It hasn’t been all that long since the last Mog Station Review, but in a surprising move, Square-Enix updated the Mog Station this last week with a pair of new outfits. Originating as “exclusives” for the Chinese version of the game and first announced just a matter of weeks ago, both the Far Eastern Schoolboy’s and Far Eastern Schoolgirl’s Attire can now be purchased for accounts in the games other regions in the fastest turnaround for exclusive outfits like these that we’ve seen so far. This review will be taking a look at the Far Eastern Schoolgirl’s Attire.
The set runs for $18 USD and can be sent to a single character, like every Mog Station outfit to date. You’ll receive three items (a low number compared to the normal 5 items for similarly-priced sets): a Hair Ribbon, Hakama (which is a body-slot item including both a kimono and hakama, not a leg slot item), and a pair of Boots. The kimono and hakama being combined into one piece do naturally limit glamour possibilities. All three items are dyeable and as you might expect, they are gender-locked for female characters only. As with a number of other sets that originated as regional exclusives, wearing the items together grants a few set bonuses, culminating in a 30% boost to XP gains while under level 30.
The set is moderately well-modeled, though the wide sleeves on the “Hakama” can clip with each other during some animations and idle poses as one might expect. Though there are not major tail clipping issues, the lower half of the body piece is fairly high-bodied, meaning that some of the tail is “lost,” which can look strange in motion at times. The Hair Ribbon does clip with some longer hairstyles and slightly with miqo’te ears, as well.
When it comes to dyes, two of the three pieces dye in the now familiar “two-tone” pattern, with the kimono portion of the Schoolgirl’s Hakama and the Hair Ribbon taking on a lighter secondary shade of the chosen dye, as you can see in the images above (with the dye on display being Royal Blue). The Hakama themselves largely do not dye, with only the obi taking on the chosen color. The Boots dye in a similar way, with their default color staying in place except for the laces, which do change with dye. Give the the style that inspired the set, however, it is unfortunate that it employs the two-tone pattern, which takes away from some of the boldness on display.
Both the Schoolboy’s Attire and Schoolgirl’s Attire sets are inspired by the Taisho Roman style, known for combining bright colors, traditional kimono, and Western accessories that were modern during Japan’s Taisho Period (1912-1926). While this period is sometimes romanticized (with the “Roman” part of Taisho Roman being short for Romance), it coincides with a period of Japanese imperialism throughout Asia in the early 20th century. For FFXIV‘s Korean players in particular, Taisho Roman fashion and school uniforms that served as inspiration for these latest cash shop additions to the game serve as reminders of Japan’s occupation of their country, which extended from 1910 all the way through to the end of World War II in 1945—still within living memory for many Korean families.
During the occupation, the Japanese empire made efforts to assimilate the Korean people, all but requiring Korean citizens to take on Japanese names and wear Japanese clothing (such as outfits like these Mog Station additions), limiting the publishing activities of Korean newspapers, and imposing a Japanese-style school system. When individuals refused to comply with these assimilation efforts, punishments could range from loss of food (with only those who took on Japanese names being eligible for things like rations) or opportunities for work all the way up to death. At various periods, Korean citizens were conscripted into the Japanese army or forced into working for the Japanese in their factories and mines (sometimes requiring involuntary relocation to Japan). As many may know today, Korean women were forced to serve as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers during the war, as well.
These new outfits come to the game in the context of Stormblood, too, an expansion with strong anti-imperialist themes. Already, the expansion’s story struck too close to home for some players, seemingly drawing on the Korean occupation itself for the Main Scenario and side content like the Doman Reconstruction, with the game’s Doman (read: Japanese) citizens suffering similar sorts of violence at the hands of their Garlean oppressors that the Korean people once suffered under Japanese rule—a perhaps well-meaning but painful inversion of real world history for part of FFXIV‘s community. These outfits continue this trend of insensitivity toward the Korean player base.
In the end, while both sets may on the surface seem like normal examples of traditional Japanese kimono and hardly out of place in FFXIV—especially given the current focus on the game’s Asia-inspired continent of Othard—the particular styles chosen for emulation here are both questionable and insensitive. I doubt the development team intended any harm with their inclusion, but especially in the context of an expansion with strong anti-imperialist themes, glamorizing a period from their own nation’s descent into often brutal empire seems irresponsible. FFXIV could have been home to any number of of traditional kimono styles from Japanese history before it needed to have anything from this period in particular.
With all of this additional context, I can’t recommend purchase of either of these new school uniform outfits. Their addition to the game is at best questionable and while they may seem little more than clothing to some, they are actively hurtful to others in the ways they remind of a terrible period still in living memory. Already, while I took a little more time to prepare this review given the new attire’s context, some players have been using elements of the Schoolboy’s Attire (particularly the cap) to create glamours reminiscent of military outfits from the era (including one player going so far as commissioning, in a public Discord channel, a .dat file modification to include a Nazi emblem on a jacket), and such things can cause real distress and harm to members of FFXIV‘s community. While I firmly believe that FFXIV‘s developers should have had more care and never introduced outfits that facilitate such behavior to begin with, they have unfortunately done so. Now the metaphorical ball is in our court, and I hope that even if you do decide to purchase this set or its counterpart, you do so now better informed of the ways these outfits might cause upset for your fellow players.
This review was made possible with the support of Fashion Ninjutsu’s patrons over on Patreon, with special thanks going out to current $5 patrons David Haig, Francisco Galicia, and Nomolun. While I debated not doing a review at all given the greater context of this set, given my responsibility to my patrons, I decided that it was best to use the opportunity to explain some of the context that made the community so uneasy and to hopefully make FFXIV‘s Hydaelyn a better, more understanding place. You can do more reading on the Japanese occupation of Korea here, including both the history leading up to it and its aftermath.