Blaze Union: Story to Reach the Future is a Turn Based Strategy game for the PSP produced by Sting Entertainment and published by Atlus. While not a Dept Heaven episode, it is the prequel to Yggdra Union, Episode II in the series. The game is currently out in Japan, and as of yet there's still No Export for You.Three years before the events of Yggdra Union—in an era where most of the various countries on the continent were enjoying a temporary peace—the Bronquian Empire alone was mired in suffering. The current Emperor, Soltier, was incompetent and his court corrupt, and the rich lived at the expense of the poor and helpless. With the country slowly rotting beneath that malgovernment, one young man in the slums of the trade city Tiera began to desire power in order to change the country and save his people.That young man, the Hot Blooded seventeen-year-old idealist Garlot, and his childhood friends Siskier and Jenon formed a vigilante band in an attempt to protect the poor of Tiera. The turbulent events of their first major battle with the rich attracts the attention of the vagabond Medoute and liberal nobleman Velleman, the latter of whom offers them the chance to become his army and gain strength and influence enough to destroy the banditry and corruption killing Bronquia from the inside. Joined by the mysterious fugitive twinsLuciana and Aegina, itinerant prophet and tacticianNessiah, cute orphan girl Eimi, and a whole mess ofother people described here, they will delve into the true nature of justice and power while fighting to reach a brighter future for their tormented country.Blaze Union utilizes a streamlined version of Yggdra Union's systems, with one major exception: There are certain parts of the game where the player will be able to choose missions that he or she prefers to take on. Depending on which missions one undertakes, different cards and allies can be obtained, and ultimately the choices you make in missions will affect the game's Multiple Endings. The plot of the game is more character-driven than that of Yggdra Union, reflecting the effects of Garlot's horrifically abusive upbringing on his psyche and his lingering sense of powerlessness; it combines Slice of Life and Coming of Age Story elements with a good hard look at the poor quality of life in Bronquia prior to the revolution.The game has three routes, which focus on Garlot, Aegina, and Soltier respectively. Much like in a Visual Novel, the climactic events of each route vary wildly, bringing the main characters to vastly differing conclusions.See also Yggdra Union, the main title; its Gaiden Game spinoff, Yggdra Unison (in which the Imperial Army's story continues towards a more positive conclusion); and Gloria Union, in which one of this game's characters has a guest appearance.
Blaze Union utilizes the following tropes:
Abusive Parents: Garlot, whose father was an ass and whose mother is not much better.
All There in the Manual: As usual. If you want the entirety of Nessiah's backstory, the details of how Soltier and Lapis met, and various information about the worldbuilding and secondary characters (from trivia to vitally important stuff that's only hinted at in the game), you may want to invest in the artbook, Yggdra Union, Yggdra Unison, and the associated merchandise.
Ambidextrous Sprite: Ambidextrous portraits as well, but you have to give the artist credit for drawing all of the expressions.
The Berserker: Garlot is a borderline example, but mostly because he's too Hot Blooded to think before charging into things. In certain routes, this winds up being played even straighter as the story goes on. Even in the True Ending, Gulcasa is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet under normal circumstances, but on the battlefield the guy is just plain scary.
Bi the Way: Heavily implied with Garlot, though never stated outright.
Bittersweet Ending: The True Ending. Bronquia is saved and the people are overjoyed, but Siskier is dead, Gulcasa is deep in a Heroic BSOD and already showing strain from using Brongaa's power, a number of your allies have left the continent, and everything will come crashing down in Yggdra Union three years later. Conversely, this means your exiled allies will be spared, and there's always Yggdra Unison for a look at what the Imperial Army's more positive fate would be like in this scenario.
Also Aegina's ending. She's able to get her revenge on Fantasinia and reconcile with Ordene, but Luciana is dead, and depending on whether the player hits the wrong loserflags, Emilia and Yggdra may be killed, too. It's better than the True Ending by a bit, but still extremely sad.
And to round it out, the C end as well. You're able to avoid a major war and even befriend Soltier and Lapis, and Bronquia is in good hands. But the victory cost you Jenon and Nessiah, and Medoute still goes off on her own; you don't even know why Nessiah acted the way that he did.
Unless you know his backsotry explained in Yggra Union in which case Nesiah acts the way he does in this ending because the heroes are basically ruining centuries of his work by sealing the Gran Centurio
Breakable Weapons: After a certain number of battlefields, any equipped items and weapons will naturally break. Also, the skill Item Break will cause this, and it can be very frustrating for players when they face it fairly early on in the game.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Male!Eater makes fun of the player for forgetting what time of day it is during his bath scene.
Broken Aesop: Growing Up Sucksso much that it's really better if you never grow up at all and just remain dependent on your parental figures forever instead of confronting the truth and your own problems. This is part of the reason why some fans will tell you they're relieved the C route has zero bearing on canon.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Almost every playable character, but special mention goes to the magicians, who are all supposedly very exceptional in magic.
It starts getting lampshaded around the end of chapter 3, and from there on develops into a Running Gag when Nessiah and Eater join the party, with asides and the occasional detailed discussion about how weird they are.
Chick Magnet: Garlot's harem-to-cast ratio rivals that of Negi Springfield, and not only do his attractive powers work on both sexes, they also extend to the fanbase. This is almost entirely on the merit of his personality, though it certainly helps that he's just as generically attractive as the game's other young men.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Genocide. Gulcasa winds up visibly on the verge of collapse after using it a lot, and he's probably not even fooling himself with that insistence that he'll be just fine. Obviously foreshadowing for the Heroic RROD incidents in Yggdra Union.
Darker and Edgier: Probably not really darker than Yggdra Union, considering, but nothing quite sets the tone like kicking off a game with the attempted kidnapping of an eleven-year-old girl by a creepy and morbidly obese nobleman who clearly has anything but good intentions.
It's not so much that Blaze Union is the darker game—it just makes no attempt to hide the real tone.
Death Seeker: Ordene. Once you've beaten sense into him, Jenon and Siskier offer to find him a doctor, since his wounds aren't necessarily fatal. The character refuses their offered help, because he feels that dying is an appropriate punishment for abandoning Luciana and Aegina to die years ago.
Don't Try This at Home: The sourcebook features, among other things, a nice little Wall of Text about what it takes to preserve potatoes so that they do not sprout and how bad it can get to eat one that has (even listing side effects). Its title? "The Sprouting Protato Even Gulcasa*
who will indeed down anything that is not milk or cheese, including the poisoned apple ("This looks really poisonous. But as I am now, I have no need to fear poison! ...It's bad, but not so bad that it's inedible."), rotten fish ("Who cares if it's rotten?! Become a part of my flesh!!"), and dragon steak (...isn't that technically cannibalism?!
Doomed Hometown: Double subverted. Pandra attempts to sack Tiera, but is thwarted by Gram Blaze; the poor district is burned down but will be rebuilt stronger than ever, and the class barrier is implied to have been breached for good by the incident. Then in route A, Gram Blaze's barracks has to be sacrificed in order to let the team escape from Baldus, and it appropriately goes up in flames.
Escort Mission: There are several missions where you have to protect Velleman from being attacked. Quite frustrating, since in the A route, it becomes apparent that he's quite capable of taking care of his own damn self.
Et Tu, Brute?: Medoute in one ending. Although he's urged to kill her, Gulcasa lets her go, exiling her instead. She, Jenon, and the other new characters leave the continent afterward.
Even Evil Has Standards: When the band of would-be rapist hoodlums is deciding to themselves which party member girl each one of them wants for himself, one guy targets Eimi. The party and the guy's buddies all turn and give him strange looks.
Fan Nickname: "Sobakasu" for Cerica, and "Kaa-san's kaa-san" for Baretreenu (an extended pun on Gulcasa's Fan Nickname, for obvious reasons). Also Tsundereon.
Fanon Dis Continuity: They aren't very common, but a few fans out there deny this game because of it's lack of plot until the endings, which ended up rather rushed. The more common variety simply ignore anything that isn't developed by Ito or isn't one of the Dept. Heaven Episodes.
However, there are also a number of people that prefer the option of choosing a different future for the characters, making it more of a Contested Sequel.
Fanservice: There's one mission where the player can get a hot springs scene for his or her favorite female party member in chapter 3. (But please, Sting, think of your straight female/gay male fanbase, and give us mostly-naked men too next time.)
Fantastic Racism: According to Medoute and Baretreenu, all demons—and anyone with demonic blood—is or eventually will become Always Chaotic Evil. As the rest of the series explicitly shows this not to be the case, it comes off as a real flaw, especially since everyone else tends to take this as the gospel truth. The incongruity can be explained by Blaze Union having new writers who may not be familiar with the rest of Dept Heaven canon, but that doesn't make it any less grating.
First Girl Wins / Last Girl Wins: Varying by route, and also played with. The "first girl" can win, but in a route that isn't canon; over the course of the actual canon route, the winner is not the last of the basic compulsory members to actually join, but is the last one to be introduced and isn't exactly a girl, either.
Foreshadowing: Much of it is rather obvious, but the game has its subtler moments too, such as in the A path, where Garlot laments his inability to realize that Velleman was suffering before he turned on Gram Blaze, which mirrors Gulcasa and Nessiah's situation in Yggdra Union.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Jenon plays the good cop to Garlot's actual anger and mistrust in order to force Norn to give money back to the poor villagers.
Good Is Not Dumb: Garlot may not be very smart to begin with, but he has a very sensitive nature that allows him to accurately read and understand his rivals and enemies' motivations. As his adventures start to gain him more and more street cred, it's his overwhelmingly gentle and compassionate heart that manages to win the hearts of his entire country—including those very rivals and enemies, more often than not. We get to see in the future just how much Bronquia really appreciates having a leader who's kind, just, and competent.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Leon has a huge scar over his forehead; although we never see them, Nessiah has scars from the loss of his eyes. And his wings. And Pandora has a big fat scar on his neck.
Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Baretreenu and Medoute are quite adamant that Gulcasa and Emilia do this. Bonus points for the importance this has to the A route, which is the one where Gulcasa ends up with Nessiah.
Hey You: Between Soltier nicknaming him "Redhead" in chapter 2 when he refuses to introduce himself and people who don't bother to ask his name, Garlot gets this a lot. A positive shift in Leon's Character Development is marked by his starting to switch to First Name Basis with Garlot instead.
Horrible Judge of Character: Ordene, who allowed Luciana and Aegina to be exiled and nearly killed because he was willing to listen to Alanjame's lies.
Hotter and Sexier: And not just in the new girls' designs and the number of bath scenes—the game makes no bones about how the relatively lawless state of Bronquia during Soltier's reign carries a serious risk of sexual assault by the veritable swarms of bandits and corrupt nobles. This is only a problem for those who can't defend themselves, but then that's most of the population. On the positive side of things, Garlot's bisexuality is dealt with a lot more frankly than in the other Episode II games, too.
Leitmotif: All the potential allies, along with the major villains. Garlot's cheerful, heroic-sounding theme changes drastically in the True Route into that familiar guitar-heavy, minor-key battle charge when he changes his name to Gulcasa.
Like Brother and Sister: Siskier is heavily implied to have a crush on Garlot. He sees her as a combination of older sister and surrogate mom.
Lonely at the Top: Gulcasa still has most of his companions at the end of route A, but his three closest friends leave him. One dies, and the other two turn on him.
Love Dodecahedron: Nessiah/Garlot/Siskier/Jenon, with Garlot's vast harem waiting hopefully in the wings. Complicating matters is that Garlot is completely unaware of Siskier's feelings but knows about Jenon's crush on her and expects her to end up with her other suitor, while Siskier is in turn completely unaware that she has another suitor. There is No Romantic Resolution in route B; routes A and C involve one or two members of the conflict dropping out of the running and couples forming accordingly.
Lover And Beloved: This is the type of relationship dynamic Gulcasa and Nessiah wind up with in the A route.
Nerfing: Kiss the gameshattering attack power Nessiah once had in Yggdra Union goodbye. A screenshot that pictures him at level 10 has his stats as 4/2/3/4.
Never Learned To Read: A rather depressingly large chunk of the cast, including Garlot himself. This is yet another detail meant to help express the poor quality of life in Bronquia, and it works.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Depending on which choices you make, there is a chance that you might accidentally send a critical Yggdra Union character to an early grave... which is in some cases.
"No, Eimi, don't you dare go out and fight! It's too dangerous, you're Just a Kid!" And Siskier keeps on in this vein even after watching Eimi beat the living shit out of Baldus, Russell, and both their battalions. To a kid with PTSD, self-worth issues, and the highest susceptibility to The Corruption in the whole cast. Oy.
Though you really shouldn't let her fight on certain battlefields...or you will have hell to pay.
No Export for You: Between the fact that Atlus dug themselves into a hole that's hard to climb out of as far as mistranslated elements of Yggdra Union go, the fact that this game's plot is most accessible to people who've played Yggdra Union, and the fit that the Moral Guardians would throw over all the Attempted Rape incidents, it's not surprising that they've shown no interest in bringing the game over. Probably doesn't make it any less frustrating for people who aren't literate in Japanese, though.
Optional Party Member: Byff, Sleip, Mizer, Eudy, and Pamela in chapter 3; Eater and Zilva in chapter 5. It is possible to get all of them in one playthrough, despite the nature of the mission-choosing.
The Other Darrin: The twins are played by Mai Nakahara in this game, not their usual voice actress. This is probably due to the Time Skip between the games; significantly younger girls would have less harsh voices.
Most of the characters, sadly, have had their voice actors changed just like the twins—with much less logical reason as to why.
Pacing Problems: Routes A and C suffer from the Cosmic Deadline because there's just too much plot to fit into the available data space. The A path deals with this by performing a short Time Skip from Garlot unsealing his blood to the climax of the revolution, frustrating the players who wanted more time to use Gulcasa and actually see him unite Bronquia; this has the consequence of making this part of the plot take a backseat to Medoute and Jenon's betrayal. In the C path, realistically presenting a conflict with the antagonist would require Garlot and company getting their posteriors handed to them—if nothing else, because Nessiah knows them as well as they know themselves or better—and a very bitter struggle from behind to seize victory. There isn't enough room for this, which is the reason for Nessiah's incompetence and all the Deus ex Machina that rescues Gram Blaze.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Redheaded little girl with yellow eyes who's running around looking for her older brother, who she calls Onii-sama. Right, I have no idea who this is. Would you believe that Eimi-is-Emilia is supposed to be a spoiler? If Sting had gone to as much trouble to alter her design as they did Gulcasa's, it might have worked, but changing a character's fashion of choice from gothic lolita to ordinary lolita is not enough.
Zilva, the stoic, emotionless assassin of the night, can gain up to 8000 morale points from a teddy bear, of all things.
Picky Eater: In many varieties, although special mention goes to Nessiah (who rarely ever gains Morale from being given food, even if his dialogue suggests that he likes it). Characters also have foods they hate but will reluctantly eat, but here's a list of the ones who'll turn up their noses at things.
Poor Communication Kills: There's a lot of this going around, but the end of the A route has a particularly brutal display of it, culminating in a vicious circlejerk of Shut Up, Hannibal!-Shut Up, Kirk! between Gulcasa and Medoute respectively. Once the former calms down and starts trying to work it out, his attempt to actually try to communicate gets shot down fairly harshly.
Power Trio: With Garlot as the ego, Jenon as the superego, and Siskier as the id, though Garlot's temper blurs the lines a little. This eventually evolves into a...
Four Temperament Ensemble: Garlot is choleric, Siskier is sanguine, Jenon is melancholic, and Medoute is phlegmatic. Aegina is supine, going by the "four plus one" formula.
Replacement Goldfish: In the A ending, Siskier, Jenon, Medoute, and Velleman's roles in Gulcasa's life are filled by Nessiah, Emilia, Leon, and Baldus. This is probably necessary considering Gulcasa's codependency (along with all his other issues), and he seems to appreciate it. Since the Siskier-to-Nessiah switch happens first, the parallels between the Garlot/Siskier and Gulcasa/Nessiah relationships are an important undercurrent at the end of that path.
It's also implied that Zilva winds up attempting to replace Siskier with Elena, given her makeover by the time of Yggdra Union.
Ship Tease: Just about anyone past puberty who spends any significant length of time around Garlot at all and has the most remote romantic interest in men will have implications of liking him. Garlot/Siskier and Siskier/Zilva get several nods, and route A essentially beats the player over the head with Gulcasa/Nessiah.
Show, Don't Tell: Sting really didn't want us to just take their word for it that Gulcasa Used to Be a Sweet Kid. Part of their efforts to keep the fact that he and Garlot are the same person under wraps was probably because we're not supposed to realize that this trope is in effect until The Reveal.
"It looks like a lot of people are curious about why I dress like this. It's 'cause it's easier to move around in, you know? Mobility's important on the battlefield....Still, it's awful when it gets cold. Whenever the weather is cold, I start thinking, 'Why did I ever pick out these clothes?' and things like that."
Succession Crisis: Plays a large role in the B and C routes. Another one in the backstory but not brought up in-game was the death of Soltier's father from illness, after which Bronquia nearly fell apart. The reason that he didn't inherit despite being the oldest was because Fantasinia pushed hard to get his quieter and easier-to-manipulate younger brother on the throne as their figurehead. Obviously, it goes From Bad to Worse as Ike stripped Bronquia of its military on Fantasinia's orders, then Soltier came around to build it up again...
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Here's your starting party! Here's their awesome equipment! And here's David and Item Break, have fun with that. In addition to this, towards the very end of the game, two routes hand you Game Breaker characters. Overusing one is a patently godawful idea that, if you've already completed the route once, will lock you into having to confront the hardest True Final Boss the series has to offer. You can spam the other all you like, and we hope that he'll be able to make up for losing Siskier, Jenon, and Medoute, who you've probably put the most effort into raising.
Talking to Himself: As in Yggdra Union, most of the side characters' voice actors have two or three different roles. There are a few party members (Eimi and Pamela, Nessiah and Mizer) who share voice actors, too...
Tastes Like Chicken: Your party's general consensus on the Dragon Steak. Which even Gulcasa will eat, despite the fact that he technically kind of is one.
There Are No Therapists: Which is really unfortunate, seeing as a good therapist might be able to prevent PTSD from being diagnosed as becoming a demon. Medoute, Aegina, and Nessiah could probably stand some therapy, too.
Turn The Other Cheek: Oh, Gulcasa. Medoute tries to murder him, spits on his ideals, accuses him of already becoming a monster and disgracing Siskier's memory—and after he subdues her, he's still going "Can't we just talk this out?". When she rejects this, he still refuses to kill her, despite Nessiah pointing out that this is a terrible idea and she'll just attack him again. Instead, Gulcasa puts her in an easily-escapable jail and does not allow anyone to chase her and Jenon when they do run away. Keep in mind that this character is uniquely equipped to kill him and has made her views on demons plentyclear.
True Companions: The game's themes have been stated on the team's blog to be "the drama of becoming comrades", and the story by definition will be dealing with how the Imperial Army first came together.
True Final Boss: Kid Brongaa!Emilia in route B, though the route can end without fighting this character if you don't trip the very Guide Dang It loserflags.
Upbringing Makes the Hero: Played with in all its positive and negative aspects; Garlot wouldn't be who he is without the very specific mix of good things and terrible things that have happened to him.
We Want Our Jerk Back: Or something. Garlot is constantly berated by Medoute and Velleman for being "too emotional", having too much Sympathy for the Devil, and generally letting his own misgivings get to him and make him unsure about his own objectives. Medoute asks baldly a few times whether he's really capable of making any difference in the world in his state. Naturally, once he becomes Gulcasa in route A and his increased terror of failing causes him to lock up, shelve his sympathy until battles end, and refuse to hesitate, Medoute and Jenon decide that he was better off the way he used to be and choose to interpret the changes in his behavior as his becoming a heartless demon. Of course, this all ends terribly.
Also Nessiah. Admit it, if what this guy was trying to do didn't tend to have bad consequences for people who aren't related, it would be a lot harder to find fault with him.
What Could Have Been: According to the interviews in the artbook, the original script for the game was much darker and more serious, styled like a historical drama; Baretreenu also died right at the beginning. This concept was canned for being too depressing. In addition, the scenario writer from R-Force Entertainment pitches a series of post-B-route's-good-ending drama CDs featuring the repercussions of Ordene dying and Gram Blaze moving to Fantasinia on the rest of the world, involving the cast of Yggdra Union. Sadly, these dramas don't seem to be happening.