Bravely Second’s Tomahawk class has reportedly been changed for the North American release, allegedly trading in the character’s traditional Native American clothing for a Cowboy getup instead.
Square Enix and Nintendo have not confirmed anything. All we have to base this report on is a leaked screenshot.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Nintendo and Square Enix have danced around potentially offensive imagery. It’s been a commonplace practice dating all the way back to the Dragon Quest games when crosses were replaced with tridents as the universe’s main religious symbol.
Much has been said in recent years about the portrayal of Native Americans in pop-culture situations, especially with the re-heated debate over the use of the Washington Redskins’s team name. Japan doesn’t have the complicated context of Native American history to understand how this image might upset some people, but Nintendo of America does and simply decided to run with something else.
It’s a fine line between paying homage and being offensive, one which is never set in stone and is different from person to person. I liked the idea of a Native American character in a Final Fantasy-esque game, and I don’t think that traditional Native American garb is offensive by use alone. I also don’t think completely erasing a minority’s presence from a game is the best way to avoid criticism. Microsoft and Killer Instinct certainly had no problem doing it.
If the character was used improperly in the game, that would be an issue. Others might not appreciate the sight of Native American clothing and want to move beyond historical stereotypes, which is also a legitimate complaint.
Either way, Nintendo and Square Enix maybe just decided to scrap the whole issue and go with the Cowboy job class, which still makes sense in the context of the game’s mechanics. In the Japanese version, Tomahawks specialize in rifles and guns, and they provide buffs for allies. Sounds like something a Cowboy could do just as easily.
No official word from Square Enix or Nintendo yet, but given the history, I think this one will wind up true. Bravely Second: End Layer will launch for the Nintendo 3DS in the spring 2016.