Monday, April 28, 2014

Part 12: The Most Depressing Family Reunion

We last left our friends at the Guado ancestral manor where Seymour, with his characteristic lack of romantic finesse, backed Yuna into a corner and proposed marriage. He’s not even pretending to hide his extreme shadiness anymore. (Not that he was making much of an attempt before.)

And this is going to get super dark right out of the gate.

 “It would give Spira something cheery to talk about, for a change.”

Waffles of course still doesn’t know how the pilgrimage is really going to end and just doesn’t want Yuna to marry Seymour because he knows he’s bad news (and also because he has a badly-concealed crush on her himself). Rikku, who does know how it’s going to end, is still looking for a way to stop it, even if the alternative is Seymour.

Rikku has had limited experience with Seymour; she probably wasn’t in Luca during the fiend attack or at Operation Mi’ihen – although we don’t know that for sure – and she just joined the party. Right now she just knows him as “That important Yevon guy with the cool house and nice fruit.” You’d think she’d be more alert to how uncomfortable he is clearly making Yuna, but since he is offering a scenario in which she might get to live, she is jumping at that idea.

But I’m always bothered by the fact that Lulu, who is wiser, is less “OH HELL NO” about this. I mean yes, Lulu generally has the whole “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” thing going on, (she is, as we’ll see in her next few scenes, actually quite ruffled about everything happening right now), but she is being awfully neutral towards the prospect of her darling being violated by a creeper.

Last time when I played this game with a friend, we got to this part and I brought this up when we started discussing Seymour’s intentions. She suggested that he might view it strictly as a marriage of symbolism for the people and (doing an excellent impression of him, I might add) after they were married just be like “And here is your room. Good night, Lady Yuna.” And they go their separate ways when not appearing in public.

However, from what we’ve seen of Seymour, he has little respect for her personal boundaries and in addition, needs to forge a bond with her, for which he specifically used Yunalesca and Zaon as an example, in order to become her Final Aeon. He must have some kind of attachment to her already, albeit an unhealthy, twisted one, and he would take her agreeing to marry him as a sign that she is reciprocating.

But Yuna doesn’t love him. She respects him as a summoner and a Maester, is intimidated by him and in awe of how much more powerful he is than she, and has empathy for him because of his tragic past and the similarity of his story to hers, but she doesn’t love him. She’s never even considered the possibility of romantic attachment for herself, because she’s spent her young adulthood planning to give her life for Spira, which is the reason she’s so flustered and conflicted to find herself falling for Tidus. If she consents to marry Seymour, she is doing so because she feels it is her responsibility as a summoner to do what she can to help the people of Spira, not because she wants to. Any physical contact he initiates with her within the bounds of their marriage is going to be unwanted even if she agrees to it, which means that there is a definite possibility that he is going to rape her.


Auron’s main concern is that Yuna stick to her pilgrimage, as usual, but he distrusts Seymour too, mainly because Seymour keeps trying to poke at his pyreflies. Wakka still has too much faith in Yevon to question the motives of a Maester. Kimahri already made it clear that he doesn’t trust Seymour. And Yuna of course already knows that her life is not her own; she was already planning to give her life to the people of Spira, this is just another way of doing that.

I’m sure this is underwhelming to all of you playing the HD version with its beautiful remastered backgrounds but I think these areas are really pretty.

Waffles still can’t imagine why Spirans willingly want to communicate with ghosts.

Actually he does belong there, and that’s the problem. Rikku’s not going either, and stops to explain one of the conflicting theories on the nature of the Farplane. Most people believe that the sent dead reside there, and can be called up to communicate with privately. The Al Bhed, however, believe that the shades of the dead are only an illusion created by the pyreflies reacting to the memories of the visitors, and she says she prefers to keep her memories inside.

If you ask Maechen about this, he mentions that only the dead have ever been seen there, never the memory of a living person, and puts forth his own theory that “Maybe the dead leave a bit of themselves in the hearts of the living. And that little bit borrows the pyreflies’ power for their paranormal performance! (Or maybe not. Who knows?)” And there’s nobody there trying to call up famous dead people they’ve never met like the High Summoners or anything. (At least that we see. It could also be out of respect, but it seems like it’d be a lot more expedient than praying at their statues.)

I would like to add to this that the unsent dead don’t appear there, either. It could still be true that the shades are an illusion created by the reaction of pyreflies to the visitors’ memories, but if that’s the case then the pyreflies that take the shape of the dead person are that actual person’s pyreflies, because we see someone trying to call a missing dead person and not succeeding. If the pyreflies could take any shape, not just the shape of the person they used to be, then other pyreflies could have reacted to her memories and created the image of the person she was looking for whether or not she was actually in the Farplane.

Waffles pokes the abyss.

He says of these two stone-faced people floating dismally in space. I dunno, though. At the end we do (spoilers) see a dead guy interacting with other dead guys in the Farplane so I would assume that they do have the ability to be happy together there, and not just exist as a cloud of pyreflies. I wonder if their pyreflies react to each other so that dead people can only meet people they have memories of from when they were alive, otherwise it seems like the Farplane would be really crowded. (Thanks, Sin.)

I read a book once called The Brief History of the Dead that had the premise of a kind of limbo in the afterlife where the dead reside as long as they remain in living memory. All of the people there were remembered by someone who was still alive, and when the last person who remembered them died, they disappeared, presumably moving on. I have wondered if the Farplane is a bit like that, since the souls of the dead being tied to the memories of the living is brought up a few times between both games.

“Guess your place is here.”

It takes seeing Chappu in the Farplane for Wakka to really accept the fact that his brother is dead, and didn’t ride a space whale through time or get a bleach job, a new wardrobe, and amnesia and start calling himself the Star Player of the Zanarkand Abes. The removal of the faint hope that Tidus might actually be Chappu, or a link to him, doesn’t make him love Tidus any less, though. He still regards him as a little brother.

(And from a gameplay standpoint this causes the Brotherhood sword to level up.)

Over here Lulu is also coming to terms with the idea that it’s time to let go of her grief and guilt over Chappu’s death and move on. I find it kind of touching and kind of sad that she’s pouring out her concerns to Waffles, of all people. (Part of this is obviously because he’s the player, and otherwise we wouldn’t get to hear what she’s saying.) It’s nice that she trusts him enough to open up to him but that probably also means that she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to, now that she doesn’t want to burden Yuna with her troubles because she knows she has enough of her own already.

Then Waffles tries to give romantic advice, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

Way to fumble that blitzball, Square-Enix.

But she’s not just talking about herself here. (Probably wanting to deflect the conversation away from the subject of her love life.) Very slowly, Lulu is starting to warm up to the idea of Tidus and Yuna, maybe because the alternative of Seymour is making her realize how much more comfortable she’d be aboard the S.S. Tuna. But she makes it clear that this is advice for the very far future, and that if, hypothetically, he were to date Yuna then he’d have to have a better understanding of what goes into a stable relationship.

(To Waffles’s credit, though, the fact that he brings up getting along rather than romance or physical attraction shows surprising maturity for a 17-year-old.)

Unfortunately we don't get to see Kimarhi talking with any dead friends or relations he might have, so no extra backstory on him, so we move along to Yuna, who is
thinking back her memories as a seven-year-old at the beginning of her father’s Calm. (I also didn’t notice what Lulu was doing back there until I started cropping my screencaps and realized I too had forgotten something in Guadosalam, and I’d stopped playing at the Macalania Travel Agency, so I trekked all the way back here to cap three lines of dialogue.)

What she wants is not necessarily “to get married” but “to live,” but Waffles, not picking up on that, is just like “All right! No wedding! Let’s get on with the pilgrimage and leave that blue-haired weirdo in the dust.”

Before they go, she tells him to try calling Jecht, hoping to prove that he isn’t dead.

As expected, he is a no-show.

"Destroying cities, dragging me through time . . ."

But, as he suddenly realizes, this was exactly the case.

He tells Yuna that, when Jecht disappeared, his mother just pined away for him, essentially dying of a broken heart. This concept was helpfully illustrated for him by the icehearted old lady next door, who told him “when a lovebird dies, the one left behind . . . it just gives up living so it can join its mate.” Little intense there, old lady. 

But she never did rejoin him. She's on the Farplane alone.

I get the impression from this that the next in line to inherit Mini Waffles was (a very uncomfortable) Auron, but throughout the game it doesn’t seem like the two of them really know each other well enough for Auron to have raised him. He could have been sent to boarding school or a distant relative or something while Auron watched over him from afar. Maybe paid for his school and blitzball lessons depending on whether Jecht, being a celebrity athlete, had left them money to spare or had drunk the family into oblivion and left them with a bunch of debts when he disappeared.

As we leave, we are followed by an elderly gentleman attempting to forcibly unsend himself.

For dramatic irony, Auron’s pyreflies start escaping right after he says this.

Re-sending the reluctant spirit is more exhausting for Yuna than sending even several willing spirits. As he goes he leaves behind a sphere that he has somehow had on his person since he had a body, because pyreflies. (I would say that he somehow recorded it in the Farplane, but he specifically mentions that he was still alive when he made it.)

We hurry back to Guadosalam, wondering what would cause the erstwhile Maester to be King Hamleting out of the Farplane.

As Yuna goes to talk to Seymour as planned, Auron warns her that this is the Guado’s problem, not hers, but he should really know her better than that. Yuna is never not trying to solve someone else’s problems. It’s the whole reason she’s on a pilgrimage. (This is an aspect of her character that carries into X-2 as well.)

At this point you get a conversation that changes depending on whether or not you’re better friends with Lulu or Rikku. It’s actually pretty hard to get the Rikku conversation, since she’s in the party for such a short amount of time and Lulu is the Keeper of Exposition (a disciple of Maechen, no doubt) so the game frequently places her near you so you won’t forget to talk to her. For roleplaying purposes I like Tidus to be friends with Rikku, but I think the Lulu conversation gives some valuable insight into her current frame of mind so I went with that one this time.

If you want the Rikku conversation, you have to avoid talking to Lulu first whenever you have the opportunity to talk to people, since the first person you talk to gives you friendship points, don’t have Tidus heal her in battle, and throw healing items at Rikku as often as you can on the way to Guadosalam. If you still feel the need to tip the scales in her favor, and you’re horrible, you can have Tidus take a swing at Lulu a few times. (If you’ve been following the sphere grid normally he probably won’t be able to hit her.)

Waffles never did develop the healthy fear of Lulu that Wakka has. He has no problem following her around asking all these invasive questions. I have trouble writing about this scene because Lulu is just distractingly beautiful. It’s like the time I had this tea-scented wallflower plugin in my art room that smelled so nice I had to move it because I wasn’t getting any work done.

Tidus is too earnest to consider the possibility of a loveless marriage. After all, his parents loved each other to the point that it was detrimental to him.

I love “All you need is determination” as an iconic line for her except that the rest of it is “If you have that, you don’t need love.” Yikes. It's interesting that the context of this line is that she's talking about Yuna getting married, though. She already seems to know that navigating a relationship with Seymour is going to take endurance on Yuna's part.

Lulu knows that Yuna doesn’t love Seymour, and she doesn’t want her to get married, but since both of these things are out of her control, (and I’ve pointed out before that she hates having things out of her control) she is trying to console herself with the notion that even if Yuna gets married, she’ll be doing it out of love for Spira rather than love for Seymour, and things won’t change. If the pilgrimage continues, she will still be Yuna’s guardian. She objected to Yuna’s becoming a summoner in the beginning, but if Yuna quits her pilgrimage now as a result of getting married, she will have to surrender her to Seymour and will no longer be able to protect her.

She’s probably also pretty creeped out by the thought of Yuna returning Seymour’s creepy affections and is reassuring herself that this is not the case. (Just speculation: she might also be worried that if Yuna does grow to love Seymour, she will no longer need Lulu like she used to. She had the same hesitation over Yuna’s blossoming attachment to Tidus way back in Kilika – she still sees Yuna as her baby sister and an innocent. Yuna is already starting to outgrow her dependence on Lulu as she makes an effort to become stronger and more independent, and if she gains the emotional maturity to fall in love and enter an adult relationship, Lulu will have to let her, even if it means letting her go.)

Then she teleports off the balcony.

It’s rare that we see Lulu this flustered and at odds with herself. Usually she is the model of composure, but her anxiety over Yuna and being unable to do anything about it is causing her carefully-maintained decorum to fray, and it’s disconcerting, for her and for us.

She realizes she was being less than generous towards Yuna by hoping that she wasn’t really in love with Seymour, because that would mean dooming her to being trapped in the gilded birdcage of a loveless symbolic marriage. But she still doesn’t want her to love Seymour. Or Tidus. Or anybody she can’t trust not to hurt her.

(The same thing Chappu used to say about her.)

Pick your poison, Waffles, how do you want to offend Lulu?

A: Bluntly admit to not caring about Yuna.

(What, isn’t Yuna good enough for you?)

B: Admit to doing exactly what you were just told not to do.

(Just wait until after she’s dead. Lulu, you are mean.)

C: Hit on Lulu.

(I am dying to know the contents of this mysterious list. Possibly a list of people whose belts she has stolen. I love his victorious fist-pump there too. "Woohoo I might have a chance!")

I usually can’t resist C. because it’s the most entertaining but for roleplaying purposes I like to pick the second one because it’s in character for him. (Although there is very little reward in terms of extra cutscenes for building up a relationship with Yuna, sadly.)

I assume it was Seymour who sent him, since there don’t seem to be any other summoners around and the Guado have only been Yevonites for the past ten years. That is pretty messed up.

These two standing over here in the corner together, probably muttering to each other about what to do about Yuna’s Seymour problem, is super cute. I want to see more Lulu-Kimahri friend shipping.

Jogging around Guadosalam we run into Shelinda coming in from the Thunder Plains, for some reason. (Maybe she just stepped out to check the weather. Nope, still raining.) She asks if Yuna is with us.

Waffles says he’ll try to remember this, but then he never does call him by his title. ;)

Since Seymour isn’t here, Yuna is inside consulting with Jyscal’s portrait. I mentioned earlier that they kind of have a holographic effect to them, so I wonder if she’s actually expecting a pyrefly-powered response or if this is more like people praying to the High Summoners for assistance.

English Localization Team: “Surely this is a reference that will stand the test of time!”

She tells him that it’s nothing, but he can tell that she isn’t being truthful. It must have taken a lot of nerve and/or desperation for Yuna to lie to Auron, a man for whom she has so much respect.

(This is the scene that I forgot to get on my first run and had to come all the way back here for.) So if you go back to the Farplane observatory any time between now and the next stage of this little plot arc in the Calm Lands, you find Lulu by herself, attempting to call someone who isn’t responding. (And it’s clearly not Chappu.) She is very short with Waffles if he tries to ask questions.

Thanks, Lulu. You’re such a reassuring presence.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock.

Along the way Maechen backstories that the Thunder Plains used to be almost unnavigable until an Al Bhed man came along and used machina to build the lightning rod towers. (And actually died in the effort.)

Crossing the Thunder Plains is an essential part of the pilgrimage, but Yevon is eager to omit that both an Al Bhed and machina made it possible.

“We need to have an important cutscene over there!”

Everybody else – including Yuna – just abandons Rikku at the travel agency and keeps going. I assume they’re only teasing her, but it seems pretty mean of them.

But in response, she really starts slinging some barbs. I think this dialogue is supposed to be funny and not especially hurtful, but it’s kind of terrible for her to say considering that she knows Yuna actually is going to die young, and that none of them have living mothers.

Check your still-alive family member privilege, Rikku.

Inside, Yuna abruptly professes to be tired and goes off by herself. Hmmm . . .

She says, standing two feet away from her.

My brother tried to beat it back with a spell. But he missed and hit me instead! It was a Thunder spell – “Bzzzzzzt!

So it is possible for spells to miss, but Lulu never does. (Despite only being able to see out of one eye.) I would guess that magic is guided more by intuition than aim. Either that or she has had a lot of practice.

I like the implication here that Yuna is capable of moods as bad as Lulu’s, and that Wakka knows this from experience. She isn’t mild-mannered and demure all the time.

Yeah I kind of doubt Auron had to deal with Braska getting marriage proposals from creepers and kidnapped every four feet but you never know.

You get Auron Friendship points if you pick the second answer but more backstory if you pick the first one so, sorry Auron.

I had first assumed that Kimahri brought Auron to Rin’s Travel Agency after finding him wounded outside Bevelle, and he died that night and walked away unsent, but when we were trying to figure out how to fit together the series of events surrounding Braska’s defeat of Sin, AuronLu also suggested that Rin could have found him in the Calm Lands and taken him back either to the travel agency or Bevelle on his hovercraft. (Also the end result of that endeavor was that you actually can’t fit together that series of events in any way that makes chronological sense unless someone has a jetpack-powered chocobo.)

Waffles takes advantage of the distraction to sneak away after Yuna, and hears a mysterious man's voice coming from behind her closed door. (Although, how does he know this was her room? He could be keyhole-spying on a total stranger for all he knows.)

Professional athlete.

Think fast!

Nice save.

I’m not exactly sure what he’s suggesting here. Coming from Tidus, I’d assume he meant something like “Punch him in the nose” but Yuna, for some reason, gets extremely upset about it. Enough to run off in distress and leave him alone with the sphere she was just attempting to hide from him. What did he mean that was horrible enough for her to need to rush out of the room that very instant?

Uh oh. Wakka’s big brother senses are tingling.

“My hair!”

It’s sweet that Yuna is still concerned about Rikku even when she’s under such stress herself.

On the contrary, it’s Rikku who doesn’t get Auron here. She’s the only one of them who didn’t know him, or know of him, prior to the pilgrimage. His status as the Legendary Guardian and the respect it commands is completely lost on her. While he might appreciate having someone around who just sees him as a normal guy, he is not going to halt the pilgrimage to accommodate the whims of a fifteen-year-old who just joined them the other day. And he's certainly not going to try to cheer her up. This is the pilgrimage, kiddo. We've got abominations to fight, mountains to climb, and children to sacrifice. Better get used to it.

Outside, Paparazzi Wantz runs up to snap a picture of Yuna’s weary party while Rikku sasses Auron in the background.

(The framing here makes it look like she's addressing Lulu, especially, which is meaningful if you consider that it's implied she hasn't been confiding in Lulu like she used to about anything for some time.)

We’re almost out of into the woods when Yuna calls a halt because she has something to say, and she has to say it now, I guess because Macalania is Seymour’s territory and she doesn’t want anyone who reports back to him to happen to overhear. Or maybe because the constant storm provides an appropriately dramatic backdrop.

Lulu sounds completely crushed when she hears this. She’s been warring with herself over the pro-Seymour/no-Seymour sides of the engagement debate almost as much as Yuna has, and, despite what she said to Tidus, she is not fine with her getting married, even if the pilgrimage does continue.

When I first started writing Guardian, I had to decide what angle to take on Lulu and Yuna’s relationship, and specifically whether I wanted a (tragic, unrequited) romantic element. Ordinarily I am all for girlslash, love triangles, and unrequited love angst, but in this case I prefer to interpret them as having a securely loving relationship with their distress coming from external sources rather than having one of them worrying about whether the other one will ever return the affections she is unable to express. But this exchange specifically and Lulu’s reaction (and her sad posture throughout the scene) was what made me consider taking it in a different direction.

(Now, while I don’t personally ship them romantically, I enjoy when other people do. But I have found disappointingly few fics to that effect and even fewer that ship them the way I do, in a non-romantic but very close and deeply loving kind of way. Why are you letting me down, FFX fandom. I know it’s kind of a rarepair but how come I have come across Tidus/Auron, Tidus/Seymour, Seymour/Auron, and eleventy billion Auron/Rikku fics but so few Lulu/Yuna ones? *shakes paws at sky*)

Nancy Drew over here is on top of the mystery. She didn’t even know there was a sphere.

Again, it must have been very difficult for Yuna to refuse a request from Auron, especially with him staring her in the face.

She already knows what he’s going to ask. Sadly, she might even have gotten the impression from him that he cares about her more as a summoner than as a person because he has repeatedly impressed on her the importance of completing her pilgrimage.

His cynical tone, however, makes it clear that he is not fine either with whatever she’s up to. (And he knows she’s up to something.)

(Have I mentioned how much I love it when tall people bend down to talk to Yuna??)

Here's another instance of someone getting ready to do something stupid because "it's the right thing to do."

Yuna remains expressionless and withdrawn into herself while Rikku talks to her, and doesn’t react until the end, and then she smiles and puts her hand over Rikku’s to reassure her. Her sad-eyed smile tips us off that it’s all a performance to put her friend at ease, and she will not, in fact, be fine.

His assessment of Yuna here is one of my favorite Yuna-related quotes. (Although we’ve seen that she’s not as serious as all that. But it’s only after Auron arrived that she stopped fooling around with her friends. He never got to see her running up the stairs in Kilika or learning to whistle with Waffles in Luca.)

Yuna is agreeing to go along with the marriage, or at least as far as accepting Seymour’s proposal, because she feels it’s going to be the only way she’s going to get the opportunity to confront him about what she saw on Jyscal’s sphere alone, without his guardians or hers nearby. She knows it’s going to be dangerous for her to defy him – he is very powerful, physically, politically, and summoner-ly, and she doesn’t want to endanger her friends to being arrested, excommunicated, or even killed. But she is willing to take that risk for herself, trusting only in her own skills and his apparent affections for her to protect her from him.

Auron sounds much gentler with Waffles when he says this. I think he’s starting to become endeared to the idea of the two of them together for their own sake, not just because of some greater plan.

After this illumination, Waffles feels a lot better about Yuna marrying Seymour.

Barthello is a hot mess without Dona. I really wonder how they were apart for long enough to be separated, but the Al Bhed do move fast and are also apparently waiting under every rock, bush, and shoopuf. Auron tells him to calm his bellowing self down.

It must mean a lot to Barthello to have his hero offer to help him out. Especially since Dona gave him so much sass when they met.


*the Star Player of the Zanarkand Abes runs away from a butterfly*

I will take lightning dodging over this any day.

We can’t stay to watch the sunset over the Moonflow but we have time to watch you cut down a tree? Okay.

But then he hacks through that tree like it was made of Aunt Fussy's commemorative plates. Waffles and Yuna are very impressed with Auron’s latent lumberjack skills.

I love these curly trees.

Yuna, where are you going?? This rogue jello is not going to fight itself.

Woooooo! Level 2 Key Sphere!! Lulu your time has come!!!

(I actually should have thought about freeing Waffles and Yuna, who have been pining on either side of a Level 2 Lock like Pyramus and Thisbe since almost the beginning of the game, but I got overexcited and opened the gate between Auron and Lulu instead. I have star-crossed lovers all over my Sphere Grid. Hopefully nobody will be mistaken for eaten by a lion in the time it takes me to get to the bottom of the lake where the next one is.)

We also find the first of Jecht’s amateur indie films, from his brief career as an experimental filmmaker:

Once more Auron is pointing out to Tidus the parallels between his journey and his father’s, and using it to try to subtly (or not so subtly) persuade him again that he needs to be the one to defeat Sin. This time, he is more receptive to the idea.

And in this moment, we see Tidus coming to the exact same realization. He can’t go back to Zanarkand, and even if he could, he can’t leave his new friends, whom the camera is panning meaningfully over, behind.

So, as he learned from Yuna, he puts on a brave smile and a cheerful disposition, and continues his journey.

On the way out Auron corners him with an awkwardly blunt addendum. So far it’s been easier for Tidus to keep reminding himself that he hates his father, both as an abusive, absent parent and as a world-destroying space monster, because it’s going to make the emotional hurdle of having to confront and kill him in the end less difficult to jump. Because he doesn’t hate Jecht entirely; when he was young he was desperate for his approval, followed in his footsteps as a blitzer and now, without meaning to, as a guardian, and is still trying to get his attention. But it’s been easier for him to keep his feelings at a distance.

“You kids had better stop fighting up there or, Yevon help me, I will turn this pilgrimage around!” *plushbash*

I love the interior of the Macalania Travel Agency. The polar bear rug, the wood stove, the rocking chair, the ice skates and winter coats for sale, Yuna standing with her face in the corner. It all looks so cozy.

(Except for poor Yuna.)

I think Game of Thrones fans might disagree, but I only know about that series what I have seen on tumblr.

Seymour presumably skedaddled when he heard about the Lord Jyscal ghostbusting incident, but I’m not sure what his plans were from there since Yuna catches up to him before then.

(I never noticed Tromell's spiky ponytail before.)

This is of course exactly what he wants. I wonder if he was planning to just hitch himself to her pilgrimage as an extra guardian or take her off on her own, to ensure she didn’t choose another fayth. The eight of them journeying together would be the most spectacularly awkward honeymoon.

“See you later if I don’t get killed or end up in prison. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

The time-honored Guado tradition of kidnapping the bride.

After she leaves Auron urges Tidus to say something to Yuna to express his solidarity. (Specifically, “Sorry,” I guess for inconveniencing her in some way or allowing this to happen. I think there is some cultural nuance here that I am missing.) He runs after her and whistles, which I tried like four times to catch a screenshot of, but all I could get was this one of him looking like he’s about to sneeze. Good enough.

But suddenly! As soon as Yuna is separated from her guardians, she and Tromell are surrounded by snowmobiling Al Bhed, who were apparently waiting in a snowbank for just this opportunity. These guys are the most punctual kidnappers.

So I will leave you on that cliffhanger.

Next time: No one mourns the wicked. (Except Yuna.)


  1. Oh wow, I never knew about that little scene with Lulu in the farplane! I guess I just never bothered to go back until much later in the game, after I've finished everything in the Calm Lands.

    Your analysis of Seymour is really making me look at this game in a new light, particularly when it comes to the role of summoners in the game. Seymour didn't finish his pilgrimage, but he still retained the ability to summon aeons - I wonder if it's that way for other summoners who abandoned their pilgrimage, like Zuke. I guess since Belgemine is still able to summon her aeons, we can assume that's the case for all former summoners, right?

    And then that brings me back to the question I asked on your tumblr a while ago...that seems like an awfully messy situation for Yevon. Former summoners running around who can still call on the fayth, but who aren't helping maintain the "spiral" of Sin. And then that makes me wonder about summoners who just didn't make it to Zanarkand first - if Yuna had defeated Sin the traditional way, you've got Isaaru and Dona who can presumably continue calling on their aeons whenever they please. I wonder how Yevon deals with that, if they do at all.

    (Really, I guess the ability to keep summoning just reinforces the message about spiritualism v. organized religion. The connection with the fayth is a deeply personal thing, not contingent on Yevon and its dogma.)


    oh my gosh do I ever feel you on this one.

    I always tell myself I'm going to get Every Celestial Weapon No Matter What!!! on each new playthrough

    and then I get to this one and I'm like "well okay never mind."


    1. I always tell myself I'm going to get Every Celestial Weapon No Matter What!!! on each new playthrough

      and then I get to this one and I'm like "well okay never mind."

      Hahaha meeee toooooo. I also wish this game had a New Game Plus feature where your weapons carry over from your earlier save so you don't have to get them all again if you do manage it.

      Yeah I assume summoners can still summon aeons no matter what, because the pact is between them and the fayth, not them and Yevon as you said. Braska managed to go on a whole pilgrimage after being cast out of the priesthood and it wasn't until after he defeated Sin that Yevon was like "Um, yeah! He did it for the glory of Yevon! Of course!"

      So I think they just try to make sure that summoners are all under the mantle of Yevon, or at least that people believe they are. I think there must be summoners not on pilgrimage working at the temples to perform sendings and other necessary rituals, which benefits the Church. And in the case of Seymour, rather than having a powerful rogue summoner out there, they "pardoned" him for his ancestry and revoked his exile to ordain him as a priest once Jyscal became a Maester and the Guado were converted.

    2. Strangely, I can do the butterfly game so much more easily than lightning dodging or the chocobo race. I don't -like- it, but I can do it. I like 'red light/green light' with the cactaurs more [especially after I found out about the couple of underground tunnel shortcuts]

      [But I would -so- like it if the great weapons would follow you from game to game - like knowing the Al Bhed language will. I -really- rely on getting those 99 underdog secrets fro Rin on the airship because doing a Rikku mix of underdog+underdog to get a supernova lets me get a 19,000 damage result and do overkill on monsters like Bevelle's guardian and get 2 black mage spheres, for instance.]

    3. Hahaha yeah the Underdog's Secrets are the best. I remember playing with my cousins the first time we got those and we were like "What the heck is that?" "Well, whatever it is, you now have 99 of them." And then forgot about them until the fight with the Sanctuary Keeper and decided on a whim to see what Underdog's Secret + Underdog's Secret does. It was glorious.

  2. Whoaaaaa Minty!! Wow--covered a LOT of territory here!! I feel so unobservant but yes--Yuna starts getting serious after Auron joins the party but I also think Operation Mi'Hen and other encounters contributed to Yuna's heaviness of spirit overall. Lol'd at Lulu's belted ensemble explanation and Waffles as the Spy Who Loved Yuna. I always thought that Waffles meant a far more permanent solution regarding Seymour and since Yuna had just discovered ***spoilers***** and her increasing feelings ***spoilers**** she ran out the room before her composed facade broke down! The earlier retreat to the inn due to Rikki's whining (sorry but it's true) and her comments regarding their moms---yes it's funny until you understand the subtext and depressing irony in that statement. Poor Lulu--she's feeling the wrenching pangs of letting her "child" go...and Yuna's keeping things from her now. Yuna's changing daily on the pilgrimage and Lulu's been off-balanced for awhile now. Seeing Yuna leave with Tromell is probably making Lulu realize that Yuna isn't her "baby sister" any longer but an adult making decisions about her own life...(much as her elder sister might dsagree with those choices.) Same goes for Wakka--the ultra concerned big bro --"You got to marry him, Yuna? You can't just talk to him?" shows their tight family dynamic. Kihmari is the one who gets the short end of this entire part despite his being Yuna's very first guardian and caretaker. We know only that he dislikes Seymour intensely and my belief is that his hypher-acute senses are at work again!

    1. Hahaha yeah I'm trying to keep up a good pace so I don't lag behind all the other livebloggers but I still have a lot to say. It's getting to my favorite part of the game too so I'm excited. :D

      It is true that other events along the pilgrimage are making Yuna more somber, but Auron's presence is a constant reminder to her to behave with proper summoner decorum and live up to the example set by her father.

      I wish we got to hear more from Kimahri too but he's been quiet about Seymour ever since Yuna told him to shush!

  3. Lulu sets the bar fairly low for "something cheery." But yes, it's always troubled me that she and Rikku (who is a SHARP COOKIE, even if she hasn't been in the party long) aren't more concerned for Yuna.
    I still wish that the American dub had retained Seymour's voice acting as charismatic. He's a lot more Vayne-ish in the original, with a voice that sounds noble and trustworthy rather than creepery, although deeds and body language are at odds with it.

    The Farplane portal gate thing is gorgeous no matter how you encounter it; I'm still remembering my fuzzy old color TV and PS2 version.

    Very good point about how the unsent can't show up there even if you call for them.

    Hah I wrote a shortfic with Auron and Aeris where she tells him that he can't really move on until Spira's totally forgotten him, and I'd never heard of The Brief History of the Dead." Memory, dreams, ghosts — certain ideas seem to recur over and over, don't they?

    Interesting thoughts about that surprisingly frank relationship-advice exchange between Waffles and Lulu. I'd never thought about the fact that she might be deflecting some of those comments back towards S.S. Tuna.

    How Tidus was raised after his mother died is one of the few plot holes in this game. Running across that reference to Auron being head of the Crimson Blades almost makes me think that his arc (or suspicious LACK of arc) got jammed in late and imperfectly, which explains why most of Auron's lines about Tidus' childhood seem to imply Auron wasn't there for them, even though he was.

    Heh, yes, I keep zoning out during the Lulu-conversations with her better in-game model because PRETTY. KEEP ON TALKING, LULU ...waaait, what did you just say? Glad it's not just me.

    Dammit I never noticed Lulu and Kimahri putting their heads together. YES I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEY TALK ABOUT, mostly in significant looks and silences.

    Ew, I never thought about Rikku's barbs at the agency...true, very true.

    Re "Take care of him," Yuna's just learned the contents of the sphere, and she's currently shocked, trying to figure out how to "take care of" Seymour herself, and trying not to give anything away to Tidus, and I think she lost her composure and head for a moment. Stupid to leave the sphere, though.

    Oo, I like your reading of Yuna confiding in Lulu, although she's confiding in everybody; I'd missed whom she was facing. *hugs you about Yuna/Lulu in all its valences and lack of fic*

    "You don't want to finish that sentence." AHEM. Yes.

    *loves your sphere grid analogy like burning*


    1. Rikku is smart but it always bothered me that she is so unreceptive to Yuna's obvious distress over Seymour in these scenes. I know her main concern is keeping Yuna alive and getting married might give her that chance, but surely she should know that something is wrong. Even if Seymour appears trustworthy, Yuna is clearly upset. And I don't think she means to be hurtful when she's yelling outside the travel agency (at least, I hope not), it was just a poor choice of dialogue on someone's part. (Unless it was intentional, in which case wow, scriptwriters.)

      Apparently the idea for that book came from the Swahili concepts of sasa and zamani, elements of time encompassing the present/recent past and more distant past, which are more fully explained in this book. Spirits of the recently dead exist in the sasa period as long as someone is alive to remember them, and then they move on into the zamani period. (I had to look all this up just now.)

      Yes I first played FFX on a tiny fuzzy old tv and I was still impressed by how pretty the graphics were. Playing it in high definition on an emulator is delightful. (Particularly since the sound is working again now, most of the time.)

      Hahaha unfortunately, since Lulu is getting stronger now, the plushbash is actually becoming lethal. On the plus side, she can finally use it in combat, which was my intention, but it's gotten dangerous to have her use it against her teammates. I also swear she straight up socked Kimahri in the face with her fist while confused earlier today but I didn't catch a screencap of it. I'd never seen that happen before. I'll have to try to see if I can get her to do it again. (He was probably even more confused than she was, poor guy.)


    > I mean yes, Lulu generally has the whole “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” thing going on, (she is, as we’ll see in her next few scenes, actually quite ruffled about everything happening right now), but she is being awfully neutral towards the prospect of her darling being violated by a creeper.

    I think that most of Seymour's lacking respect for Yuna's personal boundaries happens *after* this, though. It's clear by later that he is worryingly into touching her, but all he's done so far is invite her places, say things that make it sound like he might vaguely have some romantic desires towards her, and generally hide his sleazy nature under a polite veneer that actually makes him look like his worst flaw might be vanity combined with awful taste in open shirts. And Lulu can't hear the ominous music when Seymour whispers his proposal and stuff. So she really doesn't have a reason to know yet that Seymour is Mister Badtouch. (I've always thought it was weird that Tidus disliked him as soon as he met him, even though all he had done so far was be an Important Political Figure at Luca, and tell people to let Yuna and her guardians through at Mushroom Rock Road.)

    > For dramatic irony, Auron’s pyreflies start escaping right after he says this.

    Auron is ALWAYS the person to say, "[Unsent person] does not belong here." It's like his favourite line after belittling Tidus. I'm not sure if it's because he's in charge of exposition of pyrefly-and-Sin-level stuff, or if he's compensating. "Maybe if I sound like I really disapprove of unsent, nobody'll believe I might be one myself! I DON'T BELONG THERE, OKAY?!"

    > As he goes he leaves behind a sphere that he has somehow had on his person since he had a body, because pyreflies.

    Well, it's pyrefly stuff that makes sphere recordings in the first place, so maybe the recording went with his pyreflies when they left his body?

    > Tidus is too earnest to consider the possibility of a loveless marriage. After all, his parents loved each other to the point that it was detrimental to him.

    He's also probably very naive romantically. As a famous, young, conventionally attractive sports star with a famous dad, he's probably ALWAYS been able to get any girl he wants.

    (Behemoth and I speculate that this is really part of why he falls for Yuna so hard: she's the first girl he's ever thought he'd like to ask out who turned out to be unattainable. Not being used to romantic disappointment, he feels injured: what, is she too good for him?-- and tries to see what about her is so great that *she* would reject *him*. Surely she must be quite the catch, if she can turn *him* down, right? So he begins to look at her as even more desirable. And the more impossible it becomes to have her, the more he gets emotionally caught up in wanting her. Then he finds out that even if he got her, he couldn't keep her because she's going to die. Even if she wanted him, he's finding out that she doesn't want him *enough* to place him above her pilgrimage, and so he can't stop her from dying, but he tries-- specifically, he tries to deter her from her pilgrimage by painting a picture of how great it'd be if she stayed with him, and became part of HIS life and HIS story instead. By the time they actually make out, it's shifted to wanting to be able to keep her and knowing she will slip away. And a lot of his desire for her is driven by wanting to be more to her than this mysterious summoning that he doesn't even understand her desire to do. It makes a lot more sense to me than thinking that they really have a deep compatibility.)

  5. Apparently too many words for blogspot. Wow.

    > (Just wait until after she’s dead. Lulu, you are mean.)

    Welllllll... I really hope she's thinking that at some point she or the others are going to stop being such cowards and tell Tidus about Yuna's quickly-disappearing lifespan, but that this isn't really the moment to tell him, so this comment is just putting him off until he knows why it'd be bad to tell her. (Or else, she's worried that if he knows, that'll make him tell Yuna all the faster...)

    > Waffles says he’ll try to remember this, but then he never does call him by his title. ;)

    There's a difference between acknowledging that it's a thing, and caring enough to change your behaviour. I don't recall Waffles ever doing the latter: his norms are his norms, and if they offend, shock, hurt, embarrass, or upset other people, well THEY can just DEAL with it because it's ~JUST WHO I AM~.

    By the way, this is what Japanese society's infamous valuing of "conformity" over "individuality" is actually about.

    > Check your still-alive family member privilege, Rikku.

    She checks it on Mt. Gagazet all right. (I think a lot about Rikku not having female role models in her family. There's only one person left who could do that for her, and she's on Zanarkand's doorstep.)

    Now I'm disappointed that I saved just after the insults scene, and I don't remember what they said in Japanese.

    > So it is possible for spells to miss, but Lulu never does. (Despite only being able to see out of one eye.) I would guess that magic is guided more by intuition than aim. Either that or she has had a lot of practice.

    A bit of a tangent here, but magic in FFXIV is affected by accuracy and can miss. After getting over the initial grumpiness about having to spec out for something other than damage and spell speed, I actually find this kind of cool, because magic in the real world doesn't do what you want 100% of the time like clockwork, either. And maybe that's some of what makes thunder spells actually *magic* and not merely "the science of manipulating spells".

    > Professional athlete.

    I just wonder how crouching and leaning on the door in a ridiculous pose helped him hear better.

    > His status as the Legendary Guardian and the respect it commands is completely lost on her.

    I kinda wonder if this is partly an Al Bhed thing, too. She holds the pilgrimage at an ironic distance: she's pretending to be Yuna's guardian, but she's not actually along to help Yuna achieve her goal, she's just hoping to somehow save Yuna's life. To her, the pilgrimage is a senseless, horrible waste that stupid people are throwing away their lives on-- just like the Farplane is a place where people go to indulge in comforting memories and try to pretend their loved ones aren't gone. For her, guardians-- even legendary ones-- aren't people to respect; they're noble fools who are duped by all of Yevonism into helping their friends die unnecessarily. (Because as Operation Mi'ihen shows, we have so many other successful methods of making Sin go away...)