Tensei Megami Boobei – everything wrong with Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (Wii U)

Breasts are fascinating, aren’t they. You know something else that’s fascinating? Japanese idol culture. And the fact that both are front and centre (with the help of multiple push up bras) in this Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover makes for a boring, big boobed monster. I hate Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. Over the past few weeks it has become my most hated game of all time – I call it Tensei Megami Boobei because a) I’m trying to swear less, and b) it’s a game composed of IDOL BOOBS.

tms_boobjob

Let’s all say “boob job” together!

I’ve made no bones about the fact that the central flaw in the Persona series is not it’s Japanese-ness, but the fact it often feels like it’s tailored to satisfy the most ardent Otaku’s wet dream. It’s like the development team read my “weebo” post and decided to show me how bad it can get. Really guys, that post wasn’t written as a challenge!

Maybe it’s a matter of expectations too – I love Fire Emblem! And I love strategy RPGs. And, heck, I even like the Persona series, which is the biggest inspiration for TMS♯FE – when I squint past all the annoying dialogue and weebo-pleasing BS. It feels like the developers didn’t understand what made both series so great and felt they had to make a game that out Persona-d Persona. They’ve hid Fire Emblem as much as they could, shoving characters from the series behind the inane main characters whose goal it is to be idols.

Honestly, playing this you get the distinct impression that the moral/central message behind this game is to be cutesy, pretty, dance well and BECOME AN IDOL AT ALL COSTS! Because only through idol culture can you find THE REAL YOU, who is lurking behind all your cynicism, negativity, and ugliness (LET’S ALL GET BOOB JOBS, AND RHINOPLASTIES YEAH). It makes the Persona games seem deep.

tms_japan-pop-idol

Photos of Minami Minegishi, 20, were emblazoned on national newspapers in 2013. The pop star had broken the band’s cardinal rule: No Dating. She shaved her head after a popular magazine published claims she had sex with a 19-year-old boy band member.

Some commentators have argued that the game exposes the “dark side” of idol culture – how exactly? To me this is a completely straight, uncynical endorsement of idol culture. If this is supposed to be a deconstruction or critique of idol culture where are the hair shaving side missions? Why is the antagonist not a peverted megalomaniac manager? Where are the frank discussions about anorexia and bulimia rife in the industry? Where is the Trauma Center inspired scene where Tsubasa gets her boob job?

Worse is the reception that this game has recieved outside of Japan. Some people are banging on about censorship – as if that’s the game’s real problem! One of the “censored” storylines is Tsubasa embracing gravure idol modelling – basically a form of soft core pornography, premised on being titillitating and alluring rather than “revealing all”. Yes, Tokyo Mirage Sessions depicts a young woman finding herself through glamour modelling. There is no character arc. There is no drama or conflict. Honestly – the storyline is that she struggles and eventually overcomes her inhibitions about posing sexily in front of the camera. That’s it.

tms_modelling

In the Japanese version, this is a gravure/glamour modelling magazine. Though it is edited, it’s bloody obvious what’s going on… one of the characters asks if he can be with the magazine alone ¬¬

This was edited outside of Japan to a more family-friendly “Tsubasa struggles to pose like Avril Lavigne” plotline. The “censorship is bad” argument seems to go: if only we could see ALL of Tsubasa’s breasts then the game would be a masterpiece. Underneath those digitally added clothes there’s an extra 10GB of code which makes the game good!

(This video makes a point that the ages of the characters have beeing raised, illustrating how some players really want to perve on underage anime girls -_-)

Even ignoring the pornographic elements – the fact that the developers had the GIFT of two successful series like Persona and Fire Emblem and decided to run with a storyline where one of the main characters have to embrace their sexy side and model to progress is… lamentable. There was so much potential in either of the series in terms of characters and settings, but instead the developers decided to go ahead with this cheap, gimicky and actively offensive fluff. Worse game ever.

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12 comments

  1. moresleepneeded

    I have not played this game. Unfortunately, I have little knowledge of Japanese popular culture, so I am unaware of what Weebos and Otaki are (I think idols are girl band members). I have heard that some aspects of these girl bands are actually quite disturbing (such as being preyed on by predatory managers, one member shaving her head for shattering the illusion that she available to her fans and the fact some members are as young as 10 years old). It is also unsettling that the game is supposed to be a cross-over of two games, but does not feature them much. This suggests the idea was to release a game that would show being an idol in a positive way, using two known franchises to lure impressionable players. I also think this is a problem outside of this game and Japanese culture. I have noticed TV shows in Western countries that also try to convince women that being pretty and sexually attractive are the most important considerations in life.
    How is the game played? What elements from Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei are used? What are Weebos? What are Otaki? What are idols?

  2. Athena | AmbiGaming

    Ugh. I have such a rant built up inside me right now that I’m not going to subject your innocent blog to, but just know that I am so very angry at the whole premise of over-sexualizing women in media. It’s almost 2017; we should be past this by now. (takes deep breath and swallows rant for another day)

    …on a more positive note, “megami boobei” did elicit quite a chuckle 🙂 Hope you have a very happy new year!!

    • veryverygaming

      Hahaha, rant away :p I literally walk around calling it megami boobei – it’s accurate! One day maybe there will be a Persona/FE cross over that does what it says on the tin – I may write a post about what I would expect because I know that Atlus and Intelligent Systems are avid fans of the blog 😉 Hope you have a happy new year too 🙂

      • Athena | AmbiGaming

        I’d be interested in reading that!

        Like The Otaku Judge mentioned below, I know that titillating features in games aren’t exclusive to sexualizing characters (male and female), and I grudgingly suppose there might not be anything inherently wrong with that, but I do think the story/gameplay should be more than the sex/gore/whatever. Mass Effect was condemned as a sex simulator, and sure there are a ton of people Shepard can potentially go to bed with, but there’s *so* much more to the story than that!
        *ends rant*

        And thank you! Here’s to 2017! 🙂

  3. The Otaku Judge

    I agree that the pop ideal industry treats their talent like dirt and that shouldn’t be tolerated in this day and age. With respect to titillating games I don’t see what the deal is. There is an audience for games with eye candy in the same way that some releases cater to gun fans, others appeal to puzzle connoisseurs and so on.

    I am not in favor of censorship personally. Why localize a game with fan service only to cut out part of the content? Are bikinis any worse than killing people in games? This reminds me of the days when Nintendo censored gore in Mortal Kombat. Techincally it didn’t affect the gameplay, but the SNES version still went down as being unpopular.

    • veryverygaming

      Thanks for your comment! Gore is a good comparison. I don’t generally like it, but a lot of games are gory and that’s fine – they have other things to offer besides gore. That brings us to the central issue with Tokyo Mirage Sessions aka Tensei Megami Boobei: there’s nothing else going on besides boobs. OK, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean. When I hear “Fire Emblem and SMT crossover”, I don’t anticipate Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball.

      Sure, there is fan service in the Persona series and, although I personally feel it detracts from the story/character, there is a lot more to those games – the dialogue is smart, the characters likeable, and the stories often well thought out. In Tokyo Mirage Sessions everything revolves around glorying idol culture, a culture I have no interest in – it treats the audience in a very cynical way.

      Ultimately the censorship in TMS doesn’t add or detract from the game – there is no depth or subtext to begin with, it’s just boobs, boobs, boobs.

      • themancalledscott

        No problem, always happy to comment. 🙂

        I have to say, I’ve come to think people overreact to the subject of sex appeal in media (with the best they can come up with being the “it’s the current year” “argument”). When something gets overly sexual, I can understand the eye-rolling (and that seems to be the case here), but people seem to have the weird idea these days that women having large busts is innately sexist, or they’ll find things like Japanese gravure idols offensive. But sexuality is a part of who we are. And it just so happens that a lot of people will find certain physical aspects attractive. That’s just the way it is. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a thing for women with cute personalities, pretty faces and shapely curves. It doesn’t take anything away from anyone else, that’s just what I personally find attractive. And like I said, I find the concept of gravure idols and such to be harmless (though, as you mentioned in the blog, certain aspects of pop idols certainly have a dark side, though that applies to any form of stardom). Though I agree when characters and such are nothing but sex appeal, it’s incredibly shallow and meaningless. By all means, give your characters big busts if you want. But give them character to go with them.

        I know many, many people in this overly-sensitive age would call me a sexist for making these statements. But I’m confident enough in my respect and admiration for women to be comfortable in admitting that a little bit of sex appeal is okay (contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of eye-candy for the ladies to enjoy in media as well). But I fully agree that putting that at the forefront, with little if anything else to speak of, it’s a bit nonsense. Especially when a game was supposedly a mashup of two popular series, but ends up having more cheesecake than a Cheesecake Factory, it’s a double offense.

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