A More Spoilery Narrative Review – Bayonetta 3

I figured it would take me a hot minute to get to this. I do apologize to all five of this blog’s readers. But here we are, having absorbed enough and processed enough of Bayonetta 3’s narrative to offer some thoughts on it.

Firstly, none of the characters that you see in this game are the same ones as the first two outside of Rodin.

Luka suddenly has some sort of werewolf like ability? No need to explain why that is. It’s just a different Luka from a different universe! Same thing with Bayonetta apparently being so into him (and not Jeanne)! None of these characters are the same, so now we can completely toss aside character development and get right to what we want to do!

This is why I tend to not be a fan of “multiverses.” It strikes me as more of a narrative cop-out than anything else, even when done well, a way to dodge lore you already established rather than anything that particularly adds to said lore, and it is definitely being used as a cop-out to give Kamiya the characters he wants to work with rather than the ones that had developed over the prior two games.

Which is a bit unfortunate, because in this case, it’s a rare situation where a multiverse actually can somewhat make sense narratively. Bayonetta’s setting is the same “Dante’s Divine Comedy injected with a little bit of Norse mythology” in which these sort of shenanigans actually could work, and to an extent it does. Singularity is an interesting foe, and the decision to make the major threat something not angelic or demonic was a nice twist.

It’s just blunted by what seems the real reason Kamiya and his team went in this direction.

Which dovetails into one of the big controversies of this game; Bayonetta (or at least one of her iterations) deciding to shack up with Luka at some undetermined point before the game.

After the first two games, I always felt that your opinion of Bayonetta sexuality said more about you than it did Bayonetta. The character quite happily flirted and teased damn near anything with two legs and a sentience, and carried very little seriousness towards any of them. Even her flirting with Jeanne came across to me as more playful than serious. They had a far stronger emotional investment than a physical one, in my opinion.

But that’s my point; I’m a largely asexual flirt, and so I saw those same traits in Bayonetta… largely because the entire series never particularly hammers any of that down, and I’d argue actively avoids doing so.

If you wanted Bayonetta to be a flamboyant lesbian, you certainly had evidence to support that interpretation. If you wanted her to be a girl who talked a big game, but actually had little opportunity for actual relationships, and thus had no real idea what to do about her interest in Jeanne or Luka or anyone, that had quite a bit of evidence to work with too.

It’s actually the same here in Bayonetta 3. Despite her affections towards Luka to the point of actively having a daughter, she’s still the same flirt with a strong emotional attachment to her Umbran sister. The significant difference in this case is that we now have very overt evidence she actually knocked boots with Luka in a way we don’t explicitly have with anyone else.

And brings us to the final point I want to address; Bayonetta’s daughter Viola taking on the mantle at the end of this game, presumably to become the heroine of future installments. Now, I don’t have any particular problem with Viola as a character; really the only thing I found bothersome about her was how mechanically different she plays and how that can be jarring for someone who already has significant muscle memory for the dodge mechanics rather than parrying.

Viola’s punk rock motif can carry just as much “girl power” as Bayonetta’s big band swing style, so I’m not particularly worried that she’d necessarily betray or lose any of that if she were to become the main character in the future. But I’m also not the slightest bit convinced that the mother is actually out of the picture. In a world where death has already been proven to be more inconvenience than anything else, I don’t buy for a second that Bayonetta and Jeanne are inherently buried deep in Inferno forever.

(I will admit I want to see Viola get more screen time, if for no reason that to confirm my theory that Cheshire is Viola’s father either turned into a demon, or some manner of construct derived from that particular version of Luka.)

Anyway, there ya have it. Bayonetta 3, simultaneously a big deal in regards to the characters and narrative… and also, not nearly as much as you might want it to be.


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