Happy Monday, everyone!
Amidst Zelda Month and Pokemon Sword and Shield hype, I’m still enamored with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Yet, I’ve been thinking more and more about Byleth’s position in the game.
Byleth in Fire Emblem: Three Houses should have been a student. I honestly believe there still would have been as much potential for the game had Byleth been a student rather than a professor.
When it was announced in the beginning of Three Houses’s life that your main character would be a professor, the idea was intriguing. What wasn’t intriguing was the idea of romancing those who were your students, even if the option of marriage wasn’t a thing until after a time-skip that conveniently ages said students appropriately. The idea of a teacher/student relationship was always off to me, no matter how much I enjoy the characters.
Because, let’s be real, even after the time-skip, the majority of characters still treat your character as their professor. Maybe it’d be a bit more tolerant if the characters treated Byleth as an equal after the time-skip, rather than still calling them, “Professor.”
Being a student within your favorite house would have avoided the teacher-student dynamics. The activities during the Exploration option wouldn’t change at all, and you can still be Rhea’s favorite, for story reasons. During the class and lecture parts, your skills and goals could grow with your classmates’, and you could join the partnered weekly activities for support bonuses. The options of changing the other characters’ goals can stay the same as well — or, if you’d rather go a step further, being able to “persuade” your classmates’ goals can be something you can do only after you have so many support and friendship points.
“But, Kris!” I hear you say. “Who would be the professor of your class?”
Make Jeralt be the professor of your class! I know he’s supposed to be a knight rather than a professor, but having him be the professor of your class may make his death more meaningful whenever it happens. Or, hey, make his death happen during the battle right before the time-skip. At this point in the Fire Emblem franchise, having the main character’s father, or last remaining family, die for the emotional feels is a bit of a cop-out.
Or if we want to keep Jeralt in his regular position, make Seteth be the professor. Obviously the monastery is short-staffed since they made a random, young mercenary the professor of a class — and, yes, I realize there are story reasons for it too — and Rhea can totally say, “Go forth, Seteth, and impart your wisdom to the students.” Considering Seteth is suspicious of Byleth in the first place, maybe he’d want to be in their house to help keep an eye on them, and having Flayn join later could bring some other interesting dynamics into the game.
“Okay, fine,” you may say, “but what about romancing the other teachers after the time-skip? Wouldn’t that be the same problem?”
It would be, if the other teachers were just as important as the student characters. In my first route, the only teacher-like character that was in my army was Seteth, because he was recruited automatically. I more or less forgot about the other teacher and knight characters at that point since I was so focused on the story and the student characters under my care. Considering there are only a handful of teacher and knight characters compared to the plethora of student options, paired endings with them could be out of friendship or the characters could be considered a parental-figure to Byleth.
(Isn’t that what a couple of same-sex options are for male Byleth, anyway? Forgive me, I haven’t played as male Byleth to figure it out.)
Honestly, after the time-skip, not much would have to change if Byleth was a student instead of professor. Byleth would still be a central figure for the war because of story reasons, and can still take charge in the lecture halls. Just take out the “Professor” voice clips, and you’re good.
I don’t believe Byleth needed to be a professor or a figure of authority to the student characters in Three Houses. Being an equal to them, despite — and especially because of — their birth circumstances, would have done just as well in a game that centers around wars that are about morality, revolution, and finding the truth.