Hello, I’m ZackZeal! A series of questionable life choices and a good deal of luck has led me down the path to being a translator, where I spend 25% of my time translating h-scenes and the remaining 75% complaining about said h-scenes. And in between, I sometimes consume other mediums of JP media.
So when I was approached with the task of translating Jeanne at the Clock Tower, it naturally made me wonder, as I’m sure some of you have, about two things. What is this game about, and why does Japanese media seem to be so focused about Jeanne d’Arc, of all historical figures? Not just Jeanne at the Clock Tower, but lots of other media franchises, big and small alike, have varied depictions of this historical heroine.
As I worked on this game, I came to learn the answer to my first question, and through it gained some possible insights into the second one. So, let’s get that first question out of the way – what is Jeanne at the Clock Tower about?
Well, honestly, it’s kind of a lot. Roland is a French soldier in World War II, who on his way to the Normandy landing finds himself in a strange, fog-filled world called Annwn. He’s rescued by Jeanne, who joins him on a journey to seek his missing friend, his way back home and her own missing memories.
Annwn is a mysterious place that can really only be described as an anomaly in time – different time periods intersect and fold together to form a purgatory that houses countless lost souls. But all the times, people and places Roland and Jeanne visit follow a theme.
The setting goes all sorts of places and has elements of time-space travel, explorations of Christian religion and myth, medieval combat, WW2 elements, etc… But the thread that connects everything in this game is in fact history. And more specifically, the history of Europe.
In a word, Jeanne at the Clock Tower is a story of mythologies.
The many characters and plotlines our protagonists, Jeanne and Roland, meet and experience across their journey in the strange, phantasmagoric world of Annwn all relate to different parts of and the many creation myths of the lands that came to form what we know today as modern Europe. It goes from anywhere between the early formation of Europe across the first millennia and up to Europe’s last major conflict – World War II.
There is nary a character, plot element or name drop that doesn’t directly relate to one or more of these mythologies, so if you’re like me and getting into the nitty-gritty of story references results in nights of reading and several dozen Wikipedia tabs, this game is gonna be something of a buffet for you.
But despite the game’s story spanning over a millennia of history and myth, the crux of the story remains fixed on Jeanne herself. Which is natural, since she’s our central heroine and one of our protagonists, but Jeanne at the Clock Tower treats her as a little more than just that.
As I worked on this game, and went through the many historical turning points in Europe’s history alongside Jeanne and Roland, it made me beg the question. What would Europe look like without Jeanne d’Arc? Certainly, one could say France’s fate would have been vastly different.
And if France’s fate had been different, the fate of other countries down the line would have changed as well – all the way up to Roland’s own identity as a soldier of the Free France Army in World War II. The symbol on Roland’s patch is that of the Cross of Lorraine – a symbol that does harken back to Jeanne D’Arc.
In many ways, Jeanne d’Arc is an historical singularity.
She was a turning point of history that shaped and changed everything. And maybe that’s why the place she came to occupy within history and our society’s collective memory. Jeanne d’Arc existed – we know that almost for fact – but she’s a character shrouded in mystery.
Was she truly a miracle worker? Was she truly sent by God? And if not, how can we explain the fact a teen girl from a poor village could swing the tides of a war? She is a shining historical example of a femme fatale and a tragic heroine, a figure of both religious and historical import.
Of course, as most historical characters go, we can’t know for sure how much is truth and how much was made up after the fact. Her importance as a martyr was certainly immortalized in French history, and she became one of the more recognized historical figure and women we know of. She is a symbol of faith, strength and purity, and as a society we cannot, for the life of us, tear our eyes away from her gallant figure.
So, is this game’s Jeanne worthy of that kind of praise? If you want to find that out, and take a deep dive into the world of history, I highly recommend you check out Jeanne at the Clock Tower. It’s out June 10th!