Ace plays Final Fantasy VII: The Religion

FFVII_Sephiroth_Temple_of_AncientsI’ve already discussed religion before in Final Fantasy VII. To be sure, there are a lot of religious themes in VII, especially when it comes to Aerith’s character, who I think is a female Christ figure. Even the background of her people—who are referred to as the Planet’s chosen people—plays off a lot of Judeo-Christian themes, such as the search for the Promised Land. Not everything involving her people, the Cetra, are Judeo-Christian in nature, though. The Temple of the Ancients, for instance, is shaped much like a ziggurat, and the one room inside it has what looks like hieroglyphics.

I’m not about to launch into another post about Aerith, however, even if I left out a lot of things in my other post. What I plan to talk about is how religion in VII affects the culture of the world, by which I mean, not very much, if at all.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy VII: The Translation

Final Fantasy VII is considered by many to be a classic, and though some of the previous installments had varying degrees of success, VII has the honor of being the Final Fantasy game that made Final Fantasy popular in America. It came out all the way back in 1997 and was the first in the franchise to utilize polygon graphics and to be developed for the PlayStation. Furthermore, it was also the first game of the series to be ported to Windows. At the time of its release, it had some of the best graphics ever seen in a video game.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

Though they suck by today’s standards.

This was also the first Final Fantasy game to take place in a more modernized setting. On the whole, it was the first Final Fantasy to do a lot of new things. This game was pretty groundbreaking, and has thus far been one of the most successful games ever. Certainly, VII has a lot going for it. Not only was it different in terms of technology, it also features a lot of well-written characters and a good story. That’s not to say that there aren’t any problems in the game. There are problems all over the place.

The biggest issue I noticed right away is how this game was edited. Everything involved with it is a graphic designer’s nightmare. And I don’t just mean the game. Everything from the box to the strategy guide has problems. The translations are terrible, and they mar what could otherwise have been a great story. It’s not a good sign when even the game box has noticeable, easily fixable mistakes. I cannot actually take a picture of my game box for you guys, because the text would be too small to read, so I recreated the image instead.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

Well, I will agree that that is a very creative way to spell “masterpiece” and I’ve never seen it done that way before.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy VII: The Evil Corporation

Shinra logoMany stories struggle with showing over telling. While I can think of a few notable exceptions, I’ve noticed that it’s not very easy to make the supposed heroes of a story actually heroic when they’re terrorists. There’s nothing that grinds my gears more when characters are presented to me as self-righteous heroes before doing some pretty unheroic things. Final Fantasy VII struggles with this a bit.

Our playable party consists of people belonging to the terrorist organization AVALANCHE—which is apparently not an acronym, so I don’t know why it’s written like that—and their goal is to save the Planet from the evil corporation Shinra. As mentioned in a previous post, Shinra is an electric company, and it gathers power from something called Mako, which comes from the Lifestream. The Lifestream is essentially the Planet’s blood, so by sucking it out of the ground, Shinra is subjecting the Planet to a slow and painful death.

Once again, I feel the need to state that, yes, the world is actually called the Planet.

Once again, I feel the need to repeat that, yes, the world is actually called the Planet.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X-2: The Sexism

So I guess I could do a whole other series on the sequel as I did for the original, but that’s more effort than I want to expend. As a whole, I do enjoy and its sequel. X-2 is a bit different than what I had expected, and though I don’t believe it’s a good Final Fantasy game, it’s still a good game. The graphics are improved, as well as the voice acting, and though the battle system was fun and unique in X, I like it a lot better here.

The story follows Yuna on her quest to find spheres about the past in hopes of seeing Tidus again. She and Rikku are now sphere hunters, being helped out by a new character Paine. Also along for the ride, we have Rikku’s brother, who is actually called Brother, his buddy, named Buddy, and a small genius kid, called Shinra. Yuna, Rikku, and Paine form the playable party, while Brother, Buddy, Shinra, and everyone else are all supporting cast members. So this is, I believe, the first and only Final Fantasy game that has an all-female party.

In Final Fantasy X it can be argued that Yuna is the main character while the story is simply told from Tidus’s point of view. Here, there is no doubt that the protagonist is Yuna. So overall, considering that this game has an all-female party and should act as a means to further develop the characters and the world, it should seem like a step in the right direction for female representation. I still hold that Final Fantasy is nowhere near as sexist as other games, and to be honest, with the exception of all the breast shots of Lulu, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed sexism in this story at all if it hadn’t been for X-2.

People always assume games and stories with a mostly-female cast will alienate male audience members, as if they think that being centered on women can never be interesting enough to attract male audiences. So they try to sexualize the girls as much as possible. It’s that mindset where anything masculine can be perceived as good and entertaining, but femininity? Oh, boy, we’ve got to sex that shit up if any guy’s going to be interested in it! Lord knows, character development and story arcs aren’t enough for a fulfilling game if it’s all about women.

So this is possibly the most sexist Final Fantasy game I have ever played, just from that aspect.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: A Response

final_fantasy_women_by_aqua5496-d38henhWell, this was not the post that I had been planning on doing since I started reviewing X, but after some sound rebukes on Tumblr from my last post, Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Sexism, I decided to not delay. And oddly enough, though I also knew what I wanted to say for my next post, which is also about sexism in Final Fantasy, some of the comments I received just really put into perspective to me how much people let Final Fantasy, or rather that they don’t notice it, get away with certain things.

It also made me realize that I certainly didn’t make my points as well as I should have. And so, before I get into the sequel and sexism, which was what I originally had planned, I’m going to address some of the things that people pointed out, because they are things that need to be addressed. And after the reactions of the last post, I also feel the need to add a disclaimer to this.

If you are under the delusion that Final Fantasy can do no wrong and is perfectly amazing in its representation of female characters, you are not going to like anything that is after the jump.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Sexism

graphix-2-2Well, like any RPG in the history of ever, you don’t have to look too hard to find sexism in the Final Fantasy series. And that unfortunately includes FFX. At this point, it’s really not very surprising to see women objectified in games and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to talk about how sexist this game is, because when you compare it to other games, it’s really not that bad. On a whole, Final Fantasy tends to be fairly good about this sort of thing. Yeah, we got large-breasted ladies like Tifa from VII—the game that also brought us Yuffie, the girl who is incapable of zipping up her shorts.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the women in these games pose for the sake of posing. At least nothing immediate comes to mind until I start thinking about X. And even though X seems to have more objectification than other Final Fantasy games, it’s still nowhere near as bad as other games as a whole, and it doesn’t forget that the women need personality and motivations as well. I’d honestly much rather talk about sexism in the sequel X-2, just because there’s more fodder to work with. But that’s a review for another time.

So here we go! Sexism in Final Fantasy X!

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Characterization

Final_Fantasy_X_Edited_by_kaztelliWell, now that we’re nearing the end of this miniseries, there aren’t too many things left to cover. I just spent the past five posts analyzing the plot, Yuna as Jesus, the religion of Yevon as a whole, how the game deals with death, and how the summons work. This leads me into the characters as a whole.

Final Fantasy X was a significant development for the franchise, and it has gone down for many as the “last good Final Fantasy game.” Even if you haven’t read my earlier posts or my reviews for some of the other Final Fantasy games, you can probably guess that I don’t agree with that. But I can most assuredly see why people feel the way they do about this installment in the franchise. I may have my issues with it, but this game offered a lot at the time it came out. The graphics are beautiful, and when it was released, they shocked people because of how realistic they looked compared to the other games. Visually, Final Fantasy X is stunning, and even nowadays, the graphics aren’t bad. On top of that, musically, it’s pretty amazing as well. And the visuals and the audios do a decent job of complementing each other.

Just from something like that, this game is very appealing. And it’s very easy to tell that a lot of effort went into its production. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Final Fantasy game, and this one delivers all that and more. In fact, Square Enix has plans to remaster it for a PS3 release, in order to redeliver the experience of playing such a high quality game. I may have just spent the past five posts more or less bitching and nitpicking everything, and I do have more complaints about how this story is told, but Final Fantasy X has a lot of redeeming qualities to it. And most, if not all, of the bad qualities concerning its gameplay and production will more than likely be fixed if it actually does get remastered.

So let’s talk about the characters.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Aeons

FFX__Dark_Aeon_Anima_by_BloodyMoogleContinuing 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.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Dead

Final Fantasy X has so many religious themes going on. Of course, that’s not surprising when you establish a world heavily ingrained with religion and base that religion on three very popular faiths and ways of life: Buddhism, Shintoism, and Catholicism. Sometimes, FFX feels as though it’s all over the place, as if the writers couldn’t figure out which religion should dominate. But for the most part, and excusing any plot holes, Yevon seems like a solid faith that I could see existing given certain circumstances.

But like with all things religious, an afterlife must exist, so it’s only natural that Final Fantasy X makes mention of the dead. In fact, if there’s one aspect more dominating than religion in the game, it would be how the dead affect the living. And also like with everything else involving this game and my over-thinking things, yes, I found some more plot holes.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Cross-Dressing

tumblr_leo5unPJjL1qzb8r6o1_500So one thing that I’ve noticed is that cross-dressing tends to be both handled and looked at differently for the different genders. No one really thinks too much of a girl putting on pants, though I can think of a few movies or comics where the issue was brought up, but a guy putting on women’s clothes? That’s a whole different story. In fact, if movies, games, books, everything ever, is to be believed, men dressing up as women is funny.

I theorize that this may be because society still looks at men as being normal and at women as being something else. We see this a lot in media, and the same can be said for a lot of portrayals for the sexes. Even the whole idea of what constitutes a strong female character may be skewed to a portrayal of a woman who partakes in things that society considers inherently masculine. Of course, this may also be because most things are run and written by men.

One person, windupviolin, theorizes that this may also be because women are seen as less important than men, from society’s point of view. And because women are less important, our clothing choices are less important. But society has placed so much on the male role that it tends to stick out to us more. If you click the link at the start of this paragraph, you’ll find a bunch of pictures of men and women sharing each other’s clothes. Notice that your eye will more than likely be drawn to the man.

Whatever the case may be, however, it is still common for people to portray male characters dressing up in women’s clothes as humorous.

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