One of the main drives why we play RPGs is the story. The RPG is probably the most story-focused genre in existence compared to platformers, shooters, action-adventure games, etc. It's a feature that made me love them in the first place, aside from gameplay.
But, as with most things in life, RPGs are not homogeneous, especially those coming from Japan and those coming from the West. Neither one is better, they just have different approaches and aesthetic sensibilities.
When you look at JRPGs, you feel that Japanese writers try to take more risks with the themes they explore, however they're not always successful. Let me take a very quick look at some famous JRPGs. Most of these I've played, others I'm merely acquainted. Take for example Xenogears and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. I'm aware that they are a generation apart but my point will still stand. Xenogears could be called the gaming equivalent of Evangelion, another successful product of Japanese media. However, there is such a thing as trying too hard, and both Eva and Xeno try too hard to be complex but end up being convoluted and a mish-mash of religious references and ends up being a poor man's Nietzche (that we need to kill God in order to free ourselves.) However, on the other side of the spectrum, there's VP2: Silmeria. It treats themes of redemption and a second chance at life. But I think it does so well. Many people dislike Cloud from FFVII and Shion from Xenosaga because they are what's in vogue to call "emo", or rather brooding.
I do like both of the aforementioned characters, but that's beside the point. The point is that though there are tragedies aplenty in Valkyrie Profile you never get the feeling that these characters are self-defeating. In spite of all what has happened to them, Rufus and Alicia press on, determined to achieve their goals, even joking and relying on each other to continue. If there are two moments of gaming that will stick with me are the desperation of Rufus' voice when Alicia decides to become the vessel for all three Valkyrie souls, and when he tries to embrace Valkyrie as she fades away. Here is a man who has love in his life for the first time and now he learns he will lose it.It baffles me when people praise Rinoa and Squall's romance in FFVIII as if it were Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. JRPGs generally don't do romance well at all, because it involves the girl going all gaga over the guy. Something as portrayed in VP2 or, I'd argue, FFX is much more effective. Lezard may be a very generic I-want-to-become-all-powerful villain, but his mannerisms and personality are so well delineated that you can't help but like the guy. Other games have arguably better villains like Suikoden V and Final Fantasy XII with their Machiavellian political intrigues.
On the other side of the spectrum there are WRPGs. I must confess that I'm a WRPG virgin (to borrow and expression from on of the wonderful editorials on this site.) But I've become somewhat acquainted with them through short playing moments and from continuously watching my friend play them. They are a completely different beast so why some people claim superiority of one over the other baffles me. WRPGs borrow heavily from Tolkenian fantasy, but that's ok, since being 100% original in a world where almost every story has been told is difficult. WRPGs rely on choice so you can see the effects of your actions in the world your characters inhabit. It's a fascinating approach to storytelling and if done well can be immersive. That's the extent to which I can discuss WRPGs.It's a limitation which I readily acknowledge but hope to remedy soon.
Feel free to agree disagree, etc. but please don't just say "blog it". This is a discussion topic not a blog.