WHY MARU IS MY 2ND-FAVORITE RPG CHARACTER EVER
Maru is a 13-year-old feral boy who stubbornly believes he is a prince, and he's one of the key characters in Arc the Lad 4. Voiced wonderfully by veteran voice actor Danny Cooksey (Montana Max from Tiny Toons, Bobby Budnick from Salute Your Shorts), Maru has quickly become one of my favorite all-time RPG characters. Normally, I find "little kid" characters in stories to be either annoying or written too much to be like adults, but Maru is remarkably well-observed. He's convincing as both a nonsensical mischief-maker and, much later in the game, Mr. Maturity. He's also a kickass little bastard in battles.
Maru has a scary voodoo mask that he sometimes wears either when he wants to intimidate someone or if he's feeling dejected. As a skilled archer, he wields a huge bow with a spinning weathercock attached to it, and, like all RPG archers, a neverending supply of arrows. He also wears an oversized crown around his neck, which he believes to be absolute proof of his being a prince. (Methinks his pants are a bit bogged down with his item pouches, though, because he's always hitching them up.)
If you think he looks a little weird, don't worry, he does. I suspect this was done on purpose to differentiate him from the other more "western"-style characters in the game, since he comes from a far-away country. For me, Maru was the "saving grace" of Kharg's quest in Arc 4. While Darc's story is more original and entertaining, Kharg's is a bit mundane as far as RPG stories go. But it was Maru's constant goofiness and unpredictability, and his hilarious arguments with Paulette and some other characters that kept making me want to see more. He's responsible for such amusing dialogue like, "Don't think you're special just because you're wearing red shoulder pads", and he has some of the funniest and most ridiculous battle skills. They include the ability to bore enemies to sleep with a long story and to shoot a gargantuan airship out of the sky with a single arrow so that it crashlands on the enemies. But like Bebedora, Maru's story isn't all comedy and nonsense. Trust me, it only gets weirder...
You see, everyone had Maru figured to be just a freaky little kid with an overactive imagination (and not to mention a seemingly insatiable appetite), but there's a really dark secret in his past. Maru has very strong psychic powers; he can see the future. However, these powers caused him to predict terrible images of bloody wars, so he sealed them up inside and never used them again. This, however, did not stop him from getting banished from his home country when he was only about four. If Maru is anything, he's a survivor, and a very strong-spirited one.
The extent of Maru's psychic powers is unknown, considering that he won't use them. But I suspect there may be even more to it than just fortune-telling. Maru is also able to lead his party out of a deadly illusion because he's the only one who doesn't see it - yet another display of an odd power. I am also suspicious that this is part of the reason Bebedora is attracted to him like a moth to a lit torch.
Yes, you heard that right. In one of the strangest and yet most convincing RPG romances I've ever seen, Bebedora and Maru have a "meet cute" at one point where Kharg's and Darc's quests overlap and they hit it off rather well. Remembering that Bebedora can see into people's souls, she is utterly fascinated by Maru's. Because Bebedora looks somewhat human and Maru has no reason to suspect otherwise, he doesn't realize that she is a Deimos when they meet. When he discovers the truth, their relationship and what it means to the hatred between humans and Deimos becomes very crucial to the overall theme and plot. It is also because of this relationship that Bebedora starts wanting more and more to be free of her servitude to the Divine Ruler.
Unfortunately, Arc 4's ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions about Maru and Bebedora, and doesn't even really do much to hint at what will happen to them. Will Maru learn to deal with his psychic powers eventually? Will he and Bebedora use their relationship and their powers to help bring peace between humans and Deimos? None of this is addressed in the ending sequence, which, in all honesty, feels like something someone pulled out of their ass and slapped on at the last possible minute because the game had to get shipped. But in all fairness, I can think of a number of ways the ending could've been a lot worse. And I wouldn't mind it so much if I thought there was going to be a sequel that would address these issues. But unfortunately, I've heard only really abysmal things about Arc the Lad: Generation so far...things so dumbfounding and contradictory to Arc 4's characters and storyline that I don't know how anybody could consider it a canon sequel. (I'd discuss it more, but I just don't want to. If the things I've heard are true, I'd just rather pretend that game doesn't even exist.)
Maru has a weird habit of stomping his feet when he's frustrated. He also leans so far forward when he runs that just a few inches more and he'd be on all fours.
(I may hate Arc the Lad: Generation, but I still like this artwork.)
Maru's theme music is kinda strange. The only place it occurs in the game is during the "meet cute" between him and Bebedora:
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