Frog #11: Night of the Funeral (Part 1)

Today on Frog by Frog, I discuss one of the most iconic moments of Mother 3. I wouldn’t say this moment is one of the best parts of the game, necessarily–we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Mother 3 has to offer. But I would say that, for better or for worse, part of Mother 3′s reputation will be forever tied to this moment. If you’ve played the game, you know what’s coming. If you haven’t played the game… you probably know what’s coming.

I can’t offer much more of a premise than that, but I will say, like Frog #8, this post is going to be a long one. And I’m going to say that twice, for emphasis: this post is going be really, really, long. I went back on forth on whether or not I wanted to split this into multiple parts. On one hand, I wanted the Frog by Frog Blog to be truly frog by frog in each post–whether a post covers 2 minutes of gameplay and ends up short, or whether a post covers an hour of gameplay and ends up long, I wanted to explore the gameplay sessions at all potential lengths and see how my writing fit the form. On the other hand, I don’t want to repeat a frog within a single chapter, so as long as it takes to get to a new frog is at long as it takes… and in this case, it took a very long time.

In the end, #Frog 11 became such a long post that I decided it was best to simply split it up. While proofreading the post, I decided the pacing was off and length harmed the individual ideas, so here we are: our first split frog. Honestly, I don’t foresee this happening again, but I’ll never say never.

So grab your popcorn, grab your spaghetti, or grab whatever you eat while reading these things (or maybe you’re listening, some day in the future when I have audio figured out), and buckle up! Because we have a lot to talk about.

And once again, I felt relieved to find a frog after what felt like forever, with tragedy in the plot and tragedy in the gameplay. Maybe tragedy isn’t the right word for what happened to me–let’s just say I had a very close call in the Sunshine Forest with some venomous snakes. Though I didn’t mind the extra travel time. Like I’ve said before, I really am happy to play as much Mother 3 as possible, but sometimes my note-taking, screen-capping process really slows my pace down, so I think I played close to an hour and a half today.

You might say, “Hey, is it really playing Frog by Frog if you’re always stopping to take notes!” Or, “Is it really Frog by Frog is you’re splitting frogs into pieces!” And to that I say, yes! See, while playing Frog by Frog often suggests that my play sessions are going to be (and maybe should be) brief, we can’t forget our main goal, which is to play! To have fun! So, even though the save frogs are placed relatively close to one another so that the game can be played in short bursts, I still want to see everything I can see between the frogs. Plus, haven’t you ever had so much fun that the hours fly by?

Do I not need to justify myself this much? Maybe I should have named this blog Between the Frogs…

Anyway, after what goes down next, anyone would feel the need to find some extra fun and laughter. Trust me.

Lucas + Claus

When we last left Flint, he had just learned that Lucas and Claus were safe. They washed up in the river somewhere, freezing cold but still alive. Not far ahead from the save frog, it’s true: Lucas and Claus sit next to a large campfire, huddled together, each wrapped in a blanket. They shiver, they can barely speak, but they’re here. We’ve found them.

This scene has a mixture of pay-off and uncertainty. Lucas’s and Claus’s survival is the best news we’ve had all night, but, still: no Hinawa. I love the decision to continue playing Somewhere, Someday during the scene. This song does so well at dwelling in ambiguous tension, even adding a strange solemnity to this would-be triumphant reunion. There’s something overtly sad and worrisome about the song, but somewhere in there, there’s also hope.

I don’t know how to feel when I see poor Lucas and Claus, wrapped in those blankets, shivering and shaking. Sure, the family, partially, reunites, but the kids look so worn out. And honestly, screw Jonel for keeping Boney out of this. Anyone who doesn’t think these kids need a dog right now is a maniac. Boney should be licking their faces and cheering them up! I bet Boney would bark some life into this scene faster than you can say Reconstructed Caribou.

Again, though, I can’t help but love the sprites of Mother 3 as Flint brings in his two sons for a hug.

Why couldn’t Boney be a part of this group hug? Stupid Jonel!

The reunion isn’t only bleak because Hinawa isn’t there. The boys are in so much shock, and I think the villagers are, too, that no one really knows how to react. Yes, this is obviously a happy moment, but the emotional rollercoaster of the night has been jarring for everyone, to say the least. Even after Tessie says she’s made some Innit Tea, leaving Flint to explore the campsite, I feel like everyone is under-reacting, or something. Maybe the pixellated characters aren’t able to express emotion strongly enough, or maybe everyone in Tazmily assumed we’d find the boys, because why wouldn’t we? As we’ll see later in this post, Tazmilians aren’t exactly great at being empathetic, or even sympathetic, because tragedy is so foreign to them. It’s not their fault, but it’s still emotionally tone deaf.

Anyway, I do like the mix of perspectives we have at this small gathering. Duster and Tessie are just happy the kids are okay, with Tessie noting that the Lucas and Claus are “soaked to the bone.” They recognize the boys’ survival as nothing short of a miracle. And Duster is just a sweet heart, as usual, when he says, “Thank goodness they’re okay. What a relief.”

I noted a few frogs back that I enjoyed how Bateau, an NPC who I remember basically nothing about, had a small chance to shine through comic relief, and I appreciate a similar thing here with Tessie. She’s whipping up tea, caring for the boys, and processing everything much more realistically than some of the others. She’s stepping up when everyone else is standing around. Say what you will about Mother 3, and say what you will about me bringing this up all the time, but the small spotlights given to NPCS is truly special.

But then there’s Abbot, who warns Flint to take it easy or he’ll end up worse than Hinawa, which made me think, “What’s that supposed to mean, Abbot? Why don’t we take off these cowboy hats off and see who’s the real sheriff around here?”

Though, to Abbot’s credit, he has no problem facing Flint. If you try to run from the campsite, Abbot will follow you and pull you back, similarly to the previous frog where trying to run away results in Jonel hunting you down and telling you to “pull yourself together.”

I also like Isaac’s take on everything. “I guess they still haven’t found Hinawa. Where the heck could she be?” The lumberjack’s innocent musings remind me of everyone’s insistence that the Dragos are peaceful, so what could have gone wrong? It’s almost like the Tazmilian understanding of the situation is, “We needed to rescue people, and we made an effort to rescue them. Wasn’t that enough?”

Well, Isaac, a lot of things could have gone wrong. Especially with Reconstructed Caribous on the loose. And wasn’t Isaac supposed to be in the middle of some amazing plan to find and rescue Hinawa?

I also couldn’t help but laugh when Fuel says, “I wonder what they’ll get to eat when their mom gets back.” What do you think, Fuel? Cabbage! Hinawa’s special cabbage! It’s all anyone ever talks about! Even though Butch might very well have hypothermia now, the one thing on his mind during all of this was Hinawa’s cabbage!

Maybe all the smoke in the forest rattled his brain a little bit.

That said, Fuel’s dear old dad, Lighter, remains as hopeful as ever. This is actually the first time I’ve ever talked to Lighter in this small section of the game. I never knew he was standing away from the group, chilling with his lumber, just hanging out, or whatever he’s doing. And even though it’s starting to ring pretty hollow, I appreciate Lighter saying, “Tomorrow’s gonna come, and everything’ll be the same as it always is.”

Not that I believe him. The statement itself is funny when you notice that Flint and Lighter are literally surrounded with Drago claw marks both overhead and underfoot… but I’ll give Lighter a pass. He’s had a long night, too.

Anyway, checking in with the different Tazmilians is a joy as always, but what about checking in with Flint’s own children? I mean, here I am, spending all this time analyzing the practicality of Thomas being a watchman, or how much smoke Lighter and Fuel have inhaled, when all of Tazmily’s efforts have really been for Lucas and Claus! And they’re here!

Well, they’re here, but not here. If you try talking to the boys, they’re both still shaking in their blankets. It’s so sad, almost pitiful. But the boys don’t seem to be in a talking mood anyway. Claus says, “Darn it… Darn it…” and Lucas says, “Mom’s… Mom’s…” Seeing as Flint is already a bit of a silent hero, I can’t imagine him drumming up any kind of riveting conversation right now.

It’s also weird; like in Post #7, where I talked about Hinawa’s letter and how I actually miss Hinawa because I haven’t seen her in so long, it’s cool to see Lucas and Claus back in the plot again! That prologue feels farther and farther away all the time…

Well, it’s a grim reunion, but a reunion nonetheless. When Bronson runs up to the campfire, sweating bullets and saying he has good news and bad news, I’m all ears.

But, before that, I lastly want to point out Ollie, who, until today, I did not know lived in Pusher’s estate. Is Pusher Ollie’s father, or is Ollie some kind of benefactor? Maybe that’s why he wants to be so close to the action, not just some “useless onlooker,” like he expressed back in post #6. I could see the son of a rich guy trying to be on the front lines of the town’s efforts. Or, maybe there’s no reason he’s here. Maybe Itoi just picked him because.

Anyway–Bronson’s about to jump out of his skin if we don’t talk to him soon. Let’s hear him out.

Mother

When I heard about the impressions people got from Hinawa’s death, the ones that really stood out to me were from people who had named her after their own mothers. It made me really happy when they mentioned how, afterwards, they really appreciated their mothers. There were also some mothers who used their own names, and accepted Hinawa’s death with a feeling of warmth. I think those are the people who are living their own lives to the fullest…

One of the underlying themes of MOTHER 3 is that there are two feelings–like, “C’mon, it’s just a game,” and, “C’mon, be serious, this is a game here.” So I put a powerfully moving scene right in the beginning, as a testament to the interesting developments to come. Making that first chapter was really tough, especially because I felt like I did such major things with it.

Shigesato Itoi on Hinawa’s death

I’ve known for a while that I’d have to let Itoi introduce this section for me. There’s a lot to say about what happens next, but you’ve probably felt it in your heart for a while: Hinawa is dead.

And there’s no running from it either. When Bronson first appeared, I decided to leave, to see how far away I could get. I ran north, where Lighter leaned against the cliffside, but I couldn’t go any farther without the lumberjack stopping me. “Hold on, Flint,” said Lighter. “Bronson’s really worked up about something.”

So I walked back.

Bronson stands by the fire. He tells Flint he has good news, and he has bad news.

The good news is, Bronson found a Drago Fang. Drago Fangs are the only thing that can pierce a Drago’s hide, so it should make a pretty good weapon. In the hands of Flint, a Drago Fang could really do some damage, not just to Dragos, but maybe to this crazy Pigmask Army.

The bad news is where he found the Drago Fang.

It’s stuck at the very top of a cliffside, and the only way to get it down will be for Boney to track down Duster, and for Duster to perform the Wall Staples technique again, and, maybe this time, Flint, Boney, Lucas, and Claus can all climb up the Wall Staples, a temporary party configuration that’s also a family, and at the top of the ladder, they can grab the Drago Fang, and bring it back, and run into the forest where of course they’ll find Hinawa, in the clutches of the Drago, and, yes, they’ll have to use the Drago’s Fang to kill the beast, but it’ll have been worth it, because Hinawa will be safe. Everyone will be happy again.

Somewhere, someday, maybe this is how things happen.

But not today. Bronson didn’t find the fang on the top of a cliff. He found it pierced through Hinawa’s heart. Hinawa is dead. We were too late.

Before I talk about this scene, it’s better for you to watch it.

It might sound silly, but I can still remember the first time I saw this scene. I’d been playing games developed for the Gameboy for the majority of my life, from Pokemon Yellow to Fire Emblem, and I’d never seen something so emotional portrayed with just pixels. I felt sad, shocked, and helpless while I watched Flint punch the ground over and over, grab a burning log with his bare hands, then smash the campfire to pieces. I felt surprised to find myself reacting so strongly to animated sprites that I was watching on a dim computer monitor. I remember hearing this song for the first time, titled “Confusion,” and feeling Flint’s mind and heart break to pieces. I remember hearing this song for the first time, the “Love Theme,” and thinking, “Am I going to cry right now?”

For me, this scene works not so much because of the surprise of Hinawa’s death, but because of Flint’s reaction to it. Honestly, I can’t even remember if I knew about Hinawa’s death or not the first time I played the game. I know many players knew the broad strokes of the story from either playing or watching the Japanese version, but I had avoided as much information about Mother 3 as I could until I was able to play it in English. And still, I can’t remember if Hinawa’s death had been spoiled for me. What I do remember is watching the scene, and Flint’s reaction, and literally saying to myself, “Holy shit.”

(Quiet enough so that my parents couldn’t hear).

To me, the strength of a good story lies not as much in how important it is to experience the plot spoiler-free, but in how well the plot presents and maintains its emotional moments even when they are no longer surprising. Replaying Mother 3 and hoping that this is the time where Hinawa survives shows that she has survived in my heart. Not to equate Hinawa to a sea-faring, shanty-singing, shark hunter, but every time I watch the movie Jaws, there’s a small part of my heart that thinks maybe Quint won’t get eaten this time. Memorable moments and memorable characters transcend the importance of being spoiled.

I’m not saying it’s ideal for people to get spoiled or anything, but rather that, unfortunately, I think it’s pretty easy to come across Mother 3 spoilers if you so much as Google the game and read for five minutes. Because of this, I hope people who play Mother 3 don’t worry too much if they already know Hinawa dies in Chapter 1. Honestly, I feel like you can kind of feel it coming, and Hinawa’s death is still one of the most important parts of the game. Hinawa never truly leaves the plot, just like our loved ones in real life never truly leave our hearts, long after they’re gone.

That said, there are a lot of moments in Mother 3 where I can technically see how an attempt at pathos can come off as cheesy, and I can even see how Hinawa’s death could be viewed that way. The game all but tells you she’s dead until Bronson finally spits it out.

But I can’t say the same for Flint’s reaction. His blind, unabashed response, a mixture of anger and sadness, with the vicious oncoming of grief… it feels real. When the first notes of “Confusion” play, we feel the inevitable collapse we’ve been waiting for, one piano note at a time. I think this song is another smart, simple piece in Mother 3 that conveys so much with so little. The opening notes eventually lead to an almost relaxing, but Flint is anything but calm: the sound effects of the stick swinging, the logs breaking, the fire whirring say it all. I can’t think of many other moments in any RPG that have stuck with me so vividly.

When Flint strikes down Abbot, then Ollie, I don’t even question it. Tazmilians have been telling Flint all chapter that he’s reckless, that he’s a bit of a brute, that he talks more with a stick than he does with words. Here, we see Flint’s strength in his attempt to process his emotions. We see the silent hero forced to express himself. He can’t control it. He’s not even close to controlling it. When Lighter knocks him out, everything comes screeching to a pitiful halt. Hinawa’s gone, Flint has lost it, and Lucas and Claus saw the whole thing. We finally know why they weren’t able to talk. They either knew their mother was still out there and likely not going to make it, or they already knew she was dead.

I’ll be honest: there are so many directions I want to take this conversation. I want to talk about what this means for Flint as a character, what this means for Mother 3 as a game, what this means for the Tazmilians who witnessed it, and what it means for the millions of Tazmilians (okay, maybe not that many) who don’t know yet. The last thing I should mention before jumping in to who-knows-how-many digressions is that this is the first time we hear “The Love Theme,” which is Mother 3’s central, thematic song. It may not appear in as many forms, or through as many motifs, as the Pigmask Army’s theme, but it will reappear many times throughout the plot, and each time it kicks your heart right where it hurts.

Another thing I’ll say here, which is probably just some weird interpretation I’ve cooked up, is about tradition and deformity. We know that the Pigmask Army wants to mess with nature, with tradition–to turn animals into chimeras, to augment the land and its inhabitants to make them “cooler.” Because of this, there’s a very literary bone in my body that loves how Flint, a traditional heroic archetype in more ways than one (silent hero, western hero, etc), is the character we experience all of this through. His grief over Hinawa’s death and his breakdown in front of the kids and the town communicates to the player that the idyllic nature of Tazmily is being brought to an abrupt end. This is no country for old men.

The Clint (Flint) Eastwood cowboy isn’t supposed to punch the ground in defeat, to assault innocent citizens in front of his children. The silent hero is supposed to be calm and collected–they aren’t supposed to lash out at others with a flaming stick. But not anymore. Like I said a few posts ago, Tazmily’s going to need more than a tough guy with a stick. The Pigmask Army is a sign that tradition isn’t going to be enough. Tradition’s out the window, folks.

I wish I could say things get better for Flint, but I can’t. Hinawa’s death may be central to Chapter 1, but so many things die, and begin to die, on the Night of the Funeral.

Anyway, let’s start at the start: Bronson’s got good news and bad news. Hinawa’s death is a big deal, but, for some players, it might not be the saddest, or the most emotionally resonant, moment of Mother 3. In fact, I love how, in true Itoi fashion, this heartbreaking moment accompanies an almost awkward humor. Like we’ve noted a few times now, Bronson, and Tazmily at large, has no experience with events or emotions like this. Death? In Tazmily? To Bronson, telling Flint this information probably felt awkward more than anything else. Balancing the death of someone’s wife, with the fact that they’ve just acquired a pretty powerful weapon, probably made perfect sense to Bronson. At least there’s a trade off, right?

I’m also sure that, though the Tazmilians can’t express it, they’re still as shocked as the player. When we see Hinawa’s funeral, we learn just how deeply she connected with all the Tazmilians (all three million of them!). And, just as shocking as Hinawa’s death, I remember feeling shocked that, again, a Gameboy Advance game could pull off such an amazing scene. I remember feeling shocked that NPCs, that Abbot and Ollie, the two most unassuming dweebs in town, got decked by Flint with a flaming stick. Usually in RPGs, the non-playable characters sit around and spit out dialogue. Here, they are truly a part of the drama.

And sometimes I wonder if, for Itoi, Hinawa’s death was just another moment to experiment with drawing the player into the narrative. Not that it’s not about the character drama, but in Itoi’s own words (again from Nintendo Dream):

I wasn’t trying to be strategic about it or anything, but MOTHER 3’s story is what it is. That’s really all that I can say about it. But it’s true that if you give the characters personal names, you’re probably in for a big shock.

I think this is one of the moments where Itoi’s encouragement for players to give personal, recognizable names to the characters really makes sense. For some players, an already emotional scene might be heightened. For others, a scene that wasn’t going to work emotionally might work because of the personal connection. For me, I’ve used my own mother’s name here before, and I can tell you that I felt incredibly uncomfortable. I mean, I didn’t think it was going to affect me, and it didn’t affect me in the way I thought it would, but having to read my own mother’s name really put me into the scene and helped me feel the different emotions that Itoi plays around with. My mother is alive and well, so it wasn’t initially pleasant to read otherwise.

My reaction wasn’t deep sadness, or anything, not an emotional reaction to seeing my mother’s name replace Hinawa’s. I felt uncomfortable because of the strange emotional range I had to occupy. I felt forced to experience the emotional range more intimately because my mother’s name replaced Hinawa’s. I think what I’m getting at here is, this scene isn’t just sad. When Abbot tells Flint to pull it together, when Bronson runs a good news/bad news routine to tell someone about their wife’s death… I think we get an amazing glimpse at who the Tazmilians are, through their innocence, and at who Flint is, through his emotional reaction. Flint, Lucas, and Claus are all irreparably different from everyone else, now.

And, for me anyway, that innocent, awkward side of the scene was never as accessible as when I had to read Bronson say that my mother, or at least someone named after her, wasn’t going to be coming home alive… but hey! We have the Drago Fang!

So I guess what I’m saying is, Bronson’s good news/bad news bit works on a character and setting level–no one in town has any idea how to talk about death, but, because of the mix of awkwardness and genuine tragedy, the player is left to navigate a bizarre, sad, awkward, heartbreaking moment.

I don’t feel like I’m explaining this super well, but maybe I should turn it over to Itoi again. Is the scene sad? Is it bizarre? Is it supposed to feel both heartbreaking and weird?

But no matter how you look at it, it is just a game, and it’s not a true story. So to get this point across, I tried to make it as exaggerated as I possibly could. When Bronson tries to break the news of Hinawa’s death, he says, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” But didn’t you find that to be a rotten thing to say?

I left that feeling of uneasiness in there without cutting back on it at all. To me, that was pretty important. In that scene, everyone is offering their deepest condolences, but if I had let the game continue on with that mood, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to throw those Oxygen Machines into the game later. (laughs)

By my count, Itoi didn’t have Hinawa die in Chapter 1 to produce any cheap sentimentality in the players, even though some (cold hearted!) players may feel that way. Personally, I feel like Itoi is making a double-sided commitment, here. On one hand, he’s communicating that Mother 3 will have moments of real, emotional depth. On the other hand, he doesn’t want Mother 3 to be a long funeral procession. He knows there needs to be smiles along the way, too, even if we’re just cringing at Bronson’s hamfisted handling of not just bad, but the worst news a man can receive. I don’t think the most important thing is that something sad has happened. I think, from here on out, instead of dwelling in sadness, Mother 3 simply commits to a wider emotional range.

I also feel like this is the jumping off point where Mother 3 truly differentiates itself from its predecessors. So far in the story, Mother 3 has mixed humor, mystery, and adventure, which wouldn’t be so different from EarthBound if, at any moment now, we embarked on our quest in earnest and the linearity was only a feature of the first two hours or so. But at this moment, Itoi throws in some tragedy to spice things up, and Hinawa’s death solidifies that Mother 3 is now pretty different from EarthBound. In EarthBound, you’d probably be riding a bicycle in Twoson by now.

I mean, you’re not going to see a man have a mental and emotional breakdown, while his two sons watch, in EarthBound. Which isn’t to say EarthBound doesn’t have its own dark moments. There’s a cult, there’s the Mu Training, there’s the nightmarish final battle, which was itself inspired by a traumatic experience. But in EarthBound, our four chosen heroes never really falter. Paula might get kidnapped, and Poo might briefly leave your ranks, but it’s an adventure, and the only way is forward!

Look out, Abbot! I think he’s ready to swing!

In Mother 3, there’s this feeling of, “What now?”

I can also see how Hinawa’s death could fail to resonate with players. There at least seemed to be a vocal minority of Japanese fans who didn’t like this part of the game, but, like pointed out in the article, there’s no reason to take a couple comments on the internet as an accurate portrayal of the entire fan base. However, comments like this are tough:

Agreed. When I look back it was so cheap and such a lame sob story that I was incredibly disappointed. There might be fans overseas who are excited about it, but I bet they’ll be extremely disappointed once they actually play it. I feel bad for them in a way, actually.

Another commenter says they hate Mother 3 so much that it made them loathe Itoi.

Yikes!

That said, I can see where this opinion might come from. Like I mentioned above, EarthBound also approaches some dark material, but EarthBound often uses satire and absurdity to explore these darker areas, or to bring them into a different light, making observations about the country it parodies or even remarking on its own narrative world. In EarthBound, very few things are dark for the sake of being dark–they also fit in to the story in their own way–spiced with that special brand of strange that only EarthBound can provide.

For fans who connected to EarthBound strongly for its satire, I can see how Hinawa’s death could be a little heavy handed, especially when the screen shows only a glowing Hinawa, front and center, while the Love Theme crescendoes in the background. There’s little room left for interpretation here–we are supposed to be moved by Hinawa’s death. There’s no story being told through gameplay, which can feeling jarring compared to EarthBound, the game that always makes room to play. Every time I enter a new city in EarthBound, I feel like it takes me forever to find my limits. Whenever I begin a new section of Mother 3, I quickly learn what my limits are, and where I cannot go.

Like I said way back in Frog Zero, EarthBound is often saddled with the tags bizarre, zany, meta, and whimsical ,while Mother 3 seems known for its dark and emotional moments. To be honest, I really don’t think these are mutually exclusive ideas in either game. Don’t forget that the tagline for Mother 3 was “Strange, Funny, and Heartbreaking,” though Mother 1’s tagline was, “No crying until the end.” I feel like Mother is always looking for ways to pull on my heartstrings, and, for that reason, I don’t think Hinawa’s death is all that out of place. Maybe those disappointed fans allowed their distaste for Chapter 1 to sour the spectrum of emotion that Mother 3 has to offer.

Or, maybe I’m a big softy. I still get sad when Buzz-Buzz dies in EarthBound, and when EVE explodes in Mother.

Get in there and kick him, Duster! Use a Wall Staple on him!

And I think that’s all I have to say about Hinawa’s death for now. I’ll miss her. Any readers of the blog probably started to catch on when I pointed out nearly every detail about Hinawa that I could. I knew our time with this character would be so short, and I feel like Hinawa is so often associated only with her death scene. Sometimes Hinawa isn’t appreciated for her sense of humor, or even for her bravery. Without Hinawa, Lucas and Claus would probably be dead.

We may see The Night of the Funeral through Flint’s eyes, but both the father and the mother were braver than anyone else tonight. Imagine a version of Mother 3 where you control Hinawa instead of Flint, making your way through the rainy Sunshine Forest while trying to keep your sons alive. It’s even more heartbreaking to know that while Flint and Boney searched for Hinawa and the boys, Hinawa and the boys were doing everything they could to make it back home. Two halves of the same family just didn’t find each other in time.

But man, we really do get pretty much no time with Hinawa. I’ve always assumed she lived a little bit longer in EarthBound 64, just because that game seemed to have more of a slow-burn approach to its plot, but I suppose there’s no way for me to know that for sure. We’ve had so much time with minor characters that Hinawa felt so far away from the plot. We’ve spent more time with Thomas than with Hinawa!

In my ongoing love for Mother 3’s visual design. I also have to stop and appreciate the colors of the scene. For some reason, something that sticks with me more than anything else is the campfire. Sure, I could say something all literary like, “The extinguishing campfire is also Tazmily, and Flint’s, extinguished hope–the light and warmth has gone!” but I mostly just like it as an additional set-piece, something for the characters to interact with, something for Flint to smash in front of his children’s eyes. I love Tessie, kneeling in front of the boys, and in front of the fire, shielding them from Flint, the man who would be protecting them, if somehow the circumstances were different. For me, that is one of the most lasting images of Chapter 1–Tessie, a villager, having to step in and be the guardian against the father.

Maybe my over-analysis, and even over-emphasis, of this scene has an origin. I’ve mentioned my burgeoning career (haha) as a YouTuber when I was 13 years old, and something I’ll never forget is how many times I had to watch this scene. Every time I tried to record it, something would get messed up, like the frame rate dropping, or the emulator outright freezing. I tried different recording codecs, different recording methods, even one time tried to pause the emulation in 30 second increments so that I could record snippets at a time. One particularly problematic portion was when Flint breaks the campfire and starts to swing around the flaming stick. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the breaking of logs disintegrate into buzzing, static fuzz as my emulator slowed down to 10% speed.

I think, at one point, I thought I was in the clear, so without checking the quality of the recording, I saved my game… only to discover that the recording was corrupted, and now I’d have to restart Mother 3 entirely to get back to where I was and properly record the footage.

Luckily, back then, I wasn’t playing Frog by Frog, so I managed to make it back to the point of Hinawa’s death within that same day, and I think I even got the recording to stick that time, but man. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve seen Flint smash that fire to pieces more than any other Mother 3 fan in the world. Though I have to say, I never got tired of seeing Flint knock Abbot down. No hard feelings to Abbot, but it’s just such a satisfying hit!

I know that’s a bit harsh, but still!

And anyway, it should be clear by now that I love the Tazmilians, and just want to do well by them. I want to treat them right and learn all their secrets. In fact, we’ll be looking at the most robust rendition of A Million Tazmilians yet this week! But not yet.

I have enough to talk about this week, so I don’t think I’m going to get into the “Love Theme” just yet, but there are still a few things I want to point out.

I love how Lighter hits Flint to knock him out. Flint saved Lighter’s and Fuel’s lives tonight (not without Thomas!), and, in a way, Lighter saves Flint in this scene. Even if it’s just from hurting other villagers, Lighter saves Flint from himself. I love how, even though Tazmilians might not know how to deal with death, Lighter still knows how to put things to stop, which leads to another sad, but impactful image: Flint face down on the ground, Lucas and Claus looking on, Ollie and Abbott sitting around shocked.

So much with just pixels!

Okay, then the very, very last thing I’ll bring up is, when Flint remembers his last memory of Hinawa, I love how Lucas holds his mother’s hand and pulls her away. I mean, as usual I love a lot in this scene–Flint adjusting his hat, Hinawa blushing, Lucas and Claus jumping up and down, Boney barking–but Lucas and Hinawa really take the cake. Even little Claus marching ahead and leading the way to Alec’s house… rip my heart out, Mother 3! Rip it out and throw it on the ground!

And that’s it. The night is finally over. We can say that Tazmily will never be the same after this, but Tazmily will soon have more to think about. Really, it’s Flint, Lucas, and Claus who will never be the same. And we’re not even finished with Chapter 1 yet. There’s more tragedy to come.

But man! Think of how much we’ve experienced in just one night. Think of how many frogs we’ve met. How many enemies we’ve fought. Was this not the longest, most drawn out night of your life? We’ve been talking about it for over two months!

Well, like I prefaced in the introduction, I think it’s about time for a break. In Part 2 of this post, we’ll talk about the fallout of all this stuff, and much more. Surely the Tazmilians took Flint back to his own house, and to his own bed, right?

He’s had the worst night of his life. This cowboy needs some rest.

(Stay tuned for Part 2!)

6 thoughts on “Frog #11: Night of the Funeral (Part 1)

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