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Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light – A Spoiler Free Review

October 24th, 2017 by Raptorchan

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The sweet, emotional moments between a father and son, often coupled with the beautiful music from Final Fantasy XIV, tugs pretty hard at the heartstrings. The series is equal parts heartwarming joy and soul squeezing sad, and can quickly flip flop between the two without warning.

Dad of Light follows the life of Akio, a man who struggles with the distant relationship he shares with his father. When his father suddenly quits his job without explanation, Akio decides to introduce him to Final Fantasy XIV, where he hopes to learn the truth behind his retirement.

Based on a series of online blog posts that ran from April 2014 to April 2016, I had heard only good things about Dad of Light before I sat down to watch it. Going in, I had a feeling the show was going to be an emotional roller coaster ride, however nothing really could have prepared me for just how crazy that roller coaster would be. If you find yourself relating to Akio or his father, Hirotaro, those emotional scenes will definitely be magnified.

The series takes place roughly sometime in 2014; with Akio deciding that he will aid his father anonymously in Final Fantasy XIV – with the idea in mind that his quiet father might speak openly about his retirement to an unknown face – and plans to only reveal himself after the defeat of Twintania, who was the hardest boss in the game at the time. However, Akio quickly realizes that it is going to be a long while before Hirotaro is anywhere near ready to fight Twintania, and must face the hilarious challenge of keeping his identity a secret until then.

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Most of the show is from Akio’s perspective as he watches his father progress in XIV, with sprinkles of inner monologue to help push the story forward. In each episode, we get to witness three aspects of Akio’s life: His childhood, present day and in-game. Each episode comes with lessons and experiences of his childhood days with his father being reflected and repeated in the present both in real life and in-game, helping Akio understand his father little by little.

Akio is a protagonist that is easy to relate to: He attends a job during the day, then upon returning home, he immediately sits down to play video games. He is somewhat quiet and a little shy, which gets him roped into ridiculous, but silly, situations at work that he manages to solve by helping his father in Final Fantasy XIV. Most of his character develops on screen, as it is his growth as a person that inevitably pulls him closer to his father.

Hirotaro is the perfect, shining example of what happens when you introduce someone to an MMO when they have no prior experience with the genre. Hirotaro’s growing love for the realm of Eorzea was extremely fun, and at times silly, to watch, and it was amazing to witness a show flawlessly capture the trials and tribulations of a newbie in a vast online world, especially when Akio forgets to explain how the game works.

While we get to see most of the series through Akio’s eyes, with very small glimpses into Hirotaro’s life for storytelling purposes, the show has no trouble showcasing other characters in the limelight. From Akio’s perspective we are introduced to his mother, coworkers and Free Company mates, all of which are granted a time, however brief, to let certain aspects of their personalities shine; giving the audience some idea about the characters without diving too deeply into their histories or drawing away from the main story.

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The show balances live action and in-game footage quite well, with the transitions between the two being entirely seamless. The game portion of the show felt like a Machinima, meaning video game characters are brought to life through voice acting and in-game emotes. This form of cinematography makes Akio and Hirotaro’s adventures in Eorzea easy to follow and adds a bit of action and adventure to the drama. Something else I was also very delighted to see the usage of transformation macros, which is the ability to change your character’s outfits through a series of attacks and emotes by the press of a button. This was something that was started by the FFXIV community and it was cute to see it recognized in such a way.

Of course, players of FFXIV will notice immediately that a lot of the boss battles in the show don’t exactly happen as they do in the actual game. Which is easy to understand, it would be otherwise boring for an average viewer to watch a Full-Party dodge Area of Effects without dramatic camera angles and Limit Breaks.

While a majority of the series involves Final Fantasy XIV in some way; knowledge of the game is not absolutely required to watch Dad of Light. Akio and his Free Company do well when it comes to explaining how the game mostly functions, making the show simple enough for non-FFXIV players to digest and understand. However, players of FFXIV will find plenty of nods to the game, with music queues and other small references that would be easy to miss for non-players.

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With the characters written to be so lively and the story being an emotional roller coaster ride, it’s hard to think there could be anything wrong with Dad of Light. However, there are some relatively small disappointments to be had all the same. For those of you expecting a long series to binge watch, you may be a little disappointed to find out that Dad of Light only runs 8 episodes total, with only 7 of the episodes progressing the main story. The 8th episode is split into two parts, with the first half being a recap of the first 7 episodes, and the second half involving a new story with a side character. Though the second half of episode 8 was also based on a true story, and was cute in its own right, I had found myself a little sad when Dad of Light ended an episode sooner than I was expecting.

Another issue I had ran into was less about the show and more the technical side of things. The subtitles provided on Netflix ran a little fast on my end, faster than most subbed shows, and sometimes the subtitles wouldn’t even load until the last second before a new sentence was spoken, which resulted in me having to rewatch a scene a couple of times to read what was said. So for those who may want to get into the series and have little experience watching a show entirely with subtitles, it can prove to be a bit challenging if not overwhelming to keep up with, especially when subtitles disappear on you randomly.

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Overall, this series was surprisingly enjoyable. It was heartwarming and, at times, it even felt a little nostalgic. The story flow was good, the characters were fun, it wasn’t overwhelmingly sad or overly happy. It was just the perfect balance of everything needed for a good, short drama. So if you are a fan of Final Fantasy XIV, or just a fan of dramas in general, and are looking for a new series to watch (and probably cry over), then you should most definitely check out Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light.

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