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Bravely Second review

Let me tell you a story: there was once a gung-ho old pirate and an effervescent teenybopper. They both wanted the rights to a song; one wanted to preserve it in its original format, the other wanted to modernise it, and a troop of warriors were asked to mediate. In one timeline, the heroic quartet sided with the pirate and beat the songbird into compliance. In another, they tentatively sided with youth and gave the old seadog a beating, expecting an unpleasant conclusion to the war of copyrights.

It didn’t happen. Instead, they got a goddamned party.

Bravely Second

Bravely Second is a lot of this. Good-hearted camaraderie interlaced with sprawling battles, silliness balanced with meditations on ethical behaviour, a dollop of drama, and an overarching sense of kindness. Bravely Second is kind. The characters are kind. No one really wants to hurt anyone else, they’re all trying to preserve what they believe is the best way to be good to the people who matter, and that’s both oddly twee yet strangely satisfying. I think it’s because JRPGs always seem fixated with dire circumstances, while Bravely Second feels more like a case of people who can’t agree on how best to be nice.

Which is not to say that it is a domestic fantasy. Sure, there are trips to hot water springs and dessert tastings, arguments about ramen and awkward umbrella-sharing, but Bravely Second isn’t without its epic storyline. It opens with an ominously dressed Kaiser kidnapping Pope Agns Oblige, who you may recognise from the first game as a playable character. Yew Genealogia, scholastic scion of the Genealogia, immediately rushes out to save her, and that in turn kicks off a sprawling adventure.

Two members of the original cast, Edea and Tiz, make a return and happily, they’re not terribly different from their original selves. Though Yew is, in theory, the player’s narrative vehicle, Edea is often brought to the forefront. It is she who is often asked to decide between two opposing ideologies, a task she meets with an endearing amount of sheepishness. Of the four that we meet, I’m least enthused about Magnolia, the lunar Ba’al Buster who is endlessly fascinated with terrestrial things. She’s sweet enough, but there’s something jarring about her usage of French and her voice actor’s inconsistent accent.