Final Fantasy XV’s Prompto Has a Fat-Shaming, Depressing Back Story
Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV is an anime series which serves as a prequel to the upcoming JRPG sequel. Developed by A-1 Pictures and produced by Square Enix, the series sheds some light upon Final Fantasy XV‘s central characters, offering some back story before the game’s release in late September. However, when delving into the childhood of FFXV‘s Prompto Argentum, Brotherhood‘s second episode focuses upon a damaging sub-plot in which he decides to lose weight in order to convince one of his peers to befriend him, with its writers handling this subject matter as tactlessly as possible.
The second episode of Brotherhood focuses upon a young Prompto, a childhood friend of protagonist Noctis who, unlike the other prominent characters in the game, was raised in a family of a lower social standing. During the second episode unfavorable parallels are drawn between an overweight, lonely Prompto and a despondent but otherwise popular Noctis, who garners a great deal of positive attention from the opposite sex by virtue of his royal namesake.
Despite being classmates the pair have little else in common, until Prompto discovers an injured puppy limping outside his home on his way back from school. Prompto helps heal the wounded puppy, bandaging its leg and providing it with shelter, until the puppy ups and leaves in the middle of the night. It turns out that the puppy actually belonged to Luna, a princess of the royal family of Tenebrae and Noctis’ future fiancee, who learns that Prompto took care of her dog after discovering the young boy’s name scrawled on the bandage he had attached to its leg. Luna sends Prompto a note expressing her gratitude, explaining that the puppy had been sent to Noctis for a short period of time in order to keep him company. Prompto believes that this message is an indication that Luna wants him to befriend the crown prince.
This is where the story takes a downwards turn, when it is revealed that Prompto’s determination to become pals with Noctis is stifled by his own poor opinion of himself, which is solely as a result of his weight. Prompto believes that him being fat will cause Noctis not to deem him worthy of friendship, so immediately sets about “improving” himself by aiming to lose weight. He keeps a photographic record of his progress, goes running every day, starts eating healthier and, eventually, his newly skinny self is able to finally pluck up the courage to talk to the prince. And then the episode ends, Prompto having now started his friendship with Noctis, therefore validating his belief that his level of worth is solely determined by his physical appearance.
Despite Prompto’s own belief that Noctis wouldn’t accept him as a friend if he remained overweight, there is no indication this would be the case. The catalyst for Prompto deciding to embark upon a new fitness regime is one line of dialogue, in which Noctis attempts to lift Prompto onto his feet after he has fallen over, which leads to the prince exclaiming: “You’re heavy!” From there, Prompto begins his new diet and exercise routine, refusing to speak to Noctis again until he becomes slim.
Though there would be no harm in Prompto’s attempts to improve his lifestyle if he had done so out of a desire to become healthier for his own personal benefit, that his decision is rooted in a belief that he could not possibly become friends with Noctis if he remained overweight is a damaging notion for Brotherhood to perpetuate. By the end of the episode I had assumed that it would acknowledge that Prompto needn’t seek validation from his peers by way of altering his physical appearance, but that was not the case. Instead, a newly slender Prompto confronts Noctis, the pair get along swimmingly and then the story moves back to the present day, where it is made clear that both have remained friends since this jovial exchange.
The message that Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV sends out is that if you’re overweight, your value as a person isn’t as high as those who aren’t. After enjoying the first episode of the series quite a bit, Prompto’s story has left a sour taste in my mouth, and I hope that the game does a better job with the handling of its otherwise interesting roster of characters.