Final Fantasy at 25: Final Fantasy X’s love and loss

What is it about Final Fantasy X that makes it such a strong entry to the series? It’s a tough question to answer, when you really think about it. The battle system was certainly a nice new take on the traditional turn-based battles of the rest of the series. It featured full voice acting, which was a first for the games. It had the perennial “bad guy”, an insane summoner who wants to destroy the world to free it of its suffering.

All these add up to a pretty solid game, but I believe what made Final Fantasy X something more was the emotional impact that it produced. This game brought up a slew of emotions for me, and I know I’m not the only one. I felt that certain aspects of each character represented my life, or someone that I’ve known closely. Whether you’re a jock or an intellectual, a hero or an outsider, loved or loathed; whoever you are, there is someone to identify with in this game. The interweaving story of Tidus and Yuna is one of the greatest of the entire series, and probably the most emotionally heavy. This story is what gives Final Fantasy X the extra push it needed to go from “good” to “great.”

I must give a SPOILER WARNING. If you have yet to play this magnificent game, don’t read the rest of this. It’s getting the HD treatment soon, so just wait to play it.

The hero of the game is, of course, Tidus. He’s a young man who was ripped from his hometown of Zanarkand and thrust into Spira with no warning and no explanation. He goes through the general hero’s growth through the story, becoming something more than he ever thought he could be; however, that’s not what makes Tidus such a great character. What really raises the young blitzball player to a higher plane is the emotion attached with his story. At the end of the day, he’s just a boy who misses his father and wants to go home. It’s a story a lot of us can identify with. I’m not saying that all of our fathers were turned into massive, world-devouring monsters, but, I, for one, have father issues, and I know that I am not alone at all in that.

Tidus coming to terms with Jecht’s disappearance, and later, his transformation into Sin, speaks greatly to me. It’s a fair bit personal, but my father disappeared when I was seven, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since. I’ve come to terms with it, but in my mind, he’s become something less than a man; a beast, if you will. I’d love nothing more than to make some form of peace with him, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have that chance. That’s why this portion of Tidus’ story speaks so strongly to me, and I believe many others. We hope that someday, we can have the chance that Tidus has; to face the man that has caused such pain for us, and finally have the question answered: Why?

The fact that he is just trying to get home draws in even more people. Everyone has been homesick at some point in their life, and it’s a powerful and sometimes bittersweet feeling. Home can sometimes be a place that doesn’t exist anymore; once you leave your family home, it’s never the same. It’s something that you’ll always love, but can never reach again. And this is what happens to Tidus: he discovers that his Zanarkand doesn’t exist anymore; it’s all a dream of the fayth. Along with Zanarkand, he finds out that he is also naught but a dream created by the fayth, as well. Not only is he unable to go home, but by saving Spira from the wrath of Sin and Yu Yevon, Tidus will end the fayth’s dreams, which will cause him to disappear, as well.

The story of Yuna is, in some respects, the reverse of Tidus’ story. Yuna is a summoner, those tasked with defeating Sin and bringing the Calm, which results in the summoner’s death. Her father, Braska, was the last to defeat Sin, sacrificing himself in the process.  Yuna bears her burden with grace, knowing that she will never have a chance to see the peace she will ultimately bring to Spira, like her father before her.  Even when Tidus, with whom she is quickly falling in love with, gives her the option of abandoning her quest to live with him in peace in his dreamland of Zanarkand, she overcomes the temptation. She feels her duty to Spira overshadows anything, even her own happiness and her own life. Later, however, in a rush of resolve, Yuna decides to end the tradition of summoning the final aeon, instead deciding to attempt to destroy Sin once and for all, bringing the violence and death that has plagued Spira for 1000 years to an end. Yuna comes to the conclusion that she, along with her friends, can bring an eternal calm to the world, and that her death is not necessary. She resolves to destroy Yu Yevon, who is responsible for the cycle of Calm and Sin; however, she is not yet aware that by doing so, she will also be responsible for destroying Tidus.

All the emotions packed into this game, all the love and loss, hatred and victories, come to a resounding crescendo in the final scene. After defeating Yu Yevon, Yuna attempts to embrace Tidus, only to find that she is unable to; he is already beginning to disappear. Choking back tears, she tells him she loves him. Tidus, with an expression of great sadness and resolve on his face, holds her, and, running through Yuna, leaps off the airship to be reunited with his father in the Farplane. It evokes such emotion, that, I must admit, I had to choke back tears myself.

And that’s what all art strives for; to touch those strings in your heart, and produce a reaction, whether it’s happy, sad, mad, strange; it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s not ambivalent. Final Fantasy X most definitely does not settle for ambivalence; instead, it dances with love and loss, bringing forth some of the harshest and sweetest emotions that people can experience. Some may call it melodramatic, but I call it beautiful, and what makes FFX what it is: one of top entries in the Final Fantasy series.

Next week is grand finale time! Join us for a recap on Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and what the future may hold for the series! As always, thanks for reading, and Happy Anniversary Final Fantasy.