The Royal Army, prominently featuring the two leads, Yggdra and Milanor.
Even with the Holy Sword, I can’t make anything go right… The Holy Sword… may be a sacred relic, but the fact remains that it is a weapon. For we who are entrusted with it, it becomes our mission to see the justice of the Holy Sword to its end… and we are capable of slaughtering those who do not obey that justice… but the Holy Sword is a weapon. In the end, it is only capable of harming people.
— Princess Yggdra
Yggdra Union is a Turn-Based Strategy game which is part of Sting Entertainment's Dept Heaven cycle. The Game Boy Advance and PSP Updated Re-release were both handled in North America by Atlus.Chronologically the first of the Dept Heaven games, Yggdra Union takes place during a war between the Kingdom of Fantasinia and the New Bronquian Empire. Gulcasa, the Emperor, has just defeated most of the Royal Army and slain the king, but Princess Yggdra (the only surviving member of the Royal Family) escapes her captured city with her family's Ancestral Weapon and goes about gathering allies to take her country back—and get revenge. It doesn't hurt that said Ancestral Weapon, the Gran Centurio, is a national symbol of justice. Whatever Yggdra and her army do, it's obviously the right thing.Isn't it?Except that our heroes slowly discover that Emperor Gulcasa and his villainous minions are a bit more morally ambiguous than they first bargained for, and that everyone they fight seems to be fighting for the justice they believe in. And that maybe there's more going on across the continent than they could have imagined.Yggdra Union, in short, is a deconstructionist game about war, ideals, and the true nature of "justice".An interview with the game director and artists can be found here; be warned that there are spoilers up through the end of the PSP version. See also Yggdra Unison, the Alternate Universe cellphone/DS spinoff.A prequel called Blaze Union concerning the events of the Bronquian revolution was released in May 2010.
Yggdra Union utilizes these tropes:
Active Royalty: Played straight for both sides with Yggdra and Gulcasa.
Aerith and Bob: Mostly on the Aerith side of the spectrum, with only a few "normal" names like Russell, and Monica
Aesop Amnesia: Yggdra suffers this towards the end of the game; it's also prominent in two of the possible endings.
Ahoge: Averted—Yggdra and Nessiah each have one, though neither is a particularly silly character.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Gulcasa not only pulls it off in the prologue, he flattens the former Royal Army doing it. This is what essentially sets the main storyline in motion.
Badass Adorable: Just about everyone, due to the majority of characters having the appearance of cutesy anime characters, like they mixed several serious characters from the game with Sugar Bowl physics.
Badass Army: The Imperial Army is what every Ragtag Bunch of Misfits wants to be when it grows up. By the end of the game, the Royal Army is on its way to becoming one, too.
And if you don't believe us, have his (furiously shouted) response to Yggdra's request for a cease-fire directly after he learns of Emilia's death:
Gulcasa: Is that all you came here to say? What an arduous journey, for such a ridiculous request. Even were I to believe you, we would never accept your terms...We razed your Kingdom, and you have responded in kind. How are we to extinguish our flames of hatred now? This fighting cannot end until one of us can fight no more!
Her attitude is justified later on, since it turns out that Yggdra's ancestors were responsible for forcing Kylier's race to eke out a miserable living in Lost Aries.
Betty and Veronica: Yggdra and Kylier, in regards to Milanor. Reversed in that Kylier, despite being the character with darker coloring, is the Betty (she's Milanor's childhood friend) and Yggdra, despite being the fair-haired character (and the heroine!), is the Veronica. Also subverted in that it's all in Kylier's head—Milanor doesn't have feelings for Yggdra.
Big "NO!": There are quite a few of them, but the most notable are Luciana or Aegina screaming iyaaaaaaa when their sister dies and Milanor screaming Kylier's name until his voice cracks both prior to her Heroic Sacrifice and after the Shoot the Dog incident in Battlefield 46.
Say what you like about the English voice acting, but they were wise to cast an actor for Milanor who knowshow to scream.
Christmas Cake: Mistel. Lampshaded—she gets furious when Milanor calls her "Obasan" (she technically won't qualify for two more years!), and she flirts heavily with Durant and Roswell. (Though, the last is likely due to the fact that her husband left her, and she's looking for a new one.)
For Gulcasa, once he has become Brongaa's receptacle, overusing Brongaa's power can tax his body to a state of collapse. He puts himself in this condition towards the end of Battlefield 32, causing mass panic amongst his men as they try to defend him. Emilia eventually comes to rescue him just as he passes out.
And in #367's case, having her synchronization with her artificial Diviner enhanced demands more than her body is capable of, and so her Morale drops drastically every turn. She also starts speaking in a strained voice and is constantly panting heavily.
Mistel: Oh dear! I don't think your body can handle so much rage...
Decoy Protagonist: You start off playing as Milanor, who is set up as the hero with Yggdra in a traditional Distressed Damsel role. Two and a half battlefields later, Yggdra becomes the player character, and Milanor is firmly established as her sidekick, losing nearly all plot significance except the ability to attract Kylierwhen the Royal Army has dug itself into a hole and the default commander seat when Yggdra is somewhere else. The game is explicitly about Yggdra's Character Development and growth as a ruler as she learns to balance hot-blooded idealism with compassion and an understanding of how the world works. Then the universe of episode II startedexpanding, a certain antagonist's backstory and true motivations got lots more attention, and Gulcasa made off with Yggdra's hero seat. On top of all this, the character in the episode II games who is the most important to the 'verse is none of the above—it's actually Nessiah, the antagonist, about which Word of God and the side materials are very clear. Up to Eleven, indeed.
Deadpan Snarker: Nessiah. He tends to get away with it in the Japanese because he's just so darn polite. The English script... not so much.
Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Gulcasa's title was changed from "Blazing Emperor" to "Emperor of Carnage" for the English version for whatever reason. This still makes some degree of sense—Fantasinia doesn't like him, so they wouldn't be calling him anything that sounds friendly—until you hear his people, who wholeheartedly adore him, calling him the same thing... and Theme Naming starts to show up when Imperial landmarks turn out to have fire-based names, which are also altered ("Gates of Carnage"note The name is even left as "Asura Gate" on the translated map, anyone?). Then it just starts sounding rather awkward. It will probably become a much bigger problem if Atlus ever localizes Blaze Union, where Gulcasa's fire motif is even more important.
Earn Your Happy Ending: In a subversion that can be downright heartbreaking, Nessiah has been trying to do this for centuries. He never gets one—probably because his methods tend to be less than ethical.
The Empire: Subverted with Bronquia, which originally seems to fit this description to the letter. And then you find out that this is exactly what Fantasinia did. Bly specifically says at the end of Battlefield 14-II that Bronquia was the only independent country left—and he once advised Yggdra's father and grandfather to go ahead and conquer it while the people would still be grateful for having their dictator gotten rid of. Too bad Gulcasa beat Fantasinia to the punch. Not.
Establishing Character Moment: The barely-two-minute-long scene at the start of Battlefield 42 hands you everything you need to know to understand what kind of person Gulcasa really is.
Example: During the conquest of Embellia, Emeleone pulls a What the Hell, Hero? when she accuses Yggdra of using "justice" as a means to follow her own ends. As Yggdra has thus far spent the entire game alternately running for her life and saving townspeople from being murdered by raiders, and since Emeleone has been prosecuting a genocidal war against all neighboring human settlements to harvest their blood in retribution for one of the Undines being seduced into stealing the Transmigragem, this accusation doesn't yet have any reason to stick particularly well. Had Emeleone's taunt come later it would have been disturbingly apt, however, since the invasion of Bronquia is like a larger, more tragic version of the Embellia arc.
He does it again after she dies the second time, swearing vengeance on Nessiah. Ironically, this is after she talks about how sorry she feels for him and how despite what he did to her, she can't hate him for it. Even though, you know, she still wants them to stop him anyway.
And, late in the game, almost EVERYONE in the Imperial Army—starting with Baldus.
Gulcasa might also be considered to have one, as his actions from Battlefield 18 are geared towards ensuring that he'll be able to call down Brongaa on the Royal Army's heads (BY KILLING HIMSELF) if the situation gets desperate enough. And boy does he try to.
Hide Your Lesbians: There's a fair amount of subtext between Zilva and Elena, none of which amounts to much due to Zilva dying. In addition to this, there was definitely something going on between Gulcasa and Nessiah according to Yggdra Unison and Blaze Union.
Matters are not helped at all by the fact that Gulcasa doesn't use suffixes with Nessiah, either. Though Gulcasa hardly uses them with anyone.
After her Awesome Moment of Crowning, Yggdra insists that her troops keep calling her Princess (Yggdra-oujou) instead of Queen (Yggdra-ou). She'll only accept the title when the war is over, she says.
Gulcasa continues calling her -oujou to be rude. Well, she did just murder his fourteen-year-old little sister.
And, of course, Nessiah still calls her "Yggdra-ou".
Hot Springs Episode: One of the rare cases the North American version shows more than the Japanese.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Almost every Embellian Undine subscribes to this viewpoint, mainly because some jerk human stole their means of survival. They use this as their justification for attacking completely unrelated humans to try to use their blood for eternal youth potion. ...Which turns out to be exactly how Nessiah, who set up the theft and fed them information about said potion, was hoping they'd react.
Also interesting to note is that for all the manipulating Nessiah did, none of it actually forced anyone to do anything evil. The Undines were tempted to use their loss as justification to vent their Fantastic Racism on humans, the Feuding Families in Verlaine were tempted to start a war over shiny toys, and Fantasinia and Bronquia were tempted to keep fighting, but in the end it was always the rulers' own decisions that led to bloodshed. If they had risen above the ugliness of human and undine nature, assorted probably would have been avoided. (Not to say that tempting them in the first place was a nice thing to do, as it wasn't.)
100% Adoration Rating: Gulcasa. This is played for all the tragedy it's worth when due to the Heroic RROD incident at the end of chapter 5, he winds up too sick to take to the field even when the Royal Army starts to invade his country—everyone in the country willing to bear arms stands up to protect him, and is swiftly cut down. Although it's nowhere near to the same degree, Yggdra is also very popular with her people, which is remarked upon a few times early in the game.
Some of the forced-upon-you conflicts involve at least a minor game of Idiot Ball, such as the whole Snafu with Embellia.
Undines: Someone took our Ancient Artifact without which our race will die! Screw looking for it! Some dude, who couldn't possibly under any circumstances have anything to do with its disappearance, said we should go pillage our neighbors so we can use their blood to solve the problem... somehow. Yggdra: The Undines are burning that city, and we just killed a bunch of them. Surely they'll still honor their treaty obligations to join me in my fight against The Empire! Emeleone: YOUR DESIRE TO RESOLVE OUR CONFLICTS THROUGH MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION IS SILLY! Durant: We don't need to travel through their base and the whole reason we came here was to find allies, there's no real reason why we can't just leave,we must kill them. We must kill them all until they are dead.
Idiot Hero: Subverted a bit with Milanor. He's actually quite intelligent tactically, but incredibly dumb about people. Especially girls.
Keigo: Elena uses it. Lampshaded in that Milanor recognizes this as abnormal and tries (but fails) to get her to be less formal.
Kill It with Fire: Gulcasa loves doing this. For the Royal Army's version, there's the Flame card (which actually gets you Grilled Griffon and Dragon Steak if you kill a unit that rides each creature with said card).
Kick the Dog:Its Heavily implied Nessiah was the one who seduced Nietzsche's sister, stole the Transmigragem and drove her to suicide. Its also implied he gave the ankhs to Roswell and Rosary starting their war.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Milanor. He is a thief. And goes around "liberating" goods from enemies and villagers alike...
Also Emperor Gulcasa; it's revealed in Battlefield 45 that he is the dragon Brongaa's last surviving descendant.
Leitmotif: Every character in the Royal Army has his or her own battle theme, as do Gulcasa, Nessiah, Aegina and Luciana, and Nana-chan. Other enemies just have generic music according to their rank. As of Blaze Union, pretty much everyone in the Imperial Army has their own battle theme as well, leaving Inzaghi as pretty much the only recurring character without his own theme.
Mistel. She's an airheaded "housewife" that has lacking stat gains, leaving her with terrible stats at level 20...unless you give her a few stat boosting items early on, allowing her to reach a full six stars in all stats with no trouble. Combined with her weapon being the scythe, which beats all melee weapons.
Magi Babble: The most notable example is the tutorial sequence where Roswell explains how Ankhs work, although it comes up a few other times in the game.
Meaningful Name: Lost Aries. It was where Nessiah (then the Wide-Eyed Idealist Aries) was sent down to end the Great Sorcery War by obliterating every living thing there. This seems to have been a major part of his punishment for not fighting in Asgard's wars, and possibly what broke him for good. So named by the human world because Aries was supposed to have died there. They were right, just not the way they thought.
Mermaid Problem: Solved. The Undines live forever until killed and do not reproduce. How they came to be is a mystery.
What actually happens is that they are immortal due to a magic gem that revives them whenever they are killed for real.
Norse Mythology: The original translation of the game had several references to it, like the names of certain items and the name of Kylier's race; the updated translation added a lot more of them, since by then Atlus had realized that Yggdra Union and Riviera: The Promised Land were part of one series. The story itself also contains a reference—the side materials explain that one of the antagonists once sacrificed an eye in exchange for knowledge, similar to Odin.
Also, Nessiah and the Magi from Asgard. In his attempt to gain vengeance, Nessiah becomes a lot like the Magi, manipulating countless people's lives for his own perception of justice.
Lampshaded in Battlefield 49. A lot, with irony, by multiple people.
Milanor: Lowly humans!? I don't think I like your attitude. What makes you so different from us?
Omake: The character designer, Kiyudzuki Satoko, wrote a series of fifteen 4koma entitled "Yggdra Universe" that are considered canon extras. There's a lot of Lampshade Hanging, and the 4koma also deal with a few series details that aren't brought up in-game.
Omnicidal Maniac: Gulcasa, who tries to awaken the dragon Brongaa and burn everything to ashes.
Could also be just Brongaa, as he was possessing Gulcasa at the time.
People Puppets: Nessiah's favorite way to mind-screw the Royal Army. The fact that it only works with people who have already died—i.e., Roswell or Rosary (whoever you killed) and Kylier—makes it all the more traumatic.
Poor Communication Kills: This is what you get when you have a pair of ultimately kind and idealistic but very stubborn people leading opposing armies. Everything would have been settled much more quickly and with a lot less death if Gulcasa and Yggdra had just been willing to sit down and negotiate, but they're both too busy assuming that the other side is evil. In the end, this is just one of many ways that the whole world plays right into Nessiah's hands.
Most Japanese games that are based on some kind of mythology usually end up getting it wrong, but this is one of the most hilarious I've ever seen. Nietzsche (in real life) was a German philosopher who introduced the concept of nihilism. Nietzsche (in the game) is a cutesy little girl undine (mermaid) who pokes gently with her spear.
Ship Tease: The game has two pairs of characters who are actually shown to be in love with each other. Two. It gets away with this by liberally dropping mild-to-moderate hints as to who the others may or may not have affections for.
Sinister Scythe: Gulcasa and Mistel, along with the Imperial Knights, use them. The impracticality is justified in Gulcasa's case; he wears padded gauntlets (take a good look at his art) and wields it from dragonback in order to get more force behind the blows. Mistel is a rare case of a farmer actually using a scythe rather than a pitchfork in combat; however, the design of her default scythe is very impractical for doing anything more than bludgeoning people and cutting grass.
Spoiler Opening: All the characters who join the Royal Army in Chapter 2 are shown, as are Cruz, Elena having shot Aegina's eye out, all the Dragon Generals, the sacking of Bardot, and even Nessiah's clearly angelic anima superimposed over him. It also rather blatantly hints at Nessiah's importance to the plot.
Subverted, though, in that there is an event portrayed inaccurately (in the OP, Marietta crowns Yggdra; Joachim does this in-game) and that the new characters in the PSP Version do not appear.
Then there are the extra books Sting released on the game after the Updated Re-release, which explain that half the reason Nessiah was thrown out of Asgard in the first place was for being a pacifist, of all things.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: A rather complex one. There's the Fire Emblem-standard sword-axe-lance triangle, and those weapons beat bows, which beat magic, which beat the sword-axe-lance triangle again.
Then there're scythes, which are strong against the sword-axe-lance triangle, and have no weakness. Guess what is Gulcasa'sWeapon of Choice?
And even worse, you have to get the PSP version to get a scythe-user on your side.
Not entirely. If you pick up the Stray Dragon item (which WAS in the GBA version), you can equip it to Durant, which changes him to Scythe user. Only lasts 3 maps, though. Too bad.
Gulcasa wearing you down? Rosary is essentially a huge cockblock - Gulcasa can't do much against her. Of course, she can't do much back.
Thematic Theme Tune: "Hahen" and "patria", which are technically the game's themes though they're only actually used for the radio show. Both are commonly considered to be Nessiah's Image Songs due to their content, and "Hahen" was also used to advertise Baroque.
Unstoppable Rage: Yggdra displays this while chasing after and trying to kill the (already-injured!) Gulcasa in Battlefield 18. Of course, the Imperial Army uses the fact that she's not thinking to trap her and subdue her by force, so it can be considered subverted...
Useless Useful Spell: Medusa's Eye. You get no bonus's or experience and the units just get in your way.
Waif-Fu: As compared to stronger-looking magicians with accurately low attack value, tiny, apparently frail Nessiah has a disproportionately high set of statistics and a overpowered weapon type and Skill, making him a rare male example. Of course, his excuse is that he's a fallen Grim Angel...
All the new characters in Blaze Union leave the continent after that game, which is explicitly discussed in its epilogue. Eater in particular goes worldhopping.
What the Hell, Hero?: The heroes call themselves out on this when during the counter-invasion of Bronquia, the Royal Army massacres an untrained civilian militia, wiping out most of a town's population.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Nessiah. Even if he dies, he is painfully resurrected shortly after, depending on the power level of the Gran Centurio at the time—he actually introduces himself to the Royal Army by running himself through to remove himself from the war, only to show up eight battlefields later to tell them to get a move on. The Chains of Conviction do not allow him to die permanently, and we all know how much he wants them off.
As quoted in his special Skill, Reincarnation: Unable to live, unable to die... thy punishment is to repeat life eternally. Ouch.
Why Won't You Die?: The Royal Army's reaction to the way Gulcasa simply refuses to fall even after taking two to three severe beatings in rapid succession. Milanor in particular frustratedly demands to know how he's even still standing after so much blood loss and so many mortal wounds. The answer? Sheer willpower, though Gulcasa's abusing his demon blood can't have hurt.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Nessiah seems fond of this. When he's introduced in Battlefield 18, right before he kills himself to end his own Catch-22, he thanks his division for their service up until then, tells them apologetically that he doesn't need their help anymore, says "goodbye", and proceeds to wipe them from existence. He also says the exact quote in battle against several characters, among their ranks the mages of Verlaine and Yggdra.