I’ve never been good at doing my laundry. Even as a kid, everything I owned kind of lived on the floor of my room in piles. These days, even blessed as I am with in-unit laundry, I keep up just enough so that I always have something clean to wear. I have never had all of my clothes be clean at the same time.
But this summer, I am inspired to change that. Why? Because of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.
Three Hopes takes place in an alternate universe of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where a different mercenary with a different god living in their head shows up instead of Byleth, causing Fódlan’s history to unfold differently… and a surprising amount of the game’s story happens directly in front of a line of drying laundry.
Felix and Dimitri bonding in their grief happens in front of a line of drying laundry. Lorenz’s antiquated worldview is challenged in front of a line of drying laundry. Marianne realizes that she does not actually curse those around her to misfortune in front of a line of drying laundry. Hubert’s elusive trust is finally gained by the player character in front of a line of drying laundry.
The game is about a lot of things: friendship, war, the universal human struggle between destiny and personal choice. It’s not really about laundry. Still, laundry may well be the secret star of the game. It’s right next to your unit’s tent in camp, so you end up seeing it a lot. Crucial conversation after crucial conversation happens next to the laundry. Even other times, in different parts of the camp, you can see the shadow of a nearby pair of pants swaying in the breeze.
The laundry is probably there, like many other elements in the camp section of the game, to encourage a sense that yes this is a war camp, but people live here. Daily life doesn’t stop just because you’re going to anime teen war. Even if you’re gearing up to kill a family member in order to regain stability in the region you rule, meals still need to be eaten, chores still need to get done, cats still need to be pet, and everyone still needs to have clean underwear.
Why laundry though?
Is it a coincidence that out of all the aspects of the camp that add to a cozy, domestic vibe, the laundry is the most prominent? There’s certainly some thematic meaning to laundry. Each route of the game follows a different leader as they take their own approaches to cleaning up the messes left for them by their predecessors. Can old systems of power be washed clean, or do they need to be torn down and replaced? Can what is ruined be fixed or repurposed, or is it best to burn everything down and start fresh? It’s not so far-fetched an allegory— Jeralt and Byleth even have a support conversation about the challenges of getting rid of blood stains!
These are big questions, and Three Hopes, like Three Houses, doesn’t try to answer them definitively. But my laundry isn’t allegorical, and it’s not even stained with blood! There’s just a lot of it. But, after over 110 hours of staring at drying laundry in Three Hopes, I think that if these kids can do so many wars, trying to overcome their personal traumas and heal their regions from corrupt systems of power, all the while managing to form powerful bonds of friendship, surely I can do the eight to ten loads of laundry it would require for all of my clothes to be clean.