Frog #24 (Part 1): ~ Where Everybody Knows Your Name ~

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You know, I don’t typically go into a frog with a theme in mind. I’ll start writing, see where my head’s at, and, if I’m lucky, the post will end up finding its own beginning, middle, and end. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and not every frog is long enough, or short enough, for this to be possible. But I always at least try to make what I can of the material. I ask myself, “Is there a story here?”

I can already tell that today’s frog is going to be full of returning. I’ve been away from this project for about a month, now. More than that, actually. For the past few weeks, I’ve been proofreading and editing Frogs #19 through #23, but I haven’t done any new writing. This is the first truly new writing I’ve done for the Frog by Frog Blog in almost exactly a month.

The main reason for this, as some readers might know through following me on Twitter, is that my grandpa passed away. Now, I don’t want to make this blog too personal, or too meta, but my grandpa was one of the most significant people in my life, and I feel lucky to have had him around for so long. My sense of humor largely came from him, my outlook on life largely came from him, and I’m sure other aspects of my personality that I can’t easily put into words were a result of his influence on me. In short, I loved him, I miss him, and it has been difficult without him, especially to do things like write about Mother 3, which has not felt like a priority.

However, Mother 3 has also been a comforting game to think about during this difficult time. I can’t help but think about Frog #13, where Alec and Flint were dealing with the grief of Hinawa’s death, and Alec was oddly light-hearted about the entire thing. No, I’m not trying to equate a real-life death to the death of Hinawa… but I think I’m having one of those moments where I can sense the power of the Mother series. In their own way, these games are helping me process grief. I love how Mother trusts that the player can handle their own emotional spectrum–from silly to serious, and back again. If there’s anything I would feel capable of writing right now, it’s this blog. Returning to Mother 3 feels like returning to my own little home.

Now, my grandpa barely understood what the internet was, and I’m not sure he would have understood why a video game would be named Mother instead of Space Invaders, but I really do feel a small healing while writing this, right now. No, I don’t want to say something dramatic and untrue like, “Oh yes, I can tell my grandpa is watching me write–proud of me for creating this Frog Blog!!!” But I do want to say that, from what I can tell, Mother 3 talks the talk and walks the walk. This is a game that contends with grief, death, and loss within its first couple hours of gameplay–twice. This is a game that, at times, seems to posit our only tools against grief, death, and loss are humor, play, laughter, kinship. And seeing as I hadn’t experienced a real grief in quite some time as I was first writing about those things, I can now say that I think Mother 3, and Itoi, really does have something to say through this game. The times I have felt the fullest, and the most “myself,” in the absence of my grandpa, were when I was laughing. I can see now, a little better than before, why Alec insisted on joking around with Flint as they traversed the deadly Drago Plateau. Yes, Flint had survived the Night of the Funeral, and he barely scraped by against the Mecha Drago itself, but the cold cowboy’s battle with grief has only just begun.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on this for too long. I just believe that sharing something like this, at least briefly, is also the type of thing that the Mother series is all about. Shigesato Itoi has said that while there will never be a Mother 4, at least from him, he believes that Mother 4 is the lives we are all living now. The people we are, the things we do, and what we share with each other. I think one of Itoi’s wishes as a developer is that the folks who have played Mother live life with its influence on their shoulder. Maybe not every day. Maybe not all the time. But maybe, because we have all experienced these kooky, special games, we’ve all learned how to be a little bit kinder. Or we’ve all at least learned how to laugh a little bit longer, and share ourselves just a little bit more fully. And that’s Mother 4.

But hey, I’m not the only one making a grand return today. Though it may seem to you that Duster has only been in Osohe overnight, he has actually been in Osohe for over a month, with me as the player. And no matter which way you cut it, Duster has been away from Tazmily for what at least feels like a pretty long time. If it was a day, it was a month, I say! Duster’s been fighting tooth, nail, and staple non-stop, and it’s about time this dude kicked off his shoes and had a drink at the Yado Inn.

Of course, you all know what the means: the A Million Tazmilians series will be making its return as well! There are so many people to talk to! So much has happened overnight! And yes, you will find it oddly fitting that, as in conjunction with my introduction, most of the village has grief on its mind. The loss of Hinawa, don’t forget, was still only yesterday in Tazmily time. Or maybe the funeral was yesterday, and the actual loss was two days ago, but still: don’t forget how quickly all of these events happen in succession of one another. We might be 24 frogs in, but Tazmily has barely been through 24 hours.

Isn’t it funny how that works? Life goes so fast, but also so slow. You can fight ghosts all night, for what feels like thirty days, and return home only to find you can’t run away from your problems forever. Hinawa is still dead. Claus is still gone. Flint hasn’t been seen. Lucas is going through much, much more than a boy his age should be expected to handle. And Boney! Even Boney the dog can be heard whimpering louder than before.

Well, what do you say we finally go home? I don’t know about you guys, but I could really use the comfort of friends, of the familiar, right about now. You know what they say: sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

A Million Tazmilians IV: Home Again, Home Again

What is it they say about going home? “You can never go home again?” “Home again, home again, jiggity-jig, went to the market and bought Butch’s pig?” “Home is where the heart is?” Well, whatever they say, it may be true on a metaphorical level, or whatever, but I can tell that by the time Duster lowers the Osohe Drawbridge, finds that it is Morning Already, legally saves at a save frog in the forest, and walks into the Tazmily Square, he feels a lightness in a heart: he’s home!

These aren’t ghosts anymore. These are living, breathing people. Ah, to be back in Tazmily!

What’s the word, ladies?

Where do we want to start? Should we head into Lucas’s house, and see what new tragedy might be taking place there? Or how about straight to Wess, to show him the Noble Spittoon? Boney’s doghouse? Butch’s farm?

Well, I decided that Duster should go to the beach before anything else, for a couple reasons. For one, I recently finished The Lord of the Rings, and, for those who don’t know, Frodo suffers an injury from a cursed blade early in the books; by the end of the saga, Frodo’s injury still hurts, and will likely never heal, though this is just the beginning of the incomplete coalescence of the poor hobbit. In addition to this injury and other physical maladies, Frodo carries trauma from having been a Ringbearer, from having to contend with the deep evil, temptation, and malice of the Ring for the entirety of his journey. Frodo may have begun to forget his trials by the end of the story, but not fully–never fully.

In short, even though Frodo returns to the Shire, his homeland, he can never truly come home again. The Shire isn’t the same for Frodo; he has wounds that will never heal. He had to lose his homeland so that others could keep it. And when the last remnants of war show up even in Hobbiton near the end of the story, Frodo’s only wish is for the conflict to be settled with the least amount of violence as possible. He just can’t stand it anymore. Frodo is never the same, even as he exits the story forever, leaving Middle Earth on an elven ship.

Now, you might be wondering, what does this have to do with going to beach? Isn’t it simple? I want Duster to truly come home before it’s too late! Duster has sustained some serious, ghostly injuries, maybe even things that a Hot Spring can’t fully heal! I want Duster to come home, to sit in the sand, to breathe in that sweet ocean air and forget his troubles. And even though Reggie tells Duster to “Be careful of water,” I’m going to assume that means a danger from a later date, because right now, this thief needs to relax.

Not that I’m trying to downplay Reggie’s clairvoyant penchants; when he said, “First fire, then rain, then children’s smiles,” he was nearly correct. I just can’t let any good old prophesying get in the way of my fun in the sun, you know? Plus, after finishing The Lord of the Rings, I decided to jump in to the Dune series, and if there’s one thing those books have hammered home so far, it’s that you can’t always trust prophecy!

And besides, while Reggie is dishing out actual fortunes, Bateau, bless his heart, is still working out the symbolism of sunflowers.

For those who don’t remember, or for those who haven’t dutifully read every post on this blog, I’ll remind you that Bateau was one of my favorite NPCs from Chapter 1, mostly for the fact that I’d completely forgotten his contributions to the plot. No, Bateau doesn’t add a lot, but I just forgot that he was even there to begin with. Before Flint fights the Caribou, Bateau is nearby; when Hinawa’s closest family and friends gather at her funeral, Bateau is off to the side. This small, relatively insignificant character won my heart over with his comic relief and attempts to grasp symbolism. We last saw him scratching his head at Hinawa’s grave site, wondering what sunflowers symbolize.

However, I’m not trying to make fun of Bateau. As we’ll see today in many folks, the Tazmilians don’t really know what grief is. It confuses them, eludes them, scares them, confounds them. Some of them brush it off–Hinawa could have died yesterday, or one hundred yesterdays ago. Some of them mull it over, like Bateau, who finally concludes that things truly have not been the same since Hinawa died. The town’s sunflower is gone, and the sun itself may as well be, too.

I like the fact that Tazmilians aren’t just processing grief as an emotion; they’re processing it as a concept, too. The fact that someone is gone who will never return. The fact that a truly bad thing can happen to a truly good person. In the case of Dona, who I’m now learning is the wife of Bob and the daughter of Jonel, she misses Hinawa’s advice in the matters of family. Now that Hinawa is gone, Dona feels lost and does not know how to confront these issues.

Now, I suppose Itoi could have had any character say this, that Hinawa helped them out with their family problems, but I’d like to think about this for a second as a deliberate decision for Dona, and how Hinawa’s support in family matters can actually be a cool detail. And again, just notice how, in a way, each and every NPC has a small moment to shine, if you let them. I know I have said this (let me check my notes) 10,000 times, but it’s really something!

Okay, now, here’s what we know about Dona. She’s married to Bob, and she’s Jonel’s daughter. If she has family problems, they probably relate to Bob’s drinking and the associated behavior (we’ll learn in a moment that Bob gets pretty cranky when he’s hungover), and maybe the occasional frustration with the straight-laced, stiff Jonel. The reason I think it’s cool that her and Hinawa would be able to communicate about family stuff is because, sans children, their family lives are somewhat similar. Hinawa also has an elderly father, who we know can be a bit of a screwball, and Hinawa was married to Flint–a great man, yes, but a man with a temper and the propensity to be distant.

Of course, everyone in Tazmily reports Hinawa’s marriage and family life as basically perfect, and for the purposes of Mother 3’s story, we never receive evidence that Flint has been a bad guy or anything. But I could totally see Dona coming to Hinawa for advice about how to handle Bob when he’s drunk and a little belligerent, and Hinawa providing advice for communicating with a difficult or emotionally-closed off man. I could also see Hinawa giving advice for how to deal with a kooky old father who, no matter how much you love him, sometimes oversteps his boundaries. And let’s not forget: Bob and Flint are Tazmily’s two resident cowboys, apparently, so maybe Hinawa knows a thing or two about how to wrangle a ranch hand.

Now, again, I’m never trying to read in to Mother 3 too much, but I don’t think these are absurd conclusions. After all, it’s not Tessie, or Abbey, or Nan, or Linda, or any of the Gossiping Trio who says that Hinawa helped them with family problems. It’s Dona! And in my heart of hearts, I do believe that Hinawa would have been able to advise Dona if she had become frustrated with Bob or Jonel, just as Hinawa herself had to become frustrated with Flint and Alec from time to time. It makes sense to me. And if that’s where Itoi’s head was at, then I think that’s a pretty special detail.

This is also what I meant in Chapter 1 when I said that Hinawa’s death reverberates through the rest of the story. Because yes, in some ways, it can be seen as lazy to kill off a character, then retrospectively talk about how great they were, and how everyone loved them, and how they were just this perfect ray of sunshine (or sunflower). And yet, as time goes on, we do learn more about Hinawa, and why people loved her. And I really like that.

Of course, everyone processes grief differently, and Jonel, like Duster, also decided that the ocean would be the best spot to hang out. I half expected Jonel to tell Duster something like, “You look tired, you should get to bed,” but instead, Jonel stands on the shore and thinks up poems about washing people’s backs. It’s kind of weird, and definitely unexpected, but, of course, I love it!

I think he plagiarized William Carlos Williams.

In Chapter 1, we’re led to believe that Jonel is all business. He insists that you pray before going in to the forest, he’s a bit of a stickler when it comes to his dialogue responses, and he presents himself as a humble, simple, man of a faith, if not a bit rough around the edges. Yet now we see another side of him. A man who stands next to the ocean, positing that the sea will wash our worries away, in the same way he once washed someone’s back. Maybe the aging man is having a poetic moment, maybe he’s having a pervy moment, or maybe it’s a mix of both (the poetic soul and pervy soul do tend to find each other, often, in the mix of things).

Whatever’s going on with Jonel down by the waves, I hope it brings him catharsis in its own way. I’m sure Jonel has said his prayers in Hinawa’s absence. I’m sure he has convinced himself that she is in a better place. But I’m also sure that everyone has to find their own path to healing, and penciling some poems in the sand might be Jonel’s way.

And I won’t forget this, either. Next time Jonel says something lame, or reprimands me for not going to the Forest Sanctuary, I’m going to remember that somewhere underneath that rough exterior, there’s a poet! Except I shouldn’t be too surprised–he walks around wearing a cap with a feather in it! Maybe I was just never giving Jonel a chance. We all deserve a chance to be a poet! And it’s also no surprise that the most spiritual Tazmilian would be the closest to his own ceative heart. Jonel communicates with the divine on the daily, and is there anthing more divine than washing someone else’s back? I mean, writing a poem?

But really, what’s the difference? Writing a poem and washing a back are both exercises in a certain type of attentiveness. And is there a reason that grief rhymes with relief? What do you think, chief?

Speaking of poetry, let’s revisit my favorite Tazmilian image: the Gossiping Women of town square.

Anytime you need a quick update on Tazmilian news, these are the people you want to see. Right off the bat, Jill tells Duster that she hasn’t seen Flint today, so she’s a little worried. And I guess it’s a lose-lose with this, isn’t it? I mean, you either haven’t seen Flint because he has shut himself inside, or you haven’t seen Flint because he’s still somewhere out in the Nowhere Islands’ wilderness, looking for Claus. Both of these offer a desperate perspective on Flint’s mental state right now. Tazmily’s mightiest has fallen.

I know I’ve mentioned this in a Frog before, but one of my favorite, and simplest, devices for world-building is letting characters talk about other characters. Too often in fiction, characters only want to discuss the plot or the immediate conflict at hand, but, if you really want to add an element of realism to your fictional spaces, don’t ignore the fact that, in their own way, everyone loves gossip. Everyone may not be a gossip, but everybody loves it.

For some reason, I feel so enthralled when Jill tells me that she hasn’t seen Flint all day, because it lets me in on a few things. One, even though Flint was our focal character last chapter, now the cold cowboy contains an element of mystery–where is he? And why don’t we get to know? Two, this actually humanizes Jill a little bit. I’m not saying she was evil or anyhting, but she was definitely one of those people calling Lucas a crybaby before we even knew if he was alive or not last chapter. And three, this shows me that the world of Mother 3 is active and live. We don’t get to know everything that is happening to our main characters at all times. Right now, Flint is MIA, and that’s his business.

As for Lisa and Brenda, these two women don’t have as much to offer in the gossip pipeline, at least today. Brenda, though, does reveal something about herself when she says, “So much has happened… Are you having trouble sleeping, too?” Again, one by one, we’re seeing Tazmilians come to life as characters, as humans, as imperfect people with struggles and emotions. In Chapter 1, I wouldn’t have imagined any of the Gossiping Women opening up about sleeping troubles, and I’m sure she’s not the only one.

In moments like this, I try to keep a mental list of the things I know about a character. With Brenda, we also know that she didn’t get too close to Hinawa’s funeral ceremony, because she doesn’t do well around emotional stuff like that. And now we also know Brenda is having trouble sleeping. I’m not saying this is groundbreaking characterization or anything, but, again, I like and appreciate when a character transcends their role in the plot (in Brenda’s case, to spread exposition in town square) and actually becomes a living, pixellated little person.

Hang in there, Brenda. Try to get some shut eye. And no worries about the funeral. Really.

As I said, Lisa isn’t as revealing as Brenda, or as informative as Jill, but I still like her line. “Oh, Duster,” she says. “I haven’t seen you in so long.”

As we all know, the events surrounding Hinawa’s death, and Duster’s heroic appearance with the Wall Staples, were only two days ago–a day and a half ago, really. And now, I understand if Lisa actually hadn’t caught sight of Duster throughout the whole fiasco, but let’s say she did. I feel like Lisa’s line also keys us in to further emotional strife in Tazmily; the last few days have felt much longer, much more intolerable, than anything Lisa has ever known, so it might just feel like she hasn’t seen Duster in a long time.

Or I’m reading in to this one, and Lisa literally hasn’t seen Duster in a while, which is a cool little detail in its own right. Duster must not be seen by day very often, and I doubt Lisa prowls the streets at night. Seeing him out and about might be a rare Tazmily treat.

Next, let’s visit the Tazmilian bakers, Caroline and Angie. As far as I know, Caroline doesn’t have a romantic partner (unless Jill’s hunch is true, and she and Tessie are secret lovers), so maybe if Duster plays his cards right, he can score a date. Although things don’t look great for Duster, because after taking one look at him, Caroline says, “Are you eating properly?”

Fellas, the last thing you want is to walk around looking malnourished! Although, if Duster is trying to fill up before his next Thief Adventure, this is certainly the house to do it. Little Angie has decided she’s going to learn how to make Cabbage-flavored cookies, and I don’t have the heart to tell her that that’s a terrible idea. At least as far as I know.

But hey, maybe somewhere out there, there’s a recipe for delicious cabbage cookies that I know nothing about.

Though the cabbage-favored cookies aren’t the only thing little Angie doesn’t know the truth about. The poor kid says she’s also going to let Hinawa try some of them, as soon as they’re finished baking. And man, if this didn’t just become the saddest house in all of Tazmily (other than Lucas’s), then I’m a monkey’s peddler. I mean, Caroline can handle the Death Talk however she wants with her own daughter. The thing that breaks my heart is that, from Chapter 1 dialogue, we know that Caroline and Hinawa baked together all the time, and that some of Caroline’s recipes are Hinawa’s recipes. We can also assume that Hinawa baked with Angie all the time as well.

And now my heart is breaking even more, because I’m sure Hinawa, though she loved her sons and husband, probably enjoyed the breaks from the Boy’s House every now and again. I’m sure she loved going over to Caroline’s and sharing recipes with her and Angie. Yes, we know Hinawa was able to play with and humor her sons, but I’m also sure she loved the chance to spend time with a little girl. I bet these three gals passed hours together baking, sharing recipes, talking the afternoon away, and teaching little Angie to bake as well. And now, that will never happen again. Maybe Angie called her Aunt Hinawa.

Jeez, Mother 3. Sure, it has its big moments of sadness, but it’s also filled to the brim with little ones like this. And I like how not everything is so heavy handed–this is something we get to piece together ourselves, based on just a few lines of dialogue. Similarly to Dona saying that Hinawa helped her with family problems, we can fill in the blanks and imagine what these relationships were like, and how villagers came together in different ways–how people relied on Hinawa and formed relationships with her.

At least I can confidently say that Angie is now officially one of my favorite NPC designs. I don’t really know what she’s wearing, but I’m a big fan of it.

Of course, not every NPC needs to have something emotional or insightful to say. When Duster visits Paul and Linda, Paul simply remarks that Duster appears to be tired, and Linda says, “Oh, hi, Mr. Thief-Who-Doesn’t-Take-Anything,” which I actually love as a line of dialogue. I feel like everyone in Tazmily both does and doesn’t take Duster seriously. Like yes, they probably assume he has legit training from Wess (and for those out in the forest the other night… well, if you know, you know), but because Tazmily is such a little Utopia, most of the residents also don’t really understand what a thief is, or why someone would be a thief. I mean, I don’t know how purposeful it is, but I think I’m detecting a touch of irony in Linda when she says this, sort of like saying, “Oh, hello Duster–are you still playing around and being a thief?”

I don’t think Linda is making fun of Duster or anything, but we all know that he never actually stole something until last night, so she’s not wrong with the somewhat cordial, somewhat tongue-in-cheek greeting. Duster is the thief who doesn’t take anything, and everyone in Tazmily seems to understand that to the point where they can poke a little fun at him. I like that. I think it’s sweet.

Or who knows, maybe she is making fun of him. In which case, you better watch your back, Linda. Duster has a Scary Mask, and he’s not afraid to use it!

Continuing to make his rounds, Duster then pops in on Abbot and Abbey, Tazmily’s most pictueresque little couple. I guess I was wrong to say that Bob and Flint are Tazmily’s only cowboys–I always forget about Abbot! Though he really puts the boy in cowboy. These two always look so young!

I’ve gotta say, Abbot and Abbey’s house is still my favorite in all of Tazmily, although it probably takes second place to Bateau’s beachside cabin now that I think about it. Really, what is Bateau doing out in that amazing house all by himself? I know his name is boat in French, but it’s not like anyone in Tazmily does any real sailing. How did he end up with such a good gig? Bateau lives in a beautiful cabin where birds come to peacefully roost, like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, while Flint has to toil away as a sheep farmer day in and day out. You call this a Utopia?

I think I’m just jealous of Bateau. Imagine waking up every morning and smelling the ocean, the breeze of the seas, the cry of seagulls… I’m also grumpy because, where I’m from, it’s starting to get cold, and it’s going to be cold for a while. And I hate the cold! I don’t care how fun it is to wear a cool-looking jacket! I can’t stand being cold all the time!

Well, as other Tazmilians are struggling to sleep, Abbey and Abbot are considering what kind of breakfast they’d like today. Will it be omelets? Will it be sunny-side up eggs? These are the difficult decisions that face Tazmily’s sweetest couple! I would appreciate it, though, if no matter what breakfast they have, that Abbot doesn’t preach to Duster about proper sleep! I don’t want anyone telling my main man that it’s bad for him to sleep all day and wake up at night. Duster defeated both the Osohe Ghost Knight and Mr. Passion in the last 24 hours. He can sleep whenever he damn well pleases!

The only real observation I have about Abbot and Abbey is that, to me, they signify two different things about Tazmily. On one hand, they are such a sweet idyll: the young couple with a plant-laden home (Tazmily Poinsettas among the leaves), who are both nice and relatively simple-minded. In this way, they show us Tazmily as an innocent, pure place.

On the other hand, while I’m not saying it’s wrong for people to not dwell in sadness… I think there’s something to be said about the fact that Abbey is pleasantly considering whether or not she wants omelets or sunny-side up eggs. Meanwhile, Flint is gone, and Brenda can’t sleep, and Dona feels lost without Hinawa, and even Bateau, in his lovely beach-side property, still turns over the events of the last couple days in his mind. So, in this way, I think Abbot and Abbey show that, while sweet and nice and picturesque, Tazmily can still be a bit distant when it comes to grief–strangely detached, in a way.

Again, I’m not saying Abbot and Abbey are doing anything wrong by not dwelling in sadness, or anything. No one is required to be sad, and we have no reason to think that Abbot and Abbey should be sad. I just enjoy pulling apart the idea of a “utopia” when thinking about Tazmily. Is a world of perpetual happiness a perfect world? Or do we need the context of sadness, grief, and loss to understand what real happiness is?

While you’re chewing on those ideas, let’s head over to the Pusher residence, where everyone is carrying on as though Tazmilian affairs are business-as-usual. Even though Pusher and Elmore both give Duster a bit of trouble over the fact that it’s such a surprise to see him during the day, I feel like, similar to Linda, it’s all mostly in ironic fun. Maybe these people just really didn’t like Flint or something, because they don’t seem to mind that Duster is around. Elmore even says that Duster looks surprisingly manly these days, which is a compliment that I’m sure Duster intends to take straight to the bank, given the fact that Wess is so hard on him all the time.

But yeah, really, it’s pleasant to see Pusher and Elmore not being totally aloof assholes for once. Maybe we just happened to see the worst of them yesterday and the prior night, when shit was hitting the fan and everyone was going crazy. They seem pretty tame around Duster, and I like that. Again, I think Chapter 2 is proving that the Tazmilians are not one-note characters. If Chapter 1 showed us that everyone gets a chance to be in the spotlight, then Chapter 2 has shown us that there’s still more than meets the eye to these people. And I’m not saying every Tazmilian is a dynamic character or anything (that is, capable of significant change), but I at least think they’re more well-rounded than they seem. Given what we knew about Pusher from Chapter 1, I half expected him to tell Duster to get out of his house immediately, because he’s a thief (or because he smells). Yet here he is, being mostly cordial.

I’m also surprised that Elmore, who seemed to only have shade to throw at Flint, isn’t giving Duster a harder time. Although, I guess saying someone is “surprisingly manly” is a bit of an underhanded diss.

The Pusher Estate doesn’t stop being interesting on the first floor, however. In fact, Pusher’s housing an entire sitcom in here. Sebastian, as in Chapter 1, can be found on the second floor muttering under his breath that there’s so much to do, and Ollie can be found in his room as well. Surprisingly, though, Mapson occupies a room here as well? What is his relation to Pusher?

On a closer look, does anyone else think that Mapson might be Pusher’s brother? They’re both stout, somewhat heavyset fellows. Maybe Mapson can explore maps at such an in-depth level because he’s another leech on Pusher’s assets! What’s going on here? Did Mapson become the map son because Pusher allowed him the freedom to do so?

Well, Mapson’s familial relations aside, I’ve gotta say, the Maker of Maps is once again proving himself to be more than just a cool set of shades. Instead of marking Duster’s house on the map, Mapson urges Duster to do his best, whatever it is he’s doing. In return, Mapson pledges to continue doing his best for everyone in the village.

I feel like Mapson somehow read my blog and decided to change his dialogue in Chapter 2! Every time I talk to this guy, I feel bad for all the aspersions I cast his way in Chapter 1. Mapson marks people’s maps, Mapson makes maps, to help people. When there was a fire in the Sunshine Forest, who was the one making sure Flint knew where to go? And when Duster found himself on a midnight mission, who was the one making sure Duster knew who, and where, Nippolte was? Mapson just wants to help, and I, for one, apologize for being so mean to him at the beginning of this blog.

Mapson’s a good guy. It’s as simple as that.

And, finishing off the Pusher residence, Duster next says hello to Ollie, who’s still nursing quite a bruise from getting hit by Flint. You know, since the night of Hinawa’s death, Ollie has been ever so slightly snooty, taking a subtle moral high ground whenever we talk to him. In today’s case, Ollie asks Duster if he doesn’t think this whole thieving thing is a little sus, and if it’s possible that people (or Ollie) are going to worry about Duster stealing from their homes.

Now, I’m still allowing Ollie some time to say and do whatever he wants, because, again, he was on the front lines when Flint had his breakdown; he was out in the forest looking for Hinawa just as much as anyone else; and he actually suffered an injury for his efforts. That said, I wish Ollie would come out and say what he’s alluding to, here: that maybe it’s him who’s afraid that Duster is more than a Thief-Who-Doesn’t-Steal-Anything. With Ollie, it’s always sly suggestion this, humble suggestion that, faux morality blah blah blah! Spit it out, Ollie! Stand up for yourself!

Oh, I guess I’m just being mean. Maybe Ollie is truly looking out for Duster’s best interests. Maybe my dislike for Mapon has transferred to Ollie. And to be fair, I like Ollie. But how am I supposed to interpret Ollie when even the children of Tazmily are more direct communicators? When you run into Nichol and Richie, they don’t waste any time in telling Duster that the town’s newest visitor, ???, is bad news. They report that ??? has hit his monkey, and that he’s still hiding out in the Yado Inn.

I don’t like the sound of that! Why is it that the children notice what none of the adults seem to be able to? You know, in my head, Lucas and Claus would have been the only kids to be so perceptive, but I think that’s my main character bias. There’s no reason to believe that Nichol and Richie couldn’t also be the stars of Mother 3, as they sneak around and gather intel on ???. Really, anyone in Tazmily could have been unfortunate enough to be out in the Sunshine Forest that night. What if it had been Nichol and Richie’s parents?

Well, even if they aren’t the stars of the game, it’s always nice to check in on the other children of Tazmily. In fact, if you’re wondering why I haven’t featured the town’s Kid Mystic Nana in this section of A Million Tazmilians, it’s because her dialogue was exactly the same as the last time we spoke to her, so there was nothing new to report. Maybe her dialogue will change when Wess joins our party later in the chapter. I’d imagine those two might have some interesting things they could say to one another.

After he’s had enough of chatting with the kids, Duster decides to say hello to a sequence of Tazmilian bros, first stopping in at Bronson’s house. Bronson, who I think has experienced just as much trauma as anyone else these past couple days (don’t forget, he’s the one who found Hinawa’s body), tells Duster that he notices a certain look in his face, positing that Duster is looking for something.

Well, I’d tell Bronson that I’ve already found what I’m looking for, the something shiny, the Noble Spittoon, but he’d probably just want to get involved, and I don’t have a need for a Blacksmith. I love ya, Bronson, but I think you should take a break from the anvil and relax for a little while. There’s no need to worry yourself over thiefly matters.

At this point, I think Duster started to feel a little thirsty, so he decided to head toward the Yado Inn, where the “creepy guy” was staying. Was it thirst, or a penchant for spying, that moved Duster toward that place?

On his way over, he decided to stop into the Bazaar, where good old Thomas could be found working behind the counter. Chipper as always, Thomas told Duster to take whatever he wanted, which is good news, considering ??? has been planting money and thoughts of progress into the heads of at least a couple Tazmilians. I hope I’ll never see a day come when I actually have to buy things from this little shop.

It was good to see Thomas again, but it was even better to see Mike, Tazmily’s handler of dirty cookies. Don’t get me wrong, I think Caroline and Angie are amazing bakers, and I could eat their nut bread and cookies for the rest of my days, but when you’re truly in a pinch, nothing satisfies quite like a slightly dirty, chocolate chip cookie.

Unlike the many Tazmilians who greet Duster with a sly comment or offhanded remark about thievery, Mike is simply happy to see Duster again. He remarks on how grown up Duster looks, as if he’s an old family friend who hasn’t seen Duster for years. And he probably hasn’t! Mike, being an elderly fellow, probably wakes up around the time Duster goes to sleep, and…

All right! I hear you, I hear you. You want to get to the Yado Inn to see how ??? and the others are doing. Trust me, I do too! I just want to make sure every Tazmilian has a chance to say their peace! But yes, onward, to the Yado Inn!

Sorry, Mike! it’s just that there are more pressing things going on right now than you and Thomas hanging out in the Bazaar. But wheesh! This is our longest section we’ve had in a while! I forgot how lengthy these A Million Tazmilian sections can really become. I thought everyone might enjoy a little breather in the Bazaar, but I can sense that you’re eager to continue!

For what, Betsy?

It may seem like a long time ago now, but just last night (i.e., 6 frogs ago) ??? checked in to the Yado Inn. He wooed Betsy with his monkey (that didn’t sound right), and he won over Bob by buying the cowboy a round at the bar. ??? made a significant impression in a short time, but how are things the day after?

Well, it appears that Butch wasn’t the only Tazmilian who ??? hooked up with some cold, hard cash; ??? also gave some to Betsy. Now, Betsy might have been occasionally insensitive or a little shrewd over the course of Mother 3 so far, but she’s definitely nobody’s fool. By which I mean, yeah, the monkey might have won her over, but that monkey could win anyone over. I think ???’s decision to give Betsy the money is more of a longterm strategic move.

Think about it: ??? gave a bunch of money to Butch, the pig and dairy farmer, and now he’s giving a bunch of money to Betsy, the co-owner (or at least wife of the owner) of the Yado Inn. ??? is pumping money into Tazmily’s “industries” so that, overnight, the town can become commercialized. It would have been a much dumber move to, for example, give $50,000 to Bateau, or something, because even if he spends all the money, it’s going to take him much longer to do so. But, giving the money to the Food and Hotel Industries is a quick and easy way to get things going if and when ??? or the Pigmasks establish further capital-based entities.

To be fair, I’m jumping ahead of myself by linking ??? with the Pigmasks. In true Frog by Frog rules, I technically shouldn’t know that information yet, so I won’t go too far with this hypothesis. ??? might also just give money to whoever he encounters–I don’t actually remember. We know there’s at least one guy he’s not giving money to, and that’s good old Bob.

Bob’s in bad shape this morning. Bob’s in a bad mood this morning, too, but I can’t blame him. I’ve been on bourbon binge benders myself, and when they catch up to you, they catch up to you in a bad way. Bob’s method for combatting his terrible hangover seems to be a classic hair of the dog, as he’s now drinking again and saying, “I already know! I don’t need you to tell me! … *hic*”

Now, if I knew that Bob was actually going to limit his drinking to, say, one bourbon, it would make sense to me after such a long night of drinking. Again, I’ve been there. But just like last night (that is, six frogs ago), I think we’re starting to see something a little more sinister take place.

What worries me is that Bob lashes out at Duster–Duster of all people–and says, “I don’t feel like bein’ lectured by you!” So, we know a couple things from this interaction. One, Bob is drinking more than just the hair of the dog, because he’s already hiccuping again and likely well on his way to a one-man darty (daytime party, for the uninitiated). Two, Bob has become protective of his drinking habit, to the point where he’s yelling at Duster, a quiet and unassuming villager, for even approaching him. Three, we can blame ??? all we want for enabling Bob to drink more, but we can also see a flaw in Tazmily too, namely through Jackie: someone needs to cut Bob off.

Look, I know in Frog #18 I pointed out that ??? enabled Bob’s bad habit by hooking him up with more bourbon, and I still think that was a shady, bad thing to do. But ??? is taking advantage of Tazmily’s naivete just as much as he’s taking advantage of people’s individual vices. The bourbon has to come from somewhere, and Jackie–deflated, non-confrontational, Jackie–doesn’t have what it takes to be a bartender who cuts someone off. Bob is such a great target for ???’s scheming because he is easy to exploit, and the place he’s in allows him to be exploited even further. It’s like Hinawa’s death all over again: Tazmilians don’t really know how to deal with complex or difficult emotions, so most villagers choose to ignore them.

Anyway, Bob seems more deeply invested in bourbon than ever, and I can’t help but think of what poor Dona is going to do when he eventually stumbles home drunk! Perhaps it was in times like these that she used to go to Hinawa for help. Maybe Hinawa even directly aided in Bob’s recovery from these long benders. If Tazmily is such a perfect place, why did Bob have a drinking problem anyway? You call this a utopia?

Maybe we’re supposed to see Butch and Bob as two of ???’s first real victims because they’re also the most simple-minded. I’m not saying that these two are dumb, because I think Butch particularly manages a lot on the daily by being the town’s main farmer, and Bob entertains a fascination with stories and local Tazmilian mysteries. That said, Butch was also the guy who wanted to see a “big, foresty fire,” so I don’t think I’m far off the mark by positing that he might be a bit easy to fool. And then there’s Bob who, even if he’s a genius, we wouldn’t know because he’s so drunk all the time. Did ??? pick them, or did they fall into his lap?

I’m not including Betsy with the other two, because she doesn’t seem enamored with her money yet. And if I’m worried about Tazmily’s simple-minded villagers, well, in a way, that’s most of them, so Bob, at least, was probably just an unfortunate casuality who happened to be in ???’s path.

No one tell ??? where Bateau lives!

Meanwhile, Lighter and Company are still hanging out in their temporary home: the room nearest to the bar in the Yado Inn. It’s always good to see Lighter. I think, for the most part, I just love his character design, with the red vest and the huge piece of lumber slung over his shoulder at all times, but I also appreciate him as a character. He’s one of Tazmily’s Dads, and I always get the sense that he’s looking out for everyone. In this case, Lighter senses that there’s something off about ???, the man staying next door.

Bud, on the other hand, is still only concerned with earning Tessie’s love. He asks Duster whether the thief thinks that Tessie might ever want to get married, and the player can answer yes or no. If you answer No, Bud will urge you to gather more information for him, and if you answer Yes, Bud will freak out and ask how you’d even know such a thing about Tessie.

Now, look. I don’t want to be mean. In a way, I think Bud has a lot going for him. He works day and night on a comedy routine with Lou, he works for Lighter, one of the more respectable men in town, and, compared to guys like Bateau who just lay around in their beach-side cottage all day, it seems like Bud actually has stuff going on. All of these things, potentially, make him a desirable candidate to date one of the Tazmily’s lucky ladies.

Bud’s big issue, of course, is that instead of talking to women, he’s holed up in a hotel room and thinking about talking to women… and somewhat obsessing over one woman, at that! Get some fresh air, Bud! Just because Lighter’s house is burned down and you’re technically homeless doesn’t mean you can’t go outside every once in a while. Fuel seems to have left the room, at least.

Bud’s counterpart, Lou, is more calm and collected, as Lou-sual. I actually love this interaction with Lou because, instead of him telling the jokes, he sets up a great visual gag with Lighter. While I can’t really show it on the blog without video technology, Lou says he’s nervous with Lighter around in a room this small, because every time he turns, he swings his lumber and almost hits someone or something. In such close quarters, wood is dangerous!

Jokes like this are the reason I think Mother 3 doesn’t get quite enough credit for its humor, particularly its fourth-wall breaking, in comparison to EarthBound, because this is just as much a joke about Lou’s situation (three men in a small room), as it is about Lighter as a character, as it is about Lighter’s sprite design. Realistically, Lighter would probably set down his lumber eventually, especially when staying in a small room like this. We saw Lighter set his wood down when he cleared the debris in the Sunshine Forest, for example. But, on one level, it’s funny that he just hasn’t done that, and he’s still holding on to his lumber like a security blanket.

On another level, I think the joke is poking fun at Lighter’s sprite design in the first place, and how, when put in a space this small, it’s a surprise he doesn’t knock everybody over any time he changes direction. The Mother 3 development team could have programmed Lighter an “in-door sprite,” but they probably loved Lighter’s sprite design that they didn’t want to change it. As such, I think Lou’s pointing out how funny it is that Lighter’s sprite hasn’t changed, and those around him fear for their own safety.

I like this style of fourth wall breaking because I don’t think it is the joke’s only punch line (again, Lou is also pointing out a funny character trait in Lighter, that he’d still hang on to his lumber), and is instead a more subtle break of the fourth wall, making the player aware of the actual design of Lighter, and Lou, in a way, commenting on that design.

I’m not trying to overcomplicate anything! I just really think that’s a level of the joke.

Well, as you can tell, there’s one character missing from this room: Fuel. I say we go find him! On your way out of the Yado Inn, you can do what Bud is too afraid to do and talk with Tessie, but she won’t have much to say other than welcoming Duster to the Yado Inn. Personally, I would have liked to see Tessie given a better line of dialogue here, as she was one of the standout characters for me in Chapter 1. I mean, I know it’s probably the start of her work day, but…

Why is Tessie the only Tazmilian who seems to have to like, be somewhere for work? I mean, sure, Jackie is always behind the bar, but he owns the inn. People seem to work the Bazaar at random, even though Thomas, I think, is the owner. Why is it that Tessie has to work all day and all night? Couldn’t it be a community effort to keep the Yado going? Why not throw Linda or Dona in here sometimes? Does Tessie even get weekends off?

I’m sure I’ll have more than enough time to ponder Tazmily’s labor distribution at some other time. I mean, I would just say that maybe Tessie likes working at the Yado Inn, but given how frustrated she was with Bob last night, I’d say this place is more of a job than a passion.

Anyway, Fuel isn’t hard to find–he’s just a stone’s throw away from the Yado Inn, hanging out on the road that leads to Lucas’s house. Fuel tells Duster that “Lucas hasn’t left his house since then…” which probably means we’re in for another sad interaction with Lucas. Oh man. I don’t even know if I’m ready for another one. It’s aready sad enough that Fuel, the brave, fun-loving Fuel, doesn’t have anybody to play with anymore, with Claus gone and Lucas, essentially, absent from town in his own way. No one wants to see a kid with no one to play with.

But Lucas’s case is much more dire. Poor Lucas hangs out in his house, alone, with not even Flint around to be there for him. Where is Flint? Staying with Alec? Looking for Claus? Is it really the best idea to leave Lucas at home alone? I mean, yes, the boy always has Boney, but still. He needs his father! This is exactly what Lighter was worried about–that Flint would abandon his boys when they need him the most.

But what is abandonment? Stopping the search for Claus, or leaving Lucas at home during a time of grief? It is a Catch 22 that no father should have to deal with.

A final word on Fuel, for now: I like how Fuel didn’t leave the hotel room to go play, or to round up the other kids for a game of Tazmilian Tennis, or anything like that. Fuel left his room, seemingly, to check on Lucas, his friend. And even if Fuel’s kinship to Lucas is only as a fellow Tazmilian kid, I still think it’s really sweet that he’s standing nearby to remain updated on Lucas’s status. Just like in Chapter 1, Fuel is such a mini adult, assuming responsibility where others fail to notice opportunity.

Fuel’s a good kid! And so is Lucas! But poor, poor Lucas still struggles with the demons of yesterday. He stays inside his house, and when Duster talks to him, all he says is, “Maybe I should’ve gone with Claus…” Oh, Lucas. Lucas! What are we going to do with you? What is there to say? You have been through so much in far too short of a time. You have been through enough to destroy an adult for a lifetime.

I think what breaks my heart about Lucas’s statement is that you can interpret it in a couple ways. On one hand, Lucas is probably blaming himself, still, for Claus’s death, wondering that if he had accompanied his brother, maybe Claus would still be alive. On the other hand, Lucas might be saying that maybe he should’ve gone with Claus so that they could have died, or gone missing, together, and at least his brother wouldn’t have been alone. If he had died with Claus, the pain of everything would have gone away.

I know you might think my second interpretation is needlessly dark, but trust me when I say that Mother 3 isn’t exactly shy when it comes to suicidal ideations. And I’ll leave it at that for now.

Poor Lucas. Poor Lucas!!! Poor, poor Lucas. I wish there was something I could say. I wish there was a Thief Tool built to destroy grief. I’m not exactly sure how old Lucas and Claus are supposed to be at the beginning of Mother 3, but any age is far too young. And even poor Boney hasn’t left his dog house all day! This is just like last night! Tear my heart out, Mother 3! Just tear it out already!

Again, I think what makes me even sadder is how the strife has separated Lucas and Flint. We’ve not seen Flint for this entire chapter, except in a flashback. He’s out there looking for Claus, probably, or resting at Alec’s house. I’m not casting any judgment (yet) on Flint, and I think it absolutely makes sense to continue looking for Claus, just in case he’s out there. I just feel so bad that Lucas has to be left alone during all of this. You’d think his grandpa could at least stay with him!

Also, do you remember when we looked at those internet comments from Japan about Mother 3, and a couple people were annoyed at Mother 3 feeling like a sob story? While I understand where they’re coming from (Mother 3 can be heavyhanded sometimes), I also vastly prefer the characterization of Lucas to the characterization of Ness and Ninten. The other two protagonists are more like canvasses for the player, whereas Lucas is actually a character. We see him go through so much, and we see him change as a result of it. We root for Lucas, and we care about him!

Anyway, we’ll just hold Lucas in our hearts for now. I have a feeling we’ll see him again soon.

Well folks, we are nearly finished talking to all of these Tazmilians. Our next visit is to none other than Duster and Wess’s (somewhat) next-door neighbors, Scamp and Co., who live just south of the Thieves’ Hideout.

First up, there’s Nan, who I’m still convinced may be the secret mother of Nana, who tells Duster that it isn’t healthy to stay out of the sunlight, revealing herself as yet another Tazmilian who won’t just mind her own business. Look, lady: Duster is a beautiful thief prince, and if anyone has a problem with that, they can take it up with me!

But you know what, I’m sure Nan is just trying to help out. We haven’t exactly had many interactions with her yet, but the one that sticks out to me the most is from early in Chapter 1, where Nan concedes that, even though she doesn’t feel like she can really help in the search for Hinawa, she still wants to be a part of it, to do whatever she can. Maybe that’s the same Nan we’re getting here: she doesn’t think Duster is actually going to listen to her advice about Vitamin D, but she’s still going to give it anyway!

Inside the house, Alle and Scamp remain as consistent as ever, with Alle still struggling to fully grasp the machinations of time when she says, “Good day…. Good evening?” and Scamp still contending with the causes and effects of bad vibes, finally positing that, “Maybe something bad will happen to me, too…”

I do think it’s really funny that, whether it was on purpose or not, that the first time we talked to Alle, she was all like, “Claus said he’ll be back in a while! What’s a while?” and now she’s not sure whether to say good day or good evening. That’s just adorable to me. I’m going to award Alle the “Timeliest Tazmilian Toddler” Award, given only to Tazmilians who grapple with the hands of time in a way that makes others smile! Who knows, maybe I just think Alle is so funny because I still have pretty clear memories of being a kid and just not understanding how time worked. I can recall the day after my 3rd or 4th birthday, when I was just a young frog, asking my mom how long it would be until my next birthday, and if I’d have another before Christmas. Kids and Time just don’t get along!

As for poor Scamp, he’s seen time march by with and without him. The poor old feller is still laying in bed, waiting for something bad to happen to the town, happen to him, or happen to both at the same time. In my Mother 3 memory, I can’t remember what actually ends up happening to Scamp, but even if it’s nothing major, I think he’s a really great detail in Tazmily’s ecosystem. And I hate to say he’s just a detail, but what I mean is… Everyone in Tazmily, or most people in Tazmily, are relatively chipper, active, and carefree. Scamp’s health and bedridden state is a good reminder that life still happens here, and natural death is a part of it. People still get sick in Tazmily, and people still die, with or without attacks from Dragos.

And who knows, maybe more was planned with Scamp at some point in Mother 3’s development. Nan, Matt, Alle, and Scamp all feel like they may suffer from the Cut Content Syndrome, and, if I remember correctly, they may have had at least a bit of a stronger connection to Lucas’s family in EarthBound 64. I should probably confirm that before posting this frog, though, shouldn’t I?

Then there’s Matt, who’s hanging at his place on the farm. Matt tells Duster that he, Duster, should be more outgoing and cheerful, which probably seems like an easy task coming from the town drunk. Although, there are rumors floating around that Matt isn’t a drunk at all, but a chronic hiccuper. Imagine that!

I guess I just find it a bit odd that Matt of all people is telling Duster to cheer up. Duster isn’t even all that sad of a guy! He’s a little quiet, and a little weird, but he’s not gloomy.

Whatever–Matt’s poorly tailored advice can wait. There’s only two more Tazmilian to talk to, unless anyone knows where Ed is. Did I just miss him or something? I could’ve sworn I checked every crook and nanny! Though I guess I also didn’t run into Isaac, either, but I assumed he’s still out in the Sunshine Forest in his cabin.

Well, if anyone knows where Ed is, email me or whatever.

Now, back to our penultimate Tazmilian: Biff, Butch’s brother, can be found on the family farm, telling Duster that Butch has been acting weird since yesterday. Now, while yesterday might seem like 2 months ago on Frog by Frog, it’s important to remember that, in Mother 3 time, ??? just gave Butch that $50,000. As we expected, it must have already started to mess with his mind. I mean, we don’t technically know what Biff means by this right off the bat, but I’m sure we can assume that something sus is happening behind closed doors…

Well, as I expected, Butch is starting to go a little crazy out in the pasture. He tells Duster, “You better not tell ANYONE about the money I hid in that well,” which is sad to hear coming from Butch, the same guy who was once a bubble of excited, goofy energy. I’m not saying that money is consistently something capable of corrupting the best people, but I think it’s sad that Butch was introduced as a character who was silly, yet still earnest, and now here he is, pacing around in his pasture and cooking up a mad case of paranoia. It doesn’t have to be like this, Butch! Let’s just throw the money away!

You know, you’ve got to wonder: Butch’s father is Matt, and, hiccup rumors aside, is it possible that Matt, being the town drunk, never paid much attention to Butch’s successes on the family farm? I mean, ??? simply taking notice of Butch’s prized pigs gave Butch such a strong emotional reaction. He probably felt validated for his work in a significant way! And I’m not saying that Itoi thought about these characters to such an extent that positions Matt as some awful, aloof father, but I do wonder what put a target on Butch’s back as ???’s first victim.

Again, it could just be the pigs.

I like ’em best in a blanket!

In a way, I feel bad for Butch. Honestly, after today, I feel bad for a lot of the Tazmilians. Some of them are dealing with emotions they’ve never felt before, while others are oblivious to the fact that anything significant has even happened in the first place. Bob, Betsy, and Butch are beginning to feel the influence of ???, and Lucas stays shut away in his house, wondering if he should have accompanied his brother to a certain death. Everything seems find in the Pusher Estate, and Abbot and Abbey are as innocent as ever, but that doesn’t change the new feeling of uncertainty, slowing spreading through the town.

Like I’ve said before, as much as I love to pull apart and analyze the chaacters of Mother 3, it’s times like these that I appreciate simple, effective characterization. I like how Butch doesn’t give us some huge speech about greed, or money, or what he wants to do with everything ??? gave him. To me, I think Mother 3 says more than enough by the fact that the money seems to be eating away at Butch already. His own brother is already worried about him, and all he can say to Duster is to not tell anyone about it. This is the same bumbling, but helpful, young man who once caught a cold while wanting nothing more than to taste Hinawa’s famous cabbage in the middle of a heavy rain.

Oh, how the times, they have a-changed! Wait, those aren’t the lyrics…

And that brings us to the end of the newest segment of A Million Tazmilians.

Wheesh! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m beat! And truly, I didn’t want to split this post into two parts, but it looks like I’m going to have to. I mean, my plan was to save at the Forest Sanctuary frog after Wess joined my party, so that I could utilize that save point as well before going back into Osohe, but I think, even with that time-frogging, I mean time-saving, option in place, I’m still going to have to split this post up into two pieces. I promise–I really, really didn’t want to do this, but from a pacing standpoint, I think it’s the best idea! Honestly, we might have to write another iteration of A Million Tazmilians when Wess joins the party anyway!

I don’t have much more to add about the Tazmilians apart from what I said above–that I feel bad for them, in a way. However, I will say that I’m actually surprised and impressed by some of the subtle changes and further explorations of characters that exist in Chapter 2. In my head, the Tazmilians were more or less set in stone as characters in Chapter 1, and not much more information could be gleaned from them chapter to chapter. I mean, I remember of course that the Tazmilians do change over the course of the game, but in my head, it only happened at pivotal points: Hinawa’s death, some Chapter 3 stuff, some Chapter 4 stuff, and some late, late game stuff.

But I think Chapter 2, so far, has shown that, even if the change is subtle, many of the townsfolk are really finding their lives beginning to change. Whether directly from the death of Hinawa, or from the strange influence of ???, or simply from a shifting town milieu, people are starting to feel and act different around these parts. And seriously, where the hell is Ed?

Something I talked about way back in Frog #11, which also coincidentally had a part 1 and 2, was whether Hinawa died too early, before we really got to know her. My worry was whether Hinawa’s death was actually effective if everyone only sings her praises after the fact. Like, what if Bob died, only for every Tazmilian to say, “No wait, Bob was the nicest Tazmilian! One time he helped me finish a whole gallon of gin all by himself!”

However, I feel like I can now say that with confidence that Hinawa’s death, which I already thought was handled very well, was even more effective than I thought. I appreciate how characters like Dona and Bateau, two fairly minor characters, are still thinking about Hinawa, mulling everything over, trying to put the pieces together of how to live, and how to understand life, without her. I mean, I might be biased because of my own recent experiences with grief, but those interactions felt true to life, for me. Given Tazmilian innocence, maybe these two characters will process Hinawa’s death in, say, another week or so, but in utopian, Tazmilian time, I’d still say that’s pretty significant!

I guess what I’m saying is, props to Itoi, and props to Tomato and the translation team. I really believed it when these characters were grieving! I believed Dona, missing a valuable friend, and I believed Bateau, stuck on symbolism while trying to figure things out.

Well, before we bring the Noble Spittoon back to Wess and receive a fatherly, thiefly pat on the back for a job well done, why don’t we close out the day with pig-side chat?

As I’ve said before, despite all of my great interactions with the humans of Mother 3, I have, by far, the best conversations with the animals, and this is a point where ??? and I agree: Butch does have amazing pigs! I cold talk to these guys all day! Really, I encourage anyone who plays Mother 3 to talk to as many animals as often as you can. They are seriously the funniest NPCs in the entire game. They can always make me smile.

Probably the stand-out pig of the day, the winner of the Charlotte Award for Outstanding Oinking, goes to the Pig who claims to not know any secret info about “Something-or-Other-Three,” in response to the other pig who claims that hidden among them, there’s a pig with secrets about Mother 3.

What’s hilarious is that this pig plays coy with the Mother 3 info, then launches into a behind-the-scenes story about Mother 2 out of nowhere. SO he’s like, “What did you say? Mother 3? Yeah, that guy’s a nuisance… Mother 2 THOUGH!

The secret info in full reads like this: “During Mother 2’s creation, a tonkatsu shop named Katsuman opened up in Kanda, and it was so great it managed to get in the game. But this time, with Mother 3, the croquette rolls they sell at the Lonlon shop in Kichijoji got all the attention.”

Well, well, well. There was secret info about Mother 3 after all! I knew these pigs were holding on to some spicy bacon.

I mean, come on: is this not the most charming thing you’ve encountered all day? Pigs who break the fourth wall with conversational, informational elegance? Of course, we’ve all heard that Butch’s pigs are some of the best in the business (??? laid down a fat 50k for them), but I didn’t know they were so wise that they could speak about the game they exist within. What have they been feeding these pigs? Beef Jerky?

Anyway, I don’t want to run this bit into the ground–I just really love those pigs! And if you’ve actually made it this far into the post, then thank you so much for sticking with it! This is only Part 1 of Frog #24, so you can click the link below to head to Part 2. I don’t really have an excellent closer for this one, other than that I hope you enjoyed this lengthy frog! I had a lot of fun writing it.

Take care of yourself out there!

One thought on “Frog #24 (Part 1): ~ Where Everybody Knows Your Name ~

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