With Arnice back in the spotlight in our Warriors All-Stars playthrough, it’s only fair that we give her a bit of love and appreciation for Waifu Wednesday, isn’t it?
Arnice is, if you’re unfamiliar, the protagonist of the excellent Nights of Azure, which was the subject of a Cover Game feature here on MoeGamer back in 2017. It’s a fantastic action RPG with a compelling story, a delightfully operatic tone and some amazing music.
And Arnice is a big part of what makes the game so appealing; she’s a fine protagonist, and fits right in to Warriors All-Stars, too. So let’s take a closer look.
At the outset of Nights of Azure, we don’t know a lot about Arnice other than the fact that she is a knight for a religious organisation known as the Curia, and that knights such as she dedicate their lives to protecting priestesses. Priestesses, meanwhile, are destined to become saints, and in doing so they agree to sacrifice themselves on the Blue Altar in order to hold back the incursions of the Nightlord.
Arnice isn’t the sort of person who just sits back and lets “destiny” define herself, though. The priestess she is charged with protecting is also the woman she loves — one Lilysse, who we’ve previously explored — and, naturally, given the circumstances, has absolutely no desire to give her up whatsoever, Nightlord or no Nightlord. As such, much of Nights of Azure’s narrative concerns Arnice attempting to find a way to end the whole cycle of grief and loss that both she and Lilysse are part of.
Arnice’s desire to do this partly stems from her own background. As the game progresses, we learn that the origin of her apparently demonic powers is an incident in her past where she was bathed in “blue blood” — supposedly the blood of the Nightlord. Excess exposure to this substance turns individuals into mindless fiends — but Arnice escaped that fate, instead becoming able to channel the demonic energy inside herself in various ways. She defied fate once; she can do it again.
We can assume that the Arnice we see in Warriors All-Stars comes from a world after the events of Nights of Azure have concluded, since she seems perfectly happy and content. Interestingly, throughout Nights of Azure itself, she never let the seeming hopelessness of the couple’s situation get to her; Lilysse was often the one who ended up losing faith in herself and becoming unreasonable, while Arnice would, under most circumstances, patiently wait for the situation to calm down before reassuring her lover that everything would (probably) be all right.
But there’s still a marked contrast between that Arnice and her Warriors All-Stars incarnation; now, she just knows that Lilysse is back there waiting for her, but in the meantime she may as well do her best to figure out what is going on in the strange new world in which she finds herself.
A core part of Arnice’s appeal comes from the fact that she has clearly been designed with a complete audio-visual aesthetic in mind. Throughout both Nights of Azure and Warriors All-Stars, she is typically clad in her distinctive and elaborate bright red, black and white outfit, her long silver hair offsetting the whole look nicely and contrasting strongly with the demonic blue blood that sprays forth from her enemies. During her “action” sequences, she is accompanied by loud, proud Gothic rock music, highlighting both her origins in classic “horror” and her determination to see things through to the conclusion she wants, not that Fate seemingly has in store for her.
In fact, Nights of Azure has a very strong and distinctive aesthetic in its own right, particularly when it comes to its 2D artwork. This is primarily down to the work of artist Sakai Yoshikuni, often known simply as Yoshiku. Yoshiku’s artwork combines conventions of anime and manga artwork with extremely elaborate details typical of “high art”, particularly paintings. There’s strong use of colour and shading, and a lot of fine details; both Arnice and Lilysse’s outfits are filled with ruffles, folds and lacy bits, and their hair is depicted with individual locks clearly visible rather than as just one monocoloured mass.
There’s a richness and warmth to the art, and it draws you in; and once you’re “in”, Arnice’s personality will keep you there, blending strong determination with a supportiveness and genuine affection. She knows what she has to do, but she’s not going to sacrifice any part of her “self” in order to do that; she well and truly knows who she is, and believes that it’s important to accomplish your goals without denying yourself the things that make you “you”.
She was a great protagonist for Nights of Azure, and she’s a great fit for the Warriors All-Stars cast, too, taking a strong leading role in Setsuna’s forces while ensuring that she isn’t completely swept along with the chaos. She’s suspicious of the circumstances that led the royal siblings to fight among themselves, and with good reason; if anyone will be able to get to the bottom of what is going on, it’ll be Arnice.
Also, quite frankly, she’s a leading lady who doesn’t get talked about nearly enough — particularly among those who claim there are very few good female protagonists in gaming — so I will gladly celebrate her until I’m blue in the face. Everyone should know Arnice’s name… and if you deny her greatness, well, let’s just say you better watch out the next time you see some toy soldiers.
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