- Name: Lucia
- Game(s): Suikoden II, Suikoden III
- Creator: Yoshitaka Murayama
I’m realizing that this list is seriously lacking in persons of color. So while Lucia is not the main protagonist of either of her appearances in the Suikoden universe, and while the Suikoden games actually have an abundance of worthy heroines, I think she particularly deserves a mention.
I’m pleasantly surprised by how diverse the cast is in these games and how mature the themes of the narrative are—complex political climate, racial tension, and the effects of war on the individual to name a key few. What’s more, while most fantasy worlds tackle racial discrimination using genre tropes (kobolds vs. wingers, humans vs. elves, etc.), the Suikoden games also tackle discrimination against the non-white characters in the universe.*
Lucia is the chief of the Karaya Clan, one of the six clans of the Grasslands. Karayans, much the parallel of the indigenous people of the Americas, have a proud warrior mentality and have a deep respect for and communion with nature. They live in peace with all other clans aside from the Zexen Confederacy, a pre-industrial, highly bureaucratic trade-focused state who treat the Karayans as a group of unenlightened barbarians. On the flipside, the Karayans mockingly call the Zexens “metal heads” for their iron helmets and largely consider their way of life cold and perverse.
In the second game, Lucia is introduced as an antagonist to the protagonist Riou. In typical Suikoden fashion, her reasons for siding against Riou’s army is far from evil. She does so with the hopes of gaining new land for her people and in order to avenge her father, who was murdered by the past president of the allied nation of Greenhill. After several unsuccessful assassination attempts, she retreats when defeat is imminent near the end of the game. Later, after the current Greenhill president makes the murder of her father public knowledge, Lucia forgives the city-state for its transgressions.
In the third game, sixteen years later, she returns with a more prominent role as the mother of Hugo, one of the three main characters. Her role is less significant than that of her son, but she still shows a lot of prowess. After her village is destroyed by the Zexen knights, she leads the Karayan survivors to the Lizard Clan and fights alongside the lizard people to defend their keep from future attacks. She is shown to be an admirable leader, with little to no dissent ever suggested by her people. Not to mention, she is a single mother who raised a son who would become one of the key players in the Second Fire Bringer War.
Lucia effortlessly swings between proud and fierce warrior chief and loving mother. It’s an incredibly interesting role and one that, like pretty much every character in the Suikoden series, is sadly never given quite the attention she deserves.
*If any of the characters can even be considered white. As a white players, one may view the majority of characters as white, but to the Japanese eye, where this art was created, they will appear more racially Japanese. At the least though, there is a light-skinned majority that is offset by a host of dark-skinned characters.