It may not have escaped your notice that I haven’t done any Blue Reflection-themed Waifu Wednesdays this month.
This is entirely deliberate; since the game as a whole is based around the interactions between the female characters, I’ll be talking about most if not all of the major characters when we come to explore its narrative, themes and characterisation in their entirety. So please look forward to that!
In the meantime, however, Gust definitely produces wonderful waifus, so let’s look back at a MoeGamer classic and main heroine of a Cover Game from last year.
Nights of Azure is a game about a lesbian vampire demon named Arnice hacking and slashing her way through hordes of monstrous enemies, toppling enormous bosses and doing her best to prevent the world from falling into eternal night. It is also, however, a game about the relationship between Arnice and the love of her life, Lilysse. And for many people, this was one of the most appealing aspects of the game. Well, that and the rockin’ soundtrack.
Lilysse is an excellent complement to Arnice in many ways. While Arnice is “the breadwinner” of the couple, to put it crudely, going out every night to slaughter demons and do her part to make the city streets a safer place, Lilysse remains at their home base of the Ende Hotel. She’s far from passive, however; in fact, she plays a key role in the story. As the latest young woman to be chosen as the Saint, it is her duty when the time comes to sacrifice herself to seal away the Nightlord’s power — and in the meantime, she wants to do everything she can to support Arnice, both as her romantic partner and as the counterpart to Arnice’s Holy Knight figure.
Fanart by Swd3e2 (Pixiv)
Lilysse is presented as an endearingly flawed character throughout Nights of Azure’s main narrative. She clearly wants desperately to be a “housewife” for Arnice, but isn’t very good at the things one would typically associate with that role. There’s a running joke through the whole game that Lilysse makes cupcakes so horrendous that no-one even wants to stand near them, let alone eat them, and this is developed somewhat as the story progresses as a non-verbal means of her to show how she is feeling about the current situation and her relationship with Arnice.
Another appealing thing about Nights of Azure as a whole is that it doesn’t present Lilysse and Arnice’s relationship as smooth sailing. For starters, there’s the whole tragic, operatic angle of Lilysse having to sacrifice herself to save the world, which is more significant than pretty much anything else… but alongside that there are more subtle touches. The pair of them are so different in terms of personality that they can’t help but clash at times — though Lilysse, as the more “submissive” of the pair, is the one who typically comes off worse during such situations.
Interestingly, though, Nights of Azure eschews the common yuri trope of the two women feeling guilty or unsure about their relationship with and attraction to one another. While the beginning of the game presents them as meeting up for the first time in many years, it’s not long before their relationship is right where they left off — and a series of optional visual novel-style sequences present a compelling, romantic and mysterious backstory as to how the pair of them were drawn to one another in the first place.
While the “is it all right for girls to love girls?” angle is a popular trope for a reason — it’s ready-made drama just waiting to happen — it’s nice to see a yuri work that takes a different approach. There’s plenty of other drama going on in the world of Nights of Azure, after all, so it doesn’t really need its protagonist and heroine navel-gazing over their own sexuality for several hours in the middle of all that either. They’re just gay, and a big deal isn’t made out of this; it’s just part of the story, and that’s the end of that. Admirable.
Fanart by Pepsimen (Pixiv)
From a design perspective, Lilysse is immensely appealing. Initially presented in a highly feminine outfit that emphasises her ample bust and shapely legs, she’s subsequently hired as a maid in the Ende Hotel and gets the clothes to match. You never get the feeling that she’s overly sexualised in either of these outfits, however; she’s presented as feminine without being provocative; she’s undoubtedly sexy, too, but without any sort of aggressiveness about it. Indeed, this latter aspect is further emphasised by her “Dream World” outfit, in which she’s seen wearing a flattering but modest nightdress — something of a contrast to Arnice’s much more revealing lingerie in the same situation.
Her long, flowing ginger hair gives her a distinctive look, too; she’s neither an exaggerated anime caricature or an attempt to be overly realistic; she fits in nicely with Nights of Azure’s stylish aesthetic. She stands out as someone unique among the small cast without being “loud” — and, moreover, she complements Arnice extremely well from a visual perspective, too, with the dark purples of her dress setting off the deep blacks and crimsons of her love’s outfit.
Ultimately it all comes back to the story, though. Nights of Azure is such an effective game because of the sensitively depicted relationship between Arnice and Lilysse, and there’s a real feeling that you, as the former, are very much “fighting for” the latter, even though the outcome of what you’re doing seems inevitable and unavoidable.
And if nothing else, it just feels nice to come “home” to Lilysse after a long night of demon-slaying. Everyone needs someone whose arms they can collapse into after the challenges of the day (or night, as the case may be) are over and done with. Even if their cupcakes suck.
More about Nights of Azure
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