I have decided to remove my previous rant and try to explain with a much more leveled head what I find the shortcomings of Milla Maxwell from Tales of Xillia/Xillia 2 and why I am confused about some people liking her. As before, I will openly discuss events of Xillia and Xillia 2, so beware of spoilers.
Since it's a shallow thing, I will start with her appearance. Overall, the appearance was pleasing at first, but then I took a closer look and noticed several things about it that I personally did not like. The first is her hair. It's kind of cool, but I found it a bit strange for her to have this... extravagant hairdo, especially if she's busy fighting Exodus. In-Universe, it's explained as that Sylph demanded she keep her hair that way and is also the reason for the Idiot Hair cowlick of a strand that stands off and is colored green. And yes, it's Idiot Hair. Not a Charm Point, Milla. Overall, it wouldn't bother me. Though for someone active, I would have figured she'd tie it back a bit, so it wouldn't easily get in her way.
The other problems I noticed is that... Milla is thin. Too thin. Once again, explained in-universe by saying she has always relied on The Four for nourishment and has never actually eaten food in her 20 years of existence. Strange, but it doesn't alter the fact that her too-thin torso and waist looks, quite frankly, horrifying to me. Coupled with her large breasts, it makes it look worse. Anyone who knows the basics of weight and fat in the body knows that, if you do not eat properly and lose a lot of weight, one of the first things to become smaller on women are breasts, as they are mostly fat. And on a short note, her eyes being red/pink seemed quite a strange design choice to me. You already put the elemental colors of a slight shade of red, with blue, green and yellow into her hair, so why the strange eye color choice? Not to mention, it clashes horribly with the Spirit green hair.
And on a tiny note, I hate how her cowlick sticks out from most of attachments. I know that Xillia had major clipping issues with hair and clothes, but it's a minor pet peeve that gets really noticeable and annoying. Why give me attachments, if you have a character with hair that sticks out of the appropriate attachment? Including the appropriate hairstyle. It looks stupid.
But my major annoyances are that Milla is boring and does not develop or show emotion.
Milla is a stoic character. And while that is a character type that can still be done well, as long as stoicism is not the main factor of the character, it was not done well with Milla. Quite frankly, her being stoic is the main factor of her personality. That and a determination to complete her mission. Aside from that, she begins to show a liking for food upon actually eating the first time, but it's mostly relegated to only being noticeable in skits or subevents, which mostly vary on how 'canon' they are and exactly how seriously you are supposed to take them. Even the comedic ones. Beyond that, there is not much to her personality. She does not have a sense of humor - and she doesn't even have the 'has no sense of humor' humor, where she'd take everything seriously and hence not get a joke. She does not tease people, she does not seem to get angry at anything.
Her lack of development is one of the major, biggest, most ginormous missteps in Xillia. She is the protagonist of Xillia and has no development. At all. That is not something you do in an RPG, you cannot have a lead protagonist in your RPG and not give them some form of development. She enters as a stoic character and leaves the game as a stoic character. Nothing in the game indicates a change in her behavior, personality, how she deals with other people. The only reason she sacrificed herself was not because she wanted to save the party or because it was 'the right thing to do'. She did so, because she didn't want to disappoint Jude's view of her as 'the great Lord of Spirits, Maxwell'.
Speaking of her being Maxwell, she never shows any reaction to the news that she is not actually the real Maxwell, Lord of Spirits. She is a fake human, created by Maxwell, to act as a notoriously obvious 'Maxwell' Body Double, so that Exodus will come out of hiding and can be destroyed... presumably by the real Maxwell, but I have a fair share of choice words for that guy, too. But I won't go into that here. Milla does not react to this at all. She does not question the worth of her existence, especially since she learns this after having destroyed Exodus; she does not wonder what she'll do now; she does not show shock about this; nor any other emotion I would expect: Surprise. Sorrow. Maybe even anger at Maxwell, about letting her live in the belief that she is Maxwell, only for her to get the proverbial rug pulled from beneath her feet.
In fact, someone on a different forum actually told me that Milla does show signs of what her not being Maxwell means, what it actually means that she is nothing but a human and how this will affect her... at the point of the game when she does become Maxwell. And when is that? At the very end of the game. Not even the final area, prior to fighting the final boss. No. It happens during the penultimate scene of the entire game. Actually, it is the last scene of the game, not counting the epilogue. And aside from her shedding some tears and saying, "I have no reason to cry", nothing is hinted at her realizing what her being human means... that she's mortal; that she honestly was reliant on The Four for twenty years; that she had damn luck that The Four made her appear so fast in the Spirit Realm after she sacrificed herself... Nothing. She doesn't even seem to show about thinking what it means that she's becoming Maxwell: that she would now be immortal, which would mean that she's forever bound to the Spirit Realm and will have to watch her friends die of old age, but she would still live on; that she's giving up her humanity - though, given how she barely seemed to register that she was human at any point, I can let this one slide and think she may not really care about that.
Heck, Tales of the Abyss had Luke learn that he's a replica and not a 'real' person and his development involved trying to find his own space, all while being accepted by the people. Tales of Graces had Sophie go through a problem in the Future Arc about how she's a robot and will, ultimately, outlive her friends and watch them die. That arc was only a few hours long and yet Xillia, a full-fledged mothership title taking about 30 hours to complete with no grinding or subevents, could not even bother to properly portray that idea? I'm sorry, but you cannot tell me "Well, she had development" and then point out it's a minuscule moment in a final scene where nothing is presented in terms of her thoughts or behavior changing and expect me to believe that.
Finally, Milla shows no emotion. She never seemed to care or have any emotion over the fact that her legs became paralyzed after Fort Gandala. I originally played Jude's Route, because I had played Xillia 2 first and was used to fighting as him, plus I rather like him, but at that point in the game, I decided to restart the game. I opted for Milla's Route at this point, because I wanted to see if there was a change in how the game played at this point - perhaps there was an extra scene between getting back to Karaha Sharl and Jude running into her room, to help her up from the floor; maybe an internal monologue about how frustrated she feels over not being able to do anything on her own anymore; possibly even a monologue skit where she admits to herself how useless she feels now, being left crippled, which would mean she was incapable of finishing her mission, the one thing she lived for.
I was expecting something like that, but I got nothing like that. I saw a scene of Milla staring at her legs... which were hidden under a thick blanket, so the player could not immediately see what the problem was. (And just a fun fact, the game does not take into account that you might be using costumes at this point and, if Milla is wearing a costume - even her color variation - her legs will look completely fine. No damage on them, no damage on her boots, no bandages wrapped around or anything. It really ruins the atmosphere. And while I can understand them not taking this into account for the Onee-san or DLC outfits, it seems stupid to not do this for her color variation, which is identical to her default outfit, except in color.) I heard no monologue, I saw no skit of her talking to herself. And her supposedly being in intense pain for every step she took while using the Aspyrix? Aside from making me wonder why she suddenly turned into The Little Mermaid, I never noticed this was a thing! Not until I did a subevent in Xian Du. And re: my saying about the canonicity of the subevents above.
As it is, I see no reason why Milla is praised by everyone in the party so much. Jude I might understand, he is blinded by the idea that she's the Lord of Spirits and worship-idolizes her, to the point that he's blind to anything that might be a fault or flaw of hers - though whether she has any is questionable, as even something that should be treated as a flaw, is not treated as one. No, it is once again something that makes Milla amazing. Namco, there is a term for characters that are supposedly flawless and constantly praised over nothing: Mary Sue. As a canon character, created by the developers themselves? A Canon Sue.
I have seen nothing that Milla did, which I haven't seen previous Tales heroes do. And generally better. Luke actually reacted to his not being the person he was led to believe he was and decided to improve himself and became a better person. Sophie portrayed the 'I am immortal and will outlive my friends' aspect better. Lloyd had a horrible black-white view of the world at the beginning, but began to see the gray shades of the world on his journey. Even Cless, obsessed as he was with Dhaos, portrayed his intense hatred and desire to kill Dhaos better than Milla does in her desire to kill everyone of Exodus. Milla did nothing new and not in a way that it was praiseworthy to begin with. It becomes especially bad in the fourth arc, where not only do The Four Spirits Of The Elements talk about how they want to stay with her, because they like her so much, and are blatantly going against the orders of the actual Maxwell, no, you also have the party talk about what an inspiration Milla is and how she is the keystone to holding the party together.
Excuse me, I think Leia was more badass when protecting Jude than anything Milla did in either game.
You know, I might understand why they wanted Milla to come across as so freaking badass to players. She is the first, official Tales heroine, who has the actual main role in the game. I can see that they want to make her appeal to players and come across as strong, a take-charge woman who doesn't need to rely on someone to get things done. But they shot into the opposite direction and made someone who seems to be so flippin' perfect, that I wonder why they even bothered to create Jude, Alvin, Elize, Rowen or Leia. She can obviously do things on her own, what do we need the rest of the party for?
And what was so wrong with making her emotionless?
Having emotions and actually showing them is not a weakness! If I may direct attention to Lightning Returns - in that game, one of the things Lightning learns at the end is that asking for help, when one needs it, is okay and doesn't make a person weak or helpless. The fact that one can ask for help and know one's own limits, that's actually what makes a strong person in my eyes. Trust me, I still have difficulty asking people for help, but knowing when I need to and doing so, it takes a lot more courage than simply saying that you can do it yourself and running headfirst into something that you might not be able to do on your own, after all. I loved Lightning Returns, because it gave that message. Lightning asks for help when she really wants someone to help her get out of a problem she couldn't without any help and it did not make her weak.
Frankly, I am also still confused why Milla became Maxwell at the end of the game. In fact, nothing in the game properly explained to me why Maxwell was needed. He had something to do with the Spirits, but he seems to have been hiding in some spot without doing anything beyond ignoring the Elympions, so obviously his duty can't be so important that his place must be filled or else the world will end. If it is, they needed to make it a lot more obvious - I know something about it was mentioned in the Spirit Realm on Milla's Route, but because - once again - the game decided to stop and tell me for perhaps the hundredth time that Milla is freaking amazing and that's why The Four want to remain with her, I missed it, because I begun to blur out any mention of Milla and any praising word in one sentence. Constantly telling me she is amazing won't make me believe it, especially not when - as I've pointed out above - she never did anything that was all that amazing.
As for her role in Xillia 2...
First of, can't stand her new outfit. Maybe it's the outfit or maybe her breasts really did become bigger, all I know is, they are now at the size that makes me aggressive when I see it. I can't explain why it is, but once breasts have reached a certain size (whether on a fictional or real person), it just makes me angry when seeing them. And same with her tiny waist. I think it was even tinier than in Xillia. Horrible. You'd think she'd have gained some weight or width after apparently taking a liking to eating, but that's not so. No, it's tinier than before and looks freaking scary. And I see no reason why her hair was made lighter... why?
Finally, why did we need Milla to return? Sure, she was 'in the way' of the Waymarker, but that felt like a stupid reason. I'm sure they could have found some way to get around that little problem and find the Waymarker, without making me have a complete rehash of the Ship Event of Xillia, where Milla died. Don't worry, I'll get to Alt Milla in a minute. After all, Milla was stuck in a dimensional abyss. Sure, doesn't sound pleasant, but was she in any danger? Far as I could tell, no. She was stuck, is all. Nothing saying that she was gonna die if we don't rescue her ASAP.
Beyond her appearance, she serves no purpose in the game. Her Character Episodes revolve around finding out about the Genesis Sage - Milla Kresnik. Yes, she got her Milla name from that Kresnik woman... and what do we find out about the Sage? Nothing worth mentioning. All of it are informed attributes given to us through Maxwell, who is as unreliable of a narrator as he was in Xillia, or history books that have forgotten Kresnik's gender, so I doubt I can trust the information in that a lot, either. Oh, and how does Milla react to finding this stuff out? Not at all. She doesn't care. She doesn't change. She now knows that Maxwell named her Milla after the Kresnik Sage who contacted him years ago, but that's it. She doesn't say she likes her name or hates it now, she seems pretty indifferent. Thanks for wasting my time, Milla!
And then there's Alt Milla... who is actually a tolerable version of Milla. Sure, she's a tsundere and I hate tsunderes, be they male or female, but I preferred her because Alt Milla actually had emotion in her voice. No matter what the topic was, snapping at the party for fighting something too strong for them; telling Elle that she'll cook for her; even snapping at Ludger for accidentally touching her boob, Alt Milla always had emotion in her. Yes, she began to annoy me with her whining about how her world was destroyed and acting like Ludger is doing a happy dance every time it's brought up, but the emotion was still there.
In fact, I think Alt Milla is a horribly wasted potential. In her world, Alt Milla not only managed to get rid of Exodus at an early age, but she was also working alongside Muzét for it. Muzét took an attack for Milla, which left her blinded. It would be quite interesting to hear more about this! How did she get rid of Exodus? Did she lure them out or spy on them in some way, taking them out before they could do something horrible? How was her working alongside Muzét? What was Muzét like, prior to the attack that blinded her?
Alt Milla interacting with Jude could have been expanded on. In the Japanese version, he actually calls her Milla-san, making a difference between her and Milla and he's overall a little more apprehensive around her. The English version removed the honorific, of course, and made him more accepting. They could have expanded on this - make him note the differences between the two, why he is having difficulty around Alt Milla or similar. (And this isn't even going into how I think Alt Milla's death was utterly pointless and could have been prevented.)
Actually, it would be amazing to see Milla and Alt Milla interact with each other!
Both are vastly different personalities - a Stoic and a Tsundere - and Alt Milla already shows interest in Milla. She could ask her about details about her journey, how she got rid of Exodus and what made her decide to opt for the idea of removing the shell and becoming/remaining Maxwell at the end. (Did Alt Milla ever even find out she was not the real Maxwell in her world?) It would be interesting to see Milla explain this, maybe with Alt Milla thinking to herself if she could have done something similarly in her own world and wondering if it had been better in the long run.
So... quite long, but that's mostly what bugs me about Milla and why people like her. I'd be really interested in seeing why people like her, because I saw nothing that made her stand out compared to previous Tales protagonists.