But really, saying I probably "don't get it" just because I have many other preferable sources for dwelling into "human issues", is just, well, cheap?
It certainly would be. That's why I
I think you either don't get it or else you think you're above it.
Which is why YOU said:
Honestly, I am above these video game attempts of depth. I mean, if I want to determine the "meaning of my existence", I won't look for it in a video game. I can think of many other sources that I would rather look up to.
So I don't know what that final jab in your last post was all about...
Anyway, that's great that you think you're above a "videogame" attempt at depth. What Xenosaga does is take normal, even shallow characters, with their own sets of motives and wills, and meshes them into a plot that looks not entirely different from what we see today.
Certainly there is *nothing* groundbreaking about any statement or character revelation in the entirety of Xenosaga. Xenosaga is built on history, culture, art, philosophy, and religion. It is a collection of allusions (not ILLusions, ALLusions) with the framework of an average Sci-Fi story.
Let's take a look at your criticisms:
Shion pseudo convoluted relationship with her brother is typical pretentious nonsense. Typical common sense and cliché disguised into profound human emotions; I hardly think a game with characters like that idiot who is in love with Shion - Alex or whatever - and that robot maker is serious enough to make me think about the "meaning of my life", not to mention Jr with his stupid lines. There are too many stupid characters to mention. I would also like to mention - and I am sure I am not the first one to empathize that - that nonsensical and confusing biblical, philosophical or whatever references hardly account for a truly deep storyline.
Let's begin with the obvious jab: thank God you're not the one writing scripts for any videogames. I don't even know what the first semicolon is there for, as the two sentences don't seem to have any common ground.
Now then, let's break this bit of stream-of-consciousness complaint down into pieces and consider what it is you have in mind:
Shion pseudo convoluted relationship with her brother is typical pretentious nonsense.
Refer back to the quoted definition of "pretentious." You're using the word well out of context. The player is not made to assume that Shion's strained relationship with Jin is some all-powerful, all-consuming force that drives the story. It's one element of the story. You may not like the way in which it is executed, but it captures one of the more fundamental problems of human nature: sibling rivalry. This part of the storyline is not meant to be some incredible display of human depth or emotion; rather, it exists to help further along character development. The reasons for their strained relationship are fleshed out in the final chapter, by the way, and the situation is resolved in a way that is definitely moving, to say the least. This isn't your typical soap opera, the sort of thing that one *may* be qualified to call "pretentious."
Typical common sense and cliché disguised into profound human emotions;
You're the one who tacked on the idea that these human emotions are "profound," not the creators of the game. Indeed, they are the stuff of everyday life. The difference between this game and most others that emphasize story is that this game has a plot that considers the *worth* of these everyday "common sense and cliché" events...are they even worth having around? Is humanity worthy of existing if all it amounts to are these consumerists with sentimental drivel leaking out of their lips? It's a very important question to consider, and not at all pretentious!
I hardly think a game with characters like that idiot who is in love with Shion - Alex or whatever - and that robot maker is serious enough to make me think about the "meaning of my life"
It's Allen, and "that robot maker" is Kevin (just to clear up who I'm about to talk about...). The substory regarding Shion and her two possible mates (Kevin, who supposedly died, and Allen, who is exhorbitantly effeminate and bashful) is not within itself something that should make you think about the meaning of life. This argument is essentially a non-sequiter and otherwise nonsense. That wasn't the point of my statement, nor does it follow any sound line of argument.
The purpose of the little love triangle, again, fleshes itself out in the third title. Up until then, I too was annoyed to death by Allen; he, however, becomes a major player by the end, and is someone with whom many "underdogs" and "hopeless romantics" may sympathize. And, there's nothing wrong with that. As for Kevin, his story alone is worth checking into; he holds an interesting past.
not to mention Jr with his stupid lines.
All because the game is deep doesn't mean all the characters have to be scholars. Jr. represents raw aggression: the kind of kid who will shoot first and ask questions later. As a person, he too plays an important role in the tale that Takahashi weaves. That doesn't mean Jr. has to sound like frickin' Nietszche himself! (indeed, Nietszche is quoted more often by the villains, including Margulis in the first episode and Wilhelm throughout the series).
There are too many stupid characters to mention.
Giving up, are we? Let me rattle off some not-so-stupid characters, and why I think they aren't stupid.
Albedo -- so you have the ability (or curse) to keep yourself essentially immortal. You regrow all body parts, including head and heart. One day, you discover that: oh crap, I'm the only one who does this! As a result, you go crazy and begin to despise your creator, your friends, everyone. Albedo's motives are definitely what you could call "deep" and certainly not "pretentious." He's one of the best villains in the series, and his redemption is probably the most beautiful (though Virgil's is also good).
Febronia -- alright, we have a woman who was essentially created in a lab. She's one of the "realians," and she's been built with a purpose. However, regardless of the purpose her creators intend for her to have, her will is one of a peacekeeper: gentle, loving, healing. She and her "sisters" (Cecily and Cathe) represent something that is indeed beautiful about the human spirit. If you're missing the point here, then maybe you *aren't* above it but rather *below* it.
MOMO -- I could draw similarities to Febronia and MOMO as they are both realians (people designed with specific purposes). However, I think MOMO's most important aspect is that she has been modeled as a replacement for a naturally-born girl who died: Sakura Mizrahi. Joachim, the father of Sakura and creator of MOMO, is an insightful character in and of himself. But MOMO is special because she knows that her existence is "second-rate;" yet she remains optimistic with her attempts to get to know her mother and learn about her father. She may have a whiny voice actress, but as a character she is certainly a worthwhile member of the cast.
Ziggy -- it's unfortunate that pretty much ALL of Ziggy's past is buried in a cell phone game that won't come to the US. Luckily, it all gets fleshed out in XS3's massive database (it's almost a book in and of itself!). But...the man essentially committed suicide, then thanks to some organ donor program was forced back to life. Here we have a man who hates his former self and tries to repress his memories, to the point where he can't even remember why he took his own life. But the reasons are there, and of course, they come out before the series ends. Gee, sounds like such a stupid character to me!
Note that very few of these character bios make them sound like "original" concepts. In our day and age, it's very difficult to invent ANYTHING truly original (assuming you're a Christian, which it seems you would be based on your post, you should know this: Ecclesiastes claims there is nothing new under the sun). What makes these characters so wonderful is what they say, what they choose to do, and what they are forced to experience in Takahashi's fictional realm.
I would also like to mention - and I am sure I am not the first one to empathize that - that nonsensical and confusing biblical, philosophical or whatever references hardly account for a truly deep storyline.
Well, that's great that you can feel free to label the references as "nonsensical" and "confusing," but until you take the time to flesh out what it is that makes them nonsensical or confusing, your point is invalid.
As a pre-emptive strike, here's a look at what makes the religious and philosophical references of Xenosaga TRULY deep and worthwhile for the thinking person:
the two key philosophers in Xenosaga are Nietszche and Jung. Nietszche's prime argument was that, if God does not exist (as it was apparent to him that God was a creation of human consciousness), then there is no higher power governing humanity, and humans ought to consider themselves free to do as they please. A true Nietszchian "villain" in modern pop culture may be Voldemort, who tells Harry in the first book/film that "there is no such thing as good or evil, only power and those to weak to take it!" Similar statements are made by Margulis, a power-driven man who is blinded by his own religion. As a character, he himself is a paradoxical man who subscribes to religion and allthewhile puts himself in a place similar to Nietszche. Luckily, that paradox irons itself out in the end when Margulis learns his religion really was a fabrication, much like Nietszche predicted.
Jung's theories are used much more practically, such as to explain the existences of the specialized URTVs (Jr. Albedo and Gaignun), or to talk about collective consciousness and the nature of the U.M.N.. Takahashi's concept of God, if there is one, is one of a generic "existence" that is all and touches all. Call it pantheism, call it New Age mysticism...whatever it is, it's largely based on Jung's modern concepts.
As for the religious references, feel free to just name one and then tell me how it's nonsensical. There are plenty, but anyone who takes the time to think about them ought to see how they enhance the story rather than convolute it.
Let's look further at what you said!
Really, you think Jr's "I hate you" lines are showing some kind of revolutionary display of human feelings? Come on, give me a break.
No, I won't give you a break. Those lines are not a revolutionary display of human feelings, and I never said they were. They are
a display of human feelings, but they are certainly not revolutionary: nor are they meant to be. Jr.'s anger, if you weren't following, is generally roused by the villains to unleash a "Red Dragon" wave within Jr. that can be used for all sorts of lovely destructive purposes. The real-life application here is that allowing yourself to go out-of-control may make you more powerful, but when you are not in control of your own will, someone else may freely make use of you with their own will. It's a common lesson, but it doesn't hurt to have it as a lesson within Xenosaga...does it?
Or KOS-MOS whole "I am a robot but I have feelings", surely that's a ground breaking theme... I think not.
It's not a groundbreaking theme. It's an archetype. We see it in Pinocchio and plenty of stories before that as well. Is there a problem with Monolith Soft using this archetype to help the storyline move into even more interesting territory? (I am refering to what happens in XS3 here...).
Well, it is beyond me how people may find some games to be so serious and full of philosophical meaning.
Generally, people who do find it are looking for it. I confess, I'm one of them. You can find meaning (or ascribe meaning) to all sorts of things. Even if you don't like to do it, it's probably good for any person to try it as an exercise in thought and...dare I say it...belief.
Who is this Takahashi, what he knows about my religion anyway? He is just a nobody when it comes to these themes, and I don't give a damn to his pretentious and superficial outlook about such issues totally alien to Japanese Culture.
*takes in a deep breath* ... *exhales the breath and prepares for a sermon filled with curse words*
Go take an introductory anthropology course, asshole. Who in God's good and holy name are YOU to suggest that a Japanese person is unable to comprehend the intricacies of Judaism, Christianity, or any other Western religion? You ethnocentric little twat! Get some brains and come back when you're ready to talk sensibly!
Who is Tetsuya Takahashi? Well, Tetsuya Takahashi was a former Square employee who started in graphics (for SNES titles including FFV, FFVI, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Chrono Trigger), but eventually caught a break and created Xenogears. He then went on to found Monolith Soft and did created the Xenosaga series. (source: wikipedia).
As for Takahashi's knowledge of religion and philosophy, I only wish I had the resources to pay for the flights so that the two of you could meet and discuss things, because I'm sure the man knows a hell of a lot more than you do.
That's why I like storylines which rely on surprising major plot twists, exciting moments and the like, because I don't care for the whole superficial way they treat issues much beyond what can be encompassed in a game, which should only entertain.
And HERE surfaces the fundamental difference between you and me. You believe games can and should ONLY entertain. They are essentially time-killers. They cannot contribute to the betterment of humanity, and they sure as hell shouldn't be called "art", right? Well here's my take on it:
Videogames, particularly RPGs, have text. You know, writing? Though different from a book, these videogames can and do tell stories. Many a non-fiction writer has pointed out that some of the strongest points, some of the best arguments, are made better through a work of fiction than by some sort of philosophical diatribe. David Hume wrote fictional dialogues, Camus presented his philosophy through very depressing novels, and our old pal Nietszche was certainly fond of switching (without warning) between himself as the speaker and some fictional "other" as the speaker.
If a story can impact the way others think, and if literature can be considered art, so too can videogames encompass this feature. The presentation of a story is only one facet to a videogame, which is a multi-faced multimedia experience, covering not only the realm of literature, but also fine art (graphics), music, and tactile stimulation (the controller in your hands). If all of this is created and used only to entertain, then we are all going to hell in a handbasket. You sound like Cipher from the Matrix, you know? Just give me a good time while I'm alive so I don't have to think about how shitty my life really is. I can only pray that videogames (particularly RPGs) will be seen as something more than sheer escapism by our descendants.
That's like Salvatore, if he would just drop trying to sound smart and philosophical with his skewed vision on good and evil, which Drizzt is always tiring ourselves with, and would just focus on high adventure and battles descriptions - which is what he is good at - I would enjoy his books a lot more.
Pleasure is the ultimate goal, then? (If only I could enjoy his books more!!) There's a weighty question for you. Maybe Salvatore's skewed vision on good and evil *aren't* worthwhile, but Salvatore is just one man. I don't have much experience with his work anyway, but I think it's safe to say that you present yourself as more of a refined hedonist than one who has genuine respect or understanding of the arts.
(Surely, that's quite a bold assertion to make, given I only know you from a few rambling paragraphs made against one particular videogame. But, should you want to prove me wrong, go ahead!)
A final question for you:
I mean, if I want to determine the "meaning of my existence," I won't look for it in a video game. I can think of many other sources that I would rather look up to.
List them, and tell me what makes them superior, to say, Xenosaga, which is essentially a story written by a fairly intelligent Japanese man and then incorporated into a videogame which has its own elements of strategy and puzzle-solving.
And indeed, I never said anything about Xenosaga aiding you in DETERMINING the meaning of your existence. Certainly, I would hope I'm not saying that the meaning of life can be found by playing Xenosaga. Far from it. But it certainly does stimulate us to ponder the question, and it perenially reminds us that, however much despair we face, it IS a question worth asking from time to time!
Unless you take time to answer me coherently, I think we can all assume that I take your low opinion of the series far more seriously than you would like me to. In the end, I'd still say that it's egg on your face for making plenty of poorly supported statements.
OMFG I'm in a message board argument guyz! That means it HAS to degrade into a flame war and never get us anywhere! (oh wait...behind the computer we're all still people...let's have this mean something, k?).