Nintendo Doesn’t Get Why People Love Donnel, That Sweet Farm Boy

Who knew Fire Emblem fandom and its creators were so far apart?

by Patrick Klepek
Mar 2 2017, 9:00pm

There's not much people can agree on these days, but Donnel, the lovely tinpot-wearing child from Fire Emblem: Awakening, a boy capable of both terrible violence and undying affection? That, at least, we can have—unless you're the confused developers behind Fire Emblem: Heroes that are still scratching their heads over the adoration for Donnel, who is also, as you know, my son.

In an interview with Nintendo Dream, spotted by NeoGAF and translated by Kantopia, the directors behind Nintendo's latest foray into mobile gaming were asked about several topics, including a poll that ran ahead of the game's launch that asked fans about their favorite characters.

There were a number of characters that surprised the developers, actually.

"We thought: 'Wow, Lyn is incredibly popular,'" said co-director Kouhei Maeda. "I heard people overseas rallied behind her, too."

No doubt, Lyn is a badass. You won't find disrespect towards Lyn around here.

"Lyn was the highest ranked female character regardless of country," said Shinko Matsushita. "Lucina however was more popular in Japan, whereas Ike was much more popular in the United States of America. And, for whatever reason, Donnel had a ton of votes from the USA as well—for reasons we are still unsure of."

That's cold, Matsushita, and let me assure you, Donnel will remember that.

Here's how I described Donnel in my tribute to him from a few last month:

"When I started playing Fire Emblem: Awakening, a friend gave me an early tip: make sure to stick with Donnel, the goofy farm boy you encounter early in the game. At the outset, he's pathetically weak and incapable of destroying anything but the nearly-dead, but given time, love, and exposure to a thousand acts of violence, Donnel transforms from a "aw shucks" raiser of pigs into a walking nightmare. By the end of the game, Donnel was the tip of my army's spear, a tin pot-wearing, smile-flashing wielder of death. In my personal fan fiction, he is also my son."

That tribute also includes quotes from 8-4, the company that worked with Nintendo in localizing Fire Emblem: Awakening, in which they explain how they punched up Donnel's personality during the translation. That Donnel's popularity emerged due to localization probably explains why they're perplexed by this.

Maybe this will prove a wakeup call for Matsushita, Maeda, and Nintendo writ large, the moment when Donnel gets the respect he deserves. There's been rumors of an updated Super Smash Bros. coming to the Switch later this year. 

Donnel deserves to enter the ring, and prove his father (me) proud.

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