Author Topic: Final Fantasy X: A Review  (Read 427 times)

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Offline niam2023

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Final Fantasy X: A Review
« on: May 12, 2016, 09:07:49 pm »
I've decided to write up a draft of something I've long been intending to do, but certain events have made me more inclined to want to do something like this. Namely, just going by the title of the piece, its obvious it involves Final Fantasy X. Many pieces have been written about the game, from the combat to the storyline, but for right now I've decided to take a look at the underlying themes and ideas espoused during the game, both by characters and in things we see in the environment.

First and foremost, a domineering, atmospheric force can be attributed to the Yevonite Religion, which reveres the "saintly" figure of Yu Yevon. There are relatively few precepts made clear except for a few extremely strongly emphasized ones - namely, do not involve yourself with Machina - and notions of Sin and punishment, in ways that actually sound extremely familiar. As we go through the game, Yuna, our Summoner, acquires a number of Summons from Yevonite Temples, which interestingly enough take much from numerous mythologies.

Yet despite this, we see a prevailing ideology in the Yevonite hierarchy, an idea that Humans do not have the might requisite to permanently change their circumstance, the idea that only through Yevonite Worship and Ideas can people have some element of worth, and that the monstrous Sin is a punishment for what the Yevonite church deemed a prior civilization which used Machina too heavily. No real, rational reason is given for this phobia of machines except for simply "Yu Yevon says that Machina are bad, thus they are".

Elaborating upon Sin: Its name is certainly no accident. Borrowing both from the Japanese Word "Shin" or "Truth", and the English Word Sin, meaning Crime or Evil, we see a creature that more or less rampages across the world year after year, unleashing its horrific spawn and destroying entire civilized cities or towns. We see a large and expansive underwater city, and the character Wakka informs us that the city was destroyed by Sin. There is also a vaguely holy notion given to the ideal of a Summoner battling against Sin, perhaps lending a Judeo-Christian Messiah-Sacrifice Motif to the proceeding given the fate of a Summoner who fights against Sin using the established Yevonite method.

Yet, despite the Yevonite stranglehold against technological advancement, we see a recurring theme of Yevon's Hypocrisy. Inside of the Capital City of Bevelle, we see large golem enemies and other creatures that give the impression of being mechanical / biomechanical servitors of Yevon. The fact these creatures are still Fiends, and thus still gathered souls of the dead, is a ramification with horrific implications as to Yevon's true nature. Which is something we see in their relation with Sin.

Maester of Yevon Seymour Guado is involved in the campaign called Operation Mi'ihen to eradicate Sin using purely militaristic means, and even involving the much spoken of "forbidden" Machina. When Wakka voices the opinion of a shocked Yevonite who is wondering why his Maester is operating in such a scurrilous manner, Seymour says perhaps the most telling words as to the culpability of the Yevonite Hierarchy. "Pretend that you didn't see them" and following Wakka's disbelieving remark in response with; "Pretend I didn't say it."

The Yevonite Church reflects upon an increasingly corrupt religious structure devoted primarily to ensuring things STAY exactly as they are forever, regardless or even perhaps BECAUSE of the misery this inflicts on people. There is a theme within Yevonite Beliefs that suffering begets nobility, and sacrifice brings with it the ultimate honour. Yet nobody who died to Sin's Spawn or his cruel power ASKED if they wanted this dubious, malign nobility, nor indeed did anyone inform the lay people of the Church what it was they were truly worshipping.

We see later in the game that most of the people involved in the higher level hierarchy of the Yevon Church...are Dead. They are "Unsent" spirits that have remained on the mortal plain, when in this setting a Summoner is supposed to Send these Spirits to the Afterlife, lest they become Fiends. Yet the Yevonite Higher Ups are more than happy to make sure that people under them remain under the so called austere leadership of the everliving undead. As I paraphrase from Maester Kinock "I prefer the immortal wisdom of the dead to the misguided failures of the living".

We see a deconstructive theme in this, of the reactionary view point extolling the wisdom of one's ancestors, preserving the exact state of the past, and even the Conservative affinity for the "good old days" regardless how those old days really were for people living then. We see this view point eviscerated, of narcissistic and twisted undead souls enslaving people to a system of sacrifices and despair. And none of this would be possible without the High Priestess.

Lady Yunalesca is one of the most fascinating characters in the storyline. If not for the utter denunciation her ideology of false hope, then in how she seems to buy the belief of Yevon in its entirety even to the extent of willingly sacrificing her loved one Lord Zaon as part of the Cycle. We see in her a person who is utterly convinced of their own religious rightness, and how the sinners are those who dare want to create their own destiny as opposed to following the directives of Yu Yevon as she and others before them did.

The Yevon Church and the various higher ups within have a deepseated fear of advancement, for even though Operation Mi'ihen failed, the fact that the Machina were able to force Sin to outright combating them briefly, its clear that if technology advances far enough, the sacred arbiter of suffering might Himself fail to humble mankind in despair. Which is why Lady Yunalesca, once it becomes clear that she cannot force or manipulate the present Summoner and Guardians into making use of the established method, pitches one final battle to try and ensure nothing changes - EVER. Because if it did not change for her, then she will not allow the sacrificial system to be undone for anyone else.

The fact that there is a supposed escape clause to Sin's rampages presents a false hope to the masses that Yunalesca and the others in the Church exploit. There is utterly no way such a purity would be able to be realistically achieved, and besides, the reality of Yu Yevon himself and Sin make it clear the escape clause was a lie from the start.

As we proceed even later, we see our old enemy Maester Seymour back. To go into depth on him, he says some very interesting things in regards to this game's themes. As an antagonist, he frequently espouses belief that hope will be slain by him and the "meaningless existence" of those who would dare oppose his holy wroth be terminated likewise. He sees death as a gift, and the "eternal afterlife" as worth the pain and bleeding of death, a madness that we see quite frequently in real life and in the wrong places on the internet. There is even a whole site (Rapture Ready) devoted to the idea of a sanctified death leading to a blessed eternal life after as part of Yevon's Belief System. Seymour co-opted this to include his notions of being Unsent as a Blessing, but its clear that Unsent In The Church are not nearly as frowned upon - as we see from earlier events - as one might think JUST going by Yevon's belief system.

The Themes of this game leading into the end game strongly condemn beliefs that extol the values of the past, without any awareness for the different perspectives on that past. It is a game that could very well be surprisingly "subversive", in the way that such servitors as the modern right wing would understand it. This is a game that encourages rejection of the "holy righteousness" of they that came before you, and making your own choices as opposed to looking to what you are expected to do or what is aligned for you. People are expected to ask questions, to discover through Tidus the unsettling reality of the continual Messianic "sacrifice" of the Summoner for the sake of some Calm before Sin returns simply because of a corrupt system. And through this discovery, it becomes clear that this System MUST be rejected.

We see this in the end game, where despite rejecting the Yevonite Solution and even slaying the High Priestess Herself, the heroic party manages to induce paralysis in Sin by making use of a Hymn, allowing them to move to it and blast the creature open, to allow for transport inside.

The creatures inside of Sin are mostly horrific undead and beings that draw from Biblical texts, perhaps lending an impression that Yu Yevon has staffed the interior of his holy horror with monsters he designed to humble humanity and force them to their knees to beg for his forgiveness. We see Maester Seymour one more time, now a Part of Sin, and we dispatch him. At first there was horror attributed to Seymour, and then revulsion for the evil he was willing to do. But in this final battle, as he takes a form like a blue angel emerging from four Mandala structures, the heroes have nothing but disdain for him and he WILL stay gone this time. They've tired of this creature, crooning about the worth of despair and death, and give him at long last what he spent his Unlife cheating.

At the end we see Jecht and a strange father son reunion occurs. Tidus and Jecht's Relationship has always been a trying one, and Tidus made no secret of his loathing for his father, but its become clear by the end that the man he despised has become a vessel for and a slave of Yu Yevon. Thus as Jecht is forcefully enslaved again, we see Tidus deciding to liberate himself from his past and his father's shadow, as well as liberate his father from the slavery of the deity he was sacrificed to.

Jecht has two phases, which perhaps highlights his role within Sin. He is the utmost most powerful agent of Yu Yevon within. At the first phase we see him fighting at his most basic, but the second phase sees the image behind him burn ever stronger, and Jecht draws a sword out of himself, queued with flame.

Defeating him however brings the parasite full circle, and we must now sacrifice the Aeons in combat to make sure that Yu Yevon has nothing to turn into his next holy beast of despair. At the end we see the true nature of the being who held the entire world of Final Fantasy X within its clutches...little more than a parasite, feeding off of the world, with the Yevon Eye front and centre, little tendrils moving up and down. Throughout the fight the party has auto-life on, meaning that dying permanently against him is impossible outside petrification, which Yu Yevon cannot inflict.

We attain this from the Fayth, those who were sealed away to allow for the Aeons to be summoned, and who linger in a state not quite death, but not quite life either. Indicating even these beings, within Yevonite Holy Places, are tired of their appointed role and wish for Yu Yevon to cease.

Yu Yevon is commonly cited thus as being an extremely easy final boss. With no devotion to him, nor any fear of him, even within his summoned domain and having faced off with all of his power and not been humbled, the party confronts this "holy being" at the centre of an entire religion. His main attack is Gravija, a link to Sin's Gravity based attacks, but later on he is capable of both Osmose and Ultima, the former a Mana Drain attack and the latter an extremely powerful spell...but it cannot kill you, due to Auto-Life.

You've overcome the chains of despair, and no longer revere Yu Yevon for what he is, what he did, OR what he summoned. Thus, it is thematically fitting that the creature be little more than an easily crushed parasite desperately trying to make you fear him again.

This game had some downright interesting themes to look at in depth, and perhaps something can be said for not making them too overt, and only years later in retrospect, long after the release of even the HD Re-Release, do we see the themes that strike at things taken for granted in both Japan and in the world at large. The crowning theme of this game it seems is Screw Destiny, And In Fact, Punch It In The Face / Slash It With A Sword.

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