Let me start off by saying that I ship this so hard. But whether you think of it as a romance or a bromance, you can’t deny that they’ve got something awesome going on. Balthier’s talking to Vaan but he’s looking at Fran. It’s like he’s teasing her a little, but it’s a weird sort of teasing because his word choice, “deign”, implies that she’s superior to him. It’s kind of like he’s saying, “It’s funny how you put up with me.” Without any hesitation whatsoever, she retorts with another mild taunt.
This scene illustrates how deeply Rasler and Ashe cared for each other. Aside from the seven-minute opening cinematic, this is the only time we see a legitimate portrayal of Rasler during the entire game. Also, it’s the first scene during which a majority of gamers first realized Ashe actually has a heart.
None of us like to admit it, but strong fictional women are still very marginalized in almost every fandom. Even in Final Fantasy, a female character is only vilified by the fanbase because of her interactions with men. It’s a shame, because most of Square’s women are incredibly admirable. They certainly have greater depth than the female characters of most other entertainment companies. The inherent problem lies with the way we, the fandom, have been conditioned to view women.
Two of the most unpopular female characters to recently emerge from the Final Fantasy franchise include Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca and Claire “Lightning” Farron. If you study their characters very closely, the two are actually very similar. Their “stop at nothing” attitude is pretty rare amongst all kinds of fiction. Why? Because the idea has long been enforced that a woman’s role in a video game is to provide moral support for the main cast. That’s not to say all “moral support” characters are weak; nearly every Final Fantasy character with that task has had to fight his or her own emotional upheaval. But any woman that breaks away from an optimistic personality is generally regarded as cold or unlikable.
Let’s take a look back at Ashe and Lightning. They are all too often referred to as “bitches.” Even those who finish XII or XIII are often left with disapproval for either of these two characters, because they’re just not “nice” enough. But is that truly the case? Ashe and Lightning are certainly not lacking in kindness. Despite their hardships, they each have a goal to save lives, a goal that’s more important to them than anything else in the world. And yes, they’re cutthroat, but only so much as their situation requires them to be.
When you think about it, Larsa’s existence as a character is so sad. He’s too much of a politician to be a child, and he’s too much of a child to be a politician. We know next to nothing about what he was like before the events of the game, only that he was two years old when his older brothers were murdered. It’s implied that Drace had some influence in his upbringing, and that she and Gabranth served as his guardians. We are told literally nothing else of Larsa’s personal life.
At the Lhusu Mines, Vaan’s talk of how much Penelo means to him prompts Larsa to treat Penelo as a friend. She may very well be the first friend he’s ever had, and he doesn’t know how to conduct himself around her. He sits in a guest room at the Ondore residence and writes what looks like a letter, which is hardly something any normal twelve-year-old would do. When given the chance to act like a young boy, he’s very awkward. As cute and adorable as Larsa may be, he does not know how to be a child. Even Vaan and Penelo (who are seventeen years old and supposed to be able to fend for themselves as adults) seem more juvenile than does Gramis’s youngest son.
And yet we see time and time again that Larsa is often deemed too young to be a politician of note. Everyone from Al-Cid to Ondore to even Vayne sees Larsa as nothing but a child. Despite Larsa’s unrelenting insistences, his call for peace is written off as foolish and naïve. What’s truly remarkable about Larsa’s character, however, is that he never gives up or changes course. He’s one of the only characters in the entire game that’s not fighting for himself or for his country. He wants nothing less than peace, and he doesn’t care if he’s seen as a child or if he doesn’t make a difference at all. He knows that none of that truly matters.
That subtle change in Balthier’s face says so much. First off, it tells us that Fran’s right. Balthier is troubled by the nethicite. He’s troubled by their quest in general, and how it’s leading them straight to all the places that he and his friends just don’t want to go. He appears shocked at first by Fran’s perceptiveness, but he then summons a slightly angrier, “tougher” face as something of a defense. It says a lot about his character that he would go to such lengths to attempt to hide his weakness, especially from Fran. After all, she knows him better than anyone else in the world. While a great deal of his reactions revolve around frustration that she saw right through him, you’ve got to wonder if he wants to do his best to put up his usual cool and collected façade, for her sake.
She does much of the same in her response to him. While her words are deep and certainly caring, there’s a slight hint of teasing there, solidified when she throws him the tiniest smile before walking off.
These two do their best to take care of each other, much more so now and in the events to come.
This is where I promptly dissolved into a pile of tears.
You can hear Larsa crying over Gabranth, and then he turns to face the light coming in from the outside and he gives another sob.
By now, Larsa has lost everyone. Gramis and Drace are both dead, and he knows it’s only a matter of time before Gabranth dies as well. Only through the death of his own brother can things be made right again. Larsa should be happy about what’s come to pass, but he can’t. This is the first time in the entire game we’ve seen him show any sort of grief; that in itself is heartbreaking, because he’s only twelve years old and yet he’s arguably been through more than any of the other protagonists.
All of the XII Espers are beautiful, but the female ones contain a special sort of emotional appeal. Specifically, Mateus is named “The Corrupt”, so there’s an assumed reason as to why she’s handcuffed to something that looks like a cross. The design really is breathtaking.
Actually the female isn’t the Esper at all. After reading the esper bio in the walkthrough i bought, I learned that the real esper is the construct to which she is fastened to.
From the guide:
Scion of darkness ruling and protecting those who live in the underworld, in opposition to Lahabrea, Abyssal Celebrant and scion of light. In the course of his rule, he submitted to avarice, and the darkness took his heart, transforming him in until he was both evil and corrupt. Then in his cowardice did he bind a Goddess of the Demesne of Ice, and using her as a living shield, he challenged the gods. Defeated before their might, he fell screaming in to the depths of hell, there to be imprisoned for eternity.
That’s some pretty creepy stuff. Then again, Zalera’s backstory gave me nightmares. But I’m also a huge wimp.
Thanks so much for sharing this! I really appreciate it!