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I was just pondering Justira's Clarion yet again — mobile version looks lovely on iPad Kindle reader — and was once again struck by how much more unseelie, sinister, callous is her view of FFX's Bahamut  than my more naive view.

I fixed on Bahamut's "don't cry" and "I'm sorry" to Tidus at various moments in the story, making me see Bahamut as a gentle, tired, perpetual-divine-child figure who wants things to end but exhibits compassion for Tidus. But Justira is right too: Bahamut is a manipulator. He's dangerous. And FFX's Bahamut is about the most benevolent incarnation in the franchise.
  • FFVI...er... need to start over, I forget
  • FFVII... various scary-ass summons. Like Justira's Jecht says, B always seems to resemble a dragon that had an accident with an airship.
  • FFVII:AC... Bahamut summoned by villain to terrorize Midgar Edge.
  • FFVIII: Dangerous dungeon to reach it. This Bahamut seems a little more benevolent than usual, less scary than the often equally-scary-ass Odin (another figure from RW myth who has morphed into his own unique FF archetype.) Tellingly, VIII's Bahamut says, "Using my powers... It is you humans I fear." If that's Yoda word order, then this B is concerned about how his powers may be turned to evil.
  • FFIX: Originally Garnet's Eidolon, but Queen Brahne extracts him and uses him to wipe out the Great Tree. Then Kuja hijacks/rides Bahamut and uses him to wreck further havoc, threatening to destroy Alexandria.
  • FFX: Creepy kid. Manipulator. Aeon of BEVELLE, capital of lies, manipulation, and control under the guise of religion.
  • FFX-2: Dark Bahamut appears in a heartwrenching scene where Yuna has to fight an aeon. Real B. later apologizes to Yuna, revealing the aeons have been dragged into darkness by the Big Bad and are now "no better than fiends."
  • FFXII: Bahamut is an airship, but more than an airship: it feeds on Mist, is awakened by the terrible explosion at Pharos, is coopted by the Big Bad as a doomsday weapon, and nearly destroys Rabanastre.
  • FFXIII: Eidolon of Fang, who almost plays the usual role of Bahamut HERSELF.
  • FFXIII-2: Same Eidolon bound/fused with a Guardian who has gone so far towards the defender-of-his-summoner-seeress side of things that he's now a Big Bad. 

In sum, Bahamut usually seems to be a supremely powerful force gone rogue, often loosely on the side of good but coopted by the Big Bads for destruction. Usually targeting the Home the party is fighting to defend. 

I am vaguely reminded of Godzilla/Gojira in his less campy incarnation: a monster created by nuclear fallout, yet sometimes a defender of Tokyo, albeit a very destructive one. I can't quite put my finger on how Bahamut embodies Japan's ambivalent fear of nuclear energy, but I have a feeling Bahamut and flare are yet another manifestation of this common mythic theme in anime and Japanese video games.
This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/204883.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
I never really thought too much about all that, but holy crap you're right. He always seems to play some kind of definitive role, whether it be a final summon to harness or an entity to fear. Having just re-acquiring him myself in FF8 the other day, I read into his dialogue with great interest. I wonder if the writers ever considered making him a backstory.

In fact, wouldn't it be freakin' awesome if a Final Fantasy revolved solely around all these amazing summons/entities? I could see Bahamut being the bad guy XDDD

This reminds me: Last year when I was working on the crazy AU story of Auron and Yuna going on the pilgrimage together (with Auron as the summoner instead), the last segment I wrote was of Auron gaining his first aeon in Bahamut. The scene was intense and gruelling. Argh, I may have to continue that story after all...
Aug. 23rd, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
nod nod - yeah, creepy kid. IMNSHO the only explanation for it is that the kid is Yunalesca's [and thus Yevon's grandson]. That explains his easy transition between Zanarkand and Spira, plus why Yevon doesn't goad Sin into a grand smack-down of Bevelle.
Aug. 23rd, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
Ooo, I like that last bit of reasoning. Fun bit of fanon.

When I made Bahamut's real-life fayth the son of Yunalesca and Zaon, a hostage captured by Bevelle whose kidnapping was the breaking point that precipitated the Machina War, I... I just felt the idea as if it were true, even though there was nothing in FF to suggest it.*

Bahamut's fayth shows up in Zanarkand. It feels to me like that's where he belongs. He doesn't look like a member of Bevelle to me, yet I can't explain why. Also, he is struggling against being bound. And he's young, yet he's a leader-figure.

(Except I have a hazy memory that the Ultimania guide says that the fayth of the pilgrimage are actually aeons from Zanarkand, stolen and coopted by Bevelle. I think Bevelle was originally heavy-duty machina like Vegnagun, whereas Zanarkand had some machina, but relied more on summoners.)
Aug. 23rd, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
Well my initial impression of Bahamut was clouded by my first introduction to him in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, where he is the King of Good Dragons. (Interestingly the depiction of Bahamut as a dragon originated in D&D and has since spread throughout several fantasy cultures; in Arabic mythology he is an elephant-headed fish! Imagine Yuna summoning that!) So I naively always assumed he must have had good intentions. But there is something subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) unnerving about Bahamut's mysterious fayth. Especially since he's the Bevelle aeon.

Is the concept of him being Yunalesca and Zaon's child fanon, or is it mentioned in the game somewhere? I really like that idea.
Aug. 24th, 2012 04:55 am (UTC)
Elephant head! That, I didn't know. Neat. (I knew Bahamut was originally a fish, and I am proud to say I started with the original D&D basic set where Bahamut King of Dragons / Platinum Dragon first sprang into being.)

The idea that FFX's Creepy Kid Fayth is really Yunalesca and Zaon's son is strictly fanon. It spontaneously popped up while I was writing in my AU FFX fic Love Her and Despair as a minor bit of meta. The Ultimania Guides by Square -- or rather, pmog's translations and paraphrases of them -- give the tantalizing tidbit that many of the fayth statues in Yevon's temples were coopted from Zanarkand after the war, and that was the seed that gave me the idea (see pmog's surmise that Bahamut was one of the Zanarkand-imported fayth, but that's his guess.)

I'm not sure whether Melchar got the "Bahamut's fayth = Yunalesca's child" idea from there or whether great minds just think alike, but I love the fanon that Melchar just tacked onto it: a possible reason for why Sin never attacks Bevelle (even with a different Final Aeon, it's still got Yunalesca's father at the helm).
Aug. 24th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
Me too! I started playing D&D with the 1st edition books my uncle had played with in college. :D

I remembered the concept of Bahamut's Fayth Kid being Yunalesca and Zaon's son from Love Her and Despair so when I saw it mentioned further up the thread I was wondering if that was all you or if it had a canon base. I really like it. :) And I like the addition about the reason for Bevelle being spared by Sin. (Luca I suppose we are meant to assume was not attacked recently because Jecht likes blitzball haha.)

I find Bahamut's Fayth a lot more unnerving in X-2 than X actually. His arrangement with Yuna to bring back Tidus seems kind of shady, like he's striking a deal with her. I kept expecting there to be a catch. (Wishes to bring back the dead almost never go untwisted in fiction!) He does wait to make the offer to return him until after she has done something for him. Also I was never entirely clear on how he's able to bring him back at all. I thought the whole point of letting the fayth end their dream was that so they could rest and go to the Farplane, but if he's apparently able to keep dreaming even from the Farplane, why doesn't he do it sooner? Can he stop dreaming at any time and let him disappear again? And is it even the same Tidus he's returning to her, or does he just dream up a replacement? I can see the whole thing going darkficcy pretty quickly.
Aug. 25th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC)
" And is it even the same Tidus he's returning to her, or does he just dream up a replacement?"

Oh lordie, there's a good one. I mean, a BAD one. And I thought my Lulu-Sin idea was alarming!

I think that was Square trying to hammer a wished-for plot result into a round hole, but you're right, it's odd that Creepy Kid (my original name for him) doesn't make the offer until so late.

I remember Tidus attempts some meta to explain how he came back in the Perfect Ending scene, but I forget what he said. And Tidus is only a goofball jock, bless him, so he may have been flailing and wrong.

I get the sense that somehow Tidus was able to come back because of the memories of him scattered around Spira, and because of the matter-manifesting properties of pyreflies in this world.

Pyreflies crystallize dreams and memories into solid, physical form to create Aeons, Fiends, Tidus and Jecht, Sin, and apparently the Unsent, since we see Seymour completely reshape his own body after death and then return to it in his last scene. Also, in FFX, B mentioned that Tidus was now more than a dream because he had been touched by Sin. Sin is weird, even for an aeon. Yu Yevon's power is so great that it seems to solidify reality even more than pyreflies usually do.

Pyreflies are like the stem cells of matter -- give 'em a push, and they'll precipitate out into a material form dictated by thoughts, emotions, memories.

It's just a little suspect that Tidus, and no other dream, was able to do so in such a permanent (unlike aeons) form. Then again, Maechen apparently hung on for 1000 years, not even through force of will, but through sheer absent-mindedness: he forgot he was dead, and still had more stories to collect.
Aug. 26th, 2012 04:40 am (UTC)
I still haven't gotten the Perfect Ending. :( I've gotten to about 97% complete but I'm not sure what I'm missing and I haven't looked that scene up on youtube or anything because I wanted to feel like I had earned it. I know he gives some explanation better than the "I'm not sure if you're real, but I guess you'll do!" conclusion they arrive at in the Good Ending (they are so trusting haha) but I've never seen it personally.

It'd make sense for him to be able to be reconstructed from the memories of him, because that's the explanation given for why people are able to conjure up images of the dead when they visit the Farplane. But I have to wonder if that includes his own memories (and how would the fayth access those, after he had disappeared?) or just everyone who knew him around Spira? (I think Maechen says there's a theory that there are impressions of the dead left on the hearts of the living when they die, and that's what allows them to be seen in the Farplane.) So if the fayth/pyreflies rebuilt him from Yuna and Friends' memories of him, he'd probably still be a little off.

I have a fascination with stories about doppelgangers, fetches, and people who die or go to another world and come back familiar but not-quite-right. :D
Aug. 28th, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
"I have a fascination with stories about doppelgangers, fetches, and people who die or go to another world and come back familiar but not-quite-right. :D"


One of the things that intrigued me about FFX was that, after they defeat Jecht's Final Aeon, he's THERE again, battered but...there.

What if Yuna had tried to heal him instead of dealing with Yu Yevon? What would he have been?

So now I get a chance to play with that. Because yes, Lulu is back, but... we actually have time to process what that means, what she is, and how she is...well, there's no way anyone who has been a fayth, let alone Sin, could be quite as they were before.

Edited at 2012-08-28 03:52 am (UTC)
Aug. 28th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)

Yes you must. :) (Not that I am one to talk I am terrible about endings.)

I was curious to see how you were going to handle a post-Sin Lulu. I was surprised that she survived actually, so I am interested in how she has changed after spending so many years as a goddess-monster.

I got the impression that Yuna was about to try to save Jecht (or maybe send him I'm not sure) but then Yu Yevon happened so she never got the chance.
Aug. 28th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
"I got the impression that Yuna was about to try to save Jecht (or maybe send him I'm not sure) but then Yu Yevon happened so she never got the chance."

Right. Which raises the curious question of exactly what Jecht was at that point.

He was most definitely solid; Tidus could hold him. But we'd seen his body vanish into the form of the aeon and back again. Given the creative license of video games, which can throw the laws of physics out the wazoo and even violate their own internal physics for the sake of an artistic battle sequence, one can't take that too literally, but it gave me some interesting ideas about exactly what Yunalesca's operation to turn someone into the Fayth of the Final Summoning does to them, physically.

And then of course there's the psychological side of being Sin for over a decade. FFX had to wrap up without delving into that. I have the luxury of doing it. IF I CAN.
Aug. 29th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
You can do it! :D

I had wondered about Jecht after he falls out of his aeon form too because like you said he does take on solid form but the other fayth we see are of the transparent floaty variety and generally stay around their statues. Bahamut's fayth is an exception and I wonder if it is because he is older or more powerful, or if he was the only one who had a reason to be out walking around. I don't think anyone ever comes in physical contact with him when he's doing that, though, but he seems to be selective about who is able to see him, so perhaps fayth can become substantial at will.

But they are stated to have given their souls from their still-living bodies, so whatever it is, it isn't the same physical form that they had. Maybe it's akin to being an unsent?

Gameplay and story separation is a tricky thing to deal with in writing, haha. I've been fiddling around with the Venus Sigil and its significance for a later chapter in Guardian but I had to come up with a better reason for her finding it than "And then Lulu made Tidus go out in the rain and dodge 200 bolts of lightning." ;)
Aug. 29th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
"And then Lulu made Tidus go out in the rain and dodge 200 bolts of lightning." ;)

HAHAHA now I'm imagining Lulu sending Tidus out into the rain because she's tired of his clueless questions or has caught him sneaking into Yuna's room.

Rikku starts giggling after the door shuts. "Well, that's one way to get him out of your hair. Think I could trick him into chasing butterflies all over Macalania?"

"Have Kimahri request it," Lulu says tonelessly. "Tidus might suspect something, if it comes from you."

"Wow!" Rikku stares in appalled admiration. "Lulu, you're way more evil than I thought."

...and yes, my conclusion is that Jecht's physical form, post-Final-Summoning, is basically akin to being unsent.

Interesting point about Bahamut wandering around. He's such a puzzle. The fact that he shows up in dream-Zanarkand is one of the hints that made me think he may have been from Zanarkand, originally. But maybe he's just more powerful, or, as Justira's story
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