BackArts & Culture » Music & Art » Japanese Mobile Game 'Fate Grand Order' Unveils Hai Bà Trưng as Playable Heroines

Time for all Vietnamese Masters to save their Saint Quartz.

On April 6, the free-to-play mobile RPG Fate Grand Order finally added the Trưng Sisters to the list of playable Servants, six years after the game launched in 2015. This is the first time a representative of Southeast Asia appeared in the longtime fan-favorite game. "Servants" is how the game refers to its playable characters, the "Heroic Spirits" that the player commands in Battle.

Fate Grand Order (FGO) is a Japanese mobile game developed by Lasengle as part of the wider Fate franchise — a multimedia universe that began in 2004 as an adult visual novel titled Fate/stay night and branched out into a series of video games, anime, manga and light novels. In the game, players become part of a secret organization called Chaldea that aims to preserve humanity by looking into the future using magic and technology. One day, Chaldea predicted that the world will suddenly face an unknown cataclysmic event that would cause the end of humanity.

Key visual for the game's first story arc. Photo via Fate Grand Order.

To stop this world-ending threat, players travel back to the past and enter alternate universes to find the source of the end of the world. Players can summon the spirits of heroes, historical figures and mythical entities including Jeanne D’arc, Shakespeare, Hercules, Gilgamesh, Sherlock Holmes, and many more. 

The Trưng Sisters, also known as Hai Bà Trưng, were teased by the developer back in a stream on March 27 under the alias “Nakayoshi Saber.” The fake name was used in accordance with the game’s lore; Servants often hide their true identities so potential enemies cannot discover their strengths and weaknesses based on their real-life counterparts.

Even though they were teased with a fake name, fans were quick to point out that the duo’s design bears some similarity to the historical Trưng Sisters, who fought for the country’s liberation back in 40 CE and successfully ruled Vietnam for a short number of years before dying to protect it again from foreign invaders. As it turns out, these predictions were right, and the mysterious duo’s true identity was finally revealed to be the Trưng Sisters on April 6. 

The sisters change their appearance as they level up. Trưng Trắc is the sister in red, while Trưng Nhị is the one in blue.

Wielding traditional Vietnamese swords and polearms made with bamboo hilts and water blades, and accompanied by cute mini elephants that can fuse into a bigger — yet still-cute — war beast, the Trưng Sisters come in a pair belonging to the 5-star Saber-class Servant with a DPS/Support skill set and a deadly single-target Noble Phantasm attack (a Servant’s ultimate power) that can also heal and support other Servants. Their Ultimate Attack roughly translates from Japanese to “Rousing the Sixty-Five Castles: Let Us Walk Our Country Together,” a historical nod to the 65 cities that the sisters liberated and ruled in the past. 

Video via YouTube user akibavnzulock.

If you think that the duo looks like Pokemon trainers, then you’re not exactly wrong, as the sisters were designed and drawn by Take, a Japanese illustrator who worked as a character designer for Pokemon Sun & Moon and Pokemon Swords & Shield. While the decision to have the sisters wear áo dài and nón lá might seem inaccurate to history, it should be noted that Servants, even though they are historical figures, are still up-to-date with the world’s history and trends, and as such, it’s not exactly unheard of for Servants to be influenced by the modern world. On another note, Trưng Trắc is voiced by Reina Kondo, while Trưng Nhị is voiced by Kanae Ito, both of whom are experienced voice actresses who have worked in many Japanese games and anime.

Video via YouTube user akibavnzulock.

While the Trưng Sisters are the first Vietnamese Servant to appear in FGO, they aren’t actually the first in the Fate franchise. That honor belongs to Lê Lợi, who first appeared in the parody manga-turned-anime Himuro's Universe - Fate/school life. Lê Lợi appeared as a blond-haired girl wearing a blue áo dài, looking extremely similar to the franchise’s most famous character Artoria Pendragon, Fate’s version of King Arthur. Please note that Lê Lợi’s appearance in this particular series is meant to be entirely comedic in nature, and should not be taken seriously, unlike the Trưng Sisters in FGO. 

Lê Lợi (middle) wearing a blue áo dài and nón lá. Photo via Fate/School Life.

There is currently an ongoing limited event titled “Sea Monster Crisis” available in a gacha banner wherein players can spend their Saint Quartz, the game’s currency, to have a chance at summoning the duo. Once the banner is over, the sisters will be unobtainable for quite some time until the developer puts them back in another banner. This can take up to two years, depending on Lasengle’s whim and sadistic tendencies. 

Players in the English-language Global server will have to wait two years for the game to catch up to its Japanese counterpart. Of course, this also means that players will have two years to save their Saint Quartz for the Servant when they finally get localized. 

In an ironic twist, the game’s Global server was recently discontinued in the Vietnamese app stores due to local regulations. Fortunately, it is not IP-blocked, so Vietnamese players can easily circumnavigate this problem by downloading the game through APK files in the case of Android, or simply by switching the App Store’s region in the case of Apple devices. Vietnamese players have joked that this is the price they have to pay to see Hai Bà Trưng in the game. 

[Top image via One eSports]

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