Master of Ragnarok Vol 11 & 12 Character gender changed
Fagrahvel's gender changed from male to female starting with vol. 11. From the moment he entered the story up til the end of vol. 10 he has been a male. Is this due to the editor speed reading to catch up? Because it was mentioned Fagrahvel has feminine features in the earlier chapters. If it will be changed will the ebook versions be updated to fix this?
This did come up in the Volume 11 Discussion:
Hey, yeah, so as Myskaros says, we definitely did not forget Fagrahvél’s gender. (In fact, we also revised all of Volume 12’s existing gendered language relating to Fagrahvél to be uniform with the revelations of this Part before this was released!)
That aside, let’s just get into it.
In Fagrahvél’s first introduction way back in Volume 5’s Interludes, she was introduced using writing very much like every other male character (powerful warrior, strong leader, and so on, long-term readers probably know the drill for Ragnarok’s narration by now).
The description of the character itself, at such an early point in the series, led the staff working on the series at that time to assume based on Takayama’s usual writing style that the character was male, and thus use male pronouns when translating and editing lines involving her. There was only one mention of her physical appearance, during that initial introduction, simply stating that she was “incredibly beautiful”. This was interpreted as her filling in the trope of a “bishounen”, or “pretty boy” character.
This conclusion was likely exactly what was intended to happen with Fagrahvél, and was further reinforced through the phenomenon that every single female character in the series is regularly reintroduced with descriptions remarking their beauty as women, or how impressive it was that they were so high in ranking DESPITE being women, and stuff in that vein, things that were entirely absent for Fagrahvél’s own writing.
There was, however, a subtle difference in that explicit male pronouns were never used for her. Fagrahvél was often narrated using gender-neutral pronouns, third-person pronouns, or even none whatsoever (isn’t Japanese wonderful?). In retrospect, this should have been a meaningful sign and a great bit of foreshadowing, though with the Japanese language often forgoing pronouns in literature, it was not uncommon to see the same kind of writing used for the other characters, either.
What appears to be the case now, of course, is that the trope she was fulfilling is actually that of the androgynous character whose gender is assumed by either the reader, the characters, or both. Takayama took great care not to use language that would explicitly lean one way or the other until a fateful page in V12P7, which I’ll expand upon below.
That “fateful page” contains a certain line in V12P7 which reveals (rather explicitly, in fact) that Fagrahvél is female. This is signified by the use of a single kanji: 姉, meaning “older sister”, which comes out of nowhere if you've been assuming Fagrahvél is male.
The line describes Fagrahvél's feelings that Rífa is capable of great things with the term 姉の欲目, roughly “the partiality of an older sister”. 欲目 (yokume) is a type of prideful bias one has in regards to someone, such as a beloved sibling in this case. Thus, an older sister's sense of pride.
This is the first time, in the entirety of Master of Ragnarok, in any narration or dialogue surrounding Fagrahvél, that a gendered pronoun was used. Myself and Curtis firmly believe now that the vague language used up until now was leveraged as a storytelling aid by Takayama to lead readers to believe that she was male, only now specifically highlighting the kanji for “older sister” in the book (it was marked as emphasized text in the Japanese source material, similar to how bolding or italicizing words/phrases are used in English for dramatic effect) in a “gotcha” moment to bring more depth to Fagrahvél as a character.
Interestingly, though annoyingly in this case, it is very, VERY easy to write about/for a character in Japanese without directly mentioning their gender through the use of the great many non-specific pronouns the language has, or forgoing them entirely, even. This is not so much the case in English, and without sufficient information at that very early stage in the series, way back in Volume 5, the staff involved could only draw their conclusions based on the scant information available to them.
Sadly, in the end, the choice made turned out to be the wrong one, so our current recourse has been to update the language where possible in previous content, and also use the correct language going forward from there.
Curtis and I apologize for the confusion this may have caused, and will work to ensure we keep things accurate going from here. We are already hard at work on the next Part as I publish this response on behalf of us both, and look forward to presenting that to you all in the coming few days.
And so, we leave you with one final passing note of interest: At this point in the story, it hasn’t been spelled out yet whether Fagrahvél’s gender was only being hidden from the reader, or if it is being kept a secret from other characters in the story, too—and if it is a secret, which characters do and don’t know the truth. So, in that sense, there’s still more to be revealed. As the story moves forward, we can look more closely at the interactions Fagrahvél has with the characters closest to her, and see what hints they give.
@Rahul-Balaggan thanks Rahul for that info
Idk whether to be proud of myself or disappointed in myself. I had thought it was a girl the entire time but that just means I was misreading what was put in front of me since there was no intention to convey that... I'm gonna go with proud of myself
Well, hopefully the previous volumes get fixed sooner rather than later. Either way, I'm glad that I haven't gotten far enough in the series yet to run into this character (I just recently started reading it), since I absolutely hate any form of genderswapping, which is what this would then feel like even if it was because of translation error.
This is far from the first series to have issues like this though. Still, fortunately, it's not a mistake that happens very often. It could be much worse.