With October creeping closer, it’s time to show my appreciation for my favorite character from certain a dark eroge: Makiba Rika, from Euphoria. With its upcoming English release, the title has been gaining popularity as one of the most extreme examples of the visual novel horror genre to come to the West. Unfortunately, due to a number of people who shame imaginary fantasies, it has also gathered quite a bit of infamy as well.
As for Rika, she too has received countless senseless criticisms, and some even say she deserves the tortures that await her within the game. Such a lack of empathy seems downright cruel. First, consider the events from her viewpoint: Rika finds herself trapped in captivity, deprived of proper food and water, instead supplied with only the barest of rations, and the conditions required for freedom from her imprisonment are physical torture and unwanted sexual intercourse. If selected, she must cooperate or die. If not selected, she may never have a chance at release.
Her classmates are tentative allies, at best. If someone else receives a reward, it means she must go without, as further punishment. Every teasing remark carries a darker undertone, knowing that she may be selected for the next round in a brutal game. Rika is a trusting, naïve girl, but after being trapped under such hostile circumstances, her gradual resentment and jealousy is a natural response.
Even the natural functions of the human body cause Rika humiliation. There is no privacy in captivity, something which Rika is forced to come to terms with when she has to relieve herself. But, without proper facilities, she is reduced to using a bucket for urination instead, in front of all of her peers. When Rika is presented with a luxurious meal, she must eat it after it has been covered in semen, and her hunger is too great to refuse. When Rika is nauseous, she vomits on herself, without any medical assistance. Rika is ashamed of her physical condition, as her health becomes increasingly worse each day.
Psychologically, Rika suffers from low self-esteem, considering herself to be weak, without innate worth, and incapable of providing protection. She has no confidence in herself, unable to make her own decisions, and obediently follows anyone who shows authority. She needs validation from others, and desperately wants to be treated with kindness. Rika tries to believe in the best of everyone, and she will always, ultimately, show them forgiveness.
Illogically enough, Rika’s vulnerability is considered to be a negative trait, instead of a natural condition in such an extreme situation. Her strong emotional responses, ranging from terror, to despair, to bitterness, are not praised as a realistic portrayal of human psychology, but rather, condemned for being “immature”. Because of her strong self-preservation instincts, Rika is supposedly deserving of hatred—for the “selfish” reaction of wanting to stay alive.