Thank You, Murayama-san

I was thirteen years old when Suikoden II was released. A friend of my brother handed me a burned copy of the game and a modded PlayStation. I remember popping the game into my PlayStation and being introduced to a world of hardship and hope. I became addicted to the game, to the point where my mother gifted me a Prima Guide (that I still own to this day, though it’s in a sorry state), which led to writing fan fiction and creating fan art. I was desperate to find others who connected to this game the way I did.

I was in love with Suikoden II. The story captured my heart immediately when Jowy and Riou escaped the Highland Youth Brigade. The camp is set ablaze, and many of the other young soldiers are brutally slaughtered at the hands of Mad Prince Luca Blight. As the boys escape, they hit a dead end at a waterfall. It’s there that Jowy and Riou make a pact to return there should they ever get separated. It’s a beautiful moment that marks their friendship and is the catalyst to the beginning of Suikoden II’s story. I felt so many emotions then, and having replayed the game more than ten times, the same scene always resonates with me, how a bond so strong can grow and change.

The Suikoden series, although they are stories of war-torn nations, always comes back to the overarching theme of finding a community. Every character the player encounters in a Suikoden game is often looking for a place to belong, a place where their skills are valued, a place of safety, and a place to meet like-minded individuals. Every person in the world can relate to those desires, and Murayama’s writing, particularly in Suikoden II, does a beautiful job of illustrating how important community is, especially in trying times. 

My heart!

Creating a community, especially in a capitalist world, is incredibly challenging. The world has become more isolated, with diminished social interaction. Humans crave social connectivity, they desire places to belong. Suikoden as a series has always been able to tackle difficult subject matter such as classism, racism, and social injustice. Suikoden II’s Two Rivers is an amazing example of how two communities which started separate joined together because of a common goal — neither the Kobolds, Humans, nor Wingers wished to be invaded by the Highland Army. However, they put their differences aside to drive out the Highland Army, ultimately joining Riou and the City-State Army as a means to protect Two River. The power of community cannot be understated. When times are tough, we have to rely on each other to create positive change.

Suikoden is special because it creates community. Suikoden is the reason I joined so many play-by-email fanfiction groups in my teens. Suikoden is the reason I found places like the RPGamer forums, a community where I could share my love of RPGs. Suikoden is the reason I still have so many of my friends years later. This game brought us together, and many of those bonds are as strong as ever. 

So thank you, Murayama-san. Thank you for the light that you have shown with this remarkable series and all of its lasting impressions. Thank you for the amazing stories, the wonderfully realized characters, and the constant reminder that we can find hope in darkness. But most of all, thank you for giving me a community that I could belong to, the friends I have kept near and dear to my heart after your wonderful series brought me to them. Losing your light makes the video game industry a little bit dimmer, but after blazing on the scene with Suikoden, leaving us with a new light in Eiyuden Chronicle means your legacy and kindness shall never be forgotten.

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