Cheeky Charlatans: Swaine

I’ve actually written about Swaine before on my own blog, but when we decided on the topic of “playfully mischievous characters” for the month of April, I couldn’t help but revisit my favorite character from Ni no Kuni, the snarky thief Swaine.  Funnily enough, my original feelings for Swaine were actually far from positive because, well, he was actually a major creep at first.

From stealing items he neither wanted nor needed to stalking two teenagers across the desert in order to pilfer their Letter of Passage to Autumnia, the overwhelming feeling that sprung to mind when we initially met this guy was “stranger danger”!  Now, in his defense, Swaine was being possessed by a Nightmare and was suffering from a severe lack of restraint, though even after he was restored, he still continued to be a rude and belligerent jerk, going so far as to stomp his feet like a child when he didn’t get his way.  So maybe he doesn’t really deserve any excuses.  So what, then, caused me to warm up to such a sketchy individual?

Well, not only did Swaine turn out to be a valuable member of the team, with his long-range attacks, courtesy of his pickpocket pistol, but I learned that he really wasn’t such a bad guy, after all.  Just a bit gruff, and very sarcastic, but that’s exactly what made him so lovable.  In a game that felt very much directed at kids, Swaine felt like the logical, adult voice of reason, and so often, I would find him saying exactly what I was thinking, whether it was his discomfort during a certain incident at the Fairygrounds or a snarky comment in response to Mr. Drippy’s insistence that hiding under a lone helmet was the perfect disguise for infiltrating a heavily guarded palace….

When accompanied by a fairy and two kids who seemed to blindly accept any absurd thing that was happening to them, I had to appreciate Swaine for being the only sane person in the group, while also never failing to make me laugh with his cynical, snarky attitude.  Swaine managed to take a game that was initially trying my patience with its slow pace and childish nature and redeem it, making Ni no Kuni one of my most beloved games from the last two decades.