Relationship Tapestry

Behind the Themes: Relationship Tapestry

Posted:May 19, 2024
Nagareboshi Lobby

Hello and welcome to the third issue of Behind the Scenes Themes! Today I'd like to discuss relationships between characters.

What I see as the greatest strength of visual novels as a medium is their ability to center and showcase relationships between characters. The typically dialogue heavy text combined with a focus on character art allows this to excel. For HERO, I wanted to take advantage of this strength not just for the primary relationships between the protagonist and the route characters, but for all characters in the story, even those with small parts.

Dormitory Lobby

There are around fifty characters in HERO that are named and receive character art, along with a smattering of others that exist just for the sake of a particular scene. Of those fifty, twelve are the main cast (each with their own page in the character section). These are the protagonist, his two sisters, his two guy friends, and the seven route characters.

What I wanted to do is to have relationship development not just between the protagonist and the route characters, but between all of the main characters. They work together as pilots in the same squadron so their relationships are crucial to their ability to function as a team. That means that, while the relationships between the protagonist and the route characters are still the most significant, the dynamic between all members of the team receives attention in the story. With twelve characters, that results in sixty-six relationships that get explored in some fashion (n*(n-1)/2 where n=12).

Concert Hall Lobby

The rest of the fifty characters are supporting cast members. They are a mix of family members, school staff, and assorted others. Their relationships also receive attention, though only for those that matter to the story, because otherwise we'd be trying to keep track of over a thousand connections. There's interaction between instructors and students, between characters that have a shared past, and so on.

Expanding on that, the family dynamics of each of the main characters are the most important relationships outside of those within the squadron. I wanted to give attention to these relationships to show their significance in contributing to how the characters came to be who they are in terms of personality and relationship style.

Theater Lobby

To recap, the main themes of HERO that are present independent of content are:

(1) a story driven primarily by setting rather than by plot or characters.

(2) character routes where the style of relationship is what differs rather than the events that unfold.

(3) attention to a broad tapestry of relationships rather than focusing exclusively on those between the protagonist and route characters.

Next time, we'll delve below the fold into content-based themes, while trying to avoid getting into specifics that are intended to be revealed in the course of experiencing the story. Stay tuned.