Magical Mondays: The Power of Clothing in Final Fantasy X-2

As someone who sells artwork at anime conventions, one of the things I look forward to most is seeing everyone’s cosplay. Being able to dress up and put time and effort into bringing a beloved character to life can be a magical experience in the real world. What’s especially great is seeing people in the different costumes that a single character may wear over the course of a story.

Clothing can be a powerful narrative tool—sometimes certain clothes can give some character new and special abilities. Other times, the clothing can be a symbol of internal change, growth, and a renewed sense of confidence. This can be an especially important mechanic for video games, and my best experience with this was in Final Fantasy X-2.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Church: Criticizing Organized Religion Doesn’t Have to Be Anti-Religion

Take the plot of any Final Fantasy game—we always have our spiky-haired leader with a giant sword, some dude named Cid, chocobos, moogles, and many more similarities. The games also give us some evil force attempting to wipe out all of humanity. But another thing the narratives also have in common is an all-powerful, corrupt organization or government that controls the world. In Final Fantasy VII, this was the Shinra company. In FFXII, it was the invading country of Archadia. In FFXIII, we have the Sanctum. And in Final Fantasy X, our corrupt organization is Yevon, the leading religion in the world of Spira.

FFX Yu YevonFinal Fantasy uses a lot of mythology, and it’s not always accurate to the religions it borrows from. In other ways, the games do an immensely wonderful job with different faiths. Final Fantasy X is one of these games. FFX opens up a discussion about religion that we as consumers probably need. While Final Fantasy does have both good and bad religious representation, the games are not shy about criticizing the faiths they borrow from.

I wouldn’t say that the Final Fantasy games are being overtly anti-religious in any game. Or, at the very least, I wouldn’t say that the games are specifically created with an anti-religious agenda. Final Fantasy’s big thing, though, is that it criticizes people with power, and religion is just one avenue through which it does so.

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Final Fantasy X: A Prequel to Final Fantasy VII

wallpaper-dirge-of-cerberus-final-fantasy-vii-03-1920x1200I recently just replayed both of X’s games and VII, because hey, they are my favorite Final Fantasy games. With the exception of direct sequels, most Final Fantasy games are completely independent from each other. That’s not always true—we have the Ivalice Alliance games such as XII and Tactics that both take place in the world of Ivalice, albeit a thousand years apart from each other. But unless we’re specifically told otherwise, it’s always been safe to assume that the Final Fantasy games have no impact on each other. At least, that was the case until X-2 happened. During an interview for Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania, Nojima confirmed that X and X-2 are prequels to VII. While the stories in the games are still more or less independent from each other, this connection allows for some interesting social and religious implications, specifically for the Al Bhed.

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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: 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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