Tag Archives: Final Fantasy X

Archetype IV: The Failed Hero

Archetype I: The Perky Refugee
Archetype II: The Jaded Beauty
Archetype III: The Sad Clown
Archetype IV: The Failed Hero
Archetype V: The Pipsqueak
Archetype VI: ???

Well here’s a series I haven’t worked on in a while. With so many things to focus on, time gets away from you–something these gentlemen know a lot about.

Let it never be said that Square-Enix doesn’t know its literary canon or character tropes. The wise old mentor is a stock character seen throughout world literature, a prominent classical figure and a recognized Jungian archetype. This elderly man uses his years of experience and wisdom to guide the heroes in their journey, and direct them to the lessons they need to learn in order to survive and prosper. While this archetype appears in Final Fantasy less often than some, it has had definite staying power, first emerging in Final Fantasy V and subsisting through Final Fantasy XII.

However, Square-Enix’s version of this character deviates from the standard. While he does have an aged wisdom (despite the fact that he rarely tops 40) that comes from a vast wealth of experience, it is a solemn knowledge that arises from one place: his own story, where he acted as the young hero and ultimately fell. He then returns as the Failed Hero, helping and guiding the next generation to do what he could not—but with a hint of something less solemn to him. Prominent characters in this archetype are Vincent Valentine (FFVII), Auron (FFX), and Basch fon Rosenburg (XII). Other notable examples include Galuf Baldesion (FFV); Cyan Garamonde (FFVI); the non-playable Cid Kramer (FFVIII); and Sazh Katzroy (FFXIII), who shares similarities with the Failed Hero but better fits the Sad Clown archetype.

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New Homes, New Dreams: Why Yuna Had to Lose Tidus to Be Whole in Final Fantasy X and X-2

There’s nothing quite like your first Final Fantasy game. An initial glimpse into the explosively colorful, epically structured, decades-spanning mega-series, fans often say that their favorite game in the collection is the first one they ever played—which makes sense, since that particular installment is what grabbed their attention in the first place. The same has been true for this writer since a fateful New Year’s Eve many moons ago, when a bored friend pulled out his PS2 and a copy of Final Fantasy X.

Hell yes.

Set in the beautiful but imperiled world of Spira, Final Fantasy X follows the adventures of Tidus (a cocksure but ultimately caring sports star supposedly teleported 1000 years into the future), Yuna (a quiet but steadfast summoner) and their merry band of fools as they begin a journey to defeat a massive, world-destroying beast called Sin. Along the way, they become tangled in a web of cutthroat Spiran politics, racial cleansing and despotic religious zealotry, which ultimately calls for them to turn their backs on the old, corrupt ways of Spiran society. All the while Tidus and Yuna’s bond grows stronger, until the point that it ultimately saves the world when—SPOILER—Tidus sacrifices himself to save Yuna’s life.

The game was a critical and financial success, earning a 92 from MetaCritic, selling over 8 million copies to date, and getting the promise of an HD remake for its 10th anniversary. It is also the first entry in the Final Fantasy series to spawn a direct sequel—Final Fantasy X-2, set two years after the conclusion of X, highlights new struggles faced by Yuna in a quickly changing Spira with the help of her quickly changing wardrobe. While X-2 was decidedly more divisive than its predecessor (with fans decrying its bubbly and light atmosphere in comparison to X‘s more mature and emotional storyline), there is one thing that X-2 does right, and that’s Yuna’s story. Or, more specifically, it works in conjunction with X to truly emphasize Yuna’s struggle after the end of X, show how she changes and grows, and makes one thing pointedly clear: losing Tidus was one of the best things that could have happened to her. In Final Fantasy X and X-2, Yuna’s story is a journey of the self wherein she needed to lose Tidus in order to be whole.

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Archetype III: The Sad Clown

Archetype I: The Perky Refugee
Archetype II: The Jaded Beauty
Archetype III: The Sad Clown
Archetype IV: The Failed Hero
Archetype V: The Pipsqueak
Archetype VI: ???

You can’t escape him. No matter where you go—what classroom full of tired students, what business meeting of bored workers, what overly-packed subway distinctly lacking in personal space—there is always that one guy who has to be funny about it. He is always ready to make a joke, never accounting for appropriateness or good taste, and no matter how serious, stressful, or focused a situation is, that joke is going to happen. You could be dangling off a cliff face together and he’d be making jokes about you leaving him hanging.

Has anybody ever told you you have a really punchable face?

In all likelihood he unwittingly got the idea from storytelling in general: the comic relief character is a trope pulled straight from the quartos of Shakespeare, where guys like this one traipse about tormenting nobles and making clever, genital-based jokes between death scenes. (Nobody likes your Conan jokes, Feste.) Different versions of this prankster thrive in pop culture to this day, from the snarky sitcom bachelor to the quick-witted class clown of cartoondom, so it comes as exactly no surprise that a version of this character appears in Final Fantasy as well. Think of any bad joke that’s made at the wrong moment, any awful and intentional pun, any moment of comedy meant to break of the seriousness of a situation by making us laugh in any Final Fantasy under consideration, and I can almost guarantee you are thinking of that guy.

Goddamnit Wakka.

However, Final Fantasy has done something interesting in making the archetype their own. While this always-male character is a jokester of the highest (or lowest) caliber throughout the entirety of the game, it doesn’t take long for the audience to realize there’s something else going on. Maybe his humor becomes self-deprecating, maybe that clown-paint veneer starts to crack, maybe the party stumbles on just the wrong place at just the wrong moment and it hits him like a freight train—but eventually, it becomes clear that there’s something vulnerable about this funny man, something that turns him into a Sad Clown. Interestingly, it almost always has to do with something as close to his heart as his terrible puns: family, and how he has lost them. Characters that fit under this archetype include Barret (FFVII), Irvine (FFVIII), Wakka (FFX), Balthier (FFXII), and Sazh (FFXIII). Steiner (FFIX) is also a notably clownish character, but does not fit with the archetype on more than a superficial level; several early-entry characters, such as Locke (FFVI), Edgar (FFVI), Setzer (FFVI) and Bartz (FFV) display traits characteristic of the archetype as well, if only partially.

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Archetype II: The Jaded Beauty

Archetype I: The Perky Refugee
Archetype II: The Jaded Beauty
Archetype III: The Sad Clown
Archetype IV: The Failed Hero
Archetype V: The Pipsqueak
Archetype VI: ???

Today we have part two of the Final Fantasy Archetype series, and this time it’s about every fanboy’s (and some fangirls’) favorite Final Fantasy character: the Femme Fatale. She’s sultry, she’s gorgeous, she’s scantily clad! Every Final Fantasy in our scope has some version of this woman it, busy getting everyone hot and bothered. She is always one of the older members of the cast, flaunts her sexuality through revealing clothes and suggestive props, and is the epitome of no-nonsense. Her age also gives her a mark of maturity, and she is one of the most grounded members of the party.

“Is that Brotherhood in your pocket, or . . .”

But that maturity doesn’t just come from anywhere, and it goes deeper than some nicely rounded pixels: this archetypal woman has seen tragedy that has left its mark on her. However, where the Perky Refugee’s tragedy involves large-scale oppression, this character’s struggle is more personal, and her past often goes unmentioned until the story demands she reveal it. The revelation itself is nearly always the same: for all her beauty and desirability, the Jaded Beauty is also pointedly unlucky in love. Simply calling her a femme fatale doesn’t cover that sense of maturity and loss—she is the Jaded Beauty, in all her mystery and mystique, and she is here to give you a cry-boner. Characters that fall under this category are Tifa (FFVII), Quistis (FFVIII), Freya and Beatrix (FFIX), Lulu (FFX), Fran (FFXII), and Fang (FFXIII). Like the Perky Refugee, this archetype is old enough to find incarnations in the classic set:  Celes from FFVI, and Rosa from FFIV.

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