Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, often called Sora no Kiseki or Legend of Heroes VI, is a JRPG released by Nihon Falcom in the mid-2000s, first on the PC and then on the PSP. It is an entry into Falcom's line of "traditional" turn-based story-heavy JRPGs (as opposed to the action RPGs of the Ys series), and it is without question the single most successful game-cum-franchise Falcom has released since the original Ys duology, despite taking so long to leave Japan.The story details the adventures of Estelle Bright and her adopted brother, Joshua. They set out to be a pair of "Bracers", wandering adventurer-types who do good around the kingdom of Liberl, much like Estelle's father Cassius was in his prime. Soon after their adventure begins, however, they begin to get pulled into a series of events that could change the face of Liberl, not to mention answer certain questions about Joshua's past... even if they are answers Joshua might not want to hear.The game is, in a word, gigantic. It was so large, in fact, that Falcom couldn't practically release it as one game; "Sora no Kiseki FC" (short for "First Chapter") was released in mid-2004, with the Second Chapter following nearly two years later (it was so large as to require two UMDs when released on the PSP in 2007). This, naturally, led to some complaining during SC's development, which was generally silenced when SC was released to nigh-rabid reviews. A year afterward, "Sora no Kiseki The Third" was released; it ended up being a bit of a Mission Pack Sequel (since the main plot of the game wraps up nicely in SC), but it still develops a few of the other party members and deals with some of the dangling side-plot hooks nicely, and so is generally respected. The series was so popular as to inspire an Intercontinuity Crossover fighting game with Ys, in the style of Marvel vs. Capcom.A side effect of the game's bifurcated nature is that this is one of the few JRPGs in which choice matters. While the choices are (generally) not quite as sweeping as those in, say, Mass Effect, since you can carry save files forward between chapters, choices you make in one chapter can affect quests and dialogue in a following chapter and affect how quickly you rise through the ranks of the Bracers Guild. The games are also a bit more open-ended than most JRPGs, with lots of Bracer sidequests available alongside the main storyline (and, in fact, neglecting these can leave you a bit weak for the showdowns which await you at the end of the second chapter).Each of the three chapters technically tells their own story, although the second chapter follows directly on from the first chapter (as in, it literally starts on the day after the end of the first) and if you dive right into SC you are likely to end up a bit lost and confused. There are sixteen playable characters over the course of all three games, plus dozens of other secondary characters.Just like the case of Falcom's other great RPG series Ys, the games have suffered greatly from No Export for You, which is the primary reason why the series is massively popular in Japan, right up there with the Tales Series and Shin Megami Tensei (having sold over a million copies between the three chapters of the game, two proper sequels released in 2010 and 2011, both of which also sold like bonkers, an anime adaptation which came out in late 2011 and with fan events still being held six years after FC's release), but practically unheard of outside of it.Do note, this page has a lot of marked spoilers; this is because talking about most of the tropes related to the game requires talking about the revelations the game makes later in its narrative (particularly in the second chapter, which America sadly won't see until at least 2012), and some of these are legitimately amazing and shouldn't be casually ruined. Highlight spoilers at your own risk, and beware of spoilers on other sites, to boot.Last but not least, the soundtrack for the series is awesome, especially once you get into Second Chapter and The Third. Falcom's JDK Band pretty much hit it out of the park again, and some of the songs included with the game have been hailed as among the best game themes ever, through vote, on places like 2channel.The first chapter was localized and released in March 2011 for the PSP courtesy of XSEED Games (who worked on Nihon Falcom's Ys series previously). Due to the huge script, expect large gaps between games, but hey, Slow Export For You is better than No Export for You.*
Quoth XSEED localizer and resident Falcom fanboy Tom "Wyrdwad" Lipschultz on the GameFAQs board for the first game: "SC will definitely *not* be released this year . That's not even physically possible, given the amount of text it has and the amount of manpower and money WE have. (:"
The aforementioned sequel is Zero no Kiseki, which follows a new set of protagonists a few years after the events of Trails. That title was followed up by Ao no Kiseki, which continues the Zero story in the same way Trails SC continued the Trails FC story.
Actually Four Mooks: Played straight with most of the random battles, where a single monster on the field map turns out to be one or more.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: That he does. Even at the end of the game, when you are explicitly saving the entire kingdom from a shattering cataclysm and pretty much everyone has acknowledged this, even major characters will still charge you for items.
All There in the Manual: If the in-game universe wasn't complete enough, there are multiple drama-cds, comics and game guides which expand on the universe further. Recently released was a whopping 800-page Scenario Book for the second chapter.
Aloof Big Brother: Loewe to Joshua. They are not related but the dynamic is the same.
Anachronism Stew: Applies somewhat, especially to the party members. This is a fairly modern setting which has automobile analogues, flying ships, guns and even includes laptops (well, briefcase-tops, Tita has one), but out of sixteen playable characters between the three chapters, only three use guns, with most of the other characters preferring melee weapons and the only other ranged user wielding a crossbow. (Okay, Tita uses enough gun to count for an entire party, but still.) The clothes (especially uniforms) are way, way more 19th century than modern, to boot.
Ancient Conspiracy: Third, in particular, implies that Ouroboros has been around for a long time. It's also got a lot of Illuminati-esque trappings, with the small number of high-powered operatives, fingers in every pie, and the organization's full name is even, going purely by kanji, "The Society of the Tail-eating/Endless Serpent". It's often called The Society for short in SC.
Anticlimax Boss: Loewe used to be this, but after Falcom released a patch to upgrade him, he's sometimes considered to be harder than even the last boss.
Art Shift: The cover art for 3rd is very different from the cover art for the previous games and the art used in the games themselves.
The Atoner: Col. Richard in Third. Also, Cassius throughout most of the trilogy.
Badass Army: The army of the Liberl Kingdom doesn't come across as this at first (that "gate music" doesn't help), but the special divisions like Special Ops and the Royal Guards manage to make an impact in FC, and the entire army steps up to the plate magnificently in SC.
Joshua may look a bit girly, but he's called "The Black Fang" because he is that dangerous. He's usually a pretty chill, nice dude, but if you threaten to harm Estelle? Aidios help you. The mayor of Ruan learns this the hard way in FC, which even freaks Estelle out a little.
Renne often comes across as sweet and cuddly, even after The Reveal about her. She's also the most emotionally disturbed member of the entire cast, with accompanying violence.
This applies to Leonhardt, too, even when he's posing as "Lorence". He is capable of being disarmingly nice and polite, even when you're actively fighting him.
Big Damn Heroes: FC's final chapter. The princess is rescued but a little girl has been taken hostage. Ohai, Schera, who we haven't seen since 1/4 of the way into the game.
Kevin becomes the main character of The Third; it might be said that the reason why it's called The Third and not Third Chapter was because Estelle and Joshua aren't really the main characters anymore.
Loewe, despite the fact that this guy has officially died in SC ending, Falcom seems to really loves this guy to the point they decide to bring him back in The Third and makes his involvement in the game as the last moment that Joshua had as the main character in The Third. Then you have Vantage Master Portable where he and Renne becomes a playable main character instead of the other party members in the game, even worse in Alternative Saga, he just gets in there without any explanation despite he is already dead, at least Vantage Master Portable takes place before SC but Alternative Saga obviously takes place after The Third making it impossible for him to be there in the first place but Falcom think it's not a reason enough to not to include him in the game. And then just recently Falcom announced that they're making a prequel comic adaption with him as the main character...
Break the Cutie: Joshua, Renne, Kevin, and Loewe's pasts are riddled with this, although the first three eventually recover due to the Power of Love.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In The Third's sub quest to open the Star Door, one of the Star Door shows us the meeting of Ouroboros leaders meeting and their conversation regarding the events in Liberl and revealing that this is all just the beginning. After the meeting, Campanella laughs finding this would be interesting, then...
Canpanella: By the way...i know i'm not the one to talk, but...*looks into the screen* i don't know who but can you please stop peeping?
Brother-Sister Incest: Something that jams up the gears of some people who play the game. Estelle and Joshua aren't even remotely related by bloodand Joshua may not even be exactly human anymore, and they first met as not-quite-teens, so they weren't so young that the Westermarck effect would kick in to prevent them falling for each other... but at the same time, they basically lived together as siblings for years and Cassius even formally adopted Joshua after the events at the start of the game, when he came to live with the Brights, so he has the last name Bright himself. Some fans just try not to think too hard about that.
Of course, this all serves as a bit of a stinger later on when Joshua openly abandons the Bright name once he considers himself no longer worthy of being called by that name, and takes the name Joshua Astray.
Central Theme: Trails is unrepentant about wearing its theme on its sleeve, that theme essentially being: "No one person, no matter what they've done in the past, no matter what they've done with their lives, is completely beyond love and redemption. Any life can be given meaning so long as you're willing to reach out to a person." Joshua, Renne, Kevin, Olivier, and Loewe all have major story arcs about coming to terms with this, and Kloe, Scherazard, and Josette all face the concept to some degree as well.
Corrupt Church: Averted with special mention, especially in comparison to the wider meta-genre. One of the most believable aspects of the setting is that the Septian Church is, by and large, a benevolent organization and doesn't really meddle with politics or massive plots at all in FC or SC. Its clergymen clearly believe what they preach, are peaceful, benevolent presences in their towns (they even teach school for most people), and they even act as obvious allies to our heroes in FC when the Grancel Cathedral gives knowing shelter to Julia while she's a fugitive from Col. Richard's coup. Nearly all the characters are faithful to a greater or lesser degree, as well, with invocations to Eidos/Aidios relatively common in places you'd expect a real life person to invoke God. There's ultimately nothing sinister about the church in FC or SC. Third makes it a little more complicated, although in that case we're dealing more with the Church as a continent-wide organization and Kevin's place in it, with the general message being: "in an organization as large as this, and based on beliefs as fundamental as this, you are always going to have disagreements about how best to defend those beliefs".
Cynicism Catalyst: Joshua lost his older sister during the destruction of his village, which led to his and Loewe's joining the Ouroborus. And then he remembers that he is responsible for her death (at least he thinks he is), and, well, that's when things go completely off the rails...
Despair Event Horizon: Joshua crosses it once he remembers that he blames himself for the death of his sister and that he's been a pawn of Ouroboros all this time. A large part of the second chapter is devoted to Estelle pulling him back from this.
Determinator: Estelle will stop at nothing to save those whom she cares about.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Interestingly played. When the game was originally in development as a single unit, it's clear that the ruins beneath Castle Grancel were going to be this; sure, you rescued the queen, beat Col. Richard and saved the kingdom but clearly not everything was answered and it would serve as what would in other games be the "big twist point" when the real villain was revealed and whatnot. Once the project got too big to contain in one game, though, it was chosen to be the actual final dungeon of FC, meaning it is and isn't a final dungeon; it's the end of FC, sure, but it's barely thebeginningof the real story.
Walter and Blueblanc actually survived the collision of Liberl Ark, as revealed in Star Door #14.
Lucciola actually survived too, as revealed in Ao. The fortune teller in Michelam? It's her.
Doing It for the Art: How else do you explain XSEED Games's willingness to localize a trilogy of games with such ginormous amounts of text, which no other localizer showed signs of having plans to work on?
Dude Looks Like a Lady: Joshua can ding this at times; his Japanese VA being female does not exactly help. Less prominent after he embraces his identity as the Black Fang.
Dysfunction Junction: The game does manage to avoid treading into Wangst territory, but good grief, the party has some issues. When all is said and done, let's see: we have two nigh-superpowered Tyke Bomb assassins, one of whom constantly wrestles with the happiness he experienced with the Brights versus what he's done and is capable of doing and the other of whom is coming unglued under the constant pressure, even in her own mind, to kill; an imperial prince who is utterly disgusted with his family and, by extension, himself; another, local princess who absolutely wants nothing to do with the responsibility thrust upon her; a woman who wants nothing more than to bury her past in alcohol; a man who is driven by the loss of his entire family and the guilt he feels over being unable to prevent it; a priest who has problems with his faith and serious doubts about his place in the world; a girl with a massive wannabe-hero complex; and an aristrocrat-turned-sky-pirate who has rather serious entitlement issues. Estelle is lucky Tita and Zane are around in all three games, or she'd find she's the Only Sane Man among this cast of nutters.
Easter Egg: There are several paintings within the game that show Falcom's other installments such as Ys.
The Empire: Perhaps not too surprising for a Japanese RPG. Their being billed as fairly obvious villains and an external threat is not very surprising at all. The fact that, ultimately, you have to save them from full-scale slaughter alongside everyone else, however, may be rather more surprising!
Dr. Russel is often described as "Dr. Wily gone good".
Olivier is a guns-and-devices using, blond-pony-tailed, blue-eyed ladies manwho happens to be royalty and uses the lechery partially as a coping mechanism. This draws a number of comparisons to a certain King of Figaro.
Fantasy Gun Control: Mostly averted, actually. The technology base of this setting is rather high, and you'll encounter quite a few firearms-wielding mooks, not to mention some bosses who pack heat of various kinds. We say "mostly", though, because while firearms are reasonably common in this setting.... as noted above, out of a grand total of sixteen people who can join the player party, only three of them actually use guns. This can get a little silly when the party charges down gun-armed mooks with swords, daggers, a crossbow and a staff and wins. Granted, your ranks can include some of the most dangerous assassins on the planet, but still.
Feelies: The Limited Edition comes with a reversible poster/map, a bracer emblem pin, and the game's soundtrack.
Fiery Redhead: Agate. Estelle may count too, though it's kinda hard to tell if she's a brunette or redhead; her hair color even seems to shift a little from between various depictions.
First Girl Wins: Kloe and Josette never really stood a chance. Especially when the first girl is also the main character of the game.
Foreshadowing: Goddamned EVERYWHERE. The game absolutely loves to tease upcoming reveals and plot points; sometimes this is blatant, sometimes you'll barely notice them 'till later and you play through the game again. This is so prevalent that the director has gone on record as saying that there are things in the upcoming Ao no Kiseki that were foreshadowed back in FC.
A lot of the other bracers, particularly Team Kurt (Kurt, Carna, Grant and Anelace) come across this way. Kurt and Anelace join the party for a bit in SC, and Anelace is a somewhat more permanent fixture for Third. Cassius definitely comes across this way. Hell, half of Weissmann's plot in FC is to create a whole other crisis for Cassius to be the hero of so that he doesn't jam up the gears in Liberl.
Also, this game takes its NPC dialogs seriously. If you take the time to Talk to Everyone as often as possible, you will find a lot of recurring NPCs all having their own stories going on in parallel to yours. It's quite fun really.
Intercontinuity Crossover: Alternative Saga crosses Sora no Kiseki with Ys using the engine from Ys Seven and includes support characters from Gurumin, Zwei, Brandish, Legend of Heroes III and Zero no Kiseki.
Josette, Anelace and Kurt are all voiced when you face them in combat in FC, despite their compatriots not being voiced and despite them not joining the party proper. Three guesses as to what happens in SC, and the first two don't count.
When Renne joins you as an NPC, you will probably notice that she somehow has a whooping 10202 HP (compared to the 3-4k that your party members are likely having at the moment). It all makes sense at the end of the chapter.
Though strangely enough, Professor Alba/Weissman has a normal amount of HP for an NPC in FC.
Kirk Summation: Estelle delivers a great one to Colonel Richard in FC's last dungeon. Given Estelle's role in the party, this isn't surprising in some ways, although everyone else is amazed at her sudden, momentary eloquence.
Late Arrival Spoiler: With FC being a good seven years old as of this edit and SC being five, avoiding these has become fairly difficult as Falcom now assumes most interested people in Japan already know about all the major spoilers and revelations... and uses them in promotional material and whatnot, making them kind of hard to avoid if you're outside of Japan and following the news at all! (Places like The Other Wiki casually ruining the plot of all three games also doesn't help.) The biggest offender is probably Renne and her actual affiliation, motivations and alignment. One of the most prominent extant pieces of art for her (from Third) in various Western sources show her clearly rocking her Sinister Scythe, which will tip off anyone even remotely Genre Savvy that she's more than she appears to be. Natch for Alternative Saga, which shows off the above and Pater Mater, and the Animated Adaptation will be terrible about this as well (the aforementioned stuff is being used in promotional images). Never mind, uh, all the spoilers on this very page.
Last Episode New Character: just about every new characters in The Third. But Ries and Lechter stand out from the rest, especially since there's no hint whatsoever about their existences and their roles in the next series is HUGE. But the others (Rufina, Ein, and Osborne) are mentioned several times during FC and SC.
MacGuffin: The Black Orbment in FC, the Aureole in SC and the cube in Third.
Magitek: A cornerstone of the setting; "orbments" allow for all kinds of technological feats, from airships to cannons to computers to combat magic effects for our heroes, and are basically mechanical devices powered by Applied Phlebotinum.
The Man Behind the Man: Weissmann behind almost everything in FC and SC. In a wider meta-series sense, The Master of Ouroboros is probably behind nearly everything going on in the series, with the exceptions of Third and Zero No Kiseki.
Loewe's real name is "Leonhardt" which means "The determination of the lion", hence why he is called "Loewe" which means, of course, "lion" in German.
Also present in the title, at least in the original Japanese. You see, the kanji used for "Sora no Kiseki" fairly clearly state "[Tracks/Wagon Trail/Path/etc.] of/in the Sky", but "Kiseki", as a spoken word, has another meaning: "miracle". The title can therefore be heard as "Miracle in the Sky" in addition to the written meaning. This gets extremely meaningful, both ways, during the second chapter. This gets especially crazy (awesome) with the vocal theme song to SC, "Silver Will, Golden Wings": every single time the word "kiseki" is said in that song, it can mean either "trail/path" or "miracle" and the song will still make perfect sense.
Estelle's surname is Bright, everyone thinks she is as bright as the sun that shines through the darkness. She is even called the Sun Girl by Kevin in 3rd.
Mission Pack Sequel: The third chapter caught some flack on release over perceptions that it was, basically, this, since the plot had nicely wrapped up in the previous game. The final judgment was, essentially, that it may not have been strictly necessary or really innovative, but it was still worth picking up.
More than Mind Control: Weissmann is an absolute master of this; it's largely how he maintains control over his part of Ouroboros. It's how he was able to force Joshua to spy on the Guild of Bracers, it's a large part of the reason Joshua feels so guilty over what happened to Karen, and it's one of the main impetuses for Joshua leaving the Brights at the end of FC, as the idea that Weissmann might still have such control over him and might force him to betray or even kill Estelle fills him with absolute, blinding terror.
The final test to become Junior Bracer and Adventurer both involved getting things from sewer.
Before Cassius went away in the prologue, he entrusted Estelle with Black Orbment. Sage Lemuras (who is pretty much Avin's father figure) entrusted Avin with Sacred Treasure Kabessa before he passed away. Both are Chekhov's Gun.
The Guest Star Party Member in the first part of Chapter 2 (for AToV) or whole Chapter 2 (for FC) are another senior Bracer/Adventurer (Douglas and Agate) and a girl who develops a crush on one of the main duo (Archem and Kloe). When they were party members, the party must dealt with corrupt leader of the region who threatened the well-being of the girl's precious things (Meefas and Mercia Orphanage).
There's a White-Haired Pretty BoyRival who actively prevents the party for ever advancing their adventures in the second half of the game. Said rivals are actually someone close to the main character. Not only that, near the end of the game, they engage an awesome duel with one of the main characters.
Weissmann asks Estelle to join Ouroboros with promise that she, Joshua, Loewe, and Renne can live happily together. This is similar to when Bellias-controlled silver-haired Mile asks Avin to join Octum's Apostles so he, Mile, and Eimelle can live happily together. Of course Avin and Estelle reject it.
Loewe sacrificed himself to weaken Weissmann by using Kernviter to invoke Taking You with Me after he knew that Weissmann was responsible for the Hamell tragedy. Madram sacrificed himself to kill Borgeid by using Dominique's Ring to invoke Taking You with Me after he knew that Borgeid was responsible for the Kanaphia tragedy.
The 3rd also invoked a little Mythology Gag to Legend Of Heroes IV: Loewe is Back from the Dead thanks to Lord of Phantasma and serves as her Dragon, and after the party defeats him, he disappears after a Tear Jerker exchange with Joshua, Estelle, and Renne (if one brings the latter two in the party, that is). Mile is Back from the Dead thanks to Lord Bellias and serves as his Dragon, and after the party defeats Octum, Mile disappears after a Tear Jerker exchange with Avin. The difference is that Mile isn't meant to die yet.
again from The 3rd: Kevin goes to Gehenna in order to save Ries, much like when Avin jumped to Hades in order to save Mile.
might be intentional since The 3rd was released shortly after PSP version of Legend Of Heroes V, but the whole point of the game is similar to Legend Of Heroes V's Tuning Forks Special Scenario. You get party members from clearing a dungeon or moving to the next chapter, can team up with the entire playables of the previous two games along with Original Generation, involves a boss rush, and a massive amount of grinding is required to reach 100% Completion.
Josette's S-Craft Wildcat is named after Legend Of Heroes III's Wildcat Bandits. It doesn't help that Capua family and Wildcat Bandits are actually good people.
You can find the complete Doll Knight books set in SC. Renne even referenced it when she was saved by the party, commenting that she's like Princess Tia who was saved by Pedro's Blue Knight. The books were originally from Legend Of Heroes V. There are some WMG concerning its existence in Zemuria.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: You defeat the Ring Guardian at the end of FC. This eventually allows the villains access to the Aureole. More to the point, Weissmann's whole plan revolves largely around manipulating Estelle and company into doing this a lot. He is quite good at it, too.
No Export for You: This is being fixed at last courtesy of XSEED Games, although it still took nearly seven years for the first chapter to make the jump across the sea, and for a long time fans had resigned themselves to never seeing a release. (The fate of the PC version remains a question-mark.) The delay is mostly attributed to Falcom's past rocky relations with other localizers/publishers in America and the sheer, staggering size of the scripts for each game. The second chapter had to ship on two UMDs for the PSP release, after all.
Obviously Evil: Played straight and subverted six ways from sundown at the same time. Unless you read these spoilers ahead of time, betcha didn't see Renne coming, did you? Or Professor Alba, for that matter?
Odd Name Out: First Chapter, Second Chapter and...The Third?
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During Legions invasion towards the Grancell Castle, Philippe moves forward and reveals himself to be once a fearsome general of the Badass Army to defends the castle, they took his weapons and about to engage on their epic showdown...and then the scene shift back to our heroes...
One Game for the Price of Two: Accusations of this went flying around during SC's development (and we can most likely expect them to show up among American reviewers and new fans, too). In Japan this died down once people saw how mind-blowingly huge SC was and how it simply couldn't have been included in the original release. Remember, two UMDs for the PSP version, and it really makes use of that second UMD. Third, meanwhile, sparked rather different accusations.
Olivier, Kloe (and her grandmother), Anelace and Loewe all have various shades of them, and aside from Loewe there's nothing particularly supernatural about any of them, and Loewe's "supernatural" abilities have nothing to do with his eyes.
(Zero No Kiseki/SC spoilers):Renne may also have had violet eyes since that's what her father actually has, but we've never gotten any confirmation as to what her eye color was before her eyes were changed to gold. Interestingly, the "puppet" of her dad in SC was given golden eyes instead of purple, presumably to ensure they actually "looked" related.
Randomly Drops: A ton of equipments in 3rd. Most of them aren't really the best equipments (in fact, all of them have multiple "levels", so you might find a weapon, then the same weapon except with more attack and a "+1" as an affix later), but there sure are a lot of them. Really painful for those who wants a copy of every item.
Red Baron: Some high-ranking bracers and all the top agents for Ouroboros and the church have titles like this.
Loewe: The Sword Emperor
Walter: The Lanky Wolf
Luciola: The Charming Bell
Blblanc: The Phantom Thief
Joshua: The Black Fang
Renne: The Angel of Extermination
Weissmann: The Faceless
Kevin: The Heresy Inquisitor, which he chooses to change at the end of the 3rd chapter.
The games do apply this principle to a few things. For example, if we're being remotely realistic, even briefly pulling the trigger on any of her weapons should result in Tita being knocked flat on her butt from the recoil, if not injured outright*
since there's no way in hell she weighs more than 90 pounds (in armor, mind you) while her weapons spew out easily 100+lb of recoil; never mind that a lot of her weapons would weigh almost as much as she does
Also, Ouroboros Enforcers like Joshua, Renne and Loewe fairly routinely engage in physical acts that are blatantly impossible (for example, Loewe leaping off the top of Castle Grancel without injury, though considering the clues presernt, it more than likely was one of his shadows), although this is handwaved to some degree by the fact that many of them have been modified bodily.
Shadow Archetype: There are two really prominent examples, both of which are somewhat spoilery.
First is Joshua and Renne. Joshua even acknowledges this openly; to him, Renne represents everything he could have been had he not lost to Cassius and met the Brights. This is largely what fuels his ardent desire to help her; her behavior is so radically different from his own, but he could have been just like her - even fighting at her side! - had his life turned out even a little differently.
The second is Estelle and her own father, Cassius. This one isn't obvious at first, but by the end of SC it's become clear that the two are in some ways mirror reflections of one another - they both have the same job, the same skills, and even end up facing similar dilemmas and quests, but Cassius was willing to mortgage his ideals and morality in order to accomplish his goals. This makes him quite a bit different from Estelle, who is determined to save everyone she can, regardless of the cost to herself.
The main story arc (in FC and SC) actually slides along the scale as it goes on. It starts off pretty light and idealistic, but then gets more and more cynical and dark until we're at almost Berserk levels of bastardity and cynicism, to the point that even Estelle begins to crack under the strain. Ultimately it swings back toward the idealist side of things in the grand finale, though. The title can be heard as "Miracle in the Sky" in Japanese for a reason, after all.
The third chapter, meanwhile, works partially because it examines the concept of this and how we bury ourselves in our perceptions. It even uses Loewe and Cassius to hammer the point home.
While officially spelled Patel Matel, given that Renne repeatedly states that it's the only father or mother she needs it should probably be translated as Pater Mater, Latin for 'Father and Mother'.
The game tends to feature a lot of R/L sounds, which of course cause contortions when trying to transcribe certain names. Liberl/Riber/Libel/Ribel, anyone? Or how about Ries/Lise/Liese/Riese/etc etc etc? XSEED hasn't even announced what they're doing about her name yet.
A couple characters run into this, too, especially compared to their "given" spelling. "Anelace" is arguably the worst; her name is usually consistently spelled that way, but sometimes it's given as "Analace" or "Analece". Given this, you'd think the last part of her name would sound like, well, a "lace gown", right? No, the actual katakana given for the name actually end up sounding like "Aneras", with a chopped off, short "s", which doesn't match any given spelling. Most fans just throw their hands up at the situation and go with one of the given spellings, despite new fans technically getting the pronunciation wrong consistently; XSEED left it with the "Anelace" spelling as well.
Is it "Loewe" or "Löwe"? Even Falcom sources disagree at times. Both work, though (they're the same word in German). "Leo" is also quite close to the given katakana, and would probably be a bit clearer to English speakers. XSEED chose to go with "Loewe".
A bit of debate also springs up around the title for the agents of Ouroboros. The title is given in kanji as 執行者, shikkousha, which strictly speaking is a term variously applied to "those who perform, execute or serve business" (and also actual executioners) and also has Buddhist connotations for righteousness and the pursuit of enlightenment. However, the kanji are always accompanied by furigana, in katakana, indicating that the word the characters are saying is "Legion", which is meant to be the actual, in-universe term spoken by characters. The problem, of course, is that "legion" is a term for a unit of soldiers and not an individual person, and doesn't really carry the concept of the kanji forward regardless. While a majority of western fans currently stick with the indicated title from Falcom, some do use other terms to try and convey the kanji better - Enforcer, Legionnaire, Executioner and the like have all cropped up over the years.
During the scene at the end of FC wherein Joshua and Weissmann confront one another, the XSEED translation uses both "Enforcer" and "Legion".
Relatedly, the Ouroboros codename for Enforcer Fifteen runs into a problem as well. For all the other Enforcers, the "intended" English version of their codenames is given in secondary sources, particularly promo websites - "Sword Emperor" for 剣帝 (kentei), "Phantom Thief" for 怪盗紳士 (kaitou shinshi) and so on. With Fifteen, however, all we have is the kanji - 殲滅天使, senmetsu tenshi. The "angel" part is obvious, but there have been some debates over the best way to render "senmetsu" (which, most literally, means "total destruction/slaughter/annihilation/etc; Apocalypse How in a can, basically). "Angel of Extermination" is one of the more common translations, though some fans feel this is a little awkward; others go with "Annihilation Angel" or "Angel of Slaughter". XSEED has not yet announced an official translation for the term.
Sprite Polygon Mix: One of Japan's most famous recent examples. While not extremely sophisticated by modern standards (though FC wasn't too bad for 2004), it's still the best-looking game out of the group that uses the Ark of Naphistim engine.
Token Mini Moe: Tita and Renne. Renne's appearance is meant to be a Red Herring, however, and later on once she shows her true colors it's played to be as disturbing as possible.
Tomboy: Estelle practically defines the trope, both as a young girl in the prologue and during the main game itself. Anelace and Josette also have elements of this. Josette resents this perception deep down, though, since she's only doing the kind of work she does because her family's fortune was ruined.
Translation Convention: Maybe. It's really unclear exactly what the hell the characters are supposed to be speaking; the setting is obviously western european, and the lettering that appears in-game is the Roman-derived modern alphabet. Furthermore, a number of terms appear in kanji - like "orbment" and all related terms or the various ranks in Ouroboros - but then include furigana in katakana above the kanji, indicating what "foreign" word the characters are speaking while retaining meaning for Japanese readers.The original script is full of turns of phrase and whatnot that'd only make sense in Japanese, though, and Kevin is rocking a pretty specific Japanese dialect. Text in-universe is sometimes in English, like the Bright family photo album seen at the end of FC, sometimes not (but never Japanese). Basically, the characters probably aren't speaking Japanese, but the original script sure acts like it's their first language and what they'd be speaking "for real" isn't clear. Confusing things even further are names: in Liberl a number of place names (Zeiss, Bose, Ruan, arguably Grancel) and some noble names (like Klaudia von Auslese and her entire family, even pronounced in katakana with a proper, sharp Z-like S) are obviously Germanic, but most other personal names (Estelle Bright, Jill, the Russel family name, Foreman Murdock, Nial/Neal Burns, Dorothy Hyatt, etc. etc.) are all consistently and obviously Anglic in origin and pronunciation. Erebonian names (like Olivier Lenheim, Mueller Vander, Loewe, and Karin) are somewhat more consistently Germanic but still have anomalies such as Joshua Astray. So is Liberl bilingual? Has "Erebonian" seeped into the vernacular of Liberlian? Do the two share a linguistic history? The usually detailed Trails setting is dead silent on the matter. (This is in spite of having a dictionary for cat-speech.)
Truth in Television: Joshua accurately describes the conditions of what happens to the citizens of a country that focuses on its military might — high taxes, weapon development, military conscription and others contrasted to a peaceful government focused on peace through diplomacy and trading.
Underestimating Badassery: In the final chapter in FC, when Estelle, Scherazard and Kloe rescue the Queen during the coup d'état, they encounter Liutenant Lorence. Estelle, who defeated his team during the tournament, confidently states that even though he is strong, there is no way he can take the three of them all by himself. Estelle...youaresovery, verywrong...
Unwitting Pawn: The party becomes this to Weissmann in FC. Joshua, in particular, does not take it well.
Walking the Earth: The game is very "Ys-scale" about this. While you will, naturally, do some wandering about (Estelle and Joshua are "Bracers", or adventurers who openly wander about doin' good (with organized HQs in multiple towns even)), the game is confined to the Liberl Kingdom in terms of scope. This is partially because the crisis is local, and partially out of realism since wandering the planet, even with a conveyance, would take months.
Wham Episode: The end of the First Chapter. Joshua is the Black Fang of Ouroboros. He blames himself for the death of his sister, he's been an unwitting mole in the Guild of Bracers since the opening text boxes of the game and is/was a pawn of Weissmann. He leaves Estelle behind so that he can... settle things. At the very end, Estelle sets off after him. This one left people spinning when the game was first released, and marked the point at which the main narrative started to get a lotdarker.
Wham Line: "Allow me to clear away your confusion. *fingersnap*" Congratuations, Joshua, you now remember your place and history as one of the Enforcers of Ouroboros.
The Worf Effect: Agate often falls victim for this trope. In FC, he seems to win against Lorence... but then we find out that was a just a mirror body-double. Played straight in SC, in that he gets beaten easily by Loewe. Then again, in his defense Loewe and Lorence are the same person.
Joshua: This soul that has been saved by sister, mended by professor, released by father, and right now is together beside Estelle's...The heart of a Bracer and the skill of the Black Fang...Together with all of it, I challenge the Sword Emperor!!
And once again...
Loewe: Karin is an exception! That kind of human is not easy to be made! That's why—I have to test humans! Whether they can make up for sins named weakness and deceit! And whether they are truly worthy for Karin's sacrifice!
Joshua: Then—I'll prove it! I who has lived by sacrificing sister, I who am weak and a liar...by meeting Estelle have finally found my path! This path that has led me to where Loewe is! Humans—are not just a weak creature as long they are together with humans!
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: One of the most epic and memorable in Japanese gaming history, at the end of FC. It seems like the plot is done, but aren't there a few things left over?... oh, by the way, Joshua: *fingersnap*. The fact that, back in 2004, Falcom gave no indication that the game had been split into two parts until after the credit roll, fueled the fire in Japan even harder.
You Should Know This Already: This is getting pretty bad in Japan, from the perspective of new fans in North America. The promotional material for the TrailsAnimated Adaptationshows Renne in a blatantly sinister pose with her scythe, and shows off Pater Mater, though not full-frame, and the announcement article for Ao no Kisekispelled out "Olivier"'s proper name and title straight-out without any spoiler warning.