Friday, May 20, 2011

Behind Her Blue Flame – Selvaria Bles

When Valkyria Chronicles was released back in early 2008, it revolutionized the strategy RPG genre with its innovative gameplay. The game had a mix of turn-based tactical strategy with real time movement that had incredibly well-designed scenarios to take the gameplay to interesting directions. The game also had an incredible cast of characters that are extremely likable, affable and relatable. One of the characters that I immediately was interested in is one of the primary antagonists in the game. The character is Selvaria Bles, Lieutenant General of the Imperial Army. Selvaria Bles has been on my staff badge since Anime Expo 2008. She is one of the antagonists in the story, but her personality is not one dimensional. I will examine Selvaria Bles in her various interpretations, explain why she is as popular as she is, and show her impact on the general community.

Selvaria Bles is one of the most iconic characters in Valkyria Chronicles, partially because of her character design. Her original character design was by Raita Honjou, a well-known artist in the doujinshi circles in Japan. Selvaria’s design is very unique because she well endowed, but her cleavage is not exposed. I would like to note that her bust-line is very large in the original PS3 game, but they toned it down to more realistic proportions for Valkyria Chronicles 3. Her design is a subversion of a typical anime design that would normally put a buxom character wearing as little as humanly possible. Her uniform is an iconic black uniform that is accented by odd design choices. The first odd design choice is her support strap under her chest. The second is that her pockets are very impractical for a general. Her black uniform is accented with a black cape with a red inside. She wears long black boots with golden accents. Selvaria has extremely long gray hair that covers her backless outfit. She has deep red eyes; I call it the “Rei Effect” that is used in many anime-styled designs. It really shows because her blue flame and her red eyes looks similar to the iconic blue hair and red eyes seen in Evangelion’s ubiquitous  female pilot. Her design overall is unique package that makes her character easy to spot in Valkyria Chronicles.

Selvaria's Character Design in Valkyria Chronicles 3
Selvaria’s English and Japanese voice actresses have lots of experience in the field and they both do a great job with the character. Selvaria’s Japanese voice actress is Sayaka Ohara, a longtime voice actress affiliated with Tokyo Actor's Consumer's Cooperative Society. Sayaka is known for her role as Layla Hamilton from Kaleido Star, Tae Anegasaki from School Rumble, Milly Ashford from Code Geass, and Beatrice from Umineko no Naku Koro Ni. When listening to Selvaria’s Japanese voice actress, her voice when doing Selvaria is very similar to Layla from Kaleido Star. Selvaria Bles’s English voice actress is none other than April Stewart. April is known mostly for being the voice of Liane Cartman, Sharon Marsh, and Wendy Testaburger from South Park.  Outside of South Park she does the voice of Christie from Dead or Alive and Veronique from Resonance of Fate. Her voice is very distinctive and the moment I heard her talk as Selvaria I figured out who her voice actress is (also because I watch South Park religiously). The Japanese and English voice actresses of Selvaria are amazing and do a great job with the character.

Selvaria has a unique personality, and in some ways it clashes with her villain role. Selvaria is a very proud person; she has a strong belief in herself and her goals. Over the course of the story, she shows that she is proud of her Valkyrur bloodline. When faced in a situation she could easily retreat and strategize for reprisals, she stands her ground and fights to restore the honor she believes she lost. Selvaria Bles is a noble character, having a strong sense of dignity and character. She is also very distant, rarely speaking with the other generals. The distance she puts between her and the other characters is because she is a Valkryia and she believes that she only exists for battle. She feels a sense of loneliness (as seen in the Selvaria DLC) because her men knows that she is a Valkyria, and among themselves they call her a witch. Her men also call her that because of her incredible beauty that can enchant guys, but they don’t say it to her face. On the other hand, Selvaria is charismatic. In the Selvaria DLC we see that Selvaria can inspire men to do great things. She puts a strong front on, but she is also kind and gentle, as evidenced by her love of cooking and her ability to take care of men under her care. She is passionate and powerful, as evidenced by her determination to awaken her power by stabbing herself. Selvaria is loyal, which is why she will fight to the bitter end for the person she loves and respects. This combination makes her a very unlikely villain. The best way to describe her is that she is a good person who does bad things because she is loyal to an evil person.

Over the course of Valkyria Chronicles, her role in the story is very unique compared to the rest of the villains. She basically provides the counterpoint to the Valkyria in your party. Selvaria was raised in a facility, tested on constantly because she was a Valkyria. She was rescued by Prince Maximillian, an evil man who she is loyal to and is in love with. On the other hand, the Valkyria in the protagonist’s position falls in love with a gentle and kind person. This provides the situation with the ultimate “what if?” situation since both Valkyria are good people with the same powers. Had they been in different positions, Selvaria would undoubtedly be a good guy with the other character being a good person in the position of villain. It hones down the main point to the game players that who we are and who we associate with is just as important in our development as our own personality and beliefs. As evidenced by Selvaria, she is a noble and generally good person who is on the wrong side because she allied herself with evil people.

Long after Valkyria Chronicles ended, Selvaria has left an indelible impact on the videogame and anime world. In the anime rendition of Valkyria Chronicles, her role was expanded and she had much more screen time. There are two very pricey figures of her that are very high sellers, one of which I am a very proud owner of. In the anime community, aspects of her outfit led to a very funny comic that I enjoy quite a bit. In the cosplay community, one of the best cosplayers has taken Selvaria as her own and has done some wonderful cosplay of Selvaria. She cosplayed in General Selvaria’s regular military uniform during Anime Expo 2010 which happens to be my most popular deviantArt of all time. In Anime Conji she cosplayed as the swimsuit version of Selvaria that was depicted the official artbook and the anime, but was never shown in the game. To the delight of Selvaria fans, Selvaria plays a role in Valkyria Chronicles 3 along with having another playable DLC. At this rate they may as well just make her a star in her own game since she is so popular.

Selvaria is an iconic character from Valkyria Chronicles and definitely one of my favorite videogame characters of all time. Her importance was not just as eye candy, but as a lesson that we can all learn. That just because you are a good person with good qualities, doesn't mean that it wont be influenced by the people around you. Being inherently good won’t shield you from being on the side of evil if you are loyal to and are influenced by evil people. In the story of Valkyria Chronicles she presents the a counterweight to Valkyria's in all three Valkyria games by showing them how they could have possibly been like had they been in Selvaria's shoes.


Anonymous said...

If you want to see a good Selvaria cosplayer, check out

KrisZ said...

Yes, I have met Crystal and she is definitely one of the top class cosplayers in the community.