation Rance might inflict on her. Likewise, her poor attention span and lack of intelligence is endearing, particularly when you realise that she’s consistently counting ladybugs and beetles all the way through Rance 5D, but at the same time she’ll occasionally surprise you with her keen observational skills and ability to perform complex mathematical calculations.
Like most women in his life, Rance doesn’t treat her well, often leaving her alone for long periods to “guard” his home — yet at the same time it’s clear he feels both genuine affection and a sense of obligation towards this strange young not-quite-human girl. Her delight at having the opportunity to spend time with her “master” — even better, to have the opportunity to be physically intimate with him — is kind of infectious, and is one of many reminders that despite Rance initially appearing to be an irredeemable, morally bankrupt asshole with no consideration for anyone but himself, there is clearly something that others see within him, often despite their better judgement.
And all of this aside, who wouldn’t want a cute, adorable, perpetually cheerful and absolutely devoted robot waifu by their side, even if they aren’t the sharpest tool in the box? Athena is an absolute delight to be around any time she’s on screen, bringing joy (and more than a bit of enjoyable filth) to any scene she’s part of.
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