Looking back over past installments of this column, I’m surprised I haven’t given Bianca any love yet. I mean, in Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, the game in which she first appears, she literally becomes your wife. Assuming you make the correct choices, that is.
Of course, you have two other options for who to wed in that game. But as someone who grew up as whatever the middle-class equivalent of a country bumpkin is, Bianca spoke to me right from the first moment I met her. And I knew right from that first meeting that I was going to wed her.
Them other girls dun’t matter, y’hear? Well, they do, but not right now. Bianca!
Bianca is introduced to the player early in Dragon Quest V, as your character first meets her during the part of the game where you play as a child. Bianca, it seems, used to play with and take care of your character when he was a very young child, so it’s something of a reunion for her; your character seemingly has little memory of this initially, however.
Our hero is obviously immediately taken with Bianca, as after she notes that a man her mother sent to fetch some medicine hadn’t returned from his errand, he sets off to rescue him alone despite being just six years of age. This impresses Bianca, her mother and the hero’s father Pankraz, so they all head back to Bianca’s home together. From here, the relationship between the hero and Bianca only deepens, as they find themselves going on an adventure together in order to save a sabrecub from some bullies.
Towards the middle point of the game, it appears that the hero is destined to be tied to one of the other leading ladies in the game, known as Nera, but Nera quickly recognises that Bianca obviously has feelings for her possible husband-to-be. Despite Bianca’s protestations, Nera insists that she would feel bad stealing the hero away from Bianca — though ultimately, of course, the choice is up to him.
Unsurprisingly, if you pick Bianca, she reveals that she had always loved the hero since a young age, and it just feels right for them to be together. And from here, a variety of adventures — and a couple of tragedies — ensue. But I’ll leave the details of those for you to discover.
Bianca is such an appealing character because she’s down to earth and honest. Her growing up in a rural community — reflected beautifully through the English localisation’s use of a Somerset/Wiltshire-style accent and dialect for her — means that she is, in her own words, “a bit rough around the edges”, but those rough edges helped her develop a wide variety of useful skills. She’s honest — at times to a fault — and someone who immediately comes across as trustworthy and reliable. And a lot more intelligent than her stereotypical country bumpkin manner of speech and attitude would seem to indicate! To assume, and all that.
For much of the game, she finds herself taking care of her sickly father; her mother dies between the first and second time periods depicted in the game, and thus she becomes the main provider for her family. There’s a heartfelt and rather touching scene between the hero and Bianca’s father, where the latter requests the former to take care of her after he passes away. Interestingly enough, he never actually dies during the course of the game despite claiming he doesn’t have long left to live; for a while, online rumours circulated that he would pass away in certain versions of the game if the hero didn’t choose Bianca as his wife, but these were subsequently debunked.
If you’re a fan of Bianca, you’ll be pleased to note she also appears in several other games. In Dragon Quest VI for the Nintendo DS, there’s a sequence where you have the option to populate a town with characters from Dragon Quest IV or V. In Dragon Quest IX, she appeared as a guest in the Quester’s Rest location, though the shutting down of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service means that she can no longer be met in this way. In Dragon Quest XI, the Echo Chamber allows you to visit the Briscoletti Mansion from Dragon Quest V on the eve of the hero’s wedding ceremony, and a quest ensues.
It’s not just mainline Dragon Quest games in which she appears, either. She’s one of the main playable characters in the action RPG Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, a playable co-op character in its sequel, and a playable character in the unusual digital board game Fortune Street (aka Boom Street in Europe) that brings together Nintendo and Dragon Quest characters to compete for who can run the best businesses.
Bianca is one of the most iconic Dragon Quest characters from over the years, and has become something of an unofficial mascot for the series, hence the fact she appears in several other titles. It’s not hard to understand why after spending a bit of time with her; she’s a charming, fun presence as a kid, and she grows up to become someone that is inherently comforting to have around. It’s a strong man indeed who can turn her down in favour of the other potential brides in Dragon Quest V — though, of course, they each have their own unique appeals, too!
Hats off to Bianca, then; a video game waifu in the most literal sense — and one of the finest ladies in all of gaming. Dun’t you be gettin’ any funny ideas, though, ‘er ‘eart belongs to the ‘ero, got it?
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