Continuing on with this series, I am unfortunately not done talking about the religion in Final Fantasy X. I’ve already gone over what Yevon is, but I have not talked about what it entails. Or rather, I haven’t talked about its foundation in detail. And just as a warning, while my other posts have had spoilers in them, this one will have a lot more.
Anyway, if you want to continue reading, Yevon is centered on the aeons, which are essential in order for summoners to defeat Sin. Most simply, aeons are powerful creatures that summoners can summon and control at will, but it is more complicated than that. I’ve already gone over both the portrayal of religion and the dead, which are also essential to understanding what the aeons actually are. A dead person is comprised of pyreflies, which act as a soul, more or less. Sometimes dead people will become angry and turn into monsters, while other times, they’ll manifest as ghosts. And in keeping with the general theme of Final Fantasy X, aeons also come from the dead, though aeons themselves are not dead. More accurately, they’re the manifestation of dreams of the dead.
While some dead people become fiends and others become ghosts, a small few will become fayths. Fayths are people who died willingly and had their souls forever trapped inside stone statues. Every Yevon temple in Spira has at least one statue. When summoners travel to the different temples, they enter something called The Cloister of Trials. Once completing that task, a summoner may enter The Chamber of the Fayth, where he or she can pray to the fayth’s statue for a way to defeat Sin. If the fayth answers the summoner’s prayers, the fayth will then grant that summoner its aeon. Summoners must train by praying at temples and obtaining as many aeons as possible or they will never become strong enough to gain the power of the Final Aeon, which is the only aeon that can defeat Sin.
It is the aeons that are responsible for both destroying Sin and rebirthing it over and over again. Unfortunately, like every other good idea in this game, something has to ruin it. So besides Yevon using machina, what I’m about to talk about is the other incredibly large plot hole that could have very easily been fixed.
The events that set our plot in motion happened around one thousand years ago. Though nowadays Bevelle is the largest religious center in the world and regards Zanarkand as a holy place, way back in the past, that wasn’t the case. Bevelle and Zanarkand used to be at war with each other, and Bevelle used machina willingly and openly without hypocrisy involved, while Zanarkand used summoners. Unfortunately for Zanarkand, Bevelle was winning the war and Zanarkand looked to be on the brink of destruction.
Many people from Zanarkand died, and so Yu-Yevon, the current leader of Zanarkand, had all the surviving citizens become fayths. These fayths summoned a dream version of Zanarkand. Within this dream Zanarkand, the fayths created all the buildings and all the people who had lived in the real Zanarkand. This was meant as a way to preserve their home forever. And it is actually from this dream world that Tidus and his father, Jecht, come. Tidus and Jecht are technically both aeons. And the bridge between this dream world and the real world is Sin. Only Sin allows passage between them. And when Yu-Yevon turned all of his people into fayths, he created Sin. Sin is actually an armor surrounding the dream world of Zanarkand, if I understand what happened correctly, in order to protect it. And Sin was then tasked with murdering people in the real world and halting technological advancements so machina wars could never be waged again. In order to tame Sin, Yu-Yevon taught his daughter, Yunalesca, the secret of the Final Aeon. She then taught this secret to the people of Bevelle. Following this, Bevelle founded the Yevon faith, and has been sending summoners on pilgrimages to meet Yunalesca’s ghost in the real Zanarkand’s ruins for one-thousand years.
What summoners learn upon arriving in Zanarkand is that there is no fayth for the Final Aeon. The Final Aeon does not exist. Yunalesca greets summoners to tell them this, but she also tells them that she has a way to create a Final Aeon. Yunalesca has the ability to turn other people into fayths, and in order for a summoner to receive an aeon powerful enough to defeat a creature as strong as Sin, that summoner and the fayth in question need to have a close personal bond: a husband, friend, brother, etc.
Yunalesca was the very first summoner to kill Sin, and her Final Aeon came from her husband. Following Sin’s destruction, Yu-Yevon will possess the Final Aeon that killed Sin and spend the next so many years transforming it into a new Sin. Because Yunalesca’s connection to her Final Aeon was so strong, the possession of it killed her. Yunalesca’s ghost then remained in Zanarkand so she could turn the guardians of the summoners who succeeded in their pilgrimages into fayths, so the entire process would repeat over and over again.
The Final Aeon being both a salvation for Spira and the source of its destruction is very interesting. Yevon presents it as though it is the ultimate hope, but in actuality, it continues the people’s despair, which is why it is so important that Yuna throws it away as a false tradition and defeats Sin without it. This is an awesome plot element that fits in with everything else going on in Spira. Final Fantasy X centers on death and despair, and the idea of Sin being eternal no matter how many summoners give their lives just enforces that. Yunalesca and the Maesters of Yevon believe that the Final Aeon is the only source of hope in an endless spiral of death, when in actuality, it’s keeping the spiral going.
But by making Tidus and Jecht aeons, the game ruins this.
After dreaming constantly for over one-thousand years, the fayths are a little tired of being asleep, and they want to wake up. But they cannot until Sin is destroyed. I’m not sure if this is because they’re physically unable to wake up—which I doubt—or if it’s because they feel as though they have an obligation to the people of Spira for helping to bring about such a monstrosity. The fayths’ plan in order to end Sin forever is to use Tidus, but first they used his father.
Jecht came to Spira from the dream Zanarkand ten years ago, and he accompanied Yuna’s father, Lord Braska, on his pilgrimage to defeat Sin. At the end of that pilgrimage, Jecht realized that he’d never make it home to Tidus and so he decided to become a fayth for Braska. Yu-Yevon then possessed Jecht and turned him into the current Sin. This is yet another reason compelling Tidus to help Yuna on her pilgrimage, because he needs to save his father.
Jecht being Sin would not be an issue for me if he and Tidus had actually been from the real Zanarkand one-thousand years ago and not from the dream Zanarkand. The fayth cannot wake up because then the world of Spira wouldn’t have aeons in order to fight Sin, and if they woke up whenever they felt like it, that wouldn’t mean Yu-Yevon would automatically make Sin disappear. Sin is Yu-Yevon’s summon, not theirs. At least, it was that way until Jecht became Sin.
Sin exists because Yu-Yevon can possess the souls and dreams of the fayth. Essentially, he possesses that fayth. So when a person becomes Sin, that person is stuck murdering people until another summoner comes along. But Jecht isn’t a real person like everyone else in Spira. He was born as an aeon. To put this into perspective, he is an aeon dreamed up by a fayth and then he himself became a fayth to give Braska the Final Aeon. He is now a dream within a dream. After Yu-Yevon possessed him, if the fayth who dreamed Jecht up originally just decided to be awake right then and there—which that fayth wants to be—Sin would stop existing, because Jecht would no longer exist in order to be Sin. And Yu-Yevon wouldn’t have another aeon to possess.
And then, because Yu-Yevon would no longer be surrounded by his epic-genocidal-Sin armor, the people of Spira could just kill him, or have a summoner send him to the Farplane. The problem would be solved.
So when the fayths say that they’re counting on Tidus to help Yuna kill his father, I don’t understand why they need either Tidus or Yuna. There shouldn’t be a problem anymore. All the fayths everywhere should just wake up. But let’s say they cannot wake up until Sin is defeated for good just for the sake of argument. If that’s the case, I don’t understand why they’d need Tidus regardless. The fayths brought Jecht to Spira, so he would become Sin, and so Tidus would be obligated to stop him. But never once do they tell Tidus and Yuna to defeat Sin without the Final Aeon. That’s just something Yuna decides on her own. She makes the decision to kill Sin without the Final Aeon by herself. There was nothing stopping Braska, Jecht, and Auron from making that choice ten years ago.
In fact, in the past one thousand years, nothing’s ever stopped any of the summoners from trying to kill Sin without the Final Aeon. As a matter of fact, that’s what some people have actually dedicated their lives to doing. The only thing giving Yuna and Tidus an advantage is their airship. I think that what I don’t understand here is why the fayths’ master plan to stop Sin forever didn’t end with Jecht. And the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off, so I’m done. I’m done with the religion in this game. I only have two more posts to go with this series, and neither of them is about religion. So next time, I’m going to talk about the characterization and the voice acting, and following that, I’m going to talk about sexism. Then I’m moving on to something else entirely!