Ladies I have loved: Junon
So I was reacquainted with my favorite game of all time recently, Dragon Force for the Sega Saturn. It’s an interesting take on the RTS genre. Players can choose from 1 of 8 kingdoms to start their journey of recruiting the eight members of the Dragon Force needed to stop the evil god Madruk from reviving and destroying all of Legendra. Players will guide their troops through battle all the while conquering the continent and turning former foes into allies, all sworn to battle in your name. What especially drew me to the game was this character right here:
Allow me to wax poetic about how cool Junon is for a moment. As I previously stated, Junon is the King of Tristan, at least ever since the King of Fandaria, Goldark murdered her father 13 years ago. And as you’ve probably deduced due to the name of this feature, Junon is in fact a lady and a pretty cool one at that.
Junon crafted the persona of the “Black Death Mask,” who people assume is male, in order to intimidate would be ne’er do wells from entering Tristan. This mask is incredibly intimidating, making her look like an agent of death, out to reap the souls of those unlucky enough to cross her path. Did I mention that Junon also happens to rule in the harshest climate? She’s master of her mountainous, wintery domain, where when you play as any other nation, someone will feel the need to comment on how treacherous the Tristan mountain region is. Junon is tough, pragmatic and understands the necessity for cooperation in the battle against the dark god Madruk.
The first time I ever encountered Junon was actually in battle when I was playing as one of the other eight monarchs. After narrowly defeating her in battle, because she can literally throw a fiery wall of death at her enemies and a has a flock of vicious harpies at her beck and call, I earned a cutscene. A cutscene wherein her helmet comes off and her gender is revealed. Let’s just say that I immediately shut down my Saturn and rebooted to play as this lovely lady right here:
See Junon, aside from having the coolest armor, that doesn’t shatter into a sexy metal bikini after her gender is revealed, is also insanely powerful. She is the third physically strongest monarch the game, utilizing destructive area of effect spells and has high enough MP that she can cast everything in her arsenal a couple of times, unlike the monarchs who are physically stronger than her. Her starting troop type is also the Harpy, whose only weakness are Archers and Mages, who can be flimsily wiped out with her fiery wall of death spell. Harpies are also the quickest troop type, landing the most attacks in the shortest amount of time. Harpies are also only one of two definitively female troop types, but unlike mages who are pretty much weak against everybody, Harpies, much like their master, are the second strongest troop type in the game.
Junon manages a level head in her dealings with other nations. Although a bit heavy handed in her threats of violence to interlopers, as The Black Death Mask, she is quick to offer them amnesty and treat them as equals, especially when it’s revealed that her fellow monarchs are each members of the Dragon Force. The exceptions are Goldark, understandably for murdering her father, and Wein. For you see, Junon is so proactive and on the ball that in the opening scene of her story it is revealed that she sent messengers, looking for an Alliance between the kingdoms of Tristan and Highland, her messengers came back murdered. Believing Wien to be the fiend, she swore to rectify this slight. With Violence. I do believe there was some head-pike action that was going to happen. Junon is nothing if not blunt and if she’s going to threaten you with violence, it’s going to instill fear into others in the most efficient way possible.
As you’ve probably already noticed, Junon is also quite the looker. Yet her greatest flaw is not that she is vain, or that she feels she is the need to prove herself due to her gender, Junon’s greatest weakness is her need to right wrongs as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is what almost drove her to wanting Wein’s head and almost allowed her to be corrupted by the evil sword Eclisis for the power it would bring and how quickly it could have potentially solved all of her problems. This brings me to the only potential for beef I could have had with her character: Leon.
As the leader of Topaz, Leon is the warrior monk who ends up marrying Junon in the end game, if you play as either Topaz or Tristan. So there’s a bit of a romance subplot and Leon, on finding out that the leader of Tristan is a total babe, becomes infatuated with her. To the point where he shows up in cutscenes discussing his intention to marry her, making her the Queen of Topaz. Not that it’s very effective, in my multiple playthroughs, the dude was nearly constantly in the hospital because he had to fling himself into danger to “save” Junon. Not the most effective technique.
See, when Junon is tempted to take the sword of Eclisis for her fight against the dark forces she hems and haws over it, until Leon “heroically” lunges to stop her. This is the only moment in the game when Junon’s agency is taken from her, admittedly for the right reasons, but even after Leon is injured for the umpteenth time because of his actions, instead of becoming a wibbering mess of emotions, Junon orders her people to deal with his mess of a body so she can can continue her quest and mess up the faces of some more baddies. Not that she’s ungrateful to Leon, she even seems to respect him more for it, it’s just that Junon knows there’s more important things to worry about, like the return of Evil and saving the people of Legendra.
There’s even a throwaway reference near the end of the game where Leon is a bag full of emotions worried about Junon and her battle against evil. He again implies that he’ll make her his future queen but one things about the “Black Death Mask” is she doesn’t have time for that, not while she’s decimating this guy into ashes with her Star Dragon power, hoo hah!
When all is said and done, it is directly implied that Leon becomes the Kingdom of Tristan’s Prince consort in the after credits sequence, because really, who would you rather rule? The silly man who flings himself into danger in the name of love, or the woman who just assembled a cross continental army and defeated an old god? Junon is a powerful, strong willed warrior who over the course of the game, reinforces to herself in order to succeed, sometimes friends are necessary to be relied upon and that there is no shame in needing others.
Junon is the exact type of female character that I adore, whose identity isn’t compromised based on how she chooses to represent herself. Who has the ability to command those around her, without suffering fools and who holds fast to her beliefs, even in the face of tremendous power. Junon’s defining characteristic isn’t that she is a powerful character who happens to be a female, rather it is her resolve to succeed that makes her so compelling and is the reason that she is a lady that I have loved.