Part 22: Interlude 4 - She Can Summon My Aeon Any Day
Interlude 4 - She Can Summon My Aeon Any Day
One of the common criticisms leveled against X-2 is that it's pandering, that dressing Yuna up in flashy, revealing outfits is demeaning and diminishes her character. We've dodged the question so far, but now that we've had Yuna in a tickle-fight in a bikini, we can't really avoid it any longer.
Do Yuna's outfits, by themselves, demean Yuna's character? No. But outfits like this demean Yuna's character because they're by themselves, if you catch the distinction.
There's nothing inherently offensive about revealing clothing. Even if you accept the argument that revealing clothing is always sexual, there's still a conceptual jump between sexual and inappropriate. In fact, such clothing would be perfectly appropriate for a character in a story who owned or was working toward owning her own sexuality. This is a similar argument to that made by groups who oppose slut-shaming; the importance to any person, and to the society they live in, of being able to express sexual agency without everyone around them taking it as an assault or an invitation.
One could make a legitimate case that such an arc for Yuna would make a compelling narrative, especially considering her sheltered upbringing. It's a specialized form of the Coming of Age story that we've seen done, and done very well, in many fine and well-respected works of art. The problem is that X-2 doesn't contain such an arc, or really try to tackle the issue of sexuality at all. Yuna's driving motivation is a crush she developed when she was effectively chaste, and she's hasn't expanded much beyond a storybook idea of romance since. As a result, Yuna's skimpy outfits aren't representative of her character or its development; instead, Yuna has a character, and, in unrelated news, the developers wanted to show some more skin.
I'm not saying it's bad that they didn't try to explore that kind of character arc for Yuna, T for Teen rating be damned. It's not out of character that she's not really thinking about what will happen once/if she finds Tidus; being the High Priestess of the First Church of Christ Kill Yourself tends to discourage foresight, and planning for the future isn't one of her strong suits. It's a shame, though, because there was the potential for Yuna to become an even higher-dimensional character, and for her motivations to grow as she did. There's even a plot device coming up soon that's tailor-made for challenging Yuna's conceptions of her relationship with Tidus. However, it might be better that they didn't try, the stereotype of Japanese handling of female sexuality being what it is. A gross mishandling might have been much worse than simple pandering (I'm looking at you, Other M).