Miranda — Similarity

“Do you know why roses have thorns? It is to bring out their own red using the blood of the people they hurt.”

Miranda isn’t introduced until Disc 3: She is the final character to join the party, replacing Shana as the holder of the White-Silver Dragoon Spirit when Shana collapses and is rejected by the Dragoon Spirit.

As the First Sacred Sister of the nation of Mille Seseau, she serves directly under Queen Theresa. Capable and aggressive, she’s used to commanding those around her and doesn’t hold back her opinions, going as far as punching her soldiers when they’re unreasonable or incompetent. It is no surprise, then, that she’s not as impressed by the party when they first meet (“What confidence you have.”) even as she learns that they’re the Dragoons of legends.

Open Disapproval

Miranda is the only party member to openly clash with Rose; everyone else either has too much respect for Rose or is intimidated by her taciturnity and secrecy. The first confrontation occurs after Shana’s mysterious power protects the queen during the assault of Deningrad, causing Shana to faint once more. When she wakes up at the town inn, everyone expresses concern for her and tells her they’ll soon be back from their next mission. When Miranda and Rose enter the room together, Miranda immediately walks up to Shana’s bed and asks her whether she’s alright. Rose, however, leans against a table and brusquely says: “I cannot believe your timing.” Note that by this point (past Disc 2), Rose and Shana are on good terms and Rose has become perceptibly more relaxed around the party. Miranda, who hasn’t been with the group long enough to take note of that development, takes Rose’s words the wrong way:

Miranda: That is no way to talk to a friend!
Rose: I haven’t seen your power as a Dragoon, have I?
Miranda: Are you saying you don’t trust me!?
Shana: Please stop. Miranda is fine. She can do better than me.
Rose: I hope so.
Rose leaves the room.
Miranda: Is she like that all the time?
Shana: Actually Rose is concerned about me.
Miranda: What a clumsy woman.

Several things are interesting about this argument aside from Miranda not shying away from calling Rose out:

  1. While Rose stays outwardly calm throughout, Miranda’s rage at the insinuation that she’s not worthy as a Dragoon shows in her entire body.
  2. Both of them are evidently fond of Shana, though they show their affection differently.
  3. Both Shana and Miranda have a good read on Rose by the end of the incident.

I’ll get back to these points below. The second argument occurs on Disc 4 after the party has lost Shana, witnessed the beginning of the end and found out that Rose is the Black Monster, a being that is particularly strongly featured in Mille Seseau’s myths (compared to the two previously visited nations, that is — most likely because its last victim was Dart’s Village, Neet, which falls into Mille Seseau’s territory). The party has decided to head for the city of Winglies for information as to how to proceed.

Miranda: What will the Winglies in Ulara know?
Rose: They should know the way we, or at least “I”, should take. So, there is no need for you to come.
Miranda: Are you still saying that? Don’t you understand it is no longer a problem for you alone!?
Rose: You just found it out a couple of days ago and now you think you can judge me? It is not as easy as pursuing one Wingly.
Miranda slaps Rose.
Miranda: You, you say it was “easy”!? Don’t be so conceited!
Disc 4: Oasis within Death Frontier

Miranda isn’t judging Rose for doing what she did as the Black Monster. What she takes issue with is Rose’s mentality that disregards and shuts out the comrades she has found along the way. I don’t think Rose quite catches that, which is why she — in a manner reminiscent of their first clash — shuts Miranda down with condescension. (Reactions to this slap have always been very mixed, understandably so, considering Rose’s perspective that colours so much of the game’s second half, and Miranda being a newcomer. For my own reactions, see: a slap as a connecting moment of humanity.)

Driving Force

The thing is, when people look at the relationship between these two women and focus too much on their apparent and mutual animosity (as well as the way it is resolved later on), they miss out on a far more interesting discussion: the similarities they share — and there are plenty! — and the way those create friction, as both women have very strong egos and can be very harsh, though their similarities stem from different places.

Firstly, Miranda is introduced shortly after Rose has, as the party put it, “calmed down”; starting from the end of Disc 2, Rose isn’t as impatient as she was before. Now, Miranda is the impatient one who drives the group:

  • She makes her way into the group even before she has been acknowledged by a Dragoon Spirit, as a self-reliant, prideful and dutiful guard of the queen: “The problems are too big to leave just to you. Besides, I want to see how far you Dragoons can go.”
  • She keeps telling them to hurry up: “Now, we are heading to the Forest of Winglies! No time for procrastination!”, “What timing. Let’s go look for her [Shana]. We have no time to waste.”, “Hurry up, we are moving on!”
  • She reminds them of the immediate task, all the while not divulging more information than necessary: “It’s not your business. Just focus on how you can bring the staff back now.”, “What are you yapping about!? We can kill this man anytime!! We have to defeat the Divine Dragon first!!”

All of this is heavily reminiscent of Rose’s previous behaviour. Amusingly, Miranda doesn’t have much patience for Meru either:

Rose: The sound of swords… No, has somebody already started to fight against it!? Let’s go. Either way, we will have to join in.
They approach the source of the noise.
Rose: You can go back now.
Dart: There is nobody who would think that way.
Meru: Um. May I excuse myself for a bit?
Haschel: You are the representative of the Winglies! Come on!
Miranda: Are you going back to your forest to hide?
Meru: I, I was just kidding!! When I do it I can do it!!
Disc 3: Mountain of Mortal Dragon

Secondly, both women show extreme loyalty and devotion to someone or something: Rose to her former comrades and her mission that protects the world they fought for, Miranda to her queen, her fellow Sisters and any task that she is entrusted with for the sake of her country. Rose rarely loses her composure, but the times she is at a loss emotionally, it’s about her comrades in some way or another. (Zieg is a given, but this also includes Dart and Shirley, apparent especially the second encounter with Shirley.) The same applies to Miranda who, though prone to angry outbursts, is beside herself in her worry for her queen, and who breaks down in tears at the sight of her queen’s safety. I think it is in such situations that the two of them most clearly show what they most value.

Thirdly, and this is closely connected to my previous two points, they both cling so fiercely to the things that are important to them and are so driven that they constantly need to be doing something — without regard to what it does to themselves, especially on a mental level. Just as Rose has to come to the realization that she needs to “calm down” and that she deserves to have relaxing moments without constantly rushing herself to death, Miranda eventually faces a similar ordeal during Savan’s test in Aglis. As a parallel to Rose’s lack of trials (once during the encounter with Shirley, once during the Savan sequence), the creature that tries Miranda first asks why she’s part of the quest in the first place — only to realize that it shouldn’t have asked, because Miranda’s determination, just like Rose’s, is unwavering and true; regardless what answer you give (“to help my friends”, “for the world”, “for Queen Theresa”), it is right. Instead, the creature changes course and starts a simulation to tell her she’s done enough and that she has died. Miranda loses her temper and is given the choice between two answers: “I am ready for death anytime! I don’t fear death!” and “I cannot die now. I haven’t done anything yet! I cannot die if terror remains in the world!” The first is the wrong answer, whereas I think the second one is very close to Rose’s persevering determination.

A Soft Spot for Shana

Perhaps surprisingly, both women feel very fond of Shana, even though they show affection differently, and I think that both go out of their way (that is to say, contrary to their expected personality, which comes across as very cold and serious at first) to really grasp Shana as a person, more so than any other member in the party. Rose actively reaches out to Shana starting from the end of Disc 2 so as to make her feel at ease, and draws Dart’s attention to Shana’s sincerity and devotion several times, whereas Miranda takes Shana seriously and earnestly listens out her plea to “take care of the rest” once the White-Silver Dragoon Spirit has been passed on.

Did you forget? I am one of the Dragoons, the same as you. I have no intention to withdraw from this battle. Besides, Shana told me. “Please take care of the rest.” I intend to keep that promise.
Miranda, Disc 3: Crystal Palace at Deningrad

Both Rose as well as Miranda, I think, can relate to Shana in some way. When Rose looks at Shana, she feels reminded of the way she used to be, before the last 11,000 years happened. When Miranda looks at Shana (even if the game never explicitly explores this), I assume she can relate to that feeling of wanting and needing to be needed, desperately so. Miranda was abandoned by her mother as a child, always having been made to feel ignored and not worthy of trust before. Her mother regretted her marriage and ran off with a lover, leaving Miranda with an alcoholic father who hardly worked while spending all of the earned money on more drinks. Eventually, he died, and Miranda was on her own. Miranda was dumped for the hope of a better life elsewhere, and though she might have grown past years of loneliness after meeting Queen Theresa, who took her in, she never was able to forgive her mother.

Chained by the Past

For the most part of the game, some party members live primarily for the present, while some are constantly looking at the future. Rose and Miranda, however, are tightly anchored to their pasts. Their pasts are what make them so similar and so different to each other.

Following the trains of thought above, the similarities are apparent, even if some of this is my own interpretation:

  1. Both women were abandoned by circumstances out of their control, yet both women may have partly blamed themselves for what transpired: Rose for not having been able to save her comrades, Miranda for failing to be someone worthy of taking along. Following that, both have suffered loneliness.
  2. Both women grew emotionally guarded and harsh as a result of their past, even if not over the same amount of time, perhaps so as to remain strong in the face of loneliness.
  3. Both women elevated their missions to the sole thing they live for.

Not as obvious are the differences beneath those similarities, which are the reason they don’t get along at first. Where Rose’s determination comes from an interplay of responsibility, guilt and resignation (aside from the aforementioned loyalty), Miranda’s is motivated by anger and the need to act (hence the hasty and short-tempered personality). Rose’s mission is both a choice and a duty because it’s been the only way to save the world — Miranda’s missions and her continuous need to prove herself are mostly self-imposed.

To me, it would seem that Miranda is still struggling with self-worth as a result of abandonment, so when Rose keeps insisting that she’ll see things through on her own with no need for help, that could very well spike Miranda’s fear to be abandoned again, especially now that she has a new mission to fully devote herself to for the sake of her country and her queen. In both arguments, I think Rose’s words offend Miranda on a personal level due to the implication that she is not needed and that she is not good enough.

I entered the palace in order to preach love, and to build a world where everybody can live happily, but my heart was filled with sorrow and hatred. And without knowing, I was absorbed in fighting in order to ease my loneliness.
Miranda, Disc 4: The Moon That Never Sets

There’s one more quite obvious reason that Rose might remind Miranda of her mother: Miranda heavily associates roses, the flowers, with the memory of that distant mother figure. Roses are prominently featured during Disc 4, and Miranda reacts strongly to them, remembering that they were always in the background whenever her mother beat her up without offering any explanation.

Don’t misread me. Roses make me puke. They are just flashy. They don’t have any kindness in them. Do you know why roses have thorns? It is to bring out their own red using the blood of the people they hurt. They’ll do anything for their own happiness. Let’s move on. I don’t need to be here.
Miranda, Disc 4: Spring Breath Town Ulara

Given that, I don’t think that the developers naming Rose after that very flower is a coincidence.

Mutual Approach

In the end though, I think it’s very beautiful how both initially harsh women, though not close with any of the party’s members at first, gradually become comfortable with the group — and with each other. Before the group leaves Ulara on a final journey to stop the end of the world, Rose and Miranda sit down to have a drink together, though their actual conversation is not shown:

Dart: Oh, you guys are here.
Miranda: When are we leaving? Haschel has been drinking too much since he heard we are going to Rouge.
Haschel: That’s right! Drink a little more, and let’s leave for Rouge at once! Of course to save the world!
Dart: Gimme a drink too.
Rose: May I join? I wanted to talk to you Miranda.
Miranda: Same here.
Disc 4: Spring Breath Town Ulara

Later on, it appears as though all animosity has been brushed aside as they understand each other better, and Miranda, like the rest of the group, looks to Rose for guidance while providing support.