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The Top 20 Best JRPG Warrior Heroines!
by Robert Boyd on 01/05/12 06:23:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

There is a cliche that JRPG heroines are all mages and healers but in actuality, there have been a lot of notable female characters who contribute through their skill with weapons more than magic. Although this list only includes 20 individuals it’s by no means comprehensive – there were several noteworthy characters that I ended up cutting.

Note: Although most of the characters on this list are primarily physical warriors, I did make a few exceptions for some hybrids (characters that are good at both physical and magical combat).

Top 20 Best JRPG Warrior Heroines:

20. Momo (Breath of Fire 3) – Inventor with a bazooka.
19. Azel (Panzer Dragoon Saga) – Dragon rider.
18. Lightning (Final Fantasy 13) – Gunblade warrior.
17. Recette (Recettear) – Shopkeeper
16. Alicia (Valkyria Chronicles) – Soldier (Scout class).
15. Aika (Skies of Arcadia) – Boomerang pirate.
14. Aya (Parasite Eve series) – Police officer.
13. Lin (Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter) – Gunslinger.
12. Alena (Dragon Quest 4) – Martial artist princess.
11. Nei (Phantasy Star 2) – Claw fighter.
10. Jean (Lunar: Eternal Blue) – Martial artist dancer.
9. Freya (Final Fantasy 9) – Spear wielding dragoon.
8. Nanami (Suikoden 2) – Martial arts fighter with a multi-piece rod. Step sister of the main charater.
7. Raquel (Wild Arms 4) – Giant sword fighter. Great strength of will.
6. Tifa (Final Fantasy 7) – Martial artist.
5. Alys (Phantasy Star 4) – Boomerang fighter. Mentor, partner, and friend to the main character.
4. Celes (Final Fantasy 6) – Sword wielding general. Practically becomes the main character halfway through the game.
3. Estelle (Trails in the Sky series) – Wields a big stick. Lead character in the series. Great character development.
2. Chie (Persona 4) – Kicks things to death. Great foil to the main character’s best friend, Yosuke.
1. Alis (Phantasy Star 1) – As the first female lead in a JRPG (way back in 1987!), choosing her for the top spot was a no-brainer.

 

Notable omissions:

 

Terra – Celes just barely fit my criteria because despite her being one of the best mages in the game, she was a sword fighting general who only gained magic at a later date through genetic modification. However, the whole point of Terra is her innate magic ability so off the list she goes.

 

Lucca (Chrono Trigger) – Momo made the list because although she has some powerful magic skills, she is also very strong with a gun. Lucca, on the other hand, is entirely a mage from a gameplay perspective.

 

Feena (Grandia) – Although IMO, her best move in the game is her fire whip, she’s clearly setup as a mage, both from a gameplay and story perspective.

 

Bonus feature – Best JRPG mage heroine:

 

1. Lemina (Lunar: Eternal Blue)


With so many strong female characters, is it any wonder that the RPG genre has long had a larger female demographic than just about any other genre in console gaming?


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Comments


Ian Davis
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Titus is notably absent from this list.

Nathaniel Marlow
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A lot of these are indeed great female characters, but it's also important to remember that good at fighting does not automatically equal a strong female character. See: loads of fighting games (Soul Calibur, anyone?).



Anyways, like I said before, most of these are really great examples! Thanks for compiling this.

Robert Boyd
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True, but many fighting games have exploitative views towards women. Just look at the latest Soul Caliber ad that's just a close-up of Ivy's breasts. Contrast that with someone like Raquel from Wild Arms 4 who is a powerful warrior and yet fully clothed - http://images.wikia.com/wildarms/images/a/a8/Raquel.jpg

Paul Szczepanek
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Something is wrong. The images aren't loading for me.

Jean-Michel Vilain
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Nei First is the best!

And why did you not mention Terra and Relm from FF6? I think FF6 has the deepest characters anyways.

Robert Boyd
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Terra & Relm are great characters but like I said earlier, this list excludes characters that are primarily mages.

Jean-Michel Vilain
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There is also Pyra from Shining in the Darkness and Mae from Shining Force. Mae is one of the strongest body to body fighter from SF1.

Edit: Oh how could we forget Mieu from Phantasy Star III... A claw cyborg fighter, the heir of Nei I'd say. She made a come back in PSIV along with Wren.

Jason Wilson
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Mieu's an interesting case, since she's a decent fighter, but also your primary healer.



Rika from PSIV (I think you may be referring to, instead of a returning Mieu) would be a better example as she has much more of a combat role. She may have been excluded from the list since PSIV already had a representative in Alys.

Shawn Covington
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Mieu made a come-back..? Are you confusing Mieu and Demi/Freya?

Cary Chichester
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Here a few I find interesting, even if they're not known for being strong.



Naoto (Persona 4) - Forced to crossdress to be taken seriously as a law enforcer

Yuna (Final Fantasy X) - The Martyr

Tear (Tales of Abyss) - Takes a long time before she ever respects you, even longer to become a love interest.

Sasha (Half-Minute Hero) - Saddest 5 minute story arc ever!

E Zachary Knight
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I like that you included a Breath of Fire character on the List, but based on my history of playing the game, she was one of the most useless characters because she missed about 33% of the time.



But I do like this list.

Fox English
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Momo would have been my least likely choice of Breath of Fire fighter girls, Katt/Rinpu (II), Lin (V), and even Ursula (IV) are much better and more interesting to me.

Shawn Covington
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I would include a few other S/RPG warrior girls, because they tend to be more awesome than most. Fire Emblem has had some extremely strong lady of war types over the years.



I also think it's weird Faris didn't make the list. She was Final Fantasy's first strong female warrior type.



In keeping with your actual intent here, I think it says leaps and bounds that we keep thinking of characters NOT on this list.

E Zachary Knight
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You do bring up a good point with strategy RPGs. One of my favorites is Agrias Oaks from Final Fantasy Tactics. Her base class is a Holy Knight and she kicks butt.

Shawn Covington
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Agrias was good, Meliadoul was probably more impressive if you're looking in simple terms of character. Agrias fought for duty, Meliadoul fights for revenge. It's kind of a shame the game didn't use their stories after they joined. Agrias all but disappears after she joins. Meliadoul has one or two dialog lines after she joins and then she too disappears.



Fire Emblem 4 had Ayra, who would become the template for female sword fighters in fire emblem franchise from then on. And that's just for starters.



One that I enjoyed but never got to see in English, Royal Stone, had a lead heroine that seemed tough as nails. I always did wonder how she survived being crucified and thrown off a cliff at the very start of the game.

Fox English
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I really liked BlackRose the Heavy Blade and her story from .hack//IMOQ, as well as Gardenia. Alkaid from G.U. was great too and full of personality.

Let's see, Judith from Tales of Vesperia was awesome, and there are far too many fighter girls in the Suikoden series with all sorts of unique weapons, it's hard to whittle it down to a few, though Nanami was ok being such a plot-centric character, with that criteria I probably would have picked Miakis from V over her. I already stated my Breath of Fire choices above in another response :3

I probably would have tossed Nel in from Star Ocean 3 and maybe Meracle or Reimi from Star Ocean 4 just for pure power output.

While I wouldn't agree with a lot of the final choices on this top 20, any list like this is going to be affected by what games we personally liked more (and actually finished), but it's at least interesting to mull over.



EDIT: Argh, I almost forgot to list Aelia from Valkyrie Profile!

Shawn Covington
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Mentioning Valkyrie Profile without mentioning Lenneth? for shame! In the same vein, I've always wondered how strong Celia was- she managed to go through Ragnarok without dying.



Definitely agree with mentioning Judith tho'. ToV was quite impressive. It's sort of a pity we never got to see Raven's old flame, the sidequests around getting her bow make it sound like she was quite the fighter herself.

Fox English
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Yeah I should have definitely said Lenneth, I typed this up just when I was leaving work and got thinking TOO hard about the characters and missed the obvious lol. On the same note we could also add Alicia from 2!

ray G
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F#$K! Yeah! Everything about PS1 is so under appreciated these days. Reiko Kodomoma never fully got the cred she deserved for being one of the 1st females in gaming to dish top notch games ahead of thier time. She deserves this.....my fave is Nei, but Alis does deserve this.

ray G
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I am surprised the monk Shela from Shining Force didnt make the cut. Who was the blonde sword fighter in Shining the holy ark??? She was also tough.


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