A Scion of the Seventh Dawn. A member of the Circle of Knowing. Former leader of the Night’s Blessed. Y’shtola Rhul has held many titles over her life as an adventurer in Final Fantasy XIV, and she’s lately been looking to add a new one: digital Helen of Troy.
Over on the FFXIV subreddit, Y’shtola fanart is always one of the most popular things that can be posted. If you look at the top posts in the subreddit for this month, four of the top posts are about her. The first is about her being called “mommy” in the FFXIV manga Eorzea Gakuen (otherwise known as Eorzean Academy), while the other three are fanarts.
Despite being the de facto representative for FFXIV in other Square Enix games, Y’shtola didn’t always have this command of the minds of fan artists. In her original Conjurer look, she’s just another cat girl; I’d say Minfilia consumed the fan artists of this era. In Heavensward, she started to define herself as a style queen, with a White Mage–style garb that sports the right amount of zettai ryouiki. (Look it up.)
It’s her Shadowbringers ensemble, where she leaves behind the white for a devastating black witch look, where fans took notice. Her re-introduction is like meeting an old friend after years away, where you mention the glow-up in a cordial way while mentally biting your knuckles and refraining from commenting on how damn good they look. With her alarming ascendance as a style queen, Y’shtola has also run away with the “Queen of FFXIV Fanart” crown. There are certainly kings that challenge her, and some princesses like Yotsuyu come for the throne occasionally, but otherwise, Y’shtola runs this town.
Within each of us, there are three Y’shtolas.
However, perhaps more than with any other character, there is a split in the nature of her fanart. Fans have noticed that there are predominantly two kinds of Y’shtola fanart. While both often depict her as the taciturn, controlled scholar who seeks the world’s forbidden knowledge that she is, one is closer to her in-game presentation, while the other takes liberation in embellishing her physical attributes.
Those who dislike the latter portrayal tend to hammer home the idea that fanart of a character should respect the spirit of that character. “I am not far in the story but wasn’t Y’shtola supposed to be a woman who isn’t provocatively dressed?” asks Reddit user Magical-Hummus. Those in this camp believe that a more modest Y’shtola is the way, the truth, and the light. Others, such as Reddit user Beelzebulbasaur, lament those who would stand in the way of the alternate Y’shtola. Some surely sit in the gap between the two camps, loving the character as she is while appreciating a racier iteration, or finding there’s more horny in some sly glances rather than anything else.
The preponderance of this dissonance in Y’shtola’s fanart has ultimately become a meme on the FFXIV subreddit. Comments about the war in the comments come before anything else. “Can’t wait for the inevitable war in the comments,” says one Reddit user. Personally, I tend to lean toward honoring what the character is rather than adding further embellishments, but I’m not going to define fanart for anyone.
In the end, we cannot stop this war. It was here before I wrote this article and it shall stretch on eons after unless Square Enix gives Y’shtola a bad design. Truly, at the end of the day, at least we can all come together and agree that Alisaie is better than Alphinaud.