As if to drive home the need for a companion, Dan is now left completely alone on his quest thanks to Harry’s departure. This next part of the game features Dan coming in contact with his childhood sabrecat pet Leo, but this part of the game is, quite frankly, dull to me, despite the themes of friendship and family, since Leo is has been dutifully searching for Dan and joins his team only once he is shown Bianca’s ribbon.
Leo recruited, the real meat of the story begins when the hero hears of a potential location for the Zenithian Shield, the city of Mostroferrato, which is far less intimidating than it sounds. Mostroferrato is home to the Briscoletti family whose patriarch, Rodrigo, is supposedly searching for a suitor for his daughter Nera. The good news: Rodrigo owns the Zenithian Shield. The bad news: he will only give it to the man deemed worthy enough to pass his trials and marry his daughter. Rodrigo’s two trials are fairly standard RPG fare; namely, Dan must retrieve the Circle of Fire and the Circle of Water to serve as the rings for the wedding.
Between this point in the game and the part of the questline involving the Circle of Water, Dan comes into contact with three important women. If you hadn’t guessed, these are his prospective wives. The first is Nera, one of Rodrigo’s daughters and a serene, beautiful girl. She is clearly a catch, but there’s one slight caveat. A man in Mostroferrato, Crispin, is clearly in love with Nera and he is Dan’s prime competitor in this event. I can’t exactly remember, but I think that Nera may even have feeling for Crispin as well. This isn’t an ideal situation.
Dan’s second choice comes in the chance reunion with Bianca en route to collecting the Circle of Water. She joins up with Dan to fetch the ring and she’s clearly in love with Dan. Unlike Nera, she is far less sophisticated with a common lineage, almost no money, and the localization team chose to give her a bit of an accent to further hammer home her “peasant” status, at least compared to Nera. I like to think that the game subtly nudges the player toward marrying Bianca. The box art features Bianca along with blonde children (Nera has black hair) and Bianca is unsubtly head over heels with Dan. Combined with the preexisting competition for Nera, I bet Yuji Horii assumed that most players would choose Bianca on their first playthrough especially due to his narrative nudging encouraging that choice.
The final choice for Dan is actually a DS-remake exclusive. Debora is Nera’s sister and, thus, another Briscoletti daughter. She is rude, domineering, heartless, and an all around terror to be around. In an interview for the DS remake, Yuji Horii described Debora as a girl “nobody in their right mind would pick!” Naturally, Dan chose to marry Debora when the time to choose between the three women was upon him. I realized that this would cause my experience to be subtly different from the most common SNES or PS2 experiences back in the day, but I just couldn’t help doing what I was clearly not supposed to do.
Yuji Horii has been known to say that Dragon Quest V is his favorite of the series. I think this is a function of just how affecting the story he chose to tell really is for the player. I’m not exaggerating when I say that turning down Bianca, watching her take the rejection with sad pride, and listening to her wish Dan and Debora happiness in their marriage was a difficult thing for me to experience. I was so invested in Dan’s life and the world of DQV that I felt like I had broken that poor pixelated girl’s heart.
The question of Debora was also very intriguing to me here. Horii created a wife for Dan that was absolutely unlikeable, yet I wondered if he would go the clichéd route and have her completely soften up thanks to Dan’s love. Plenty an anime and video game have taken these normally confident, mean, and strong-willed women and put forth what I feel to be a subtly sexist message that “wild” women will be tamed through domesticity. Given the skill with which Horii has woven the narrative so far, I put my money on him not trivializing Debora and keeping her character suitably abrasive to Dan throughout the entire game.
Anyway, so Dan has himself a lavish wedding thanks to the Briscoletti affluence aboard Rodrigo’s casino ship. Harry and his wife Maria attend along with the Briscolettis, Bianca, and the Mostroferrato townspeople. Debora and Dan enjoy their first night together, Dan gets himself the Zenithian Shield, and then it’s back to the quest. Naturally, Dan wouldn’t want to expose his wife to such danger…wait, Debora has announced that there’s no way Dan is leaving without her. He’s also pretty much supposed to cater to her every need. It’s time for the newly formed family to continue Dan’s quest to find his mother.
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