Of course… My sword is yours to direct, Lucien.
This episode was a character-focused episode. To be honest, I like these kinds of stories where a character finds new things about themselves. I’m sure everyone has gone on a spiritual journey of sorts to find themselves. I haven’t done one yet, but I hope to. Vanessa’s spiritual journey was this episode.
As a character, Vanessa really surprised me. Given her association with Lucien, I’d assume she’d be the protective girlfriend type that revolves her whole character around the one boy she’s in love with, but she’s surprisingly not. While she is protective, she’s not his girlfriend. She’s just a friend that wants to be of use. In the beginning, she tells Lucien to use her how he pleases, as she is his sword. By the end, she grows to value herself as an individual. She also seems like an awkward person by nature, as she cannot really handle Lucien’s flirting. Overall, I love her development. Vanessa went from being guided by Lucien to her guiding the little girl. In my opinion as a writer, that is some solid development writing.
Throughout the entire episode, her only companion is Lucien. While several Federation episodes had Lucien’s personality sprinkled here and there, this episode is where his mischievous personality comes to shine. He flirts with Vanessa but is also big-brained. He’s smart, but takes a step back. He helps Vanessa, but only with words. He’s a good leader of Blaze. He helps those around him but not to the point of handholding. He helps Vanessa understand herself clearer. I really like his character here and it’s not because I’m biased. I genuinely think his character is good here. He serves as a good contrast and companion to Vanessa who would probably be boring if she was going in this episode solo. Sorry, Vanessa.
In terms of gameplay, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I love that she can regenerate her MP gauge while mobile; on the other hand, I hate that the MP gauge depletes so quickly after one usage. What’s worse is that that’s sort of her shtick. Charging up MP and then releasing it to become more agile mobility-wise is pretty much her entire gameplay. No fancy footwork like Falk or crazy knife duplication like Edouard. Her play style as the last twin dagger user of the roster was underwhelming. I expected more; I wanted more.
Vanessa’s backstory of how she was raised by a just knight and wanted to be like him was quite sweet. If you look at her chronology page, Vanessa had a rough life. She was kidnapped to be in an assassin’s guild and then adopted. She was very young back then, so her stoic personality and affinity for knives are reminiscent of being assassin-like. Being a knight like her adopted parent is proof that she’s alive. Huh, the way she’s robotic but then is trying to find some value in her life reminds me of Berseria and Abyss in a way…
For continuity, the episode actually takes place before the Blaze exam, so it takes place while the first years are still in school. Just to let you know, Lucien and Vanessa are not childhood friends, nor were they friends. They became friends after Vanessa became a member of Blaze; that was how their first meeting came to be, assumingly. They had no connection before that. Vanessa is also a year younger than Lucien, making her the same age as Yelsy.
Overall, this is not the most dramatic or the most boring episode. It’s somewhere in the middle, but I would place it more on the better end of the scale rather than the worst. It’s not forgettable, but that’s because I’m extremely Lucien-biased. What can I say? Any episode with the best boy will be viewed positively by me (I say that, but I put Maxime episode 1 on the lower end of my episode ranking list). It’s too bad that the game is ending soon because I know Vanessa has a lot of potential to stand out if she gets good writing. My only fear is that the writers will butcher Vanessa and make her into a Charles or a Misella type of character because of her relationship with Lucien. Please, don’t.