In Focus: Hani Foonmall

Making up half of the core and (sub)titular duo, Hani Foonmall is certainly one of the key characters within Beyond the Tree. Described in my notes as “a simple woman with very complex problems”, Hani could be considered the one cast member in Beyond the Tree the most badly in need of a psychiatrist. Very much paradox, Hani is calm but impulsive, at ease and yet troubled, seeking guidance yet intent on going her own way.

Conceptually, Hani is the doer, the Action Girl, with several elements of her design – in particular her visual one – intentionally aiming towards what we (but not necessarily Night elves) would consider tomboyish. Her progression is by large mental and social rather than physical – she’s already a highly skilled warrior (albeit a rather poor soldier), she has no quest for a magic sword or armour or any of the sort – what I find interesting about her is not the ease with which she fights, but the difficulty she has with dealing with her own problems. The most notable example being in spite of how much confusion and frustration she carries with her regarding her dismissal from the Sentinels and in spite of how we’ve seen her take this out on her surroundings, she has never once raised her hand or even her voice towards either the High Priestess or the Sentinels themselves.

Hani started off as something of a caricature of my long term World of Warcraft character – ancient night elven priestess Nhani Moonfall. I’ve sometimes described her as “Nhani unhinged” – lacking most if not all of the self-awareness and restraint of her namesake and instead largely acting on instinct and impulse, following what seems right at the time. Hani has grown far beyond those origins by now and at this point in time, Hani Foonmall and Nhani Moonfall have only a few things left in common.

Hani is a warrior, and an exceptional one at that. Her aptitude for combat is an inherent and very natural part of her – it’s not something she thinks about, it’s just something she does, and very well. It has flip sides though – beside the implication that she might not really understand how exceptional she is and thus not clue into that not everyone finds things nearly as simple, it’s also implied that with how quickly she took to the actual fighting.. she never really had to learn the discipline most need first.

Stan Lee expressed it as “With great power comes great responsibility.” – one of the interesting things with Hani is that she doesn’t have that responsibility, but may yet learn it.

While I definitely think Hani is an inherently good person, I don’t think she’s necessarily all that nice. Distant and aloof – even to her friends – Hani can be very detached and downright dismissive of people she doesn’t respect or care about, including their worth. While she’s definitely the kind you’d want watching over you through a dark alley, she’s not really the kind to take to formal meetings or social gatherings. This is especially true with her instinctive nature and her apparent unwillingness – or perhaps even inability – to connect cause and long-term effect; Hani will generally prefer to live in the now and ignore or flat out miss the big picture.

I find Hani a rather interesting character to write, both due to all the paradoxes, contradictions and internal conflicts she has, as well as the huge space she has to grow as a person. She’s a very flawed and not particularely driven person – she just keeps wandering because it’s better than doing nothing – and because it keeps focused in the present. Of course, as we’ve already seen she can’t just keep in the present – sometimes you have to think back, or ahead.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her evolve over time.


8 Responses to “In Focus: Hani Foonmall”

  1. 1 Messai
    April 30, 2009 at 23:58

    I think i like her even more after reading this :=) and my curiousity got spiked @: “one of the interesting things with Hani is that she doesn’t have that responsibility, but may yet learn it.”

    Makes me think on what her responsibility’s might become 😮 nice teaser ;p

  2. 2 Vesker
    May 1, 2009 at 03:09

    I like Hani, not because she wordlessly cleaves through everything in her path before leaving without so much as a shrug of apathy (although that’s a plus), but because she always seems to be something of an anomaly wherever she is. I actually see her ‘fitting in’ better in Stormwind where things are a lot less complicated, where her ‘stab first, then stab some more’ style might be appreciated instead of landing her in a punishment as it did in Darnassus.

    I also like the name “Foonmall”, it doesn’t sound as stereotypically ‘night-elvish’ as most names people are come up with like “Starstalker” or “Nightshadow”. It’s kind of refreshing.

  3. May 1, 2009 at 08:49

    I like the Hani charecture, i mean, how many night elves actually walk up to the current Arc Druid and give him a FALCON PAUNCH in the face?
    Though i personaly dislike Tyrande Whisperwind (Horde Fanboy here sorry) i do like how Hani follows Tyrande’s orders without question.
    Though perhaps a love itnrest is in order to make her more ‘social’? Dont mind either way, Red Sonja doesn’t need anyone and she can kick ass from here to Tokio.
    Speaking of Red Sonja she does have the same personailty in a way…
    anyways keep it up

  4. 4 Messai
    May 2, 2009 at 14:10

    She rose to my #1 favourite WoW character because of her Falcon Punch on the Archdruid. treehugger had it coming ;p

  5. 6 Moltrazahn
    May 2, 2009 at 21:34

    that again was most likely the most commented page of Beyond the tree 😛 and with good reason! It was truly legendary ^^

  6. 7 Weertangel
    May 4, 2009 at 10:14

    Idd, the punching of the Archdruid was what thousands of ppl were loning for in all those years of wow-playing 🙂

    As for the mentioned love interest, well, its been an discussion before(started by me btw)
    so i’ll try to see if we get more hints considering something like that in the future, for the rest, i just love her!

    But i hope we at least get a hint soon why she’s so dour the last 20 pages or so, couse its getting depressing 😦

  7. May 14, 2009 at 14:27

    She should have a dreanei as a love intrest like Nhani Moonfall.
    Maybe one who survived the orcish genocide and also had a troubeld youth like her.
    Strangly enough i think of Conan since Hani is like Red Sonja…..

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