So, this article is a tad odd, but we found the subject matter pretty fascinating. On January 23, 2022, a Japanese outlet named INSIDE published an article called “The Beauty Looking Back of the Gaming World!? A Look Back on Ys II’s Lilia”.
As the name states, this piece quite literally describes and emphasizes the appeal of Ys II’s primary heroine, Lilia. Actually, this article is part of a series of features where the author dives into similar discussions.
Out of curiosity, our team’s Ryuji decided to translate the relatively brief article, viewable below. It’s certainly an interesting read with intriguing trivia attached:
Welcome to “Our Heroines’ Lines,” a series of articles that dive into the appeal of heroines who appear in various games. In this seventh installment, we will be introducing Lilia from Ys II, released in 1988 on the PC by Nihon Falcom.
As shown in the masterpiece Hishikawa Moronobu*, painted during the Edo period by Hishikawa Shigenobu, Japanese people have always found inexpressible beauty in how a woman turns her head to look back. The term kirika-bijin (literally translated as beauty, looking back) is still used today.
*Commonly known as “Beauty-Looking Back” in English.
The heroine of Ys II, released by Nihon Falcom on the PC in 1988, is Lilia, a young woman who Adol, a young adventurer known as “Adol the Red” in later titles, meets as he collects the six Books of Ys during his adventures on the island of Esteria, which is said to be cursed.
After collecting all of the books, he is transported to the ancient kingdom of Ys high up in the sky, and what awaits him is an encounter with Lilia, a young girl who lives in the village of Lance.
By the time players learn that she has developed [love] feelings for Adol, who has provided her with the ingredients for a cure for a severe illness that has been plaguing her, and that she has followed him on his travels to help him in his adventures, they are already entirely captivated by her.
Lilia’s popularity was immense at the time. In fact, in 1990, a Miss Lilia Contest** was held to select a Miss Lilia image girl, and nearly 2,000 people applied for the contest, which is astonishing, to say the least.
**Yes, that was a contest that existed. According to Wikipedia, it was a project of Falcom Festival ’90 held on March 26, 1990, at the Shinjuku Lumine ACT to find the girl that perfectly represented Lilia. This was the first contest to select an “image girl” for a game character. Apparently, the winner was a 15-year-old girl named Rie Sugimoto.
The second shock was Ys II Eternal’s release on PC in 2000. It is no exaggeration to say that the fantastic and beautiful opening movie created by the same animation director from Your Name and Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai, who was working for Nihon Falcom at the time) had a tremendous impact on all players (new and old) who picked up the game at the time.
Later on, we had Ys II Eternal, which added an element of fun in which you can give gifts to many characters. And if you give Lilia enough gifts and get closer to her, some of the ending scenes will change, which honestly just ends up making you like her even more.
Adol is an adventurer at heart, so when he finishes an adventure, he promptly leaves for the next place, no matter what beautiful girl has feelings for him. But her popularity remains strong.
Lilia has a special BGM named after her (The Vocal from Ys – Lilia (Ys II)), and I think that the BGM that plays out in the village of Lance, with its gentle melody, is also inspired by Lilia. The song’s name is Ys II Complete – Too Full with Love. It is like Lilia’s love for Adol, which she keeps in her heart.
Finally, as a side note, Ys II did get a 4-episode OVA adaptation in 1992. The script was different from that of the original game in that it was composed with unique interpretations and developments, and the story was the best in that Lilia was better depicted as a heroine, and Keith, who is my favorite character, was indescribably cool.
Honestly, I’ve always found Lilia rather endearing and have never been quite sure why. Despite not enjoying most of Ys II, she was a character I simply liked seeing. So, knowing that she was popular in Japan doesn’t surprise me too much. Although, the extent is pretty wild.
Ys X Nordics will launch in Japan for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 in 2023.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.