Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Part 15: Nobody Expects the Yevon Inquisition!



And we’re back! Last time we saw our friends they were en route to Bevelle to crash a wedding in the most literal sense.




It’s a good thing they got this cleared up before their own wedding.

Rikku is puzzling over the fact that Seymour seems to be still alive, but Auron explains that no, he’s totally dead.



(Rikku, I have some bad news for you . . .)


Remember earlier, during the Moonflow crossing, when Wakka gave an example of how the city built over water was in defiance of the laws of nature? Evidently it’s okay if Bevelle does it.


I like the idea of Lulu giving Rikku private black magic lessons during their downtime. At this point in the game, if you’re following the sphere grid correctly, (which I’m not) I think you should be about in the right place to break Rikku into Lulu’s grid and Tidus into Yuna’s with some level 2 key spheres, but I’ve never bothered to do this. I actually did end up with my black and white mages in the underwater part of the Via Purifico, but that part of the game is so short it doesn’t really make a difference. (Having nothing but fighters and a thief on the flan-infested maze side, however . . .)



Last time some people commented that they thought Yuna had never made it to Home, where I had always interpreted this as meaning that she was taken during the attack, and by “back in desert” he is just referring to the region that they left. One of the crimes leveled against Yuna when she’s on trial is “joining in the Al Bhed insurrection,” that is, their defense of Home, which makes it sound like she was not only there, but active in the fighting. However, we never get to see exactly what happened, so I suppose it could be interpreted either way.

After a Snakes on a Plane-style fiend invasion, the gang realizes they’re getting close to Bevelle when somebody’s eighth grade fursona shows up outside the window.


Evrae is probably part of Bevelle’s defense against Sin, although it seems like Sin would be able to defeat her fairly easily since Waffles and Co. are able to only halfway through the story. It’s also possible that she has been around since even before Sin and was used to fight airships in the war against Zanarkand. (Why else would Bevelle need a flying dragon?)



And a shimmery, pink one at that.


Interestingly, she turns into a zombie immediately after being defeated, foreshadowing a later encounter.


On the subject of prewar Spiran history, after my last post Livvy of livvyplaysfinalfantasy asked about the “St. Bevelle” the city is named for, and if there are any other Spiran religious figures what that title, instead of “High Summoner.”

As a matter of fact, there aren’t! Whoever St. Bevelle was, he or she was around long before the Zanarkand-Bevelle Machina War, Yevon, Sin, and High Summoners (all of which began after the war) and we never learn any Spiran history from before that time, even from Maechen. (Although the guy’s only 1,000 years old, after all.) But since Yevon only dates back to Yu Yevon, there must have been a different religion predominant in Spira before him that had saints and possibly a different hierarchy. The fact that there’s a palace remaining, when the current seat of leadership is the temple, suggests that Spira could have been some kind of monarchy or an empire back in the day. Bevelle is one of the few cities in Spira – possibly the only one, depending on how new Luca is – that hasn’t been destroyed and rebuilt in recent history, so it maintains some of the last intact vestiges of the world before Yevon.

Soooo back in the day I was really, really into The Phantom of the Opera, and still retain a deep love for it, although it is no longer my home fandom. And so, even though I know it’s wrong, I can’t help being drawn to the story here of the tortured genius (now an authentic ghost!) obsessively in love with the girl who is going to save him from his despair, etc. etc. Yuna wears the white gown of the gothic heroine very well, and Seymour certainly has a flair for the theatrical. (In my completely biased opinion, X would have made a better musical than XV.)

But the main difference between FFX and Erik and Christine (and also Beauty and the Beast, which I brought up earlier) is the lack of a redemption-through-love arc. Instead of becoming a better person by being loved and learning to love someone else as in those two stories, Seymour just gets progressively worse. “I’m going to use your love to destroy the entire world” worse.

I’m bringing this up now because one of the most iconic scenes in the musical and the novel is near the end when the Phantom drags Christine down to his lair to be his bride. (Then her boyfriend, in a true Waffles moment, makes everything worse by charging in to rescue her and getting imprisoned himself, leaving the rescuing up to her.) So when I realized what was happening here, I got UNREASONABLY EXCITED. I fully acknowledge that the trope and their relationship is very messed up and problematic, but that doesn’t stop me from getting stars in my eyes over it. I also really love situations where the heroine's courage shines through when she's put into a position of powerlessness, transforming her from victim to hero.

(If you’ve never seen the musical, I highly recommend checking out the 25th anniversary concert version and not the 2004 movie; the performances are a billion times better and the movie omits some scenes that underline the strength of Christine’s character, resulting in a really bland and mushy personification of her. Also Gerard Butler . . . cannot sing very well.)



I like the arrangement of the wedding procession here with the bride and groom approaching from different aisles and meeting in the middle. I enjoy Seymour’s priestly wedding ensemble too including the detail that there is a hole in the back of his hat to accommodate his hair antlers. Even with the cute little ribbon, it makes him look a lot less silly than usual. (The cravat also helps. And for all we know, the ribbon is protecting him from status ailments.)

I absolutely love Yuna’s wedding dress except for that it’s open in the front. (But then, Seymour probably picked it out, and he has been known to make some questionable fashion decisions.) If it were floor-length all around we could also believe that okay maybe she had her staff stored in there somewhere, but as it is that really strains credulity. Also the extra bouquet in the back is . . . kind of weird. I love love love the veil and the Wings of Symbolic Intent + 5 though.

I apologize in advance: this whole sequence is my favorite part of the game, so much so that I don’t even have many coherent things to say about it except “Aaaaah this game is so good!!!” I got some nice pictures though.



This look she’s giving him.


The way the escort of priests evokes the sense of her being marched in under armed guard.


The warrior monks with cannons standing by at what, ostensibly, should be a peaceful event.


The resignation and determination in her expression.



And then, as the procession mounts the steps, the thousands of pyreflies spilled from Evrae begin to drift down from the sky.



(Here’s an awesome fan-remastered version of this theme.)




I just really like scenes of Seymour and Yuna standing together looking at things, I guess?




“WE’RE GETTING MARRIED, DAMMIT! OUT OF THE WAY!!”

And the priests are all like “Waaaaah this did not happen during the rehearsal!”



By pure luck I happened to get a shot of Kimahri and Lulu. It’s blurry so it’s kind of hard to tell, but even in the FMV cutscenes she still does not appear to have any feet. ;P


Kimahri is Yuna’s lifelong protector, but he’s known and cared about Lulu since she was a little girl, too.


Waffles’s rubber boot soles are somehow raising sparks on the metal cable. But Kimahri is sliding on this with his bare paws! Ronso pawpads must be really tough, considering they live in the mountains, but still, ouch.


Waffles in his natural state, looking like a dog with his head hanging out of a car window.




If you’re a winner like me, you forgot to heal everybody because (realistically) they didn’t have time to recuperate from the air battle with the flying pink snake. These monks with the flamethrowers are the worst.


Kinoc, remember, is head of the Yevon military and used to be a warrior monk. He knows how to use that. Because yes, as it turns out, Yevon itself is using machina weapons. Wakka has spent a year outraged at the machina-using Al Bhed because the Crusaders put a gun in his brother’s hands, and here the warrior monks have been using them all along.


Waffles I will never ever get tired of your doofy face.




As Kinoc threatens to give Tidus a new nose piercing to match his ears, Yuna pulls out her staff (from her inventory, of course) and brandishes it defiantly at Seymour.

Her plan all along was to get close enough to Seymour to be able to send him, and for this she’s gone as far as participating in the charade of a marriage before Yevon and the rest of Spira. Ironically, if her guardians hadn’t come charging to the rescue, she actually may have succeeded. After her previous encounter with him at Macalania Temple she’d know that she would have to find the opportunity to be alone with him, without his retinue around. She had probably been counting on them being alone together at least for their wedding night, and for this she had to convince him that she’s marrying him willingly, for the love of Spira if nothing else, and then would have had to put herself in the dangerously vulnerable position of their marriage bed, all for the chance to catch him off his guard.

But now that her friends’ lives are at stake, she has to take the desperate chance to send him now, even though the circumstances – surrounded by armed guards and two other maesters – are less than ideal.  Even so, she does catch Seymour off guard – he seems genuinely surprised and betrayed when she turns on him, although he covers it up with his usual suaveness. I think he believed that she was starting to return his twisted affections. Realizing it was all an intricate ploy, he stands still and yields to the sending.


However, he’s not the only unsent in the vicinity, and Lord Mika quickly intercedes.



At first glance it looks like he’s just acting to save Seymour, but he’s actually trying to save himself as well. Yuna’s sending may well have taken out him along with Seymour and possibly even Auron too. And who knows who else. The population of Spira is probably approximately 20% dead at any given time.


This brings me back to the day of duckface drama from before the HD release. Never forget!!





And then they just go on with the wedding like Yuna didn’t attempt to re-murder her husband-to-be.

(Maybe her staff was stashed in one of those potted plants, I dunno.)



Yuna was prepared for this, but now that the moment has arrived she can’t help feeling powerless and frightened. The framing of this shot from his point of view makes her appear very young and vulnerable. And then he lords his victory over her by drawing the suspense out for like five agonizing minutes.



Rikku looks anxiously to Lulu to do something, but there’s nothing she can do except turn her head so she doesn’t have to see.










(I could not decide which screencap to use of his excellent reaction face so here, you get all three of them.)


She can't bear to look at her friends after what just happened, and she kind of slumps against him for a few seconds, still wobbly from the shock. Hoping it was worth it.



Nope.




While everyone’s attention is on Auron, Yuna manages to get away to the edge of the tower.



"That doesn't seem to have stopped you."

Her plan gone awry, the only thing she has left to bargain with is her own life, knowing it’s one of the few things Seymour values.


She can’t resist one last gesture of defiance towards him on her way out, though.


The first time I played this game I got really excited and shouted “I have wings!!!” right after she said “Don’t worry.” When she followed that up with “I can fly,” I was overjoyed. (I also temporarily forgot about Valefor so I thought that she was somehow actually going to fly.)


She tells them to “believe” but they clearly don’t. (Although Rikku seems to change her mind and nods very slightly.)


(Also possibly the doge-iest expression Waffles has ever had. Omg. Very height. Much fall. Wow.)








And there she goes, performing the second of three miracles she needs to qualify for sainthood.




Seymour not only doesn’t cover his eyes, but bends down to get a better look at it.

The escape is presented only in snippets of dialogue so we are left to imagine a struggling Waffles being hauled away tucked under Kimahri’s arm:
Waffles: Lemme go! I'm gonna kill that Seymour!
Kimahri: Yuna said leave! We leave!

Bevelle is awful but it’s so pretty. I love the arched walkways and decorative waterfalls everywhere.


Inside the temple itself, more “forbidden” machina.


Nooooooo.


Noooooooooooooooo.

The whole party collapses into Tidus when you’re outside of cutscenes but I have to wonder how it’s implied they all fit on that elevator platform. Some of them must be riding on each other’s shoulders.



The last barrier between them and Yuna is the sanctity of the Chamber of the Fayth, and now Kimahri, who used to shove Tidus away when he got too close to the door, is willing to break that taboo by helping him lift it.




The fayth of Bahamut, the most powerful and probably the oldest of the temple aeons, appears as a small child, with the voice of an angelic boy soprano. However, his aeon takes the form of a honking enormous dragon, and his statue makes him appear rather manly, belying the innocent-seeming manifestation of his fayth.


There’s an interesting disconnect here. Was he perhaps was an old soul in a young body, wise beyond his years? Was he actually an adult at the time he became a fayth, but his spirit manifests as a child because that’s his essential self? Is he merely presenting himself as a child to make himself seem less threatening, either to reassure summoners (and Tidus), or for more subversive means? Bahamut is a mysterious entity, and there are a few different ways he can be interpreted.


His wording when explaining this phenomenon is very similar to Lulu’s, when she said that the fayth “live forever, trapped in statues.” Even though the fayth (presumably) chose their fate willingly, they both describe them as being imprisoned.


“Not that I have a personal opinion on this, or anything.”






I also find it interesting that Auron is the one who came in to check on them. Seeing that Yuna is in good hands, he goes back out. (Content that the S.S. Tuna is safely in the water.)




But when Tidus follows him he finds that the fuzz has caught up with them. Kinoc informs them that they are going to be put on trial.



Hahaha no.


If I were a summoner not only would I give them all cute names, I'd be summoning them for completely frivolous reasons like to go to the dog park. Forget Sin, my ten foot dragon and I are going to go play fetch.


Because Yevon is a bastion of truthfulness, you know.





By “Al Bhed insurrection” they mean the Al Bhed’s defense of their own Home against the invading forces sent by Seymour. As I mentioned above, this implies that Yuna was there and assisted the Al Bhed defenders. Even though she is the High Summoner’s daughter and a summoner herself, there may be some lingering racial prejudice against Yuna in Bevelle from her childhood when she was not known as anything but the half-heathen child of a scandalous marriage.

There apparently aren’t any lawyers in Spira. The accused just have to defend themselves.

“He killed his father Jyscal with his own hands!”
 

Kelk is surprised to hear this, but none of the other maesters are. (Nor do they seem to particularly care. Being a high-ranking priest and a powerful summoner, Seymour makes a much more desirable maester anyway. Little do they know that Seymour has plans of his own.) Kelk is frequently left out of the loop by the other three, who snub him for being a Ronso. It’s likely that he was appointed to his office to make it appear that all the Yevonite races are receiving equal representation in the government, while the Ronso maester is secretly being excluded.




I love how Lulu is just allowed to throw her two gil’s worth in here from the peanut gallery. Maybe she was appointed Court Expositor.





All her life she has trusted Yevon to be an honest, if stern, protector, assuming that the maesters cared about the people of Spira as much as she does. Now that she is uncovering the deceit beneath the façade of faith and hope, it’s like being suddenly snapped at by a familiar dog. (On a side note, how does she hope for Mika to do this? Is he a summoner, too? I was under the impression that Seymour was the only one. Maybe she just assumes he'd be able to command one to do it, but good luck with that!)




Yuna counters a paraphrased Star Trek quote with a Star Wars one. Somebody on the localization team liked slipping in pop culture references.








I’ve babbled enough before about how the cycle of Sin keeps Yevon in power, but this is the first time it has even occurred to Yuna that everything they’re fighting for, her death and the deaths of all the summoners, guardians, and Crusaders before her, might be meaningless. Hearing it from the Lord Mika himself makes it even harder to bear.


So now she has “talking back to the Grand Maester” added to the list of charges against her.




Auron has the misfortune of having Waffles as a cellmate in one of these hanging birdcage things. I was curious about the graffiti on the floor so I found a clearer view of it from the remaster, but oddly, the script doesn’t appear to be Spiran or Al Bhed. Does anyone know what it says?




The meaning of these few lines doesn’t really have time to sink in before Waffles jumps ahead to his next question, but this implies that sweet, patient Yuna has been taken away to be tortured for the confession she did not give while on trial. They aren’t talking about her sentence to the Via Purifico, because that hasn’t been decided yet, and at any rate he wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she might die from what is supposed to be a form of execution. It’s possible that Seymour could use his influence to protect her from the Yevon Inquisitorial squad, but Auron and Tidus don’t know that.

Auron is less than comforting, probably because he’s too familiar with Bevelle to offer Tidus any reassurance.


(It’s the spiral of death, and it moves us all . . .)

Summoners challenge the bringer of death, Sin, and die doing so. Guardians give their lives to protect their summoner. The fayth are the souls of the dead. Even the maesters of Yevon are unsent. Spira is full of death. Only Sin is reborn, and then only to bring more death. It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly.”
“Thanks man. I think I get it.”

While we’re on the subject, Kinoc comes by to tell them that it’s their turn to become part of the cycle.





Waffles is unceremoniously jabbed in the tail by a monk with a rifle and tossed into an underwater dungeon where, conveniently, the other party members who are able to swim have gathered. It sure was nice of them to assess everyone’s swimming capability before assigning them to a dungeon.



This actually makes sense as a punishment if considered by rules of the medieval practice of trial by ordeal. If they manage to survive, they’d be considered innocent; if they die, then they weren’t worthy enough. And since nobody has ever survived the Via Purifico, Yevon can say with authority that anyone who dies there must have been guilty after all.




And just to make sure, Mika orders that anyone who does manage to get out alive be killed. Seymour, who still needs (and, after a fashion, loves) Yuna, offers to attend to this himself, taking advantage of a new opportunity to reclaim her and do away with her guardians, should they survive the Via Purifico.



Mika doesn’t catch on to this but Kinoc does, and insists on coming with him. We’ll see how well that works out for him.

Next time: Yuna attempts to annul her own marriage.

9 comments:

  1. Oh gosh I really really really super love your Phantom of the Opera parallels. I never really thought about it before, but how perfect.

    I think it's interesting that Erik does experience the redemption-through-love arc while being totally shunned by society and presumably having nobody who really cared about him prior to people like Christine/The Persian/etc showing up in his life

    whereas Seymour had a mother who loved him and a father who maybe loved him in a sort of misguided way, and he grew up to be a respected member of society who is held in great esteem by the general public, and he ends up twisting those concepts of love and respect into really dark, terrible things.

    It's a neat perspective on Seymour's storyline. I dig it.

    Also, of course, Waffles-as-Raoul. Oh gosh. Oh gosh. Beautiful.

    (I never knew I needed this to be some kind of AU crossover fic, but wow. Do I ever.)

    The wedding scene really is breathtaking. That scene of her veil billowing in the wind is amazing. And that look between Rikku and Lulu says so much about both of them, and the way those two relate to one another...I really wish that relationship had been explored a little more in the game, but I do like the little subtle moments like this one.

    Ugh, Bevelle's cloister of trials. Ugh. All of the ugh.

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    1. Heeee I had a long tangent written about the Phantom of the Opera parallels but I decided the chances of anyone being familiar enough with it to know what I was talking about were pretty slim so I ended up cutting most of it. There are shades of the Don Juan Triumphant premiere in this scene too, with the elaborate staging of Seymour's "play," as it was described when he proposed to her, and Yuna intentionally putting herself in harm's way as part of a secret plot to trap him. (Which then backfires on her.)

      I've been poking at an AU crossover for a while too but never really figured out how to go about it. There's actually a pretty complete cast, with Leblanc or possibly Dona as Carlotta, Rikku as Meg, and Lulu as (a considerably younger) Mme. Giry. And Braska as Christine's dead father, of course. :)

      That shot of Yuna's billowing veil is one of my favorites that I've ever gotten.

      I wish we got to know more about Lulu and Rikku's relationship too! Part of the problem of having the entire story limited to Waffles's point of view is that we only see what he sees, so we don't see many character interactions that don't involve him. There are hints at other characters' relationships developing over time, but we don't get to see them clearly.

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  2. The line "You can stuff your taboos!" (said by Tidus as he tries to force open the door to the Chamber of the Fayth) was always one of my favourites. It feels like he's come full circle, from defying taboos out of cluelessness at the beginning of the game, to defying them to save someone he cares about.

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    1. That's a good point! I hadn't thought of it that way before. :)

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  3. "It's okay if BEVELLE does it." Cough. Yes. I actually had missed this particular example of Yevonite hypocrisy.

    Oh you headcanon everything. I never really thought about Evrae because, y'know, medieval fantasy Japan should definitely have imperial dragons defending places of power. But you provide some actual reasons, and I like the idea of Evrae dating back to the machina war.

    Oh dear yes Seymour is a bit phantom-like. And yes, this marriage scene actually is awesome because the problematic nature is acknowledged within the story, and also Yuna has some agency here that's trope-breaking. (I mean, the forced-bride doesn't usually agree to go through with a marriage because she's planning to send the groom, although I expect there are a few bride-tries-to-kill-groom precedents somewhere back there).

    "And for all we know, the ribbon is protecting him with status ailments." Ah, Final Fantasy physics.

    YOUR SCREENCAP MOJO IS STRONG.

    *waves hands at my rare Crack Pairing sighting no really crack aside I love it when Kimahri and Lulu team up*

    "dog hanging out of car window" yes.

    "from her inventory of course"

    The next time I accuse Auron of having a sword stuck up his ass, I will be sure to call it "inventory."

    Yes, the irony is that Yuna might actually have pulled it off.

    Rikku's little DO SOMETHING LULU look and Lulu looking stoic and sick always punches me as much as Yuna; there isn't enough time to establish all the relationships between them but it's nailed here.

    I note that Rikku is doing the DogeFace in solidarity there.


    "Second of three miracles" ahaha. Yes.

    I love the decorative waterfalls and OMFG can you imagine the problems with mold in that building.


    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
    Ahem.

    Dangit you catch all the details. "Kimahri, who used to shove Tidus away when he got too close to the door, is willing to break that taboo by helping him lift it." OF COURSE. I miss little parallels like that, even now.

    HI CREEPY KID

    I like to think of Bahamut as a gifted and precocious child, but also the dragon is something of a fantasy like those that children draw on their trapper keepers. I think I just dated myself.

    S.S. Tuna yep.

    Ms. Exposition has a special lawyer card and OMFG can you imagine Lulu in Ace Attorney.

    Yours is the clearest screencap I've ever seen of that damned floor, and I have tried and tried AND TRIED. No clue.

    I like the headcanon I ran into in some story or other that Maester Kelk had second thoughts about the rigged trial, and somehow arranged the party to be split between swimmers and landlubbers, complete with their weapons. He, at least, would want their Via Purifico trial to be fair. But quite possibly it was Seymour making sure Yuna would be delivered to him? I dunno how many chess moves ahead he can see.

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    1. Hahaha man I had a Lisa Frank trapper keeper in like first grade and I'm almost certain it had space whales on it. It may have been dolphins. But they were definitely in space. I understand the child fayth having a dragon aeon, but laughingpineapple pointed out to me that he really does not resemble his fayth statue, what with its rugged manly arms and all. So I'm not sure what to make of that. The rest of the fayth have stock character models so you can explain away discrepancies between them and their statues by assuming the human aspects of the statues are what they're supposed to look like (kind of like the differences between low-poly and FMV versions of the main characters, we just assume the high res ones are their "canon" appearance), but Bahamut has a unique character model, so why does his statue look so different? It's a mystery for the ages.

      The floor graffiti is driving me crazy. I wonder if the script is an allusion to a previous game, or an earlier version of Spiran that was never used? It clearly says something; the first three lines repeat and then the last two appear to be part of a separate sentence. I'm ready to get out a book I have on cryptograms and codebreaking and have a go at it that way. (Hopefully it translates to English!)

      I like the idea of Kelk and/or Seymour trying to arrange the Via Purifico ordeal for their private reasons. Do we ever find out what his sphere of influence is? Seymour is the church, Kinoc is the military, and Kelk seems to preside over the judicial branch (although Mika makes the overriding decisions, since he pretty much just takes the trial out of his hands and the end there) so it's possible that he'd be able to finagle something in carrying out their execution.

      Hahahaha I didn't even think about how damp and moldy it must be inside the temple with all those waterfalls. (It did occur to me that they must be artificial and machina-powered though). I bet it's all musty and cold inside. No wonder Bahamut's fayth spends so much time wandering around elsewhere.

      And ugh yes that tiny exchange between Rikku and Lulu always hits me square in the heart. All this time Rikku has looked up to Lulu and trusted her to be confident, in control, and an exemplary guardian. She's always been able to protect Yuna, and now she can't, and when Rikku sees that there's nothing even she can do, it's really upsetting. (And Lulu is the only one who looks away.)

      I also really love how the friendship between Tidus and Kimahri develops over time. One of these days I'm going to go for maximum Kimahri Friendship Points to get all the cutscenes with him, just for fun.

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    2. I always imagined Bahamut being a child prodigy and an immensely talented and discerning mage or something, but because he's a child, he was often dismissed as nothing special or picked on by his peers, as gifted children often are, and when he offered himself as a fayth, because of wanting to reclaim some sense of power, imagined himself as this BIG FUGGEN DRAGON - I mean, for real, when you first see Bahamut summoned in the Via Purifico, Yuna goes, "Oh my!" and he is ENORMOUS. That's a possible facet of Bahamut's background that I can get behind because I was picked on a lot as a kid and mostly forced to be alone, so I would have these elaborate fantasies as a kid that I had the most insane superpowers - it was a way for my kid brain to feel less helpless.

      BTW, getting the Kimahri cutscenes is really hard, but definitely the most rewarding, especially one of the last ones when he finally proclaims Tidus as "Kimahri's friend." Aaaahhhhh, it makes my eyes watery.

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