"Nerooooo~, baaaaaaaabyyy~," I coo at the blonde FFXIV NPC on my computer screen. My husband rolls his eyes. He knows my obsessions with my fictional boys is just one of my charming character traits at this point. He also knows that no one can truly replace him IRL. Besides, 2D and 3D are different!
If you haven't played FFXIV or are still in A Realm Reborn (ARR), spoilers incoming. You may want to move on or read something else.
Onto my obsession with 2D boys...
Let me clarify by defining 2D boys, 2D meaning two dimensional refers to fictional characters generally from an anime, video game, or maybe a movie. Most of these character are exactly that, two dimensional, but I have some exceptions to the rule. I count Tony Stark as one of these 2D boys even if I like the version by Robert Downey Jr best. Simply put, I attach myself to fictional characters that I find charming and witty. Most of them are pretty similar: good looking, intelligent, witty, sometimes snarky, and always swoop in at the right moment. I'm also a sucker for the self-sacrifice trope, mmhmm, a good ol' "I hurt myself protecting you and that's ok" or an even better "I'm hurt, you don't know it, and I overexerted myself to protect you anyway", that's just quality content right there. You can read about tropes particularly the heroic sacrificing type on TV Tropes (not a sponsor, I just appreciate their work).
If you're caught up in FFXIV's story, you know Nero pretty much matches most of my qualifiers above. When you first meet Nero Tol Scaeva, he is a bright red antagonist in A Realm Reborn. To be honest, the bright color suits the attention seeking Garlean who just wants to be acknowledged by the world around him. Despite being second in command under Gaius Van Baelsar, Nero has a penchant for doing what he wants. In particular, the Warrior of Light (WoL) fascinates him so he spends time analyzing them and ignoring his missions. He's also one of the few to escape with his life after a direct confrontation with the WoL. From them on, it's the adventures of Cid and Nero... more or less. Our now former villain goes alongside Cid (another cutie patootie), mostly to antagonize him but also for a seemingly mysterious goal. Ooh, mystery, that's another good trait. Girls love a good mystery! When he's not antagonizing Cid or extorting money from him, Nero seems to be traveling and seeking either stronger tech or ways to unlock unknown technologies, perhaps to prove himself the best engineer in all of Eorzea.
Breaking him down, Nero tol Scaeva is honestly a nerd. A polite, sometimes cold, mostly patronizing nerd, but still a nerd. The way he raves and gets excited over magitek makes him seem like any engineer excited over their program or research. Have you listened to him speak? He absolutely lights up when he's talking about magitek. Yet despite his somewhat rude demeanor and the Scion's genuine dislike of him, I absolutely adore his character particularly in how determined he is.
Consider how he attempts to save Unei (albeit for his own selfish reasons) at the Crystal Tower. He still chooses to protect Doga and Unei within the Realm of Darkness. Or how he is wounded by Omega and hides it until the defeat of Kefka to ensure everything goes right. One can argue how he selfishly does these things, but there is more to it than that. Ultimately, hiding his wounds and being out for the final fight, he encourages Cid. It takes good friends to be able to banter and insult each other the way they do.
Maybe there's also some relatability in the way he feels compared to Cid and the inability surpass him (though honestly he has in his own right). The way it makes him try to do better and better instead of giving up and wallowing is how I feel when I try to draw better after seeing other people's amazing art pieces.
I like to imagine my Au'Ra giving Nero surprise hugs and making him blush or maybe even smugly smile. I create characters and stories in my head that pursue these interests much like other fellow artists and fans. I'm happy that such a series exists and gives me the opportunity to create cute fanart.
Nero's screen time is much too short for my liking. He's also incredibly difficult to draw, so I haven't been able to really create more art of him. Sometimes I dream of being like the other FFXIV artists who have a large following and create cute art of the Warrior of Light with their favorite NPC. Then maybe Nero might be a little more recognized? Sometimes I think, ooh that's what I want to do. And other times I think, that's not really viable for me is it? Who knows, maybe I'll get to a point where I can do things like that?
Aside from Nero, Cid and Aymeric are my other two favorite boys in FFXIV. Cid's enthusiasm really grows on you and the excitement in Aymeric's voice whenever he sees you is just so endearing. Aym really feels like a potential love interest who understands he could never be so he feels like a good puppy. Cid feels like a big bro or uncle or just someone you look up to and know that he has your back in a pinch. Not that the Scions are bad or anything, I just love these characters more.
Who is your favorite NPC in FFXIV? Was Nero even a blip on your radar? I'm honestly a little sad he's not as beloved as other characters, but I guess that means I can hog him to myself a bit! Screenshot of Nero below stating my feelings for most of the plot of FFXIV.