Waifu Wednesday: Mòrag and Brighid

Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s main cast runs the gamut from spunky, optimistic youths to a few rather more reserved characters.

Mòrag and her Blade Brighid (Meleph and Kagutsuchi in the Japanese original) fall into this latter category, both offering their own distinctive take on being the “detached voice of reason” in most situations.

Both of them are interesting characters in their own right, so let’s take a closer look at both today.

Fanart by Kirio (Twitter)

Mòrag’s most obvious defining characteristic is that she doesn’t conform to standard, conventional gender norms. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is largely populated by people who dress in a clearly “traditional” manner, leaving you in little doubt as to someone’s gender and position in society just from a glance at how they look and how they are dressed. But Mòrag is different.

She wears clothing that deliberately obscures her femininity; her loose-fitting dress uniform trousers and armoured boots hide any curves she might have in her lower body, and her upper body is clad in a coat somewhat reminiscent of popular artistic depictions of Napoleon. She caps the whole thing off with an impressive hat that covers much of her face and even obscures her hair — though in the few scenes where we see her without the hat, it’s interesting to note that this is one aspect of her appearance where she hasn’t completely abandoned a sense of traditional femininity, as she sports a stylish, mature and refined style that nonetheless maintains some length and body to it.

Indeed, such is the apparent ambiguity of Mòrag’s gender to some characters in the game that she is mistaken for a man on a few occasions. In one particularly memorable “Heart to Heart” optional scene, Nopon party member Tora is surprised and embarrassed to discover that despite journeying alongside Mòrag for a considerable amount of time by this point, he has been inadvertently misgendering her the whole time. Mòrag, initially embarrassed at how pushy Tora is in this situation — the main context of the scene is that he’s trying to get all the “men” of the party to enjoy a break in Mor Ardain’s hot springs together — demonstrates that she is perfectly comfortable in how she chooses to represent herself — and that this may occasionally cause confusion.

“Hey Mòrag,” says Zeke to her. “How about next time you put on a skirt and some heels?”

“How about you die in a fire, Zeke,” comes the cold response.

This exchange pretty much sums up Mòrag; when she’s first presented in the narrative as an antagonist, she appears to be a formidable opponent with a single-minded desire to stand in the party’s way at all costs. But over time, as everyone gets to know one another, she is revealed to be… well, still rather serious and determined, but also in possession of a warm, caring heart and a rather dry — at times even acidic — sense of humour.

Mòrag’s Blade Brighid complements her well. Named after the Celtic goddess of hearth and home (or the Shinto spirit of fire in the Japanese original), she also puts across an air of quiet refinement, albeit in a somewhat different manner to her Driver.

In fact, in many ways, Brighid is a study in contrasts when compared to Mòrag. While Mòrag aims to cultivate her aforementioned androgynous, even masculine image, Brighid embraces her femininity, wearing an outfit that gives a strong feeling of “evening wear” to it. While Mòrag speaks with a deep, quiet but determined voice, Brighid has a gentle and refined, almost motherly tone to how she speaks. The one thing they have in common is that they are obscuring something about themselves; Mòrag does so with her clothing, while Brighid does so with her perpetually closed eyes.

Fanart by Zin (Twitter)

The latter is a common visual trope in Japanese popular media intended to represent wisdom, and Brighid is certainly one of the wisest, most mature characters in the narrative. Indeed, over the course of the narrative it becomes apparent that she’s one of the oldest Blades around besides Pyra and Mythra, and she presents a very interesting twist on one of the game’s core narrative themes: what it means to Blades to live “forever”, and the price they have to pay for that.

When a Blade’s Driver dies, the Blade returns to their Core Crystal and lies dormant for a while. When the Core Crystal begins to glow again, the Blade is ready to be awakened once again, but it will be without any of the memories they built with their previous Driver. Their basic personality and characteristics will remain intact, but the things they learned and the memories they shared alongside someone with whom they once shared such an intimate bond will be all gone.

Brighid is uniquely positioned as an “Imperial treasure”, however, and is not only recorded in official chronicles, but she has also kept a journal in each of her “lives” that allows her to rediscover who she once was, who was important to her and what she learned. Most Blades do not have the luxury of being able to predict who they will be passed on to in the future, so Brighid is uniquely privileged to be able to do so — though she does also note that many other Blades attempt to keep a journal much like she does.

Fanart by MeowYin (Twitter)

Brighid’s wisdom is a comforting presence throughout much of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Her gentle, kind demeanour puts you at ease even when she’s admonishing you for something — for much of the game, she reminds protagonist Rex of the water tower he destroyed in order to escape their first conflict, though by the later stages we can recognise this as her poking fun at him rather than being genuinely annoyed — and she is pleasant to have around. It’s easy to see why she clearly means so much to Mòrag — even though Mòrag would never directly admit such a thing — and she ultimately grows to feel almost like a “mother” of the whole group.

Mòrag and Brighid are, in many ways, the backbone of Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s core cast. They’re reliable, determined and not prone to their companions’ flights of whimsy (Zeke), emotion (Rex), irrationality (Nia) and overenthusiasm (Tora); they keep everyone else firmly grounded at the times when they need it the most, but that in no way means that they’re boring. For many, they’re some of the most appealing characters in the main party, and they’re definitely a highly memorable part of what is surely destined to be one of the most beloved ensemble casts in all of gaming.


More about Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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