When the theme for the month was announced it didn’t even took me the time to finish reading to know who I wanted to write about, this will have spoilers of Crimson Empire, and some small ones of Royale.
My favorite otome game female is and probably will always be Sheila Rozann from Crimson Empire, I have several reasons for that and before I advance I will take this one out of the way.
Sheila is strong however this is not a characteristic of hers that I find all that great in this case (while probably other people would like her for that alone and that’s ok, there’s not that many physically strong heroines out there after all). She is a guard the plot kind of demands her to be strong, at the very least, to work and her back story provides us with a solid foundation on why she is strong, so is not like it came out of nowhere; even during the routes in the game she needs to keep getting stronger and in some cases we see that happening (and I’m just counting the history aspect of it, since the mechanics of the game force us to make her stronger due to its RPG elements).
So while it’s great that Sheila is strong and we can see her becoming more and more strong it’s not that amazing, so much as it’s a needed element for her role in the story to work properly. However she can stand in the same ground as several males in the story and even beat some of them so we know is not just an informed hability, which is great.
There are other aspects of Sheila that I find much more appealing and interesting than that one, but I will tackle them one by one from here, and since I mentioned her background earlier let’s check that one first.
Sheila is the oldest child of a poor family from a impoverished town, her family is so poor that they don’t even have money to eat and since her younger sibling is a male who will be able to provide for the house sooner and better than her, is just natural that when the hard decision is made to let go of someone she is the one choosed.
I find the flashbacks that Sheila has in the course of the game heartbreaking, you see, all of them are from the last conversation they had, when her mother was tying her hair for the last time, which Sheila believed was really difficult to do at the time and often though that she would learn when she growed up so that she could make her mother's hair that way to make her cute too (it was so significative for her that she did her hair that way every day from then on); Sheila being so young at the time doesn’t realize why her mother is “making her cute”(some of these show that at least she knows she is going to be sold, but probably doesn’t understands what that entails), it shows that her mother is heartbroken from this decision but realizes that it must be done.
She then proceeds to tell Sheila that she really loves her, and Sheila answers that she loves her too, and asks her to not cry. And excuse me while I sob at how innocent she used to be and how fast it all went to hell.
First with meeting Michael, since having a demon that barely understands the human world teach you about the human world must be a really messed way to grow up, but at least it gave little Sheila something that otherwise she would have lost, hope, Michael promised her that she would become successful and so Sheila gained nerves of steel that helped her with the one other thing that messed her up badly too, she became an assassin. This second one comes by the hand of Curtis Nile a.k.a. ‘the red shinigami’ by virtue of being the best assassin the world has known, he was Sheila’s teacher and she ended up gaining a great amount of his traits (she probably also crushed on him at some point), so if you take after him is safe to say you are not exactly the sanest person around.
Eventually she arrived at her position as Edvard’s guard, Sheila experienced what fighting for someone was and developed a sense as a guard to top her teachings as an assassin, she learned devotion. And Edvard turned out to be very twisted himself despite his image of perfect prince, due to this he had no problem ordering her to do anything ranging from making him tea to setting someone’s mansion on fire.
Despite all of this Sheila somehow has a pretty normal moral compass to the point that she knows how awful are the things she does and doesn’t even try to justify them… however she does find reasons to justify them in other people, whether is because she believes other people are nicer or because she believes that while she is not deserving of forgiveness for her actions others are, is really hard to know, but it probably is a combination of those two as she already knows she will succeed so she probably should have been able to take different choices and arrive at the ultimate same place; meanwhile others are just trying their best without knowing if they will ever achieve something.
Sheila has several dark thoughts during the game like how she seems to lack regret for her actions (and how she will reprimand herself if she does regret any of them), how despite being in a position to retrieve her family and give them a better life she won’t, and how she can still do worse, but that’s just waters that run deep on her, but she is able to deceive the rest since it really doesn’t show, she doesn’t let it, to the point that she could even come out as bubbly to any person not in the know. Well it may not be a perfect fit since Sheila is not quite a quiet person but all things considered the saying "Still waters run deep" might be a really fitting one for her.
Just like her promise with Michael she walks in the middle as much as she is able to, she does thinks about her actions in a negative light but she doesn’t particularly seeks to be punished or rewarded because of them (well she does know she will be spending the afterlife in hell thanks to Michael), she is a highly rational person, very in line with the setting she has being launched into and very accepting of it, she has her irrational points, like her unjustified hatred for magic and magicians and how she sometimes will not stop herself from acting as if she was above her status despite being well aware of it most of the time, however since she is observant enough this kind of thing doesn’t seem to come back to bite her back a lot.
One of the things that I like the most about Sheila is that she remains herself even when she falls in love, unlike some other main characters who change personalities as they change love interest (which is something that thankfully seems to be dying now), Sheila remains essentially the same, this doesn’t mean she is a static character, since her interactions with her love interest are different she develops accordingly, but retains the essence of her character, and her head over her shoulders, despite her having as a hobby spacing out, interestingly she becomes more aware of her surroundings once she falls in love.
Sheila is also the type that wants to protect more than being protected, this however probes problematic since having things the other way around will greatly upset her, she is a woman who has had a very harsh life so she doesn’t know how to handle niceness, this comes in two flavors, the ‘I’m strong I don’t need so much care’ flavor and the ‘I don’t deserve to be cared for so much’ (and she experiments both in Justin's route), the development of some of her relationships tends to include a good deal of how both parts struggle to jump over this barrier. The guys all respect her (save for Michael but he is a demon and even then he holds her in a special regard) and this shows in how they interact with her and would consider her opinion about their matters, this makes for interesting dynamics in which she tries her best to help, and has to learn to be helped, though what she needs help with, tends to be different in each route.
Sheila is an incredibly human character, full of good points and flaws (especially flaws), for all her negative thoughts and self-deprecation she is incredibly optimistic, can be really agreeable and sociable (even when she admits it gets tiring), this is her persona formed from the job she has at hand, she is amazingly good at it, but she is not so good at hiding her disgust when in front of the things she hates.
You can really see the thought that was put into how she perceives the other characters, as how she deals with each of them is really different, like how she will act like if Marshall was her worst enemy while working but they are drinking pals outside of work, or how she pretty much stays in equal ground with most of the cast but has Edvard in a pedestal, but depending on the circumstances she would even stand above him.
The time and the circumstances play a big role in how she deals with people just like how real people do.Her environment greatly affects her, thanks to Gilkatar being the place she was raised in she has a great set of self destructive behaviors, but she got better ever since she started working as a guard and while she may not have got rid of them she at least is able to canalize them in more constructive ways.
She has a great deal of autonomy, thanks to the format of the game Sheila’s actions doesn’t seem contrived to get from point A to point B, all the actions she takes are in line with the kind of character she is, they all take into account her goals and ideals to advance, she acts the way she wants not the way anybody will wish she acted.
Also for all of her head strong personality, she is able to change and let go, at the end of Royale, she let’s down her hair for good, she let go of the past, she was happy and probably for the first time she decided she wanted to enjoy that happiness with the guy of her choice (except in Michael’s case but his route is set in default to be a tragedy).
Sheila is not made to self insert ourselves into, in the words of the author she is not even made to be sympathized with (Born in slavery, trained as an assassin, strong enough to be serving as the head guard of a prince), she walks on really gray areas and as such whether her actions are justifiable is really left up to the observer.
The fact that the game is so Heroine centric is something that I like a lot, especially how despite the medium they went ahead with her (which some may not like a lot but I find amazing), since she is such a tridimensional character I find really interesting how the game could be just as good if it was all about her, as proven by the intro of the game, 3 hours entirely dedicated to showcase her circumstances and story and still have more development for her to be put through, it really could be all about her, but I’m thankful that’s not the case as we can see even more facets of her personality when she is interacting with others (some of them just as engaging as her), it just goes to show how amazing she can be that even when surrounded by interesting characters she is not eclipsed by them, quite on the contrary, shines brighter because of them.
I did think about other characters to write about since I really tend to like the heroines and their friends (admittedly sometimes I like their friends and enemies more) but in the end I don’t think there’s a character who is more well rounded than Sheila is to me, I can always see where she is coming from and even get angry at her but I really can find it in me to hate her for anything she does no matter how much I don’t agree at times, and I even feel like rooting for her to find and accept happiness in her life, in whatever form she gets it (but I tend to hope for a normal form of happiness for her as my Justin editorial would let you know.)
I could cut this short simply by stating how human she is, the world is expanded while we see it through her eyes, and her struggles, she is really a character that advances a lot, even in the side materials we are shown that she could even be developed further, just like in reality our stories won’t end after a given point, Sheila’s story will go on even after she is dead, because she even has an afterlife confirmed, albeit a really dark one, but she is making the most out of what she was handed, and taking in account what that is, that makes her really admirable.