Jean, or Ekaru Hoppe de pe Tapeta in the Japanese version, is a recurring character throughout the Breath of Fire series. A member of the Creeping Clan, he is noted for his jovial, optimistic personality and his fondness for painting. Like man members of his clan, he speaks in a faux-French accent. He is a playable character in Breath of Fire II, where he is the prince of SimaFort. Like many of that game's characters, he returns as a non-playable character in Breath of Fire III.
The party first encounters Jean hiding in a forest pond, embarrassed by his appearance as an enormous frog. He explains that he was transformed into this shape by the witch Nimufu, whom he annoyed with his amorous advances. He asks the travelers to visit her and persuade her to remove the curse. After being defeated in battle, Nimifu reveals that her spell can be broken by the kiss of a young girl. The party is surprised to learn that, even with the curse removed, Jean still maintains a naturally amphibious appearance, and is in fact the Prince of the Creeping Clan.
The party escorts Jean back to his home in SimaFort, where he is immediately arrested. It is later uncovered that an impostor had infiltrated the castle during Jean's absence and assumed his identity. With the help of Jean's sister, Petape, Ryu and the party manage to uncover the plot and reveal the impostor's true identity as the demon Kuwadora. Jean is freed from prison and decides to accompany Ryu and the others on their journey.
For the full article on Jean from Breath of Fire II, see here.
Jean returns as a non-playable character under a romanized version of his Japanese name "Ekaru". In this game, he is a painter who living in Maekyss Gorge. While the party is never required to speak with him, his wife Kimiko plays a pivotal role in teaching the party how to make shisu.
For the full article on Jean from Breath of Fire III, see here.
In both games, Jean possesses a jovial, optimistic personality. In Breath of Fire II he remarks that he "doesn't believe there are any bad people in the world, only bad hearts and weak people." He exhibits a carefree attitude toward danger, such as when he is imprisoned and sentenced to death by a demon posing in his place. However, this same blithe attitude often results in him shirking his official duties. In Breath of Fire III he decides to take up residence in Maekyss Gorge because of the tranquility and solitude it affords. Both incarnations of the character possess a fascination with aesthetic beauty and gourmet cuisine.
Jean is only a playable character in Breath of Fire II, where he possesses good natural defense but incredibly low agility. He learns a combination of attack and status-based spells. His combat ability "Jab" allows him to perform a physical attack against all enemies, however the damage is progressively reduced based on the number of targets. If Jean leads the party on the overworld, he can resume the great frog form that Nimufu transformed him into. This allows the party to travel more quickly and greatly reduces the number of enemy encounters. It also allows the player to reach a number of previously inaccessible areas as it can hop over certain obstacles and swim through shallow water.
Jean's Japanese first name, "Ekaru", is a play on words that functions on multiple levels. It is the Japanese spelling of "Ecarle," a reference to Eric Carle an American children's author who illustrates his books using a unique bend of painting and collage. Although he is an American writer, he enjoys global popularity, including in Japan, where he has won the Japanese Picture Book award, the country's highest award for picture books and his work has been widely exhibited in Japanese museums. This reference is more obvious in Jean's Breath of Fire III appearance, where his name is translated as Ecarl and he appears as a painter. "Ekaru" is also an anagram of "kaeru" the Japanese word for frog.