Courageous Father Online is a gem of a movie. It’s charming, funny, and has a lot to say about empathy, the value of community, and why you should forge deeper connections with your loved ones. And while much of the action takes place inside a video game, the movie’s giant beating heart says a lot about the care taken in its creation.
Based on a true story, the film is an adaptation of Final Fantasy XIV: Daddy of Light (a Netflix series in most areas). Like the show, the film uses a mix of live action and footage captured in Final Fantasy XIV, the massive multiplayer online game that debuted in 2013 and is still going strong (over 16 million registered players and around 22,000 people playing via Steam only whenever).
Brave Father Online: Our Story of Final Fantasy XIV, to give the film its full title, focuses on a family whose workaholic patriarch Akira (Kôtarô Yoshida) is often distant or absent from his children. But, on the brink of a big promotion, he suddenly retires and changes the family dynamic.
Leaving his job has a clear impact on Akira, who struggles with loneliness despite living with a family desperate to connect with him. His son, Akio (Kentaro Sakaguchi), remembers playing Final fantasy with his father many years ago, so he bought his father a PS4 and a copy of Final Fantasy XIV and gets to work befriending her father’s avatar and rekindling that relationship.
Akio, whose in-game character is called Maidy, saves his father from an enemy and shows him the ropes of the game. Akira lines up with her son’s group and the two begin to rely on each other. , supporting each other in battles and helping each other in their personal and professional woes.
Making a movie based in part on the inside of a game presents unique challenges that most productions don’t have. The process was split into two, with the live shoot and game capture happening simultaneously, each with their own director. Kiyoshi Yamamoto, who handled aspects of the game, used intriguing framing and the awe-inspiring landscapes of Eorzea (Final Fantasy XIVfictional world) to make its scenes as engaging and perhaps even more cinematic than the live-action material.
The now famous in FFXIV circles, real life Maidy and her dad helped with the Final Fantasy XIV scenes by controlling their original characters. And thanks to game developer Square Enix who gave the cast and crew access to a private server, they were able to work in relative peace, away from their fans online.
As with most films, there was a certain degree of cunning. Yamamoto gathered his main group of gamers (maybe actors isn’t the right term here) in a PC-filled conference room, so he could lead them more effectively than if they were playing at home. . He also revealed during a question-and-answer session after a screening at the Fantasia International Film Festival that they sometimes activate an invulnerability setting during boss fights, in hopes of making it easier to capture images, but it didn’t always work. The characters still died when they were hit by a particularly devastating attack.
A few other technical issues also hampered the process. If the character models cut off from each other, Yamamoto and his team would have to come back to remake scenes if Square Enix didn’t sign the footage.
Many modern games are designed to keep players hooked for years to come, with more content added all the time. Recent updates to Final Fantasy XIV gave Yamamoto more tools to play from Netflix Daddy of Light debuted in 2017 (filming on Courageous Father Online took place earlier this year). Among those additions are new animations and emotes, which he often uses in hilarious ways.
Harnessing game animations to tell new stories isn’t exactly a new concept – people have used game footage and engines to create machinima videos. for decades. Still, Yamamoto and co-director Teruo Noguchi seamlessly blend live action and gameplay footage into a cohesive and compelling whole, perhaps best exemplified by a workout edit that amplified me more than anything. what I have seen for a long time.
The directors also take on the tropes of the game in fun ways, like going through levels to strengthen a character. There is one particularly enjoyable sequence in which Akira also familiarizes himself with some of the lingo.
Regardless of the shoot, viewers need to connect with a movie, and the emotional core here is unmistakably relatable. Courageous Father Online is all about forging connections, online and offline. This might very well resonate with a large audience, even those who don’t have a lot of gaming knowledge.
I am somewhat in the same boat. Although I have been playing games since I was little, I never made it into the Final Fantasy series. Nonetheless, I loved this movie. It tells a universal story that will fill your soul with joy and probably make you want to call your loved ones as soon as possible.
Certainly it is indeed an advertising feature film for a six-year-old MMO – and there’s a fun meta-sub given Akio’s advertising career and a message that you should only sell things you like. However, Courageous Father Online doesn’t sound like product placement. It’s a portrait of a family using games to connect, something that could inspire other families to do the same.
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