Analysis: Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles takes a stance against women with power.

It seems obvious that Valkyria Chronicles doesn't have a problem with women carrying guns or getting involved in combat because Squad 7 is full of women, but let's examine that a little further.

The militia is the only branch of Gallia's military that accepts women, and the militia is volunteer. I say this because the army is shown at multiple points, but none of the soldiers (and none of the faceless soldiers that you recruit if you manage to get enough of your squadmates killed) are female. One may argue that this due to a lack of resources or time for the development team, but going solely by what appears in the game, the army does not recruit women.

Now look at what General Damon (and, by extension, the army) think of the militia in general: they're common dogs, fit for sending into the line of fire as human shields. They get sent on suicide missions because he doesn't care if they live or die, which means he's sending women, some barely more than children, to their deaths. Valkyria Chronicles doesn't make half the members of Squad 7 female because it's making a statement about female capability, it's characterizing the army as cruel and heartless. This reinforces the overall anti-war message of the story, and sets up more reasons why the player (and Squad 7 in general) don't mourn the army when they're summarily killed en masse by Selvaria. In fact, the only woman to actually serve in a non-militia army is Selvaria herself, and she's dead by the end of the game.

So let's go to Selvaria and Alicia. The game's two Valkyria are emotionally compromised throughout the game, literally to the point of suicide.

Selvaria is devoted so completely to Maximilian that she quietly kills herself to take out the Gallian army, while sabotaging her own efforts by stalling long enough to ensure that the only unit to escape the blast was the one that took her down by itself. She clearly didn't care about Max's plans anymore, or at least didn't care about them enough to destroy the only thing that could have threatened them, or didn't care about them enough to value them over her own sense of honor. She simply obeys his orders out of love that she knows is unrequited, and kills herself.

Alicia goes the opposite direction; rather than cool, aloof devotion, the weight of being a Valkyria drives her insane. Not because anyone she talks to for more than a handful of seconds really treats her differently, or threatens to take her out of the militia, but because she's afraid of what will happen, and she lets those fears quietly fester in favor of talking to anyone about her problems. Granted, that could be Values Dissonance, because of Japanese etiquette, but it still contributes to the hysteria that Alicia descends into by the time she's ready to make her Suicide Attack. Welkin saves her by telling her that she doesn't have to do it (a conclusion that she could have reached on her own, if she weren't so emotionally compromised) and that he loves her, and that he'll protect her, and she calms right down. They win the war and go home, and then we see Alicia is married with a child, operating a bakery.

And then we have Eleanor Varrot, who is the apparent victim of the Glass Ceiling: she commands a Regiment, normally the duty of a Colonel, but is still ranked and paid as a junior-rank Captain, a rank three levels lower. Her story is that her entire career as a militia Captain is based on a cold-fury desire for revenge against the man who killed her lover (which raises a couple of interesting questions; did she knowingly accept a position that she knew meant sending militia squads on suicide missions, just to get a chance for that revenge?) and finally gets the chance to do it. When she prepares herself to kill him, an act that would end her career and possibly see her imprisoned for a war crime, an act that she has been preparing herself to do for years... Largo talks her out of it by appealing to what her dead lover would have wanted, and later, makes her his wife; naturally, she's quit the militia.

What this tells us is that women are destroyed by power, and they shouldn't have it. Jobs? Sure. But not power, and not authority. It drives them insane and makes them do crazy, self-destructive things, unless they have the balm of a man's affection to soothe their craziness. Selvaria dies because the man she loves doesn't love her back; Alicia and Varrot are saved because the men they ultimately marry urge them not to.