The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

For discussion of Lunar: Eternal Blue, the remake of Lunar 2 for Saturn/Playstation and all its translations
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Mystereous_Paladin
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The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Mystereous_Paladin » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:51 am

Right, so, I'm a grad student at Kansas State University and I'm doing my work on Lunar 2. Specifically on how it breaks away from postmodern literary conventions and reflects trends of the breaking from the late '80s and early '90s in particular to what David Foster Wallace talked about. That's not necessarily important here.

I'm going to have a ton of questions to toss around (and I'll go hunting around old threads as well soon), and hopefully a number of interesting ideas to offer up.

I'm going to play through the game a number of times and work with/improve the script by ShotgunNova.

I'm considering Lunar 2 as mostly separate from Lunar 1 in the way you would split Tom Sawyer from Huck Finn.

As I fill out figurative language during the third playthrough, I'll fill stuff in here or in docs or something. Things like paragons, symbols, metaphors, if it really is a morality play like Ghaleon says (probably not quite, but it IS something. Characters like Hiro (Hero) and Leo (the White Knight) really point to something else going on. Not to mention those relief paintings in the opening that show the Blue Star was ruined by war).

I'm interested in any tips, suggestions or ideas anyone has in regard to pretty much anything. Help with continuity is much appreciated. I am really aiming at what the story is doing, so I'm not interested in what could be potentially happening in it but rather anything that can be backed up with specific examples in the game.

Do you think the localizations/translations will interfere with my understanding of the original intent? (I'm willing to just consider it another aspect of the already convoluted concept of a videogame "author").

So, tidbit 1:
Is the Blue Star actually Earth, as far as L2 is concerned? So, the floating sphere in the Blue Spire and the occasional glimpses of the large background sprite don't seem to add up to anything, but the opening cutscene seems to really really depict a frozen Earth zooming in on Lucia located in maybe the Nigeria area of Africa. It seems you can make out the Middle East, Italy and parts of Southern Europe though Madagascar is obscured. Assuming this is true, remember that the relief paintings, and maybe elsewhere, show that the Blue Star had to be abandoned due to war and bloodshed. This hardly seems like a reason to leave a planet and inhabit it's moon, particularly when the relief depicts the war as being fought with spears. So, what kind of war could ruin a planet and leave it frozen, as the Blue Star is? It looks like there was a nuclear war on Earth and Althena had to move to the moon.
Maybe everyone knew this and I'm just late to the party? Maybe I missed something and it was just Zophar? Maybe there is something from L1 that answers this question?

Tidbit 2:
What's up with the pendant? Is it like depicting an eclipse of Lunar/The Blue Star? Anyone have any ideas? I wear mine everyday and actually just picked up another from eBay. On that note, anyone ever try to restore theirs? Mine is faded something awful and the string is old and cruddy. I'd like to clean the rest of the gold off and shine it up silvery while still keeping the black enamel.

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Alunissage
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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Alunissage » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:37 pm

Re tidbit 1, yeah, you're a little late to the party, in the sense that the cutscene "Death of the Blue Star" shows that it was Althena's action that destroyed the world, in an effort to stop the monsters. I don't think it's explained why Zophar is sealed on Lunar rather than the Blue Star, though. This is the only time we see Althena acting as a goddess, and she blasts the place with energy. Compare Lucia's magic, which is all techno-sounding and appearing, rather than elemental like most of the other magic (this is most obvious in the SegaCD game, where she has a lot more spells). Although I personally think that Althena's strongest attribute is healing, but that's not really germane, I suppose.

Have you read the summaries of the novels, and the various interviews? There's a lot of stuff on this site, and you can also search the forum for misc other translated bits and commentary. Do read the J to E differences sections in the EB and EBC parts of LunarNet too to get an idea of what was changed (and not changed) in localization. It's mostly pretty good but there may be things that would make a difference in your analysis.

Re tidbit 2, you may want to get a copy of the Lunar I+II artbook, which shows earlier concept art, including an earlier version of the pendant. (Other examples: Leo and Mauri as centaurs, Lucia with other hair options.) While it certainly went through a design phase, the end result is pretty close to the insignia in the middle of Alex's Blue Dragon Helmet - but right now I can't think if that's the case in both TSS and SSSC or only one of them.
work with/improve the script by ShotgunNova.

What's this?

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Sonic#
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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Sonic# » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:30 pm

With tidbit 1, Alunissage is absolutely right. I would add that whether the Blue Star is Earth or not, a broader literary question is why the game represents the Blue and Silver Star like the Earth and Moon. The first question is a plot point, the second a question of representation and purpose.

Right, so, I'm a grad student at Kansas State University and I'm doing my work on Lunar 2. Specifically on how it breaks away from postmodern literary conventions and reflects trends of the breaking from the late '80s and early '90s in particular to what David Foster Wallace talked about. That's not necessarily important here.


I'm doing graduate work too, and I have a couple of questions about the work being done here, mainly to do with your question of interference by translation.

1. How can a transnational literary work, developed in Japan and translated into English, be a response to Western literary conventions like postmodernism and New Sincerity? In other words, what texts, evidence, or apparatus do you use to contextualize how you're using Lunar 2? Overall, JRPGs seem very globalized in their expectations, but I don't know of any direct vector where designers are reading and responding to David Foster Wallace. As well, in large part, JRPGs may be responses to genres of Japanese literature and culture, and I don't know if they're having the same conversations about sincerity and irony. Some other contexts that might be addressed: postcolonial criticism, new media theory, and theories of Pacific literatures.

2. Do you know Japanese? I ask because, based on what you mention, it seems like you're primarily familiar with the English translation. If you do know Japanese, then thinking about how translation works to produce the effects you're thinking about would be quite interesting.

If you don't, then I would urge extreme caution. Scholars usually don't work on materials produced in a language and culture they're not very familiar with. Based on my studies, I can write on Middle English, Latin, and Old French texts from the 12th to the 17th century, but I wouldn't dare write an entire work on Dante (right time, but Italian) or Mark Twain (right language, wrong time). I might, at most, work in a mention and some comments as part of making a larger point - mention and consult Bradamant in Orlando Furioso as a predecessor for Britomart in The Faerie Queene, for instance. Even with new works, it is much preferable that a scholar be able to account for them in their original context as well as in their adapted form. I know modern French because so many of my scholarly sources for medieval romance are French.

If you don't know Japanese, it might be better to switch the focus of the project to a broader genre rather than a single work, and figure out more examples that are within your languages of expertise.

3. More generally, who is your audience?

I say all this because, while it generally sounds like a cool idea, addressing these issues is crucial. Otherwise, to other scholars, you're a scholar working outside of your own language and culture without much grounding in it, and you're working on a minor work that isn't well-known.
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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Enclave » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:49 pm

Alunissage wrote:
Re tidbit 2, you may want to get a copy of the Lunar I+II artbook, which shows earlier concept art, including an earlier version of the pendant. (Other examples: Leo and Mauri as centaurs, Lucia with other hair options.) While it certainly went through a design phase, the end result is pretty close to the insignia in the middle of Alex's Blue Dragon Helmet - but right now I can't think if that's the case in both TSS and SSSC or only one of them.


TSS shows that it doesn't have Lucia's pendant design on it.

Also, I think it was the Red Dragon Shield that had Lucia's logo in TSS, not the helmet.

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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Mystereous_Paladin » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:19 am

Alunissage,
As it's going for the near future, I'll only be tackling L2EBC on it's own. Minimal references to the original, L1 or other media. The world of the game is mostly going to exist, for my purposes, in a vacuum as it's too much to consider all else except where absolutely necessary. In particular, I cannot draw conclusions on things using evidence from other games or mechanics of the world introduced elsewhere. Except maybe interviews. I will be checking out all the references you mentioned and that. I have translations of the interviews from the Official Design Material Collection and whatever lies in the player's guide. I'm extremely interested in getting any artbooks and other such things. Any ideas? eBay?

Here's the script:
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps/197807-lunar ... faqs/52436
It could use a lot more stage directions. I'm going to tailor it so my adviser can read it and make sense of it when the time comes. This will include a lot of filling in gaps where playing happens and probably time-stamps to videos

Sonic, sorry for the wall of text in advance,

I agree with your point about the Blue and Silver Star and I'll keep that in mind. That's a later step. As it is now, I'm working on playing the game for fun and then a paraphrase/literal playthrough where I only look at the plot, story, narrative and text. Those terms get mixed up depending on where you are but basically refer to chronological events (story time), events as they happen in the story (text time) and where the story takes place in these events (narrative time) (This will eventually be a huge map full of narrative cells that I will desperately beg to have fact-checked and contested). That isn't really explained well, but it's about as good as I understand it currently.

Which brings me to my main point: I'm just starting. I'm working towards my MA with little background in English/Lit. As such, my audiences for these will be the conferences I enter over the course of the next 2-3 years (pop culture, cultural studies and in-house) and my committee with intent to get the final piece published. Right now I'm preparing abstracts for the conferences.

I haven't researched the various conversations going on so far in my intended fields, so my work does not have really a unifying thesis yet, just a vague direction. Hence, I'm going to be analyzing the hell out of the game. Full on narratological, critical and theoretical analysis, mainly for fun, also for practice, to have a giant pool of research to pull from.

So, my intended specializations are going to be: narratology, postmodernism & theory, postmodern literary conventions, "avant-garde modernisms" (particular breakings away from pomo, generally termed post-postmodernism), David Foster Wallace and the currently not-established New Sincerists (such as Tao Lin), and video game literary theory/studies

On to your actual points:
As far as translations go, I may have to go full Death & Rebirth of the Author on that. Only treating the study in regards to the one text, most context be damned. Pure reader-response stuff if it gets to that, though I hope not to. Also if worst comes to worst I can go from the comparative literature angle in that texts in their translated versions still have meaning/worth and work around that. All of those are worst-case scenarios, but my advisers think it could work as it's going so far. I do not know Japanese for now. That's way down the line. Not to mention written Japanese. I'm only interested in discrepancies of translation insofar as they might screw over/invalidate what I'm working on (though a re-framing of my work could probably deal with it). But I think I can make due, in any case I'm working closely with my advisers and they know most of these potential issues and can help me account for it all. My ultimate goal is to work in-context, but that is so far beyond my reach right now.

So, my studies. I have none. I currently have no areas I can actually work in, hence the essential lack of audiences and lack of connection to significant whatnot going on in literature (yet!). This, though, gives me a lot of potential free reign in what I can work on since I'm equally qualified in most areas. Ah, no one is responding directly to David Foster Wallace, it's more like the story conventions employed in Lunar in particular represent what DFW was talking about in the way literature is shifting in a new direction. My main aim with my papers/project/thesis is to chart where Lunar differs from postmodern literary conventions, where that lines up with DFW and how it relates to my true intended focus of metamodernism (most of my tactics and styles are based wholly on two documents, "Notes on Metamodernism" and "The Metamodernist Manifesto"). So, in regards to where my focus is at, Lunar is a specific example within the larger issues. Still not sure how much each part is going to be focused on and the project(s) will change drastically as time goes on. Right now the brunt of the project looks like it's going to have a lot to do with postmodern literary conventions. Once I have an actual entrypoint/critical imperative the work will actually form (Uh, which I have like 2 weeks to figure out for the first abstract, 1 year for the actual project). My main aim is to include Lunar and I really do think I can make it happen, it's just a matter of figuring out how. And, for that matter, where videogame literary studies is at right now.

Postmodernism isn't only restricted to the West, though I know exactly what you mean. Japan has an entirely different literary tradition, so I'm not even going to try to tackle where it begins to change and all that. There is a bit of a precedent in what I'm doing in that Haruki Murakami is contested, by some, to be part of the shift against postmodern tendencies. Which is perfect because he writes around the exact same time as DFW and Lunar.

I laid a lot on you, but I don't know what you do and don't know or where you fall in lit. studies so I figured I should explain myself better.

What to take away from all of this: I'm doing most of the playthrough and analysis for fun and practice, so hit me with any cool ideas or observations, not necessarily what relates to the project. This endeavor is what is mainly going to keep my sanity over the next few years.

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Alunissage
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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Alunissage » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:50 am

Enclave wrote:Also, I think it was the Red Dragon Shield that had Lucia's logo in TSS, not the helmet.

Thanks. Drat, I actually typed "Red Dragon Helmet" initially and then corrected the wrong part of it. Usually I'm more attentive to design detail than that, but have not studied the dragon armor at all. I just remembered a thread here making the comparison and was in a hurry and didn't check my memory as I usually do. D'oh.

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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Shiva Indis » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:11 pm

Mystereous_Paladin wrote:Do you think the localizations/translations will interfere with my understanding of the original intent?
The translation that underlies the localization is sound work that represents the plot well, but certain aspects of the game were altered. I've made a few observations on the subject in terms of characterization.

Mystereous_Paladin wrote:Is the Blue Star actually Earth, as far as L2 is concerned?
It's pretty obvious that's the case, but the creators like playing coy about it.

Mystereous_Paladin wrote:What's up with the pendant? Is it like depicting an eclipse of Lunar/The Blue Star?
I remember reading something about this but I can't remember where. If it's from an interview, it's not hosted here... But anyway, yes, the pendant is meant to suggest Lunar and the Blue Star though your eclipse reading is probably over-specific.

Mystereous_Paladin wrote:(This will eventually be a huge map full of narrative cells that I will desperately beg to have fact-checked and contested).
Sounds like fun. :mrgreen:

If you're interested in documentation of author intent, there are translated interviews at Lunar-Net and R. Capowski's site, but most of original creator interviews for Lunar 2 date back to the Sega CD version.
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Re: The Great Narratological Lunar 2 Project

Postby Mystereous_Paladin » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:49 pm

Thanks Shiva!
I'll check out the characterization whatnot.
And yeah, I'll take any interviews I can get my hands on!

Been reading "Power Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life" and am considering something:
Potential project direction: Article intended to be part of a longer work. Either narratology of a series of games or series of games that could be considered metamodern. The latter requires full-blown postmodern specialization, which I need to do anyway.

That being said, this guy is a journalist but also fluent in Japanese and I still need to hit the modern day videogame scholarship.


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